Monday, October 16, 2017

70th Birthday

My 70th birthday celebration was just what I would hope it would be.  I picked op the cake in the morning - I had drive about 15 miles or more into central Albuquerque to find a bakery to bake a spice cake.

Relaxed the rest of the day until getting dressed for the celebration.  Plans were for food, drinks, and conversation at Billy's Long Bar in Albuquerque.

Cousin Don arrived early about the same time I did.  At 5:30 the guests started filtering in.  All totaled, 13 of my ham radio club friends and spouses settled into the Dart Room.  My friend and real estate agent Leland, also made the function. 

The food and service was great - thanks for the folks at Billy's.  The room was just the right size for our group of 16 people.  Thanks to my Albuquerque "family" for making my 70th birthday celebration a success.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Getting Photos right

Today was my last shift at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.  Weather was a lot warmer this monring, still chilly in the tent.  There were originally 3 of us on the work schedule - ended up with 5.  Being a Saturday, we were pretty busy talking with folks about ham radio.

I seemed to finally got the right camera settings for shooting the Dawn Patrol.  To get enough light, I set the ISO all the way up to 6400.  Manual focus because there was not enough light for the automatic settings.  Had to run -3 stops compensation with the bright balloons and the black sky.  I could (or should) have set the compensation at -4 or -5,  Processing the image from RAW, I was able to get the light correct.

Very light winds this morning.  Many of the balloons seemed to just stay on the same place.  The first ones launched drifted off to the SE.  No box wind running today. 

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Wednesday Shift - Balloon Fiesta

It was a COLD morning at Balloon Fiesta Park. Thermometer was hovering just above 40 degrees.  Had a big crew, mostly because 2 nets were being controlled from the High Desert display at Balloon Fiesta.  I checked into the SCAT (Senior Citizen and Travelers) net.  Was busy talking with folks about Ham Radio during Rusty's Raider's net, so skipped checking into that net.

I did a little more photography.  Still working on setting the camera to shoot the Dawn Patrol.  The shots are tricky because of the low light and the bright glows when the balloon gas jets are firing.

Three days at the Balloon Fiesta, I wore my Georgia Boot Company work boots.  While they were heavy when I first got them on, they were very comfortable for walking at the fiesta grounds.

Body was tired by the time I headed to the car, only finding the gate I entered in was closed.  Had to walk down to the next gate and back to the car.  Crashed into bed when I got home

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Frustrating Morning

Up almost all night, waiting to head to my shift at the Balloon Fiesta.  Left the house almost 30 minutes ealier so I was no rushed at breakfast.  Breakfast was again at IHOP on Unser in Rio Rancho.

It took forever waiting for my food to arrive.  To add insult to injury, it was cold.  My pancakes did not melt the butter! A couple in the booth next mine had the same complaint.  On top of that, the were some king of error in my bill - yesterday morning breakfast was supposed to be about 30 cents more than this morning, yet my tab came up to almost a dollar higher this morning!

Traffic this morning entering the park was a breeze - drove right in and parked next to the gate. Gates opened about 4:15 and went into our tent.  And there I waited.  There supposed to be 2 more people on the shift.  Eventually, they showed up about 6am, about the time we were supposed to open our exhibit.  Then, they spent over an hour getting the flex radio running.

I found at that the function chair told the 3 others to arrive at 6am - opening time, not leaving set-up to be done after we were already open!  I was so frustrated, I headed out to shoot photos of Dawn Patrol. (above)

The morning was awesome for photos.  The winds were bringing the balloons overhead, and many crossing in front of the just past full moon. (photo on the right)

Same is yesterday morning, once the balloons were in the air, the crowds started walking through our tent.  2-3 of us were kept fairly busy talking with folks. The other person was busy making contacts.  A friend of mine from the Albuquerque Mountain Bike Association stopped by to say "hi". 

By the time we were closing up for the morning, I was exhausted.  There were 2 of us (me and one other" from our club, the other two locals, but not members of HDARC.  I held in my comments until I had a chance to talk to the other member.Was still fuming when I got home.  Talked with the committee co-chair (a friend of mine) to vent.  Told him that I will wrote a note to the chairman later when I was rested and cooled off.

Made up a stiff drink, and fell asleep.  Next shift I will be working is Wednesday morning.

Balloon Fiesta - 2017 - Opening Day

Friday evening, I finished charging camera batteries and packing up mt camera bad in preparations for the first morning of Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.  Had breakfast at IHOP for fuel for the day.  (Service sucked - had to call into in the kitchen to get someone so I can pay my check).

I was at the entrance to Balloon Fiesta Park about 4am, - traffic was already backed up to get in and park.  But was able to get front row parking near the entrance.  Two other HDARC members arrived about the same time.  Two others of our crew for the day started our a little later and got stuck in heavy traffic.

We finished getting the special events station W5B set up.  Made a few digital contacts - including a couple with Japan ON 40 METERS!  Watch the Dawn Patrol lift off.

 Ed gave me a primer on current ham radio SSTV (slow-scan TV).  The two of us headed out to shoot photos of the balloons, sending them to the test via ham radio (ala "roving reporters").  I had lots of fun with this new version of SSTV - much more compact that the old days!

.After the mass accession of the balloons, we got busy in the Balloon Discovery Tent.  Folks where checking out what there was beyond the balloons.    Met a couple other haps attending the fiesta.  Lots of youngsters that were wondering what we were all about.

The crowns starter thinning out about 11am.  My speach is about to go out and getting a head ache.  As the morning sessions came to a close at 11am, I was tired and ready to head home.  It was all I could do to walk back to my car.

When I got home, I undressed and head into bed - was exhausted. 

Friday, September 29, 2017

Reflections on "The Wall"

I wrote the following after a visit to the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial in 1988.
On December 13, 1969 a scared young man got off of a plane at Bien Hoa Air Force Base in Vietnam. Thirteen and a half months later on February 1, 1971, that same young man – older and wiser – returned home to McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey. In those months, a lot happened that took years to accept. The real acceptance of that experience started on July 28, 1988, over 17 years later. That’s when I visited the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial (“The Wall”) for the first time.
My experience in ‘Nam was different than most, I wasn’t out in the boonies carrying a rifle, nor was I totally a “REMF” at a rear base camp. I was a “71M20” Chaplain Assistant. That meant I was the Chaplain’s bodyguard, driver, secretary, chapel organist and chapel builder. In addition, I visited our wounded at the evacuation hospitals and assisted in memorial services.
That may not sound like much to you. I didn’t see actual combat – instead, I saw the aftermath. I haven’t talked much about it except to other Vietnam veterans – we’ve had a propensity to keep our feelings to ourselves. At the most, we’ll discuss it with other Vietnam veterans. Recently, with the building of “The Wall” and some of the programs on TV we’ve started to let our feelings come to the surface. They call itt “Delayed Stress Syndrome” or something like that.
In the meantime, we’ve kept to ourselves. I have a very close friend in Des Moines who saw a lot of combat. We’ve spent several nights just talking. Occasionally he will have a flashback. Our mutual friends know that’s the time to leave us alone. I know I’m one of the few men who understand what he’s going through.
When I visited “The Wall”, my first thoughts were that I wished he could have been there with me to share our feelings and, yes, cry on each other’s shoulders. The memorial invokes those feelings, It is truly a moving experience.
As you approach the memorial, it's almost like entering the sacred ground. Signs request “N Smoking”, “No Food”, “No Running”.
A brochure published by the Parks and History Association fittingly describes the memorial “Like a roll call of time, the memorial lists casualties by date of loss, starting at the vertex. The first name, Dale R. Buis is inscribed under the date 1959 on panel 1E. Names continue eastward to panel 70E, reaching May 1968 at the end of the east wing. The sequence continues at the walls opposite end on panel W70 as if the memorial has circled underground and surfaced again At the vertex, the toll ends with Richard Vande Geer at the bottom of panel W1 above the date 1975. End meets beginning; the circle is complete.”
On my visit to the memorial, I noted an envelope sitting against one of the panels. A soldier’s name had been copied from the memorial. Written on the envelope was “Dear Dad, I’m sorry I never got to know you. Love, …
It is a memorial not only to those who lost their lives but all who served. This is best described by the inscription at the base of the memorial’s flagpole “The flag affirms the principles of freedom for which they fought and their pride in having served under difficult circumstances…”
Anyone visiting Washington DC, whatever their political stance during the Vietnam war, should visit the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial. Take in the wall with the veteran standing beside you, tears in his eyes and try to understand the necessary healing of the nation that is taking place. We the Vietnam Veterans, do not expect the general public will ever fully understand what we went through. We only ask that you accept that we served our country as have other veterans.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Jeep Driving in Vietnam

Taking a break from the serious section of the subject of Vietnam, here are some observations of jeep drivers in that country during the war.
After an exhaustive survey of jeep drivers in Vietnam, we have compiled an amazing mountain of facts and myths about driving in Vietnam.

Here is but a sample of the nuggets of wisdom drawn from that vast legion of the most professional jeep drivers in the world.

  1. If you forget to unlock the chain on the steering wheel, there is a good chance you won’t make the first turn.

  1. If you are driving your First Sergeant around and you run out of gas, he is likely to get mad.

  1. If you put it in reverse, floor it, and pop the clutch, you will lay a patch.

  1. If Top sees you do this, you will likely be taking the ankle express from now on.

  1. During the monsoons, it will rain when the canvas top is down.

  1. During the monsoons, it will rain when the canvas top is up.

  1. During the monsoons, you are going to get wet.

  1. MPs can appear from nowhere.

  1. MPs will not go away if you ignore them.

  1.  You should always give tanks the right-of-way.  Courtesy pays.

  1. If you are constantly driving on the left side of the road and you are not in Australia, you are going to be surprised one of these days.

  1. If you signal for a left turn in Saigon, there is a good chance you will lose your wristwatch.