I Lit The Christmas Lights In A Unique Fashion

On St. Patrick’s Day I like to make believe I’m Irish. Just like at Christmas when I make believe I’m good.

I guess I am getting too excited about Christmas because at 6:30 AM the eyes popped open and I was up and ready to go!  So, a Christmas Memory was a great way to start the day!  You might ask, why is this a Christmas memory well, it’s due to the fact assisting our soldier is always a good thing but at Christmas time it is even more special.  The Viet NM War was tough with our guys half-way around the world missing their families and friends so the many hours in the garage I spent passing traffic to/from families and talking to families locally was special.  

Sitting in the garage at midnight with the temperature in the 40’s and the ol’ ham radio equipment keeping things toasty inside complete with glowing glass bottles sending radio waves across the ocean was special.

Christmas Memory #18 – Lighting The Lights In A Unique Way

As you are aware, I was a ham radio operator since I was twelve years old and I was quite active until my early fourties when computers entered my world and the kids needed attention. Licensed as WA6CJC and N0HSR, I kept busy.

During the 1970’s, I was working hard on the Apollo Program and ran into a guy who was my weekend boss, Zeke Lenn.  Quite a gruff old engineer who was a “Chief” in the organization structure.  The pecking order at North American Aviation  was grunt (me), Supervisor, Manager, Chief, Director, VP, and President.

Zeke ran the off-hours engineering support team meaning that if engineering was needed on the manufacturing floor, we provided it by selecting a group of people that worked weekends and late nights to be there…Apollo was running around the clock to go to the moon.  It was pretty responsible job and I met a lot of key people doing that activity.

I was the “electrical guru” and wrote “On-The-Spot” Engineeing Orders to fix problems, designs, add necessary dimensions, corrected spec-callouts, mis-prints, etc.  We did it on our own but monday morning the regular engineers would check the work and we had to be right!

I mentioned to Zeke that I was in Navy Mars (Military Affiliate Radio System) which was a backup to Navy Comunications and I ran my radio station at home about 6 hours a day relaying traffic from Viet Nam to the US.  We took teletype messages from soldiers addressed to their families and loved ones and trelayed it to the proper destination.  That’s all they had to communicate with home in the 1970’s…no satellites, no cell phones, nothing like we have today.  I could handle 5,000 message an evening at the peak having six teletype machinesin my garage.

Zeke asked what I used in the way of equipment and I told him…my little linear amplified was about 700 watts which was fine if conditions were right.  Coming this way the guys users rombics…I could only dream!  The receivers were Collins 75A4’s and Collins R-590’s I had refurbished.  He invited me to his houe and told me to “bring a pickup truck!??  Why?  I was not sure.

Zeke had built a 10,000 watt linear amplified using a pair of 4-1000A’s and fed by a pole-pig (a transformers used in reverse, 220 in – 12,000 out) power supply complete with quad 872 HV rectifiers…OMG, I died and had gone to heaven!

I brought it home, which was in iteself no easy feat as it was in two five foot steel cabinets and weighed in at 1000 pouinds.  I connected it to the 220V via a circuit I brough into the garage and off I went.  Some of the people used to call me “Radio Free La Mirada” as it really was someting. I used it on low power in the ham bands… only 5KW! (About 4KW above the legan limit).

It had two settings, low and high.  Low power ran 4500 volts on the plates of the 4-1000’s and high power we ran 9000 volts on the plat (3,000 more than the specs allowed). 

So it is Christmas, I am running traffic about midnight and the neighbor calls…”Paul, your Christmas lights are doing something wierd!”. 

Long story short, when I was using high power, their was so much RF energy that some of the light at my home and some of the lights on the neighbors home would begin to light up…the flueroscent lights especially so!  Quite a sight to see!

I never got cold in the garage…turn on the ol’ amplified and voila, instant heat.  Just lighting up the tubes took 7.5 VDC at 40+ amps or 300 watts!  I used a LARGE fan to cool the tubes blowing the heated air into the garage!

I have no idea how these tubes (I was running a pair) could take the 9,000 VDC on the plate but the meters indicated 9,000 VDC at 1.3 amperes when I was running peak power!

We attacked the frige today… out with the old and in with the new.  Who needs year old green jelly…in fact, with my tummy, who needs jelly???  The frige is now spotless! Looks like a display at the store.

We popped by the imaging office (CT/MRI/X-Ray) as Sue needed a test done and then made our way home to dine on leftovers…the best!  I love my day old Moo Shu veggies! 

Speaking of veggies, sometime this week we are going to made broccoli cheese soup cause guess what I found?  Our garden is not its usual self as this past several months has been a medical challenge so time in the garden was limited but we do have a few great veggies to deal with!

Does not come fresher than this!!

Did You Know? According to the USDA, 115,000 acres of broccoli were harvested in California in 2009 (total U.S. harvest was 124,000 acres).

These puppies are right out in the garden and fomr cutting to the pot is about two minutes…just time to wash them up a bit1

I can taste the corned beef now!!

After lunch, I worked on the New Years Eve party… It takes a lot of work to set up a party for 120 people.  Announcements, finances, seating charts, etc. etc. etc.  We are looking foreword to it.

Mid afternoon we decided that we would go have a drink at Patty’s Place and deliver our bartender Chcuck a bag of freshly picked grapefruits for his bride, Lisa.  I treated myself to ONE gin and tonic and then transition promptly to non-alcoholic beer!  We sat at the bar and yacked for almost two hours and I had to try a new menu item which was Jalapeno Nummies.  OK, I have no idea what the name was but it was made from Jalapeno’s, cream cheese, other spices and was lightly fried…and it was HOT to the taste!  Excellent! 

We watched one Christmas movie tonight entitles “A Different Kind Of Christmas“. In was an interesting twist which we enjoyed!

When you’re the city attorney you don’t need the kinds of problems that her father was giving her. After her mother died, her father began doing his “Santa Schick,” as she called it, much more intensely… which meant that he turned his home into a kind of year-round Santa Claus castle where children of all ages could come to see the wonderful presents and no child ever left without a gift. But what’s wrong with this kind of philanthropic generosity was that it totally embarrassed her when, as city attorney, it fell to her to make him stop his ‘commercial’ enterprise in an area zoned for private homes. But there’s more to it than that and the outcome is not quite what you’d expect.


After the movie we looked for others but the Hallmark Channel has been “inconsistent” with the movies stopping mid-way through so we decided to watch thee episodes of MCIS New Orleans.

Yes Santa…we had our tookies and tonight I even stuff some chocolate chips into the dough to make them extra chocolately <—is that even a word?

About Paul

Just an old retired guy trying to finish out my last years on this planet loving my best friend and wife, having fun, learning, and passing on helpful things to others.
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