The stories are based on the characters and writing style developed by Hugh Cassidy, WA6AUD (SK) The Old Timer Loses It! One of the local QRPers was by the other day and, to our surprise, the Old Timer was with him. The QRPer explained they had just come from the local club meeting and they were walking home together. This was curious indeed, for it was not often the Old Timer left the shack at all. We also noticed that the Old Timer was unusually quiet, and barely exchanged greetings with us. "So what's new in the world of DX?", we asked, hoping to get a conversation started. "Big news!", replied the QRPer, as if he had been bursting at the seams to tell us, "Big news in the DX world! You should have been at the meeting. All the Big Gun DXers are excited!" We were immediately interested, for the cycle was declining and things had been a bit slow the past season. "Tell us more.", we said. "Well,", the QRPer enthusiastically began, "it's Pratas Island! They were on the air the other night for three and a half hours. Several BV operators were on from Pratas, signing BV0ARL/BV9P!" We had seen some information on this on the DX packet cluster. "We heard about that", we replied with a shrug, "but it doesn't count for anything, other than maybe Taiwan. Besides, propagation wasn't good for North America so they just worked JAs and a few European stations." The QRPer glanced over at the Old Timer who was staring silently at the floor, then quickly back to us, his beady little eyes shining. "It doesn't count yet,", he said slowly, "but word has it that the operators have paperwork and the DXCC desk is going to accept it. Why, some of the Big Guns say it's a sure thing that it'll be added to the DXCC list. Looks like we will have a new one to work!" We had not heard that the DXCC desk was considering adding BV9, so this was indeed interesting news. We had to agree it was longer than we liked to admit since we had worked a new one. "That's good news.", we replied with interest, "but it'll be a tough one for us 1s here on the east coast. That's in the South China Sea, and we probably won't get a crack at them for a few years when the flux is back up." "Who cares?", replied the QRPer with a smug little grin, "it's always exciting when they add a new one, though. But, since I only got a little over a hundred countries worked, I still got a lot of easy stuff to work before I start to worry about propagation to the far east." With this he glanced over again at the Old Timer and we thought we heard his voice raise slightly as he continued. "You are right though, it is a rough path for us 1s. And who knows, it might not ever be active again. Some of the more knowledgeable DXers at the club say it's a sensitive military installation and they were lucky to get on just this once. Who knows? Maybe it'll be another Okino Tori-Shima and we had our one and only shot at it! Maybe they'll accept this operation and they delete it." "Never count", we heard the Old Timer mutter under his breath. We were starting to notice a bit of a chill in the air. We weren't sure where the QRPer was going with this one, and we also weren't sure we wanted to find out. "What's that?", the QRPer asked the Old Timer, as if he had been waiting for a response. "I said it will never count!", the Old Timer retorted, raising his head and staring straight into the QRPer's beady little eyes. "It won't count because it doesn't meet Point 2 of the DXCC Countries List Criteria, Separation by Water. Too close . . . too close to count. There's an intervening island in the way." "I'm not so sure", said the QRPer slowly, calculating his words, "I'm not so sure about that . . . some of the Big Guns are saying that island is just a reef and only visible a couple of times a year. They say it's not significant enough to disqualify BV9. Martti Laine would be involved if it wasn't a sure thing. It'll count." This was met by a glare that would have stopped a rock. We were getting the uncomfortable feeling we had stepped into the middle of a hornet's nest. The QRPer was pushing buttons here, and we were beginning to think that these particular buttons should be left alone! "Did either of you guys work the 1A0KM that was on 20 today?", we asked, attempting to changing the subject to neutral ground. Neither the QRPer nor the Old Timer heard us. "Sure will count!" smiled the QRPer, backing toward the door, "And it's gonna keep those JAs that worked them on number one honor roll, too!" That did it! The Old Timer jumped to his feet and let out a roar that rattled window panes a mile away! He made a grasp for the QRPer, but it was too late. The QRPer was out the door and running down the hill. We had never seen the Old Timer move so fast. He was out the door in a flash, arms outstretched in hot pursuit of the QRPer. We stared in disbelief as they disappeared around the turn, the QRPer a good three or four paces ahead of the Old Timer and cackling away! Son of a Gun! It is not often a QRPer can get the goat of the Old Timer. Especially since the Old Timer had been around the track a few times . . . often enough to be on number one honor roll, too!A man should keep his friendship in constant repair (Samuel Johnson (1755).