Archive for July, 2007

Entry for July 30, 2007

July 30, 2007

We had a nice weekend in Columbus. After a miserable trip up there Friday night in the rain, we had dry and not-too-hot conditions for the rest of the weekend.

On Saturday morning, we attended the Central Ohio Antique Radio Association swap meet. I found some great bargains. A friend of mine here in Lexington who is a big collector also made the trip.

I also visited W8WCA Saturday afternoon and bought a beautiful Philco 3-band radio from him.

Nick’s birthday isn’t until September, but we gave him his gifts anyway, since we won’t be able to make it to Columbus again until after Angela’s wedding. By then, it will be time to be thinking about DJ’s birthday.

We got to go swimming Saturday afternoon, then Andy made barbequed chicken. We also had some Ohio corn-on-the-cob which is always excellent.

Last but not least, there was extensive sporadic-E during the commute up there and back, and I made many contacts on both the ten-meter and six-meter amateur bands.


Clean bill of health

July 18, 2007

No problems found during the colonoscopy. Bonnie fixed me beef and noodles for lunch, my first solid food in 32 hours.


July 16, 2007

I’m sitting here at 8 PM on Monday. I haven’t had any solid food since 3:30 this morning :). Got to get “cleaned out” for a colonoscopy in the morning. I’ll be glad to get it done, but it sure is a hassle.

The Fairness Doctrine

July 16, 2007

I guess it was inevitable that with the Democrat takeover of Congress, we would soon start hearing about “The Fairness Doctrine”.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) instituted the Fairness Doctrine many years ago in an effort to give equal time to both sides of an issue. It rescinded it in the 1980s. Free from the shackles, a boom in politically-oriented talk radio ensued. Of course, the lion’s share of talk radio is right of center, which angers the American left.

The FCC could re-instate the Fairness Doctrine any time it wishes. It isn’t really a Congressional matter. If the Democrats win the White House in 2008, I would say re-instatement is a strong possibility.

There has always been a dichotomy in the broadcast industry. Even though Rush Limbaugh and the genre he created saved AM radio from extinction, many in the industry let their own ideology get in the way, and are opposed to conservative talk radio.

If the Fairness Doctrine (also known as “hush Rush”) returns, it will be cheered by many in the industry, even though it could well mean the end of a great institution, terrestrial radio.

And, with so many different kinds of media now available (Internet, satellite radio, iPods, etc.) talk radio hosts will never be “hushed”. It will just move to a medium other than terrestrial radio. The over-the-air industry could be destroyed, to cheers by its own practitioners, without having the desired effect.

Warren Buffett and the Railroads

July 16, 2007

Warren Buffett has invested in three major railroads recently. This after the stocks had already run up quite a bit in the good economy we’ve had over the last several years.

Buffett built his fortune by being a “value hunter”. He typically buys companies that seem cheap to him based on earnings and cash flow. He must think the railroads are cheap, even though the stock prices are up significantly over the past several years.

The railroads are a classic example of a cyclical business. When economic times are good, they make a lot of money. In recessions and economic downturns, they often lose money.

Railroads have never seemed to me to be a good long-term investment. I have bought the stocks in bad times and made money as economic conditions improved. Generally when the stocks are high, the economy is going good, and might be ready for a downturn. When the downturn comes, railroad earnings plummet, the stocks go down, and the process repeats itself.

With Buffett’s long-term orientation, it is hard to understand what he sees in the rails in good economic times. One blogger recently speculated that it is because for the railroads, their return on capital exceeds their cost of capital for the first time in decades. That is good, but their return on capital will certainly go down in any economic downturn. Right now, things seem pretty rosy for the rails. But the good times come and go. They always have, and they always will.

Buffett is probably the greatest investor of all time, and one ignores him at his own peril. But, as someone who has traded railroad stocks and followed the industry for many years, I don’t see the railroads as being a “buy” right now.


July 16, 2007

We’ve restarted “KY-QRP”, a group of Kentucky hams interested in QRP (low power, 5 watts or less) operation. We meet once a month, and have had a lot of fun.

I bought a Yaesu FT-817 at the Huntsville Hamfest last August. I’ve made a number of QRP contacts with it. I took it to Andy’s house in the Spring, and set up an antenna on his deck. I worked a station in Croatia on 20-meters while running 5 watts. That was pretty exciting given that it was low power, and a small portable antenna.

Kaito/Degen radios

July 16, 2007

Portable shortwave receivers have come a long way recently. They have gotten a lot smaller, cheaper, and they still work quite well.

A couple you should take a look at are the model 1102 and 1103 by Kaito/Degen. “Kaito” is the name used on the radios marketed in the US, and the name “Degen” is used in Asia. For a Kaito model, the model number is prefaced with “KA”. For Degen it is “DE”. I have a KA1102 and a DE1103.

Both radios are available through Amazon and other dealers for well less than $100. Both receive single-sideband, a necessity for those who want to listen to hams and most other “utility” communications.

I think you will be impressed with the performance of either of these radios. They are easy to travel with, and won’t break your budget.

Rotten Apple Group

July 16, 2007

If you are a ham or a shortwave listener that is up early in the morning, give a listen to 7238 between about 6 AM and 7 AM Eastern time. You’ll hear the Rotten Apple Group.

They’ve been meeting on that time and frequency for a number of years. I have been checking in since I first got active on HF mobile. Current net control is Donn, WY5I in Port St. Lucie, Florida. Sometimes we don’t have good propagation. And, I often drive the Miata to work, so I don’t have HF capability. And, sometimes, I oversleep and am not out the door by 7 AM :). But, it is a fun way to start the day.

There is an evening session of the Rotten Apples. See the web site for details. I have checked into the evening session a handful of times. My favorite by far is the morning session with Donn in charge.

Dayton Hamvention

July 16, 2007

I attended the Dayton Hamvention this year for the first time in 11 years. Dayton is, by far, the largest hamfest in North America, and probably the largest in the world. It runs for three days, and many attendees are there for the entire time. I was able to get through most of it in one day. Didn’t buy much, but I did find some items I needed.

As a special treat, a friend of mine from Germany came over for the hamfest. Sven, DK1NY (formerly DD6VSF) made the long trek from near Hanover. He stayed at my house for a few days, and also got to meet several of the other local hams.

Churchill Downs

July 16, 2007

I’ve made a couple trips to Churchill Downs this year.

Bonnie’s bosses gave her four tickets to The Kentucky Oaks, which is run the day before The Derby. Unfortunately, it was a cloudy day with off-and-on rain. But we had a good time. One of my work associates and his wife went with us, and provided transportation. We had reserved seats in a good location.

On July 4, Churchill held its “Employee Appreciation Day”. Bonnie’s brother works there, and gave her a bunch of tickets to “Millionaire’s Row”. We also got a free meal out of the deal. I left early, and managed to beat some heavy storms back to Lexington.

There is a lot of history at Churchill Downs, but to me it isn’t a particularly attractive place, especially compared to Keeneland which is very beautiful.