Wiggle and Fall

One of my worst fears became realized this morning when I discovered, at some point in the past few days, that the lower half of my 40m vertical dipole antenna had worked itself loose and fell straight down into my downstairs neighbor’s fenced yard. It stuck like a dart and bent to lay in the grass. No matter how well I engineered against weather and wildlife, it still broke, and it could’ve potentially injured someone or damaged property.

The double-whammy is that I had to ask my neighbor to help retrieve it, wherein he told me through his closed door to just go back there and grab it; that meant bugging a second neighbor in the next building so I could go through both of their yard gates to do so. That’s perhaps the most difficult thing to deal with: telling the neighbors what I have up there and no longer having it all on the down-low. I hate getting other people involved in my doings.

If I rebuild, Antenna MarkII will have to be more secure. I can’t risk another failure. The failure mode appears to be that the hamstick, being blown by wind and swinging in the tree, had started spinning itself out of its own threaded socket until it ran out of threads and fell. I used a treatment of anti-ox compound before screwing it all in, and tightened it all with wrenches until it was no longer finger-tight, but it still jiggled loose and the compound served as lubricant. I’ll need to use lock-tite or a lock washer next time, and tie everything together with UV-resistant rope so it fails safe.

Radio is hard.

Edit: this problem has been solved. We got it on lock, y’all.

Solitary Wizard

So many times since learning the handful of technical skills I have, I’ve wished that I had been a little more double-plus-extra in my skills, capabilities, knowledge, and focus, so that I could’ve crafted some of the great creativity software that people rely on. I see these packages that people have put together and I’m dumbfounded with how they did it, and crestfallen that it wasn’t me.

Like, for instance, someone made a thing that can convert video into a stream of commands to control LED strings so one can display video in realtime on a self-assembled video wall. Others have written packages to control robots so they move organically like living things. And there are people who’ve created packages that generate solid models of objects from photographs, which you can send to 3D printers. I mean, these are great tools, but if I had just been totally dedicated to the cause of enabling and supporting others’ artistic expressions, I could’ve been The Guy Who Made Those.

But instead, now I only make glue.

I guess my fault is that I didn’t push myself into learning the fundamentals of programming in real languages, picking up the nuts-and-bolts of project planning, doing research and searching for components and libraries others have put out there to be assembled together like blocks. I didn’t find my communities. In fact, I eschewed (and still eschew) so many forums and online groups, preferring to do my magic in seclusion. I’ve had this fantasy of toiling away in darkness and solitude in order to build and to perfect my wonderful new widget creation, and then release it with “BAM Ta-Da! Here it is, world!”, hoping for a million accolades from people who want to know who this Wunderkinder is and where he came from.

That’s one helluva bullshit fantasy, and it’s unrealistic.

So don’t do that. Find the people who are doing interesting things and join them; you will learn as you catch up, but eventually you’ll contribute and become That Guy That Did a Thing.

Handle

YOU DON’T KNOW ME.

Seriously, you probably don’t. You only know what I tell you. If you knew any more, you’d be my friend. And I don’t have any of those. I just have people who think they can predict me.

And I absolutely can’t have that.

All that could have been

Really feeling the span of decades. The clicking of time. The frittering away of time. The waste of time. Years looking forward to possibilities for the weekend, sitting on porches and watching, hoping, dreaming. And soon the discomfort of ages, the pivot to spot-check behind me as earth passes by, feeling its draft, the breeze on my neck. I jump and run out of lizard reflex, trying to not appear desperate, laughing at myself and pointing fingers inward for sympathy; haha man remember my thirties? oh man haha. And them twenties, sheesh. But these fourties, oh man these fourties i’m winning, right? right?

Really feeling the span of lost decades. The refusal to make a move out of closing any possibilities; defying definition to prevent inflexibility. Now stasis leaves me frozen. Never thought that not moving would leave me so rusted. It’s like the “saving myself for marriage” ideology of my teens glued itself down on every aspect of my adult attitude, and now nothing moves.

A fixed point can potentially move anywhere once it becomes unfixed. But a point in motion remains predictable in its trajectory. I’ve always abhorred predictability, see it as a handle of control. What kind of nonsense is that?

The kind of nonsense that keeps me motionless.

Which explains this website. Phaysis. Phases impending stasis. Stasis impending phases. The constant state of changeless change. I thought it was some kind of golden zen koan when I came up with the term, but now it’s a leaden stone on my neck. When will the next phase begin?

Charlie Bravo To Go

I’m not sure why Citizen’s Band (CB) radios have gotten a bad rap in the US, but my hypothesis is that because it was a fad, a craze, in the 70’s and everybody went over the top with the novelty of it, we laugh about it as a relic of ancient history in this modern era of connected phones. The world of unlicensed people generally dump on the medium, but licensed Amateur Radio operators (like me) are the worst at putting it down, calling it a “license downgrade”.

Fact is, lots of hams got their start in CB, and once they got a taste for long-distance (DX) communications and got interested in the technical aspects of radio, they studied, took the test, and got a license to legally operate on the frequency bands that get them closer to that sweet DX. Sometimes, people forget their roots.

CB (left) and Amateur radio (right) are mounted on a rack for sliding under the seat.

I decided to buy a new CB against all the snide judgment of friends who told me I was wasting my money and time. Be that as it may, this CB has actually proven useful while traveling. Usually I’ll have brief exchanges with other drivers (almost always truck drivers) when the traffic’s shitty, as a way to find out what’s happening ahead of me, or to offer observations so they can get a sense for what’s going on. Tit for tat: life on the road sucks, and if you have a chance to be kind, be kind.

2m/70cm (ham) and 11m (CB) radios in car ready for travel
2m/70cm mag-mount antenna on roof, 11m CB antenna on trunk

There’s absolutely no reason for me to not have a CB in my car along with my dual-band Amateur radio. After having it there for almost a year, to not be there feels like cutting the nerves to a specialized ear that can hear CB transmissions. Every radio extends your senses and your ability to communicate. Ultimately, that’s what radio is for: communications.