fujitvBack in the very early days of the web – in 1994 or so – I put together a web page of screencaps from big-dish (“BUD” – C- and Ku-band) satellite TV. It’s still online and worth a look.

I put that together from one VHS tape collection of random stuff I had recorded, because of a happy accident that allowed me access to a video capture device way back then. Fast-forward to the late oughties, when such equipment is commonplace and storage is cheap. It must mean it’s time to dig out ALL the old VHS tapes and get to work – both screencap’ing and digitizing and converting the actual video.

So the results of this long-term effort will now be on display at Picasa: here’s the pointer.

The moment we first tasted the Samusa Soup at San Francisco’s Burma Superstar, we agreed we had to make it at home. It’s a complex and spicy lentil-based soup, with cabbage, bean sprouts, and chunks of samosas and falafels providing texture and taste. Well, an exhaustive net search turned up nothing except posted inquiries from other people looking for the same thing!

So, armed with a photo taken at the restaurant and our collective taste memory, we assembled the following reasonable facsimile. Let me know how it works out for you, and if you have any refinements or corrections.

A note about ingredients: I’m sure this recipe would be better with homemade falafels and samosas, but who wants to bother? Visit your favorite middle eastern sandwich shop for the falafels, and your local Indian grocery for the samosas – they’ll be right at the checkout counter. If not, ask the staff what day the nice lady brings them around. The Indian grocery will have the toor dal you’ll need, too.

Samusa Soup

1 cup toor dal, washed until water runs clear
4 cups water

4 tablespoons ghee
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
3 dried red chiles de arbol, broken in half
3 jalapenos, seeded and sliced

1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
2 teaspoons ancho chile, powdered
2 teaspoons turmeric
1 teaspoon Indian ground hot red chile (Kashmiri diggi mirch) (or more to taste)

2 cups shredded cabbage

6 cups vegetable broth (more or less)
1 teaspoon Tamcon (Tamarind concentrate)

1 teaspoon garam masala
salt to taste

2 cups mung bean sprouts, washed
4 samosas, store-bought
8 falafels, restaurant-made
chopped cilantro, for garnish
chopped spring onions, for garnish

lemon wedges

Bring the washed toor dal to boil with the four cups of water; cover
partially and simmer until done, 35-45 minutes. Remove from heat and
set aside.

Roast the coriander, cumin seeds, and black peppercorns in a dry
skillet, separately, over medium-low heat until just fragrant.
Cool, then grind in a spice grinder, and set aside.

Fry the sliced onion, jalapenos, and chiles in ghee over low heat until
onions just begin to brown. Add the ground dry-roasted coriander,
cumin, and pepper, and the turmeric, ancho chile, and Indian red pepper.

Raise heat to medium and fry together for a few minutes, then add the
shredded cabbage. Stir and fry until cabbage loses its raw look, around
five minutes.

Add four cups of vegetable stock, the Tamarind Concentrate, and the cooked dal with its liquid. Adjust consistency with additional vegetable stock depending on the amount of broth you want. Cover and simmer over low heat for half an hour or so.

Add garam masala, and salt to taste.

Warm the samosas in the oven at 200 degrees for 10 minutes or so, then
add the falafels for another 5 minutes or until all are heated through.

Place one samosa in each of four soup bowls and cut into five or six pieces.
Place two falafels in each bowl and cut into quarters. Add the bean
sprouts, a quarter of the cooked broth, garnish with the cilantro and
spring onions.  Pass around lemon wedges for everyone to season their bowls to taste.

Serves four hungry people.

This is way overdue, and I hope to be able to elaborate on it a bit more in the near future, but let it now suffice to say I am a proud owner of a replacement E1 from Universal and found it to be everything the reviewers say it is, and maybe more. I continue to be impressed with its weak-signal handling, especially the way the rock-solid sync grabs onto a carrier and improves a station’s audio.

I took delivery on Friday of a new Eton E-1 from a “general merchandise” type vendor. I returned it on Monday because of three problems experienced with this unit, serial number 1739.

Before I get into the details, I want to say that the receiver was a pleasure to use, and was very pleasant to listen to, especially on strong signals. I really liked it and I really wanted it to work.

The first problem was with AM Sync. When engaged on a signal of just about any strength, a fast low-to-high sweep sound was produced, and the audio disappeared The setting of the squelch had effect. I could budge the tuning knob to get the audio back, but as soon as sync re-engaged the sweep happened again and the audio vanished. S-meter indicated the signal was there – just no audio.

The next problem was a real disappointment with the radio’s sensitivity. I only have an R8A to compare it to, but the E-1 was nowhere near its sensitivity. I tested both radios fed via an RF Systems SP-1 splitter (and switched the R8A and the E1 to both sides of the splitter with the same result). The antennas feeding it were switched between a 750′ south terminated mini-bev, a 450′ north unterminated BOG, and a pair of 84 foot slopers, NE and SE. I used one of Universal’s PAL adapters as the connection to the radio itself. I verified and re-verified that the side panel Antenna-HF switch was set to external, and that squelch was all the way down. (I looked in vain for an RF gain control to turn up to solve this
problem, but I know the unit doesn’t have one!)

Following measurements were taken on the south mini-bev unless noted. Signal strength is as read directly from the S-meter on both the R8A and the E-1. Measurements were taken last Saturday morning around 8:50 AM EST. All readings on the E-1 were taken with the “DX” preamp engaged, and on the R8A with its preamp off.

WPTF-680 Raleigh – 50 kw south and a bit west of me. R8A: S9+40, E-1: S9+5
WFMC-730 Goldsboro NC – 1 kw 50 miles SW of me. R8A: S9+10, E1: S4
CFRX-6070 – R8A: S8, E-1: S3
CBC-9625 – R8A: S7, E-1: S2. (on NE sloper: R8A: S9, E-1 S6)
R Japan via Sackville-11705 – R8A: S9+5, E-1: S8
WHRI-11785 – R8A: S6, E-1: just above noise level at S2
AWR-Guam – fast fades, peaking at: R8A:S5, E-1: inaudible
WWV-15000 – R8A: S4, E-1: inaudible
AIR Delhi-15050 – R8A: threshold audio, E-1: forget about it

The background hiss level on the E-1 was high, significantly more so than I thought it would be from reviews and comments by others. Its sensitivity was not enough to bring the weak signals above the noise in many instances. And on weaker stations like 6070, the hiss was just about equal level with the signal.

I always figured you could pump as much antenna-signal into a radio as the radio could handle. But this E-1 sounded like it had a big fuzzy pair of earmuffs between it and the antennae.

I also fed the signals from the same antennae into a Sony ICF-SW7600GR, running on batteries. CFRX sounded strong and clear with punchy audio and minimal hiss, even on its little speaker.

The last item was something I could live with if the above two problems didn’t exist: the digital readout read 20-80 Hz low (at different times during the testing period). This is the same problem being reported by others.

I have placed an order for a replacement unit from Universal, and am keeping my fingers crossed that I get a unit that performs as well as most everyone elses’ does.


Lots of people seem to be reading this particular post without also reading my followup post; the unit I received from Universal works flawlessly, and is in constant use now. The venerable Drake R8A is still in use, but the E1 provides a nice combination of good sound, sensitivity and ease of use.

One of the real pleasures of shopping at “More For Less” in Bonaire was the opportunity to buy some real Cuban rum. Here’s the label of the bottle we bought. By the way, if you encounter a bottle of this with a plastic neck insert, just hold it vertically and the rum will flow!

I read in misc.transport.road that the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation had placed the state’s portion of US 17 on its “Places in Peril” list, essencially flagging it in need of funding for preservation and development purposes.

I remember driving on that road as a student in the early ’70’s, on the way from New York to Florida before the completion of I-95. At the US17/US17A split in South Carolina, just before the river bridges into Georgia, was a large, colorful and really strange neon sign promoting the relative merits of traveling along each highway. It would appear out of nowhere, around a curve, after a particularly long and dark drive through the swampland adjacent to the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge.

I’d love to see a better picture than the two I’m pointing to below – please leave a comment if you have one.

Here are the best two pictures I took of it – and in fact, they represent how they actually looked to me after a long day’s drive.

January 13, 1973 – Both sides lit, terrible focus, way past sunset

May 12, 1973 – Only one side lit, slightly less terrible focus, just after sunset


This selection (3403995 bytes, 3:32) is for Ralph and anyone else who loves African music. The name of the particular genre escapes me, but I’d describe it as big-city African dance-pop. Whacked down out of the ether from Africa Number One, Moyabi, Gabon, during its testing phase on February 5, 1981. (I wonder who won that Peugeot?) It appears I neglected to make note of the frequency.