Category Archives: tiki

Catching Radio Waves

Most hams go through cycles of days or weeks or months where they operate more intensely or take a more relaxed approach. Those “lulls” might look like doing more listening, or working on projects, or making cables, or any of the maintenance things that need to get done. In my current situation I am balancing work, family, friends, and other interests against being on the air. A lazy Sunday walking the beach with a surf rod hoping to annoy some fish is not a time poorly spent. Neither is spending quality time with my wife. We have both been working from home for over 16 months and I think it has made it more important that we do fun things together now. Being stuck in the house together all day is not a substitute for real time spent together. Since I set up an antenna each time I want to operate there is a hurdle to getting on the air. That time is often during peak family time, and family often wins. Even then I am still practicing morse code, reading up on antenna designs, planning my next portable operation, and fine-tuning my VHF Rover setup.

In a way it is not unlike being a surfer in a lineup. You can never catch every wave. Some of the best time you spend might be sitting on your board enjoying the setting, watching the fish, or cheering on your fellow surfers. Here in Rhode Island we are in the heart of the summer beach season. It brings with it many opportunities for recreation, gatherings with friends, and even some solitude if you know what beach to be at and when. It’s hard to choose sitting at a desk (again) over watching the daylight fade while up to my neck in the Atlantic.

Every person has their own circumstances, and I can’t deny being a little jealous of hams who are active every day with permanent installations. I look forward to having that chance as my life balance changes. So, I wish I had a technical topic or an operating tip, but this post is about finding balance and making the most of time on the air when we get it.

OK, I lied! Here is a cool tool for JS8Call, written in Python by Groups.io user basho1600. It scrapes calls, grids, and QSO information from the JS8Call receive window and maps out the station grids with lines connecting stations in QSO. It’s a great example of how you don’t need to be developing executables to make something useful. Being open-source it can also be a starting point for another developer. This is the kind of feature that JS8 needs, and a user stepped in to get the ball rolling. BRAVO

73, Pete N1QDQ

Ginger Beer the easy way…

 Here is a bottle of Cruzan Aged 151… What was I thinking??????

I previously stated that here in southern New England we have adopted the Bermudian “Dark and Stormy” as a regional favorite. My sense of local drink history tells me it started in Newport, RI and the south fork of Long Island, and spread out from there. This is the spicier version of the Rum and Coke, or more specifically the Cuba Libre (viva lime wedge!!!). I won’t belabor the point: it is a highball of rum and ginger beer, garnished with a lime wedge. You should be able to figure out how strong you want it and not need a recipe. Squeeze the wedge or don’t. Your call.

The Gosling’s rum people have a lock on the “Dark ‘N Stormy” recipe, made with their dark rum, their ginger beer, and your lime wedge. If that sounds excessive, think of it as a badge of honor traceable to the Bacardi Cocktail. Bacardi had a bug up their bung about Bacardi becoming generecized (kleenexed, if you will) and started policing bars to ensure that their rum was not being subbed out of a “bacardi cocktail” for some other, lesser, rum. (Please, no laughing) Goslings wants the same kind of respect, but it seems over the top. You now have to avoid the shorthand “‘N” and use “and” or “&”… I guess. The truth is that not only can you bypass the Goslings Dark entirely, you can bypass their ginger beer as well. Sure, prepared ginger beer is super convenient, but it is also super sweet. You can use crushed ice, or water, to dilute the drink, but you will also dilute the ginger flavor.

Enter Ginger Syrup. This could be the solution to the D&S issue, and it can add a kick to other drinks as well.

There are two paths to follow:

One involves using sliced peeled ginger in a simple syrup base, then straining. The drill is the same for many flavored syrups. You make a simple syrup at some ratio between 1:1 and 2:1 sugar:water, add your flavoring as the sugar gets fully dissolved, steep for a few hours, and strain. Hit it with a small dose of silver rum as a preservative and you are done. It will last a while and does have a ginger flavor.

But you will not be happy. You want a strong ginger bite with real ginger heat. You are always looking for stronger siblings in the already limited ginger beer family. Reed’s is kid stuff. D&G is as close as you have been to the ginger promised land. You, friend, need to get on the juice. No, not Barry Bonds’ juice. You need to juice that ginger, then use that as a base for your syrup. In fact, you can stop at the straight juice stage and blend with syrup to taste, but that might be overkill and involve taking a lot of notes and using a precision measuring device. You can go straight to ginger syrup by mixing one part ginger juice with two parts simple syrup. Either way it is better than anything you will buy.

I was introduced to straight ginger juice by my friends Sharon and Mike, who have Caribbean roots and know what is what. I get my ginger at the Indian market because it is better and cheaper than the regular supermarket stuff. Then I peel it (a spoon works great to scrape the thin skin off the rhizome) and feed it into my impeller juicer. Viola, juice. Blow ya head off if yer not careful.

Here is a more complete exploration from Summit Sips

The resulting juice will be super strong. Probably too strong to take straight unless there is serious cash prize money involved. But nailing down an exact ratio will be difficult because some ginger will be stronger and some juicers will be more efficient. Let’s start like this:

  • 1/2 oz ginger juice
  • 1 oz simple syrup
  • 1.5 oz Jamaican Rum*
  • 4 oz sparkling water
  • 1 Lime Wedge
  • Combine ginger juice, syrup, and rum over ice in a tall glass
  • Stir.
  • Add sparkling water
  • Squeeze/drop lime wedge, stir, serve

As usual I will not get prescriptive with your rum selection other than to say that the charm in this drink is the way a stronger rum flavor plays with the spicy ginger beer, with a little lime kick for balance. Using a dry white rum may not be horrible but it will miss the mark. It will be drinkable, just not delicious. Your usual dark rum suspects like Goslings, Meyers, Coruba, and El Dorado will do just fine. Likewise, Plantation 5, Pussers, Bacardi 8, Angostura 7… will be delicious. You want a big tasting rum to tangle with that big tasting ginger root.

If you notice a trend, you are correct: I put a lot of stock into the mid-range of the rum world. Rum is, after all, relatively rough company. You can get some very amazing sipping rums, but they are hard to compare without spending a lot of money since they only come in full size bottles and run upward of $35 a piece. Cheaper than a scotch habit, but still, not cheap. In general I stick with a rule of avoiding sipping rums in highball drinks, and only using them in cocktails when they will stand out and I have the time to do a proper job of it. That rule is a money saver as well as allowing me to stretch my rum dollar further and get to know more good rums in place of many fewer great/expensive rums.

That’s it for now. Next up is a list of resources for rum information and tiki culture.