Ok. What happened? We use to talk to each other-- Americans-- "rag chew". We were pioneers of "social media:!!Then we all went DX happy and numbers happy, Doesn't mean jack. Look at my numbers ( I hung those numbers boys) --
But 8 years ago I was in the mountains of New Mexico at Christmas vacation with my family. I had a wire in a tree and a 100 watt rig. I starting working guys that just wanted to talk. It made me think of who we are .
Oh. I still bang pile ups. I still run numbers. I still enter  and win a few "DX contests". But something happened in those trees at 7000 feet in New Mexico.  I actually had a chat. I made friends again like in the 1950s.  I had a talk with an"ol boy" my age. We had the same beginnings in the 1950s the rigs were Heath kits and the Receivers were Hallicrafter S38Es and something clicked. Why do we not we talk anymore? Why do we just "599" and run off ?  Name ,Report ,Qth and adios!! The average qso must be in nano seconds. Why? Is it acquisitiveness? Is a DX contact a "distance envy" thing? Is it a macho  thing?

There are 720,000 USA hams. 90 % of them just want to have a good solid qso. 10% think we are too damned good to do that. Ever stop to work a /Mobile or a qrp? Ever give something back to the greatest thing in our lives? Ever care about hearing something from another ham? It shocked me. I was the worst.! I was an arrogant dx thug that no one really cared about. If I could hang another number up I thought I was somebody.

But then I went back to 1958 in my mind to  crystal control days , 4 pole throw switch and I remembered the thrill of just a simple "qso". Maybe even more . Maybe the coveted "rag chew" (I actually had my "Rag Chewers" certificate with Ron Hill Kn6OZL in Hanford, California. I remember because I went there on vacation with my parents. They droppeed me off  and I stayed the day with Ron and his mom at age 15. It dawned on me that one of my best friends on this Earth, other than my xyl and sons was found on 15 meters cw "XTAL control 24 "kcs" away from transmit frequency on my S38E Hallicrafter RX in 1959!. 58 years of friendship. Roommates at the University of Texas. Both professionals . In 2004 I reintroduced him to ham radio on an Alaskan fishing trip. He re-licensed and until wind and fire hit his farm, hangs at 90 feet( falling derrick) tower  with his steppir and 66 foot aluminum irrigation pipe 80 meter vertical, with 100 radials.  He never lost the code. He made extra class  in 6 months, NM5Y, Mike Turner .

I eulogized K5KOR at his funeral .  I met him  in a rag chew in 1959 on 10 meter AM.. He and I were buddies for 10 years. We hunted geese -- I was his qsl manager when he was KS6OR on American Samoa. His Dad asked me to speak at his funeral, having passed on at his young age of 51 and speak I did-- of the days in radio when he had the Johnson Ranger on AM and the 3 element on 10 meters at 32 feet! When we played golf together and I visited him at New Mexico State and saw a computer for the first time in 1962 with him standing there showing me. He was far more that "599".

Did you ever make a friend on the air? Why not? The answer is that you didn't try. We bragged and boasted about something or just ran off.  Have you ever answered a qrp cq? Why not? Don't you think they want to talk to someone? Have you ever slowed down on cw to encourage some one. 

Gentlemen( and ladies) we need to return to the "qso". We need to listen and express interest in others. We need to stop a minute and converse. We need to be "hams" again. Ham radio is more than big bucks and plug crap in. WE need to quit this "it's about me" syndrome. I already told you that I was one of the the worst. No more.

Now, not  many hams are under 40 years old. I haven't talked to a teenager in years. When I was a teenager-- there were 10 of us here in Amarillo, Texas. We had a Net on Wednesday night at 21.300 AM . I never missed even if I suffered academic detriment. (home work). We talked Dx and did you know that you can play chess on radio? " knight 12 to rook 2"

We have to offer more than "packet" computer click DX -- We need more than big antenna farms . We need to come together and care about each other  and  talk again. It is called a "QSO". I do it now-- nearly every day sandwiched in to some silly number hunt from some ham 9000 miles away that knows nothing of me and will never know anything about me. I love to go to 40/20 cw on my time and just relax.

Make a contact and listen-- bring out the best in the Ham you are talking to. What does he do? what are his (Or her?) interests? What is or was their career?  Find the lost art of "QSO" once again.There are thousands out there waiting for you and they have something to say. !

I don't work ssb much ( long story)  but on CW great hangout frequencies for qsos are just above the extra class area at 25 to 40 khz on all the bands except warc where I get in the mid cw area and stay out  of the DX Windows . My favorite is 7.027/ 14.027 for cq effort. To enjoy the qso more , go to QRZ.COM  on the station you are working at the time you are working them, live. Go to "details" -- Look at the map of his location,look at his pictures . Read the bio. You will find much to talk about. If you don't have a qrz page, take time to tell usabout your Ham career. We want to know. 

Adopt the cw speed of the station that called CQ. Slow down for him -- don't hot dog a guy trying to learn. Conversely, if I call cq at 20wpm -- DON'T CALL ME AT 6 WPM. I will not come back.  I have never understood this  "dogging it" when you call someone who is sending much faster. Adopt the speed of the station you are calling.. I assure you that I can do any speed. Most qso attraction speed on a CQ  is around 20 wpm.  I call at 25 but that may be a little quick for some so I will drop down if I sense a struggle but that is OK!

Find something in common. A great question that will break the ice is "What was your first rig?" that really brings out some interesting stories.
Run some power! I like 200 watts. You can hear 200 watts. No one wants to ragchew with a qrp station. I understand qrp. I have some records with qrp but it is painful and rude to try a ragchew with 5 watts!!  Turn the power up after you get your qrp report!. Quit punishing the other guy!! You made your qrp contact!! Now increase power and QSO!!

We bought this stuff and worked our butts off on antennas and systems!!--here is a thought-- let's use it!! Make a contact!! Have a real QSO!! 

Anyway ,those are my thoughts on our lost art of the qso. At this age it is a philosophy after many years. I have many friends now on cw all over the world and I have many   nice chats  that go well beyond 30 minutes. Give it a try. It's a lot better than FACEBOOK.  CUL 73 de Mike W5ZO