Friday, December 19, 2014

I just got a return email from Arnie Coro, CO2KK,

 a Cuban ham radio operator. Arnie is considered the guru of Cuban ham radio and is am amazing man. He pretty much runs ham radio relief efforts in the Caribbean when the weather tears things up down there which it does periodically.

A couple of hours after I heard the news I was on a website and someone suggested getting in touch with Arnie and seeing what kind of stuff we could send Cuban hams to help with their projects.

Arnie has a radio program on Radio Havana that runs a couple times a week called DXers Unlimited. Much of it is a self-help hands on type of thing and I've listened to it a couple of times in the past few years. Arnie is held internationally in high regard among the worldwide amateur radio community, a position he has earned.

For what it's worth, I vaguely remember Radio Havana before the blockade. I do remember it shortly after the blockade and it was venomous toward the States. I can't say as I blame them. Then I didn't bother much with shortwave listening for decades. However years later circa 1985 I heard Radio Havana one night while I was living in Alaska. 

The consensus of the three of us that listened was that it was a rather nice Caribbean national radio station. I've heard it several times over the past three or four years and it's still a nice station. The DXers Unlimited program is still there.

I remember one time running it for background a few years back as I was doing paperwork and picking up pieces here and there as he was describing how to run PSK 31 using recycled parts. I wish I wasn't so busy at the time and could have carefully listened. I do remember something about recycled speakers and cardboard tubes.

Incidentally I will tell you a little story here about Radio Havana. I had sent a shortwave listener card to Radio Havana and was looking forward to getting a QSL card back from them. It arrived at the post office in the height of the showdown. At the time my father was terrified of being called back into the service again as a father of four children.

He handed me the card and seemed pretty upset about it until someone said to him, "For Pete's sake, it's a young kid with a shortwave radio that just got a QSL card. Nobody cares."

Dad settled down immediately when it was put into that context.

An awful lot of Cuban hams are pretty amazing and clever people. Many of them are  born-again recyclers, scroungers and home brewers that build a lot of their own equipment. A lot of them are pretty amazing people. I am proud to have a number of them in my log book.

Incidentally there is a Cuban QSL card framed in a place of honor in my house. It was mailed directly from Cuba which is a rarity. Most Cuban confirmations come from Spanish QSL managers. 

I will admit if I had to do what a some Cuban hams do to get on the air, I would not have gone through the trouble. It is no less than astonishing. Next to the Cuban ham that has built his rig, I am little more than an appliance operator...if even that.

I have not understood why the blockade wasn't lifted a long time ago. When you think about it, all is did was to make a lot of decent people a little more miserable. It also kept a lot of people like me from visiting a beautiful tropical island which irks me every winter while I shovel snow. Come to think of it, shoveling snow instead of sitting on a beach makes ME a little more miserable.

I have always wanted to visit Cuba. I have a friend that did. It's a pretty funny story and maybe I'll tell it sometime. It involves baseball. Then maybe again maybe I won't. He's still alive and I imagine there could be trouble for him if I did.

I will say this about my friend's visit to Cuba. They decreed him a 'Guest of the Cuban Government' and his money was no good there. It is a hilarious story where one man's personality and character overcame the policies of two governments.

I don't like mixing politics and ham radio. One of the things I like about ham radio is being able to put our politics and differences aside and just be people. We need more things in this world like that. Therefore on this post I will not comment on things of a political nature.

The return to normalization of relations is still in the infancy and it is going to be interesting how things work out. From what I have read it's going to be a while before the floodgates open and Americans are allowed unrestricted travel and trade. 

Still, it's a start and I'm optimistic.


Incidentally Arnie Coro and I have another thing in common besides being hams. Arnie is a sailor and used to sail regattas when he was younger. He's won a number of races.

It's interesting to see what we have in common instead of harping on the differences.

To find out why the blog is pink just cut and paste this: NO ANIMALS WERE HARMED IN THE WRITING OF TODAY'S ESSAY

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