Friday, March 31, 2006

This place is growing on me...

Well, I'm about to spend my third night in this spot. So far, no one has even given us a second glance, except for one of the Lowe's forklift drivers, who allowed that he wanted to retire in a bus himself some day. I have been in Lowe's daily for parts of one kind or another. Unfortunately, they did not have what I needed today -- a Grabber cabinet latch. The Grabber on the big kitchen utensil drawer exploded today.

Actually, I have averaged only a couple hours of bus projects a day. The rest of my time has been spent catching up on organizing things, and studying for my amateur radio license. Now amateur radio is something that I have studiously avoided my entire life, and I had intended to keep it that way, but it apparently comes in handy from time to time on Red Cross disaster operations. As I posted here earlier, we are going to become certified operators of the Emergency Communications Response Vehicles. These trucks have fourteen radio transceivers in them, and twelve of them require an amateur license to operate (the other two are a CB and a Red Cross licensed frequency). We've been repeatedly told that holding an amateur license is not a requirement to be an ECRV operator, but that "it comes in handy."

So I find myself refreshing my memory on basic RF and electronics, and boning up on a lot of mundane minutiae about FCC regulations pertaining to the amateur service. The reason I am doing this right at this moment is that there will be an (optional) amateur license exam administered during our training class next week. The book I have on the subject helpfully suggests that I can learn the material in "only 20 days." I started yesterday evening, and the test is next Thursday. The Red Cross, helpfully, is allowing us two one-hour study sessions. So I thought I had best get the preliminary reading done now. So far, I have been averaging about 91% on the various on-line practice tests available on the 'net, so I think I am in pretty good shape.

With all the reading and staring at the computer screen all day long, I have not really gotten out of the house much since I parked here. So tonight, Opal and I took a long walk around the complex. I discovered that my restaurant list was short -- there is also a Chipotle Grill, a Logan's, a Quizno's, and a Romano's Macaroni Grill within a short walk. (I'm finally out of leftovers, so perhaps tomorrow I will treat myself.) A US Post Office is on the next block, and there are two banks across the street. A city bus runs right past us. To top it all off, the complex of buildings I am behind contains a dentist, an optometrist, and a SuperCuts -- what else could a body need?

So far, it has been peaceful and quiet here as well, though, tonight, there is a tractor-trailer idling 15 yards from me. He's been idling there for two hours or so now, presumably to keep his A/C running -- even though it is only 65 degrees outside. What a colossal waste of diesel... clearly a company driver, not an owner/operator.


  1. There are two philosophies regarding the FAA amateur radio test (at least the first one, for your technician-class license):

    1) Study the material, and actually strive to understand everything they want you to know before you go take the test.

    2) Study the test (the entire pool of questions that they select from is publicly available), pass the test, and then once you've got the license in hand take the time to learn whatever you really need to know.

    I think there's a lot to be said for that second philosophy... I mean, do you really need to have the frequency limits of various bands memorized, or are you simply going to look that sort of information up when you need it? There are one-day "cram schools" in most areas which follow this philosophy; essentially, they sit you down in a series of 1-hour blocks to study particular questions on your own; in the first hour, you study questions 1-100, in the second hour, 101-200, etc. Nothing you can't do yourself. Their advice is that you shouldn't even look at the incorrect answers to each question; just read the questions and the correct answers, over and over again. Then, at the end of the day, while all of this stuff is still reasonably fresh in your short-term memory, you take the test.

    That's how I did my own license... KG6TKS. -Brent

  2. Ooops... Obviously I meant FCC, not FAA.

  3. austin! food! OMG, yummy!

    El Arroyo

    Oh crap, I am getting an erection.


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