Well, things were not supposed to turn out the way they did, that’s life. I lost my boat in the Bahamas, see the post here. I am glad I succeeded in leaving the dock and crossing the Gulf Stream mind you, I will never forget those few days.

Brainwashing on a national level, is it possible? Oh yes. I see it clearly here in France. I found it much worse than when I left it twenty two years ago. The government has full control over businesses, choking them to death, milking them to their last pennies. I can’t believe they don’t understand why the economy is tanking. There are no jobs available here. People stay on short duration work contracts for years because companies can’t afford to hire anyone long term. Salaries for similar positions are half to three times less than in the United States, with much higher taxes to boot. It is the new bloodless slavery, just sweat and tears. You work seven months out of the year for nothing. You would be a fool to start a business in France. It’s a communist nightmare. They try to reduce unemployment by implementing more rules, more social programs. It’s like trying to extinguish a fire by pouring gasoline on it. It’s cutting the branch you’re sitting on. A government produces nothing, it steals. The producers are the entrepreneurs. They are the real motor of a nation. Alienate them and see your country sink like the Titanic. Yet the passengers are still pretending it isn’t happening and the band is playing music on deck. Imagine a well dressed thug in a dark alley, he asks you politely to give him most of your money, it’s for the poor, and you can see he has a gun in his pocket, but hey, it’s for a good cause, right? After all, you making more money than the other guy is kind of shameful, isn’t it? Never mind how much you worked and sacrificed to get to where you are. I am all for solidarity mind you, I have been the recipient of it and the benefactor at times, but not under the threat of violence. France is now a police state. There are three categories of people here: The producers, and the government that steals from them and gives to the leeches. The beauty of it is convincing the population that they are doing the right thing. I remember a government slogan way back, it was all over the media, “Impossible isn’t French.” Well, now impossible is the French motto. Bureaucracy makes sure of that. There is a law for everything and for anything you like to do there is a form to fill, an authorization to obtain, including for your hobbies. People actually vote for all this, and I saw the same phenomenon starting in the United States. This ship is a goner, don’t let it happen to yours! Your life belongs to you, don’t let someone take it from you and don’t give it all away for nothing. You can help others without losing your freedom, without being a slave. You can be a good person without enslaving others with your vote. Don’t let politicians tell you that the European model is the solution, it’s a lie! Please share.

Repost from Facebook:

To my young friends here, because I care about you. We may or may not have had long conversations at Big-Es, Indian Beach or anywhere else. If we have, you know I am the kind of guy who really thinks things through. I am also a bit older, and that means more experience and more time to figure out how the world works. I will probably be leaving the country soon, so this post isn’t about me, it is about you and your future. I noticed a lot of you guys are fond of Bernie Sanders. I get it, really, I fell for it when I was younger too. Everyone should make a decent wage, we shouldn’t spend money on needless wars, we need to end corruption, etc. We can all agree on that. Socialism however, I assure you, is not the way to do it. I came from a socialist country and I know the ravages it does. On the surface, it sounds good. It seems just, morally justified. It couldn’t be further from the truth. It is smoke and mirrors and you guys aren’t looking beyond the nice curtain. Socialism is based on theft. Once you start to make a decent living, and knowing you guys, most of you will, you will understand what I mean. Not only is it based on theft under the threat of violence, but it is also based on control, on controlling your life. I know right now you’re rolling your eyes, but hear me out. Europe is a bit ahead of the United States on the socialist front, and it is a nightmare. You can’t do anything over there without some sort of permit, and the state has everyone under a microscope. Europeans are slaves seven to eight months out of the year. That’s right, all the money they make seven to eight months out of the year is taken away from them, and they get back just a little in the form of social services. That’s what Sanders and the left wants for you, to milk you dry until you die. They don’t tell you that, they promise you higher minimum wage and a few free handouts. What they promise you is nothing compared to what they will take away from you! The more you dig, the more you will find their motives evil, under the disguise of equality. What they mean by that is everyone DOWN to the same level, except themselves. I could go on and on… The biggest threat to the world today is not global warming or terrorists, it is socialism and communism, and yes, they are the same thing, slavery with a nice pink moral wrapper. Stop worrying about the weather, worry about losing eighty percent of your paycheck for fifty years! Worry about having every aspect of your life controlled and engineered to make you obey and pay. What I am telling you is easy to understand, just not easy to accept if you have been led to believe the lies. Your friends agree, your teachers, your peers. I know it’s hard risking losing friends for ideas, but remember, we’re not talking about just now or next year. So I beg you, look into it a bit deeper. I hated politics when I was in my twenties. It was so much easier to just go along with the consensus and it all sounded fair, take money from the rich and give it to the poor, etc. It was all a big lie and it still is today. Don’t saw the branch you’re sitting on. Unfortunately this time around the candidates really suck. I would have voted for Rand Paul, but the powers in place would not let him get elected. It’s down to choosing the least evil, and evil they are. Sanders, Clinton, and the liberal side is not the least evil, trust me on that. If you value my opinion just a little and you know I’m not stupid, just don’t take my word for it, look into things yourselves, take the time, educate yourselves on how things really work in the world, because if you don’t, you’ll really wish you did later. Not only that, but if you don’t, others will, those who will be after your stuff and your life. Please share and listen to me, I want nothing but good things for you all. I am very glad I met every one of you guys, and I will miss everyone. It is just time for me to go on to new adventures; more on that later.

We’re all supposed to get along right? Sharing the same space, in this case amateur radio bands, in an atmosphere of respect and friendship… Until a contest is on. A Ham contest, for those who don’t know about them, is a weird hobby, a bit like train or plane spotting. People get on the air and make as many contacts as possible over a week-end. A contact lasts only a few seconds, just an exchange of call signs, and that’s it. There is no conversation taking place. There is no human interraction, so to speak. If that was all there was to it, it would be fine. People do what they want, it’s none of my business. Until their hobby is infringing on mine that is. Infringing in this case is too light a word. Until it obliterates mine for a whole week-end that is. They do this regularly.

Contesters think absolutely everyone loves contests and participates. So they park themelves on calling frequencies regularly used for low-power operations and call every few seconds for hours-on-end using hundreds of Watts, trampling on every other signal. It’s a contest, a free-for-all Roman arena, and damned be anyone who want to chat with their friends or make new ones using a respectful few Watts of power. They drool over their microphones or Morse key with bloodshot eyes. They need those points to win a new plaque or certificate for their trophy room. If the Ham radio contest was a touring rally, they’d run pedestrians over with their cars.

You would think contest organizers would police, or at least educate their members, but no. Because contest organizers are also contesters. The biggest culprit is the ARRL. Their station, W1AW monopolizes QRP (low-power) calling frequencies for hours with incessant calling using high power, and damned be anybody else. They to this all the time outside contests. How could we expect them to police contests? They even broadcast their Morse code practice daily on multiple bands. While I think that is actually useful, although I wish they used classic books instead of technical articles, it is against the law. But the ARRL is above that. Why should they worry about mere mortal radio operators using little home-built radios not manufactured by their corporate sponsors?

Contesters will also say that non-participants can go the the WARC bands, 30, 17 and 12m. Well, not everyone has those or an antenna to accomodate them. Don’t piss on me and tell me it’s raining. Why don’t we have one contesting band and you guys can all go to it where you won’t bother everybody else? How does that sound? They also say contesting is the Godsent gift to Ham radio. As if amateur radio would collapse without them. I don’t think so. I was also told “if you can’t beat them, join them.” Nope, not going to happen. Just like I wouldn’t sit outside an airport writing down airplane tail numbers all day or go to a cross-dressing furry swinger’s party… Not my cup of tea, although I’d choose the furry party over a Ham contest any day. To me, contests are pointless and weird, and that’s it, so no, I won’t participate, I’d rather watch paint dry.

Bottom line is, when a contest is on, way too often, I might as well go fishing or something, because turning my itty-bitty radio on is as productive as pissing in a violin. The lack of respect is appaling. There isn’t a wide enough stretch of frequency left free of pollution for long enough for me to contact, let alone chat with anyone.

You want to enjoy your contesting hobby? Fine with me. Just don’t keep me out of mine to enjoy yours.

I don’t mean don’t become a Ham! Amateur Radio is a great hobby and asset in emergency situations. Most newcomers go for the first and easiest license, Technician. I think it is a mistake. Technician privileges suck, excuse my French. They allow access mainly to VHF and UHF bands which depending on location can be pretty boring. Most new Ham’s first contact will be signing into a “net.” They’ll give their call-sign, get a welcome, and that is it. After that, maybe a few conversations about nothing. The first time I listened to the 2m band I heard some guy explaining how he had fixed his toilet.. Except for the occasional gem, it hasn’t gotten much better than that. Newbies buy a handheld with its little stubby antenna and get disappointed, of course.. Many will quit right then. There is more to amateur radio than a Tech license and a walkie talkie.

Ham & Wine

Ham & Wine

When I suggest to someone that they should give Ham radio a try, I always insist that they go for the General license, at least. While the Technician license allows the use of a few small portions of HF bands for Morse code and a bit of SSB voice on 10m, few take advantage of it. The General license however opens the door to a vast section of HF, which means global coverage even with the simplest radio. General isn’t difficult. With just a little bit more studying, anyone who can pass the Tech exam should pass General. The “Extra” license is harder, but still reachable by most. I passed all three in one session, so can you. Take your time and study hard, it’s worth the effort.

I received my E-M5 yesterday. The camera feels rugged, slightly heavy for its size, which I like. Compared to my Fuji X100S, it is a tank. The 14-42 kit lens however is a cheap piece of plastic. No wonder they only go for about $55 on Ebay. Image quality isn’t as bad as I thought it would be, but dealing with a 3.5 to 5.6 aperture isn’t something I like to do. Even 2.8 is a bit dark in my opinion. The menus are more complex that on my X100S, and the OM-D has a bunch of useless features no photographer worthy of the name will ever use. Those who would are better off buying a cheap point-and-shoot camera.

The image above is from an out-of-camera jpeg through Lightroom 5, but I really didn’t change anything but increase the exposure a bit. Settings are Monotone with a yellow filter and +1 contrast, if i remember well.

Image quality isn’t as good as the X100S, which is to be expected. 6400 ISO on the X100S is like 1600 ISO on the Olympus. What I was pleasantly surprised with was the low speed at which you can take sharp photos with the image stabilization. I tried down to 1/5sec, and yep, sharp as a tack. Now I need a good lens to replace the el-cheapo zoom that came with it. Contenders now are the Voightlander Nokton 25mm f0.95, Panasonic Leica 25mm f1.4 and even the Mitakon 35mm f0.95. Later I will get the Panasonic Leica 15mm, a telephoto and a fisheye. The f2.8 PRO zoom is tempting, but quite expensive, and still only f2.8.. Maybe later..

Are Micro 4/3rds good enough?

I think so. As long as you don’t expect to take them to the studio. The E-M5 is an outside, rugged camera, not meant for art photography, though some people seem to do decent work with it in that respect. The grain of the E-M5 sensor is more film-like than the X100S, which has a more plasticky look. I don’t like what the X100S does to skin tones at high ISO, but I rarely use it that way. The big advantage of the Olympus is the weather sealing and image stabilization. If only they would simplify the menus by deleting half of the functions in there.. For street and documentary types of photography, I think it will do quite well.

Keep an eye on my Flickr page for more images, both with the X100S (if I get it back!) and the OM-D E-M5.

Click Here.