Monday, May 30, 2005

Monday, May 16, 2005

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Large photo gallery of professional "fuji"

Michael Moments


Sunday, May 15, 2005

Why Did God Make Mothers?

Why did God make Mothers?
Enjoy the answers given by elementary school age children to the following questions:)

Why did God make mothers?
1. She's the only one who knows where the scotch tape is.
2. Mostly to clean the house.
3. To help us out of them when we were getting born.

What kind of little girl was your Mom?
1. My Mom has always been my Mom and none of that other stuff.
2. I don't know because I wasn't there, but my guess would be pretty bossy.
3. They say she used to be nice.

How did God make mothers?
1. He used dirt, just like for the rest of us.
2. Magic plus super powers and a lot of stirring.
3. God made my Mom just the same like he made me. He just used bigger parts.

What ingredients are mothers made of?
1. God makes mothers out of clouds and angel-hair and everything nice in the world, and one dab of mean.
2. They had to get their start from men's bones. Then they mostly use string. I think.

What did Mom need to know about Dad before she married him?
1. His last name.
2. She had to know his background. Like is he a crook? Does he get drunk on beer?
3. Does he make at least $800 a year? Did he say NO to drugs and YES to chores?

Why did your Mom marry your Dad?
1. My dad makes the best spaghetti in the world. And my Mom eats a lot.
2. She got too old to do anything else with him.
3. My grandma says that Mom didn't have her thinking cap on.

Who's the boss at your house?
1. Mom doesn't want to be boss, but she has to because Dad's such a goofball.
2. Mom. You can tell by room inspection. She sees the stuff under the bed.
3. I guess Mom is, but only because she has a lot more to do than Dad.

What's the difference between moms and dads?
1. Moms work at work and work at home, and dads just got to work at work.
2. Moms know how to talk to teachers without scaring them.
3. Dads are taller and stronger, but moms have all the real power cause that's who you got to ask if you want to sleep over at your friend's.

What does your Mom do in her spare time?
1. Mothers don't do spare time.
2. To hear her tell it, she pays bills all day long.

What would it take to make your Mom perfect?
1. On the inside she's already perfect. Outside, I think some kind of plastic surgery.
2. Diet. You know, her hair.

If you could change one thing about your Mom, what would it be?
1 She has this weird thing about me keeping my room clean. I'd get rid of that.
2. I'd make my Mom smarter. Then she would know it was my sister who did it and not me.

Why did God give you your Mother and not some other Mom?
1. We're related.
2. God knew she likes me a lot more than other people's moms like me.

Blogs that Flickr

Ifn u cn rd ths, u mite b a ham

"Ifn u cn rd ths, u mite b a ham"
By Michelle Thompson W5NYV

Which do you think is faster at transmitting a
message? Morse code? Or text messaging on a cellular
phone? There have been several interesting match races
appearing in the media over the last few weeks, with
CW winning handily over the hip-and-happening text
messaging crowd. A mid-April 2005 battle sponsored by
Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, Australia pitted
93-year-old telegraph operator Gordon Hill won against
13-year-old text messager Brittany Devlin. Gordon Hill
won in all four heats. Furthermore, Gordon sent the
full text of the competition message, while Brittany
was allowed to use abbreviations.

Abbreviations are common in traditional telegraphy and
in amateur radio CW. Most everyone is familiar with
the Q codes (e.g. QST, QRZ, QTH) and some are familiar
with the telegraphy abbreviations (abt=about,
agn=again, ant=antenna) but text messaging compresses
any word that can be compressed. Some of the
abbreviations are reinventions of the telegraphy
shorthand. Other common text messaging abbreviations
seek to eliminate the letters that are on the same
number key, in order to take advantage of the
automatic next-letter jump when going from one key to
another in text mode. Other abbreviations eliminate
unpronounced letters. Some examples of common text
message abbreviations are ur=your, ty=thank you, and
pls=please. See
for an entertaining list of many additional text
messaging abbreviations.

Perhaps the most widely seen contest between text
messaging and Morse code was the recent segment on The
Tonight Show with Jay Leno. To see the segment, follow
this link.

The show ran on the 13th of May, 2005. The Morse code
team was Chip Margelli, K7JA and Ken Miller, K6CTW,
dressed in traditional telegraphy garb. They sure
looked spiffy in their green shades, white shirts,
black slacks, and old-school armbands. The costumes,
Ken Miller says, were the producer’s idea, but both
Chip and Ken had fun wearing them.

Ben Cook and his friend Jason were the text messaging
team. They were hip and cool in their jeans and
T-Shirts. Ben had established his reputation as
fastest text messager by at some time previous to the
contest by typing 160 characters in 57 seconds. In
English, five characters per word is the standard used
to measure typing speed in words per minute. Using an
average of five characters per word, that’s just about
32 words per minute. Knowing that text messagers might
be able to use abbreviations to lower the letters per
word, that could raise the words per minute rate by
quite a bit. By cutting out only one letter in every
other word in a text message, you can increase your
words-per-minute rate to nearly 37 words per minute.
In other words, the word-per-minute rate might be
expected to be in the ballpark of Morse code. However,
that’s neglecting the time it takes for the text
message to propagate through a cellular phone system.

For the contest on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, the
sending members of the team sat at one table on the
left-hand side of the stage, and the receivers at
another table on the right-hand side of the stage. Ken
Miller decided that he would be the Morse code
receiver because he was less bothered by the crowd
noise. A card with the message to be sent was placed
face-down on the table. At the word Go, the sender
turned the card over and began transmitting the phrase
on the card to the receiver, each using their
particular technology. You could see the small radio
and key that Chip was using to send as well as the
small radio and speaker that Ken was using to receive.
The Morse code was clearly audible in the studio. Jay
Leno continued talking during the contest, but that
didn’t seem to bother either team, as they were
completely and totally focused on the task at hand.
Ken writes, “The radios were FT-817's provided by
Chip's company Yaesu and HRO. Reason for that choice
was that we needed the most frequency agile radios we
could get. When I talked to the technical folks, they
recommended we START at 2 meters and go up because of
all of the lower frequency noise and RFI from the
other TV equipment. When I got there, we took out a
spectrum analyzer and studied all of the interference
possibilities. I ended up choosing 432.200 MHz
because that guaranteed no RFI from their equipment
and we were high enough not to overload their front
ends either. This was then verified and it was what
we were using at the FT-817's lowest setting.”
Ken continues “Also, since we did not have the time to
set up headphones, I just added some extra volume for
me, had the stage folks cut my mike (to prevent
feedback and overload) and copied off of the speaker.
To re-emphasize the point, I'm just an average CW op
who occasionally operates the CW SS QRP, with my K2 of
course, and really enjoys CW, and traffic handling.”

Therefore, the contest was between someone who
considers themselves an average CW operator against
the fastest text messengers the Tonight Show could
find to fly in for the show.

Ken explained that he was confident that 28-30 wpm
would easily keep us in front of even the current
world record holder of fastest text messager, and also
it is the fastest speed that he could make nice
readable copy on paper with a pencil, which is what he
used to write down the message.

Interestingly, Joe Drago, who is a props manager for
the show, is
KF6OCP. There were three rehearsals for the skit.
Morse code won every time. In the segment that aired,
Ben Cook was getting ready to enter the last two words
when Ken and Chip finished their transmission. The
text was not revealed to either team beforehand and
was different in each rehearsal as well as for the
live event. Ken’s wife Connie was very much
responsible for the producer deciding to go ahead with
the segment, as she talked up the concept on the phone
and sold the idea of the segment working. Ken says
that without her efforts, the segment would never have

If you enjoyed the segment, PLEASE email, write, etc.
to let "The
Tonight Show" know about it. Exposure for our hobby is
a powerful tool for protecting it, increasing
awareness of it, and attracting new members to it.
Think of the number of people in the studio audience
alone that day that were introduced to Morse code and
ham radio in an entertaining, accessible way. Give the
show some feedback! Send them your QSL card and tell
them thanks for airing this segment. Here is the

Tonight Show with Jay Leno
3000 W. Alameda Ave.
Burbank, CA 91523

Very special thanks to Dennis Vernaccia N6KI, Art
Wallace W6KY, and Roger Thompson AD5T for contributing
to this article.

Recycling Old PCs


Saturday, May 07, 2005


7may2005 143


Wasn't there an MTV show called Oddities at one point? Didn't that show debut the anime version of Aeon Flux?

Anyway. Check this out.

7may2005 013

This is in the women's handicap stall restroom of IHOP on Del Mar Heights Road. Now notice on the righthand side of the changing table. There is an odd texture.

7may2005 016

It's braille.

The layers of abstraction enthrall me.

You have a baby. You're blind. You're in IHOP. The baby needs changing. This braille message is supposed to help...

I got to tell you, a convenient braille message located on the righthand side of a changing table in the handicap stall of the women's restroom is that LAST thing on my list of things I would need if I were blind AND had a stinky baby diaper to deal with, while trying to eat my International Burrito. I'm impressed.



Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Model Railroad Circuit SG1M Built

Soldered up this nice and easy kit tonight.


It's a speaker, battery box, circuit card with COB doodad, and four switches. It makes three different train sounds with the fourth switch playing all three in order. It was nice to do some soldering. I taught my four-year-old what a multimeter looks like and that it's important to test what we build. Definitely an enjoyable evening. The next task is making up a good model railroad enclosure.

Model Railroad Museum Visit

Today I took my two kids to the Model Railroad Museum for a visit. It's one of my favorite places in San Diego. While on a trip to one of the local electronics stores a couple of months ago, I had bought a few small kits that make train sounds. At the museum, we were shown a model train layout that had a guy painting up a billboard. I thought that it might be a neat idea to try to place the railroad noises circuit in an Altoids tin, and use the Altoids tin as a billboard or side of a building in our model train layout at home.

Here's a photo of some of the club members that set up the layouts in the model railroad museum:


I'm kicking around the idea of making the model railroad layout at home be Amateur Radio Themed. Stuff like HRO boxcars, antennas, and field day parties all modeled in miniature.

There is a very interesting thing in model railroad circles. It's very similar to a QSL card and is called a Rail Pass. A good introduction to the concept of a rail pass can be found here.

Essentially, if you are a railroad modeler, you have a cool little paper (or electronic) pass that has your train layout on the back and information on the front. It's essentially a record of a visit, or contact, and seems to me to be very similar to a QSL card.

Here is an example of a model railroad railpass.

Rail Pass

The Role of Humor and Laughter in Prayer

The Role of Humor and Laughter in Prayer (draft for podcast)
By Michelle Thompson

Humor has an amazingly broad range in human experience. When we laugh together at something funny, we transcend the distance between us as individuals. A visually funny experience doesn’t even require that the participants speak the same language for full participation. An example of this would be a vaudeville act, a circus clown act, or watching someone get a cream pie in the face a la The Three Stooges.

What should be immediately obvious is that laughing at someone and laughing with someone are two very different yet closely related things. Both are effective humorous methods, yet laughing at someone, while undeniably a universal human experience, is considered negative, and laughing with someone is considered quite positive. Both types of humor occur in scripture and in modern humorous prayer.

Another aspect of laughter and humor is that the expression of laughter doesn’t necessarily indicate that something funny is happening in scripture. On the contrary, a number of references to laughter are quite sobering. Let’s look at those first to get a handle on helping us settle the place of laughter and humor in prayer.

Proverbs 14:13
Even in laughter the heart may ache, and joy may end in grief.
Proverbs 14:12-14 (in Context) Proverbs 14 (Whole Chapter)
Ecclesiastes 2:2
"Laughter," I said, "is foolish. And what does pleasure accomplish?"
Ecclesiastes 2:1-3 (in Context) Ecclesiastes 2 (Whole Chapter)
Ecclesiastes 7:3
Sorrow is better than laughter, because a sad face is good for the heart.
Ecclesiastes 7:2-4 (in Context) Ecclesiastes 7 (Whole Chapter)
Ecclesiastes 7:6
Like the crackling of thorns under the pot, so is the laughter of fools. This too is meaningless.
Ecclesiastes 7:5-7 (in Context) Ecclesiastes 7 (Whole Chapter)
Ecclesiastes 10:19
A feast is made for laughter, and wine makes life merry, but money is the answer for everything.
Ecclesiastes 10:18-20 (in Context) Ecclesiastes 10 (Whole Chapter)
James 4:9
Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom.
James 4:8-10 (in Context) James 4 (Whole Chapter)

8Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

Psalm 37:13

13 but the Lord laughs at the wicked,
for he knows their day is coming.
Psalm 59:8

8 But you, O LORD, laugh at them;
you scoff at all those nations.
Proverbs 1:26

26 I in turn will laugh at your disaster;
I will mock when calamity overtakes you-

If there was ever a need to support the notion that laughter has no place in a prayerful life, then you might be inclined to find it here. Laughter seems to be linked to frivolity, sinning, foolishness, and a transitory state of pleasure at the expense of the immortal soul.

However, we know that there is

a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.
Ecclesiastes 3:4

And we know that

22 A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
Proverbs 17:21-23

The idea of balance, the presence of laughter, and the cheerfulness of heart, are encouraged in scripture.

Genesis 21:6
Sarah said, "God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me."
Genesis 21:5-7 (in Context) Genesis 21 (Whole Chapter)
Job 8:21
He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy.
Psalm 126:2
Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, "The LORD has done great things for them."
Psalm 126:1-3 (in Context) Psalm 126 (Whole Chapter)

Satirical humor depends on ridicule to be funny and is often accomplished by manipulating a misunderstanding, using clever misspellings, and combinations of phrases or situations that probably shouldn’t go together.

Here’s an example of satire. These are alleged to be quotes from church bulletins. You may have seen some of these in email that’s been circulating around the internet for a number of years.

Bertha Belch, a missionary from Africa will be speaking tonight at Calvary Memorial Church in Racine. Come tonight and hear Bertha Belch all the way from Africa.

Our youth basketball team is back in action Wednesday at 8 PM in the recreation hall. Come out and watch us kill Christ the King.

The senior choir invites any member of the congregation who enjoys sinning to join the choir.

For those of you who have children and don't know it, we have a nursery downstairs.

The Rev. Merriwether spoke briefly, much to the delight of the audience.

Potluck supper: prayer and medication to follow.

Don't let worry kill you off - let the church help.

While funny, this type of humor doesn’t seem to illustrate anything in particular about prayer or the church. Any moderately large group of people is a worthy target of clever satire. Satirical humor isn’t much fun when you are the butt of the joke, but the motivation for satire is very often to protest something. An examination of what provoked the protest can be very rewarding to a life of faith, as self-examination is one of the fruits of the labor of prayer.

Very often, satire magnifies something about a group or institution that is either misunderstood or needs to be changed. Fussiness, stodginess, hypocrisy, and short-sightedness almost instantly inspire satire. These are also things that we should all strive to eliminate from our faith lives. Not everything that is satirized is negative, but satire in many cases offers a quick humility check for the target of the joke.

Next, let’s consider something funny that also illuminates or illustrates a positive teaching point. For example,

I had been teaching my four-year-old son, Michael, the Lord’s Prayer for several evenings at bedtime. He would repeat after me the lines from the prayer.
Finally, she decided to go solo. I listened with pride as he carefully enunciated each word right up to the end of the prayer:
“Lead us not into temptation,” he prayed, “but deliver us some E-mail.”

As Socrates said, “The beginning of wisdom is the definition of terms”. Know what you are saying when you say it, especially in a prayer, or you may end up immortalized in a joke.

My wife invited some people to dinner. At the table, she turned to our six-year-old daughter and said, "Would you like to say the blessing?"

"I wouldn't know what to say," she replied. "Just say what you hear Mommy say," my wife said. Our daughter bowed her head and said: "Dear Lord, why on earth did I invite all these people here?"

Ooo! The third commandment strikes again!

Here is another one.

A journalist assigned to the Jerusalem bureau has an apartment overlooking the Wailing Wall.
Every day when she looks out, she sees an old bearded Jewish man praying vigorously.
Certain he would be a good interview subject, the journalist goes down to the Wall, and introduces herself to the old man.
She asks, "You come every day to the Wall. Sir, how long have you done that and what are you praying for?"
The old man replies, "I have come here to pray every day for 25 years.
In the morning I pray for world peace and for the brotherhood of man.
I go home have a cup of tea, and I come back and pray for the eradication of illness and disease from the earth.
And very, very important, I pray for peace and understanding between the Israelis and Palestinians."
The journalist is impressed.
"How does it make you feel to come here every day for 25 years and pray for these wonderful things?" she asks.
The old man replies, calmly, "Like I'm talking to a freaking wall."

This humorous story brings up the question of why it seems like some of our prayers aren’t answered. This next story seeks to answer that question.

Jake the rancher went one day to fix a distant fence.
The wind was cold and gusty and the clouds rolled gray and dense
As he pounded the last staples in and gathered tools to go,
The temperature had fallen and the snow began to blow.

When he finally reached his pickup, he felt a heavy heart.
From the sound of that ignition, he knew it wouldn't start.
So Jake did what most of us would do if we'd have been there
He humbly bowed his balding head and sent aloft a prayer.

As he turned the key for the last time, he softly cursed his luck.
They found him three days later, frozen stiff in that old truck.
Now Jake had been around in life and done his share of roamin'
But when he saw Heaven, he was shocked -- it look just like Wyomin'.

Oh, there were some differences of course, but just some minor things,
One place had simply disappeared -- the town they called Rock Springs.
The BLM had been shut down; there were no grazin' fees
And the wind in Rawlins and Cheyenne was now a gentle breeze.

The Park and Forest Service folks -- they didn't fare so well,
They'd all been sent to fight some fire in a wilderness called Hell.
Though Heaven was a real nice place, Jake had a wondering mind
So he saddled up and lit a shuck, not know'n what he'd find.

Then one day up in Cody, on a cold fall afternoon,
He saw St. Peter coming, and he knew he'd be there soon.
Of all the saints in Heaven, his favorite was St. Peter,
Now, this line, it ain't needed but it helps with rhyme and meter.

So they set and talked a minute or two, or maybe it was three
Nobody was keepin' score -- in Heaven time is free.
"I've always heard," Jake said to Pete, "that God will answer prayers.
"But the one time that I asked for help, He just plain wasn't there.

"Does God answer prayers of some, and ignore the prayers of others?
"That don't seem exactly square -- I know all men are brothers.
"Or does He randomly reply, without good rhyme or reason?
"Maybe it's the time of day, the weather or the season.

"Now I ain't trying to act smart, it's just the way I feel,
And I was wonderin', could you tell -- what the heck's the deal?"
Peter listened very patiently and when Jake was done,
There were smiles of recognition, and he said, "So, you're the one!"

"That day your truck, it wouldn't start, and you sent your prayer a flying,
"You gave us all a real bad time, with hundreds of us a trying.
"A thousand angels rushed to check the status of your file,
"But you know, Jake, we hadn't heard from you in quite a while
"And though all prayers are answered, and God ain't got no quota,
"He didn't recognize your voice, and started a truck in North Dakota."

In closing, the important thing to remember about humor and prayer is that laughter can inspire truly wonderful emotions, it make prayer a more accessible activity, and it can gently remind us of our humanity.

Laughing with God can be as much as a prayer as the recitation of specific words at specific times.