Well, Glen covered a lot of what I had originally typed... So, the rest of it is, around here it seems most of the always-listening "regulars" have moved off repeaters to simplex. While the repeaters sit idle except for brief periods and nets, it is likelier I'll find someone on simplex just about any time. Not sure if the same would go for Houston, but it's something to listen for. Of course, simplex can be tough over any distance with just an handheld. And yes, even though you can key a repeater on 1/2 watt, you can still be noisy at 5 watts. Not necessarily a weak signal, just a lot of noise. Many people don't like having to listen through the noise of a weak handheld, so just don't bother responding. They may be likelier to do so if you do as Glen mentioned and actually ask for someone to respond.