It is again Spring here on the Western Reaches, it came this year in early February. And QRPers are everywhere hippity-hopping on the freshly greened hillsides and in the warm sun. It is a good time, maybe even the best of times and the Solar Index is showing signs of edging upward. What DXer might want more? Who, indeed!
Last week we got the answer to our question. Up through the wild flowered slopes of the hill came a QRPer bubbling with the rites of Spring. He was happy, he was anticipatory and he was here. He had some things to talk over.
"Did you know that the club appointed a chairman for the DXer of the Year Award at the last meeting", he asked and we admitted that we had noted it.
"And of course you are aware that the award by the rules goes to the most outstanding member of the club who has consistently and actively participated in DX and the club's activities". We nodded, we had been there before.
"And those getting the award meet a strict criteria such as cooperation in DX efforts, high standards of operating ethics, participation in club activities and participating in major DX contests, service in and for the ARRL and to the public and things like that". We did. It was a sermon that we have been hearing for thirty or more years, one way or another. We thought that by now we had seen the elephant.
The QRPer was silent for a brief moment, brief but long enough for us to start feeling a bit uneasy. When QRPers are silent they usually are thinking. It is a time to be on guard. For, as Julius once said: "Let me have DXers about me who are fat. Sleek headed DXers such as sleep of night. Yon QRPer has a mean and hungry look. He thinks too much. Such DXers are dangerous".
We were thinking of how old Julius once would CW at 40wpm on forty meters with a straight key. We wished that he was here now. But in his stead came the Old Timer down the hill, just walking and not hippity-hopping. He arrived like Custer did at the Little Big Horn. Too late to escape.
The QRPer insisted on going through his whole act again, the entering questions, the outlines of the DXer of the Year Award and finally finishing by stating: "And the identify of the recipient shall not be divulged until the actual presentation". A direct quote from the Procedures Manual.
We knew all of that and have many times waited for the great moment of pure but shocked gratification that comes when the name of the DXer honored is announced. When a nominee realizes that his own accomplishments has merited he being named the DXer of the Year, that he had been singled out and knighted in front of his peers, and the utter disbelief of some unable to accept the truth that they had achieved the ultimate pinnacle of being the most outstanding member of the club. It was and still is an always touching memory.
What could we say? Actually nothing. We waited because we knew that for sure something was coming. It was not a long wait.
"Tell me", the QRPer said, "with such an extensive criteria used in judging the merit of a nominee, where does the Award Committee find all the necessary corroboration of the qualities and the accomplishments of a nominee". We did not have an answer to that, mumbling something like the one doing the nominating of a DXer should furnish all the needed corroborating information. Something like that we thought. Frankly, we did not know the answers.
Too late it was realized that perhaps the QRPer did. "Tell me something", he pressed on saying, "what about Section I-2 of the criteria, this saying that the winner of the award is noted for his compliance with FCC regulations". Hearing those words we felt a chill. We also noted that the Old Timer was edging towards the door. But the QRPer had asked the question and obviously expecting an answer. We were afraid to even try.
"Am I to understand", the QRPer said, breaking the gritted tooth impasse, "that any recipient of the DXer of the Year Award has never run power in excess of the FCC regulations. Not only not run but has not even been even been questioned for why he needed that big cable running along the wall of his shack and out to the garage. Or why some seemed to have a chronic problem with blown traps? Or even some antennas tending to glow on a dark night? Or how come when a member was tuning up his rig that he inadvertently tuned in a high SWR and the station literally exploded. Has no one ever wondered?" Neither we nor the Old Timer ventured to even try to answer that one.
"I have a doctor's appointment I have to get going", the Old Timer abruptly said and he was gone, leaving me again worrying about the fairness of men and the goodness of the world. But why should we be expected to have all the answers? Everybody is alone but nobody wants to be alone, and especially at a time such as this. But the QRPer was there and looking at us with a barbed and insistent demand to come back and face the question. There was no escape.
"We don't have the answer to that one", we had to acknowledge. But that was not enough. "Why then", the QRPer persisted, "does not the committee put some questions directly to a nominee rather than trying to preserve the facade of a grand but unsuspected surprise. Why not advise that a member is being considered and ask directly where the criteria might need affirmation, if the nominee has adhered to a strict observance of the FCC regulations or has the attainment of the honored 5BDXCC been considerably helped by a judicious use of excess but illegal power. How about studying that for a starter?"
Let's face it. We were stuck and we had to wonder. We again had to remember that an agreement in principle often means a complete refusal to observe or do anything in practice. We were lost.
We might be but not the QRPer. "Think it over", he ordered. "Tell me when you make up your mind if we are only honoring no one's skill but everyone's folly, or to put it another way, are we continuing a system that honors how a DXer might talk better than they actually perform" And having destroyed my fine Spring day, the QRPer was gone.
DXing is a rather exotic practice. But is it at all possible that in the determination to outdo, things might be carried to excess? The QRPer had me thinking about it. We could not shake the sounds of tired voices coming from afar. Whatever we had seen might all be a dream, whatever we had heard was a short tale.
And there we are stuck. Right there in a quandary we could have done without. Caught again by an all purpose QRPer going about his lonely protests.
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