Postcards from Tradocia

Golden State Chronicles (day 70)

Less than one week remaining in this place – hopefully I should be leaving next Friday. I’ve had the same feeling for the last couple of weeks that I did during my last few months in Iraq – in other words, obsessing about leaving and a generally cranky attitude borne of living with a bunch of men around whom I’ve spent far too much time.

The living conditions here, though, are worse than Camp Liberty: I had a better mattress, better internet connection, more regular hot running water, <I>much</I> better food, and a bigger room. I even had better people around! The weather here is better, I guess, but it’s just as dry (it’s rained literally once since I’ve been here) and almost as hot.

Last week our class took a field trip to the house of a local ham radio guy. You might wonder why a group of Army computer geeks would go see a ham radio operator; I don’t really have a good answer myself. The tenuous connection (as explained by the instructor) was that the guy used to be in the Army and was a radio technician at the Sacramento Army Signal Depot, which is what we now call B.T. Collins Army Reserve Center. Really, it was just an excuse to get out of the prison camp and see some cool electronic shit.

He has a website – N6JV.com –  where you can see the photographs of his vacuum tube collection, which is apparently the largest in California. It’s quite amazing – a room full of vacuum tubes of all shapes and sizes, from all around the world, from the earliest examples until the present day. He builds much of his own radio equipment and antennae – the massive antenna mast above his house is steered by using a prop motor from a B-17 bomber (“6000-to-1 planetary gear system!,” as he exclaimed to us – “nothing made by mankind can’t be turned by that motor!”).

He also had a rifle rack in his radio room, with a couple of ancient pieces I couldn’t identify and one M1 Garand, with two 8-round stripper clips hanging from the sling. That’s my kind of electronics dork!

It was a great little trip – Mr. Wilson was quite friendly and was more than willing to answer all of our questions as nine guys (and one girl) in ACUs and boots tramped through his house.

4 Comments

  1. Hootkoop

    ‘…hot running water, much better food…’

    If you posted those italics tags on purpose, you are such a geek.

    Also, see you in a week.

  2. Mrs. Melobi

    He is such a geek. It’s one of those things that makes him so adorable. Now if he’d just get his ass home.

    I think this short-term stint in California has been as hard on me as his deployment to Iraq. I certainly can’t say the phone service in the states has been any better, what with his phone always drawing some sort of wind vortex, cutting off from dead batteries, and my phone losing coverage in the basement and hallway and study and kitchen.

  3. Dad

    I wonder if anyone manufactures vacuum tubes anymore.

  4. decobooth

    I just had to write you and thank you as personally as I’m able for your service to this great country on the eve of her birthday. Please know my heart is heavy with gratitude and pride for the sacrifice you bore. You have honored yourself, your family, my family and me, the countless men who served before and with you, and this great nation! Thank you sir! I salute you!
    Leslie Booth

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