It’s The Journey, Not The Destination

Today I took my DXing Awards off one wall and replaced that area with my new art work. I like it much better.

Certificates, plaques and awards are great, but their importance is very short lived. I fact, when I look at them, I’m saddened that that experience is over, but I’m happy that that experience happened.

The Machine – R. Holoch, 2020

My ham radio shack is 1/2 ham radio and 1/2 recording studio. Both of these endeavors co-exist nicely. Oh yeah, it’s also my little art gallery.

I guess my years playing at Hotel Utah were like DXing “seriously” – there was a stress about each pursuit. In both cases, I have to say, the journey was far more fun than being up on stage.

I remember writing songs and having endless rehearsals with my good friend and band mate Jeff. I can’t say I remember being on stage much – probably because I was relieved after a show was over.

But I always remember writing songs and just goofing around during practice.

Same thing DXing – I remember reading Complete DXing and trying to work “The Terrible T’s” or (especially) a few middle East and Northeastern African countries – they were always the hardest and most rare too.

The QRP FREQ300 endeavor is fun, but has taken a back seat to music. However, I occasionally see and work something, but I’m not even at 50 QRP after the first year. It’s not that I couldn’t have done more, it’s that I am no longer in a hurry – pretty much for anything.

Hurry and rushing are a younger mans game. I’m learning to savor the time on earth because time is limited, and do I say – go out and grab all the Gusto you can while you can.

Read that book, paint that picture, learn that language, learn that musical instrument. Kiss your loved ones and tell them you love them.

You’ll be glad you did.

Make America Ghastly Again

Everything Donald Trump Touches Dies – Literally

Well, OK, at least I channeled my angst into a new song:

Cubase LE – I’m getting dangerous!

I’ll post the final lyrics in tomorrows post – or I’ll add them here.

This is the first song I have ever written using bass first. Now I understand how important the rhythm section is – I’m finding it much easier to write a song after laying down a drum beat and bass that starting with the guitar.

In fact, I’m enjoying having each instrument play a small part and orchestrating them all instead of making one instrument too top heavy.

The bass is teaching me this “sparse” approach.

What Will Tomorrow Bring?

Special Delivery!

Good times and bad times don’t last forever, and now we are going through bad times.

All good chickens come home to roost

Hopefully, the US can get some balance back. We’ve been off kilter for 3 1/2 years.

Covid-19: Week 11: National, State and Local Percentages

Cats Eye – R. Holoch, 2008

The SF Bay Area has kept the Covid-19 rate at Flu levels, which is 2% or under (deaths / cases). The State of California is at just under 4%, and the national average is almost 6%. There is no doubt a margin of error due to inadequate and uneven testing.

This set of numbers tells a very important story – if you socially distance, wear a mask, set up all of the precautions as prescribed by the nations leading health experts (and don’t rush into opening too fast and furious), you can keep COVID-19 down to Flu levels, and not inundate the local health care network.

The SF Bay Area was the first in the nation to lock down, and all I can say to those who have flaunted the scientists and medical experts – “You puts your money down and you takes yer chances”.

Everywhere I go in my local area, people are respectful and smart enough to know that we are doing this until there is rock solid treatment that prevent deaths, and a vaccine. That day will come – and I do expect sooner than any other vaccine. If its not Moderna, it will be someone else. The full span of the 1918 pandemic was about 2 years – I think we might be far enough ahead that with this – the whole thing is taken care of in a year. My only fear is that we get into a phase where we have more than one of the Pandemics.

But I guess its at least good to know that we have been doing the right things – and I can only hope people in your area have been this smart. I’m sure there are areas where the population density is much lower, and so by default – you are lucky – but I also wouldn’t let my guard down if I were in a rural area – this disease doesn’t care who you are, what you are, what your politics are, how rich you are.

One very bright light is that my company has been more productive since we went in lock down and work from home. We had a scare, but I feel like we are not even getting through this, but are going to come back stronger.

Stay safe.

Covid-19 and DXCC in Cycle 25

Cycle 25 is predicted to be about the same as Cycle 24

I made DXCC Honor Roll in 2013 after a full 11 years of DX-ing – or one Sunspot Cycle. There is no doubt that Cycle 23 was much better than Cycle 24, but I kept improving my antennas and added 1500 watts, and was able to easily work anything. The N6BT DXU-32 and 1500 watt ACOM amplifier made it easy and fast work toward the end.

Covid-19 has pretty much obliterated most DX-peditions, but I do think that things will come back enough to normal where the 3Y0I team will be able to try Bouvet at the end of this year. My UrbanBeam plus an Ameritron AL-80B loaner amp will be on the ready, and I also hve an open invite to go to a neighbors QTH who has a much better QTH on top of a nearby hill with an unencumbered shot to Bouvet.

One thing that is emerging is a growing list of entities I seriously doubt we will ever see activated again. I won’t make any predictions, but there are some places that were already more or less off limits – like Scarborough Reef – and now watch China put an end to any DX-pedition there, UNLESS it does build a base there and then it becomes as easy as activating US military bases in the Pacific – like Midway (which used to be activated often and an easy catch). Will Pratas be activated again – that’s another that seems dicey – but much easier to get to and set up than Scarborough.

I think its not a matter of if, but when China builds a base on Scarborough Reef.

Right now, America has been weakened in the South China Sea by Donald Trump. His lack of response to Covid-19, and his moves more and more toward Isolationism has given his power away. Take for example, de-funding WHO. As soon as he did this, China stepped in and more than filled the void left by the US. Most of the world’s nations are rallying around the WHO – now with China in the catbird seat, and the US out. China has made inroads in Africa as well. Look for Trump to make America weaker than it was – while his mouth blabs on like a fool. His tariffs have hurt the US much more than China, and that will continue to be the case. It will be interesting to see if any of the Chinese concrete military bases become activated Ham Radio wise. I say its possible – including Scarborough. I doubt we will ever see scaffolds on those rocks again – I’d bet on that.

Some middle east countries and some African countries will also become tougher to activate. I am sure Ham Radio DX-peditions are about as low a priority in the US Government as anything. I mean – Twitter is the most crushing priority with Twittler.

On top of that I am sure Ham Radio is even less relevant than it was 10 years ago. We have a new generation where many don’t even know what Ham Radio is. Believe me – I was dressed as Curt Cobain for Halloween, and all of the millennial’s asked who I was supposed to be. The older people at work loved the costume. So – if young people don’t know who Curt Cobain is – forget about Ham Radio – their parents might barely remember what Ham Radio is. This is more important than any if the political or even environmental aspects.

I need Bouvet and Glorioso, and the two teams who are working on these have young enough teams and will have to raise money and (for Glorioso), get past the TAAF and other agencies who control access to Glorioso. I do expect that the French team will get access during Cycle 25. I also do expect 3Y0I to finally activate Bouvet.

I think 2016 was the last of a certain era of DX-peditions. There were 5 Top 10 ATNO’s activated then, and I am sure we will never see that again – mainly due to money. The cost alone will prevent that from happening – even with cheaper oil prices.┬áLuckily, the Braveheart has a young crew who will no doubt continue to book trips – so I do think Cycle – 25 will have some interesting activations.

I worked on the 2016 VK0EK Heard Island DX-pedition and was one of three (especially) who did the fund raising. I spent 3 years with what was a second part time job – that some times was a second full time job. I doubt I will be that involved again – I got my fill out of that, but who knows – I might help another team if they were to activate a Top – 10 entity. I am much more likely to just donate.

The last time I even thought about DXCC was last year – with the 3Y0I attempt at Bouvet. Knowing that VK0EK was post-poned 2 years before it happened, what 3Y0I are going through is actually pretty normal. I do wish more clubs and DX Foundations would help them meet their funding goal – since they are the only game in town at this point.

FREQ 300 #46: EA6NB – Balearic Island

I haven’t been very active Ham Radio wise – but it was a nice surprise to work EA6 QRP in Summer

We do usually get some decent EU DX on 40M during summer evenings. EA6NB is a beacon though – you can hear him almost always. He was one of my first DX QSO’s back in 2001 – when I started DXing.

My wife noticed that I am spending all of my free time with music these days – but every now and then a quick QRP CW QSO is nice. I told her that the only reason I stay in Ham Radio is CW, and that is the truth – if it weren’t for CW, I would sell my gear.

Its a great legacy, and one that will dwindle out probably after my generation is gone. I am very thankful that I was born when I was and was at the very end of the “hollow state” days – in fact, I was the punk kid that OOT’s unloaded their old Hallicrafters junk on – so I actually am post – tube days. I was able to experience that, CW, crystal controlled – and everything between that and SDR’s with great software control – especially my Win4k3Suite – and associated panadapter gear (RSP1 and Xonar sound card).


Joy (Division) Ride Song Idea

Days of Wine and Roses – R. Holoch, 2008

I wake up each day and wonder if what is going on with America is real. I never say “it can’t get any worse” anymore like I did during the GW Bush years.

It will continue to get worse. I don’t worry about Trump as much as I worry that anyone thinks he is good for America. We truly so live in an Idiocracy. I have pretty much lost hope. Stupidity knows no bottom.