DX Stories by Paul M. Dunphy, VE1DX

Cycle Minimum Blues

One of the local QRPers was up the hill the other day, this one to slouch down in a chair and heave a heavy sigh of despair. "It's the sunspot cycle", he said, "this minimum is terrible." We were a bit surprised for this particular QRPer was always optimistic. "Not to worry", we said in a properly sympathetic voice, "the sunspots always come back. Why, you were just saying at the club meeting last week that we were near the bottom and it can only get better. Why the sudden change?" The QRPer looked at us for a moment, then stared at the floor. "It's not going to come back up this time.", he sighed, "The flux is stuck at 67 and there's no hope. Every other cycle came roaring back, but this one won't. We are doomed to work DX on 160, 80 and 40 for the rest of our lives."

Son of a Gun! We were becoming confused. "What's wrong?", we asked, "have you been reading some of those theoretical papers out of NASA again?" The QRPer began to glare at us with his beady little eyes. "No, I haven't been reading anything at all", he said, his voice rising, "You and I both know it's got nothing to do with solar physics or NASA or anything else! It's the Palos Verdes Sundancers that bring on the sunspots and the DX." We admitted that this was true. "You are beginning to understand the Mysteries of the Ages", we replied, "Don't worry. They will be hard at work this fall and there will be DX for everyone." We sat back in the chair, confident the crisis had been averted. "No there won't be", the QRPer said, "there won't be any DX at all. Have you listened down in the barrancas? Did you hear what they are playing?" We had to admit we hand not visited Palos Verdes country in a long while. "They are playing Mendelssohn's 'Symphony in C Minor'! That won't bring on the next cycle! We are never going to see the flux over 70 again!" And before we could get a chance ask more, he was off down the hill, convinced that the Great Days of DXing were never to return.

What could we say? So we went straight down to see the leader of the Palos Verdes Sundancers . . . and the QRPer was right. The tones of Mendelssohn were stirring in the background. "What gives?", we asked. "Oh nothing," he answered, "the Dancers are just a bit tired. Remember the good conditions when Peter 1st was on? And when we gave it our all so the east coast could work Pratus and Scarbourgh Reef? Well, it's taken its toll. We just need some relaxation. It's part of the new management philosophy of the 90's," he explained. This was a new one on us and we were starting to worry that the QRPer was right.

The leader of the Palos Verdes Sundancers saw the look of concern on our face. "Not to fear! This fall there will be DX for all! We are working on a new strategy. Ragtime! In 2-4 time, characterized by a syncopated melody over an accented bass. In true Scott Joplin style!" he explained, "the Dancers are just using the symphony to relax." And with that, he did a double-heeled click and was off. Son of a Gun! Who are we to argue with the success of the Palos Verdes Sundancers? The Great Days of DXing are at hand! The signs are everywhere. Be a Believer . . . and learn to like ragtime! DX IS!

Best Regards, Paul

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