The Win Streak Is Over

November 23, 2015

The Ohio State football 23-game win streak ended Saturday as the Michigan State Spartans visited Ohio Stadium and left with a 17-14 victory. One could certainly question the Buckeyes’ play calling. The thing that surprised me the most was that OSU didn’t seem to want to throw the football. Michigan State’s defense is good. But they have given up a lot of points in some games this season. On the other hand, Ohio State has not really looked dominant in what had been a fairly weak schedule up till Saturday.

The Bucks could get back into the playoff picture, but the chances of it seem fairly remote. Coming up Saturday is the annual Big Game with Michigan. The Wolverines are better than they’ve been in years under new coach Jim Harbaugh. UM might have the best defense in the Big Ten.

In another embarrassment, the Ohio State men lost at home to Texas-Arlington Friday night, 73-68. But, the Bucks are not the only team to have been upset in an early-season game.

The Blue Jackets picked up a nice shutout win over Nashville Friday night. This was bracketed by losses to Ottawa and San Jose.

Kentucky won a football game for the first time in weeks, knocking off an over-matched Charlotte team. The Cats play Louisville Saturday. A win evens their record at 6-6, and makes UK bowl-eligible for the first time in the Stoops era.


Basketball Underway

November 18, 2015

Basketball season got underway Friday.

The Kentucky men had a couple fairly easy home wins, then went to Chicago last night and beat Duke 74-63. The Cats looks to have another good year.

The Kentucky women had no trouble with Rice, then went to the desert and pulled out a 68-64 win at Arizona State. The Cats have a respectable team again this year, although probably not Final Four caliber. We’ll see.

The Ohio State men are quite young and have wins over a couple mid-major opponents.

The Ohio State women have easily had the toughest schedule so far, with their first two games against the #2 and #1 teams in the country. After visiting South Carolina and losing 88-80, the Bucks were no match for Connecticut, losing by 44. A softer schedule is coming up which will give OSU a chance to get some wins and confidence.

As was the case last year, Kentucky football has done a mid-season collapse, with losses to Tennessee, Georgia and Vanderbilt since my last post. So the SEC record was 2-6 just like last year. If the Cats can beat Charlotte and Louisville, they will limp into the bowl picture with a 6-6 record. The offense has not looked good lately, and is not showing signs of improvement.

Ohio State is still undefeated and is ranked third in the college football playoff rankings. But the final two regular season games are against Michigan State and Michigan, two teams that can give the Bucks all they can handle.

The Blue Jackets have gone 6-4 since my last post, which includes their first home win of the season just this past Saturday. A lot more work needs to be done to climb out of the hole Columbus dug for itself in October.

Football Update

October 26, 2015

Kentucky is 4-3 as of this writing. All games this season had been close until Saturday night’s 42-16 loss at Mississippi State. Kentucky gave Florida a good game before losing 14-9. So the long losing streak to the Gators continues. The Cats’ 21-13 win over visiting Missouri was the first defeat of a ranked opponent in quite some time.

Kentucky needs two more wins to be bowl eligible. I still think this team can do better than last year’s 5-7 record. The tackling is better, and the offense seems smoother and more productive. Running backs like Boom Williams can rack up a lot of yards, and the passing game can too.

Ohio State is still undefeated and ranked #1. Some consider the start to the season to have been a bit slow with close games over inferior opponents. It has taken awhile for the quarterback situation to settle out, but the Bucks have looked better in recent weeks. Michigan and Michigan State are the B1G teams that can cause trouble for the Buckeyes.

Finally, a Win

October 26, 2015

There was probably more hype about the Columbus Blue Jackets this season than ever in the history of the franchise. So, it was quite a shock when the season started out with 8 straight losses. Not surprisingly, Todd Richards was fired as coach and replaced with John Tortorella. Torts is an established coach, but had been out of coaching for about a year. Finally, in Denver Saturday night, the Jackets won a game, 4-3 over the Avalanche.

The goaltending has been pretty miserable so far. But all the pieces of the puzzle are there, and Columbus has the potential for some offensive fire power. Obviously, if they can turn the corner soon, the team can contend for a playoff spot as had been expected.


September 18, 2015

My favorite season of the year is just about here. We’ve already had a couple mornings with lows in the 40s. Right now, we are still seeing highs in the 80s but the humidity is fairly low.

A couple new Low-Power FM stations are coming on the air here. I got a chance to tour their facilities a couple weeks ago. Congratulations to all involved.

I still operate a lot of digital modes, especially JT65 which I have discussed before. Another mode that Joe Taylor invented is JT9. It works quite well, and uses a smaller bandwidth than JT65. A fairly new digital mode described in the September issue of QST is called FSQ “Fast Simple QSO”. It is sort of like an IRC chat room on the air. It also shows promise for public service work. Learn more and download the software here:

Shortwave band conditions have not been very good lately, but I think things will improve as we head into autumn. Tamitha Skov is an astrophysicist who periodically  publishes an excellent video about solar conditions. It is well worth subscribing to her reports:

I had a bunch of QSL cards checked by ARRL card checkers at the Lexington Hamfest. I have now completed Worked All States (WAS) on 30, 17 and 12 meters. That gives me WAS on 8 different bands. I now have over 300 grid squares confirmed on six meters. For DX Century Club (DXCC) I added a couple of 150 endorsements, 10 meters and 20 meters.

I continue to review recordings I made of the AM broadcast band back in March using my Perseus Software-Defined Receiver. I’m still finding stations I’ve never logged before. You can see the results on my YouTube page.

Trying For A Repeat

September 17, 2015

Ohio State was a consensus #1 to start the season, as the Buckeyes look to be loaded with more than enough talent to repeat as national champions. The first two games came out OK, but one could nit pick if so inclined.

The Bucks came flying out of the gate in the opener at Virginia Tech, taking a quick 14-0 lead. But the Hokies stormed back to go up 17-14 at halftime. OSU scored on the first possession of the second half to go back up 21-17. VT quarterback Michael Brewer then broke his collar bone. The Hokies’ offense was never the same after that, and the Bucks won 42-24. I think the result could have been a lot different if Brewer hadn’t gone down. He had a great game last year in beating Ohio State, and had no fear of the Buckeyes.

Ohio State fans expected total domination of the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors and the defense was indeed superb in a 38-0 win. So, there is plenty of second-guessing about the offensive play calling and performance. Only time will tell if there are major issues to be resolved.

The headline game of the weekend was Oregon at Michigan State, won by the Spartans 31-28 in a good game.

First SEC Road Win Since 2009

September 16, 2015

Kentucky’s third season under Coach Mark Stoops has begun, and so far it looks like the years of good recruiting are starting to pay off. After a close home opener against a good Louisiana-Lafayette team, the Wildcats went to South Carolina and held on for a 26-22 win. It was Kentucky’s first conference road win since November of 2009 at Georgia.

UK’s offense looks pretty good, and the defense is better. So far I have seen fewer missed tackles. But more work needs to be done. After taking a 24-7 halftime lead on ULL, and later a 23-point lead, the Ragin’ Cajuns came back to tie the game before the Wildcats scored a game-winning touchdown. In Columbia, the Cats once again took at 24-7 halftime lead. But their offense completely disappeared in the second half. Kentucky’s defense saved them, several times holding the Gamecocks to a field goal after they had driven deep into UK territory. Kentucky ran back a muffed two-point conversion attempt to take a four-point lead in what could have been a tie game had South Carolina completed the conversion.

So, the Wildcats need to develop more consistency if they want to win games against the SEC elite. With the strength of the conference being down a bit this year, some more SEC wins are a possibility. This Saturday Florida visits Lexington. The Gators have a multi-decade win streak over the Cats, one of the longest streaks in Division 1.

Ollie’s Bargain Outlet

July 17, 2015

I had never heard of Ollie’s Bargain Outlet until a couple weeks ago, when their initial public stock offering was announced. I was shut out of the IPO, but I was curious about the company and so decided to do some research.

The company was started and is based in Pennsylvania and has grown from there. It is pretty much all east of the Mississippi River right now, but there are plans to expand.

There is no Ollie’s in Lexington. There are two in Louisville and one in Richmond. I’m always interested in a “bargain” so decided to check out the Richmond location. It is on the Eastern Bypass just off I-75 from exit 87.

Ollie’s advertising emphasizes that they buy odd lots of name-brand merchandise and resell at significant savings in their stores.

While there are many “name brand” items in the store, I also found tons of “generic” stuff with brands I had never heard of.

I also was not impressed with the pricing. Items for sale did not appear to be at a significant discount from what they are available at elsewhere. Most items are listed with an “our” and “their” price. Ollie’s prices are often 50% less than the “their” price. In the cases I looked at, the “their” price was more than what a particular item would sell for elsewhere.

Without going to other locations I have no idea whether or not the inventory in all stores is about the same, or if there is a lot of variation. The Richmond store had a very large book section. Since I don’t buy books in stores, I have no idea how their prices compare. This store also seemed to have a lot of carpeting for sale. The amount of clothing items seemed to be fairly minimal.

Ollie’s has a reward program called “Ollie’s Army”. For every $250 you spend at Ollie’s, you earn a coupon for 10% off a purchase.

Bottom line: if you happen to be near an Ollie’s store it’s worth going in to take a look. I don’t see it being worth a special trip, as it doesn’t appear to be much different from other stores such as dollar, outlet and warehouse clubs.


JT65 Update

July 16, 2015

I’ve written here before about JT65, a fairly new digital mode finding wide usage on the ham radio bands. JT65 has a slow data transfer rate, but gets through in noisy or poor-propagation situations better than other modes.

I use JT65 on the high frequency (shortwave) bands plus six meters. Originally, the best software for JT65 on HF was written by W6CQZ and I used it for a number of years. A ham in Switzerland, HB9HQX took that software and extended it. I think it is now the best program to use to run JT65 on HF. I also use an add-on program called JTAlert which helps me spot specific countries I am interested in working.

KY4K and I gave a presentation on JT65 to the Bluegrass Amateur Radio Society back in May. WA4HBM shot video of it, which you can see here:


July 16, 2015

Our local QRP club continues to roll along, and we have a lot of fun with low-power operation. KY-QRP is a special interest group within the Bluegrass Amateur Radio Club. We have a lot of members who build kits, experiment with antennas and see what can be done with minimalist stations.

We are very big into getting out in the field and operating portable from city parks or other outdoor settings. We got a couple nice outings in this year before the really hot weather arrived. See the following two videos:


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