Saturday, March 29, 2008

Darkness and catches

A few hours ago (about 3:50 a.m., Central Time, to be exact) I am in a halfway state between being awake and asleep. At that time of the morning that's not unusual for me. The fan is humming away (I like to sleep with white noise). Then silence.

A few moments, then I'm fully awake.

It's not only quiet, it's very dark.

Then my mind begins to function. Power outage!

Sure enough. The only source of light in my room comes from the "sleep status" light on my MacBook. Hmmm, I wonder what the view outside my window looks like? Is this a neighborhood thing or is the entire area affected?

Struggle to find my glasses in the dark (took a little time), then slowly and carefully walked to the window (took a little more time, but I didn't crash into anything).

It's dark out there! No moon (yet). The whole town is enveloped in blackness. Somewhat reminiscent of that scene from "Close Encounters Of The Third Kind." Even the red light on top of the water tower is out. The only things with power appear to be the transmission towers south of town, still blinking red.

Anyway, I'm now wide awake and in the dark. And it's cold. What to do now? How about grabbing the (battery-powered) radio and seeing what I can DX?

Let me explain. Trying to pull in distant stations on the AM dial has long been a hobby of mine. Yet I haven't engaged in this activity for many years, mainly due to my move into full adulthood which meant devoting my time to family activities and keeping a household functioning.

But for right now I'm alone in a new town. In an area of the country to which I am new. DX heaven! And having only two truly local signals on the dial is just icing on the cake.

So what do I hear? Some new signals, ones I haven't been able to get doing my early night DXing. Such as WJR from Detroit, plus some west coast signals: KNX, KFI, KNBR. And 620 KTAR, from my old stomping grounds.

Even though I've been listening to stations that I haven't been able to pick up since my days in Houston, I still have yet to catch a couple of "Holy Grail" signals here in western Kansas. One is actually any station from New York. Most likely I would pick up either WABC or WFAN, both nighttime powerhouses. But on 770 (WABC's frequency), I get KKOB from Albuquerque instead. WFAN operates on 660, but that spot on the dial just gives me garbled gibberish. WFAN and KTNN are probably duking it out. I have no hope of getting WCBS, another strong NYC station. You see, I am about 45 to 50 miles (as the crow flies) from the sticks of KRVN, the local blowtorch which operates on the 880 frequency--same as WCBS.

Why New York? Never have caught any of those stations in my many years of DXing. (It doesn't help that I haven't been east of the Mississippi River in over three decades.) I have heard stations from Los Angeles and Chicago, the other two major media markets, so NYC remains a goal for me.

The other desired capture for me would be CKLW from Windsor, Ontario. (Just across the river from Detroit.) Sadly when I tune my radio to 800, I hear XEROK from Ciudad Juarez rather than CKLW. What's significant about this station from the Great White North? A whole lot of history. See here. And listen here.

Speaking of radio, is our local station operating during this blackout? A quick check of both frequencies, and yes, the local AM/FM combo is on. Playing "American Pie." Yeeesh.

I'm glad there's other stuff out there.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

What a first day!

I’m not sure of the altitude, but we’re zipping along in the sky.

Wait, scratch that, I just took a glance toward the cockpit, we’re at 18,000 feet.

And it’s my first day on the job.

So what’s the story?

No, I’m not taking flight lessons, nor am I flying commercial. (Pause. Stop writing and close up the computer. We're hitting some turbulence. I am glad Geogal is not here, she'd be freaking out.)

Resume writing. A day later. (Hard at work and exhausted on Monday night.)

I reported to work yesterday and before the afternoon was an hour old I was flying to Colorado with four of my new colleagues. I won't go into details about how all of this came about, let's just say I was in the right place at the right time.

And if Geodad is reading this, I learned the aircraft is a Beechcraft King Air B100.

So I am writing this as I sit in a Denver hotel. Hmmm, wasn't I just here (the city, not the hotel) less than a week ago? Yogi Berra said it best: "It's deja vu all over again."

My only gripe is that I didn't pack my camera. I could have gotten some great pics. (I watched the sun come up over the Colorado horizon this a.m.)

Saturday, March 22, 2008

I needed a day of R & R

I meant to do a post yesterday but my body and mind had other ideas.

Yesterday afternoon I did something I haven't done for months--take an afternoon nap. A good move. I also got about 7 hours of sleep last night. That is a significant improvement over the past few nights.

I am enjoying my rested state. Today my wanderlust got the better of me and I headed for Kearney, Nebraska to do some shopping. I think the truck was so thankful to no longer have to pull that trailer that it didn't mind driving into a hard, cold wind.

Incidentally, anyone who thinks this area is flat and treeless has obviously never been here. The rolling prairie sometimes rolls into significant hills and trees abound among the creeks and ponds in the areas. Right now the trees are dormant but I bet in a few weeks they will be a nice shade of green.

Driving east from Denver was not difficult. Plus, it was good to be alone at last! I think my dad and I can probably only tolerate constantly being around each other for no more than two days. Since I had never driven east from Denver before, at least further east than the airport, the newness of the route kept my interest and attention.

Except that for the first few minutes of the "leaving Denver" drive I would look north and see the DIA control tower. A few minutes later, same thing. "Just how far east is the airport?" my inner voice asked. I had visions of being in Burlington (about 12 miles from the Kansas border), looking over my left shoulder, and still seeing the Denver airport!

I did lunch in Burlington. As I was leaving the Burger King, a couple of carloads of teenagers came in, engaging in such discussion as: "Are we still in Colorado?" I'll be glad when spring break is over.

A picture? Why not? How about the Great Platte River Road Archway just east of Kearney? If you saw "About Schmidt," this was where he stopped just before the end of the movie. I chose to not go in during this visit. I'll save that for when I take little Geoana there. She seems to enjoy American history and will love seeing this attraction.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Big Trip, day three

Made it!

Yes, now I am in the Sunflower State. And I'm really tired. Bone-deep tired. So no detailed posting today. Just relaxation after three long days of driving.

See you tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A vast improvement

Ahhh...that’s better.

50,000 times improved from last night.

Geodad and I get to Denver, are able to check in at the hotel with no problem. Their Internet connection works. Their exercise room, pool, and spa are all functional.

The going today also was less stressful than yesterday’s trip starter. You see, yesterday consisted of a LOT of hill-climbing. No problem when you have a decent vehicle. But when you add a large U-Haul trailer and hitch it to the back of your truck, things change. No more going 70 uphill. Try going 40 or even 35. Makes you feel like a big-rig trucker with a full trailer. Except when nearly all the 18-wheelers are passing you going uphill.

But for today, just a few tough hills, not many. Plus today’s route was all interstate which allowed for faster straightaway driving.

But enough about all that. Time for some pics. As alluded in the prior entry, these pictures are all in Colorado. There’s still some patches of snow on the ground, mainly in shady areas. But at one rest area there seemed to be an abundance of the refrozen white stuff. Take a look at one of the pics and you’ll see what appears to be the remnants of someone’s snowman. (Look at the upper portion of that picture for a view of my truck with the trailer attached.)

Two states down, one more to enter. Tomorrow will be the most interesting part of the drive, i.e. unfamiliar territory. Save for a portion of Arizona Highway 87 and Interstate 40 from Winslow to Holbrook, I have previously traveled the roads of this trek. Tomorrow that all changes. Tomorrow also means no significant hills!

The Big Trip, day one

To all readers who were expecting an entry yesterday (first day on the road-kind-of-thing), I apologize, although my Internet absence was not of my doing.

It seemed simple enough--check in at the already-reserved hotel. Nope. I walked through the door and was told there were no more rooms available. This, despite Geogal having made the reservations online several days in advance. No dice. Still nothing available. The guy at the front desk said it was an unforeseen issue handed down by management. Whatever.

Went to the next hotel over and was able to secure a room. But their key-card creator wasn’t working, therefore a staff person would need to let us into the room each time. Whatever.

I ask about the pool/hot tub area. The guy tells me those are “out of order.” Whatever.

Get into room, fire up the Macbook. No ‘Net. No wireless, the Ethernet connection also was dead. Whatever.

It’s already getting late into the evening. I’m tired. Geodad is tired. Walk over to Denny’s (it actually was a good meal), then return to the room, watch a little bit of the idiot box, then fall asleep.

I don’t think I’ll be overnighting in Bernalillo, NM again.

No photos for this entry. There just wasn’t much for me to snap on this leg of the trip. However, for the next set of prose I promise some pictures of beautiful Colorado snow-capped peaks.

Time to go eat then work out, to be followed by a dip in the spa.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

No lazy Sunday here

Time’s getting shorter now.

Time to leave, that is. I start the great Kansas expedition in less than two days. For the past few days it seems I am doing nothing but saying goodbye, packing, and doing the few thousand other small things that a relocation requires. Add to this the reality that no matter how well I prepare I will definitely need something during the trip that will require a stop at a Target, Wal-Mart, or hardware store. But that’s OK, I can recognize the fact that this is 2008, not 1908. No covered wagon for this guy.

Some distantly-connected thoughts:

Geogal told me Kansas raises the best beef cattle in the country. This after downing a T-bone steak last night (gotta get in one last round of cooking dead animal over an open flame).

Thank you, Dave, for the great good-bye lunch at Fogo E Brasa. If you are a carnivore, this is your Shangri-La.

Today is Sunday. I wonder what Sunday paper I’ll be reading one week from today. The Kansas City Star? The Wichita Eagle? The Denver Post? Probably not the last one. Something to do with state lines.

The Madness is starting. My team didn’t close the deal last night. At least they played Boise State to three overtimes. Not too shabby, even in a loss.

I’m getting pumped about the road trip. A lot of preparation, but I think the effort will pay off well.

More to come....

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Does that mean I can no longer be called Arizona Pundit??

NOTE TO READERS: The following was originally posted on March 1, 2008. I removed it quickly as this post dealt with news of relocating and job changes. At that time not everyone involved knew of these developments and both Geoguy and Geogal decided it was better to tell people ourselves rather than have them learn it from reading the blog.


You see, I am moving to Kansas fairly soon.

The process leading up to a job offer that will require relocation to the Sunflower State has been the cause of my high stress (alluded to in my previous posting). And now that previous stress is replaced with a new variety of tension.

Yet I'm certain everything will work out OK. And I have to admit I am excited about the prospect of setting down roots in an entirely new place. (Since 1982, I have lived either in Arizona or New Mexico, and always in a desert clime.)

And don't anyone give me guff about Kansas being the middle of nowhere and not on anyone's radar scope. Case in point: I turned on ESPN this morning to catch up on the sports news. Where was College Gameday coming from this date?

Lawrence, Kansas.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Microfilm, magazines, and mucho calories

Today was one of those odd days where I had no work commitments. The Geohouse is also quiet, as Geogal and little Geoana are both in the Lone Star State while I hold down the fort.

So I decided to visit a place I have known of for years, but have never visited. The Burton Barr Central Library in Phoenix. I admit it, I’m a nerd and the opportunity to look up some old newspaper and magazine articles proved too tempting.

I started with trying to look up a story from 1982. I was unsuccessful in finding it--if it was in the paper at all--I saw the item in one of the Wallace’s Book Of Lists (see I told you I was a nerd). While looking for the story in question, I noticed the ads. Lots of them, just as there are a lot in newspapers now.

What struck me is that just about all of the businesses are gone now. Some simply went out of business, others were taken over. This also was before Wal-Mart arrived in Arizona (that would not happen for another two to three years).

Then there are the gut-busters. Such as seeing how much electronic items cost in ’82. (Want to buy a stereo system with an 8-track player?) Or the ads for cars back in those days. Electronic items were so expensive, vehicles were so cheap.

I’m not nostalgic for those days, by the way. It wasn’t a good time of my life.

Anyhow, back to the ads. I did see some for Mecham Pontiac. One of the “Holy Grails” for my living in Arizona was to see a car with a decal or plate frame touting the fact it came from the dealership owned by a man who became governor, was impeached and removed from office, and passed away a few days ago.

However I (to this day) have never seen a “Mecham” Pontiac. Probably never will. Those cars don’t age well and I have no idea how long that dealership has been defunct.


After my library visit, I went to the TexAz Grill for a chicken-fried-steak lunch (in honor of the rest of my family being in you-know-where).

I wasn’t hungry again until late into this evening. That includes an afternoon where I exercised and did some yard work. Let’s hear it for good Texas food!

Return quickly, my two favorite gals!