A '49er's comaraderie

Tim, W1MKA, formerly, WN2MKA and WB2MKA, is one of the oldest friends through ham radio. I have known him as "a pen friend" since jr. high days back in '60s. I can't remember how I have known him but knew he was a ham radio operator.

We used to try a schedule on 40m later. He would operate W2JTA, his high school club station, while I was running a home brew barefoot with a low wire antenna those days. It was a day in winter, I believe. The band was quiet but his call was not audible at all. Later, I knew it had been impossible for us to work with such a set up on my side if the band condition was favorable to us. In a year or two, we have spontaneously stopped corresponding by mail. 

In 1980, when I came back on the air, I was curious to know how he had been doing. The condition was so good on the higher bands those days. Even with a simple set up, it was quite easy to talk to the East Coast. I asked W2RRN in NY to get in touch with him one day when the band was wide open to the East Coast. He kindly gave a phone call to his home in NY. His mother was on the phone telling him he had moved to TN then. We have exchanged letters once or twice. Graduating from a university, he has been working as an engineer there if I remember it right. He might be involved in his work and had not spent time for radio until he retired.

It was a fall day in 2010 when I had a call from him on 15 or 20m. Slow CW with a bug key. He told me he had got the present call W1MKA recently and used to be WB2MKA. He was settled down in CT enjoying his retirement with boating, "playing cello" and ham radio. I was falling down on the floor from chair. If I remember it right, it has been our only contact on the radio. 

This is his portrait at that time. Even with grey hair...he used to have dark hair in his youth...he looks so handsome.

Ever since, we are in contact, not quite often but in decent interval good enough to prove our existence, by the e mail or comments on my blog. He is a kind of dilettant enough to surprise me with good knowledge of Japanese old poems and to send some of them to me even in Japanese font. He also played cello like I did...

It is his 72nd birthday today. I have sent a birthday message to him calling him a '49er colleague. In the reply to me, he told "Another 72 years to both of us". There are some '49ers in ham radio comrade. It is the generation who competed in the baby boomers in the society and has been interested in ham radio as the king of the hobby in young days. All of us are getting into the last chapter of our lives. Even with the same milestones we had gone through looking similar, we might have quite different lives. Admitting that, I hope to get along year by year in good health keeping in touch with each other either on the radio or by e mail.


Good conditions and a bit of memory back in '90s

 An hour after sunrise yesterday morning, I happened to switch on the radio. Honestly, I scarcely do that nowadays. My garden farm always calls me at that time. Twenty meters was open to both NA and Eu. Calling CQ, I was called by Harry W1AAX. Smooth bug keying. My PC log has not listed him. But I still remembered we had had a lot of QSOs in the last solar cycle or one before that. He told me it had been 12 years since our last QSO.

It was a great fun to talk to him after such a long interval. He sounded to get along well despite of the Corona crisis. He was already fully vaccinated and was resuming normal routine like prior to the pandemic. I told him I had confused him with Roger W1AX, I believe, already in SK. 

After that QSO, I was wondering it was Harry or Roger who came to see me at W1EYT, presently K1YT at my visit there. It was 1992. I was invited by Bill to visit him and make a slide show on the trip to Cambodia. Yes, it was the hectic and ardent days of DXing, which is a good memory but I "would never" do again. There were abouot two dozens of DXers from Mass., CT or somewhere else attending the meeting then. I can't remember what I have talked before them. I have never had such an experience of presentation in English in the past and was terribly nervous at it. 

There were a lot of friends who went SK by now. Such as K1MEM, K5MA and so forth. On asking Bill by e mail which was attending there, Roger or Harry, he was quite sure it had been Roger. Bill told me he would ask about that to Don WB2DND, presently N1DG, who was there also. 

In the reply, Bill has attached a couple of photos in the mail. One of them showed me listening at his station and having a QSO or two as a guest operator. 

I was a bit older than 40 years of age at this time. Still young. No grey hair noted on the photo.

Bill and his family have been very kind to me. They are still living in a suburb of Boston, a beautiful residential area, like a park. We have been good friends ever since then. I always feel thankful to him.

In the next QSO with Harry, I should ask about the old gang we know. 
Years have passed.



Learning from a friend's wife passing

Several days ago, a member, W1UU has posted a sad news that the wife of Dave K9FN, Mary, died recently. Several posts expressing sorrow at the news and sympathizing Dave and his family members have followed.

Dave has been a good friend of mine through ham radio for more than a decade. Vic W9RGB used to introduce him to me. Dave has had limitation for the antenna and owns only a flag pole vertical if I am not wrong. Without seeing each other in person, we have talked once or twice in a year. A very pleasant and positive person. Our QSOs should always be not too long due to the conditions. But each of them has been memorable to me.

I have looked up my PC log for record of QSO with him, which told I had last met him this January. I could not remember what we talked then. In the remarks of the log, he told me he and "his wife Mary" were getting along fine.

If I haven't miscopied him then, I wondered what had happened to Mary. She has developed some serious illness or has been on a long lasting down hill with a health issue. I was hesitating to ask about that to him directly. Maybe, some time, I might have a chance to see him and talk about that.

That chance has arrived sooner than I expected. A couple of days ago, he has given me a mail telling he heard me on the air, which was a joy for him, but the poor condition has prevented him from giving me a call. He told me briefly about his wife's passing. He seemed to compensate his loss with ham radio. 

I replied to him with hearty condolences to him and his 3 daughters. And I frankly gave him the inquiry written above. He has quickly given me another mail shown below. 

It was a really touching story to me. We are not immortal. We should get ready for the time of passing. Mary has gone through with it peacefully, even though she and Dave might not have been settled down all the time. Mary and Dave have spent that period in the best way they could. This mail was a real encouragement to me. Recognizing out life is not ever lasting, we should live every moment in the best way. I believe Mary has told us that with her way of living in the very last chapter of her life.  

With Dave's permission, I would quote his mail here.    

 Shin -

Many thanks for your kind words. Mary went down quite quickly. 
On March 8 she had a seizure. She was seated so she did not fall, 
and I was rightthere. That was the first indication that something 
was wrong. A CT scan showed some lesions that looked like cancer. 
An MRI showed about 5 or 6 spots, the largest of which was deep 
within her brain. A biopsy confirmed that it was glioblastoma. 
She had one round of chemotherapy and one round of radiation, she 
also had more seizures. She was hospitalized 5 times within 4 weeks. 
The treatments were very hard on her and led to some internal 
bleeding. The doctors said that if the bleeding did not stop on
its own, surgery was the only hope of saving her, except they felt 
she would not be able to survive the surgery. The bleeding did stop 
and Mary chose to not continue with treatment.

Mary and I are Christian and our strong faith helped us through this
difficult time. Over a period of several weeks we were able to talk 
about some of the great memories we had together, how important family 
and friends were to us, and she encouraged me to stay active on the 
air as she understood how much a part of my life our hobby is. As she 
declined she did not experience pain, but slept more and more frequently.

Of course, I wish we could make more memories together, but the 
memories I do have will be with me for as long as I am still here and 
I cherish them all.

We will work again my friend.

161 de Dave - K9FN

Potatoes harvested

Yesterday, when I came home from a grocery store with a bagful foods, my wife gazed at me and started laughing loud. I had mud on the top of nose. I realized that when working in the garden farm and thought I should wash my face before going for shopping. But I totally forgot that when leaving for the store.

Anyway, that is how I am getting along in the farm. This is about 20 % of the crop of potatoes this year. 

Pretty good harvest. But not enough for us to feed ourselves for a year ahead even if the rest of potatoes is included. I am a kind of pessimist and a person of carefulness. I believe we might get into an era of food shortage someday, not sure when it comes but is surely looming on us due to the climate change/hyperinflation. 

I may try to plant some of them in the end of summer. Potatoes won't bud out for some time, as they say, in the irresponsive period. But if I could have them grow in fall, it means we could have them twice a year. It may help us to be free from starvation.

Tomatoes, pumpkins, okras, green beans and so forth are growing or are ready to grow. The harvest itself is a pleasure for us. However, being in the nature together with them growing is itself a pleasure. We belong to them as a part of nature, not governing them but being with them.


A spectacular social experiment

Our government seems to bull through holding the Olympic Games next month. They insist the measures against COVID19 will be strictly taken during the event. It is unlikely, though, 90K people coming from abroad could be controlled. If the JOC decides to let viewers come in the athletic venues, the number will be up to 3.1 million. It will be impossible to keep the social distancing. Now SARS CoV2 being believed to prevail through aerosol transmission, it won't be a practical goal to have them not infected at the event venues or at the transportation to and from them. Masking and keeping social distance of 5 ft are a kind of too optimistic maneuver  against the mutant strains. In such big crowds of people, the virus could mutate to more infectious and virulent one evading the immunity by vaccines.

The recent issue of JAMA has published an article regarding the break through infection. It says 0.8% of fully vaccinated would get infected with the mutant strains. It means more than 700 of the visitors to the games would bring various mutant strains from all over the world. It is quite plausible there will be some new strains emerging among the people during the coming 2 months in the Olympic games. There could be strains evading vaccine immunity and more infectious than others. They could cause another wave of the trajectory not only in Japan but also in the other parts of the world.

There could be an urgent crisis in emergency medical system in Tokyo and the adjacent areas. They would deploy dozens of ambulance cars and thousands of personnel of emergency medical service system. And it will be the season of heat intoxication in Japan. In last August, more than 4300 people were emergently transferred to hospitals. Even one hundred and ninety five were victimized with that acute illness. It will be a real mess if the same thing happens during the Olympic games. Not only the medical system will be being collapsed but also will the emergency transportation itself as the entrance to the system be.     

It will be a spectacular social experiment. The betting target is our lives. Is it worth making that bet only for IOC and the related businesses gaining a lot of profits?


Driving to a height nearby and the hazardous Olympic games

 A couple of days ago, fine weather unbelievable for this season in a year has lead me to driving to a height country. It is called Abukuma Height. As I have mentioned that place in another post in the past, it is a height laid between Miyagi to Ibaraki through Fukushima prefecture on the Pacific Ocean side. It used to be an old high mountains having been eroded to present fairly flat height. It always shows the old countryside which I am used to be familiar with. A calm and peaceful place for me to visit.

Another reason why I feel that way is that I used to drive there with family members some 30 or even 40 years ago. Some of them have already gone away. Recalling of them, I have ran through the coast from Ibaraki to Fukushima and then back to home through the Height. Winding roads, up and down, through habitant places and mostly mountain area. Listening to Beethoven's string quartets, Nr 1 through 8, performed by Alban Berg Quartet. The CDs were newly bought recently. The quartet had been active from 1970 through 2008 with real virtuosity. I still have fond memories of the music, which is a real monumental work in the genre of classical music. 

In the midst of the Height, I have ran along a small river named Sai River. In a valley, a lot of water has flown on the rocky waterbed. Very quiet place without much traffic. 

There were a lot of habitant places even deep at mountain skirts of countryside. But I also noticed some of them had been abandoned and had got all to pot. Some abandoned farming fields, narrow in stepwise on the slope of mountains, were also noted. No wonder such places must be increasing all over our country. Our country is going into the depopulating period since the mid '00s. We should consider how to land on such a harsh time without collapse of the society. It is not the time for such as Olympic games. In addition to the burden from the Corona Crisis, the demand for social security with aging and decreasing number of working people is increasing, which we have never experienced in the past. 

Even though such serious ideas and anxieties are coming in my mind one after another while driving. But it has calmed my mind and was relaxing me a lot. Even though it was, I again realized, a bit too adventurous for me to drive non stop for hundreds of miles in a day. I have come home safely before sun set.

It will be the day for the 1st shot of COVID19 vaccine tomorrow. I could choose any facility for inoculation here. Accidentally, it was a pediatric clinic nearby I chose. Looking up that facility and the president, it turned out to be a pediatrician who used to belong to the Dept of a med school nearby I used to work for. And the pediatrician must be a student those days and could remember me working as an assistant professor. Hopefully, he won't recognize me tomorrow or he would give me a special big one.

The inoculation rate even of the 1st shot is only around 10% in our country. They still go ahead for holding the Olympic games. It is only for the benefit of IOC and for the government. The top of IOC will be welcomed on a red carpet and will stay at 5 starred hotels. The politicians will be successful at the election ahead later this year if this trial for pan and circus would work. 

There could be another wave of prevalence from Tokyo with thousands of people are gathering from all over the world. Quite some of them won't get vaccinated prior to their visit. The pathogen undergoes mutation once in 2 weeks. There could be new mutations of the virus among the attendees during this stupid event, which evade immunity and get more infectious. 

The medical system in Tokyo is tightened badly already. The emergency medicine will be threatened to collapse during the event for cases of heat intoxication as well as COVID19. I don't think any readers would visit here to cover stories about it or even to play in it but would never recommend you to do so. 


Lorin WA1PGB is elected for a new member of Hall of Fame by US CQ

 Lorin WA1PGB has been elected for a new member of Hall of Fame by US CQ. He let me know that today.


He is a really proficient CW operator and has been quite active on the air. I have written about him and about how we have known each other elsewhere in this blog.


I have told him he won't be able to exchange his call sign since it is announced all over the world in this way. I knew he had wondered to get it renewed with a new call sign by vanity program.

Congratulations, Lorin! Keep up your activity as a pianist, even if you are publicly retired, and as an avid CW operator.