A Thousand Screaming Demons

I guess I must be some kind of masochist. Picture me sitting under the hot Sun, CW paddle strapped to my right knee, logging pad balanced on the other knee, swatting at all the winged, man-eating pestilences that infest every Ontario summer, while sweat pours down my face and drips onto my logging pad. Yes, I still log my POTA activations using pencil and paper. Why? Because I suffer from fat finger syndrome and those tiny mobile phone screens just don’t seem to work for me.

I transfer my papyrus scratchings into electronic format once I have completed the activation. My current favorite logger is the excellent HAMRS Android app which has a template customized for Parks On The Air.

In the Summertime When the Weather is Hot
I love being out in the sunshine. Ontario has four seasons: Early Winter, Accursed Winter, Late Winter and – very briefly – Summer. Even summer isn’t what it used to be. We have had to put the heat on in our house the odd day in July the last couple of years.

Eye On A Sphere
The Sun brings mixed blessings to the POTA activator. Sure, it ionizes that bit of the sky that bounces our signals around the globe – when it has a mind to do so. We poor activators have to check what mood his celestial majesty is in today in order to decide whether it will be worth the drive to whatever POTA entity we plan on invading.

Secret Pile-up Busting Technique Revealed
If propagation conditions are favorable we can be pretty sure of getting a pile-up in response to our CQs. Pile-ups are both a blessing and a curse. It is nice to have a steady stream of hunters calling. A pile-up means getting the required ten contacts for a valid activation is not usually going to be a problem. But working a pile-up is a challenge. Imagine multiple stations, each sending CW at a slightly different speed, all calling with precise synchronization such that not a single character stands out.

How to handle a pile-up? Everybody has their own technique. I discovered mine quite by accident. I had one of those perfectly synchronized pile-ups hit me and I hesitated while I figured out how to deal with it. Then something wonderful happened. One of the hunters called me again – all by himself.

But anyway, you get the picture; hot Sun, pouring sweat, biting bugs, planetary K-index nearly as big as my shoe-size and a pile-up as impenetrable as the Berlin Wall. But finally I am logging the hunters and I’m on my way to a successful activation.

The 8th Deadly Sin
My logging pad is covered in dead mosquitoes and drops of sweat. Every time I lift my southpaw to swat at another bug the logging pad falls off my knee and gets dirty too. While I lean over to pick it up I accidentally send out a long “dah” as my right elbow presses against the key. Then I get some cheerful hunter who commits the eighth deadly sin.

Does Everyone Live in Indiana These Days? No Really?
I am listening for my signal report (RST: Readability-Strength-Tone) then the hunter’s SPC (State/Province/Country). I like it sweet and simple so I can log it before the next aerial attack from another squadron of mosquitoes. But what do I hear? “UR 599 IN NC” (“You are 599 in North Carolina”). I scratch it down with my worn pencil as I hear it: “599 IN”, no wait, where is he? Was that Indiana or North Carolina? Confused. Okay, okay, it must be North Carolina. There is just a tiny corner of the pad left where I can write the correction while I growl and mutter unpublishable bad words.

I am eternally grateful to all the Parks On The Air hunters who make park activations work. But to the few who don’t obey my KISS principle (Keep It Sweet and Simple) I send a thousand screaming demons as punishment.

Creative Commons Licence
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

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