Thursday, March 29, 2007

Gilsson Antennas

I was reading on the forums about external antennas and someone recommended Gilsson. On a lark, I went to their website and ended up buying and external active antenna for my Lowrance H2Oc because they cost next to nothing ($19.95 or so). I ordered on Sunday and it arrived in my mailbox on Wednesday. I was quite excited and immediately hooked up the antenna and walked outside. I turned on the H2Oc and about the time I got the standard "Do no use for official navigation" warning, I got my "position acquired" notification. I'm talking seconds within turning on the unit!! I have been playing with the antenna for the last 24 hours and though I have been using GPS since 1998, I can't believe that it took me this long to acquire an external antenna! I have used pretty much every brand of available GPS (Magellan, Garmin, Lowrance) through the years and I cannot stress enough how much of a difference that these external antennas make. Lock ons are nearly instantaneous and EPE is narrowed greatly. I don't think I will ever be without one beyond today. I also can highly recommend Gilsson as they deliver quickly and seem to have a great product. I was alway very happy with my Lowrance products, but this inexpensive add-on has really added the icing to the cake.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Lowrance H2Oc

As you know, I am a huge Lowrance fan. I've been using their products since I owned a GlobalMap 100. I have been aching for a color unit for some time now and just didn't have the a good reason to spend the extra cash. Well, I still don't have a good reason, but I found the extra cash and got one anyway! I visited Bass Pro today and picked up a Lowrance H2Oc. Having owned a regular H2O before, I feel right at home with this unit. I am impressed with how much better the screen appears. One of my arguments against getting a color unit was that there was no increased functionality. After playing with the H2Oc today, I have discovered I was wrong. Simply put, with grayscale, all the roads, streams, trails, contours to some degree, and boundaries look the a black line. To read the map on a non-color unit takes some patience and mistakes are likely if you rush. With the color unit, everything has it own color and is much easier to interpret at a glance. I'm glad I decided to take the plunge.

In the mean time, I put my iFinder Pro and some various computer components on eBay to cover the cost. I should actually come out ahead money wise if every thing sells for at least my starting bids. Now, If I can just get my wife home from the hospital and healed up, maybe I can go caching! Who knows, maybe a cache on the way home from the hospital tomorrow?

Friday, March 02, 2007


This post will have nothing to do with geocaching or photography, so be forewarned. What is this post about? Just some musings about life in general. My life has been interesting the last few months. Well, probably not very interesting from an outside point of view, but from my point of view, it has been very interesting. Before I jump into that, I want to reflect a bit. I had the best childhood one could ask for, to be honest. My family was pretty well off and I never wanted for much. My parents were the best people in the world. They wanted nothing but the best for us and often we got just that. Mom was always there for us and dad was never far away. I cherish every minute of every memory I have of my childhood. Yeah, there were times that I thought I had it bad, but they were fleeting and easily forgotten. I could go on and on about the good stuff but instead, I will just hit the highlights. I love every minute of every memory related to hunting with my dad when I was growing up. I learned so much about life out there in the field with my father. I remember the first time I fired my single shot H&R 20 ga. shotgun at a cactus on a hunt for dove. The things my dad taught me out there over the years will always be with me. I remember that day on the side of the mesa outside of Sweetwater Texas as he so quietly talked me through my first shot at a doe. I remember holding back tears as I walked up on my first kill just minutes later. I was overcome with pride yet saddened. It was such a beautiful animal and I cannot deny the guilt I felt for having killed it but at the same time, I think I took a big step towards manhood that day as I knew I had put food on the table. In that instance, I also developed a respect for life that will never die. I believe in hunting. I support hunting. I will always be a hunter, just as my dad will always be a hunter. However, as I age, I find little desire within myself to kill anything. For food, yes, I will hunt. However, there is no pleasure in the kill. Pride? Yes, I do feel pride in providing...but no pleasure. I think that it should be that way. I think my dad taught me right. I know people that derive pleasure from the kill. I can't not believe that there is not something inherently wrong with them. I grew up learning how to provide for my family and I treasure that experience. I spent so many years hunting with my father and there is no way to ever express my gratitude for what he gave me out there in the field. There are just not words that would ever convey what those memories mean to me. But there is more....

I practically grew up on motorcycles. Again, memories so grand that I can never repay my father for what he did. I will never forget the trips on the back of his motorcycle to New Mexico and Colorado. I do not have a clue why I was so fortunate to be chosen to ride behind him on those trips. I spend untold miles looking at desert, mountains, and plains with my thumbs looped threw my dad's belt loops while we cruised down the road on a Honda Goldwing. I will never know what I did to deserve this privilege but I will never forget those trips. I also grew up with my own motorcycles. From my first Honda 50cc bike to my Yamaha YZ250, I never wanted for excitement. I spent untold hours blasting across the fields of West Texas on those motorcycles. Even when we traveled, my dad would load my CR125, or whatever I was riding at the time, onto a trailer and take it with us. There are no words to describe the feeling of jetting across a field on a CR125 at speeds that take your breath away. I truly was the luckiest child ever.

Even as I became a man, my parents were there for me. I wanted to be a Paramedic. My parents had to have been taken aback by this one, yet they never wavered in supporting me. I know they must have wanted me to go to college, but at the early age of 18, they let me go to paramedic school. I actually started working as an EMT in Pampa Texas while I was still in high school. Shorty thereafter, I was in paramedic school. I turned 19 and became a paramedic in the same month. Before I was 20, I would be an operations manager for an EMS service. I grew up way to quick. There are images burned into my soul that will go to my grave with me. Anything horrible that can happen to the human body, I saw. I was only 18 the first time I held in my hands a human head following an accidental decapitation. A man who's head was ran over by a Suburban, a woman shot in the chest with a shotgun, fingers ripped from a hand, gunshot wounds to every possible body part, a 12 year old girl dying in my arms....all before I was 20. In eight years as a paramedic, I would see everything horrible that could happen to anybody and have three failed marriages. Somehow, I was able to remain sane and my parent's love and support was never ending. In eight short years, I would work as a paramedic in Pampa, Ft. Worth, Arlington, Amarillo, and in Lubbock (my home town) as a flight medic.

I ended up meeting the love of my life in those final years as a paramedic. She knew that my life long dream was to be a pilot. One day as I was reading "Flying" magazine, she told me to quit dreaming and just do it. My life was about to take a drastic change in course. Within a couple of months, I was excepted into one of the most prestigious flight schools in the nations. Again, my parents were there to support my decision. I must admit, they were quite reluctant on this one, though. To make a long story short, I ended up with my Commercial/Instrument rating but within months of graduating, I became quite ill. I didn't know what was going on at the time, but I was later diagnosed with MS...Multiple Sclerosis. Needless to say, it was the end of my flying career. I have been asked if I regret my decision to go to flight school because of the negative outcome. I can emphatically say "No!". I grew up near an Airforce base and I had always dreamed of being a pilot. I achieved that dream and spent hundreds of hours in the air. Even though I will never fly alone again, I am a pilot and always will be. What I learned in school goes far beyond just flying an aircraft. I will carry those lessons throughout my life.

That brings me to today. When I was in flight school, I went to work for the American Red Cross as a phlebotomist (since I had a paramedic background). I have been there over 14 years now. Through years of hard work, I have worked my way up to manager of donor services for Oklahoma and have a wonderful office next to my boss, the CEO. Recently, she decided to create a Director position over several departments. Today, I submitted my application. I honestly do not have a clue if I will get the job. I still feel honored just to have the job I am in now. In just a few days, I will be 41 years old. My interview is set for the day after my 41st birthday. I have talked to my dad about my fears and hopes concerning my current situation and as with the rest of my life, he is there for me. What will I do when he is gone? I cannot even imagine that time, but I know it will come some day. It came so early for him. His father, my grandfather, was gone when my dad was in his 30's. How did my dad make it? I wonder if I can. He has been there for me since day one. How is it possible that I can survive without him? I cannot imagine life without either of my parents. My life is so rich because I have had them in my life. I hope I do not have to miss them for a very long time.

Edit: Fixed some spelling errors. I was quite tired when I wrote this so I apologize if I rambled a bit. I'm not sure why it was important to me to write this the other night but I am glad I did. I love what I do for a living but it has been very stressful as of late and I think because of that stress, a lot of things have been pushed to the surface. Work for me is a mission of sorts. I deeply believe in the Red Cross mission and I am passionate about our work. When things are not going perfect, it becomes personal if you feel strongly about something.

I can't say enough how fortunate I am to have such a wonderful family. I wrote a great deal about my father, but I have as many wonderful memories about my mother, two brothers, and my wife. I am sure that I have many wonderful memories waiting to be made, as well. I am very fortunate.