May. 6th, 2013

beige_alert: (Science)
I went to a ham radio swapfest on Saturday morning. It was a fine event, and I did buy a few items, of a sensible sort. Unlike my girlfriend who tends to end up buying kitchen appliances at ham swapfests, I got some radio stuff. I picked up a few adapters between SMA, BNC, and PL-259 connectors, and a little cheap magnet-mount antenna for car use. Lots of interesting stuff for sale. The really antique-y stuff isn't really the big thing I'm interested in, but it is fun to see some of it. Lots of people selling random-seeming vacuum tubes. A few old tube testing machines. I remember that back when I was a youngster, I saw tube testing machine in a store that was still in actual service, although by then it was a bit past the peak of people bringing in their tubes to test to try to fix their radios or TVs or whatever. I got to see and play with a few Vibroplex bugs, the mechanical Morse code keys that can send a string of dits with a mechanical vibrating thingie. My Morse is rusty as can be and learning to use one of those would be interesting, but it's a very cool mechanical device.

I did notice something about the people there. I've been lots of places, done lots of things, but whether it's a long track speed skating race, casual running, an organized marathon, a mass spectrometry conference, a show primarily oriented toward hunting and fishing, seminars in the biochemistry department, kayaking, trail running, gatherings of musicians, a room full of people soldering blinkies together at a con, or darn near anything else, the only place I can think of with a similar ratio of men to women is when I have to pee and pass the sign saying "men" and enter the room with all the urinals on the wall. On some rare occasions, even that room has a more equal balance.

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