Saturday, May 14, 2011


I’ve been around hams for a large part of my adult life, even if I wasn’t yet inspired to get my license.  Dorm-mates in college dated hams, for example, so I even picked up some of the jargon.  I knew what WX, DX, XTL, YL, XYL, etc. meant.

Ham radio has some very interesting & charming traditions.  Some of these common abbreviations, even those that text messagers now use, such as CU, probably go back as far as the telegraph.

A few, I’ve never been comfortable with.  88 for example, means “love & kisses.”  It’s used only with women, but even those the operator has never met.  It singles us out; takes me back to my college days, in physics classes that were 99% guys.  

Everyone else gets “73,” which means “best wishes.”

The other one that has always bothered me is that, in the world of ham radio, there are only “old men” (OM) and “young women” (YL).  If you are 80 yrs old & female, you are still a YL.  (Conversely, if you are 10 yr ole & male, you are an OM, which doesn’t make much sense either.)  Unless a woman happens to be married to a ham, then she is an XYL.  So, do you just turn ugly & wrinkly when you walk down the aisle?   

It is no shortcut, because “XYL” contains 12 code elements (dits or dahs), whereas “wife” contains only 10.

There’s no gender indicator on CW, aside from your first name.  When the question has come up (a couple of times), I have introduced myself on nets


The bed of white gardenias is coming out, folks, to make room for the antenna support structure …

That is all I have to say on this subject.  It’s hard to fight tradition & there are a lot of aspects of ham tradition that I like.  But now it’s on record that I don’t necessarily like all of it.


It has begun.

There was a time not so long ago, when the National Traffic System regularly passed a message that began WELCOME TO AMATEUR RADIO, directed at new Tech licensees, as listed in the daily updates to the FCC ULS data base.

At some point, a supposedly vital portal to the data base ceased operation & the author of these messages could no longer distinguish new hams from upgrades, address changes, etc.  (I’m pretty sure I don’t understand this part, since I don’t have any problem with this.)  So the message, although still congratulatory, changed to a generic form of  WE NEED TRAFFIC HANDLERS …

Of course, we do need traffic handlers, but many of us were having a great time wishing well to the new hams, inviting them to radio club meetings & generally offering Elmer advice.

So, with a little help from other local fanatics, Bruce W6WW, the Orange Section Traffic Manager, has started a local NTS welcoming campaign, to cover at least Southern California.  This started last night on the SCN/V net, with a book of five directed to Los Angeles County & one straggler in Palm Desert.

As this effort grows, Bruce hopes to be pulling some of the rest of us in as originators, as well as deliverers.

We hope that radiogram messages for particular areas will be supplied to us by radio clubs, as an outreach to possible new members.

There are several “up sides”: we have our outreach opportunity back; the traffic is more varied & interesting; as long as people keep passing Tech exams, there are no more nets without any traffic.

Some might say that a “down side” would be the increased traffic, but I feel that we can handle it.  If not, we need to get more people involved.  There should be a ready source among the not-quite-so-new hams who joined the ranks primarily with emergency communications in mind.  Passing traffic is about as close to a daily disaster drill as you can get & still have fun doing it.  Free instruction provided …
The only thing we can’t seem to do anything about is the persistent inaccuracy of the on-line white pages listings.  Ugh.