Whoa! Didja get the numbers off that truck?!?

July 17, 2004 - 11:51 p.m.

Watts and what's up

I was at the gas station tonight. There was a rusty old Suburban there. There were two fishing poles atop this beast. Not normal fishing poles, they were transmitting antennas. The loading coils at the base of these poles looked to be about the size of Saturn booster missiles. The guy was filling his tank as I approached. He was admiring his towers, how they'd cleared the gas station canopy.

"Hey, mind if I ask a question?" I asked.

"What's up?" He eyed me.

"How many watts are you running in this thing?"

"Four watts." The standard reply. Four watts was legal.

"Wow, you could get pretty far with four watts with those things. You've got a pretty good ground plane up there too."

"Yeah, I can get all the way to Indiana sometimes" he said. "Hey" he asked, "You talk on the radio?"

"No" I said, "But I understand radio."

"Ah, you understand radio..."

"Yeah, well... see ya." I walked off into the night.

Four watts. More like four kilowatts. Those are the guys that transmit enough radiated power to get into the Infinity amplifier in my trunk and blast into the rear channel on my morning commute. It startles me awake sometimes, and then I see the huge antenna on the trunk lid or roof nearby me. These guys favor big old Detroit iron, the bodies make nice reflectors and the alternators are big enough to handle short bursts of transmit current better than a Toyota would.

I learned some stuff today. I learned that someone is going into the hospital for tests and they'll have to stay awhile. I learned of a house that might go up for sale. I learned of a big black man, bigger than me, who always had the time to talk and smile and was always respectful. He needs to get a message, to know that his thoughts were appreciated. I learned that alcoholism can cloud the ability to express emotion, and that's something that can only be learned after a lifetime. I learned that there's peace and beauty and good food if you wait long enough.

That's a lot to learn in one day.

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