No. 10 August 24, 1996


(Low Impact, Vegetarian, Environmentally Safe DX)

“Sex. Now that I have your attention.”

Once a school year, a candidate for student office would thus begin his/her campaign speech. It's a low type of vulgar humor and an “easy laugh”. It requires minimal concentration and leaves one empty, and it's all over the place these days. Someone must believe that the audience hasn't the patience to get “sucked into” the process of a beautifully laid “gag”: The slow, plausible set-up, the ironic complications, gradually and tantalizingly revealed, the punch-line, delivered at the moment of delicious anticipation, followed by a “topper” that crests over the laugh, a second wave.

This moment of visceral humor leaves you feeling “tickled” for days after, it brings on an unexplained smile at odd moments, and makes you seek others so that you can try to act out the joke and share the euphoria with them. Think about this tonight while you watch the nose picking jokes and listen to the strategic placement of the “sweetening” - the laughs and “Ooooh's” from an electronic audience. That Someone In Charge believes we're still a fidgety crowd of elementary school kids, squirming on cold folding chairs, dreaming of being anyplace but the school assembly. Are we?

Continuing with “housekeeping”, a correction:

Last month, I used the word “euphonic”, meaning “tuneful” or “melodious”. Somehow, it came out “euphenic”. (“…his euphenic `last two letters…'”) I don't know what “euphenic” means. I don't think it's a word, but now that I've been thinking about it - it ought to be. It is what happens to your kidneys when you've had too much Starbuck's Nigerian roast and the Surround SoundTM at the Mann jolts your molars. “Euphenia” is the far-off, rattled look that lingers after the euphenic moment.

Now, lessee…

I was working on the evolution of DX'ing techniques. We started with crystal control and cross-frequency contacts, and ended with the “pile-up” and DX nets and lists. I didn't finish because I did something I never do, I digressed, went off on some meaningless by-road and never came back. I yanked the tiller to the left, and oared off toward tributaries unknown…

A group in Tucson, I think, came up with this idea of interconnecting a bunch of hams by radio, transmitting small “packets” of information, bouncing them back and forth until they were free of errors. A new mode of communication was born, and it sort of evolved from TeletypeTM where you can savor the smell of machine oil while someone in Dubuque searches for the “[“ key on their model 19.

Never mind the content, it's the exchange of signal reports that really counts: “HOW M I PRNTINK?”

“RTTY” Dxing is a subject unto itself.

Someone hit upon the idea of a “Packet DX Spotting Network.”

In a well-equipped DX-er's “shack”, a computer or terminal is prominent. No longer the endless tuning up and down, up and down. A “Beep” signals a DX “spot”, “EM1KA is at 14240, listening UP.”

Thousands of Dxers around the world are tied together in a common network, and any one of them may post a “spot”. At prime hours, the spots fly. Once a “rare one” has been displayed, the pile-up pounces and the screaming commences.

During a DX contest, the packet network may give an advantage, and the contest rule makers have specified that an entrant who uses a DX spotting network must enter in the “assisted” category.

The packet network is also a forum for that loud majority in amateur radio - the ego impaired. Here is a place to brag about one's power: “..broke pile w/1 call.” To feel omnipotent: “worked up 2 easy.” And to have what others cannot: “5A1A nw QRT, sry.”

The “DX Talker”, written by N8JEC, is an inexpensive software add-on that speaks the spots. Thus, you could be off worming your dog, or chuckling at a sitcom on the “WB” when you hear: “DX Announcement, 5-A-1-A on 14-2-26.” You hit the mute on old Simbad, drop the SnarolTM and Fido and put Libya in the log. My, how DX has changed.

Packet may be a boon to the wily radio op, who searches where the spots are not. Since you sat quietly through the previous, I reward you with this nugget: “The hunter who pursues a wide field gets the best game. The circling buzzards get chafed thighs.” You may quote me.

Pete, W0AW, ex-N0AFW has announced his objective for the October 26th DX contest: Nigeria. Pete led the expedition to Clipperton Island where no one minded the giant crab bites because their skin was numb from intense sunburn. In February, Pete was in Namibia, having transported his FT-990 out of Minnesota on a snow plow.

This Nigeria thing has me genuinely worried. Perhaps we hams tend to focus too narrowly, we don't see the whole picture. Isn't this the country that (according to Nelson Mandela) is presently under a crushing military dictatorship? Is this the place where they send out those letters asking you to open a bank account in their name? I saw a doctor on Sixty Minutes who had her identity stolen by a ring of fraud experts who happen to be from Nigeria.

Perhaps these crafty and sly Africans have zeroed in on Pete. What do they intend to do once the Dxpedition party has brought their keyers, laptops and turkey jerky into Lagos? In the world of DX, we like to say: “WFWL - `Work First - Worry Later'”, but if 5N0AW asks for your Master ChargeTM number…

…and next year at the Visalia DX convention (to be held in Fresno), Pete will rise before a throng of squirming DX'ers on cold, folding chairs, the glaze of euphenia in their eyes. When the recorded applause dies down, Pete will begin his talk on the Nigerian expedition:



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