i've been taking the general license practice exam as often as i can, whether on my computer or on the phone. i'm at a point no where i 80% sure i can pass, but i'd like to up my score. i still haven't had a perfect score yet, the closest i got was 2 wrong out of 35 questions (9 or less to pass). i typically get between 4-6 incorrect. there are still 2 big chapters i haven't read yet, chapter 4 components and circuits and chapter 5 radio signals and equipment. those are perhaps the 2 densest chapters, full of formulas and theories. at this rate i've answered enough questions from those chapters that i might even need to read them and still pass, but i still like to. once i'm sure i can pass the general, i want to study up on the extra class license. it's a longshot to passing but better to have fighting chance than none at all.
i tested the 2m ground plane antenna using the short UHF cable, from my living room and also from the backyard porch. i couldn't receive or transmit on either 2m or 70cm, although on the 70cm i could hear some static but that was about it. from the backyard porch i was able to receive transmission from the quincy repeater loud and clear (heard the automated repeater message). but i tried to contact my father through the repeater, we couldn't hear anything. the only thing i haven't tried is sticking the antenna outside my living room window out on a stick; maybe i'll try that tomorrow.
i moved my motorcycle to the front of the house (it was parked a block away last night) and put the cover over it as there was a forecast of rain for tomorrow. i realized it was trash day this morning but i forgot to take out the trash, i got my schedule mixed up. my upstairs neighbors seem to be away (though their car is still parked outside), as 2 days worth of newspaper was piled outside their front door. that must've been the sounds i heard 2 nights ago, when they were getting up early to leave.
i had a salmon cream cheese bagel for lunch and thought about what i was having for dinner. i felt in the mood for some more carbs, and thought how delicious it'd be to have some spaghetti again. then the idea of making a chicken pot pie crossed my mind, but i only had a single pie crust in the fridge (maybe a spinach ricotta pie in the near future). i finally decided i'd finish the rest of my leftover pulled chicken from nearly a month ago if you can believe it, saving a trip to the supermarket for either tomorrow or friday.
i upgraded to masOS high sierra today (10.13.1). i heard there was going to be HVEC support but when i tried to play an HVEC video through quicktime, it still didn't work. other than that, the new OS seems to be similar to the old OS, i don't notice any difference. that i think is a good thing, i don't like it when new versions of the OS change the GUI just for the sake of changing. OS GUI worked fine before, no need to retweak it.
i performed another water change. i noticed the tetras were acting kind of funny, hiding at the bottom of the tank instead of swimming around. that usually means something is wrong. i did a count and it seemed like i was missing a tetra. did one die? or maybe i accidentally sucked it away with my tank vacuum? when i reached in the aquarium to clean the cyanobacteria, that's when i felt it: the water was vey warm (81°). so warm in fact that it was actually steaming, and the tetras were getting cooked. the optimal temperature is in the lower 70's. high temperature would most definitely contribute to the bacterial bloom. i quickly lowered the setting on the tank heater and poured in 2 gallons of cool 60°F room temperature water. after cleaning the tank i did another count and it seemed like the 11th fish had returned.
i watched the movie mayhem (2017) today, heard good things, starring steven yeun and samara weaving (she's great in netflix's the babysitter), but i didn't like it. something about it was decidedly low budget in a bad way, like it was shot on video, and the acting felt unnatural and forced. the premise was interesting at first - a virus that causes coworkers in a quarantined office building to temporarily go into a homicidal rage - but the storyline seemed to lose steam. the actual eponymous mayhem didn't seem all that much. there was also a lot of spitting and spittle, which i have an unnatural revulsion to, which might have added to my dislike.
li came home around 6:30pm. said he was tired from 3 days of astrophysics conferences but it was finally over. he quickly whipped up some rice porridge for dinner. as for me, i made a pulled chicken sandwich with a submarine bread and some provolone cheese. it wasn't bad and the chicken is still good to eat.
my father called me in the evening, asked me to listen to one of the GMRS channels. i could barely hear anything until i switched to my 2m ground plane, and just caught the tail end of a conversation (50-60% clarity). the weird thing was i thought i heard them signing off with call signs, but i didn't recognize the pattern and knew it was amateur radio call signs. at first i was excited, maybe it was foreign operators transmitting from far away due to some quirk in the atmosphere, but then i did some research and discovered that licensed GMRS operators have call signs as well. my father overheard one of them saying something about waltham. it's strange that we were able to hear them (my father heard them super clear with his outdoor mounted 2m antenna) given that in our own GMRS radio tests, at best their range is just a quarter of a mile.
looks like the 2nd half of november is prime reading season, as i got my hands on two much awaited books: oathbringer by brandon sanderson and artemis by andy weir. and this morning i ordered from the library 40 watts from nowhere: a journey into pirate radio by sue carpenter which will arrive next week.
i tried my hands at taking an extra class license practice exam. unlike the other two classes, the extra has 50 questions (from a pool of 712 questions). a passing grade is 13 wrong or less. it took a while to take because i'd never seen any of these questions before. i ended up getting 21 correct and 29 wrong, a score of 42% (failing). a few of the questions i knew the answers for sure, but most of them i didn't and had to take an educated guess. a lot more names and terms i've never heard before (but i'm sure i'll remember them once i see it once or twice). a lot more technical questions, especially about repeaters, which was never something i had to study for on the general exam. with a bit more studying, and a few more practice exams, i might be able to barely eke by an extra class passing grade.