Thursday, December 16, 2010

New Digs

 No I'm not moving to another blog site (why do you keep thinking that?). I am 'back' at my desk. This hasn't happened for me in a several years and I've never written for this blog from this desk. I am hoping the return to the desk will bring an improvement in my offerings here, as well as a change in my outlook on life.
 I know, you're thinking 'big deal', and I don't blame you. A desk is a desk, right? Well, not exactly. Let me tell you about my desk.
 When we moved into this house, the desk was here. It's not a desk in the traditional manner like you might purchase in a store. It is a custom built desk. Nothing fancy, just a 2x4 frame with a Formica laminated top and back-shelf, but it is 9  feet long. For my initial purposes, it was perfect. I moved it and removed the cabinets that hung overhead. I spent about 5 years building the perfect ham shack. That's right, I was an avid (my wife says "rabid") ham operator, specifically interested in radio contesting. I collected and built all the equipment I felt I needed or could afford to be competitive in a world-wide sport. I also competed, practiced, and improved at this desk. I spent many hundreds of hours 'working' stations all over the world. On a big contest weekend I would 'work' over a thousand other stations around the world. Sometimes I would open my station up and we would do multi-operator contest from this desk. I even had a guest operator from across the country work at this desk during a major contest. We had great fun, were usually exhausted, and finished well in the rankings. The big contests ran from 7pm local time on Friday night to 7pm local on Sunday night. Straight through, non-stop. I usually needed somewhere around 4-6 hours sleep to make it through the entire period, and this was always my downfall that kept me off the 'podium'. That plus the limit of my equipment (finances). Still it was quite impressive in it's day, particularly if you looked at all the antenna hardware in the yard. I have one 70 foot tower with 5 different antennas on it, 4 different wire antennas strung in the trees, and a beverage antenna that ran about 1/2 mile through the woods for receiving on 80 and 160 meters. I had several lucky contests were I would score in the top ten for north America and top 25 worldwide.  It's a great hobby and I hope to get back to it someday.
 Sometime in the middle of my ham career, I began working on the family genealogy and that soon became a passion for me. For ten years I collected data and information and formed that data in a 350 page book. From this desk I corresponded with relatives from around the world, wrote a few genealogy pieces that were published in newsletters, and spent countless hours printing copies of the book. I coordinated family reunions both here and overseas and prepared for, then reduced the data form all my research travel. My daily routine would see me down here at 4:30 in the morning to get a little work done before going to work, than after dinner I would come back down and work for several more hours. All from this same desk. I did some good work I am told, and I also look forward to getting back into that someday.
 This was also he desk that I ran my Scout Troop from for 10 years. Letters, meeting plans, advancement record keeping, Trek and event planning, all took place here.
 This desk went into dis-use when I began to fade away from the radio stuff. I got burned out on the genealogy too, too much emotion. Then, the kicker was that my computer, a state of the art Windows 2000 engineering work station, got a virus I could not clear. It killed me. I moved over to the wife's desk across the den and started 'sharing a machine'. Then hers died and I got her a new one, but we never replaced mine. Not until this past spring, when I bought this nifty little laptop.
 With the laptop, I'm not chained to any desk and the wife got hers back. I moved to the couch in the living room. I kind of liked being able to do my internet stuff while watching TV with her in the evenings. We could chat more and stay in touch, but her taste in TV shows just does not match mine. Not at all. Not in any way.
 In the meantime, the desk, my desk, became a collector of all things household. When I came down to leave for work in the morning, I could not even find room to set down my coffee cup while I put my coat on. Pathetic. I am a slob. I admit it.
 Every morning I would look at the desk and think I should really get it cleaned up. But frankly the task was daunting. Finally, after watching my four thousandth home improvement show with the wife, I decided it was time to get started. And start I did, the next morning. That was 3 weeks ago, and I have bee putting in about 6 hours per weekend working on 'the pile'. Today I have reached the point where I have a clean area on half the desk to put my laptop and plug it in.
 There is a lot more to go. I'm clearing up well over 20 years of artifacts. I have a lot of electronics to deal with and I am really not sure if I am ready to pull my ham gear off the desk yet. Maybe I'll just trim it down. Then I have pieces of family history that in some cases goes back over a hundred years or more. Tools, wires, supplies, EMS stuff, Fire stuff, it all will have to find a new home. I'll chip away at it in due course making headway every week. I do have to admit, it's good to be back. This was a "man cave" many years before they coined the phrase. I have a 'fridge just 5 feet away, a bathroom 6 feet away, my plaques, certificates, awards, maps, and family photos adorn all the walls. The weight bench is across the room (currently serving as another bookshelf). I have a cable TV down here. I have a 12 foot long bookshelf three shelves high that holds books I have collected from two continents. History, how-to, reference, volumes I've written, text books from classes I've taken, it's all up there. This is my 'place'.
 So why am I forcing this long post on my readers? Well, the fact is that I expect some of my writing skill to return along with my return to 'the desk'. I have always done my best thinking here. The stuff I have written thus far from the couch upstairs has been, well, not as good as I think I can, or should, deliver.
 Stay tuned and lets all see if the new digs help me generate some better content.

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