DX Stories by Paul M. Dunphy, VE1DX

The Old and the New

One of the Eternal Enigmas of DXing that plagues newly minted QRPers is that big-total DXers are always old DXers. It’s one of the Mysteries of the Ages why the list-stompers, those who question if the sunspots will return next cycle, those who fret and worry about the whether or not their last one will be blessed by the DXCC desk are all members of the Quarter Century Wireless Association. And some joined the QCWA a heck of a lot longer than a few years ago, too.

Just the other day one of the Local QRPers came storming around the curve of the hill and beat his way up to see us. This one was one of the more heavy QRPers, and by the time he made it to the veranda and flopped himself down in the chair, he was puffing so hard he couldn’t talk. He kept wiping the sweat from his forehead and trying to slow down his breathing. We weren’t sure if the sweating and puffing was due to his mood or the exertion of his 5 foot 5 and a half-inch frame hauling all of his 230 pounds up the hill.

Finally he turned to us and said, “What is wrong with those big gun Honor Roll types? The guys who have them all worked, or maybe only need one or two to finish things off?” We scratched our head for a minute and looked at the QRPer. Here we were, prepared to take in the last warm day of the fall without putting out a lot of energy, and we were now staring down the barrel of a loaded question. We’d found in the past it is often a good idea to answer a question with another question, so we tried the standard evasive manoeuvre.

“Did you work any new ones in the CQ WW contest last weekend?” we tried, completely ignoring the original topic. The Local was not to be deterred. “No!” he barked, threw the switch and shifted right back onto the same track. “What’s wrong with these old guys? They have everything worked, and all they try to do is discourage me. They tell me if I work anything on a DX list, it’s spoon feeding and not real DX. So I stopped that. There’s a 9J that only ever comes up on a DX net, but I guess I’ll have to wait for a non-list one to show up, right?” We decided a non-committal poker face was the best approach.

“And I worked this guy signing KG4 for my first Guantanamo Bay contact. Then one of the old guys told me he really was in Georgia, and that I should know that two letter suffixes are Guantanamo and three letter suffixes are in W4 land. So I asked him how he knew all this stuff, and he told me it was experience! Experience he said! How am I supposed to get experience when I only have 132 countries? This guy has them all. He even worked that P5 fellow that’s been showing up on 10 meters lately. When I tried to tell him that I needed around 200 he ignored me and started complaining that the P5 only had verbal permission to operate. He said I should worry about real DX like the P5. It seems the only thing in his life worth thinking about is if the P5 will count! These old guys have too much spare time!!”

We looked at the QRPer for a second and then said, “What else would you expect him to say? DXers always think logically. Do you think these fellows reached Honor Roll without a lot of deep thinking and logic?”

“Logic! What logic is there in that? I need around 200, and they use every excuse they can to slow me down. Stay off lists, they say. Work them on CW, they tell me, or it isn’t really a good one. Don’t count any contest QSOs toward DXCC. Don’t use Packet Clusters, they insist. They tell me I’ll never really have as good a DXCC as they do because they did it when it was hard. Now they tell me the FCC is giving away Ham tickets, and the DXCC program isn’t checking the operations out well enough! So even if I were to make Honor Roll in the next 5 or 10 years, their Honor Roll would be better than mine. Except for the P5. They say that’s real DX. I think these old guys all are out to get me!”

He threw up his arms in dispair. It was clear he was thinking hard. For quite a while he didn’t speak at all. Then he said in a dejected voice. “They might be right. Maybe I can never be as good as they are. I am playing the game with different rules and newer technology. But why do they have to be so condescending?”

We looked at him again and said, “They aren’t condescending at all. They are just looking at things from their perspective. To them, their entire DXCC worth depends on working a good P5. Old DXers need new countries, and they are almost out of them. And these old DXers tend to live in a world apart, a world they know and enjoy, but with experiences and comprehension not known by younger DXers like you. The P5 seems to meet their criteria . . . or something. Look at the bright side. They get a new one every year or two, maybe it’s even longer between new ones for most of them. You get a new one or two every week. Everything is relative, Son. You know that Albert always said that, and was Albert ever wrong? Remember, if you can endure, you can always survive.”

The QRPer though a bit longer, and he brightened up. DXers, especially local QRPers like this one, are eternal optimists. “You’re right! And I sure scooped them last week anyhow! Remember I was up here telling you about how I just hit grey line perfectly. That one chance you get, maybe every 10 or 15 years? When I worked KH2D on 160 and 80, back to back and we were both 30-over? Why that sort of propagation only happens once every cycle, and you have to be there to catch it. 15 minutes once every 11 years! Maybe I am just as good as they are. How many of these east coast geezers have a KH2 on 160 and 80 with S9 plus 30 written in the log both ways?”

We thought long and hard and leaned forward, our elbow on our knee and our fingers scratching our forehead idly. “Take from no man his dream,” we’d often heard the Old Timer say. We were afraid to look up, for we didn’t know if we could resist the impulse to ask the QRPer from where he thought Jim was operating.

We thought just a moment longer and sat back in the chair, finally rationalizing our position. If the QRPer had KH2D logged on 160 and 80, who were we to burst the Guam bubble? So we stood him up and patted his the back. We congratulated him as he started back down the hill. “Hang in there”, we told him. “You seem to have a talent for finding the low band path to the Pacific. There’s a KH7 somewhere waiting for you on 160. Go get him and let those old guys worry about the P5. Remember, those old DXers live in a different world than you.”

Son of a Gun! Things were moving in the right direction and we were feeling good again. The QRPer was hippity hopping and jiggling down the hill in spite of his size. There was a new spring in his step. Wake Island on top band! We wondered who he'd find on 160 signing KH7. We threw our support behind the QRPer. “Don’t ask and they won’t tell!” we mentally shouted at him. Our hope was he wouldn’t work KH7M, though! DX IS! Be a Believer. The Great Days of DXing have returned.

73/DX Paul VE1DX

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