Archive for September, 2007

Fall CW Sprint prelim

September 26th, 2007

N6TR has posted the draft Sprint results. Although I’m disappointed with my overall effort and score, I’m pleased that I missed the golden log by one busted QSO. I may not QSY fast, yet; but, at least I’m pretty accurate. The guys who do this contest well still amaze me.

When I put the teams together, KJ9C always says, “There’s a big party in Indy this weekend; I don’t know if I’ll be in any shape to contest.” Then, he swoops in and stomps me.  This is the second year he’s done that. K4LT always has a beer before a contest to keep the jitters down. Maybe there’s something to that. I don’t think it tastes good enough even if my scores did go up…


September 14th, 2007

I started to work on my backlog of bureau (“buro”) QSLs last night.  Like many contesters, I find QSLing to be an enormous chore, especially via the bureaus.  But, as I am fond of saying, contesting is a marketing game; a nice QSL may be as important to operator you contacted as the QSO was to your score.

One of the fascinating things about the bureau cards is that they come in chunks by country.  I’ve received a lot of cards for my CE/K8GU operation in August 2006.  It seems as though Chile was highly sought-after in Europe, especially on CW.  I must have been pretty loud up there, too, with the antenna at the edge of the cliff.

Working through the QSLs did bring back memories of learning to work a pile-up and log on paper.  You see, I didn’t have a computer suitable for logging along on the trip.  So, I had to log on paper.  I entered the entire log into my computer on the flight home.  (At Sarah’s prodding, I had read Harry Potter on the way down.)  It’s a good thing I entered the entire log because I left the log in the back of the seat pocket in front of me.

Anyhow, I’m getting the itch to be DX again…

Bureaucracy and Outsourcing—is it time for a new paradigm?

September 12th, 2007

I was reading E. Marla Felcher’s essay on Slate about making toys safer.  She mentions a staggering statistic on defective toys: some 76% of recalls in the past twenty years have been attributed to “design flaws.”  Perhaps toy designers should read Donald A. Norman’s The Psychology of Everyday Things.  But, the part of the essay that got my attention was her discussion of difficulty of enforcement.  This, essentially, is the difficulty with anything that is organized as a bureaucracy.

We know from high school government class that a bureaucracy is the “most efficient means to manage a large group of people.”  However, the one thing that’s not often mentioned is the characteristic of bureaucracies that gives them such a bad reputation: it’s hard to get to the bottom of things.  Multi-national corporations and militaries are built on the same bureaucratic structures.  These structures are notoriously difficult to penetrate and affect from outside—is an action criminal or just following orders?

With a bureaucracy, we have “efficiency,” but at what cost?  Perhaps outsourcing woes are a sign of things to come.  Is it time for a new paradigm?

12 dB

September 7th, 2007

The Sprint, as I have written before, is a CW operator’s contest. Last night, the usual Thursday night gang, plus some, gathered for another happy half-hour of Sprint practice. But, the rules were different: high-power (1.5 kW) was permitted and no duplicate contacts (per band) were allowed. I felt puny, especially on 40 and 80 after the masses left 20 meters. Looking at 3830 this morning, I notice that almost everybody ran high power. 12 dB makes a difference…(not to mention that I have about the smallest antennas of anyone who participates.)

More on electronic music

September 6th, 2007

I was pondering my roots in electronic music last night after posting the Vocal Trance note.  At first, I was tempted to say that the first electronic composition that mesmerized me was Enigma’s Sadeness, which I discovered quite by accident in 2001.  But, upon further thought, I was mistaken.  It was the Ray Lynch album Deep Breakfast.  I have no idea where the tape came from, probably something that Mom or Dad heard on WKSU (the local NPR affiliate).  I listened to the tape frequently as a kid (sometime around 1989, I’d guess), both in the car and the stereo at home; but, promptly lost interest.  (Aside: I refused interest in all music for a period of a few years before discovering an interest in classic rock.)

I hadn’t thought of Ray Lynch in years.  I couldn’t even remember his last name, although I do recall the genre classification from the cassette as “New Age.”  I punched “Ray New Age” into iTunes and he popped right up.   After listening to the first few bars of the preview clip for Celestial Soda Pop, I was able to hum the entire song to myself.  The most remarkable things, though, were the dozen or so reviews repeating a story just like mine.  They’d listened to Ray Lynch as a kid after their parents discovered his music in a gift shop or record store.  According to his web site, Ray Lynch has never toured or performed on TV.  Yet, he’s an extremely successful musician.  The music sells itself.  That’s a thought to consider all by itself…

Vocal trance

September 5th, 2007

I am reminded as I sit relaxing through two hours of Andy Gregory‘s tributes to Leama and Moor that vocal trance is essentially perfect music.  The beat carries the energy.  The melody carries the mood.  It’s collage in sound.  Everything is perfectly orchestrated.  It’s a systems engineering approach to music.  Beautiful.