QSL Calvary – 2015 edition

After a major QSL campaign about three years ago, it was finally time to wrestle through yet another¬† major batch of incoming QSL cards. In total 1964 QSO got confirmed and replied to, good for yet another 1100 QSL cards. Everybody’s got to make a living. So do QSL printers. The good thing is that I am now fully up to date when it comes to OQ5M incoming ‘buro’ cards. Why did I get so behind? First of all, I hate spending time to process the QSL cards. And then I don’t go to every club meeting so when I finally make it there, there are a few stacks or even a box of cards for me. And if you postpone replying, the pile just grows.

Apart from the major PITA of letting the stack grow, there is a benefit in waiting two or three years. Often people send me a card for a 15m QSO in 2012, a 40m QSO in 2013 and a 10m QSO in 2014. If I reply to all cards the moment they get in, it costs me three cards. When I wait three years, I can confirm the three contacts on a single card. QSL card printers are entitled to a living,  but there are limits.

There were many JA’s in the boxes. To be precise: 277 JA contacts, that’s over 25% of my cards going out. Two for 80m contacts and yet another for 160m. I remember one evening many years ago (2009?) when I worked a dozen Japanese stations in a row on Top Band. One must look for good things in the bad situation of a sleeping sun. One JA wrote a note on his card to me: “you have gd ears like a elephant”, he notes using 100W and a vertical on 15 CW. I don’t know if ears like an elephant is a compliment? 100W and a vertical? I don’t need big ears for that. I worked K3WWP numerous times and he’s QRP with mostly indoor antennas. I even remember guys sending they’re at mW levels.

There were a total of thirteen of my own cards returning from the DARC QSL bureau, stamped ‘SK’. So these OM must have passed away (-RIP-) between them sending their card to me and my reply card getting there. That is another drawback of the slacking QSLer that I am.

And finally a mystery has been solved. For years there has been a post-it on my shack table. I wrote the info on it for two contacts with HS0ZJF/8, using my ON5ZO callsign. HS0ZJF is my expat friend ON4AFU. The mystery lies in the fact that after all the time that passed I did not remember in what year I made these contacts. And I didn’t bother to ask AFU. So I couldn’t enter them in DX4WIN. What I should have done right away, I give you that. So now there was a card in the box confirming these two contacts. As it turns out, the post-it has been sticking in my eyesight for over five years. I think it must have been a case of ON4AFU texting me from HS0 that he was on the air, me running upstairs to make a contact without booting the shack PC and just scribble something on a piece of paper. No need to write down 2010, the day and month will do, I’ll put this in DX4WIN right away. Not so! This scenario must have happened twice because both QSO were on different dates.

But now I am up to date. For OQ5M. There is another shoe box for OQ5ZO/OO5ZO/ON5ZO and ON5ZO/P. OQ5ZO, that’s 2001. OO5ZO, that’s 2005. Oh my, more than a decade. A few times I thought: this paper QSL practice really is an archaic remainder of the past. But in the same thought it dawned on me that ham radio and CW really is an archaic remainder of the past as well.

Surely I remember my first cards coming in. Every card was a treasure. And when the first order of 1000 of my own cards came in, I already had a backlog of 800 or so contacts waiting to be QSL’ed. It took me quite a while because I wrote them all by hand. Eight hundred cards at once, handwritten. Oh boy what a dedicated fool I was. As soon as I started contesting and still wanted to send out cards for all contacts (hey, everything was new in one way or another), the high volume of outgoing cards forced me to print labels. And then rubberstamp the label with red ink, just like the pros. I made 18000+ CW contacts as OO5ZO in 2005, and I got smarter. I only sent out cards myself to non-EU stations. Replies to those cards are still coming in, so waiting three years to reply seems reasonable, no?

And what do I do with all these cards? Well, check this out. A third identical container is now already half full. Imagine I need to pull out a card for a 80m QSO with Texas made in 2004… Viva LotW and eQSL.

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