DX Stories by Paul M. Dunphy, VE1DX

Put it in Perspective

By Hugh Cassidy WA6AUD and Paul Dunphy VE1DX

The weather had been cool this past while and with Heard Island under our DX belt we turned to thinking of other things, like why the bees in the hives had been out foraging when the temperature was just 64 degrees. We also thought about how, over the years, most of us learn a variety of strategies to be employed when hit face to face with difficult questions. We had switched our thinking from bees to questions because we saw one of the Local QRPers beating his way up the hill. QRPers are always ready to put you to the test. Remember that. We had taken the advice of Lord Baden Powell, the Hero of Mafeking who often advised: "Be prepared!" And usually we are.

"How come" the QRPer asked, "that every time you get a hot DX question to be answered, you start rambling about the Mysteries of the Ages and the Eternal Enigmas. Why don't you just tell things the way they are?" The QRPer sat back convinced that he had cornered us. But, having been around the DX track a few times, we knew of more than one escape hole. Perhaps we didn't need one, but we were prepared!

"Remember the first hundred countries you worked?" we asked and the QRPer was quickly nodding his head. "Sure do" he said, "and those were the tough ones that took a few years to catch. Back when I only had wire antennas and less than 100 watts. I used to be on the bands almost every night and all weekend trying to get a new one. And I missed a lot too. That was back in the Early Days, when Gus and Don were still active . . . and then Lloyd and Iris started showing up from the rare ones, and we all were waiting for the decisions on Okino-Torashima." He paused to think of those days and started right in again. "And the waiting for the QSL cards! It took forever and . . ." We held up our hand at this point because we had heard all this before and we had to get him headed in the right direction again.

"Remember when you got your DXCC certificate, how far off the two hundred country sticker looked? And how you would wonder how long it would take you to get the second hundred after you'd worked all the easy ones. Do you remember telling us that?"

He did. He pounded his fist into the palm of his hand in remembrance. "I sure do" he agreed, "and it sure looked like an impossible task back then. Why, sometimes I'd call all day Saturday and half of Sunday to break a pileup. That two hundred country sticker sure looked a long way off. But I got them. Some weeks I only worked one or two new ones. Some weeks I didn't work anything at all! But just when it looked hopeless, Martti or Dick would pop up from somewhere and I'd get them in the log. Finally I made it and along came that two hundred country sticker. It sure was a good feeling when it arrived in the mail. It sure was." It must have been, because he was standing there smiling at the memory of those days.

We were not through with this one. "Then how about the three hundred country sticker? When you got to two hundred, how did three-hundred look?" We got a groan and a look of helplessness at this. "Now that's an impossibility, that one is." the QRPer advised us. "I'm stuck at two sixty-three and I'll never see three hundred. Never! Why, I've only worked seven new ones in the last year. There aren't many new ones on these days and DXing isn't good . . . not good at all. And to make matters worse, we are stuck at the bottom of the sunspot cycle for who knows how long." We could see that the DX woes were catching up with the Local, but suddenly his head lifted and he snapped a glare directly at us.

"Wait a minute, Buster!" he said, "what's any of this got to do with my question? Let's get back to the Eternal Mysteries you are always hinting about. How about them?"

It was our turn to smile. "You've been talking about them", we advised. "You've said, more or less, that all things are relative, some more so. And what looked to be an impossibility at one point, is regarded later as an easy task. Right?" All we got was that beady-eyed glare and a single word. "And . . .?"

"And that's one of the Mysteries of the Ages.", we interjected swiftly. "Why is it that so many take so long to realize that DX is a moveable feast, that the joy usually comes from the desire to attain that which is just out of reach, though possibly near. That the perspective at the three hundred mark is nowhere like that below the one hundred mark but over all is the desire to get what you haven't got."

The QRPer started to speak, wanting to get in a few shots but we weren't stopping. "And somewhere along the line most DXers realize that the goals of working everything possible is hardly attainable but that the joy of DXing and the friendships gained around the world count more and are always within reach." We stood close to the QRPer so he could not get away from us this time. "Now, do you understand that?" we demanded.

What we got was a QRPer starting to draw back from us. "Sure I do", he said. "What's such a mystery about that? Even I can understand that!" Perhaps we were making him a bit nervous as he was trying to stand up and back toward the door.

"The mystery is that so many DXers have a hard time understanding it" we replied, this time staring the QRPer right in the eye. "And they spend so much time gouging and fighting to gain something that, in retrospect, may not bring the joy that was expected. But the joy of having someone in the middle of a contest, from downtown Budapest, call you by name is something to be remembered for years. Understand?"

We will probably never know the answer. For he was out and gone. All we could hear was the mumble of words over his shoulder. Perhaps one of these days he will learn, as Albert would often say and as we mentioned before: "All things are relative, some more so." And DX is always a relative thing, more so when it is a country you need.

We had dealt with another crisis, but we were convinced that there would always be other QRPers and each would bring more questions. And we would answer them one at a time, provided they were willing to believe! Those who believe eventually will understand all the Mysteries of the Ages. Those who doubt are really not yet ready to become a true-blue DX type. But that's the way it's always been and the way it will always be. Understand that, for it cannot be stressed too often that only a DXer understands another DXer and only a DXer understands DX. Be a Believer! The sunspots will return someday. Of that, you can be sure. And maybe we will find out why the bees were out of the hive with the temperature so cool. Maybe they are DX bees! DX IS!

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