Penguins are my soulmates

Who’d have thought?

 Humboldts in the wild on the coast of Peru and Chile can be subjected to some pretty wild extremes of weather. What they don’t get though is weeks of almost daily downpours and high winds. After the first week out birds were just a bit subdued, but after over a month now, they are thoroughly fed-up and miserable, much like the rest of us.

There you go. Read the full article here.

This season indeed has become a horror winter as some quack predicted. Not because of toe biting cold and snow piling up. I wish! It’s just too darn hot this time of the year. And rain falls down by the buckets accompanied by wind and entangled in more long lasting showers and genuine storms. I’ve lost track of how many periods with storm like winds. I think four or five since December. And that’s not counting the two sudden short lived storm fronts early and end of January. And in between more wind and rain and every two weeks one dry, calm and sunny day to make you long for summer. Only to brutally interrupt the dream with yet another round of wind and rain.

Anyway these depressing depressions just won’t go. In stead they keep coming. Bringing lots of precipitation and strong winds for days on end. And another few are aligned to make both humans and penguins miserable the coming days. That means after a bunch of contests already missed (WW SSB & 9ACW) or done crippled with a low tower (RAEM & UBA SSB), my yearly round of ARRL DX CW currently also goes down the drain. It’s becoming ridiculous. I keep my fingers crossed but it seems the wind speed will be a tad too high on Friday to crank up the tower. Mind you: it’s not only because of this tower situation that the weather drives me crazy. It’s also because you just have to stay inside. And I like to be outdoors. Walk the dog. Work in the garden. Work on some DIY projects. It’s not something that you do in strong winds and continuous rain pouring down. And the lack of sunlight has other effects on the human body and soul too. Vitamin D anyone? My gloomy moods caused by this depressing WX can be traced back to my early teens. Maybe even earlier. I could never cope with this crappy weather for days on end. Let alone weeks. Or months…

Back to ham radio! I hang out on the bands anyway. Chasing R22 Russians goes well with the low yagi. What’s up with that? They are very wanted. And the WARC vertical might not be a good antenna, it makes for some DX anyway. And there’s FT5ZM. I decided not to go there anymore and leave the monkey business to the monkeys. But I can’t help it, it’s stronger than me. So I found myself trying to work FT5ZM on 10m SSB. At least: that’s what the cluster said. The operator signed ‘QRZ’ with an US English tongue. And only QRZ. Not even ‘QRZUP’ anymore. The crisis cuts deep so we need to economize. At a given point after I had tried calling a dozen times, I decided to count. Nineteen QSO and seven minutes without any ID or information on where to send. Not counting the elapsed time and contacts made during the period I was calling and not yet counting. Then the operator had a brilliant idea to ID: “FT5ZM listening 500 for North America South America’. So the trick is to only ID and give away your listening frequency when working NA/SA. Screw EU. That policy got officialised later on. And so he started working USA listening on 28500. That’s when I walked away.

Yesterday we had wind gusts up to 100 km/hr as measured by the national meteorological institute. By the time I got home this deep storm depression had already moved north. Strange: around noon before there was a light storm and by 1600 was virtually no wind. Visually all was ok up the tower. The 40m dipole still is shifted from a previous storm a few weeks ago. But it didn’t move further away. Nor did it get blown back into place. I fired up the station and did a quick RX / SWR check and everything was still working. I went down to prepare evening dinner, do some household chores and play with the kids and forgot about the shack. When I went upstairs to go to bed late in the evening, I heard all the fans blowing which reminded me I still had to switch everything off.

But what does a ham radio operator do? Switch it off? No. In stead he quickly scans the bands and calls CQ. Like on 30m. I must admit: RBN showed a few FT5ZM spots. They were very weak on 10115 but the Americans calling them were loud. So my own CQ harvested about twenty Americans. Best was Texas and a real whiskey zero. One VE1. And a HS0. And a FG. Then the cluster showed a German spotting FT5ZM on 20 CW. It was way past local midnight but RBN showed reasonable S/N values from EU skimmers so why not? I turned the antenna (being only 8m high) to 120°. I heard one EU coming back and threw in my call. Worked FT5ZM on 20 CW. It makes a huge difference if / when the EU monkeys are asleep! I decided to go to bed but then RBN showed fresh spots for them on 30. It was a welcome change that the operator signed ‘FT5ZM UP 2’ after every QSO. Thanks OM. I had a small problem copying them. They were pretty loud but an ongoing nearby QSO caused QRM. I worked them in the end for my fourth CW QSO with Amsterdam. Sweet dreams EU Monkeys. Then this EU monkey went to bed too…

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