It is 0234 UTC. That is 8:34 PM local Dallas time.
My children have no idea why I do what I do. Most participants in the 21st century cannot identify with my activities. What prompted this post is that I am hearing a Beacon in my night. As I type this I am listening to the 40 meter CW portion of the amateur radio band. CW is shorthand for Morse Code. This evening I tuned to the low end of 40 to see what was what before going to bed and I happened across a familiar call sign on 7.005 megahertz. He is strong tonight and I am able to chat with him. His call is 3B8CF: Jacky. He has been coming in so long on the 40 meter band that something would seem disquieting should he not be there. He is a beacon. A constant. Living a life in relative isolation, reaching out to friends independent of others for communications, somewhere in the middle of an ocean on an island called Mauritius.
When I was younger there were other beacons. Calls signs too numerous to mention. They are largely gone now. When they were there they conjured images in my youngish imagination of palm trees, sandy beaches and faraway exotic places. The more it snowed in my neighborhood the more I listened to the beacons in the night. Life was not so connected then. In a large snowstorm a persons home was its own island and needed to be self sufficient; sometimes for days on end. The isolation due to the snow provided an eager imagination motive for exploration and adventure by listening to the shortwave. That is how I came to Ham Radio.
Nowadays, the only snow in my life is that which bedecks my head. My imagination is still fertile and I find comfort in finding these old timers pounding away on their keys. The rhythm is comforting and the exchanges are short. But they are still there and so am I.