Tags: cgsc

A Sunday In November

Temperatures have dropped here in eastern Kansas, off the Missouri and Platte Rivers. Morning temps are getting down to the high teens but we've had generally clear skies - so no snow yet.

Been having a problem with my Toyota Tundra. I had the shocks replaced about two months ago, but I am still having a suspension issues. Often when I drive over uneven pavement I hear a type of popping or low banging. I'm dropping the truck off tomorrow morning at a garage in town and I hope they identify and fix the problem.

I popped the first cap on the KC Ale this past Thursday. One word: Tasty! I was so happy with the results that I brought in a 12-pack to distribute to my small group at CGSC. We will see what kind of feed back I get tomorrow. The KC Ale batch has a great cooper color, medium head, slight hoppy aroma. The taste is crisp and smooth, no off-flavors.

The California Common batch went into secondary fermentation last Tuesday (18 NOV). I'll try to get it bottled up this coming Wednesday (26 NOV). Then it should be ready for a first by 11 DEC... a good day to celebrate my last night class for this term.

While the CGSC program here at Fort Leavenworth is considered a Masters-level program, it does not award a degree at graduation (unlike the Navy's program in Monterey or the Air Force in Alabama). Therefore, in order to get a masters, I signed up to take two night classes a week and then by graduation I'll get the degree. It is a bit of pain now, but this is really the only opportunity I am going to get to earn a master's degree.

Back to beer: I need to get crackin' and cook up the batch of Raspberry Wheat. If I am able to get it into primary fermentation today, I should be able to hit secondary fermentation by next Sunday (30 NOV) and then bottle by 14 DEC. It should be nice and tasty by New Year's Eve.

I need to put together a sample pack for my Team Jedi brethren (Team Jedi are the fine folks I spent my last year in Iraq with). So it looks like the pack will consist of ESB, KC Ale, California Common, and the Raspberry Wheat.

I've also had a request from the 7-land Inbound QSL Bureau back in Oregon. I received an email from Marc, NC7M, who let me know I had 200+ QSL cards headed my way. I need to also replenish my postal funds for the bureau. And next week - I will answer all the YI9MI QSL card request that I have... which is quite a significant pile.

Megaphone Diplomacy

We get many interesting guest speakers at the Command & General Staff College (CGSC)... and a few that aren't so interesting. However, today we had the privileged of hearing the Deputy Supreme Allied Command Europe (aka the 2nd in-command at NATO). General Sir John Chalmers McColl is from the British Army and has served in Bosnia, Afghanistan, and Iraq. His main point was NATO is not just a military organization, but also (and most importantly) a political organization. Every decision (if made at all) is a compromise. And like all political decisions, the best way to reach a compromise is through face-to-face discussions, rather than through the media. He noted that "Megaphone Diplomacy" was more often than not counterproductive - that it usually ended in the recipient nation's public opinion turning further against whatever issue was attempting to be pressed.
An example might be how the US has pressed in a public forum that our NATO partners need to send more combat troops to Afghanistan. Attempting to address this issue through the media or other public forums will not, in the end, result in the desired outcome of getting the commitment of more troops. The best way to gain results is to work with each country and take advantage of what resources they're willing to provide. Overall, public opinion in the other NATO countries is against sending forces to Afghanistan. The US needs to understand this - and also understand it is not something we are going to change.
We've had some other great speakers within the last three months: the President of Uganda who gave an excellent talk about how to wage an insurgency, GEN Petraeus, and Dr. P. W. Singer. Dr. Singer is from the Brookings Institute and spoke about the role of the contractor and the military - he was probably the best guest speaker we've had. We also had a panel of reporters that included Noah Shachtman from Wired magazine. Noah represented the new media: blogs.

The Columbus Day Surprise

My Dell Mini arrived! I'm using it for this entry. I like it so far, but there are draw backs. The keyboard is tiny. Performance is a bit slugish, but it plays video without issue. I've been able to configure it to access my network drives, that went fairly well (... once I remembered the Linux commands).

It is small! And light weight. So far the battery is doing well. The screen is sharp and the speakers are pretty loud when you crank them up. There's an SD card reader on the side. I also opted for the webcam, which seems to work nicely.

Now I need to stop procrastinating and write my history paper that's due tomorrow. :-)

Fabulous Friday

We had an offsite for class this morning at the Santa Fe Station in downtown Leavenworth, KS. Great breakfast and great discussion.

I've got the wort in the bucket, should be done with primary fermentation in a day or two. This was the first time I had a hydrometer and I need to figure out how to use it. I've got to get a good bottle count. I have about a dozen with the rubber seal and stopper. I think I may need to get new rubber seals.

I have to decide if I want to do a secondary fermentation with the carboy.

I turned on the HF rig briefly and heard stateside stations talking with a station on Guantanamo. Then I heard a familiar voice, K4STW, Stew in Virginia Beach. Stew probably doesn't remember me, but we chatted now and again on the 2M repeaters in Hampton Roads. It was great to hear his voice.

I got Ubuntu working with my Linksys print server. This will make my life much easier.

Looks like we'll have good weather this weekend.

Back in the saddle

I -finally- got my HF rig working here at the Kansas QTH.

Since arriving here back in July, I've been super busy. School (the Army's Command & General Staff College (CGSC)) kicked in at the beginning of August. The last formal schooling I had was eight years ago - so I was a bit rusty at getting into the swing of things (i.e. reading, reading... and more reading). I'm also taking a complementarity master's degree program in International Relations through Webster University (two nights a week). The good news is I was able to talk the XYL into taking the master's courses with me. The bad news is that sometimes the master's stuff chews up more time than my school work for CGSC.

CGSC can be intense. September was packed with wall-to-wall learning, usually from 0830 to at least 1530. The schedule is starting to lighten up a bit.

Today I was able catch my breath a bit... out of class at 1130. The sun was shining, a beautiful day. I had some antenna maintenace to do. A little bit of time on the roof and the majority of my HF problems were fixed. I'm now up on HF, except for 80M. I think a little work on my counterpoise will fix that.

Back in the basement (aka The Scud Bunker) I hooked up my Icom IC-7000 to the new and improved HF antenna - bingo... all the problems I was experiencing in the past were gone. A QSO with KC2PBX, Pierre on Long Island, NY on 20M and then TI8II from Costa Rica on 17M, later with Ray, W1RAA from Tampa, FL. It felt good having some HF QSOs. I did a little more work with my station setup; hooking up the RIGtalk and RIGblaster Plug&Play. There's more work to do and I should have time later in the week.

Other news:
- I'm switching from Windows to Ubuntu Linux. I WILL NOT UPGRADE FROM XP TO VISTA. Vista is a tool of the devil and I will have no part of it. My Toshiba laptop has been dual boot between XP and Ubuntu for a while, but had rarely been using the Ubuntu. I ordered a Dell Mini 9 (very tiny netbook) to help with school (writing papers in the library rather than goofing off in the Scud Bunker). The Dell Mini is coming with Ubuntu pre-loaded. Sweet. The next step will be setting up one of my towers as an Ubuntu server. Goodbye Microsoft.
- I've gone Kindle. Both the XYL and myself have the Amazon Kindle. I like it a lot better than my Sony eBook. Getting the Washington Post first thing every morning is great. The battery life is a little to be desired. The best part is that I can read KE9V's blog right on my Kindle.

Ok - back to the books. I will get better at making frequent updates here.

Here in Kansas

The pack out went as well as can be expected. Not the best I've had, but not the worst. The packers started last Tuesday (8 July) and continued on Wednesday and Thursday, although Wednesday was the only full day of packing. The moving trucked showed up Friday and loaded everything up - that took all day. We got to have dinner Friday night with Margot and Joel as well as their neighbors, Nan and Pat. I worked with Margot when I was at Fort Monroe, she has since retired. Margot and Joel looked after the XYL (Christa, KI4ODI) and Sarah while I was gone last year - having them over to dinner, babysitting Sarah (our 2 year old), and about a million other things. It was a wonderful dinner and Sarah got a bunch of presents for the road trip from her fan club (Margot and Nan). Friday night we spent on air mattresses - cat, dog, Sarah, Christa, and I all camped out by the fireplace.

Saturday morning came early - we had to load up the car and truck and do a final cleanup prior to the arrival of the landlord at 0800 for our final clearing of the Hampton house. Cleanup was quick (as the house was empty) and all the stuff we elected to take with us for the road trip fit either into the trunk of Christa's car or into the bed of my truck. A quick breakfast at McDonald's and we were off: Christa with Sarah and the constantly meowing cat (not at all enjoying the ride in his cat cage and somewhat drugged with kitty Valium and me with the dog riding in the front passenger side on the floor (without issue - the dog loves riding quietly on the floor).

Day One (Saturday): we had an nice drive to Charleston, West Virginia, arriving around 5pm. We lucked out with a bottom floor room near the side entrance. Our criteria for the hotels we stayed at on the road trip was that it had to allow pets and it had to have a pool (for Sarah). After a takeout dinner from the Texas Roadhouse (I had an appetizer of jalapeños stuffed with cheese, wrapped in bacon, with a touch of BBQ sauce - amazing!) we hit the pool. Sarah is becoming quite the swimmer. She's not soloing yet, but she is making great progress.

Day Two (Sunday): a little bit of rain as we traveled west between West Virginia and Louisville, Kentucky. The weather cleared and we had a nice drive through Indiana and into Illinois. We stopped an hour east of St. Louis in western Illinois. This time it was a 2nd floor room, but we were able to use those wheeled baggage carriers to move are stuff upstairs (with Sarah riding aboard). We hit the pool after an early dinner and Sarah swam without her floaty vest, doing a few laps with some help.

Day Three (Monday): the truck driver told us that he'd arrive in Leavenworth between 0830 and 0930. Therefore I had to get up very early (0300) and hit the road with the dog. I was able to move quickly through St. Louis not getting tied up in commuter traffic, past the Arch , across the Missouri River and into Missouri. The local news on the radio was buzzing about the selling of Anheuser Busch (based in St. Louis) to InBev, a Belgium company. It was also the topic of conversation at the McDonald's I stopped at for breakfast around 0530. A quick fill up of my gas tank ($87... ouch) and the dog and I continued west, passing through Kansas City around 0800. By now, Christa had rounded up the cat and Sarah - making her way through the St. Louis Monday morning commute. I arrived at our rental house in Leavenworth at 0845, wondering if I'd see a big truck out front. But our cul-de-sac was empty. The driver had had mechanical issues east of Kansas City and now would not arrive until noon.

The moving truck did finally show and the unloading commenced around 1230. Who'd ever thought we'd have so much stuff - box after box... it seemed like the boxes never stopped coming off the truck. Christa arrived with a bag full of hamburgers and Cokes for everyone. This was good because (1) we were hungry and (2) Christa could direct were the boxes went in the house instead of me (up to this point, I'd been funneling most of the boxes into either the basement or the master bedroom... I don't really know why, it seemed like the right thing to do at the time). Problem: the dryer would not fit through the door into the laundry room. I set about disassembling the back in an attempt to get it through. Still wouldn't fit. We were able to swap our fridge with the existing fridge (ours has a water dispenser) and put the existing fridge in the garage. We finished with the unpackers by around 7pm, exhausted.

Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday: Unpacking, boxes, up and down stairs. The house here is two stories with an unfinished basement. Upstairs are three bedrooms (Sarah's, guest bedroom, and Christa's office). Downstairs is the master bedroom (big bath and walk in closet = happy XYL), dining room, family room, kitchen (bigger than our last), and laundry room (I did finally get the dryer in after the use of a hacksaw and some more disassembling... I still have a few extra bolts). There is a small deck off the kitchen and a small fenced yard up against the oldest cemetery in Kansas (...spooky!). The unfinished basement is huge and is where my ham radio and office stuff is. Lots of work down there to do.

Today - Sarah gets to visit her preschool, which she starts on Monday. We're continuing the unpacking... even hope to get Christa's car in the garage today. I have this next week off to continue getting the house in order before I need to show my face over at Fort Leavenworth. Saturday we'll hit the local famer's market and head into the big city (Kansas City) for some shopping. Next week our new couch and Christa's desk arrives. Lots more to do (like setting up the ham shack)... but I am looking forward to the arrival of the couch!