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A lack of pattern 
Greetings from my radio shack...
It’s hard to feel isolated when we’re this connected. All these channels and modes. Pathways and nodes. There’s an energy that exists between us. Cellular, satellite or WiFi, it’s all radio.
But the most powerful way to connect with someone is to listen to them. So we have to reach out and let people know we’re there. That they can be heard.
I’ve recently enjoyed stepping off the usual paths into the radio wilds. I’m always learning and always will be. I know nothing compared to the majority and will never know as much as most. Even after the old Ham radio masters die, I’ll not live long enough to match their knowledge. I’ll struggle even to gather the knowledge held by my peers. But that’s ok. Because no matter how much these people know, the science is unpredictable and held together with magic.
So, I shall continue to play and experiment. My sorcery has got to the level where I can turn a dial and pull stories from the ether. Down from beyond the clouds and into my radio. Stories in tongues I know and others I’m hearing for the first time. If conditions are right I can intercept and connect. Then we converse in English or broken French. At the very least we can share a callsign and an invisible thread is made real. A thread each of us can follow back to the other.
Today is #WorldAmateurRadioDay and the ionosphere is alive with chatter.
This is me in my bedroom.
A preteen, pre internet connection, pre cellular but still connected. I was having too much fun to ever consider taking things beyond CB. And for those not on the CB there was the landline.
Audio was where it’s at and I still think it is. We hear audio before we can see. Therein lies the emotive connection to stimulate the senses. So before you reach for Facebook et al. Maybe you could reach for the phone.
Instead of hitting a like to tell someone you are listening. Actually listen to them. Let them know you are there.
No spoilers in these words but the small screen escapism this week has been ‘La Casa De Papel.’ Aka ‘The Money Heist’ on Netflix. We watched it on an iPad. The last episode featured the song ‘Bella Ciao’. It’s a song my Italian grand mother, my Nonna, would sing me. I got quite teary.
Took me years to get her to translate it. And more years still to find out it was about her.
Any of you been working through the online memes? I’ve seen you baking bread but what else have you been up to?
I’ve been making things. Particularly pointless things. I jumped on the squirrel picnic bench meme and built this.
Here it is finished.
I’m sure you can find plans online but I made this as I went along and seems to use less wood than others. It also works, but I’m yet to capture of a photo of our resident squirrel sitting down to dine. Hungry little sod.
Ever since I was a kid I carried a survival kit in my travel bag. A small knife, a fishing kit, compass, wire saw, puri-tabs, small candles, wax coated matches, rabbit snare etc etc… Strange to think that after all this time the biggest threat against our immediate survival would be invisible. And that all you need to do is stay away from people. But then if you do venture near others you wear a mask.
I’ve had a full blown respirator in my extended survival kit for the last 15 years. But it’s certainly overkill for heading to the local shop. Moving forward I shall add something a little more compact. It might be that from now small fabric masks never leave our pockets.
I currently have an N95 mask with a valve. It’s one of a pack of five I bought last year to do some sanding.
Check out the differences between the four most common masks out there.
This is a wonderful piece of audio from Radio Diaries new hunker down diaries.
A short audio diary entry from a 107 year old and his 100 year old fiancé.
The only downside is that they mention Zoom :-( No need for more free advertisement. It’s not my favourite platform. Especially when there are lots of free software tools for staying in touch.
And if you need to jam with other musicians? Check out the open source Ninjam.
Thanks to Manoli Moriaty for sharing the video.
I mentioned above that radio communication was not an exact science. Picking up the phone is easy, so is web based stuff thanks to the billions spent in making those networks.
Point to point with your radio, a piece of wire and 12 volts requires something akin to witchcraft. That’s why it is so much fun.
Line of sight over miles is simple and you can do that with very little tech. Bouncing your signal off the ionosphere is a little harder.
Me and an old friend currently have all this in the way of us. He generated this map using a WiFi plotting tool on link.ui.com.
If this works we’ll be wizards.
Are you still with me…?
I’m trying to track down my first CB set up. I figured that after all these years it would be cheap to pick up and I could collect it for nostalgic purposes. This is the CB i’m using in the image posted earlier.
This photo is of a battered Fidelity 1000, currently for sale on eBay for close to £45.
Bit rich for me for something that will mostly sit on a shelf. Although I have managed to get hold of the microphone I had at the time. A boxed Altai power mic. Mic tech hasn’t changed that much and I could put this to good use. This was a massive mic as a kid. Feels a lot smaller today but there was still a small flash back when I held it.
If you drink and have drink in the house it’s all too easy to reach for a ‘night cap’. It’s a delightful thing. In moderation. But moderation is hard when everyday is the weekend.
This week, even with the odds against it, I’ve managed to alternate days with and without booze by finding comfort in other drinks.
Chai with honey is my current favourite of an evening.
Take a saucepan and add two cups of water and bring to the boil with two black tea bags a healthy dollop of honey, equal tiny bits of vanilla extract, ground ginger, ground cinnamon & allspice. Once boiled simmer for 30 minutes and then remove the tea bags. This is your base and will last up to a week in the fridge.
To drink it hot add equal parts chai base and milk or milk substitute and heat in a pan.
To drink it cold add equal parts chai base and milk over ice.
(If you can’t be bothered with all this then you can buy chai teabags off the shelf. It’s a pale imitation but a handy shortcut.)
Obviously picnics demand bottle based fermented drink. We’ve had a few of them recently.
Four days ago I started writing a short story. I have around 2000 words that I quite like but need to sort out the ending. Going more random with this email has allowed me the time to stress less about deadlines and to do other stuff when inspiration strikes. Thank you for your understanding.
Three days ago while watching the TV my dog started licking my bare feet. This is not usual behaviour and when I took a look my foot was covered in blood. After more investigation I could see that is was her blood and she had torn her dew claw.
This is normally not an issue. In simpler times you just take the dog to the vet. But we have been warned not to go to the vet as it is filled with vunerable people who didn’t get the memo to stay indoors. They rush there panicking about their own pets. So I got out the first aid kit, bandaged her leg and hoped for the best.
The following morning all was well. It had healed with no infection. We also celebrated her 2nd birthday. :-)
Yesterday Someone emailed to ask if I could do some online consultation with an arts organisation. I said “hell yes!” We’ll be focusing on storyboarding video content and fleshing out some phone based workflows.
Here are some links that peaked my interest…
This is a story about the desperate measures some are taking to get into the US. Imagine how bad things have to be where you want to be in the US right now. That’s not a slight on the people. Just one person.
Eventually someone will misuse your data. This video shows how UK police intercept thousands of peoples phone communications at a time. Plus if you have the cash, how anyone can buy that equipment.
Selfishly I’m glad I got to visit Chernobyl when I did.
Preachers and protesters are ignoring the virus.
Did you hear my latest podcast?
Let’s finish with a look our current situation through the eyes of a Zombie professional.
“Because Amateur Radio can bypass the normal Internet, telephone, and postal systems, particularly over the long-distance HF bands, many foreign governments have a legitimate interest in limiting this loss of revenue.” ~ American Radio Relay League
Thanks for reading.
I hope you clicked on some of the links at least. And if you want to see all of the content I post here please hit the subscribe button.
Next week, when not surfing the ionosphere on a radio wave… I’ll be at home.