Encounter and farewell

Around midnight today, 20m has opened to entire Europe all of sudden. Some signals were over S9 here. I have been called by Europeans in a row. Among them, there was a G with barefoot with wire antenna. It meant the band was in the best shape.

While I was working a SM3 station, his call reminded me of a guy, Peter, SM3KHN. I have met him on 40m CW in 1983, when he was aboard on a ship as a sailor. He was running 3w or so as SM3KHN/MM. On the way from Singapore to Japan, we have been able to contact regularly. We met at Akihabara, a downtown famous for many electrical item/radio shops those days at least. He was a young fellow. Maybe, in mid 20s of age. I could hardly recall what we had talked etc. We might have had coffee together there.

I have never heard him ever since and have been curious to know how he was getting along. He must be in his mid 50s for now. I only hope he has lived a meaningful life and has been blessed with fine family. If anyone should know of him, please let me know that.

Besides him, I have ever met many hams from overseas as well as Japan here or in Tokyo. Maybe more than 20. Some have gone silent key like Ray WA6IVM and his wife etc. Of course, I am keeping in touch with such as Tommy exWJ6O  W6IJ, Larry exNF6S W4UAT, Mike ZL1BVB, Oh HL4SF, Dick K4XU, Al W1FJ, John 9V1VV, Lee HL2DC and so forth. There are several hams whom I could not get in touch with. Such as Dan N9PI, Ralph W4NIX, Steve AA6IO, Dick K3DI and his wife, Denny WG6P and his wife, Joe AJ2Y and so forth. Sometimes, I could not help remembering of those and wonder how they have been doing.

Wherever we may have encounter to somebody, we always have farewell to the other. That is, we never meet without a parting. But I would keep such encounter as treasure in life.    


A young friend of mine

A young friend of mine has came here to do adjusting the direction of my beam. He is Tomo JP1DJV. A gale has turned it by 135 degrees from the normal direction the other day. I might be able to read the direction from the indicator of the rotator. But I was worrying that it could be turned more by another storm, so that the coaxial cable would be worn out close to the feeding point. By my request to him, he has arranged a few hours in his day off and has come here. Thanks to his quick work, it was returned to the direction as the indicator pointed at. He also checked the bolt/nuts or the other parts of the tower. Finding some corroded bolts or the other parts, he kindly proposed me to exchange them. I have been using this tower for almost 30 years. I thankfully asked him to do so.

Now this old beam will go on working for some time. Tomo used to set a half sloper for 80m for me almost 20 years ago. It is still working fine.  

He is a pretty young guy in his forties. We first knew each other in mid '80s when we were in a DX net on UHF. It was really a fun to chat and exchange information of DX with the gang in real time. Most of them won't be heard on the air. A few were gone SK. Tomo has been pretty active on the radio. Unfortunately, his main activity is on SSB. He has been enthusiastic for antenna production. You may reach his web site where you could see photos of a number of home brew antennas he constructed in the past. He is using 7 element mono Yagi for 20m at present.

He told me it had been difficult for him to find anyone for ragchewing nowadays. Even on SSB. He wonders if he should change the operation style with a smaller antenna now. It seems he spends very busy day at his works. I could not be more thankful to him for his help this time. Tomo just after having finished antenna work at my home. A nice young fellow.  


Azalea, strawberry and apple tree

Azalea along the entrance has started to bloom. The plum tree ahead looks fresh with new leaves. It is the time for me to struggle with weeds now.

Strawberry has flowers. It is as if spontaneously grown. In fact, not much care has given. It still bears many fruits in May every year.

We have planted a couple of apple tress last fall. They stayed being dormant. But, several days ago, they have born new leaves. They are still alive.  

It is a joy for me to work in the garden, even though I sometimes suffer from lumbago after sitting in squat position for some time. Stretch and breathe deeply. It is the time every lives are getting vivid and fresh.


A reason why Elecraft has made success in ham radio market

Last night, I was called by Wayne N6KR on 40m CW. He was not loud. Running only 3w into a Hustler mobile whip. It was when he was testing the new equipment KX3 that we had our last QSO. He is a co founder of Elecraft. He always enjoy operating CW with his product or hand made equipment.

I have never tried any Elecraft equipments yet. Generally, their products, especially K3, sound great on CW. The keying shape is always perfect. It is thanks to the engineers like Wayne who have developed them while testing them by themselves. They must have made feed back to their design of products after testing the prototypes by themselves on the air. There must be a big difference if any active ham is involved in design and development of equipment products or not. Elecraft has made a big success in the market. This must be a reason for their success in business.

As I told above, I haven't used any Elecraft gears yet. But I am still concerned about how they will progress with their business in the ham radio market.  

A cluster of earth quakes in Kumamoto/Oita

A number of big earthquakes have been hitting Kumamoto and Oita, the middle part of Kyushyu, for the past 2 days. So far, 37 people were killed while more than 1,000 were injured. They say 70,000 have been evacuated. This event has reminded me of my experience with the big earthquake 5 years ago when we had to spend a few days without any life line. I know they are in much tougher situation. Imagining what anxiety and pain they have right now, from the bottom of my heart, I hope it would be calmed down soon.

Kumamoto is isolated in a sense since logistics transportation is blocked due to the damages on roads, railways, airports and so forth. The long lasting hit seems also to annoy the people there. It may take them pretty long time to recover from this disaster. But I believe they will do.

The seismologists say those earthquakes have occured on two different active faults there. Since 3 tectonic plates are colliding with each other in our country, there are so many active faults, which have caused big earthquakes at certain interval. The active faults already found are counted up to 2,000. There should be even more not found yet. The earthquakes occurring at present seem to be along the Median Tectonic Line, which traverses the Eastern Japan from south west to north east. The great Hanshin earthquake in Kobe and adjascent areas in 1995 may be regarded also along this tectonic line and should be regarded as a series of crustal movements. It is just my impression. Anyway, we should be aware our country or even earth itself is in the era of crustal activity now.

Eathquake is a hard experience but hits only once. But it is not the case with nuclear power plant accidents. We have learned that from the tragedy in Fukushima 5 years ago. It is still going on now. Along the Median Tectonic Line, east of the area hit by the present earthquakes, there is a nuclear power plant named Ikata in Shikoku island. There could be another big earthquake occurring around the Ikata nuclear power plant. If it happens, a serious grave scenario will start there.

As told above, there are so many active faults running all around our country that the other nuclear power plants, 54 in total, could be damaged by big earthquakes or tsunamis. There is a small gulf named Wakasa Wan north of Kyoto, only tens of miles in distance from that crowded area of Kansai. That gulf has 14 nuclear power plants in a radius of 20 miles or less. If they should be hit by the natural disaster and fall in serious accident, Kansai area is totally disabled. It means our country won't be able to go on as it would now.

Is it a too pessimistic scenario? Since we have experienced the accident in Fukushima, I could never believe so. We should learn from that experience. Nuclear power plant accidents won't be transient but last almost endlessly.



Stir-fried shrimp in chili sauce

I have been cooking meat and fish by turns. It lead to a kind of mannerism. I have found an old recipe of the titled dish. This is it. It is always tough to determine what dish I would cook.

I should get some specialities now.


Hypocrites' crap

The Cabinet Legislation Bureau has published answer to an inquiry at the Congress regarding possession and use of nuclear weapons today. It says our country could own as well as use nuclear weapons so far as it is smallest in size for self defense.

What a drastic change in the view regarding nuclear weapons! Since our country has experienced the devastating damage with nuclear bombs in two cities during the WWII, our governments as well as the people have strongly opposed to the use of neclear weapons whatever its purpose might be. 

Since the nuclear power generation started in 1950s, they have stored tens tons of plutonium as the product of the nuclear reactor running. Even though the government has denied it, there has been a rumor that the conservative politicians plotted to produce nuclear bombs from the stored plutonium. Officially, they insisted that plutonium would be used in the nuclear fuel recycle scheme. But it has never operated at all. Fuel as MOX could consume only small amount of plutonium. There is a large amount of plutonium stored without any apparent purpose for use.

The rumor that the government would produce nuclear weapons with this plutonium is taking on more reality now. Prime minister Abe seems to adhere to an idea to realize a nation of military power. At the recent G7 Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Hiroshima, they have declared the disarmament of nuclear weapon is mandatory in the world. This statement could not help sounding like crap of hypocrites.


Life is a journey

This is a sentence on Facebook. It was quoted by a friend of mine, whose husband, Tom, W6NLK, had passed away last year. It is a beautiful idea described in simple words, which compares our life to a train ride. Comparison of life to travel is profound. The older I get, the more I feel this is true. While working in the garden in the daytime, without anyone around me, I sometimes find myself conversing to my parents in my mind. Or should I say I am asking myself what my parents would do if they had been with me? It reminds me of the fact our life is still a journey. Everything will go away. No need to adhere anything on the earth. Just behave as this sentence says. May my life be like what the author writes here.   


John McDonald
THE TRAIN: At birth we boarded the train and met our parents, and we believe they will always travel by our side. As time goes by, other people will board the train; and they will be significant i.e. our siblings, friends, children, and even the love of your life. However, at some station our parents will step down from the train, leaving us on this journey alone. Others will step down over time and leave a permanent vacuum. Some, however, will go so unnoticed that we don't realize they vacated their seats. This train ride will be full of joy, sorrow, fantasy, expectations, hellos, goodbyes, and farewells. Success consists of having a good relationship with all passengers requiring that we give the best of ourselves.
The mystery to everyone is: We do not know at which station we ourselves will step down. So, we must live in the best way, love, forgive, and offer the best of who we are. It is important to do this because when the time comes for us to step down and leave our seat empty we should leave behind beautiful memories for those who will continue to travel on the train of life.
I wish you all a joyful journey.


Meeting Lee HL2DC and his wife together with Taka JA1KIH

It was the day of promise to meet Lee HL2DC last Sunday. He and his wife have been to Tokyo the day before. They have attended a church somewhere in Tokyo and have come to see us at Ueno in the afternoon. It was horribly crowded at the exit of the Ueno station to the Ueno Park. I forgot it had been the best season to watch the cherry trees in full blossom all around the park. There were so many people, some of them sitting on sheets beneath the cherry trees and drinking alcohol there. I got even a bit sick with this number of people.

Since I arrived that place a bit earlier than the promised time, I walked around the park. The cherry flowers were sure grandly beautiful. But it was too crowded. I might had been accoustomed with this crowd of people when I was living in Tokyo. I have been, however, spoiled by the countryside for now.

This was the restaurant where I was intending to go for lunch with them. This was the place where a reception party for Ralph Multon WB6BFR, an elmer for me those days,  was held. It was in '60s. The beer garden on the roof was the place of the meeting. Tad JA1KFN, already SK, hosted that meeting. There were a number of old timers like the couple of JA1YL and JA1CO etc. I had the honor to be present there wearing a junior high school student's uniform. Maybe, the youngest among the attendees. Ralph used to be active on 40m early in the morning in their time. I have had more than 100 QSOs with him. He has been very patient to do with a beginner in Japan like me. I was very curious to know about anything in foreign countries like the US. He was, using the dash side of a bug, sending out beautiful codes in slow speed every time. I can't recall what I have talked at the meeting. But the scene of all attendees sitting around a long table and the breeze coming over the pond named Shinobazunoike still clearly came up in my mind.

It seemed, however, to be too crowded there and could be difficult for us to take lunch without reservation. I gave up taking lunch with Lee et al there. 

Another shot of the crowd in the park. There was a kind of order among them. Maybe, characteristic for Japanese. 

One example of the order in the grand feast was this separate collection of trash. 

We successfully met at the exit despite of the mess. Lee looked quite the same as 20 years ago even though he has got a bit more grey thing on head. His wife was smiling at us as she used to be. Taka JA1KIH, another old friend of mine, has joined us there. We moved to Ochanomizu, the town where my med school is located. I knew an appropriate restaurant to have lunch with them. It was on the 22nd floor of a building, where we could enjoy grand view around there.  

As the usual topics for us with the same age, we started talking about health issues. Three or 4 years ago, Lee had to cancel a trip to Tokyo with a hypertension episode. It seemed he and his wife have been doing well ever since. I was anxious to know what medical service they have in Korea. Public health insurance seemed to be available for everyone. But own expense medical care is also working for minority of rich people. Some medicines, treatments or lab exams are in the latter category. They should pay astronomically high cost at certain medical facilities as med school hospitals for those medical care. The birthrate is constantly decreasing because they could not have babies or they won't bring up children. It may make the social security less sustainable in Korea in the near future. That was what Lee told us.

He also complained there had been too many beginner class hams in Korea. The head of amateur radio league there owns only that class and knows little on communication on CW or with overseas. The authority seemed to be ignorant of the reality of ham radio as well. He has lost a bit of interests in radio recently. He just joins the net of two letter suffix stations there. 

He has started ham radio in 1964, a year after I had done. His first equipment was crystal controlled 2E24 transmitter with Hallicrafter SX38; I am not sure of this model name. During the military service and early years in business, he went off the radio. In 1976, he came back on the air with the same suffix. I have come back on the air in 1980. We have lived in almost the same milestones.  

It was a chinese food restaurant. We have had a course of chinese dishes. Peking duck.

Some sort of fish.

We have discussed on the economy and the companies he and Taka have worked for before retirement. Lee seemed to have worked as a CEO at a company related with LG, so far as I understood. He has worked there when the bubble ruptured in Japan and, later, Korean economy underwent the currency crisis intervened by IMF. He has been a real fighter in the business there.

The delicate relationship between our countries was also one of the topics. I have told him an idea which I had had in my mind for years. We, Japanese, are historically responsible for the tragic separation of his country into north/south. Most of the Japanese are indifferent to that historical fact or just ignorant of that. Some people of ultra right wing, even though they are just minority, in Japan won't hesitate showing prejudice against Korean people. A sad reality. He was just smiling at me without any comment on it. But he told me whenever a visitor from Japan came there, he or the staff of his company always took him to the Military Demarcation Line, which was only 20 or 30 minutes drive from Seoul.

His children, whom they have taken here in his visit to us, were both grown up and have already married. They were blessed with a couple of grandchildren.

Lee, his wife and Taka.

The same couple with me.

It was a nice meeting with them. Lee told me the same thing and invited us to visit Korea. It has been another promise for us to visit there. It takes us only 2 hours or so to fly to Korea. Hopefully, it will come true soon.   


Why not SWLing

There are increasingly less CW operators on the air. I have been watching the bands and calling CQ for quite some time in a day. RBN shows the band is still open to NA etc. But desperately few are enjoying ordinary QSOs. If I could hear anything from abroad, they are always bees gathering in pile ups. That is better than nothing. I still feel the situation is getting worse than the past 2 or 3 years.

It is still the definite trend that the number of real CW lovers are decreasing in number. We have much easier ways of communications than CW, which requires us much training before we could converse on it.

Admitting this trend mentioned above, there is still such a drastic drop of numbers! Strangely, however, there are often discussions in the SNS etc as for which application is good to learn CW. Nowadays, most newbies are coming in this mode with such applications. There must be some handy as well as effective applications for them.

On the other hand, most beginners won't start with SWL. They might think they would learn CW at first, and they could understand perfectly what is going on the CW bands. They will be often heartbroken in real QSOs because they know the skill and knowledge of CW operation learned from such applications are least usable. Or they may stay being so called hit and run operators. Those hit and runs need to copy only figures and alphabets. They won't care for any other informatins than the report and the QTH/name.

Why won't they listen to the real QSOs going on? As told above, it is rather difficult for us to find them. But in certain area like in the US, it might be possible for them to listen to old timers enjoying ragchewing. Of course, they won't be able to copy all at first. In the very beginning, they could copy only a part of their call signs. It is a frustration not to be able to read what they say. Trying to copy the old timers on the air, the beginners could begin reading the mail all of sudden at one time. It comes like a step wise development for him/her. Before he/she could get such proficiency, he/she might be thrilled to copy some parts of the messages the old timers are sending. There is an operator, living like him/herself and having own emotion in life. Isn't it touching? The newcomers could learn how to operate on cW while listening those QSOs as well. I am sure SWLing is much more fun than doing with an application which sounds monotonous and material. There is much broader horizen in CW communication.


Potatoes are budding

The potatoes are budding in the garden farm. They have come out several days ago. But I could not recognize them as budded ones.

I feel wonder of life with them. They are growing as the genes in the seeds plan. They are adapted to the environment with the mechanism of epigenetics. Full of wonder how life is coming out in the world whatever it might be.

Radish is also budding at another corner in the garden. Pea might be germinating very soon. Strawberry is getting vivid. 

Working for those vegetable plants is pleasant. Worth spending time for them.