|"No Lids, No Kids, No Space Cadets"
by Jim Pickett – K5LAD
Perhaps you, like me, said in your younger days, "I'm never going to be like my parents when I get old. I'm going to be aware enough to know not to do or say THAT." Still, as you approach the age of your parents when you made such a statement as a youth, you find yourself acting and saying the same things you castigated them for saying or doing.
This example carries forward to hobbies and probably even more so in amateur radio. Beginners to the hobby often look to veteran or "old timer" hams for their examples of correct operating procedures and terminology. Learning to be a ham is a lifelong learning experience.
Having been a licensed and active ham for more than a half century I often think about the things I see and hear on the air and contrast that to "the good ole' days." I think I have become more and more, just an old curmudgeon as I tear more and more pages from the calendar. Perhaps I’m just frequently and sadly reminded of the days when hams policed their own ranks and they understood that youngsters might, and often were, listening on their parents’ radios, so they should guard their language. I believe, in those days, I saw ham operators who possessed large individual quantities of good old common sense…………. what we use to call “good ole’ horse sense.” So many ham radio operators these days are unarguably smarter than those from earlier times but I would challenge anyone to prove that they are wiser.
I sat down recently to write down a few of the somewhat irritating things I hear on the ham bands these days. I made a short list of what might be called, ‘My Pet Peeves’ in reference to my ham radio activities these days. Perhaps it is only the yammerings of an old curmudgeon, but I like to think that since I've reached the Biblical number of "three score and ten" with so many years in the hobby, I've earned that title so I wear it proudly.
One of my peeves is the incorrect usage of the ham term, "73" which means 'best regards.' So many amateurs add an extra letter 's' to make it "73s" which would be defined as you saying "best regard-zas" and not what they really meant to say. I even see some hams writing it out in emails as "73's" with the apostrophe s [‘s] changing the meaning to ‘what I've written here belongs to the best regards.’ I don't think that's what they really meant at all. Often it is said that "simplest is best" and that rings true for a simple "73" which, again, means 'best regards.' Also, I’ve heard the QSO closing comment, “Seventy-thirds to you.” That’s actually wishing only a 1.36986% of a best regard wish to the station to which they’re signing. I can’t feel like that’s much of a part of a best regard. That comment seems to have migrated from the area just to the left of the 10 meter band and, in my opinion, should return to that place.
Another of my peeves is the operator in a contest who would tell you that they are trying to work as many stations as possible to achieve a higher score. They increase the speed of their talking at the expense of clarity and in doing so, they become more difficult to understand. All the characters of their call or the numbers of the serial number of their report are spoken together, almost as if it were a single word. Oft times I hear these people being re-asked their call or the report, sometime even several times. In truth, they have taken longer to achieve that one contact than if they had spoken clearly at a normal rate.
Moving on through the 'Peeve List' there is the operator who makes a specific call so as to deliberately exclude so many others. By this, I don’t mean to make a directed CQ call but to be downright mean in their exclusion. I have no problem with the amateur who calls for specific areas such as "CQ Nebraska for WAS" or "CQ Russians for the Russian DX Contest." I do get a bit upset at the station who calls, "CQ JA or Japan and all the rest of you, don't call me because I will not answer." Hey wait, would someone be so idiotic and mean as to make a call like that? Alas, yes I've heard just such calls. Back in the late 50s and early 60s there was a ham, I believe from the second call area, who would always issue the following call, "CQ CQ CQ This is W2OY W2OY No lids, no kids, no space cadets." I'd call that fairly exclusionary. By the way, newer hams may be unfamiliar with the ham term 'lid' which means a poor operator.
By the way, if you’d like to read more about W2OY as mentioned above, see http://www.eham.net/ehamforum/smf/index.php?topic=66730.0 or just do a Google search on “No lids, no kids, no space cadets." He was an interesting character indeed. Some Internet references to him also mention other additions to this particular calling statement but the “No lids, no kids, no space cadets" was only the way I remember hearing him as a youth.
One of the newer additions to my 'Pet Peeve List' is a carry-over from the CB era. There were many CB terms that were spawned (and should stay) locked within the realms of 27 MHz. Terms such as: "Ya got your ears on?," "Wall-to-wall and treetop tall," and "Come on back good buddy." Fortunately these seemed to stay back in their original birthplace but one CB term escaped to some ham frequencies, probably transported by those who 'saw the light' and upgraded from CB to amateur radio. That term is 'personal' as in “What's your personal?" or "The personal here is Ignatius," etc. The actual term is 'name.' It's shorter and easier to say (only one syllable rather than three) and it's the correct ham term to use. Using ‘personal,’ to actually mean name, is NOT a ham term and should not be used on the ham bands. I’ve even heard newer hams with higher-class licenses incorrectly use this term. It's totally CBish. When I hear a ham use the term 'personal' to mean name I know, at once, that they started their radio career on the CB bands and never got weaned completely away from the idiotic terms often used by that group. Call me an old fogy or curmudgeon if you like but I prefer to think the CB terminology should have been left behind when an individual upgraded to ham status. Sort of like saying, ‘a higher-class terminology for a higher-class radio operation.’
Another minor entry on my list is the ham who seeks to make contact with a foreign ham station and calls, "CW Dog Xray." This is not so much an irritation as it is an event to make me chuckle. Phonetics are used to clarify a word or letter so the receiving station can be sure they heard correctly. If a word, term, or letter is obvious then there should be no need to use a phonetic. Who would mistake the call of ‘CQ DX’ as anything but what it sounds like? If you were somehow able to line up all the hams in the world and make sure they all understood the language of the question, how many of those hams would say, "I heard you calling 'CQ DX' but I didn't understanding what message you were trying to convey." To carry that a bit further, why not key your transmitter and say, "Charlie Queen, Charlie Queen, Charlie Queen?" Some things don't need to be 'phoneticized.' (Hang on; let me write that down........... I think I just invented a new word)
These have been the ramblings and musings of an old man, an old codger, if you will. I did, however, confess to that at the beginning of the article so it should have come as no surprise to you. When you have reached a ripe old age with multiple decades in the ham radio hobby, perhaps you too will look back and see, or even share, all the changes you have seen and wish would not have happened.
If, however, you are offended or irritated at the things I have listed here, come back on April first and re-read the article and look at it in an entirely different light. I'm now going to take my medications and return to my cave.
73, [Note: singular]
Jim – K5LAD