Don’t look now but those autumn winds are starting to cool us down a little bit, and October is festivaling all over. And if festivaling is not an actual word, it still applies to the next couple of weekends (as well as weekend last) in our fair city. You can take in Socorrofest as well as Alamo’s Indian Days next weekend, and Tech’s homecoming is the weekend after that.
Last weekend was jammed packed as well. I decided to swing by the Hamfest last Saturday morning out at the Firefighters Academy, where all the hammers get together once a year to check out the latest in the amateur radio world and swap stories.
I ran into Jim Lommen, Al Braun, Dave Finley and a few other familiar faces while I was there and looked over the array of equipment displayed, new and used.
While I’m on the subject, Hamfest has nothing to do with ham, you know, the kind that goes with red-eye gravy. The moniker “ham” was first used to ridicule the operators of amateur radio in the early part of the 20th century, actually. This so amused the growing cadre of operators they adopted it proudly.
I was secretly hoping someone would be making ham sandwiches at Hamfest, but no.
I’ve always thought radio was an amazing thing, ever since I was little and learned how to make a crystal set. It was the kind you clipped onto a chain link fence and heard the nearest AM station playing the newest Beatles song through an earphone.
I don’t know if those primitive Heathkits are still sold, or if even if kids would tinker with them, what with all the electronic toys and gizmos out today, the things kids probably take for granted.
But some things never change.
When I was a kid we were reminded how good we had it as opposed our parents, but even so I can’t remember ever being told by my father that he had to walk five miles to school in the snow. Barefoot.
About all I had to complain about was the grumpy old guy on the corner who yelled at me to stay off his lawn when I tried to cut across his yard. Not much has changed there.
But even in this day of fiber optics and satellites and cell towers ad infinitum, amateur radio pretty much remains the most reliable as a fallback for emergencies, or simply just shooting the bull with someone literally on the other side of the world.
And the thing is, it’s virtually the same technology as when 22 year-old Guglielmo Marconi was showing off his wireless apparatus well over one hundred years ago.
After the wireless took off and AM radio stations began popping up all over the country (including KOB in 1922), he said, “Have I done the world good, or have I added a menace?”
And that was way before rap and hip-hop, too.
Getting back to ham, there’s about 40 people in the Socorro Amateur Radio Association and Prescott Grey tells me they’re always looking for new members. I’ve got one of those multiband radios in the attic somewhere, and one of these days I’m going to turn it on.
It’s like having ears to the world, sans commercials.
Of course, if you have a computer or a smartphone and what you want to say is under 140 characters you can always Tweet. And all your followers will get the message.
What’s that, you say? You don’t have any followers?
Well, now you can sign up with a certain company and they will sell you 6,000 Twitter followers for only five dollars.
And if you’re feeling unloved and deprived five dollars will also get you 200 friends on Facebook. Sure, they may be as phony as a review on Yelp but you can brag about it to your living, breathing human friends.
In other tech news, Apple devotees can start lining up for the i-Car coming out in a couple of years.
They say instead of having a mechanic you have to get an appointment at the Genius Bar.
That’s not true. But there will be an OS upgrade every year or so.
That might be actually true, I don’t know.
As for me, I’m waiting for the computer that can conjure me up – in true Star Trek fashion – a ham sandwich.