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Tuesday, March 31, 2015 8:36 PM - I seem to be in one of those situations where 'the hurrier I go, the behinder I get'. So I'm not going to write a long entry tonight so I can get back to my end of the month/beginning of the month processing.

One thing I just finished was updating my WPX totals. EU and NA have a real battle going. I have 1207 prefixes worked from EU, and 1131 from NA. However the verified totals are just about a dead heat. Counting card/LoTW/eQSL, I have 982 different prefixes from EU confirmed and 983 from NA.

My DX to start off April was the ARRL president visiting in Puerto Rico.

OK, back to work now. -30-

Monday, March 30, 2015 8:41 PM - Another quick DX QSO this evening. PJ2/VE7ACN went in the log at 0003Z for DX streak day #761. A little later I tried working SU9VB, but there was a lot of QSB and I don't think he ever did get my call right so I just didn't log him. I have Egypt worked anyway so I'm not going to worry any more about it.

It was kind of a busy day today. A trip to the vet for Roscoe with Bruce took most of the morning. Just a yearly checkup - no problems. Then it was laundry time when I got home. A little shopping, some cleanup in the basement, a few other odds and ends, and presto, the day was gone and it was time to get my QSO and write this report.

No time to do any further analysis of my March Madness stats. Maybe tomorrow. Although I think I may get my Federal and State taxes done tomorrow if I feel like it. This poor boy doesn't have anything complex to tax so it's always simple when I get the urge to do it. HI. -30-

Sunday, March 29, 2015 8:24 PM - The final four looks interesting this year. The big question is whether or not Kentucky goes undefeated. Notre Dame gave them a good battle, losing by only two points. I didn't get to see any but the closing few seconds of Duke's victory today. Kentucky-Wisconsin and Duke-Michigan St. coming up next weekend now. A lot of folks are rooting for a Kentucky-Duke matchup in the final to see which of these perennial March Madness powers would come out on top. I'd like to see that. 7 championships between them since the tournament went to 64 teams in 1985. Wisconsin-Michigan St. on the other hand have only one championship between them, so the underdog rooters will be on their side.

I finished my data processing of seeding vs. finish today, but I have to double check it all and analyze it before I can draw any conclusions, if there are any to be drawn. One thing I note is that only 8 times has a #9 through #16 seed made it to the final four advancing 4 rounds beyond their seeding. Of course conversely never has a #1 seed lost in the round of 64. More to follow in a few days.

I've got to finalize our NAQCC sprint results now, but first just a note that my DX QSO was pretty easy when I worked CT9/UA9CDC on 40 meters. Had to send my call four times, but that produced a solid QSO. -30-

Saturday, March 28, 2015 8:28 PM - To follow up on yesterday's entry, I did go to the shack after posting it, and I did work 3 stations that gave me the letters/numbers I needed to finish my third go-around of the NAQCC European Chapter March challenge. Thanks go to OK1MBZ for two of the three 1s, to EA6UN for the two Ns, and S51WO for the final 1.

So with no real reason to get on the bands today since I don't feel like putting in the effort to go for a fourth go-around, I did some thinking about the NCAA tournament. Specifically what I said about Gonzaga and their seeding vs. results. That led me to wondering if there are some teams who consistently play above or below their seeding position. Since I have the seeding position and the finishing position for all teams for all the years since the NCAA Tournament inception in 1939, all I need to do is put it all together. Actually there really wasn't any formal seeding for many years. Formal seeding numbers started in 1979, but the field didn't expand to 64 teams until 1985, so I decided to start with that year to make the figures more uniform.

I decided to do it like this. First of all the seed numbers are supposed to work like this:
Seeds #9 through #16 are supposed to lose in the round of 64
#5 through #8 lose in the round of 32
#3 and #4 lose in the round of 16
#2 lose in the round of 8
The remaining #1 seeds make it to the Final Four

I didn't break it down any further among the #1 seeds because although the NCAA does rank those 4 as 1,2,3,4, it is not really publicized very openly.

Now let's say a team is seeded 14th and they lose in the round of 64 as they should, they get a zero for that effort. If that 14th seed doesn't lose until the round of 32, they get a +1 since they went one round further than they should have.

Following up on that, let's say a team is seeded 6th and should lose in the round of 32. However they are upset and lose in the round of 64, and thus get a -1 since they exited a round earlier than they should.

What if a team is seeded #1, but lose in the round of 32? They get a -3 since they should have been in the Final Four, but exited three rounds earlier instead.

Once all the games are rated that way, the plus and minus figures are totalled and divided by the number of years the team made the tournament. A high average means the team consistently plays above their seeding, and vice versa. I also total the number of minus numbers, zeroes, and plus numbers which when combined with the average gives a little better idea of the team's performance.

I haven't yet done all the 289 teams who have participated over the years, but here's an example of one team's (Florida St.) stats selected at random:

Year  Seed  Lost in Round  Rating
1988   12        64           0
1989    4        64          -2
1991    7        32           0
1992    3        16           0
1993    3         8           1
1998   12        32           1
2009    5        64          -1
2010    9        64           0
2011   10        16           2
2012    3        32          -1

Total Rating   0
Average Rating 0
Minus Numbers  3
Zeroes         4
Plus Numbers   3
So it turns out that Florida St.'s average performance was just as it should be. Three years they bowed out early, four years finished as seeded, and three years exceeded expectations.

The actual info is in an Excel spreadsheet to allow for easy comparison among teams, not in the format I adopted above. It will be interesting to see if any teams do have a tendency one way or another. So far Illinois looks like an underachiever with 10 games in the minus numbers and only 2 in the plus numbers along with 10 zeroes. That makes their average rating -0.409.

A quick DX QSO this evening with 7X4AN. I've worked him a few times before plus another 7X station and am still awaiting my first Algerian QSL. I guess I'll try again for this QSO. -30-

Friday, March 27, 2015 4:18 PM - Very interesting! I received my Sky & Telescope weekly email today and I learned that my estimate of Nova Sagittarii dimming from one day to the next as I observed it really did happen. If you look at this graph of its light curve and note the magnitudes around 0900Z on the 22nd and 23rd, it looks like it was almost a full magnitude dimmer on the 23rd. That matches well with what I observed.

If you missed it, the graph also clearly shows that it is brightening again, almost up to its peak level around the 22nd. Exciting times. Perhaps we have a dimmer version of Delta Scorpii on our hands. It will be interesting to follow this nova.

I heard enough stations (actually two of them) to complete my NAQCC European Chapter challenge for the third time this month. The trouble is that neither of them heard me calling. Admittedly they were not at all strong, hovering just above my s3-4 noise level. Conditions just seem very slow to recover from the St. Patrick's Day CME. I did notice yesterday that 20 meters was pretty good to Europe in late afternoon, so maybe I'll head off to the shack after I finish and post this entry.

I think Kentucky is serious about winning March Madness this year. They totally wiped out West Virginia last night, exactly doubling their score 78-39. Next up is Notre Dame on Saturday. Notre Dame has had 3 close games so far, winning by just 4, 3, 11 points while Kentucky's margins have been 23, 13, 39. However this is March Madness and anything can happen. Some good games coming up this evening. I think the most interesting one is UCLA vs. Gonzaga. Many folks say UCLA shouldn't even be in the tournament, and that is giving UCLA an incentive to prove them wrong. Then Gonzaga always seems to have a good team the past several years, but stumble along the way despite their high seeding each year. In fact in looking at my spreadsheet, I'm surprised to see they have never made it past the Sweet Sixteen round at least since 1999 when they lost in the Elite Eight. When both schools have something to prove, it usually makes for a good game, but.... -30-

Thursday, March 26, 2015 6:00 PM - A dreary chilly rainy day today. A good day to stay inside. Now I'm not complaining because rain is 1,000+% better than any other form of precipitation especially s#$w. Still a sunny day is even better with temps in the 60s instead of the mid 40s as it was today.

I got my "cover" QSO a little while ago when I worked Andy EA8CN on 20 meters. Even though as I said, KL7 is still considered DX by the ARRL, other organizations, and probably most hams, I feel better about having a QSO that is "more" DX in my streak log which incidentally is now at 756 days.

I had an interesting experience today - helping Nancy give Roscoe a bath getting ready for a vet appointment on Monday for some annual shots, etc. Actually he was quite co-operative and it wasn't as much a task as I thought it would be. I remember a few years ago in a similar situation, Joe ran upstairs and hid when he knew a bath was coming. As I remember now, we never did get his bath that day and had to wait for a couple more days and a better plan. -30-

Wednesday, March 25, 2015 8:39 PM - As I did a couple weeks ago when Mike was here, I worked an Alaskan for my DX this evening - KL7SB in Anchorage. While the ARRL considers KL7 a DX entity, a couple weeks ago I added a 'real' DX QSO that next morning, and probably will do the same tomorrow morning or at least try to.

The bands were definitely not good this evening and other than a couple weak SA stations, the KL7 on 17 meters was the only DX I heard. It's looking more and more like I'm not going to get those last 5 letters/numbers to finish my third go-around of the NAQCC European Chapter March challenge. I listened today for a while and did hear a PA1 station and could have used the '1', but I couldn't get him. Nothing else heard from Europe. -30-

Tuesday, March 24, 2015 8:29 PM - My DX QSO this evening came from a somewhat unusual (for me anyway) call - D44TBO. That's the first 2x3 call I've worked among my 41 Cape Verde QSOs. In fact as far as I can recall, it's the first I've ever heard. Earlier in the day, I listened a bit, and the bands continued very poor following the several days ago now CME and the subsequent low SF numbers since then. Hopefully this is not the first sign of a long slow deep descent into the propagation doldrums of the upcoming solar minimum. I have really grown accustomed to working DX easily and often the past few years now, and would dearly miss it. Let's see a couple stats here.

In 2013 I had 3,622 QSOs, of which 2,209 or 61.0% were DX.

In 2014 it was 2,833, 1,910 67.4% DX.

So far in 2015 it is 742, 641 86.4% DX

Overall in my big streak it's 64,350, 20,715 32.2%

So you can see I've really been enjoying chasing DX of late, and that proves that you too can work DX even if you have a simple setup like my CW/QRP/simple wire antennas one. Still not a believer that you can do it? What more can I say or do. It's up to you to give it a try and prove yourself and your negative beliefs wrong.

Spring continues to gradually establish itself. Most of my tulip plants have breached the surface now and the tallest ones are approaching two inches in height now. This afternoon I cleaned up most of the leaves I left during the winter as a blanket or mulch in my garden beds. In so doing, I found one more tulip that I missed transferring a couple years ago, and under the leaves it was 4-5 inches high (long). My daylilies had started to sprout under the leaves and there are a lot of little green tips sticking up now ready to enjoy the warm sunshine. The leaves and ground were quite warm today when I was working even though the air temperature was only around 50 at best. The heat from the sun is really increasing as the northern hemisphere is tipping more and more toward it. Ain't it great! -30-

Monday, March 23, 2015 8:43 PM - Another kind of ho-hum day today. A couple of nice walks although it is still a bit below normal temperature-wise in the low 40s instead of around 50. Some "spring cleaning" also. A check of the bands around 1630Z showed them to be not so good although I did work LY2PK for my first European in a while now. That call gave me 2 2s and 1 P for my third go-around of the NAQCC European challenge. It doesn't look now like I'll make it through four go-arounds now unless across the pond conditions pick up again in the next few days.

I also got another look at Nova Sagittarii early this morning. It didn't seem quite as bright as yesterday morning, but that may have been due to the atmosphere conditions or because it was earlier today and it was nearer the horizon.

I kind of missed March Madness today, but I'll just have to wait till Thursday now. The first couple rounds went pretty much to average. By that I mean if you total the seed numbers of the remaining 16 teams, you come up with 70 compared to the average of 71.3 for the years 1985-2015. The extremes were 89 in upset-minded 1986 and 49 in 2009. If all seeds went according to play, the total for a sweet sixteen would be 40 so 2009 came fairly close to being perfect. The highest (lowest?) seed still alive is #11 UCLA, a team many said shouldn't have even been invited to the tournament. Only one #1 seed eliminated so far - Villanova who lost to #8 NC State - go Wolfpack.

I had to call a lot of DX stations tonight before I got my DX QSOs from XE1/VE7BDI (a somewhat questionable one) and VP2MPA (good solid QSO). I also wasted about 20 minutes and a hundred calls or so trying to get 9Q0HQ which would have been a new overall one here. I usually don't spend that much time chasing anyone, but he was fairly strong, and I could have gotten him had I been lucky and hit a break in the big pileup which I didn't. -30-

Sunday, March 22, 2015 10:56 AM - I just a little bit ago got off an email to Mike KC2EGL, and I thought the content would make an interesting diary entry and keep me from re-inventing the wheel. HI.

Here goes, "Have you seen the nova in Sagittarius? I caught it around 5:30 this morning. Probably would be naked-eye in a dark area, but had to use binoculars in this light polluted area plus there were some thin clouds also which added to the need for binoculars.

Here's the S&T page with a chart: http://www.skyandtelescope.com/astronomy-news/observing-news/6th-mag-nova-in-sagittarius-still-brightening/?et_mid=735082&rid=246419306

I think that's the first nova I've ever seen as far as I can remember. Unless you count Delta Scorpii which although it brightened considerably a couple years ago, wasn't a true nova since it has stayed bright. I haven't checked lately to see if it has been explained. I would guess maybe it threw off a shell of darker material, but that's only a guess. Maybe I'll look into it today to get the latest in between March Madness.

Favorite games so far Utah over Georgetown (don't like them). Also the NC State victory over Villanova. Been a fan of theirs since the very improbable tournament wins in 1974 (5' 7'' Monty Towe and 6' 4" David Thompson, creators of the alley-oop play, and coach Norm Sloan) and 1983 (Jim Valvano era and the "buzzer beater" Dereck Whittenburg "pass" to Lorenzo Charles [that downed overwhelming favorite Houston]). Great memories. Also the challenge of even following the games back then. At times, I had to go to the Armed Forces radio on shortwave to hear some games. I think that's where I heard the famous Danny Ainge 'coast to coast' dribble and score to win a game [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HXyhmnVwhKY].

Think I'll incorporate the above into my diary entry today. HI" -30-

Saturday, March 21, 2015 9:07 PM - Not a lot to write about this evening. It was a pretty quiet day. A couple walks and March Madness were about it for my activities today.

A contest this evening made for a quick DX QSO with PW2D to keep the streak going another day.

It looks like we might possibly lose a number 1 seed as Villanova is trailing NC State by 9 points with 5 minutes left. I'll have to watch that one after I finish my web site updates. -30-

Friday, March 20, 2015 10:06 PM - I didn't have a lot of time to watch March Madness except for a couple of close finishes including the Louisville game. There seemed, from looking at the scores, to be a lot more nail-biters this year so far. So maybe it was good I didn't get to watch much of it. I get too tense at times especially if one of my favorites is involved in a potential buzzer-beater game. Let's see my Excel spreadsheet brackets. I see seven games so far that were decided by 1 or 2 points. Only a couple blow-outs - Kentucky (of course), Kansas, Arizona, Villanova, Duke, Iowa, all won by 20 or more points. 2 14 seeds and one 11 seed scored upsets so far. I've got a couple more scores to add to my spreadsheet after I finish this diary entry.

It wasn't easy getting my DX this morning, but I managed to snag ZF2UL on 10 meters for day 750 - three quarters of the way to 1,000. This evening things were easier as I worked LU1FAM on 20 and LZ386SKI on 30 meters.

We slipped back into winter again on this alternate first day of spring (astronomical) with a bit of s#$w overnight, but like all good well-behaved March s#$ws it was gone by early afternoon. Wish they were all like that the other winter months.

I spent a good part of today working on our NAQCC sprint logs. Well, actually not all that much time as I've got the cross-checking system down to where it is very efficient now. We have 117 logs so far with almost two days left to submit.

I also finished up patching some floor tiles in my pantry. -30-

Thursday, March 19, 2015 9:13 PM - A busy day today with processing logs from last night's sprint, getting a new build of the Windows 10 Technical Preview, following March Madness, taking a couple long walks, etc. Whew! I also checked the bands briefly a couple times. They didn't have much to offer. The same this evening. I tried calling a couple DX stations, but no luck. Hopefully I can get day 750 of the DX streak in the morning or afternoon. Now back to work on logs and watching March Madness. -30-

Wednesday, March 18, 2015 7:09 PM - How about that A index yesterday - 117 - the highest since November 10, 2004 when it was 181. No wonder signals all sounded so puny yesterday and last evening. I was lucky to get HK4CZE on 20 meters last evening to continue my streak. The preliminary A index for today is 45, so things should be better, but still rough for our NAQCC sprint this evening.

I did listen briefly one time today and there was virtually nothing to be heard from 20 meters up except a couple USA stations on 20.

It was a little cold again today with a high only in the mid-40s and a brisk breeze making it feel even colder. I did notice my tulip bulbs starting to sprout the past couple days, so that's a good sign. Looks like about 8 or so of the 19 or so have popped out of the soil so far. Also there are a good many robins who have ventured into town from the woods, so that's another good sign, not to mention it is hard to find any s#$w or ice now, although why anyone would want to find any at all, I don't know. It's wonderful to see bare lawns, sidewalks, streets, etc. Ahhhhh, lovely. -30-

Tuesday, March 17, 2015 2:29 PM - A couple days ago I said it was about time that I should be starting to get my DX QSO from Europe in the 0000Z hour. Well, last night I did with an easy QSO from E73AW even though he wasn't all that strong, and I think he was copying me easier than I was copying him. Although we never worked before (at least with that call), he commented that I had a good signal for QRP, and I hadn't told him I was running QRP.

It may have been a good thing I did get the QSO last night, because a check of the bands around 1700Z today didn't show much at all in the way of DX except S59AA. I didn't need any of his letters or numbers for the NAQCC European challenge, so I didn't work him. I'll save him for the fourth go-around of the challenge. HI.

The s#$w is pretty much all gone now after yesterday's high of 64 degrees. It still lingers where it was piled up from shoveling or plowing though. That should be gone before too much longer though. We won't lose a lot today because it is only around 40 degrees. Boy, that 40 would have felt hot last month.

When Mike was here Sunday, I noticed he had a Bing Translator program that came bundled with his new computer. I thought it was really neat especially since you could use voice to input text to be translated (hmmm.... wonder if it understands CW). I was amazed in fooling around with it after installing it on my computer by how well it understood what I was saying. I tried a lot of different words and phrases on it, and it scored 100 percent. It even got things like "Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country" and "Antidisestablishmentarianism". I didn't think to try "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" yet, but I will. Just now I checked this site in Wikipedia to see some more long words. When I was young, "Antidisestablishmentarianism" held the undisputed first place as the longest word. Or at least the longest word that was in somewhat common usage as described in the Wikipedia article.

The article also refers to long place-names (towns, cities, etc.) and personal names. That reminded me of the Monty Python Flying Circus skit about a long personal place name. I think it started with something like Gamblepuddy... if memory serves. Let's see if I can find it via a Bing search. I was close - it starts Gambolputty... See here. -30-

Monday, March 16, 2015 2:03 PM - Thanks to Mike for writing yesterday's entry and for a great visit. I'd like to add a bit more about the day. First, here's a picture of our computer setup. Kind of looks like a computer store or a computer workshop, doesn't it.

pix_diary_20150316_001 (112K)

In the foreground is Mike's new computer. To the right, my laptop. In the background Mike's two old laptops.

I feel it is an insult to my intelligence when I see these "Walk, Don't Walk" signs with symbols on them like the palm of a hand, etc. instead of simply the words WALK & WAIT or DON'T WALK. What happened to educating people to read in this country, or to learn English if they are immigrants. My grandparents were proud to learn English when they came to this country. That's true of a lot of older generation folks as well. Anyway Mike and I were making fun of this idiocy as we drove back from Ponderosa. There was an intersection sign for example that said (yes, in words) Butler Rd and Nixon St. I said wouldn't it be better to have a picture of a butler and a picture of President Nixon? We made up pictures for several signs just to show how ridiculous it would be if the country comes totally to that stage. We certainly have lowered our standards in many aspects of life in the USA. As Tom WY3H states referring to ham radio on my CW page on the web site: "Nothing worth doing is easy. The trend in just about everything today, not limited to amateur radio, seems to be 'You have to lower your standards for me because it's too much effort for me to meet them.' And so we go, lower, lower, and lower. Finally it's 'Hey thar, 10-4 gud buddy, watscher 20?" Unfortunately there is a great deal of truth in that statement that applies to much in this country today.

OK, enough of that. Talking about it is not going to change it and we may well sink back to the caveman days instead of going forward.

Although Alaska is considered DX by ARRL (and other ham organizations) even though it is a United States state, I still wanted to work another DX station today for my DX streak. So I found and worked YO3DDZ on 12 meters this morning.

A beautiful day today even though it is cloudy. I just got back from a nice walk through the park. I haven't been able to do that for a while now due to the s@#w. My remote thermometer shows 62 degrees now. -30-

Sunday, March 15, 2015 9:06 PM - Good evening everyone. John has decided to take a night off from his diary. So I shall be filling in. It has been a while since I last filled in for him.

Our day started off shortly after 9AM when I arrived at Johns QTH. We headed out for breakfast around 10:00AM. We had planned on our ususal Ponderosa breakfast only to learn that Corporate Headquarters forced the local franchise to shut down its weekend breakfast buffet. We were advised by the manager that they opened at 10:30AM serving lunch. So we make a Walmart run to pass the time. Both of us picked up a few items followed by returning to Ponderosa.

After we ate our meal we returned to Johns QTH to commence with the activity planned for the day. I recently purchased a new laptop and John graciously assisted me with transfering programs and setting up securtiy software. That took just about the whole afternoon. We did take a break to play a new hidden object game that John found. Afterwards we finished up some small details on my computer and I uploaded some software for a Garmin Virb Elite and a Garmin bicycle computer. Now my new laptop is set up for two of my favorite activities.

We did not forget about dinner. We decided to try a place we have been wanting to try for quite a while. Only to find out they close at 3:00PM on Sundays. So we settled for one of our favorites. A trip to Wendy's.

John continued both streaks with one QSO. He logged KL7QZ in Anchorage, Alaska. The op on the other end of the QSO has been a ham for 60 years but had been away from CW for 50 years. He is just getting back into CW and was very rusty and slow which is very understandable.

Other than that not much happned today. I will be heading home shortly. I am still in the workforce which means I have to be up bright and early to start the week tomorrow morning. So until next time, DE Mike KC2EGL. -30-

Saturday, March 14, 2015 8:46 PM - I hate it when someone gives a party and doesn't invite me. Well, not really because I don't care for parties anyway. It was a good opening line to my comments about the bands tonight. They're full of BERU contesters, and because of something that happened some 239 years ago, I am not welcome to participate in the contest. Puzzled? Or do you know just what I'm talking about? I'll get back to the topic later.

Mike couldn't make it down here tonight, and will be coming in the morning instead. He sent an email about having to take care of some stuff at home tonight "due to the rain and snow melt". So we'll just get a little later start to our activities.

In addition to the BERU, there is also a Louisiana QSO Party this weekend so I used that to work KA5M and get my regular streak QSO. The DX will come tomorrow probably between breakfast at Ponderosa and starting to work on Mike's computer. I did work 3 DX stations in the good 1600Z hour today (OG3077F SM3EVR EA7ATE all on 12M) to reduce my needed letters/numbers to 10 to complete the third go around of the NAQCC March European Chapter challenge. OG3077F is a special call in honor of working all 3,077 USA counties from Finland.

Speaking of s#$w melt, my back yard is now totally cleansed of the ugly miserable stuff, and the front yard is nearing the halfway mark. Back is quicker because that's the southern sunny side of the house and lot.

OK, let's finish up about the BERU contest. Of course that's the British Empire or RSGB Commonwealth Contest and only those countries that were members of the British Empire are eligible to enter. Now had things gone differently in 1776....... -30-

Friday, March 13, 2015 7:37 PM - Another sign of spring today. I was seen working out in my back yard. I removed the leaves and weeds from my tulip bed preparing the way for the breakthrough of the tulip sprouts which should happen within a week or two, I'm guessing. In looking at my diary entries for last March, I see that what I did today, last year I didn't do until March 18. So I'm a few days ahead of schedule this year. Last year the tulips showed up around March 21 or 22. I also put out my cherub or angel statue and cleaned out the cellar stairs. It sure is nice to be able to do things outdoors again. I can't wait to get things in full swing again. My tomato plants are 3-4 inches high sitting in their pots next to me here. I'm not having much luck with the peppers though. I just planted a group of seeds for the third time yesterday. Of the earlier plantings, only two plants sprouted and they were totally seedbound. This time I soaked the seeds for a day to hopefully give them a jump start and soften them a bit also.

I got my DX this morning from RX3AFV and LZ90IARU. I didn't spend much time on the bands today as I wanted to get other things done. Almost time now to hit the shack again to stretch my streak another day. Hopefully it will be a DX QSO to take care of both streaks. With the sun coming further north (well, you know what I mean) and setting later each day, I don't think it will be too much longer before there is good DX on 20M in the 0000Z hour. -30-

Thursday, March 12, 2015 9:07 PM - How many angels can dance on the head of a pin? Remember that? Well, how many stations can chase one rare DX station on one band? An awful lot. Just listen to see what I mean. I think there are actually a couple of rare DX stations causing the pileups. I believe I heard an E3 station causing one. As you know I don't really follow the goings on of DXpeditions beforehand so I really don't know what to expect on the bands. I still enjoy just getting on the air and tuning around to see what is there just like I did way back when I first got into this great hobby. To me, that's much more enjoyable than reading on the Internet what is happening on the bands and planning out my operating schedule from that. Yes indeed, much more enjoyable.

Conditions weren't all that good early today in the 1300Z hour when I was listening a bit, so I did some other things for a couple hours then came back again in the 1600Z hour, and bang, bang, 4 European stations in 7 minutes giving me 12 more letters/numbers for the third go around of the March NAQCC European challenge. Then another half hour or so off, and back again to find conditions had slumped. So it looks like perhaps the 1600Z hour is the peak now, although the 14 and 15Z hours were also good a few days ago.

No DX this evening as everyone seemed to be in the pileups. I did hear and try JT1CO on 17 meters, but he had a fair pileup also, then said QRX ten minutes, and I didn't feel like waiting. So I got my regular streak QSO via a rag chew with George W3MWR on 40 meters and will get my DX in the morning if not later tonight.

Well, just a couple days now till I have a good weekend here. Mike is visiting Saturday evening through Sunday evening, and then it's also March Madness selection Sunday so I'll be getting my brackets ready to follow the tournament. I don't make picks. I just like to follow things. I wonder if Kentucky will make it all the way through the SEC tournament and MM for an undefeated season. That's something that hasn't been done in Men's Division One play since Indiana did it in 1976, almost 40 years ago. They wound up 32-0. 7 other teams before that had perfect seasons including the tournament (the more prestigious at that time NIT for Long Island University in 1939 who went 24-0).

I see there were 4 other teams with undefeated regular seasons who weren't invited to a tournament or were ineligible for tournament play. 16 teams had undefeated teams, but lost a game in the tournament. That happened as recently as last year when Wichita State was 34-0, but lost to Kentucky in the round of 32 and wound up 35-1.

So that will add another item of interest to March Madness this year to see if Kentucky can do something that hasn't been done in almost 40 years.

Well, that is as far as men's division 1 goes. It's a different story with the women who have done it 11 times and as recently as last year when UCONN went 40-0. Interesting to look at the teams who have done it. They include Immaculata College, a small school, but at the top of the class in the women's sport in the early 70s. They were 20-0 in 1973. In 1981 featuring whom I think is the top point guard of all time - Kim Mulkey - Louisiana Tech went 34-0. And now a la Paul Harvey, the rest of the story. In 2012, the Baylor Bears went 40-0 coached by?..... yes, Kim Mulkey and featuring Brittney Griner, whom I think is the top front court player I've seen in the women's sport. Wouldn't that have been something to see Mulkey and Griner playing together on the same team. Oh, and Mulkey is as far as I know, the only person, male or female to have won the tournament as a player, assistant coach, and coach. She was assistant at LA Tech when they won the 1988 championship. I won't go into it here, but Griner also holds several records in the sport including the most blocked shots in a career (women and men).

9 other womens teams were perfect until a loss in the tournament. Also this year's Princeton Tigers are 30-0 entering the tournament. -30-

Wednesday, March 11, 2015 12:24 PM - Hey, my porch roof is green. It's been so long I had forgotten the color, but now that the ugly s#@w has FINALLY melted off, I see the nice green color. Also a lot of green/brown is showing up on the lawns now, but still a ways to go. About 3/4 of my back yard is uncovered now. It's nice to walk out to get my temperature at 9PM now and walk only on grass. Last night was the first time I used my back steps in well over a month now as the ice has finally melted off them. I had been going out through my basement stairway. It is just such a relief to know that it's pretty much all over for another winter now. Welcome to Spring. It's interesting how it did arrive just a couple days past March 1st although it took also a couple extra days to really set in.

Pretty good conditions on the high bands again. I'm off and running on the third go around of the European challenge with 16 letters/numbers down and 30 to go.

This evening is our computer club meeting so I thought I'd get this entry done early today. -30-

Tuesday, March 10, 2015 1:31 PM - I just completed my second go around of the NAQCC European Chapter challenge. Doing them a second time doesn't count for anything, but it was a lot of fun. Now I think I'll see if I can do it a third time this month. My criteria includes not using the same station that I used in a previous go around. Otherwise everything is the same. The first time took about 6 days and 17 hours. This time took just 2 days and 17 hours. It certainly is great to have the bands in such good shape with DX being so easy to work. I've said this before, but I regret not having done more DX chasing in my early days of ham radio. Anyway I'm trying to make up for it now, and having a ball doing it.

My first go around of the challenge is listed on the NAQCC European Chapter web site, and I'm going to list the second go around here. I better explain the challenges for anyone not familiar with them. You're given a list of words and/or numbers, and you have to work stations with those letters/numbers in their call signs to complete the words. A letter/number from a call can be used twice. For example F5IN could be used for 2 each of the F 5 I and N. As in perhaps FANFARE - F5IN xxxx F5IN F5IN xxxx xxxx xxxx - where the xxxx would be stations worked with A R E in their call signs. Anyway here's how I got the challenge words/numbers which were Mediterranean countries and their surface area in sq km.


Sound like fun. Why not join the NAQCC and try the challenges. There's a new one each month. I know many of you who read the diary are already NAQCC members who ARE enjoying all of our club activities.

Not quite as nice a day as yesterday, but still the light rain and clouds with a 45 degree temperature are still miles ahead of what we have been having for much too long now.

Think I'll make up a new worksheet now for my third try at the challenge. -30-

Monday, March 09, 2015 3:06 PM - And they say Mondays are not good days. HA, this one was here. A great s#$w melt going on. I walked downtown and got a big smile on my face every time I'd see rivulets of water running out from the s#$w/ice banks. My remote thermometer shows a high of 56 today. I actually was close to breaking into a sweat when I was walking. I guess I should have worn a lighter jacket. S'wonderful to use a Gershwin song title.

Also a great ham radio today. As it does now and then, my KX3 donned its Superman cape and fantasized it was a KW feeding a big high beam. That's how easy it was working DX today. In only working for my second go-around of the NAQCC European Chapter challenge, I worked eight European stations to garner some 30 letters/numbers from stations I hadn't already worked for the first time around. Included was a very nice solid ragchew with Jindra OK2LA.

Then the mailman delivered the following card:

pix_diary_20150309_001 (90K)

That's country # 210 confirmed via regular QSL card now. One of the quicker returns from an overall new country. It only took 3 days less than a month following the QSO, and I didn't send the card till a few days following the QSO.

Now I think you'll have to admit that wasn't a stereotypical Monday - at least here for me. Wonder what the rest of the day has to offer now. -30-

Sunday, March 08, 2015 8:32 PM - This was a great day today. I got the chance to do one of my favorite things. I watched the s@#w melt. It is so wonderful to see ugly white stuff turn into beautiful running water. Still a long ways to go, but about 25% of my backyard is uncovered now. With temperatures around 50 all week, that percentage should increase rapidly and approach 100% by next weekend. Won't that be great. I finally got a chance to do some shopping downtown today. Still tricky walking in spots though, and I had to be careful.

I finished the NAQCC European Chapter challenge shortly after writing my diary entry yesterday, so both challenges are finished this month now. I'm toying with the idea of trying to master them a second time around, especially the European one, even though there's no credit for doing so. It would give me some satisfaction though after missing the February one.

Tonight it didn't take too long to extend the DX streak. I worked MI0SRR on 30 meters pretty easily at 0015Z. He did have a small pileup but it seemed to diminish after a few minutes and then then I got him. -30-

Saturday, March 07, 2015 9:42 AM - Sometimes even after the tens of thousands of QRP QSOs I've made, I continue to be awed by it at times. Or more accurately, awed by how other folks can copy it so well. I was looking for those final two stations with zeroes in their call to finish the European Chapter challenge, and I found SP90IARU on 12 meters. The thing was that it was in a quiet period from my furnace noise, and my ambient noise was as low as it ever gets here at S3. SP90IARU was right at that S3 level, and I figured it was probably useless to call him, but I tried anyway and got a question mark. I sent my call again and got a K3?, then two more times and got a K3WWP K3WWP 599. I had my QSO. Now if he was S3 here running at least 100 watts and probably a lot more to give out as many SP90IARU QSOs as possible, how strong (weak?) must my signal have been there, yet he copied it pretty easily. I figure it must be like when Mike or Don and I operate from the Community Park here, and the noise level is non-existant. You can literally give an honest 509 report and copy the station solid. You can also hear 'static' from distant thunderstorms coming in via skip. I guess SP90IARU (and many other lucky folks) must have (lack of) noise situations like that all the time. It must be nice.

So because of that, I'm now down to needing one more European station with a call containing a zero to finish the challenge. I think I'll hit as many quiet furnace-off periods as possible today to see if I can get that QSO. With the temperature now at 31 and climbing, the off periods should be getting longer.

We were only down to 10 for a low today after yesterday's record tying (for March) low of -6. And it looks like a week of highs in the 40s and 50s coming up with a chance of maybe even hitting 60. That should increase the s#$w and ice melt quite a bit. -30-

Friday, March 06, 2015 7:25 PM - A quick DX QSO this evening for day # 737. I heard one of the LZ saints stations on 30M just as my furnace noise came on. He was still just about even with the noise so I called and repeated my call twice after he sent K3?. I just managed to hear him send my call correctly and 599, so I sent TU 599, then listened a bit to be sure I had his call correct in the noise. It was LZ386SKI honoring Saint Kiril Ierusalimski. That's the first saint station this year. Maybe I'll try for another of the beautiful certificates for working 5 saint stations this year. The one I got a couple years ago was beautiful and they are free for electronic versions.

Possibly an all-time March record low today. It shows a low of -5 on my remote unit. The lowest in my records since 1959 is -6 following the blizzard of 1993. The outdoor thermometer is often a degree or two colder than that shown on the remote unit, so the possiblity of a tie or an outright break exists when I check later at 9 o'clock. That would be something to set both February and March all-time low records in the same year. We've only gone below zero a very few times in March before. I recall in the record cold month of March 1960 we hit -2 on the 8th, and that record stood for several years till we hit -3 which in turn stood until 1993 and the -6. I was just pleasantly interrrupted in writing this by an invite next door for some tuna casserole with Bruce and Nancy, so despite the time stamp, it's now getting close to 9PM, so I'll just put this on hold till I get the outside temperature and we'll see if we have a new record or not. Well, it's a tie at -6. So no new record. -30-

Thursday, March 05, 2015 12:31 PM - Nearly a 180 degree reversal from yesterday morning. I could work most any DX station I heard including a couple I couldn't get to hear me at all yesterday. As a result I got my letters/numbers needed down to 4 Ss and 4 zeroes after working IZ4ZZB and OK1FTC. Then when my furnace came on, I said, "Well, the Ss will be easy and the zeroes hard", and QRT for a while. A little later in another furnace quiet period, I went back to the shack and grabbed SP6JOE and YV5SSB to finish the NAQCC "American" challenge to prove myself right about the Ss. I still need the zeroes though. Perhaps after I type this, I'll try again for them. Conditions are good today with strong European signals.

It looks like spring weather might be getting on schedule. After a cold night tonight and a cold day tomorrow, temperatures are supposed to climb to around 50 early next week. Then it will be a joy to watch the s#$w and ice melt. We did get a minor melt yesterday with the mild temps and rain, but having the ice mixed in with the s#$w retarded the melt quite a bit. -30-

Wednesday, March 04, 2015 12:18 PM - A rough frustrating morning on the bands. I heard enough stations with the letters/numbers to complete both NAQCC challenges, but I just couldn't seem to work anyone other than I1YRL. Either stations just weren't hearing me at all, were answering other stations, went QRT, were engaged in long rag chews, or my furnace noise came on just as I was about to pounce on someone. So I still need 5 numbers for the European Chapter challenge, and 7 letters for the "American" challenge. Right now the furnace is off, so I'm going back to try some more.

Still no luck. Think I'll give up for today. After all there are still 27 days to finish the challenges. If I can't do it in that time, I don't deserve to finish. -30-

Tuesday, March 03, 2015 8:25 PM - A nasty weather day today, but it could have been a lot worse. Basically we are getting just regular rain, although it is freezing where the ground remains cold. The air temperature was 34/35 most of the day after hitting a low of 12 during the night. I only saw a few s#$w flakes, no sleet or freezing rain. It looks like most of the remainder of the storm will be south of here according to how it looks on the radar at present, but of course that could change.

I added 3 more DX QSOs during the day today for some more letters/numbers for the NAQCC challenges. Then this evening it took about 4 minutes till I got my DX streak QSO working CN8KD on 30 meters at 0004Z. -30-

Monday, March 02, 2015 8:27 PM - No DX this evening, but I did work 4 DX stations this afternoon to get more letters and numbers for the NAQCC challenges. Conditions were not too good in the 14Z hour, but were much better in the 17Z hour. So the streak is put on hold till tomorrow. I have something to do early in the morning, but should be back for the 17Z hour again.

Some sleet, snow, and rain on tap for tomorrow as the weather refuses to believe it is Spring yet. Still the coming weekend when we also go to Daylight Savings time looks like we'll have temperatures in the 40s.

Of course as I say every year, it's not really Daylight Savings time, but Daylight Switching or Daylight Trading Time. We exchange an hour of darkness in the morning for an hour of light in the evening or vice versa depending on which way we're going.

Another misnomer is 'the days are getting longer now'. No they're not. They are still 24 hours (or 23h 56m more approximately). What's getting longer is the period of daylight. -30-

Sunday, March 01, 2015 8:36 PM - We wound up setting a lot of records in February this year. Remember I've been keeping weather records since starting in 1959, so there is a lot of data for February to be broken, and quite a lot was as follows:
Average low temperature: 7.6.
Average mean temperature: 19.7.
Absolute lowest temperature: -16 (20th, 24th).
Coldest so late in season: 
  -16 Feb 24
  -15 Feb 24
  -14 Feb 24 
  -13 Feb 24
  -12 Feb 24
  -11 Feb 24
   -9 Feb 28
Daily mean: 0 (16th)
Number of days 0 or below: 10 (for all months including Jan)
Mean daily temperature range: 24.2
Heating Degree Days: 1262
Daily low: -13 (16th), -2 (19th), -16 (20th), -16 (24th), -9 (28th)
A total of 17 other daily records among the following categories:
Lowest daily maximum: 12 (15th), 13 (16th), 12 (19th)
Lowest daily mean: 5 (15t), 0 (16th), 5 (19th), 2 (20th), 13 (23rd), 8 (24th)
Greatest daily range: 48 (24th), 43 (28th)
Negative departure from normal: -24 (15th), -30, (16th), -25 (19th), -28 (20th), -18 (23rd), -24 (24th)
Brrrr, indeed. Still the weather creators don't know it is spring as we had about 6 inches of the ugly stuff today for our greatest s#$w cover of the year. But it is March and better things are coming, and soon.

I was on the air a lot today and worked 9 DX stations mainly working for the NAQCC challenges. I made a big dent in both challenges and worked at least one new prefix as well in PQ450RIO. Tonight the DX streak continued thanks to a QSO with 8P9NX on 30 meters.

Time now to go out in the ugly stuff to get my temperature readings. -30-