Wednesday, September 16, 2009


I have two shortwave radios, both of them portable and both of them reasonably good radios. Though the one shortwave (call it shortwave #1) is really a far more sensitive and sophisticated radio than the other shortwave (call it shortwave #2).

So what have I done with these two radios? Well, the past ten years I've had shortwave #1 sitting and gathering dust, seldom used, in a room upstairs. While I've had shortwave #2, fairly often used, sitting on the end table next to my wicker rocker in the living room.

I repeat, the less capable shortwave (shortwave #2), sitting by my elbow in the living room, gets probably 98% of the use. I've been trying to remember how this setup arose, and I think the idea was that I'd get better reception from upstairs, hence have shortwave #1 in the room upstairs. Not that this makes much difference when shortwave #1 is seldom if ever used.

So. The other day I finally took action, and did the obvious thing: I switched the two radios. Now shortwave #1 is on the end table in my living room, where it is used almost daily. And shortwave #2 is in that room upstairs, for if-and-when I need a radio on my infrequent forays into that room.

Actually shortwave #1 in the living room, being more sensitive, gets better reception than shortwave #2 would get either in the living room or upstairs.

And so I sit here in the living room this morning, wrapped up in a wool Indian blanket in my wicker rocker, cup of coffee at hand, and the dulcet tones of Radio Rebelde on 5025 kilocycles in the 60 meter band from Havana at my elbow. (Yes, I'm the sort who still says "kilocycles.") Can't understand more than the occasional snatch of Spanish, but you know, for me that's a windows of consciousness thing: listening to a detailed but only marginally intelligible sound stream opens wide the doors of perception. More perhaps on that some other time...

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