No. 12 October 15, 1996


(Low Impact, Vegetarian, Environmentally Safe DX)

I don't believe this. A year has gone by and we have barely touched the slimy surface of DX. When I began, I thought I could crank out all the mysteries and ironies and be done by the Fourth of July. (Not to mention the bottom of the sunspot cycle that greatly curtails all radio activity.)

Every week brings new revelations and epiphanies. At last I know what “Cass” meant when he said “DX is!” DX goes on forever and I am doomed to spend more long nights at the keys of this rusty Underwood. The mosquitoes are gnawing on my bare legs and my Ovaltine has gone cold. But I'm here because there's no one else to cut through the glitz and glamour of the DX world and provide the bare, unembellished truth, no matter how painful or raw.

So I accept the mandate I received that muggy night when you, the enthusiastic followers of LIVE, summoned me to my balcony, shouting slogans of encouragement and admonishing me not to scratch those angry red bites on my legs. I will continue to provide the unspeakable, unimaginable and unthinkable! Witness:

I awoke from a restless and unsatisfying sleep having discovered that the most successful DX-peditioners are medical doctors! (A DX-pedition is undertaken to provide contacts with rare countries that otherwise would have very little radio activity. DX-peditions are, by nature, expensive and possibly dangerous.)

I'm most thankful for the travels of Dr. San Hudson, K5YY, who has finally decided to spend more time with his family, or playing golf. Our own Dr. Dave Gardner, K6LPL, was able to provide some rare pacific reefs to the hungry throngs before he ran afoul of the DXCC pashas with some QSL printing shenanigans. Dr. Vince Thompson, K5VT, specializes in rare African countries as well as Gynecology. Recently appointed to the DX Advisory Committee, Vince has opened radio operations from countries written off as unapproachable.

Could it be the parable of the captured Missionary, about to be dinner for a cadre of cannibals, when he finds out that the Chief's son is gravely ill? Suspecting Malaria, he slips the boy a slug of quinine, and by morning the patient improves. The Chief cannot contain his gratefulness. Instead of being roasted, the Missionary is the toast of the village.

Vince, San, and Dave have never said, but the most famous expeditioner of all, Dr. Don Miller, told a very similar story. Perhaps Don is retelling that tale today in his jail cell in Northern California. There are many colorful stories about Don, but the most famous has to do with his “visit” to Heard Island.

We've talked about that cold, remote island before. I won't go into it again, but Don Miller's Waterloo had to do with Heard Island and a threat to sue the ARRL. In the midst of this, Don scooped up his otoscope and slipped out of Newington. He was next seen in possession of an unauthorized pair of champagne toeless pumps.

What draws us to this crazed world of DX? The thrill of hunting, competing, bragging and prevaricating. Some nights, I just pull that moldy shoebox fulla' Russian QSL's and inhale that special odor of crumbly, Bolshevik paper. I page through my catprint-covered logbooks, reliving the special moment when “N6HL, 599, tu” cut the ionosphere from Tristan de Cunha. It's worth the price of an ARRL Countries List.

While most DX'ers seek to activate rare countries that are already in place, Italians tend to create them as needed. Bless their hearts, they know it's no fun to be too far away from the pasta, wine and especially the home-grown basil. A team of six operators and, I believe, a pastry chef, will be roughing it on Lampedusa Island, using the prefix, IG9.

Sable Island, off the coast of Nova Scotia, is a perennial DX location (CY0). What they don't tell you, is that the area between Sable Island and Cape Sable is known as the “graveyard of the Atlantic.” Well, there's great lox in them waters, the crew will accept bagels in lieu of IRC's.

The problem with activating an island that only exists at low tide is that it's hard to find. The Scarborough Reef operation left a lot of frustrated, hoarse Hams. The word is that several “BV” spotters are searching the China Sea at this moment, hoping to locate the elusive sand bar. If they do find it, they believe that they will recover several million odd socks, TV remotes and lots of luggage.

I can't understand why there aren't more DX-ers on Jeopardy? Sure, we're all sort of dumb, but boy, do we know our islands! I think it's worth at least a home game and a year's supply of Turtle Wax and Jungle Gardenia by Tuvaché. “One of the three smallest Asian countries.” “What is the Maldives?” I win! Now, if I could only get the QSL.

Well, it's time to turn this ratty ribbon over. I'm going to get some hot Ovaltine and spread some Vegemite on a slice of pumpernickel. I need my strength, I'm canvassing the bands looking for the crew of twenty-five Germans who were ousted from Syria and are wandering around the Middle East with their Fritzl antennas. Will they end up on Scarborough Reef?

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