BY Rich T.

Dear Mrs. Newsletter Editor Ma’am,

Thank you for your correspondence last week regarding the submittance deadline of this Article, but right now I seem to have a bit of a problem with trying to write because of Chirping Crickets. My head is full of them, and I think I might have pulled some muscles in my brain, and way in the back of my head there is some wiring that’s making that zzzzzt zzzzzt sound and sparks are flying as well. Let me explain the situation:

Flashback with me to Bozeman High, fall 1976, Mr. Barrett’s first period Electronics Class. The good ol’ pre smart phone, pre computer days when one could still physically build and work on electrical stuff. Not long after Mr. Barrett taught us Ohm’s Law, he had us building all kinds of way kool electrical gadgetry. I built a siren like the ambulances in France used that when I fired it up for the first time, we discovered that our Ol’ Principal Mr. Gappmayer could still run fairly fast for an old guy. I guess he must’ve thought he was back in Normandy again… One other thing that Mr. Barrett was trying to teach us about was Ham Radio. He was in the process of getting all of us in the class our Ham Radio Licenses but darned the luck, Graduation Day put that on hold for a while.

Flash forward from there back to late winter 2022. Still without a Ham Radio Operators License, (I have been a bit busy since 1977…) I figure that perhaps it was time that I should pursue getting one again. One used to be able to take the tests the Federal Communications Commission requires up at MSU, but now the closest places to take the tests are too far away. And now thanks to the Covid debacle you can take your test online via the Zoom thingy. There are three levels of licensing, and one needs to take a test for each level and score above 74% on each test. The tests are multiple choice with 35 questions on each of the first two tests and 50 questions on the third one. There’s a pool of questions that they use for the tests, 1,486 of them. I took and passed all three tests only missing 4 questions total in less than 25 days. That was a lot of studying. It was like I was in college for a while there, and this is where I pulled the muscles in my brain, Mrs. Newsletter Editor, Ma’am…

So, Mrs. Newsletter Editor, Ma’am remember when we had the radio repeater up on the ridge above Bridger Bowl? And I was on the Board of Directors of the Bridger Ridge Repeater Users Association? Uken and I would go to the meetings that were kinda run by a Chairman of the Board named Bob Leo. Bob was a retired Electrical Engineering Professor having taught at MSU since the time of Custer. (Uken and I figured Bob was at least 117 years old, but he was still quite able to walk to the top of Bridger Ridge to work on the repeaters…) Electronic genius for sure, but Board Chairman genius, not so much. He would call the meeting to order and hand each of us at the meeting a piece of paper with 4 or 5 words quickly scribbled on them. The agenda, so to speak. It was quite a shock Mrs. Newsletter Editor, Ma’am after being to several of your MLA meetings. Your handouts showing pertinent and precise information, and balance sheets accounting for each and every penny, your meetings are quite well run… All Bob wanted to do was work on radios and repeaters. I remember the Board Meeting where the nice Forest Service lady told Bob and the rest of us that we could no longer use a helicopter to fly supplies to the top of the Ridge whenever we wanted to and could only use helicopters at certain times of the year, depending upon the migratory patterns of the Speckled Doofwaddle Pigeon Falcon. She didn’t want to have us squishing any of those birds, so that really put a damper on the radio maintenance Bob needed to do. Not long after, we shut down our repeater, and Uken and I did not have to go to any more of Bob’s meetings. Bob Leo passed away last month at the age of 101. (Uken and I were a ways off on his age, but not by much…) I went to his services and darned if my old Electronics Class teacher Mr. Barrett was the one giving us Bob’s eulogy. He talked about some of the things that Bob invented, the research he did on all things radio, the patents he held, but he luckily did not mention the lack of paperwork at his Repeater Association Board Meetings. After the service I was able to visit with Mr. Barrett, and unbelievably he remembered me. We talked for a while then he asked me “Did you ever get your Ham Radio License?” I proudly replied, “Yes I did just last month, and it only took me 46 years.” “Good for you!” he said. “Now go buy $50,000 worth of equipment and antennas and give me a call on your radio!” (Upon further review Mrs. Newsletter Editor, Ma’am he is not wrong… How come all the fun hobbies gotta be so darned expensive?)

That said Mrs. Newsletter Editor, Ma’am I must close. We have been getting actual rain and snow around here lately, and word on the street is that Canyon Ferry (which is about 20 feet below full) might fill back up enough to actually launch a boat, and I can think of nothing better to heal pulled brain muscles than four poles out the back of the boat and the trolling motor up front on autopilot… Until next time,

That is All.

Rich T.

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