Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Revisiting an old interest

Couple of weeks ago the Geofamily made another trip to Mayo Clinic.  Third one this year. 

Plus side:  Caribou Coffee, better selection of eateries than what's available in our small town, Leininkugel's beer, having been to Rochester before so we know what to expect, having been to Mayo before so we know what to expect, K-cup brewer in the hotel room (brought our own varieties!), being prepared. 

Minus side:  Disrupts school and work, 10 hours there, 10 hours back. 

One morning I decided to rise early (before dawn) and walk outside with my tried-and-true radio receiver, which is still functioning well for being almost 19 years old.  The purpose?  AM radio DXing. 

That means picking up signals from faraway stations. 

I tried it when we visited Rochester previously but due to the time of year (solar interference) the results were a bit disappointing.  I figured now, since we were past the equinox my chances of hearing more places would be better. 

Were they ever. 

Trudged outside in the near-freezing temps. 

Why outside?  With today's electronics such as wi-fi having an AM radio indoors in a hotel is nearly pointless.  Generally all you will get is hum on all but the local station frequencies.  However if I walked to the car just getting away from the building makes a significant difference. 

Picked up 990 in Winnipeg, Manitoba (CBW).  A CBC broadcast devoting a whole half-hour to the subject of hot dogs.  I'm not kidding.  One more reason I'm glad I don't live in Hoserland. 

That wasn't the only Canuck station I heard.  On 900 was CMHL which originates from Hamilton, Ontario.  And then a station which I've been trying to get ever since I moved from Arizona.  800 AM, CKLW from Windsor, Ontario.  It's been many many years since the station's heyday as Detroit's Top 40 station of choice but I still desire to add it to my log of catches.  I never have been able to get this one in Kansas due to interference from XEROK in Juarez. 

Picked up another station with a lot of history.  KDKA in Pittsburgh.  (They claim to be the first commercial radio station in the world, first hitting the air in 1920.)  I also heard several of the Chicago blowtorches but that wasn't real significant to me at this time since I can get many of them at my home in the Sunflower State. 

I should mention here that Chicago's WLS (890) was one of the very first AM stations I DX'd.  Would have been around 1978 or 79.  Picked it up on my AM/FM clock radio one night in my Houston, Texas bedroom.  Whetted my appetite for hearing distant stations, an interest that continues to the present.  (Why else would I write an entry on this subject?) 

Many others.  Cleveland.  Milwaukee, Twin Cities (OK, that was a gimmee).  Several from Iowa. 

And then my Holy Grail of cities. 

New York, NY

Given my travels have never taken me very far east I have not had the chance to catch any of the Big Apple's powerful AM stations.  A few years ago I thought I had heard WFAN which broadcasts sports talk on 660 (the former WNBC-AM).   You can imagine my disappointment when I finally learned it was not WFAN but rather WBHR from further north in Minnesota. 

With anticipation I tuned the radio to 770.  Fuzzy talking, fading in and out but I finally discerned it was the Don Imus show.  It wasn't until I went back to the hotel room and got on the 'Net that I confirmed it was the one I hoped for--WABC.  I can't hear this one where I live as Albuquerque's KKOB is on the same frequency and also uses 50,000 watts of power. 

But I had another surprise in store. 

I tuned up to 880 on the dial, expecting to hear KRVN which broadcasts from very close to my place of residence.  Nope. 

Very strong, very clear signal of WCBS, also from NYC. 


I walked back into the hotel lobby, a bit chilly (even though I dressed warm) and ready for another cup of coffee. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

An Aggie Joke?

And no, I am not referring to their loss at Alabama two days ago.

It's been over 30 years since I've lived in Texas.  I haven't told an Aggie joke in probably more than 20 years.

I did catch one not long ago and figured this is as good a forum as any to share it.

I read an article on about the turf at Kyle Field being replaced completely due to damage from torrential storms and subsequent games making the bad situation worse.  As A&M would not be playing at home again until October 11 it gave the school time to do the needed work.

One commenter wrote:  "Remember Aggies, it's green side up!"

That Texas A&M is a land-grant school only adds to the humor.


I've been trying to do some posts but two things got in the way.  Geoana constantly needing the computer to do her schoolwork and my inability to log in to Blogger due to Geoana's schoolwork. She logs in to Google Docs via her school account.  However when I try to log her out so I can log in under my own username and password Google still doesn't let me log in.

Granted I haven't officially complained (except for right here, right now) and I have not yet looked on the 'Net for a possible solution.  I guess that will give me something to do tomorrow.