DX Stories by Paul M. Dunphy, VE1DX

Four is Enough!

It is the mystery and the dark way
That makes DXers weep so sore
They know not why the list went away
They only know today there's four!

One late summer afternoon we were deeply involved in wondering how one joins the Quarter Century Wireless Association. Not that we were anywhere near being qualified, but all amateurs, and maybe DXers more so, wonder about things. Especially when the bands are flat. And as we pondered this rather important topic, here comes one of the local QRPers up around the curve of the hill. We smiled our summertime smile of greeting. Possibly we should have barred the gate and hid in the shack. We soon learned why this QRPer was out in the afternoon sunshine. He was off to a fast start.

"When are they going to do something about all these Internet DX lists, or as they like to call them, DX Reflectors?" he demanded, the tone of his query giving us an instant feeling that when he said 'they' he was meaning 'you.' 'Me!' we said to ourselves and we were at an instant disadvantage. Not an unusual situation when the QRPers corner us. And this one was just warming up. So we just nodded for him to continue.

"Yes!" he continued, "there was a single DX mailing list on the Internet up until a couple of months ago. And the fellow who ran it gave it up. He said he was sick of all the complaining and arguing and whining. So he packed it in and gave up. And then about three or four other groups started up their own lists. One even got all the E-mail addresses from the original guy and automatically re-subscribed everyone. Now I get three or four copies of everything and my computer is starting to fill up! Why isn't there just one DX Reflector, like there was for the past five years or so?"

Possibly by this time we were blinking a bit. It was not that we hadn't heard all of this before. And we did have some divergent ideas on what he'd already said. But it was the vehemence in which the QRPer delivered his words. This one was wound up!

We thought we should get a vagrant thought in, maybe something to dull the sharp edge of this one's attack. "Possibly you may have something there," we said, "but remember there are a lot of different interests within this world of DX. And," we continued, even smiling brightly, "can't you just delete the messages that don't interest you? How about that . . . and don't you think that maybe . . . "

We never completed the thought. "Hogwash!" shouted the local QRPer, "all we need is one source of information. And a good DXer doesn't spend all his time in front of a computer hitting a delete key! He uses the information he obtains and nails the DX. With all these duplicate and triplicate messages, and having to read them to make sure they are indeed a repeat, I don't have any time to tune the bands anymore! Why don't these Reflector operators leave me alone and let me work DX? What's wrong with them?!!" And he drew himself up to his full five and a half feet and glared at us with his beady little eyes. "When are they going to do something about it?"

As we had noted earlier, this QRPer had a way of saying 'they' but all we were hearing was 'you.' Did he think we were going to start a mailing list? Or that we had helped getting one going? The QRPer was still glaring at us, demanding our attention. "These blasted lists", he snorted, "can you imagine what it's like to be on three or four of them?"

We decided that the only way to handle this QRPer was to fight back, so we jumped to our feet and stared right back at him, "And how did you get on these lists to begin with?" we roared, "just how is it you are on all these lists and then come up here expecting us to help you!" It must have been the look of resolve in our eye and the clenched fists, for the QRPer sat back down and lowered his tone a bit.

"Well", he retorted, "when the original list caved in, I subscribed to the next one that showed up. And then another one came along that offered QSL information as well as DX bulletins, so I joined that one too. And then a third one started up that seemed to have a lot of the Big Guns excited, so I singed up for that too. And then a fourth group took all of the original names and started their own. And that's how I ended up on all of them. But what good does that do me now? I still get about a hundred messages a day!" And with that he folded his arms across his chest and gave us the familiar 'so there!' look.

At this point the answer was so obvious we decided that it was best not to suggest it. We just let the QRPer sit there. And the longer he sat the less comfortable he looked. It was clear he was thinking things through. Maybe, given enough time, he would see the elephant. Finally he got to talking again, "You know, I just had an idea. If I can subscribe to all those lists then why can't I just unsubscribe to most of them?" We looked at him for a moment, took a deep breath and said nothing. We recalled back in the early days, when things that are so obvious to us now were Eternal Enigmas. Mysteries of the Ages that we had discussed time and time again with the Old Timer. Inevitable Truths that we only came to understand with experience. And while it was easy for us to now see the apparent, probably the QRPer had just hit a moment of true enlightenment. And who were we to take it from him? For as Albert had so often said, "All things are relative, some more so." The QRPer stood up, confident that his problems would soon be over. "If I don't like it, I don't have to belong to it, do I?" We simply nodded in agreement as he made his way out the door and off down the hill.

As we watched him go, we were glad that we didn't run any lists, or have a lot to do with computers. For something the QRPer had said stuck . . . what about the fellow who had automatically signed up all these DXers? It seemed to us that while we had to put up with a few minutes of stress and one unhappy camper, there may be some in the coming days who would be a lot worse off that we were.

73/DX Paul VE1DX (EX: VE1PMD, VE1UK, VE0UK, etc.)

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