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If I don't brag on myself, who will? So here goes:

This is really not so much of a brag as it is a documentary. Someone once said that you should start with your obituary and work backwards. I don't think of this as an obituary but it has made me think a little about what I have and haven't done with my life. As so many before me have lamented, if I could just go back and know what I know now.

As of today, I have been around for .

That in itself is amazing. Man, I'm getting old way too fast.

I was Born in Searcy, Arkansas, I spent my formative years in Jonesboro, Arkansas. By the time I was 15, I of course knew everything and was getting tired of everybody telling me what to do. I was living with my Dad and Step-Mother at the time, so I made a phone call and talked my way into going to live with my Mother and Step-Dad. I figured I'd get a new start and of course life would be easier. Well that is when I learned about farm life. You know, farming is a lot harder than city life. I learned how to chop cotton, pick cotton, butt rice levies, drive a tractor 14 hours a day, bail and stack hay, wear brogans and get up with the chickens. Needless to say that was not the easy life I was expecting.

I stayed in Sherrill, Arkansas for about a year until my brother was struck by a pickup truck and nearly killed. He was 5 years old, "helping" his Dad with irrigation in the rice field. He was too close to the road and the driver didn't see him. He was severely injured and it took almost a year to get him back home from the hospital.

While all of this was going on, I went to live with my Maternal Grandmother in Cotton Plant, Arkansas. I finished the 10th grade there and by then my Step dad had given up the farm in Sherrill and moved to North Little Rock, Arkansas. I went to live with them after school let out in 1960. I needed to find a job for spending money, buy a car and all of the things a 17 year old needs. Well, I was wondering around downtown North Little Rock looking for a job going from door to door. Without even realizing it, the next door was the Air Force Recruiting office. I walked in to see if they were hiring and when I realized where I was I started to leave but the recruiter asked why I was there, I told him I had made a mistake, I was looking for a job. Well guess what, the Air Force was hiring. Next thing I knew, I was learning to march in the Texas heat in late June of 1960.

Uncle Sam took me to Kansas and then to Montana, and the recruiter promised me that I would see the world. Seems that's not the only thing he exaggerated about. I became an electronic tech on the B-47 then later on the B-52. While I was in Wichita, Kansas fixing B-47's, I earned my high school GED diploma. I was there for 18 months then transferred to Glasgow, Montana where I remained for the rest of my Air Force enlistment. By the time I was discharged in Glasgow, I had married a girl from Williston, North Dakota. She had a Son by a previous marriage and then we had a Daughter. Marian Louise, (Mary Lou), named from the song by Rick Nelson. It helped that I had a Sister, Catherine Louise and my Mother is Marion Doris. I know that this will come as a shock to all of you Dad's out there but my daughter was the most beautiful baby on the planet. We lived in Montana first, until I finished my Air Force duty then later we moved to North Dakota. The marriage didn't work out though, we were only married for 22 years and divorced in 1985.

I bought my first computer in 1978, an Apple ][. That was a year of change for me. I was fed up with CB and all the language and abuse on 11 meters. There were a few local hams trying to start a ham club and they ran an ad in the local paper. I responded and joined the group that later became the local Ham Club. One of the first orders of business of that small group of hams was to teach a Novice Class so I enrolled. It was very hard for me to grasp those dots and dashes but I managed to get a grip on it and I received my Novice call WD0GRC on February 17, 1978 at the age of 34. Many thanks to K0RDF and K0AYZ for teaching that first Novice Class, I owe them for all of the great times I've had with Amateur Radio. Thanks Guys.

I remained in North Dakota until October 1986. By that time I had progressed through the levels to Advanced. For a while I operated Williston, ND's first Computer Bulletin Board on my Apple ][. It had 64 Kb of memory, a 300 bps modem and two 144 kb floppy drives. No hard drive and no 8 bit protocol. Those were the good old days.

A couple of years after I purchased my Apple ][ Computer, I published a North Dakota Call Book. This was 1981, there was no world wide web, no QRZ.com, no Call book on CD, in fact there weren't even CD's. The only way to locate hams in your area was to call CQ, check with the local club or spend hours in the call book looking for your area. Well, I manually typed in every ham in the state and sent out preliminary books to every club in the state for corrections and updates. It was a lot of work but it was well received and I figure by the time I added the cost of publishing and postage I suppose I netted about $0.02 per hour. But I had fun and learned a lot.

The benefit I received was much more than I could have ever hoped for. I meet a lot of hams that I would have never known and it just felt good doing something for a hobby that was giving so much to me. At the next International Peace Garden Hamfest, I was nominated for and won the "Ham of the Year" award. This is an award from my peers and I am very proud to have been honored with this very prestigious award.


View the Ham of the Year Award list, my call was WD0GRC back then.
Click on the award to link to the
Peace Garden Hamfest Award List."

By 1986, I was divorced, the economy in North Dakota was pretty slow, my Step-Dad had passed and my Mother was living alone in Arkansas and so I packed up and came home for a visit. I was just going to stay a little while, then head on further south to the Caribbean. I had always wanted to go sailing and it was time to start looking for a boat and start learning to sail.

That was the plan anyway. I stayed a little longer than I had planned, ran out of money and had to get a job. While I was working, I took a class in SCUBA Diving. Got certified and I've made quite a few trips to the Caribbean and Central America to SCUBA Dive. It's a blast, I would recommend it to any and everyone.

Fate has a way of changing your plans. One thing lead to another and after 4 years in 1990, I started a business of my own. Buckled down and worked at making a living. On September 1st, 1992 I setup The Ether Net Amateur Radio BBS. This was a landline dialup Bulletin Board System and it was a part of the Fido Network. It grew to become the Central Arkansas Fido Mail Hub. It became a repository of many amateur radio files.

Nothing much noteworthy happened for about 11 years until once again fate intervened, on May 2nd, 2001 when a friend of mine introduced me to his sister Belinda. I had been single for some 18 years by now and you might say I was a little set in my ways. Well she woke up some long dormant feelings and before long we were well on our way to a life together. On October 14th, 2001, I asked her to marry me and she accepted. We were married on August 8th, 2002 at the Old Mill Wedding Chapel in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

We bought a house settled into making a living and just enjoying each other's company. I can tell you that the song was right, Love is better the second time around. At least is has been for us and I can add that it is even better when your lover is also your friend.

I bought a Goldwing motorcycle and I have been able to do quite a bit of traveling on it. In fact I have ridden it to many states in the south east and western United States. I have really enjoyed the motorcycle, the freedom of the open road and the solitude. I have a Kenwood TM-D710 with APRS and you can track me whenever I'm riding.

The house turned into a money pit so after about five years we sold it and lived in the motor home for a little while until we found another house. This one seems to be a much better fit with a two acre lot so there is room for an antenna farm.

I recently (Fall of 2013) finished adding an addition to the house. I just didn't like being above the garage and I just couldn't figure out how to get a decent ground on the second floor. I'm sure there is a way but I just couldn't get the RF out of the audio on HF. I decided to just add a Ham Shack on to the house and set it up the way I wanted it. I now have a dedicated room for my computers and radio equipment.

I wired it myself so there are plenty of AC outlets and large conduits running to the outside so I can easily run coax and control cables to the operating position. I had a local cabinet shop build a custom desk to fit the room and I started setting up a station.

As of now, early December 2013, I have installed a 70 foot crankup tower with a Force 12 C3 HF antenna, a Comet GP-9 VHF/UHF Vertical and a Discone for the scanner and I have ordered a Crushcraft A6270-13S 6 meter VHF/UHF beam that I will be adding when the weather permits. I also have a 160 meter Carolina Windom at 40 feet for the other HF bands. So the antenna farm is taking root pretty well.

I just ordered a new Kenwood TS-2000 and I'm looking forward to playing with it. This should just about finish out the station for now. I also have a Kenwood TM-D710 for VHF/UHF, packet and APRS. All of this keeps me fairly busy. I retired in September so I finally have some time to play radio. Not nearly as much time as I would like with Honey Do's and all the work keeping up the house and two acre lot, but life is good, no complaints.

I'm spending a lot of time on 20 meters, 14.233 Mhz sending and receiving Digital SSTV pictures using Easypal. I really enjoy the digital as opposed to the analog that I was doing before. Technology has come a long way while I was away. I now have HRD, electronic logging, I'm uploading pictures to the internet, heck I'm even streaming live screen capture of Easypal to the web page. I'm real excited to see what technology is coming down the pike.

Take care of yourself and those you love.

Remember to smile, a smile is contagious.

73

Bill Shryock - N5HQ

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