Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Mike Adams, WA2MWT, SK

A good friend of mine passed away last week after a short illness. Mike Adams, WA2MWT, was a good friend and mentor, but just saying that doesn't do Mike justice. You can (and should) read his obituary, or this nice article about him from the local paper  to get an idea of what kind of person Mike was, but I wanted to take a few minutes to share some of my personal memories of Mike.

I first met Mike about 12 years ago, right after I was first licensed as KC2FZT. I was encouraged by Joyce, KA2ANF, to attend a meeting of the local ham radio club, the 10-70 Repeater Association, but other than Joyce (who was one of the VEs who administered my exam), I really didn't know anyone at the meeting. I wandered into the meeting and sat down, feeling a bit like a lost sheep, when Mike came up to me, introduced himself, and asked me to join him and a few others sitting together at a table near the back of the room. Mike helped "translate" some of what was going on and introduced me to others at the table, and generally made me feel welcome. Mike and I seemed to hit it off immediately. Actually, Mike seemed to hit it off with everyone immediately. To paraphrase my son Justin, KC2MCS, "Nobody ever had a bad thing to say about Mike. Everyone just liked him."

As I found out, Mike was the Emergency Management Coordinator for the Borough of Ramsey, New Jersey, a town about 15 minutes away from where I lived. He was also a regular Net Control Station not only for the local NTS traffic net (NJVN/Late), but he also filled in on several other local area nets. I thought it might be interesting to get involved with NTS, but I didn't really know how to get started and, like many other new hams, I was very "mic shy". (As Mike explained to me, it's "mic shy", not "mike shy".) Mike invited me to stop by the Ramsey Office of Emergency Management (OEM) headquarters (better known as the Emergency Operations Center, or EOC) and he'd show me how traffic handling was done.  (Traffic, in this context, has nothing to do with cars and roads, but rather with handling radiogram messages. While for the most part what's done is for practice, it is a function of the Amateur Radio Service that has proven to be invaluable when other forms of communications are not functioning.) Mike patiently coached a very nervous me through my first NJVN/L check-in at the EOC, and kept on helping me until I was comfortable enough to eventually act as Net Control myself. Mike had a great way to put me at ease when I was nervous. In what became a running joke between us, he'd say "Don't worry, we've all been there."

Mike also introduced me to other public service aspects of ham radio. He got me involved with supporting numerous public service events, including bike tours and foot races. His encouragement helped me to decide to volunteer one year to support the NY City Marathon as a radio operator, which was an amazing experience.

Mike got me involved with Skywarn and ARES ®  and while I'm not as involved with either of those organizations as I was in the past, I glad that Mike gave me the push that I needed. He also encouraged me to become a member of the Ramsey OEM, which is a little unusual since I don't live in Ramsey. Of course, I'm not the only one from out of town. Mike explained that one of the reasons why he recruited people from out of town was because that way there would always be someone unaffected by something that happened in the town available to provide assistance. Mike strongly believe that unless you were comfortable that you and your family were safe that you wouldn't be able to effectively serve others. To that end, he made sure that we always remembered to "look out for number one". It was that attitude that made me want to help, and I was honored a when I was made a Life Member of the Ramsey OEM a few years ago.

I will miss taking car trips with Mike out to Upton to attend the annual Skywarn coordinators meeting, the trip up to Newington to visit ARRL Headquarters, working with him during the Ramsey Run, the MS-100, and countless other public service events, and I will miss just sitting around the EOC talking with him. I will miss Mike's sage advice, his wit, and his friendship.

Goodbye my friend.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Just for fun

It's been over two months since I last posted, and I realized that part of the reason for that is that I've been waiting for something "important enough" to write about. Along the same lines, I've skipped operating in a couple of contests recently where I'd done so in the past because I didn't have enough time to put in more than a couple of hours in the chair. I decided to fix both of those things recently.

Last weekend was one of the "big" contests, the CW version of the ARRL DX contest. In this contest, DX stations work US & Canadian stations, and vice-versa. (As opposed to contests where anybody works anybody, or are primarily US/Canada only.) This is a 48 hour contest, and while I've never operated for that entire period, I do usually try to spend time operating both during the day and in the evening to take advantage of different types of propagation at the different times of day. Last weekend, I didn't have time to do that, but I did have a few hours on Sunday afternoon. I decided to spend the afternoon working whatever stations I could. When I operate in a contest, I like to have some kind of goal for myself. For this contest, I knew that I wasn't going to beat my own personal best, so I decided that I'd do nothing but work multipliers for my first 100 QSOs.

Generally, this is kind of silly thing to do, especially for person who works in "Search & Pounce" mode, where you're trying to just make contacts. Multipliers have additional value, and there are all kinds of strategies on working multipliers versus just working stations, but most of those apply to bigger stations who know they'll be competitive. In any case, I decided that it would be fun to do, and that's exactly what I did. Once I hit 100 QSOs I started working any other station that I found, but I still managed to work 141 multipliers out of 169 contacts.

My final score was only a bit over 71,000 points, which in this contest, is very low, but I did have a good time doing it, and that's the point. Hopefully, this will get me "back in the saddle" for both contesting and working on my blog.

For anyone interested, here's my claimed score:
         Band    QSOs    Pts  Cty
           7      35     105   22
          14      66     198   58
          21      56     168   49
          28      12      36   12
       Total     169     507  141
       Score : 71,487