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So,  10 days to the day after passing my Amateur Radio License exam… Technician (the lowest level) the FCC issued my call sign.  It is the seemingly random KD8YSK.

I plan on taking the next level exam (General) within a month, so it may change.  Not sure how they do it, but it might just be the first letter to indicate the higher license class.  Who knows.

Either way… I’m legal to transmit.

I did pick up a cheap HT (hand held) radio that transmits on the 2M and 70cm bands.  Pretty much only good for local chatting and hitting the repeaters.  I’ll program it tomorrow and see how it does.  Fun, Fun.

Heck.. in a week or so once I have a chance to really play with the radio, maybe I’ll write a review of it and use that new functionality of the website for the first time.  Who knows?

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Another quick update.  So it would seem the time for planting is almost upon us, again.  I can’t believe that this coming weekend is Memorial Day.  Where does the time go?  It seems like only yesterday I was out shovelling a mountain’s worth of snow off the driveway.  Well, this is Michigan, it was almost yesterday.

In truth, though, the time is flying by.  Summer will be here in a few short days, and in a few weeks the vegetables go in for the garden.  Before we know it the leaves will be changing and it’ll start all over again.

Before that, is all the hard work.  Yesterday was full of it.  We tilled the ground for the first “break up” and added quite a bit of peat and horse manure to the plot to build it up.  It was hard work, but the soil looks better than ever.  We’re hoping for a good crop this year.  It’ll need to be tilled one more time before planting, but we’re on our way.  Because of the cold weather that is still hanging around and how late the other trees and plants were to bloom this year we are going to wait an extra week to plant.  Traditionally, around here everyone plants on Memorial Weekend.  Well, we’re going to plant the following weekend, I think.  Means a slightly later harvest, but if we can avoid any chance of snap freezes, it’s worth it.

Otherwise, yesterday was a booming success for the new smoker.  After a lot of deliberating, we picked up a propane smoker on Saturday.  It’s a decent size thing, with a few bells and whistles.  Thanks to a $20.00 off coupon, we got a good deal on it.  Sunday, we put a chunk of pork shoulder in after brining it for 24 hours.  A little dry rub, and last night we had a great pulled pork.  Boy, how I missed that.  Michigan has a lot to offer but good barbecue is not one of them.  We put a good size chunk of the pork in a cure for the next 10 days.  Then we’ll smoke that up and if all goes well, we’ll have home made bacon.

Also… it’s dandelion season here in Michigan.  The fields have turned yellow.  You know what that means, right?  Time for Dandelion Jelly!  Our neighbour and J spent a good bit of time out in the yard picking what must be 20 cups of dandelions.  That’s enough for several batches of jelly, and what I’ve been waiting to make… Dandelion Wine!  Yep.. booze from weeds.  Never underestimate even the humblest of plants.

So, there you have it… it was a beautiful weekend, with finally great weather.  We managed to get a lot done, and have a little fun in the process.

Can’t ask for more than that.

PS – The first butterfly of the year.. enjoying the dandelions.


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Just a quickie.  So.. the day before yesterday I tried to go out and mow the lawn.  It’s been raining here EVERYDAY for the last two weeks.  I wish that was an exaggeration.  It’s not.  So we had a few hours of less rain, and I ran out to at least try to mow the near front and back yards.  Well, I managed to make a few passes with the tractor before the damn thing crapped out.  It seems there’s a problem with the mower deck drive belt.  It’s not staying taunt enough to spin the blades without causing the thing to vibrate apart.  I tried replacing the belt to no avail, so now I need to take the entire deck off and see if anything looks out of whack.  Otherwise, my only other thought is to replace the cable that engages the tensioner pulley.  Anyway.. it’s going to take a bit to fix.

Then, yesterday, our neighbour was walking through our yard and saw a bit of fungus gold.  A Morel mushroom.  She came and got me, and between us we managed to find a good dozen of the things… right in our front yard.  This weekend was likely to include a trip to a nearby state park to hunt, but mother nature gave us a head start.

To think, if the mower had worked, I’d have run them all down.

Not sure if a pouch full of mushrooms (even very good mushrooms) is worth the headache fixing the mower is going to be, but in an effort to see the glass half-full.  The silver lining to an otherwise terrible situation… morels.  In my front yard.

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Well, it’s that time of year again.  Time to plant.  Well, we’ve started the year off strong.

So far we’ve added:

  • 28 Strawberry
  • 2 Raspberry
  • 4 Currants (2 Black & 2 Red)
  • 2 Blueberry
  • 4 Mulberry
  • 1 Peach
  • 1 Tart Cherry

Not bad for only a month in to Spring.  Outside of the garden, we’d like to add a hazelnut tree, but otherwise I think we’re finally getting to stopping point.  Well, other than a privacy hedge type plant running the length of one side of the property.  But, we’ll get to that.

Anyway, here’s some photos for those that care.

Tart Cherry    Three Planters    Peach Tree

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Ok… here it is: The End of the Beginning.  Why do I say that, well… this website represents “Personal Blog v 2.0″ for all of those who followed me before.  My last site was starting to show its age and had limited functionality.  This new site… well Hoooo Boy Watch Out!  Its got the links, it has the photos, it can do the fancy polls, it even might even slice, dice, and peel onions if asked nicely.  It even has a real shiny new logo to go with it.  In other words, the older site, The Big Guy, will be retired.  So, if there’s anything in particular you’d like to see retained let me know… soon.  Otherwise, I hope you enjoy the new content.

On to the updates.

Things are coming along well here, albeit slow.  With the spring thaw (and what a welcome thing that is) the work has begun.  Plants are being planted, berry boxes are in need of being built, and home improvements are well under way.  We’re also finally getting the much needed quotes to have the roof replaced.  It’s a heck of a big, terrible, expensive job, but it must get done this year.  Unfortunately, there’s no putting it off.

The weather has been one heck of a rollercoaster so far.  Highs around 77 degrees one day, then dropping to 50 degrees the next.  You never know if you need sunblock or a parka.  I guess that’s the Michigan way.

For those that know me, the best news is that I’ve been able to bring the old Harley out of dry dock.  The weather has warmed up enough that I’ve been able to ride quite a bit already.  I’d almost forgotten how much something so simple improves my outlook.


My goal with this new site is to try to be more regular with updates.  I admittedly dropped that ball quite a bit with The Big Guy.  In my defence, there just wasn’t much to say.  However, that is no excuse.  In today’s day and age everyone wants inane updates on most unimportant things, so I will endeavour to provide these on a more regular basis.  I also hope to use this site to showcase more of my projects and activities along with photos.

We’ll see together how long these good intentions last.

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I am just a guy, a no frills; take life one day at a time, pint at my local, catch rugby when it’s on the telly, ride my Harley everywhere I go ordinary guy.  Enough said?  No? Well, then I reckon I’ll continue.

I’m over-educated, underpaid, and will be in Uni until the day I die – at least then I never have to repay the loans.  I have three Bachelor degrees and one MSc.  I am in the long process of attaining another degree – slowly (oh so very slowly).  I have a love – hate relationship with school.  Maybe I’m just a little masochistic?   Well, there’s no, “maybe” about it.

I like motorbikes.  I ride everywhere.  I own a truck; it’s only for when it rains or to take the dog somewhere.

I’m a big softy when it comes to animals.  I volunteer with several animal rescue groups, and am regularly doing something around that.  I also share my home with several furry and fishy pals.  The place, and my life, would be empty without them.  My clothes would be covered with less hair too, but that’s neither here nor there.

I’m a fan of the cinema and music.  I’ll listen to just about anything, and play several instruments – some better than others. What I lack in talent, I make up for with enthusiasm.  Much to the dog’s dismay.

I’m the type of guy who would rather be out tinkering in the garage than sitting around playing video games.  Few things make me happier than making, or repairing something with my hands.  Regardless of if I’m at a forge making something out of metal, lampworking a piece of glass, throwing something out of clay, or just out working on one of my motorbikes, it’s all good to me.

I don’t have a Faceyspace, my mobile is only for work and emergencies, it was made sometime around the turn of the century.  It’s never turned on.  I’m not a technophobe (I’m “maintaining” a blog – hello?), I’m just pro don’t-give-a-damn-what-you-are-eating-watching-doing-or-other-inane-thinging (“thinging”, really? Ugh), and I like not always being on a leash.

I bet you stopped reading long before now. It is ok, I understand.  My favourite colour is purple.  No, really.  See if you stopped reading before now, you’d never know that. If you stopped reading before now, you’d probably never know you didn’t know.  Hmmm.

When it’s not overly hot out in the big blue room, I enjoy hiking, camping, and otherwise being outdoors.  I do like the beach at night.  It’s the only time, I like the beach.

If you’ve made it this far, I hope you’ve enjoyed these little snippets of who I am.  Also, you need to get out more.

… My favourite genre of novel is historical fiction. See, if you stopped you’d never know that either; aye, never.

I’ll honestly read pretty much anything really. So long as it’s well written, has a decent plot, and doesn’t make me feel like it’s targeted towards pre-pubescent children with self-esteem issues.

I also enjoy the occasional textbook type read where mathematics, physics, medical texts, anthropology, and history are all likely subjects.

As for cinema and television I like action, science fiction, historical, and smart comedies.  I tend to watch things like Spooks, Burn Notice, Stargate, Hustle, Doctor Who (although this series is sort of well .. bad), Merlin, and Leverage to give you an idea of my tastes.

I do enjoy writing, and part of the reason for this blog is to provide myself with a catalyst to do it more, in addition to a venue for feedback and suggestions.  Consider yourself warned.

Vernon Howard said, “Our freedom can be measured by the number of things we can walk away from.”

I like to think there are no material possessions I couldn’t walk away from if I had to. I would however, dearly miss my dogs, so I’d rather keep them around.

Hope you enjoy my ramblings.

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