New CMS on

One of my many excuses for not updated this site often is I have too many sites to update. It’s not that I spend all my time updating the other sites (I don’t), it’s just that when I want to put something on one of my sites, it usually leads to entire days being used up messing around with that site. This is the case with “”: , which is the site for my Amateur Radio related postings. I decided to post some information about some scripts I’ve recently written for APRS, and I ended up setting up an entirely new CMS (Content Management System) for the site, which had none previously. I like to experiment with different ways of maintaining a web site, rather than just editing the web pages. It gives me a chance to play with some of the technology out there and helps me provide more useful input when someone asks which one I recommend.
This time around, I decided to try out Joomla: , and so far, I like it. I may post more opinions of it on “”: as time goes on. If you’re interested in Amateur Radio, especially APRS, (or you don’t know what any of these things mean) be sure to check out the site.

Garmin Nuvi 260

I’ve gone through several Garmin GPS receivers over the years. Always old models, usually discontinued, and each one has been better than the previous. I currently use a “StreetPilot® 2650”: in the truck, and we have been switching it back and forth into the Subaru when we drive it. I like it a lot, the voice navigation is key and it has all the features I need, but the maps are a little out of date and it is large compared to newer units. The size isn’t much of an issue in the truck, but the Subaru doesn’t have much in the way of extra space. I’ve been thinking of getting something a little smaller for the Subaru, and when Circuit City decided to give up, I figured now was my chance.
Since we live in the boonies, I can’t exactly pop around the corner and look, but there is (was) one in Redding, so we stopped on the way to wherever we were going. The first time I went in, there was a folding table completely full of nuvi 260 and nuvi 255W receivers, but the prices hadn’t really dropped yet. I did a little research, and decided that either of these would work great, and I got some ideas of the pricing at “GPS City” so I would know what to expect. The next time I went in, they had discounted prices again, and still had the table full, but the prices were still about what I would pay from GPS City, and they would still be in business later (no wonder Circuit City is gone), so I waited. When went in the next time, it was probably a month later and they had finally dropped their prices low enough for people to buy things. Of course, all the people that live in Redding got there first, so there wasn’t much left. The entire table was gone (probably the table itself, too), and they only had a few display models left. Of the display models, there was one “nüvi® 260”: and I was able to power it up and make sure it worked, so I bought it. It is the best GPS ever. (Of course, it is also now discontinued, so I’m sure there are better ones out there.)
We used it on our trip to my parent’s house in February, and it worked great. It didn’t tell us we were off route when we were on the new sections of the highway and it new where just about everything was, but the absolute best thing about it is the spoken street names. No longer is it just “turn right in 500 feet.” It’s now “turn right in 500 feet on Main street.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve missed a turn because there were two streets close together and I didn’t know which one it wanted me to turn on. It’s also much smaller, though the display is about the same size, it’s only about .8″ deep, and it weighs almost nothing. It includes a rechargeable battery that lasts for several hours so it doesn’t have to be plugged in all the time if you’re short on lighter sockets, and charges via a standard USB connection, so it can share chargers with some other devices. If the cord is plugged into a lighter socket that switches with the ignition, it powers down 30 seconds after it looses power, unless you tell it otherwise, then powers on when the key is turned back on.
Overall, it’s great, and highly recommended. I’m even tempted to get another one for the truck (but I won’t yet because it lacks some of the advanced technical features that I like to play with.)

A Year on Hiatus

OK, so it’s been a while since I posted anything. There are many reasons (or excuses) for this, but none of them are very good. Mostly, I’ve just been lazy. What follows is a quick overview of the last year, which included more weekends away from home than at home. I may expand on some of these things in future posts, and I will hopefully post more in the future.

My last post heralded the arrival of my son, Richard Michael. Two weeks after that, I took part in the first of five, wait, make that six weddings, plus several associated events. For some reason, all of my friends decided they had to get married last year. Fortunately, many of them got married to each other, so the number of weddings wasn’t as bad as it could have been. We went to weddings in San Francisco, Hayfork, Lake Tahoe, Sausalito, Folsom, then Weaverville. The last one wasn’t announced until after the rest were over, so we were only planning on five, but ended up going to six, though the sixth was close enough to home that we could sleep in our own bed. Most of the weddings we just had to show up to, but I was a groomsman in my brother’s and best man in Rob’s. It could have been worse though, one of the couples went to seven weddings, one of which was their own, and two of which were during their honeymoon.

Most years, I end up spending several weekends at various triathlons (and one marathon) throughout the state. Not competing, mind you, but working in various support roles. I missed Wildflower because of my brother’s wedding, but I made it to See Jane Run in Oakland, the Escape from Alcatraz Traithlon (San Francisco), the San Luis Obispo Triathlon, the San Francisco Triathlon at Treasure Island, and the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco. See Jane Run was a new event for me this year, but my role was mostly limited to driving a truck around while people loaded or unloaded stuff. Normally, Molly stays home for these events, but since she was out on maternity leave, she came with me to this one and we got to see some family and friends while we were there. The San Luis Obispo Triathlon is always fun, since a bunch of us who normally have lots of responsibility at triathlons go to just hand out water at an aid stations. Our goal is to show people how an aid station should be run, including a theme, lots of shade, hot meals for breakfast and lunch, and this year, I even brought my RV. I didn’t get much rest the night before, though, since I spend most of the night before cleaning up after and trapping the family of mice that had taken up residence while it was in storage.

Our travel wasn’t all work and weddings, we took a couple of mini vacations too. In May, we went to the “West Coast Brew Fest”: with several friends that live in the Sacramento area, and one that flew in from southern California.. It was a lot of fun, the price of admission includes unlimited beer tasting. Well, sort of unlimited, since all of the good booths had lines that were longer than it took to finish the little cup they served in. It was still lots of fun, and we drank lots of beer, a little “cider”: , and not enough water.

We spend labor day weekend on the northern California coast. One of the things I like most about owning an RV is we can just hook up and go without much planning (assuming we don’t have to first evict any rodents). We didn’t call ahead and make any reservations, we didn’t even know where we wanted to stay. I just printed out a bunch of search results for RV parks between Eureka and the Oregon border and we drove over to Eureka. After hanging around Eureka and having dinner at a great little sushi place called “Samurai”:,+eureka,+ca&sll=40.802164,-124.16467&sspn=0.010168,0.022745&gl=us&ie=UTF8&ll=40.802375,-124.164648&spn=0.040672,0.090981&t=h&z=14&iwloc=A we called down the list until we found a place to stay. It only took two tries, and the first number had been disconnected. We ended up at the “Mystic Forest RV Park”: in Klamath. It was a great location, and we took day trips from there to Crescent City and other surrounding areas. The RV park office gave us a great, hand-drawn map of local places to see, including a scenic drive through the redwoods that was mostly unpaved and a lot of fun.

Those weekends we were at home during the summer, we mostly stayed inside, since the whole area was surrounded by wildfires. The smoke was so thick in the valley we live in that we couldn’t even see across the street clearly. We couldn’t go hiking, or even do yard work. They even canceled our county fair because of the fires, not because of the smoke or any danger, but because the fairgrounds made more money housing the fire crews than from the fair. It’s a shame, too, because they finally added a Beer category and I was going to enter.

This time around, we spent Thanksgiving with my family in southern California, where Richard Michael got to spend some quality time with his great grandmother, though I doubt he’ll remember. While we were there, we had dinner with some of my friends from high school. Since everyone there had young kids, we spend most of the time in their playroom, watching the kids. It was a great opportunity to share tips and see what toys were being actually used. Other than that, we spent most of the time hanging out at my parents house or my grandma’s house enjoying the air conditioning and the company.

Christmas brought some sad news. Just a few days before Christmas, my dad called to tell me that my grandma had passed away. It was unexpected, but not surprising. Her health had been failing for many years, but when we saw her at Thanksgiving, she was doing better than usual. I think having all the family home helped raise her spirits more than anything, and I’m glad we got to spend as much time as we did with her. As a family, we decided to postpone the memorial service until all the holiday madness was over, and things calmed down a bit. We ended up having the services in February. The memorial was great, there were people we hadn’t seen in years and stories we hadn’t heard in years, if ever. The day after, we drove down to San Diego for the interment at the Rosecrans National Cemetery, where my grandpa is also buried. There was a nice short ceremony, then we went to visit the grave site and say our goodbyes. We spent the rest of the day driving around San Diego, visiting places we used to know when my grandparents lived there. We ended up stayed with my parents for the whole week afterward to help go through her house and pack some things away.

Feeding Time

!/images/8.jpg (Bottle Feeding)!

Rich is getting to be quite the rancher. He got to bottle feed this calf it’s first meal. Mom is now raising her and has named her Fiona. We still go and visit her. Rich is a little miffed though as she seems to have forgotten who gave her, her first few meals.

Look Ma, No Hands

Starting next year in California, you can get a ticket for driving and using a cell phone, unless you use a hands-free device. (“CVC 23123”: I’ve done a little research, and found a few products that I like and recommend to do the job. All of the devices listed here are “Bluetooth”: devices, since all of my phones are Bluetooth capable. If you have a phone that isn’t Bluetooth capable, there are adapters that let you use Bluetooth devices, or you can get a new phone. 😉

The simplest to get started with, and the cheapest, option is a headset. I’ve tried lots, and most of them suck, especially the ones the cell phone companies like to sell. I recently discovered the “Plantronics Voyagerâ„¢ 510 Bluetooth® Headset”: and it is the first one I’ve found that is comfortable, easy to use, and sounds good. It can also be used with the “Plantronics Voyagerâ„¢ 500A Deskphone Adapter”: to connect it to your desk phone. This allows you to use a single wireless headset with both your phones. I try not to be on the phone that much, but I know people who are. The headset will run you between $50 and $80.

The biggest problem I find with headsets is if you aren’t wearing one already, they are distracting and difficult to put on before it’s too late. (That sounds dirtier than it is.) If you are driving and your phone rings, the call goes to voice mail (or you hit a tree) before you can get the headset on. For these situations, I find car kits to be a much better solution. My favorite car kit was the Nokia CARK-91H, because it was a drop in cradle that charged the phone, had an external antenna connection, tied directly to my truck’s speakers, and it had a separate handset for those private moments. (Of course use of the handset while driving is contrary to the purpose.) When I was forced to get a new phone, there were no longer any phones available that were compatible with it, but I started to really miss the convenience.

I finally found a line of Bluetooth car kits that work well made by a company called “Parrot”: and installed one in my truck. I chose the “CK3100”: because I wanted a display for caller information, but I was too cheap to spring for a color display model. They have models to fit every needs, from a simple one that plugs into a lighter socket, to full color with GPS receivers for those of you with PDA-phones. They even sell devices to allow the use of your steering wheel controls to place calls. Most of their hands-free devices support voice recognition, so you can do voice dialing, even if your phone doesn’t, and some even voice announce calls, so you don’t have to look at the display to see who’s calling. If you don’t like to cut into your vehicles wires (who does?), there are custom wiring harnesses made by “Quick Connect Products”: to connect Parrot car kits to just about any vehicle with little or no cutting and splicing. The car kits range in price from $50-$300, depending on features, and the wiring harnesses are $50-$150 depending on your vehicle.

RV Mattresses Suck!

The mattresses that come with RVs are horrible. They are thin, soft, spring mattresses. The first thing we did was pull ours out and put it in storage (I need to put it back in if we ever sell it). We initially replaced it with an AeroBed, but we had to be plugged in, or use my crappy inverter, to inflate it, which is less than optimal. While we were living in it, we put our real memory foam mattress in it, but it’s in the house now. We tried sleeping on a memory foam mattress topper Molly’s parents weren’t using, but it wasn’t thick enough to keep us from bottoming out, and it was only a twin. I was planning on finding some higher density foam to put underneath a memory foam mattress topper, and had talked with Menzo about it, since he was working on the same thing for his van, but never got around to it. While we were at Camping World, we looked at RV mattresses with memory foam toppers, but they were expensive, and you couldn’t try them out. They had a Sleep Number display you could try, but it was even more expensive, and loud, and I’m still not sure we wouldn’t have to be plugged in.

While we were at Ikea, not looking for mattresses, we discovered they sold mattresses, and they had them all out to try. They had all ranges, from futon style to full inner spring, with a full range of prices to match. We were looking for something with a memory foam layer, higher density foam underneath, not full thickness (headroom is an issue), and affordable, and they had a couple of models that fit the bill. We finally decided on the “Sultan Forestad”: because at only $250 it was a good compromise between price and quality and it gives us an extra couple of inches of headroom over the next model up. We can now sit on the edge of the bed without our heads hitting the ceiling. With memory foam mattress toppers going for $150 for a queen, it’s not a bad deal, and it should last long enough with the use it gets. We now sleep much better in the RV.

It’s been a while

We’ve been a little busy lately, so we haven’t been updating the site much, plus nobody reads it anyway. We’re settling in to our new jobs and lives. We found a house to rent in Weaverville, so our commute is now fifteen minutes (if we walk). There is a spare bedroom, so come on up and visit, just give us some warning so we can turn the heat on. We had the first snow on Monday, and it didn’t completely melt until Tuesday, but it’s been dry since then. We’re supposed to get more rain/snow later this week. It’s been dropping to just about freezing overnight for a few weeks now, but warming up in the afternoons.

In other news, the Treasure Island Triathlon was a week or so ago and it went great. I drove down after work on Friday and came back Sunday night, just like the old days. I miss being able to take a day off on either side, but the drive time is about the same as it was from SLO. Molly couldn’t make this one, she was in Santa Rosa Thursday and Friday. We were going to pass each other on Friday night, and so we stopped in Williams for hugs and kisses on the way. The event went smooth, and I even had time to take a nap on Sunday. This was the last event of a busy TriCal season, so my weekends are a little less busy, just in time for holiday travelling. It’s nice to hang out with friends from my preivous life.

“Me and Coach at Treasure Island”:

I also had a chance to talk on the air with Rob, who “just got his Amateur Radio license.”: Contratulations, Rob! I’m working on getting an outside antenna so I can hit some repeaters around here. If I can hit one that supports EchoLink or IRLP, I can connect to some Bay Area and SLO repeaters and keep in touch with friends. I might even look in to setting up a local IRLP node, since the school has decent connectivity.

BTW, you might notice the timestamp indicates I posted this from work. Unlike some people I know, I didn’t change the timestamp to make it appear that I bent the laws of physics and posted it in the future. I just took a break and posted it during work. I don’t currently have internet access at home, anyway, and I might not for some time.

We finally have a date

Yes, that’s right, we’ve finnaly decided on a date. We will get married on July 1, 2006 in Hayfork, CA.

For more information about our wedding, please visit our “Wedding Page.”: Check back regularly for updates!

Remind Me

Heading to Hayfork…

Well we are looking forward to seeing you all in Hayfork on July 1, 2006!! Yes, we finally have a date. As it is close to the 4th of July there may even be fireworks in the county somewhere that weekend. The ceremony will be at 4:00 in the afternoon, but feel free to come early and hang out.

As there are limited rooms in the hotel downtown we are trying to help everyone coordinate housing. I’ll be posting information about renting RV’s soon if you are interested. We have space on the ranch, or you can “hook-up” at the fairgrounds, 1/4 mile from the wedding. Also plenty of camping room on the ranch.

There are many hotels/motels the next town over, Weaverville. It is about 45 minute drive there.

We hope that you are all planning on attending, and mark your calendars so that you will not forget!

We will update this page when we have more information, check back often for updates!

Molly n’ Rich


We’re setting up this site to keep our friends and family informed about our wedding and other events in our lives. Let us know what you think.