The Amateur Amateur: NQSL
By Gary Ross Hoffman, KB0H
and Nancy Hoffman, N0NJ
QSL card from a contact never made
My wife Nancy is also a ham radio operator (N0NJ). On those rare
occasions when she enters the “shack” in our basement,
it's only a few steps and she never stays more than a minute or two.
I think she wants to avoid touching the Forest of Forgotten Items
bulging from the shelves and the inevitable avalanche that would
ensue. Or perhaps its the Great Entanglement of Go-Bags on the floor
that she's trying to evade. And I know for certain that she holds no
love for The
Cable Family that dominates the space under the tables.
No, most likely she's there to
tell me that I have a phone call. Or to see if I still have a pulse.
She's definitely not down there to operate the radios.
Why is it, then, that she has more QSL cards than me!!??
I've written about this before in Q-S-Who?
I receive QSL cards for contacts I never made. Nancy also receives
QSL cards for contacts she's never made. In fact, we get many more
QSL cards for these non-contacts than we do for actual contacts.
So, what has prompted me to write again about about this phenomenon?
Well, Nancy just received a new batch of cards from the Zero QSL Bureau.
She now has more cards than I do. That's not really fair, as she's
never even been on the HF bands. And not that I'm jealous or anything
like that, but some of her
cards are really desirable.
Sorry, never made this contact either
As we both seem to have made more phantom contacts than authentic ones,
I used a logging program to set up a special database to keep track
of them. I keep them separate from the real
contacts, of course. But on those nights when I fail, yet again, to
make a connection on HF, I can always call up my database of phantom
QSOs and fantasize that they were real.
I have another reason for
revisiting this topic. In my earlier column I gave in to fanciful
speculation and suggested that perhaps the erroneous QSL cards were
for actual contacts that I just didn't remember. It had something to
do with time travel or being neuralized by the Men in Black.
Hah! How incredibly foolish! I'm
ashamed to have written such nonsense. No, clearly there is a much
more logical, rational explanation for what happened.
The contacts were made with a parallel universe.
Wait, don't get the wrong idea. I
didn't make the contacts, and neither did Nancy. The Gary and Nancy
in the other universe (Alternate-Gary? Nancy-Parallel?) are obviously
demon DXers. They are so good that they managed to break the barrier
between our respective universes. Neither they nor the hams in this
universe whom they contacted realized it, though, and hence the
this-universe operators wound up sending QSL cards to the wrong Gary
It makes perfect sense.
This revelation does, however,
bring up some interesting issues (besides Alternate-Gary and
Nancy-Parallel being perturbed by how long it is taking for expected
QSL cards to arrive).
For example, would a cross-universe contact count as a special event station?
And suppose you've just filled in
that last grid, or state, or island? If the contact was actually in a
parallel universe, does it still count? I would think not, as there
may be 52 states there, different sized grids, or even a few less continents.
Will the ARRL modify its Logbook
of The World to include parallel universes? Probably not. I suspect
that they will create an entirely new logging system, PUDX, with an
even more complicated validating procedure.
This will hit serious DXers the hardest.
First, having attained awards for
contacting every continent, every grid, and every millimeter on
Earth, they will suddenly find that they have to start all over again
with a whole new universe! This will drive them crazy.
Yet another phantom contact
Everyone will have to create a
new QSL card indicating which universe they are in.
Every contact ever made will have
to be scrupulously re-examined to determine which universe each party
was located in. And just imagine if (shudder!) the other universe
doesn't use Universal Coordinated Time!
With the discovery that a parallel universe actually does exist, the
demand on scientists to figure out how to make physical contact with
it will be intense. After all, it is absolutely essential
that we get our QSL cards across that barrier.
Nancy disagrees completely with my theory. She has her own.
“I may not get on the radio,” she said, “but I put out good
vibes. That's what the other operators are picking up.”
“Tell everyone to keep sending me QSL cards, I enjoy getting them,”
she added. “They make good bookmarks.”
She asked me if she should make her own card and respond to those who had
sent her one. I explained that a QSL card was confirmation
of a contact, and if she confirmed something that didn't happen, it
was the same as cheating.
“But if someone sends me a Christmas gift, I feel obligated to return the
favor,” she countered.
Well, eventually we came to a compromise. See the card below.