Friday, 11 September 2015


With the approaching cooler weather so comes the antenna work that was procrastinated all summer long.  I installed a sloper for 20M and have been listening to it each evening for a few minutes calling CQ occasionally.  I have installed it semi-permanently and want to finish the job but the conditions have been so poor I am unsure how it will perform.  I also have some other work on a FAN dipole that I need to take care of soon.  These poor conditions are not favourable to the QRPer for sure.  I hope it isn't like this all winter or it's going to be a long one.  Here's an image for the dart board:

The Off-Season is so Short

Just when I was getting used to a slight lull in piping events be it from parades, concerts, Highland games, band practice or lessons the time has come where the lessons start up again and band practices are not too far behind them.  I have been taking my lessons at the Glengarry School of Piping and Drumming with this being the start of my third season.  Their instruction is fantastic with many instructors from the Ottawa Police Services grade 1 band.  We enjoy the luxury, here in Eastern Ontario, of being in a band-populous area.  In and around the National Capital area we have numerous grade 5 bands, a few grade 4 bands, a grade 3 band and a grade 1 band.  That's a lot of inspiration and challenge for a 3rd year piper.  I am looking forward to the band aspect of my piping career but this year I plan to start taking part in solo piping competitions.  I took part in a few over the summer with disappointing results.  This off-season/lesson season I will be taking some private lessons to augment my group lessons at the school in an effort to improve my solo playing.  The local pipe band society, the Pipers and Pipe Band Society of Ontario, holds solo competitions for piping and drumming at different skill levels throughout the winter.  These are called Knock Outs.  They have category A for experienced grade 3 pipers up to grade 1 and they have category B for grade 5 up to less experienced grade 3.  Luckily for me they also have a 40+ category for adult learners getting started in solo competing.  That is where I will be competing.  I will be nervous as playing the knock out is in front of spectators which are fellow pipers and drummers.  All I have done as far as solo competing goes is a few Highland Games which has very few spectators for the solo competitions.  This new experience for me will hopefully work on the "nerves" component and the "focus" component as they have been my kryptonite during band competitions this past year.  It's all about growth and hopefully this will help me.

Another thing I want to share is a blog post from blog portion of the Pipes|Drums web site.  It talks about the support we get as pipers or drummers from our families and/or spouses.  It really hit home with me as my spouse is so supportive of my piping hobby.  Here is that post.


Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Antenna Analyzer Update / Syracuse Competition Result

I got a response from MFJ regarding the MFJ-207 and its "dead spot" on 20M and was basically told I could send it in for repair and that the repair shouldn't be more than about $35.  I'm okay with that.  I have only used the analyzer a handful of times in the past few years since I purchased it new but this is the first time I have tried using it on 20M.  It's too bad I didn't realize this when I first bought the unit as I could have sent it back under warranty.  C'est la vie.  $35 isn't too bad and I know they will find the fault quickly and hopefully get the unit back to me before too long.  Apparently the turn-around time at the moment is 4 weeks so it will probably be more than that.  All that being said, the antenna I was trying to measure when I detected the fault is reading about 1.5:1 on the SWR so I should be fine without it.

The Central New York Highland Games and Scottish Festival was a great time as usual.  The shopping was good, the weather was great, the crowd was appreciative and we had a good play.  There were 6 grade 5 bands competing and we tied for first place.  When this happens the "Ensemble" score is compared and because the Finger Lakes Pipe Band scored higher in Ensemble they got the first place and we took second.  Good for them as ensemble is where it's least that's what I've been told.  I'm okay with second place.  It is a vast improvement over our crummy play in Maxville at the Glengarry Highland Games.  I feel a lot better knowing we can play well when we are focused.

Our band warming up.  Photo courtesy - Barbara Macdonnell

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Antenna Analyser Frustration

I'm in the process of installing a sloper antenna for 20M.  Summer is clearly on the way out and I want to get this done sooner rather than later as we all know how easy it is to find ourselves doing antenna work in November.  I want to cut this sloper so its resonant on 14.06 for QRP use with my RockMite.  I have the MFJ-207 Antenna Analyser and, if you are unfamiliar with it, it has 5 range settings from A to E.  I use the analyser with a frequency counter so I know exactly what the frequency is when I am reading resonance.  The top end of range D, which is supposed to be 14, seems to end at around 13.5 MHz and the bottom end of range E, which is also supposed to be 14, comes in at around 14.5 MHz.  I am not able to tune the antenna where I want to.  I'm pretty sure this is not by design as the 20M band is pretty popular.  I don't know if this is just a bad unit I purchased but I am definitely not pleased.  I have contacted them via their web form and hopefully I will hear back before too long.  I haven't searched the internet to see if this is a common problem with these units.  I guess that's my next step.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

This Weekend - Syracuse

This weekend is the 74th Central New York Scottish Games & Celtic Festival.  It is not too far over the border and is a fun Highland Games to attend.  The crowd is great and very appreciative of the bands.  The vendors are not the same ones we see in Ontario so that's a nice change as well.  The down side is the poor exchange rate at the moment.  75 cents on the dollar is tough to swallow.  But there are Outlet Malls!

In Ontario, the Highland Games we attend are all very similar to each other.  Each one has its plusses and minuses but all are enjoyable for different reasons.  My better half loves to find the cool shopping spots and unique stores.  We also look for farmer's markets as most small towns have them.  Antique stores are also cool places to take in if time never know what you'll find there.  The other thing we look for is a small local bakery.  There are always local gems to be had from there.

The setting is lovely at Long Branch Park and I'm really looking forward to competing this weekend.


Monday, 3 August 2015

Pipe Band Season Coming to a Close

Well the summer Highland Games season is fast approaching its close.  It's a bit of a whirlwind with lots of practicing alone and as a band.  This being my second season playing there is still a whole lot to learn but it's not as overwhelming as last season.  The highlight of our competition season is the Glengarry Highland Games of which we are the host band.  It is the North American Championships and you always want to do your best in front of your home crowd.  With 53 bands and almost 200 solo pipers competing across the 5 grades it's safe to say that there were a lot of pipers in Maxville, Ontario this past weekend.  The games are much more than just the solo and band piping competitions.  There are Highland dancing competitions, the Heavy events including the caber toss and hammer throw, the tug of war which had 10 entries of military teams and so much more.  Oh, and lots of food and beer.

My personal experience at the games this year included solo piping and our grade 5 band competition.  This is my first year taking part in the solo piping event.  It's pretty straight forward actually.  You choose a tune at the start of the season and learn it well.  You play for a judge and he evaluates you on many facets of piping.  At the grade 5 level (beginner) you see old guys like me who are adult learners and you see kids under 10 in the same event.  Kids learn the bagpipes much easier than us old guys so it's not uncommon for the youngsters to take the top spots.  There is no real audience while you perform other that the pipers who are piping after you.  It's not really a spectator sport.  The most valuable part of the exercise is the judges score sheet for your performance.  The judge writes on how you performed and includes both what you did well and what needs improving.  It is very constructive so even if you feel your play was weak you also get positive reinforcement for what you did well.  Oddly, even though the score sheet tells you what you need to work on you usually already know where your difficulties lay.  Knowing what you need to do and actually being able to do it under the stress of judgement is a whole different thing.  I won't be graduating out of grade 5 solos into grade 4 any time soon but I know I have learned a lot this year with respect to playing alone in front of a judge.  The tune I played all season, Lochanside, will be retired from my solo playing repertoire and next year I will try something different. It's not that I don't like the tune...I've just played it enough to last me for a while.

Our band competition this year at Maxville did not go as well as we had hoped.  Our numbers are a little lower than we would like with just 9 pipers.  More pipers, although not a guarantee of better results, do give you a bigger more full sound.  The first part of any band competition is the march into the circle while starting to play the tune.  The play begins with 2 rolls from the drums followed by the drones of the pipes and then an E followed by the first tune in the medley.  This is routine but things can happen during this "simple" exercise.  Stress and nerves can cause all sorts of problems including a poor strike-in (to get the drones going) or the dreaded early E.  In an effort to get that good strike-in one can sometimes blow and squeeze too much which causes the early E.  It stands out to all who are listening and as soon as it happens everyone knows it.  It's not a competition killer at the grade 5 level but it certainly doesn't work in your favour.  This year it was I who had the early E and I felt terrible about it.  The important thing about an error like that at the beginning of your set is to not let it rattle you.  It is so easy to start making mistakes in the tune because you are fretting about what just happened and it can be all downhill from there.  Luckily I was able to play the tune without any errors at all which is actually an improvement over the past few Highland games this season.  Nerves sometimes get the best of me and at some point during a play there is a wrong note here or there even though I have played the tunes a hundred times.  Another problem that can happen is the momentary loss of focus.  All it takes is letting your mind wander for 2 seconds and you can lose your place.  It seems simple enough to keep your focus but it isn't as easy as it sounds.  So, despite that nasty early E I played better than normal.  We didn't place very well and it is definitely disappointing that the early E had a big part in that.  You feel like you've let your band mates down.  I know it's happened at Highland games hundreds, if not thousands, of times over the decades and I know it will likely be quickly forgotten but it doesn't make you feel any better.

We have 1, possibly two, more competitions remaining and I know they will be fun as they always are.  The sense of family that you get from a pipe band is difficult to describe but it's like having a bunch of siblings who all have the same hobby.  Pipers and drummers all working to the same goal.  Just as in any family there is drama, arguments, cheers, laughter and sometimes disappointment.....oh and a lot of waiting.  As the 2-year mark approaches since I first picked up the practice chanter I realize how far I have come.  I played tunes fairly well this year that I stumbled through last year and i learned others from scratch that I had never heard of before.  A lot has been learned but I've only nicked the edge of the iceberg of what there is to learn.  I don't aspire to be a grade 1, top level, player.  I know that won't ever happen.  Heck, I don't even know if I'll ever get out of grade 5.  The only thing I aspire to be is better than I was yesterday.  For me and probably everyone else learning to play an instrument there are good days and there are bad days but as long as I'm improving and having fun doing it I'll be happy.

Glengarry Pipe Band - Grade 5 Piping competition in Maxville, Ontario.  2015

Glengarry Pipe Band - Grade 5 Piping competition in Maxville, Ontario.  2015

Photos courtesy of Fred Cattroll

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Off To A Good Start

Yesterday was the Ottawa Branch Indoor Games at a high school in Kemptville Ontario.  This is a smaller piping competition but is the first of the season in these parts and is good for seeing how we do in competition with this years "set".  There were 3 grades competing in the band portion of the competition.  Grades 5, 4 and 3 played in that order.  There were five Gr.5 bands, two Gr.4 bands and two Gr.3 bands.  The order of play always starts with the lower grade (5) first and works up from there.  We were scheduled to play 3rd out of 5 which means we do not get to see bands who play before us as we are far too busy tuning and getting our "sound" just right.

A quick aside on bagpipe sound:
For anyone who is not familiar with bagpipes and how their sound can shift with the smallest of changes in any one of a number of factors may be surprised to learn that a band going into compete, even at the lowest grade, will spend at least an hour warming up the instrument, getting it fine tuned, re-tuned, then don't play too much or it will go out of tune, then play a little bit to keep the reed just "warm" enough, then fine-tune some more right up until the last second before going into the circle.  It's very important that everyone's instrument sounds exactly the same and that can be very difficult in a lower grade band as a person's blowing is not as refined as a higher grade player's is and blowing affects the sound too.  The chanter reed is also a sensitive element as no two are alike.  This year our band members all have new reeds from a different manufacturer.  They are loud and hard but makes for a big bright sound.  We also have new chanters which also have more volume and nice sound.  It makes a big difference as not all reeds or chanters are created equally.

After playing our set and heading off to our classroom to drop off our instruments we returned to the cafeteria to watch the rest of the bands compete.  We saw the final gr. 5 band play and they sounded good.  We then watched the gr. 4 bands play followed by the gr.3s.  Following this the awards for the solo competitors from earlier in the day (the solo competitions are for another post) were handed out.  The band results were then announced and to make a long story short we placed first in our grade.  We were all very excited and pleased with our result but we also know we still have a lot of work to do to eliminate mistakes and improve our unison (playing exactly together).  It was a good start to the season but the next competition, The Kingston Scottish Festival, near Kingston Ontario, is outdoors and that is a whole different thing.  All mistakes and errors are so much more obvious when playing outside and there is no hiding.

Cheers for now

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Received Some Great Instruction (Not Radio Related)

This past weekend I had the rare opportunity to receive some piping instruction from 3 of the world's top pipers.  I attended a workshop in Peterborough, ON for pipers and drummers.  The 3 piping instructors were 8-time winner of the Glenfiddich Piping Championships, Willie McCallum, and multi-winners Angus MacColl and Stuart Liddell.  I won't go into further details of their careers here but suffice it to say that I was exposed to instruction from 3 of the world's finest piping soloists of all time and in Stuart's case the pipe major from one of the world's the top pipe bands (Inveraray and District Pipe Band).  

The pipers in attendance were divided into 3 groups and each were instructed by one of the instructors for 1/2 a day.  Our group of about 12 pipers (generally beginning pipers with up to a few years experience) had our first day's lessons with Angus followed by Willie in the afternoon and we learned 3 tunes: a march (Corriechoillie), a strathspey (Louden's Bonnie Woods and Braes) and a reel (Kate Dalrymple).  We also learned about practising methods and how to train our fingers for better execution.  There is no "trick" to getting better on the bagpipes other than repetition and practising good technique.  Every time you play an embellishment or note transition incorrectly, without going back and doing it properly, you are teaching your fingers to play it wrong.  Your fingers' muscle memory learns bad technique which makes it even harder to correct later.  I always enjoy learning new tunes and I like it even more if it's a tune I have heard before and liked but didn't know the name of which was the case here with Louden's Bonnie Woods and Braes.  I'm very happy to have learned it.

In the evening there was a ceilidh which included a roast beef dinner, a recital from the 3 pipers and the drumming instructors.  This recital was phenomenal.  Incidentally, the ceilidh was a kick-off/launch for a documentary DVD that featured these pipers and 2 drummers on a road trip down the famous Route 66 from Chicago to Santa Monica.  The tour and subsequent DVD was/is called Pipes and Sticks on Route 66.  We got to watch about 2/3 of the DVD before our time was up at the venue but from what I saw it was a great production.

On the second day of the workshop our group received instruction from Stuart and I was not disappointed at all.  He taught us a simple march called I See Mull but he taught it to us without the sheet music.  This was an entirely different way to learn and it was a challenge but it really helps with the memorization of the tune.  He then had us playing the tune on our practice chanters while marching in a circle...all from memory.  This was very different from how I have learned in the past and I liked it.  After a coffee break he asked us what else we would like to talk about or learn and someone mentioned Piobaireachd.  Now this area of piping is very different from the "Light Music" most people associate with the bagpipes.  The tunes are slower and can last almost 20 minutes sometimes.  It is definitely not for everyone, listener or player.  Because of this, he was tentative at first but after everyone expressed their approval he proceeded to teach us a simple Piobaireachd called Glengarry's Lament.  It was great to be exposed to this ancient form of music for the first time to any extent.  I liked it and I may try some out.  After lunch we all went outside and did some piping, marching...usual band stuff.  It was great and I had a blast.  I learned a lot but the thing I learned the most was that it takes a lot of practise and hard work to improve...More GDEs!!!

Me with Stuart Liddell

Sunday, 19 April 2015

The Window Opened...And Then It Closed Again

I wish I were able to report a QSO with a new distant entity but alas I cannot.  What I am pleased about is that for the first time I have heard New Zealand and Australia on my simple wire antenna.  I was on 30M this morning around 1130 UTC and I heard ZL, ZF and VK calls.  There were not a lot of stations after them at the start.  I tried at 5W  over a 20 minute period but they disappeared.  I heard many US calls getting them over that time but they started to fade away.  I always thought that from eastern Ontario I would not be lucky enough to hear stations from 10000 miles away but I can.  I now know that those NL and VK stations may be in my log book after all some day.


Monday, 13 April 2015

Even When The Bands Are Poor...

Lately the bands have not been ideal and with some "reno" jobs on the go lately my operating time has been greatly reduced.  I sat down this evening for 30 minutes and tried for a few contacts.  I don't often get contacts in South or Central America due to the orientation of my fan dipole.  This evening, however I was able to catch YN5SU in Nicaragua on 17M with just 1 watt off the end of my dipole.  That's 2400 Miles Per Watt.  I looked back in my log as I didn't think I had a contact in Nicaragua yet.  Turns out I had YN5SU in my log from 2013.  I always appreciate it when OPS QRS for me as it makes for a much more enjoyable QSO however brief it may be.

Following that I thought I'd try for some QRPp action.  I was able to get Mark N8ME on 30M in Ohio with 500mW and to make it even better, he was QRP at 4W.  I really enjoy a good 2x QRP QSO...especially when I can be QRPp.

I got my fix.


Sunday, 5 April 2015

Two Marshmallows

QRP operators are not ones for instant gratification.  Some say we are gluttons for punishment.  One buddy of mine often says "Life's too short for QRP" followed by chuckles. The way I see it, we would rather have fewer, more meaningful, contacts than a plethora of less meaningful ones.  The Stanford Marshmallow Experiment comes to mind when I think of QRP.  Basically it was a behavioural experiment in the late 60s on delayed/deferred gratification.  Children were given the choice of either having 1 marshmallow right away or waiting a specified period of time when they would be allowed to have 2 marshmallows.  Some kids wanted marshmallows immediately and did not want to wait whereas others knew that if they could wait 30 minutes they would be rewarded with 2.  QRP operators are 2-marshmallow people.

Today while operating I heard OK2ZV calling CQ.  It's not a special call or rare contact or anything like that but with the SP DX contest on it was nice to hear someone calling just CQ.  I started with 500mw and had no luck.  I bumped up to 1W but still had no luck.  I also had to move the dial a bit as he was moving around a bit.  I then tried 2.5W still with no luck so I decided to try go slightly below his luck.  I then went slightly above and Bingo he heard me.  I was so pleased.  I was disappointed that my power was higher than I had hoped but my work in chasing him paid off in the end.  I'll wait for 2 marshmallows any day of the week as I feel it is so much more rewarding.

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Turn Down Before Tuning Up...please.

I'm a pretty easy going fellow and not much bothers me.  One thing, however, that does get my goat occurs when people tune up at what appears to be full power when they don't need to.  When I am working a station, be it a weak one or a strong one, it takes my full attention and I don't do well with distractions.  The distractions bother me less and less as my operating skills improve but the one distraction I cannot overcome happens when people come to a frequency and tune up at such a high power that I can hear nothing else. I know that this is more of a problem for QRP operation as we are often not heard.  I realize that I am operating at 1W or less...maybe 2.5W and that they may not hear me.  I get that but is it really necessary to tune up at full power?  To add to that it seems to take the operator forever to tune causing me to miss a lot of the exchange with my destination station.  I'm glad it doesn't happen on a daily basis and I feel lucky for that but I wish operators would be a little more considerate and turn down before tuning up.

I feel better now.  :o)


Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Didn't Make the Contact - Still Learned Something

I have always been of the opinion that if you go to bed a little smarter than when you woke up that the day was a success.  This hobby tends to do that for me on a regular basis.  Last night as I was spinning the dial listening the the very dead bands I heard that wonderful sound of "QRL?".  You know someone is about to call CQ and maybe you are the only one listening at that moment to attempt the contact.  I say "attempt" because we all know there are no sure things in QRP.  Anyway, I'm listening to the signal and it was pretty strong and then I heard a call sign I did not recognise.  I didn't have time to look it up as I wanted to be the first one on this station.  I threw my call out at what I call full QRO (5w) but I was not heard.  I tried again but was unsuccessful.  Moments later the pileup started and I knew my chances were done.  I then opened the QRZ page and entered in the call sign S01WS.  I had never heard of a country called Western Sahara but here was a club call from there.  The Sahrawi Amateur Radio Union - Club Station in Tifariti has over 200,000 lookups so I'm sure most reading this will be familiar with that station but it was new to me.  Then, of course, I had to look up this unfamiliar country to find that it is not a country at all but instead is the subject of a decades-long dispute between Morocco and Algeria.  This was news to me and a few other people I spoke with.  I love learning this sort of thing and Amateur Radio brings me many of these.  I think that is one of the reasons I like this hobby so much.  Here is a link to a profile of Western Sahara in case you are as curious as I was.

Although I didn't get the QSO, I did go to bed smarter than when I woke up and that's good enough for me...until next time, that is.

#hamradio #amateurradio #qrp #CW

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Reminiscing - first CW QSO

I was looking through the small stack of QSL cards I have received over the past few years and found the card from the first QSO I ever had.  I have only ever operated CW on HF and I remember practicing my code with the G4FON program.  It was 2006 and didn't want to spend a lot of money to get on HF.  My elmer at the time sold me a partially functioning HW-8 for $30 to see if I could get it going.  I got it working and listened to 20M calling CQ but I was very nervous that anyone would actually answer my call.  Lucky for me, I was only transmitting about 800mW on 20M so I knew the chances of being heard were small.  I wanted to get a QSO but was afraid of not being able to keep up with my code.

One Sunday afternoon in Dec of 2006 I heard the band open as I had never heard it before.  Looking back I don't even remember if he answered my call or the other way around but Dean, W7VVW, and I had a nice QSO.  It was my very first CW QSO and he didn't send too fast for me which was always my biggest fear.

I sent a QSL card the next day in hopes of receiving his.  When I received that card in the mail I was so proud of it that I had it on the fridge with a magnet for some time afterwards.  He also included a nice note with the card since he knew it was my first.

Little did I know at the time that not only had I made my first contact at QRPp levels but I had also achieved 2609 Miles Per Watt.  I was totally hooked on QRP and now I can't even imagine owning a QRO station.  It is still my favourite QSL card and my favourite QSO ever.  I still have that HW-8 in a box somewhere.  I have since upgraded to the FT-817 but may pull that old girl out one of these days.  It was a lot of fun.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Need To Pull Out the Rock Mite

I was looking through some photos I had stored online in my Photobucket account and found these pics of when I first built my Rock Mite for 20M.  I need to pull it out as the weather warms up for some QRPp action.  #QRP  #QRPp  #minimalist

First Event of the Piping Season

I just submitted my entry for my first solo piping competition.  As a second year piper I am still in the lowest grade which in North America is 5.  Last season I did not take part in any solo competitions as I was too busy learning so many of the other tunes you are expected to be able to play as part of the Grade 5 band.  In eastern Ontario the first event of the piping season is the Ottawa Branch Indoor Highland Games.  It really is more of a piping competition than a Highland Games but that's just semantics.  The solo competitions take place in the morning and the band portions take place in the afternoon.  The event takes place on May 9th so there is still plenty of time to iron out my solo performance piece.  The requirement for grade 5 solos is a 2-parted March with any time signature.  Mine is a 3/4 March called Lochanside which I feel I know quite well.  The judging at this particular event is unique because you perform in front of the judge and the judge alone.  There are no spectators to make you extra nervous.  That's good for my first solo attempt.  Our band performance in the afternoon will also be our first of the season.  We have been working on our March Medley since late October.  Hopefully it comes together in time for this first event of the season.  Here is a photo from last year.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015


I had a project last fall to have my basement spray foam insulated.  My Ham Shack is in the basement and it was always so cold during the winter months.  By cold I mean about 10C.  This was not very conducive to enjoyable radio operation. I removed the old drywall and "insulation".  I won't even tell you the things I found in the walls but needless to say many critters of various type had lived in those walls over the years causing the insulation to sag and basically be almost ineffectual.  The spray foam insulation was installed in October and the installation of the drywall took me forever for me to complete as it was my first time doing it.  Then came the painting and laying down of the flooring.  It took me most of the winter but now my basement is so much warmer.  Once the room was completed I was able to set up my shack again and all it took was setting the FT-817 up again and I was right back at it. It took a few QSOs to knock the rust off my FIST but it's all back to normal now.  I didn't realize how much I missed it until I had a few contacts.  It's so nice when you can operate in comfort.  Now I am getting ideas, as spring approaches, to improve my antennas.  My antennas are all wire dipoles but I want to expand my band options.  My 30-20-10 fan dipole is actually more of a 30-17-15-12.  I think I will put up a separate fan dipole for 20-40 this summer.  With that up I can really work on getting some QRPp work going and get some increased Miles Per Watt QSOs.  My best so far is 6983 MPW to UA4HBW in Russia in February of 2013.  I know I can do way better than that either with some milliwatt transmitters or with some attenuators on my 817.

Lots to do and have fun with.  Looking forward to it.

Deja Vu All Over Again

I had a blog about a year ago but closed it as I felt I wasn't posting to it enough.  I'm going to give it another shot.  Between Amateur Radio and bagpiping/Pipe Band and anything else I can think of including books I've read, trips I've taken and so on I think I should be able to keep this going.  I don't expect people to visit the page actually.  Why would they?  I just like the thought of keeping a journal of tidbits of things I find interesting or fun.  That's it.