Monday, July 31, 2017

Grenville is a Ham

Sure, he's a funny guy and all, but the "ham" in this post title refers to his renewed interest in amateur (ham) radio. And, it's no longer about learning Morse code.
For years, amateur radio operators were required by international agreement to demonstrate Morse code proficiency to use frequencies below 30 MHz. In 2003, the World Radio Communications conference (WRC) meeting in Switzerland, voted to allow member countries of the International Telecommunications Union to eliminate Morse code testing if they so wished.
In late 2006, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) eliminated Morse code testing requirements for American Amateur Radio License applicants, which took effect in February 2007. Eliminating this requirement has occurred in other countries and boosted the number of worldwide amateur operators.

There's still a testing requirement to obtain an operator's license, and now proficiency is determined by a written exam. A few months ago, after studying for it, Grenville passed and obtained a technician license, which is needed to transmit on the airwaves. No license is needed to purchase equipment and to listen (monitor) the airwaves. 

But what fun would that be?

Grenville's ham radio equipment is set up on the sun porch in our apartment which is on the highest floor (5th) of a former textile mill and faces the Nashua River. 

He's not outside, which wouldn't be a good place for sensitive equipment. I should explain that the sun porch is a misnomer (called that by management). It's enclosed within the building and separated from the living room by a door as shown here.  

When we lived in Virginia, Grenville had this entire workshop to tinker in, so this space is somewhat challenging in its limitations.
Despite that, Grenville has managed to rig a few antennas in his "work" area. The one on the right appears grainy as it's outside behind the window screen. The one that he's standing next to was hand-built from pieces of a TV antenna that was formerly in the attic of our VA home. The lights in the bottom left photo are not part of the antenna which is rigged above them.  
Admittedly, it's currently a bit overcrowded in his work space, but he's telling me that it's still in the "organizational" stages. (As long as he leaves the futon out there clear of anything so I can stretch out and read, it's all good.)

A major advantage of ham radio over other forms of modern communication is that when power, cell phone and Internet services go down, a battery-powered amateur radio and portable antenna can provide a crucial link to the outside world. Which is really something to think about.

Some facilities are considering it as reliable backup communications in a crises. Emory HealthCare (Atlanta, GA) is among a number of hospital systems to adopt ham radio. This is a direct result of Hurricane Katrina which left some Gulf Coast medical centers isolated from the outside world when landlines and cell towers failed. Also, the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) has set up a permanent ham radio station in its command center. 

Recently, I accompanied Grenville to Rollins State Park in Warner, NH, where he and other members of the Nashua Area Radio Club conducted a Summits on the Air (SOTA) event.

SOTA is an amateur radio operating program that started in Great Britain and later in the U.S. and is now known worldwide. The purpose is to encourage licensed amateur radio operators to operate temporarily from the summits of hills and mountains. Grenville and several others set up their equipment in a parking area and made contact with operators in several nearby states. (This was his first SOTA. Can you tell how excited he was?) 

While the radio operators were busy having fun, I tried out some panoramic shots using my cell phone, which I don't do often. It was a bit hazy and trees "blocked" the view somewhat, but otherwise it was a beautiful scene.
The umbrella on the right side of this photo is where the radio equipment was set up. 
Based on the good time he had, Grenville is already planning to go on future SOTA events in months to come. (I'll go along too for the scenic views.)

Friday, July 28, 2017

Friday Funnies

Shhh . . . don't wake the cormorants.

Enjoy your weekend, Everyone.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

George Was Ripped

Yes, it's sad but true, the father of our country, George Washington was ripped recently.

No, he wasn't under the influence of any alcoholic beverage. (Although, historically, he's said to have slept in quite a few inns and taverns as they also offered lodgings. So one never knows what happened then.)

No, he wasn't in a gym getting a ripped body.

Maybe he wore ripped clothing at one time. Who knows?

Perhaps, by now, you may have figured out that George was ripped when a U.S. dollar bill was torn up. I found pieces of George tossed on the floor here. Since he was littering the hallway, I picked up the pieces.  

At the time, I didn't think that, like Humpty Dumpty, George could be made whole again. To my surprise, not only had I found all the pieces, but was able to fit them together with patience and clear tape. This bill was in at least 25 pieces.
I remembered reading someplace that a torn bill could be replaced. While wishing it had been a higher denomination, I started an online search for information. Here's some of what I learned.

Can a damaged bill be replaced?
Depending on the damage and how much of the bill remains, a local bank or the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) will replace it free. If you have the pieces, tape the bill together. Try to fit the edges as precisely as possible.

What percentage of bills are $1 notes?
Just under half of the bank notes printed by the U.S. BEP are $1 bank notes. 

How long does a dollar bill circulate?
Estimates are that a dollar bill circulates on average less than 2 years. It's just paper and often sees rough handling passed from person to person. 

How long does paper currency last? 
It depends on the note's denomination. $100 bills are exchanged as often as $5 bills. As a result, the lifespan of a $100 bill is 15 years, while it's less than 5 years for a $5 bill. Dollar bills last just under 6 years on average, the $20 bill has a relatively long lifespan of just over 7-1/2 years.
online source

What type of paper is U.S. money printed on? 
U.S. paper currency is actually not paper, but is made of a cotton/linen material. It consists of a 75% cotton/25% linen blend with silk fibers running through it. There's three-fourths of a pound of cotton in a pound of dollar bills. Currency paper made specifically for the BEP has the security thread and watermark built in.

What happens to worn currency?
When currency is deposited in a  U.S. Federal Reserve Bank, the quality of each note is evaluated by sophisticated processing equipment to determine its remaining lifespan. Notes that meet strict quality criteria and are still in good condition, continue to circulate. Bills worn out from everyday use are taken out of circulation and destroyed. 

How durable is paper currency?
Paper currency is built to a beating. The BEP estimates it would take 4,000 double folds (forward, then backwards) before a note will tear. If it were made of paper, it would fall apart when left it in a pants pocket and sent for a spin in the washing machine.

How much U.S. currency is in circulation?
There was approximately $1.54 trillion in circulation as of April 5, 2017, of which $1.49 trillion was in Federal Reserve notes.

Finally, here's a question I wondered about when showing ripped George . . .
Is photographing currency legal?
Federal laws don’t ban reproducing images of U.S. currency. However, they do restrict how to legally display reproductions. Here's the restrictions from the U.S. Department of the Treasury for color illustrations: 
  • Illustration must be one-sided.
  • Less than three-fourths size of the original or 150 % larger than the original.
  • Destroy or erase a file that contains an image or part of the illustration.
YES, I exchanged ripped George for an intact replacement at our local bank. Yet, I was thinking, how nice it would have been if Benjamin Franklin had been ripped and discarded. Maybe another time?

So, folks, this is the only time that George W. will be shown "ripped" or otherwise. He's going into the trash and will be deleted from my computer file after this post. After all, I wouldn't want to invoke the U.S. Treasury for such a small denomination.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Weekend Birthday

The oldest granddaughter 6th birthday was celebrated this weekend with family and friends. Here's the birthday girl in a new party dress and sandals.

No party is complete without ice cream birthday cake birthday and a photo with mom. Then it was time to enjoy the ice cream.
Friends were on hand to help, everyone wanted to see with giftss. 
The weekend celebration continued on Sunday with a family beach outing.
Thankfully, the weather cooperated for the entire weekend. Everyone shared fun family time. Always a very good thing.

As mentioned in a previous post, we're spending up to the next week and a half on the VA eastern shore to check on our house and sign a new realty contract. Internet access will be limited during this time. We'll catch up with everyone later.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Here, There and in VA

This post is advance notice of our road trip. We wish it was all fun, but some is not. I've done some advance blog posts for your entertainment, including a couple of Friday Funnies as they are such fun.

The ability to read and comment on other blogs will be somewhat limited. It's because there's no Internet service at our VA house which we're going to check on it and also, very importantly, to change realtors. 

That's where we'll be all next week.

The fun part is this weekend when we celebrate our granddaughter's birthday in RI. It will be great to enjoy family time before conducting the not fun house stuff. 

We had hoped that this blog's namesake, The Frog & Penguinn, would have a new owner by now. It's a 10 hour drive from NH and we're back on the VA eastern shore every 6 months. The trip includes an overnight in our native NJ. Thankfully, there's friends to visit in both states, so the trip does have its merits. 

Yes, there's been a couple of recent offers, just not the right ($) ones. We're willing to bargain within a reasonable range, but when an offer is $50,000 lower . . . ???

While it's been said that two are better than one, lately we're not so sure about that statement.

There's two St. Joseph statues buried in the front and back yards, no kidding, and the house is still unsold. If you're not familiar with this practice, check online and YouTube, both have info about it. We bought one of the statues a few years ago; the other was a gift from apartment neighbors and former homeowners here in NH. 

We're keeping our hopes (and prayers) up. 

Friday, July 21, 2017

Six & Party Time

For the second time this month, we're celebrating a birthday. Grenville's celebrated last weekend and thanks everyone for the well wishes.

This week's party girl is the oldest granddaughter who will be marking her 6th birthday.

Another milestone in her young life will be this fall as she enters 1st grade. 

Time is fleeting. It seems a short time ago when we welcomed her arrival.

Happy🎉Birthday🎈🎁 with 💗

Her birthday will be celebrated with a party this weekend with family and friends. 

Enjoy your weekend, Everyone.
We certainly will at the 🎂 party ! 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Tall Ships in Boston

When tall ships sail into a harbor, it's a sight to see. In June, 53 vessels from 14 countries sailed into Boston Harbor for Sail Boston 2017 from June 17 to 22.

While we missed seeing these majestic ships in full sail, we took a narrated harbor tour after their arrival. Unfortunately, the weather was not the best that
day as we heard descriptions of and saw sloops, schooners, square-riggers  ketches, barques and 2 full-rigged ships. full-rigged ship describes a sail plan of three or more masts, usually seen on a classic large sailing ship, like a galleon, clipper or large warship. The El Galeon from Spain is a full-rigged ship that participated in Boston Sail 2017.

This event represented the largest gathering of tall ships in Boston Harbor since 2000 and before that an earlier one in 1976 on the nation's 200th anniversary.
The U.S. Coast Guard Barque Eagle lead the parade of vessels including Union (Peru), Europa (The Netherlands), Alexander Von Humboldt II (Germany), El Galeon (Spain), Nadezhda (Russia), Guayas (Ecuador,) Blue Clipper (UK), Bluenose II (Canada), and Esmeralda (Chile). The U.S., Canada, United Kingdom, and Germany had multiple ships.
The Boston destination was an official port of the Rendez-Vous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta. This transatlantic race is expected to cover 7,000 nautical miles over the span of five months in 2017. It also will showcase these impressive and imposing vessels. 

The trans-Atlantic regatta started in the port of Royal Greenwich in Great Britain on April 13.  The fleet then raced to Sines, Portugal and Bermuda before reaching Boston. 

Upon leaving Boston, the ships travelled north to Québec City, Canada for the next leg of the regatta, in time for the 150th anniversary of the Canadian Confederation. (There's still time to see them. The ships will remain at various host ports in Québec  Ontario, and the Maritimes from June 30 to August 20.) 

After Canada, the 7,000-mile race concludes with a sail to France in the Port of Le Havre, which will welcome the grand winner between August 31 and September 3. (So, there's still time to book that trip to see them. Maybe I should throw hints to Grenville?)

While they were not part of the regatta, there was a large contingent of U.S. naval ships in Boston Harbor. The U.S. Coast Guard also patrolled the harbor keeping boaters a safe distance from all the docked tall ships.

Even though we didn't see these ships in full sail, it was still a fun visit. Here's a couple of ship mastheads that were a bit "fowl." The flag-bearing chicken was on the Esmeralda, a four-masted tall ship used by the Chilean Navy for training; I don't recall which ships the other two mastheads were on. 

Monday, July 17, 2017

National Ice Cream Day

Did you miss it ?
It was yesterday, Sunday, July 16, just in time for Grenville's birthday, although he celebrated by enjoying an ice cream sundae on his Saturday birthday 🎂. 

So, we missed getting in this deal, even though Grenville assured me that he could handle an encore to support this local ice cream business in Nashua, NH. We opted to wait for another "special occasion" like another weekend, for example.

Growing up neither of us ever heard about this celebration. When did it start?

Turns out it was 33 years ago in 1984 and the resolution sponsored by Kentucky Sen. Walter Dee Huddleston only specified a month and day in that year. It proclaimed July 1984 as "National Ice Cream Month" and July 15, 1984, as "National Ice Cream Day."
On July 9, 1984, then President Ronald Reagan issued Proclamation 5219 and signed it into public lawIt recognized ice cream as "a fun and nutritious food that is enjoyed by over 90 percent of the nation's population." President Reagan called for all people of the United States to observe these events with "appropriate ceremonies and activities."
Annual celebrations have continued thanks to publicizing by ice cream manufacturers, after all who wants to disagree with a Presidential proclamation about eating ice cream?
Of course, the International Ice Cream Association (IICA) readily encourages this habit. The U.S. ice cream industry  contributes more than $39 billion to the national economy and creates over 190,000 jobs in communities nationwide.

We helped out on Saturday, how about you — did you enjoy ice cream too this weekend?

In addition to the ice cream treats we enjoyed dining outdoors in downtown Nashua on Saturday night. 

It was a wonderful weekend as Grenville celebrated his birthday with ice cream and dinner out, plus emails, texts, birthday cards, and some surprise gifts.

THANKS to Everyone for the Happy Birthday wishes too !

They were greatly appreciated by Grenville.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

It's Birthday Time !

Today is a special day for my best friend, partner, and love. Folks know him as Grenville here on our blog; his actual name is Patrick. He's happy that this birthday frees him from paying for a fishing license in NH where we now live.

Grenville doesn't think of himself as getting old(er). That's a good great thing because he's still having way too much fun — can't you tell? 

And, always has time to spend with friends.
As a former boat owner, he enjoys getting behind the wheel, and being outdoors, especially here in New England.

Spending time with with family and together is very important (to both of us).
A sign in our home: We're adults, when did that happen and HOW can we make it stop?  
Speaking for ourselves, we have no plans to grow-up anytime soon. After all, what's the advantage? Besides that we're still having too much fun.

As to how he's spending today, we're attending a CPR training course. Yes, I know, it's not a fun way to spend a birthday, but the course was already scheduled when we registered. 
The weekend gets better on Saturday afternoon and evening. It's my treat to an ice cream sundae from our favorite local place. and dining out at a local restaurant. Sunday will include a road trip to an event for his newest interest, ham radio.