It’s eerie at work this week. Normally, we have a steady flow of customers in and out of the shop, all having some sort of communications difficulty. This week, I think I can count the number of visitors on the fingers of one hand … the Coronavirus is definitely affecting business. Traffic is noticeably lighter when I head home after work, and it’s odd seeing all the empty restaurant parking lots.
I’d much rather be at home, isolating myself. My wife and daughter are both at home this week, due to their workplaces being closed. I’m in the at-risk group … chronic illnesses, over 66, etc. But since I’m working in the public-safety field, I’m considered “essential personnel.”
FT-modes have been pretty busy this week. I’ve worked a lot of Europeans. I’ve seen quite a few Asian stations, but haven’t managed to work any. I check the spotting page for POTA frequently, and see lots of posts, but when I go to the indicated frequency … nada! Forty and twenty meters are not being cooperative for CW and SSB.
Today is the first day of Spring, and the temperatures are supposed to climb into the mid-seventies, but it’s still gray and dreary-looking outside. Tomorrow is supposed to be in the eighties … maybe Spring is actually here?
I’ll have to admit … I haven’t been very active lately. Not sure really why … band conditions, dreary weather, just didn’t feel like it … whatever. I was off work today and fired up the radio to mediocre propagation and not much going on. I did manage to snag a KL7 station on 20 meters FT4.
I’ve had a big change in my life, too. My hearing has been declining for years. I’ve really been having difficulty in understanding speech, and decided to finally do something about it. A trip to Costco, and now I’m the proud owner and user of hearing aids.
What a difference! I’m still acclimatizing to them, but the improvement is spectacular. I’m hearing things that I haven’t heard for years. I never realized how noisy my shack was! Clicks, squeals, fans … all audible now, but not that hard to ignore. I need to find over-the-ear headphones that can accommodate my RIC hearing aids. They need to cover the part behind the ears.
Saturday, I attended FrostFest, which was held at the Richmond (VA) International Raceway. The 60 some-odd mile drive was quite foggy that morning, but nothing dangerous. I arrived later than usual. I normally get there around 8:30 in the morning, but just couldn’t seem to get moving this year. I arrived around 9:30 and did a quick spin around all the booths.
There was lots of good stuff there. Lots of junk, too, but some really nice examples of older technology. It was like a trip down nostalgia lane. Lots of the stuff, I had either owned or worked on. Charlie (WB4PVT) was there, trying to sell accumulated estate merchandise. Many other familiar faces were seen, too.
I attended a couple of great Forums. There were two featured speakers this year, both by video link. Rich Moseson, W2VU, the Editor of CQ magazine, talked about the history of CQ magazine, which is celebrating its 75th year in 2020, Dr. Tamitha Skov, WX6SWW, the Space Weather Woman (find her on YouTube), gave a great talk on sunspots, solar cycles, and space weather, all put into terms that her audience could grasp. For me, this was the highlight of the event. Well done!
This year, the license testing was free, and it looked to me like the testing room was packed. Hopefully, they all did well!
All in all, it was a great event this year. Every year, it gets better. I’m already looking forward to next year!
Well, it’s the start of a new year, and back to work for me. The break was welcome, but going back is always hard. After getting accustomed to rising at 9 am, 5 am is rough to get used to again!
New Year’s Day, there were too many POTA activations to count, but I could only copy a handful. I managed to work four on forty meters. Admittedly, I didn’t sit at the radio all day … just spotty monitoring.
That total only includes one of the four parks I worked on the 1st. Slowly but surely, I’m working my way through the second hundred.
I see that there have been several sunspots attributed to the new solar cycle, so things are definitely looking up. I’m tired of checking the propagation charts and seeing ZERO sunspots!