Constitutional Freedoms

I spent some time today watching several YouTube videos relating to the “constitutional education” of law enforcement, particularly federal law enforcement.

When it comes to these kinds of exercises, I find myself at odds internally. On the one hand, nothing educates better than experience and dealing with someone very educated on what their rights are, and how they may exercise them can be very educational for an ill-informed law enforcement officer. The flip side, there is a potential for a rapidly escalating situation that may become very dangerous, even life-threatening.

The benefit of these actions is that the word is spreading socially among the populous and among law enforcement agencies. It is paramountly important for the people to understand their rights, and to safeguard them to the fullest extent possible. To do this, the population needs to educate themselves. Law enforcement likewise, needs to step up their game in understanding their responsibilities in their role to “protect and serve.”

Now for the “on the other hand” part. Testing, “auditing,” probing, or whatever you choose to call it, while necessary, needs to be done respectfully, and without goading law enforcement, baiting them for an aggressive response. If we are respectful and allow the LEOs to de-escalate the situation we have accomplished the goal. Picking a fight for a clickbait video is no better than the mainstream media sensationalizing non-stories for the ratings.

Any way you slice it, our constitutional protections are constantly under attack. Whether intentionally, by misguided agency administrators, poor interpretation of policy by field supervisors, or just plain old ignorance of the law, on a regular basis our civil rights are infringed, and they will continue to be if we do not hold the infringers heels to the fires of scrutiny and continue to draw attention to their misdeeds.

I support law enforcement, local, state, and federal, but I demand that they respect the constitution they swore to defend and treat the individuals they encounter respectfully. I don’t suggest that they put themselves unduly in harm’s way, I do suggest that they tone down the attitude a bit and approach people less aggressively.

With the apparent prevailing attitude in law enforcement as it is, I must admit I am leaning more to the side of carefully reminding LEOs what the boundaries are.

Until next time,
~FlyBoyJon

Online License Classes

Something I have been working on for some time now is an online Amateur Radio License Class program. The biggest issues I have been hammering away at are the platforms for designing an effective learning experience along with what I believe to be the inherent drudgeries of traditional online learning.

As a student, I have taken a number of online classes at the college level and found myself not getting much from the class. The lack of instructor involvement and the spontaneity of live Q&A and lectures makes the whole process less conducive to learning anything new or enjoyment of the process. At least this has been my experience.

I certainly don’t want to put my own students through this kind of class, and as of yet, I hadn’t been able to get a group of platforms to work together seamlessly enough to make the whole thing look like a professional endeavor.  Believe it or not, I don’t enjoy teaching when I feel like the whole process looks slip-shod.

As an Instructor, I have had some experience with online course development and publishing. I ran into many of the same frustrations I had as a student while working on the other side of the fence and it frustrated the heck out of me.

The Environment

I think a good online learning environment incorporates a number of approaches.

First. A solid self-paced, resource rich, modular, study and quiz environment. This is the framework everything else is built around. If the bones are in good working order you can bulk up the flesh as needed.

Second. Community and communication. Students need to be able to interact. Most college online classes force community with journal style public entries or simple questions that require minimal engagement to complete the module.

Forcing community is tough, particularly when everyone is completely time-shifted. In live classes the first few hours, up to much of the first day, everyone is fairly lone-wolfing it. By the end of the first day, people are interacting. By the time we get to exams, there is some genuine comradery. It is great to see this develop.

Communication takes many forms. In forum type activities it takes a long time to develop any active communication. Instant messaging type systems encourage a more active participation but are difficult to maintain when people are active at different times.

Simple easy to use communications platforms are needed to develop an active community environment.

Third. Live, interactive events throughout the course. Lecture, Q&A, any active engagement is good. A combination of both Lecture and Q&A with a bit of time for general conversation or sharing is a great way to encourage both regular communication and sharing.

This has generally been the hitch on the whole thing. Live interaction requires several things, a visual component and an audio component as well as ease of use, and free or incredibly low-cost.

Platforms

The Framework. I like the Moodle platform as a foundation. It offers a lot of options and incorporates planned lessons, resources, and quizzing, along with a really flexible back office system that has been proven over time. It’s a free platform, and it is used by colleges and universities all over the world.

Presentations & Communication. There are a lot of options for sharing presentations, mostly for collaboration, and there are webinar type programs as well. I recently became aware of FreeConferenceCall.com; I like this one because it allows me to do a broad screen share or select specific windows. It also includes video conferencing, VoIP conferencing, and dial-in conferencing, and text messaging, all in one package with all of the features being concurrent.

FCC, not to be confused with the government agency, seems like a good option for the communications element. There are of course other VoIP and messaging options that would work quite easily alongside FCC as just the slide/whiteboard presentation. For VoIP, solid choices include Skype or Google Hangouts. Both also have a text messaging component as well.

There are other options including live casting with YouTube. Third party software with YouTube can easily meet the presentation needs, but the learning curve for me while building the program in Moodle would be steep.

Conclusion. I am by no means set in stone with any of the options. I am leaning towards Moodle + FreeConfrenceCall, with maybe an outside text messaging option.

Any way you slice it, I have a lot of work to do.

Until next time, 73,
~Jon KK6GXG

ETA (6/25/2017): The Ham-U.com domain is now dead. I let it go because I just don’t know when I will be able to get to setting up the online program. When it does go live, it will be part of the KK6GXG domain.

Another successful class

Just a short post today. This weekend I held another Technician license class, and it went great!

Another small and diverse class, best of all everyone passed with flying colors. I really do have a lot of fun doing these; by Sunday evening I am wired, completely exhausted, and absolutely fried mentally, I love every minute of it.

Two more classes in April, one Technician and one General, and that ends my currently posted calendar. I may be adding more classes after a visit from out of state family. We shall see.

In other radio news, I have been busy building dipole antennas. I am up to a 6 meter, 10 meter, and a 20 meter. I will definitely be adding a 40 meter to that soon. I have been looking for steel materials suppliers for 1/4 λ verticals. I want to build individual 70cm, 2m, 6m, and 10m. I think I may have found one. If so I will be working on a vertical array in the near future.

After I get all of the bands covered with basics, I want to start working on directional beams, at least for the main bands. I will wait for a while on these. Down the road, I also want to build some of the more exotic antenna varieties, including multi-bands, and arrays.

Antennas are usually relatively quick builds, which is great. Radio builds tend to take a bit longer. I have a couple of radio projects in limbo at the moment. Once I get some cabling projects finished for digital modes, I will also be getting back to the radio projects.

The build that seems to be taking forever is the Beach 40 project. This one needs to get back on the priority list. I should be able to get back to it this fall.

In VE news… This weekend will be my 54th VE session with the Silicon Valley VE group, something else I truly enjoy doing.

That’s it for now.

73,
~Jon KK6GXG 

Nine Years

Nine years ago I set up this domain and started blogging, I still don’t seem to have gotten the hang of it.

With everything going on in our lives and in the world around us, I should have plenty to write about. I have my radio blog, also lacking in regularity, and our store/family blog also suffers from a lack of consistency and regularity.

With my 9th-bloggiversary coming up in about two weeks I thought a little goal setting was in order. I have 54 weeks to work on improving those things I feel I lack in my blogging practices. Regularity & consistency.

Scheduling writing sessions had never worked well in the past but I think that had more to do with my lack of keeping up with datebooks and calendars. In the last year or so this has changed. I am using a calendar organizer daily for tracking a lot of different things. Adding writing goals into this routine shouldn’t be all that difficult.

At the moment I’m a little too scattered to vent any moral or social indignation about whatever is going on at the moment. I have been jotting down miscellaneous potential subjects for posts and scribbling out a paragraph or two every once and a while. Some of these should be useful, at least a little. I guess I should continue jotting and scribbling and see how things turn out.

I know this is anything but a substantive post, but that really wasn’t the purpose for writing today. Sometimes you just gotta do some things for yourself.

~FlyBoyJon

Where do we go from hear

ARRL Registered Instructor

Good Technician class this last weekend. Small, but a lot of fun. The best part of all was the 100% pass rate for the exam.

Okay, now the confession, it was a two student class. Still, I am happy about the two newly minted hams.

Last weekend was a VE weekend, so I was examining not teaching. As is the norm, when we are not grading exams, we jack-jaw. Mostly about radio operations, sometimes the conversation leans technical. In recent months we have been haveing

In recent months the chatter has been about the ham population. Two specific areas have topped the conversations. The first is centered on the retention of Volunteer Examiners and engaging the VE community.  The second topic of conversation has to do with a special anniversary coming up in a few days.

February 23, 2007,  was the date the FCC dropped the CW (Morse code) requirements from all amateur radio licenses. Back in February 1991, the FCC dropped the code requirement for the Technician class license but it was the 2007 removal of code that made it upgrading a no-code Tech possible.

There was a boost to the number of new hams in the early 90s, but the number of new hams, and upgrades, since 2007 has been record breaking.  So this is all great news for hams right?

Well, maybe. The truth is, there is no telling what’s going to happen. Part of what makes this an interesting subject is that we don’t know why all these new hams have been drawn to amateur radio.

There are a number of possibilities, some centered around the huge and ever-growing population of DIYers and Makers, many of whom show interest in RF, at least on some level. There are the growing number of drone enthusiasts; some need a ham license to control the aircraft itself, others are looking for telemetry, and/or looking at RF video feeds.

What does someone’s reason for becoming a ham have to do with anything? It has to do with retention. Ham licenses are valid for ten years. That’s a long time. Someone who is deeply invested in the hobby is more likely to renew their license. Someone who is involved at a more casual level is less invested and may not feel the need to renew.

Here we are. It’s now ten years later and the first upgrades without a CW requirement are beginning to expire. The big question is will they renew.

My hope, of course, is that the attrition rate will not grow at the same pace as the influx of new hams over the last ten years. Only time will tell.

Debt Is An Addiction

Debt is very much like an addiction, and it needs to be approached like and addiction. Getting out of debt takes time and it takes sacrifice. It takes determination. You have to want to get out of debt. It will be hard and there will be withdrawals. It requires a change in lifestyle, but you can do it!

Our motivation has been gearing up to homestead. Going through our finances and credit reports as we work towards being debt free. Twenty years ago we, mostly me, had accrued a mind-numbing six-digit personal debt, with no real assets to show for it.

Over that twenty years, we have worked very hard to shake ourselves from the grip of credit indebtedness. We had developed many bad spending habits over the years. More importantly, we had never learned how to be fiscally responsible in the first place. So we forged ahead, with an occasional backslide, learning as we went.

The best step toward fiscal responsibility is to start out young. Start with a cash-only personal financial plan. Save credit cards for a few years down the road after you have established good financial habits. Credit, when you are young and starting out, works against you by not forcing you to really learn how to live within your means and manage your money. Floating a little extra here and there on a credit card gets you into an instant gratification groove that undermines fiscal responsibility. Especially when everything we do these days seems to be encouraging instant gratification and easy convenience.

With credit, it’s all digital, ones and zeros over a wire, there is no cash-in-hand, nothing tangible to see and feel. There is no tactile value in credit. In cash-based personal finances, you can hold your hard earned money in your hand. It doesn’t take long to develop a desire to actually hold on to some of that hard earned cash.

When you are cash-based, you can see the money come and go, physically, in and out of your hand. You develop a tactile and visual link to what you have earned and how far it really goes. Which is not that far. Spending becomes a physical thing. Buying something with a credit card, or even a debit card, you hand over the card and they hand it back to you. Physically you have neither gained or lost anything. Monetarily on the other hand… But there is no connection.

Personally, I have come around a little on the matter of credit. For a long time, I viewed it as the source of all my financial woes, which was not true. I was the source of those woes. I don’t know how to properly use credit. I still struggle to keep credit debt at a minimum. Fiscal responsibility is a lifetime effort.

For the last ten years, we have been operating primarily on a cash basis. As the money flowed in and out I gained a physical sense of the value of that money, not just a mathematical one. A sense that connects directly the hours worked, cash in hand, and goods and services purchased with that cash.

Another thing that will through a wrench in the works is automatic payments. They will undermine you every time. Turn off all autopays and find a way to make that a cash transaction if possible. If not, make an effort to pay manually with a debit card or checking account. “Conveniences” like linking accounts and autopay take those transactions out-of-mind and make them easy to overlook, and over spend. Think about all those over limit and insufficient funds charges.

Cash based personal finances requires you to save receipts and account for your self, litteraly. When you are working in cash, you have to know how much you have, you have to set asside what you need for the basics. You have to learn how much you actually spend on food and transportation. Some people are very surprised to find out just how much they spend on food each month, especially when you don’t eat at home.

For those who think it’s impossible to live on a cash basis, you’d be amazed. All utilities, gas, electric, phone, internet, cable, they all have physical locations you can go to make a payment. Having to take the time to go pay a bill is actually good for you. It makes you see just how much you are spending on these critical items and how much you need to budget for them. It also helps you develop skills in planning not just your money, but running errands efficiently. Avoid mall keosks for paying cell phone bills if you can, especially if you like shopping at the mall.

Non-utilities can be paid through the mail with a checking account or on line with a debit card. Like paying utilities in store fronts, going to the bank and making a deposit when you need to write checks, pay an online bill, or to cover a special purchase reenforces that connection of labor, money, and goods and services. It is a physical connection. You have to think about it and plann accordingly.

Living cash based, not money-in-the-bank, prevents you from impulse purchasing. It requires you to take extra steps to buy something not planned for. You have to go back home for more money, or go to the bank and make a deposit. It requires you to plan your shopping. It developes that fiscal diciplin most of us never learned as kids and now have to teach ourselves.

It sounds like a lot of hassle, and it is. It’s supposed to be. It forces you to develope skills in personal bookkeeping and financial responcibility. It forces you to develop a physical sense of the value of money and what you spend it on. It forces you to think ahead and prepair for potential problems.

Had I known as a 20-year old what I know now… Convinience is the enemy of fiscal responcibility.

Now for a confession, credit is not the bad guy. The financial industry is predatory, and it does hope you don’t know how to manage your money. It hopes you maintain high balances on your accounts. Keep paying your bils on time and a balance of 50-75% of your limit and they will keep raising the limit until you spiral out of control or are under huge debt load. That’s how they mak their money. They will happily set you up for a massive fall, but you are the one who signs the contract. It’s all on you. I learned this the hard way.

If your outstanding credit bills total more than a months salery (excluding house and car), consider trying cash based personal finances for a while and pay off those credit accounts.

If the outstanding balance for your car is more than six months salary, same thing, try living cash based for a while and pay that sucker off.

A note on leasing; unless you drive your leased vehicle for a living, leasing is a zero sum game. There is no equity in a lease unless there is a buy-off at some point and you get to keep the vehicle. All of the money you spend on a lease is lost, there is no asset to justify it. Sure you may be driving a new car every two years, but you don’t own anything. This goes for the vast majority of people who lease cars.

Houses and property are a bit more dificult to calculate. As a baseline, if you owe more than 5 years salary and/or have less than 50% equity in your house or property, consider living cash based until you get there. This is dubbely important if any of your livelyhood comes from the property or you work from home.

I won’t even go into luxury items like boats, vacation homes, and the like. As the name implicitly states, they are luxuries. Own it, or unload it if you aren’t debt free or very liquid.

Take a close look at your credit accounts and add up the limits to one big credit limit number. Now add up all of your balances and see where you are. If your balance total is more than 50% of the limit total, and/or you can’t pay all of that off in 3 months, you have some work to do. You should be able to pay off credit debt in 3 months or less without it putting you in a bind, or at least have a plan if something happens.

Now the really important number, add up all of the interest charges from all of your credit accounts for one month and multiply that by 12 (this time include the interest from house and car loans/leases). That’s how much of your hard earned money you are giving away every year.

Unless you are debt-free, or nearly there, that much money should make your head spin a little.

I did this again recently and it nudged me to zero an account. Now I can apply all of that interest to the principal of another account. It’s like knocking over dominos.

It doesn’t mater how much you make or how big your house is. Most americans live outside their means. It’s what we were brought up with. It is said that most americans, a percentage in the 90s, carry less than $20 in cash most of the time, and are unable to scrounge up $2,000 in 48 hours when needed for an emergency. Over 90% of us!

The more you make the farther outside your means you are likely to be living. Nice house, nice car, a boat, a vacation time share, these may seem like signs of prosparity, the All American dream, but if your credit-to-debt ratio is greater than 10%, and statisticly it’s more likely somewhere around 80%, a hiccough in the job, a medical issue, or larger economic glitch will send you scrambling.

I’m saying all of this because it has taken twenty years to get our own finances uder control and learn the lessons I have been writing about here. We have been, and are, living by these guidelines. It’s not an easy road, scaling down, not getting to do some things, but in the long run, we haven’t gone without what we need. We have developed a lot of good habbits; we eat better, we are healthier, we communicate with eachother very well, and we recognise the difference between wants and needs. It may take some time, be if we really want something, we can usually make it happen.

After 20 years, 10 on a cash basis, we are just begining to slowly rebuild our credit responsibly. It’s been a long road to recovery and it requires daily vigelance. Currently our revolving C/D ratio is under 6% and that balance is interest free for 6 months. It will be paid off well before then, and it was a consious decision intended to rebuild credit, not out of nessesity. Back when credit was a new thing for the middle class they used to say you could only get credit if you didn’t need it. That is how it really should be.

We bought a little over 2 acres in June last year and have accrued about 15% equity to date. By the end of this year, we should have about 60% equity and be able to pay it off early next year.

I still have a big chunk of student loan debt that needs to be addressed and that’s the big finance project once we get closer to paying off the property. Our goal is to be completely debt free by 2020.

As I said, getting there takes time, but developing those skills early can save a lot of time and prevent a lot of head and heart achs. We still have a few years to go until we can claim Debt Freedom, but the light at the end of the tunel now is actually daylight. A few years ago it might well have been a train.

Everything you need to know about getting debt free is that all-to-uncommon common sense.

  • Start living on a cash basis now.
  • Don’t spend what you don’t have.
  • Cut out non-essentials, and be honest about what essentials are.
  • Focus on paying off creditors one at a time, usually high-interest accounts first.
  • Be vigilant, you can do it!
  • If you stumble, don’t kick yourself; get up and get back to it.

One extra word on organizing. You can stay on top of spending with a register or columnar pad and a calendar. Software, like Quicken, helps a lot and there are free bookkeeping programs available as well as templates for spreadsheet programs. We use Quicken and I post reminders on Google Calendar all the time. It works well for us. You may have to test the waters when it comes to software. Also in terms of software, don’t use the software to connect to financial institutions. Hand enter all of your transactions, your trying to get an intimate understanding of your finances, don’t

Also in terms of software, don’t use the software to connect to financial institutions. Enter all of your transactions by hand, you’re trying to get an intimate understanding of your finances, don’t take shortcuts.

2000+ words later, lecture over. Debt Free is doable, seriously.

Until next time,
~FlyBoyJon

Merit Not Hype

Judging policy and actions by merit not by partisanship or popularity

Let me begin by saying clearly that I did not vote for Trump. I felt most represented by Gary Johnson. That being said, I support the Constitution, those sacrificing for our freedom in the armed forces, the flag of the United States, and the ideals the founding father put forth. I also support the office of the president, if not the person occupying that office from time to time.

In my estimation, Donald J. Trump appears to be a lousy human being in general. I find many of his exhibitions of moral character, or lack thereof, deplorable; however, like many previous presidents, it is not their personal lives that are of greatest concern to us as a nation. It is their actions as president that we should be focused on.

In his first week, the President posted 4 Executive Orders to the Federal Register. I am not a big fan of Executive Orders. The last three administrations relied heavily on the privilege to do things that either should have required congressional and senatorial approval or were things that the government shouldn’t have been involved with in the first place.

There has been a lot of hub-bub over the Executive Orders issued in these early days of the new administration and hysterics over their reported effects. I have an aversion to EOs in the first place, so I felt it behooved me to actually read the orders issued so far rather than relying on the interpretation of others.

If you are prone to post about things in a headline panic, I would suggest you take a little time to read the actual EOs. The 4 orders take up 2, 2, 6, and 5 pages respectively, and they are all in plain English. All of them consist of the administration’s position on the subject at hand and directions to the secretaries of the relevant departments of the executive branch, mostly DHS, to follow the administration’s position within the confines of existing law.

Yup, enforce the laws already on the books. In some cases, they are instructed to potentially create new administrative laws through the proper processes and with the appropriate allowances for Requests for Comments from the public. Even more important, these directives are to be funded through the proper channels, mostly funds already allocated to these areas and in so much as funding is available. Another point is the frequent mention of reports with deadlines for the secretaries to get back to the Office of the President on progress. There are also clauses that include transparency and reporting to the public.

While I will concede to a few potential interpretation issues, the policies are not horrific or draconian as the media, extream left, or people who just don’t like Trump would have you believe. It appears that the President’s modus operandi for his term in office will be to run the government as its CEO and that he recognizes that the people are shareholders.

The most ‘radicle’ statement was “It is the policy of my Administration to seek the prompt repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.” (emphasis added by author) The key word here is SEEK the prompt repeal. The EO is not a repeal itself.

Everything in the EO “Minimizing the Economic Burden of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Pending Repeal” [EO 13765 Jan 20, 2017] has to do with things like “minimise the unwarranted economic and regulatory burdens” and “afford States more flexibility and control” as stated in the first section of the order. At least in my mind, State control over the health and welfare of their own citizens is far more efficient than a federal, centralized system. It is also more equitable to the rest of the nation.

The constitution was clearly designed to promote State rights over federal dominion with very few exceptions, those being mostly related to interstate commerce and national defense. Federalization of anything else is generally an overreach of the federal government, from a constitutional perspective.

I know the Affordable Care Act, immigration reform, and border security are hot issues, but please, take a little time to read what is actually being issued from the Office of the President before contributing to the headline panic. We should all remain alert, and when warranted, organize to defend our constitutional rights. In the mean time, how about scaling back on the sharing of media-frenzy and do a little fact checking BEFORE posting or emailing to everyone we know about the latest “travesty” or “injustice.”

The statement “I will build a wall, and Mexico will pay for it!” is a gross oversimplification of what the EO proposes as policy, again within the current laws and existing legislated funding. Read the EO for yourself. It’s only a few pages, and remember it is policy, not law.

I will remain skeptical and vigilant in reviewing Executive Orders as they are issued, and I remain cautiously optimistic about the High Office and its current occupant. When it comes right down to it, I am loyal to the constitution, not those elected to public office. They serve at our pleasure, not their own.

To review Executive Orders go to the Federal Register

A few parting words from a former president:

Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer.
~John F. Kennedy

Until next time, be vigilant, be informed.
~FlyBoyJon

Pilots Rejoice!

A great start to the new year, the 2016 FAA reauthorization has gone through and the new aeromedical rules have been announced! The new CFR Title 14, Part 68, BasicMed will become effective May 1, 2017.

While the changes may sound like they are a reduction of safety to non-pilots, they are in fact going to improve safety AND make flying more accessible. It should also be a boon to general aviation overall, which includes the largest segment of aviation in airmen and the number of aircraft.

2017 is already shaping up to be an epic year for GA; or at least the beginning of some major shifts in the industry. With the new rules for part 23, changing the certification process for small GA aircraft and parts, and the new aeromedical rules, it should open things up for manufacturers, experimenters, and pilots. These changes should make both pilots and the aircraft we fly considerably safer and less expensive to achieve that safety.

I don’t think these things will affect flight training, or significantly reduce regular operating expenses like fuel, consumables, annuals, or insurance, but there should be a reduction in the cost of upgrading aircraft to newer avionics and radios. What may affect regular operating expenses are the possibilities that the new part 23 rules will make it easier for fuel system, engine, and battery developers to bring more efficient products to market.

As a pilot, A&P, and experimenter, I am hopeful that these and other changes in my personal situation will make it less expensive for me to get back to flying and get back to building an experimental aircraft. I am looking forward to seeing how these changes affect the industry.

This post was brought to you by the sheer excitement that my last medical falls within the time limits of the new rules and makes me eligible under the new rules without having to go to an Aviation Medical Examiner before flying again! This also includes getting my CFI/II and instructing in the aircraft as well as in the classroom without a visit to an AME or needing a Third Class Medical!

Here’s looking forward to a new year, and flying again soon,
~FlyBoyJon

New Classes Posted

Welcome to 2017!

ARRL-VEC Volunteer Examiner

Not to put too fine a point on it, 2016 had a few issues. Too many beloved performers became silent keys, and more than a few other things that will affect us all went a bit sideways. I’m not even going to get started on politics.

To start the year off on a positive note I worked a VE session in the morning January 7th and spent the rest of the day putting together a new class schedule for Technician and General classes licenses and getting started with the promotion work, posting classes and prepping presentations.

Registered W5YI Instructor

I have six classes coming up, 4 Tech and 2 General January through April. All of them are 2-day weekend classes. This time around I am using the W5YI books by  Gordon West instead of the ARRL books. My main motivation to switch books is Gordo’s reorganizing of the FCC questions into a more logical order.

While the change will save time in class, I now have to tweak a lot of slides. There’ll be no time savings on the prep side this go, but I am optimistic that the reorg will make things a lot smoother in class.

ARRL Registered Instructor

If you, or someone you know, is interested in getting their ham radio license or upgrading from Tech to General and they are local to San Jose, please pass along a link to my site. Classes are listed here.

All of the classes have been posted to both the W5YI and ARRL class listings. As I write this, they are the only classes listed in the south Bay Area. The closest classes on ARRL’s list are San Francisco and Sacramento. There are no classes listed for the area on W5YI. They won’t show up until Monday or Tuesday (2/9-10) because all class postings need to be approved by a human.

I am hoping to greatly expand my teaching and hosting exam sessions later this year. All things in their time.

73,
~Jon KK6GXG

The Itch

Over the last few days, I received two catalogs in the mail; Yard Store and Aircraft Spruce. If you are into experimental aircraft or restoration these will be no strangers, and you might be getting a little wood just thinking about them. I spent most of Christmas Eve going through both catalogs page by page, all 1300+ pages.

Spending Christmas eve looking through a couple of aviation catalogs might sound a little weird if you are not deeply infected with the aviation bug, but to me, I could think of nothing else. I had been sitting on both of them for a few days and was chomping at the bit to get at them. Fortunately I had enough restraint to get family stuff done first and waited until we were just sitting around watching movies.

I have been a pilot for 12 years, and an aircraft mechanic for 3, It’s been way too long since I have flown and I haven’t wrenched on an airplane in about a year, so I have been itching something fierce to be… that which I am, an Aviator. Sound a little melodramatic? Maybe. I went back to school full-time for over two years to become an aircraft mechanic when I started an experimental aircraft project because I wanted to be that much more knowledgeable and skilled before really getting into the project. That should give an indication of the level of aviation infection I have.

Looking at the catalogs brought my lack of aviation related activity into a very sharp view. In the Aircraft Spruce catalog, the first 40 pages, I was feeling a deep homesickness, both for flying and for wrenching. It’s an aching feeling that something just isn’t right, I just don’t know how to explain it to someone who hasn’t been bitten by the same bug. It’s like a physical piece of you is missing, a phantom pain. Over time you just learn to ignore it then something happens and all of a sudden you realize that the phantom is still there and the longing returns.

Sounds a bit crazy to those not afflicted I’m sure. For me, it is very real. In part, it is so strong because I haven’t been able to share this thing that brings me so much joy with those I love. Only one family member has ever flown with me. I want so much to take Tammy and our son flying, to share that exhilarating experience with them, to share that part of me, that fills me with such joy, I want to share that joy.

Building and working on airplanes is something I doubt they will ever find as enjoyable as I do, but flying may have some impact. I would love to take them flying and have them take advantage of the opportunity by taking pictures in-flight, and maybe, just maybe they can feel some of what I feel when I fly.

I miss the skies, I miss flying through the scud, I miss the instrument approaches, I miss the pre-flights, I miss the refueling, I miss the flight planning, I miss the excitement of driving to the airport for a flight, I miss it all. Some day soon my friend sky, some day soon.

~FlyBoyJon

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