And Now For Something Really Different

Tonight was the American Idol finale.  I’m glad, as I need more addictive TV around like I need alligators snapping at my trousers.  It’s far too easy for me to be sucked in by stuff like that.

Anyway, just before watching it, I noticed that there was some strange stuff going on on the TV.  Channel 3 had some BBC news broadcast on it.  BBC over the air means PBS, and that meant for some searching.  It looked like the stray signal was coming from Florida based on what I could find after cross referencing the stations and their schedules at that time.  So, we watched Idol with the split screen showing that and channel 3.

A little before 8pm, something on channel 3 started getting stronger and stronger, complete with color.  And then it was clear — it was Fidel Castro, giving some kind of speech.  Now I don’t speak Spanish, and even if I did, the E-layer clouds only aligned for about two minutes, so I don’t know if I would’ve had any context anyway.  However, I did snap a bunch of photos.  Cool stuff.

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen TV from Cuba.  The last time that I remember was when I was a kid, maybe around 1978.  I was living in Chattanooga at the time, and there was a particularly strong Es opening, with signals from both Canada and Cuba beating each other up.  That was cool stuff, and was a precursor for showing me how much fun the VHF bands, and 6m in particular, could be.

Nowadays, it’s just a passing thing, a kind of novelty, to catch these stray signals from far away.  It’s still facinating to me that while folks can explain what happens to make these far off signals hit my antenna, no one can accurately predict the occurrence.  When the magic’s there though, it is magic, and it’s loads of fun for me.