Sunday, September 6, 2009

Lamenting the end of summer '09

Holy cow, where did it go? I’m sure that’s a common remark during the last weekend of summer (I know…summer’s not over from a seasonal standpoint until September 21, but for practical purposes, it’s pretty much a done deal). But really, doesn’t it seem like summer passes as fast as an extra hot burrito?

I work at a community college, so I consider summer to be a four-month period starting the beginning of May. While my job entails me working throughout the summer months (except for three weeks vacation), the quieter halls and slightly slower pace makes it a time to treasure.

In this part of the world, folks did a lot of complaining about the “summer that never was”….weather-wise. I actually didn’t mind the cooler temperatures as I’m not a huge fan of super hot and humid conditions, but it did rain a little too much. On the plus side, my new rain barrel was never empty and I didn’t use a drop of city water on the garden (why my water bill was more than normal remains a mystery).

On the radio side, summer tends to be when many hams have less time to sit in the shack twiddling the dials…something to do with family commitments and yard work….sheesh. Although I was balancing that also, my level of activity was probably its highest in at least five years. My little 2nd harmonic is another year older, and while he still demands (and boy can he demand!) a lot of attention from myself and the XYL, it seemed I was able to steal a little more time in my comfy basement shack.

A few neat things that took place radio-wise for me:
-Acquiring a new (well, new to me) HT...the Yaesu VX-6R (still learning those menus).
-I took some time to try to better understand the characteristics of propagation and the solar cycle…exactly when will that promised Solar Cycle 24 start anyway??
-Speaking of propagation, I was able to log quite a few 6 meter contacts and give my relatively new tri-band vertical a bit of a workout. There were a number of impressive openings, and I was lucky enough to be around for at least a few of them.
-I also tried out a new mode. Again, I’ll say new-to-me as this is a very old mode…. Hellschreiber, Feld Hell, or simply Hell. Despite its sinister name (thanks to the guy who invented it back in the 20’s), it’s a fascinating way of communicating. I joined the Feld Hell club and have enjoyed a few contacts during its monthly sprint events.
-Field Day is always a highlight and I enjoyed my brief outing with the local club. Hopefully next year I won’t be asked to attend a family function the same weekend!
-I finally designed a new QSL card. Truth is, although I’ve had my present callsign since 2004, I hadn’t gotten around to getting a new card made up. I also began tidying up the backlog of eQSLs in my in-box.
-I casually took part in a few contests and finally installed some proper contest logging software.

Now, I did intend to do a little improvement to my main HF antenna, which is a simple Carolina Windom…but that’s yet to happen. Being a good ham, I’ll probably wait until the first snow to get that project done.

73 summer of 2009.