Monthly Archives: March 2017

Future Propagation

It’s massively unfortunate that amateur radio puts me in close proximity with doomsday conservatives and people who talk about zombie apocalypses as if movies were real. They talk as if knowing how to use a radio is a vital survival skill, right up there with firearms, hunting, and shelter.

When unlicensed people talk to me in the park while I’m operating, chances are that at some point they’ll mention the end times. Even some of my friends say, “when they come for all of us, you’ll be allowed in my bunker because you know radio.” They laugh, I oblige, but deep down, i still bristle at the connotation.

Believe it or not, I’m not so fatalistic. I like radio for its technical, atmospheric, and super-national communications aspects. It’s a series of puzzles to solve, not a preparation for the end of days. I raised myself up in a religion that continually talked about the end times, about Armageddon, about rapture, and fervently prayed that the end would come to fruition in our lifetime (can you believe that?). So I’ve had my fill of that talk. No thanks.

I’m in the hobby for the pure pursuit of the hobby. Why does everyone see it differently?

Dead Bands

As a holder of a Technician class license for amateur radio, I have full privileges on the 6-meter band and partial voice privileges on 10-meter (and Morse code privileges everywhere else, even though I don’t know code).

Unfortunately, due to being in the minimum part of the 11-year sunspot cycle, these are dead bands (sunspots ionize the atmosphere and increase radio wave bounce for longer distances). When a band is not able to sustain long-distance propagation, it’s not an attractive place for other hams to operate. That’s what makes it dead; nobody to talk to. It’s a lot like fishing; if a lake’s condition isn’t good (livestock, season, tide, etc.), it won’t have many fishermen on boats, and instead of little boat lights dotting the surface at night, it’s a dark lake. You’ll only see that one guy trolling for bottom-feeders.

6-meter dipole antenna, ready for use

Today’s experiment with my handmade 6-meter dipole antenna (and last weekend’s experiment with a 10-meter dipole) proves these are dead bands. That’s unfortunate for me. So, it behooves me to get my General license for full privileges on all the other bands, because the 40-meter band is where it’s at. It’s very, very active. Morse code everywhere, and lots and lots of Canadian and spanish-speaking conversations among the US and foreign contacts I listened to.

Time to study and upgrade.

Whip

I feel like my job has killed off all of my creative drive.

Not sure if it’s the job, or if it’s just middle-aged doldrums, or if it’s just physical, mental, and emotional fatigue. Haven’t made music in 3 years, maybe 4. Don’t write anymore. Don’t draw. Don’t even carry my paper journal, and that’s a shame, really. A damnable shame. It’s like my internal life is on mute, muffled under pillows to suffocate and die. Can’t possibly be healthy.

I know I want to write and create. I know I have the time after hours to do so, but where is the motion? Where is the push over the hump? Where’s the Muse to help me overcome the inertia of standing still when all I really want to do after work is rest, think about something else (or nothing at all), and try to recover? I mean, do I really have anything to say that anybody really wants to hear?

So the obvious cure is to write, and draw, and play, and be, like, not dead inside, right? Is that how it works? Can I force it? I dunno. But when I figure out the answer to my impending irrelevance, I’ll let you know, OK?

Kaeli

Eventually, I found myself in a land of pastel, of clean squares and ornate architecture. A long plane of gardens and villas, perfect trees, grid lines and curved surfaces broken up in pleasing ways to keep monotony away. Spiral columns holding up veils and sheets, wide beds for reclining and sleep. It was a place not unlike the perfection of a video game.

I joined my old friend; she was walking with a small child, a little girl of four years. We were going around between places, looking, talking, feeling, enjoying. “This is a beautiful place,” I eventually said, taking in the scene.

“You like this?” my friend asked, turning her face toward me.

“Yeah”

Pointing to the child, “Kaeli made this.”

I stood still and looked at the young girl, stunned. She smiled and skipped away to go play with some flowers.

My friend crossed her arms and beamed. “You know what she did when she was three days old?” smiling. “She made Mars.”


Sometimes, my dreams are amazing.