Friday, June 22, 2018

In Ham Radio News

Tomorrow is Amateur Radio Field Day.

In what may be a first, the 9-8-Double-Ought-3 Amateur Radio Club plans to operate for 24 hours. This is what happens when a member offers the facilities at his place of employment as the Field Day site; previously, it had been at a park or on school property, closed at dark and with no rest rooms, etc., available after hours, or on church property and we had to clear out before Sunday Services. We even got listed in the local fish wrap!

The fact that we'll be set up on the grounds of a funeral home is irrelevant.

It's actually a nice facility, shaded ground, and they'll leave what I call the "support room" open for rest rooms, hot and cold running water, refrigerators for the cook out. Our Emergency Communications team has been meeting in the "Share Life" center, which is larger than the training room we'd been meeting in at the local fire station, which we had to vacate as it is being renovated.  This also gives us access to a better Internet and multi-media suite, for training presentations.

I was told that, in addition to the local paper we were also listed in one of the Seattle news outlets, but I haven't been able to find it.

In other geek news:

From the "Be careful What You Wish For" Department, several years ago we entered a period of reduced solar activity. Hams have been kvetching about how reduced solar activity means reduced (or utterly crappy) propagation. So the news of a new solar storm should have them dacning in their shacks, right?

Not so much. eHam.net reports: Solar Storm Hits Earth: Four Times Size of Earth Disables Radio Technology:
Solar storm hits Earth - storm FOUR times size of Earth disables radio technology | Science | News | Express.co.uk

A HUGE solar flare which was released from a hole in the Sun’s atmosphere temporarily left some radio frequencies disabled, scientists have revealed, and the storm is only getting bigger....

According to the website Space Weather: “During the past 24 hours, sunspot AR2715 has almost quadrupled in size, growing two dark cores larger than Earth.

“The active region is now crackling with low-level solar flares.

“A pulse of extreme ultraviolet radiation from the flare briefly ionised the top of Earth's atmosphere above the Pacific Ocean, causing a shortwave radio brownout at frequencies below 10 MHz.

“People who might have noticed the disturbance include mariners and ham radio operators.”
eHam serves as a news aggregator for Amateur radio-related news items; it also links to this ARRL news release about coming updates to ARES:
06/21/2018
As part of upgrades to the ARES® program, ARRL will phase out traditional hard-copy report forms later this year in favor of an online system, ARES® Connecta new volunteer management, communication, and reporting system. The system, in beta testing since March in four ARRL sections with large ARES organizations, will allow ARES members to log information for ARRL Field Organization handling but does not change how ARES serves partner organizations. ARES training also is due for enhancement.
Paperless reporting is good, assuming the system works. You know, like in a disaster where the Internet may be down...

About that "enhanced training..."

Changes would encompass additional mandatory training to include ARRL Emergency Communications courses and the now-standard FEMA NIMS/ICS courses IS-100, 200, 700, 800, with IS-300 and 400 for higher levels. Other specialty training could include SKYWARN and agency-specific programs.
Training levels attained would dovetail with three new levels of ARES participation: Level One would be comprised of all entering the program with no training, while progressing through the ARRL emergency communications training and the FEMA Independent Study courses 100, 200, 700, and 800. Level Two would be attained upon successful completion of these courses, and would be considered the “Standard” level for ARES participants. Level Three would be attained upon completion of the advanced FEMA courses IS 300 and 400, which would qualify candidates for ARES leadership positions.
Level One participants would be able to fulfill most ARES duties, with a target of attaining Level Two in 1 year. Level Two, the standard participant level, would permit participant access to most incident sites and emergency operations centers (EOCs). Level Three would convey full access as granted by the authority having jurisdiction, plus qualification for ARES leadership.
Okay, fine.

But.

The "ARRL Emergency Communications courses" as they currently exist are a joke. They are online-only. As are the FEMA ICS classes required, and these are commonly acknowledged to be less than ideal as far as actually inculcating the knowledge. (Online training generally doesn't. Train, I mean, although it is handy for checking a block.)

As for the ARRL classes, you have to request to access them. (Fine.) Then they assign you a mentor -- and this is, notoriously, where the wheels come off. I have heard so many complaints about mentors being unavailable, unresponsive, or dismissive of attempts by their "mentees"* that I have concluded that, in this case at least, there's enough smoke to indicate that there's a three alarm dumpster fire and I won't bother.

 Which reminds me, I still need to post about the class I took last month, mentioned in my post I did not know that.


*Really a word: "Mentee." Merriam-Webster.com. Accessed June 22, 2018. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/mentee.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

WA -- SAF, CCRKBA WARN I-1639 SPONSORS THAT ‘UNREADABLE’ PETITIONS VIOLATE LAW

The Second Amendment Foundation and Citizen's Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms send:
SAF, CCRKBA WARN I-1639 SPONSORS THAT ‘UNREADABLE’ PETITIONS VIOLATE LAW
BELLEVUE, WA – The Second Amendment Foundation and Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms today warned sponsors of anti-gun Initiative 1639 via a demand letter that their campaign “is utilizing unreadable petitions in violation” of state law, and demanded that this be corrected to “conform to the legal requirements.”
Olympia attorney Shawn Newman, writing on behalf of the two Bellevue-based organizations, noted, “The petitions for I-1639 have the proposed measure printed on the back of the sheets in such fine print as to be unreadable… Use of fine print is unconscionable.”
State law mandates that initiative petitions “have a readable, full, true, and correct copy of the proposed measure printed on the reverse side of the petition,” Newman’s letter warns.
“In the short time that I-1639 petitions have been in circulation,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan Gottlieb, “SAF and CCRKBA have been contacted by several people who could not read the initiative language. I’ve always been warned to read the small print before signing anything. I-1639, as it appears on the back of each petition, is all small print. That should tell voters something about its content.”
According to Newman’s letter, “Obviously, due to the microscopic maze of fine print used by the initiative sponsors to disguise the actual language of the initiative on the back of their petitions, voters cannot be fully informed.” He cautioned I-1639 sponsors that having their paid signature gatherers tell voters to “read it online” is “no substitute for following the law.” Newman suggested reprinting the petitions, and contact voters who have already signed to allow them the opportunity to sign a readable copy of the measure.
“We would prefer that you become compliant with the law,” Newman wrote, “but if you choose to continue in this illegal manner, we will be forced to litigate this matter.”
Copies of the letter were sent to Secretary of State’s office, the Washington State Attorney General, and “many other interested parties to ensure that everyone has been notified of the fundamental problem with your petitions.”
The Second Amendment Foundation (www.saf.org) is the nation's oldest and largest tax-exempt education, research, publishing and legal action group focusing on the Constitutional right and heritage to privately own and possess firearms. Founded in 1974, The Foundation has grown to more than 650,000 members and supporters and conducts many programs designed to better inform the public about the consequences of gun control.
 (More after the jump...)

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Photography Bleg

Just unearthed a box full of photographs going back to the mid-70s.

The oldest photos are from my Colorado Outward Bound experience in... '75?

These were taken with a Kodak 110 pocket camera, and not only are the prints faded (no surprise there) but the negatives have all taken on a green hue, which is present in the photos when I scan them with the negative/slide scanner Mrs. Drang got me for Christmas a year or two ago. Some of the 35mm negatives I have also need some color correction.

I'm looking for a reasonably priced software package that will allow me to restore these to normal colors, i.e., blue sky, white snow, instead of both being shades of green. Bonuses for being able to just click a button and have it be done...

Thanks in advance.

June 14th...

...is the US Army's Birthday.

Also Flag Day.
Photo ©2010 & 2018 Mrs. Drang & The Cluemeter.
I hear it's also President Trump's birthday, although TBH I don't generally celebrate the birthday of folks I don't know personally. (Note it, sure, but celebrate, no.)

Here are a few pics I just dug out of the archive:

Team Spirit, 1986:
Photo ©1986 & 2018 DW Drang & The Cluemeter.
My Motley Crew for Team Spirit 1986. 3 KATUSAs and two round eyes, on a mountain for two weeks. Part of why I laugh when I hear people speak nostalgically about MREs, or act like ramyun* is a gourmet delight...
Photo ©1986 & 2018 DW Drang & The Cluemeter.
I wish I could remember this guy's name, he was a Ground Surveillance Radar operator augmenting my team. Good guy, despite the (mostly) good-natured rivalry between the "Electronic Grunts" and us SIGINT Geeks.
Photo ©1987 & 2018 DW Drang & The Cluemeter.
Here I am, a year or so later at Ft. Ord, the 7th Infantry Division (Light) "Fight Light, Freeze at Night!"(I can pinpoint this as to date because I am wearing OD green "jungle fatigue" trousers, still authorized for field wear at the time. They got destroyed at the National Training Center soon after this.)

Photo ©1987 & 2018 DW Drang & The Cluemeter.
My buddy, Steve W. If you recognize him, have him drop me a line.

Photo ©1987 & 2018 DW Drang & The Cluemeter.
IIRC, Steve M. (on the left) and Dave J. (on the right.) No, that's not a duffel bag full of poagie bait, it's the 50+ pound direction finding antenna.

If The Steves and Dave look like drowned rats in these, it's because it was raining non-stop. We were supposed to be dropped in an airmobile insertion, move cross-country, and then get picked up. Somewhere in there, the skies opened up and the pick up got cancelled, and we spend a miserable night under poncho hooches. (Actually, IIRC, it was one big hooch and we pulled the Heinlein Starship Troopers thing where we huddled together...)

Photo ©1987 & 2018 DW Drang & The Cluemeter.
This is my ruck. There are many like it, but this one was mine. PRC77 radio with KY57 crypto device, a week's worth of batteries, MREs and water, poncho and poncho liner, and one change of socks.

≈125 pounds.

Tactical Hipsters can speak of their "woobie" like it's some sort of security blanket, but I spent too many nights freezing under one to get all misty-eyed.

Photo ©1987 & 2018 DW Drang & The Cluemeter.
Airmobile insertion, waiting for the bird to pull pitch...
 
Photo ©1987 & 2018 DW Drang & The Cluemeter.
All the pics (except the one at the top, taken by Mrs. Drang), were taken on film, before consumer-priced digital cameras were even science fiction. The ones from Ft Ord were taken with a Vivitar pocket 35mm, that just fits in a 20 round M16 magazine pouch. I'm pretty sure the ones from Korea were taken with a Nikon SLR, otherwise I couldn't have gotten that time-delay group pic. No idea what lens either camera had/has.





*Ramyen -- or "namyun" -- is Korean, Ramen is Japanese...

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

WA: Court Rules For NRA in Legal Challenge to Ballot Title

As seen in The Clue Meter: WA: NRA Files Legal Challenge Against Misleading Ballot Title for Gun Control Initiative, a legal challenge was filed against a gun-grabbing ballot initiative here in Washington on the grounds that the title was illegally misleading.

This just in:
From NRA-ILA:

Yesterday, in a defeat for Attorney General Bob Ferguson and Initiative 1639 proponents, the Thurston County Superior Court sided in part with the NRA and found that certain parts of the ballot title were deceptive and misleading.  As a result, they ordered amendments to several key provisions of the initiative’s ballot title.  While the ballot title remains inadequate to inform voters of the real effects of the initiative, the outcome of yesterday’s hearings did result in clarifying changes that more accurately describe the sweeping provisions of the initiative’s text.
With the title for Initiative 1639 now finalized, proponents of this 22-page initiative will have until July 6th to get 259,622 valid signatures to place the initiative on the November ballot.
As previously reported, NRA filed a legal challenge in Thurston County Superior Court contesting the ballot title language as prepared by anti-gun Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson.  Yesterday, the court held a hearing on the legal challenges filed by NRA and other petitioners.  
Some of the changes included:
  • Changing “enhanced” background checks to “increased”.  Initiative 1639 would require state background checks on all purchases and transfers of commonly owned semi-automatic firearms.
  • Added “allows fees” to the description.  The proposed initiative would allow the Department of Licensing to charge a $25 purchase fee (GUN TAX) on transfers of semi-automatic rifles.
  • Clarified the description for the storage mandate provision.  If passed, Initiative 1639 would criminalize firearm owners that store firearms in a non-compliant manner if they are accessed by a prohibited person or minor.
Initiative 1639, filed by Michael Bloomberg’s front group, the Alliance for Gun Responsibility, is an egregious attack on Second Amendment freedoms and comes just months after they failed to enact their gun ban agenda in Olympia.
Your NRA-ILA will continue to keep you updated on the status of the initiative, so please stay tuned to your email inbox and www.nraila.org .
 Also, a couple more releases, after the jump...

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

A Reminder

Not that I think anyone who reads my blog needs it, but here is a reminder of what "male privilege" looked like 74 years ago:
Saving the sum of things for pay, for 242 years, and counting.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

GDPR Statment

I keep getting told the Euro-Weenies say I have to make a statement about Euro-Weenie privacy. (The first syllable of which is probably supposed to rhyme with "privy.")

Randall Munroe of XKCD.com has done a masterful job of summing the situation up, I believe:
©2018 Randall Munroe, XKCD,com
"This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 License."

Seriously, the only data I could be considered to be keeping is if you leave a comment here, and the fact is I delete most comments I get as spam.

What Google, Blogger, and/or Blogspot (assuming there's a difference, which I doubt) may do with incidental data they scoop up as you surf blogs, I can't say. Ask them.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Memorial Day Earworms

While Pibroch* (or Piobaireachd) simply means "piping" in Scots Gaelic, nowadays it is commonly used in the context of  lament or memorial...









*Wikipedia link

Memorial Day, 2018

Or, Remembrance Day, or Decoration Day, depending on where and when you're from.




I don't now if this story is true -- I certainly never heard it before -- but I usually post a recording of "My Buddy"...