Merry Christmas 2017

We wish all of our friends and acquaintances a very Merry Christmas.

Georgia and I have done the usual things that retired people do; if you follow us on Facebook, you know what that entails.  You can scroll down the posts here to see what some of our activities have included.   I’ve been riding my bike a lot (achieving a goal of 2000 miles this year) and working with my amateur radio (my call is KOGUZ). 

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Georgia, with the help of some friends, has learned how to quilt, use her sewing machine and play the addictive and very complex game of Mah Jong.  And of course we’ve spent as much time as possible with our grandchildren – 3 of them live nearby in Grand Junction, one near Durban, South Africa.  Our oldest just started high school.

We took a couple of weeks to visit friends in North Carolina, and a week with Sue and Charlie Fienning and their friends in Pawley’s Island,

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and we went to Wyoming to view the solar eclipse.

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Happy 2018!

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Biking, 2017

My goal for 2017 was to bike more than 2,000 miles.  I thought it was pretty impressive, but as it turns out, many of my biking friends in the area consider 5,000 miles to be a more ambitious goal.  But then I’ve been biking seriously again only since my motorcycle crash.

If it isn’t on Strava, an app which tracks your progress, it didn’t happen. So here’s when it happened:

I achieved my goal in late October, about a mile from our house. 

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Later, my friend Allen and I rode the “Tour of the Moon”  over the Colorado National Monument.  I was wearing a jersey from a friend I discovered on Strava; he and his wife retired and live  in the French mountains; he was an architect and she was an educator.  He rides about as often as I do, although he’s faster.

Here are some random scenes as I racked up the miles:

With Michael Starks along the Poudre Trail in Fort Collins

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With Allen along the Rio Grande Trail from Glenwood Springs to AspenIMG_20170727_144755152
  Our favorite coffee stop, Bestslope Coffee in Fruita, Colorado
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Ridgway, Colorado
Ridgway, Colorado
Other photos along the route:
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Reeder Mesa
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FT8 Checklist

The following information deals with my ham radio hobby, and is designed to be shared with my friends who may want to try a new, low power weak signal operating mode that’s become very popular: FT8.  We’re preparing for the zombie apocalypse.

Here’s a checklist of useful information which you’ll need as you  get ready to use FT8:

  1. Bookmark the main FT8  page: http://physics.princeton.edu/pulsar/K1JT/wsjtx.html and the online manual: http://physics.princeton.edu/pulsar/K1JT/wsjtx-doc/wsjtx-main-1.8.0.html You’ll need to refer to the manual often.  Download the latest version of WSJT-X, which at the moment is 1.8.0. 
  2. Fix the time on your computer. Click here to see how far off your time is now.  Follow the instructions for your computer in Section 3 of the manual to install one of the recommended programs which will make sure you are in sync with everyone else. 
  3. Google is your friend.  Search for your rig and “FT8” or “JT65”.  There are likely to be several helpful YouTube videos explaining exactly how to set up your rig to work with these modes.
  4. Dig out your rig’s manual because you need to interface your rig’s control signals with the program.  If you’re lucky, you got a USB cable with the rig or may have another way to interface the two.  If not, you may need to get a Signalink.
  5. If you want to use your computer’s sound card, follow the adjustment procedures in Section 3.  Most people have better luck either using an external USB sound dongle or an external device such as Signalink.  You also need two stereo 3.5mm plugs to go from the dongle to your rig’s audio input and output. 
  6. The software will create its own ADIF file which you can import into your favorite log, or the qrz.com online logbook.  In addition, several other logging programs interface directly with the software, including Ham Radio Deluxe (HRD), and the DXLab suite or Log4OM.  I use N3FJB’s Amateur Contact Log.  Whatever you use, get it working with the ARRL Logbook of the World (LOTW) and eqsl.cc .
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Merry Christmas 2016 & Happy New Year 2017

This is our annual Christmas themed blog entry; this year, we’ve taken several trips and most of them are outlined in entries.  Just scroll down and read whatever interests you.  One trip that isn’t mentioned (yet) is one we took to Brooklyn, Iowa to visit a family reunion for members of the family of Georgia’s grandmother Georgiana Kreiss/Mitchell.  It was one of those surprisingly warm and wonderful meetings with people you never knew before with whom you have more in common than you thought.  We combined this with a trip to visit her family in Nebraska, Missouri and Kansas.

Steve has been riding his bicycle a lot – and we even took a trip to Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois specifically so he could ride on rail trails there.  He’s also been working on the family history – click here to see if you recognize anyone.  If you’re related to us, request a user account and you can find out things about yourself and your family and correct any misinformation.

Like many, well be glad to see 2016 in the rear view mirror.   We hope that you and your family have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Steve & Georgia Carter

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Happy Anniversary

One fine spring day several young people helped celebrate Ruth Grinstead’s sixteenth birthday. Among the guests were Zeiner Ploughe and Hester Phillips a/k/a Esther Ellis.

1916 Sheridan Indiana NewsOne hundred years ago this Wednesday, October 19, the young couple weremarried by a JP in Clark County, Indiana.1916 Indiana Marriage License

Their children were Robert Ploughe, and Harold and Ralph Carter. We are all related to them. So now you have a good reason to party on Wednesday!
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Illinois Prairie Path Sampler

Total distance: 4.16 mi
Max elevation: 686 ft
Min elevation: 292 ft
Total climbing: 499 ft
Total descent: -128 ft
Average speed: 8.03 mi/h

The Illinois Prairie Path trail is probably the second rail-trail in the country, and was created on the right of way of the abandoned Chicago, Aurora and Elgin electric railroad.  The CA&E has a long history; it was built in 1902 and the railroad was abandoned in 1958. In 1963, the entire length was converted to a bike/pedestrian trail running from Chicago to the Fox River cities of Aurora and Elgin.

The CA&E ran from the Chicago loop, and my mother often took us to downtown Chicago on the train, not the car.  Riding the big third rail electric cars from Elmhurst to the city along the private right of way and on the L (elevated) tracks made a lasting impression on me.

In an unparalleled display of municipal short-sightedness, the railroad went bankrupt in 1957, and no government entity took it over.  A judge signed an order authorizing abandonment just before lunch, and all of the trains were recalled to Wheaton by noon, leaving many stranded – and angry and frustrated – commuters with no way to get home.  It made the front page of the Chicago papers.  I remember it.

The abandoned right of way was converted to a trail in 1963, so it’s actually been a trail almost as long as it was a railroad.  We had hoped to ride from Wheaton east at least to beyond Elmhurst, and perhaps beyond, but the 80% chance of precipitation proved too accurate.  Being obsessed with this ride, I forced my cousin Mike to ride in the rain a few miles from the Villa Park station to York Road, where we’d caught the train years ago. The station is located near the old Ovaltine factory:

CA&E Villa Park Station

The gray and gloomy day when we got there:
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Only a few miles east we crossed York Road.  I recall that my dentist’s office was on the second floor of the building on the corner, above a drug store, and I could watch the trains roll by while getting my cavities filled.

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It’s now an art gallery

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It’s ironic that the adjoining property owners bitterly resisted the conversion of the right of way to a trail (they wanted the property to enlarge their back yards); the path has apparently substantially improved their property values, and the tiny WWII crackerbox houses along the way have been converted to Illinois McMansions.

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So the Prairie Path remains on my list of must-ride trails. It is even possible to ride from Elmhurst to my cousin Bob’s house in Plainfield in less than 4 hours, almost entirely on bike trails. Next time ….

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