Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Thee Dying Art of Inconspicuous Green Stamp Stuffing

Pre-LOTW, EQSL, Clublog, QRZlog etc...
Back in the day, to get a foreign QSL confirmation, one would send a QSL card, return airmail envelope and green stamp(s). You kept your fingers crossed that the envelope made it intact with all the contents and the return would share the same fate. Postal theft has always been an issue as has been green stamp collectors (those who would receive the $$ but would not return QSL) so the art of QSL'ing, almost at times, felt like a cat & mouse game. You know the drill, no callsigns on the envelopes, using brand new green stamps as they would fold tightly and be less obvious (some preferred non-folded green stamps), covering the QSL card with paper so a bright light would not identify it like a Cracker Jack Box with a prize inside. Also, taping the envelope to make it a bit harder to peek through the seams to see the contents.  

Over the years, I've sent hundreds (and maybe thousands) of $1.00 bills abroad. Where currency was a no-go, I'd send International Reply Coupons (IRC's). I had a need for these envelopes while in Alaska, as I received many direct QSL requests. But that need has fallen to near zero. Now I need to find a good home for these as I'll probably never use them again. I have a few on hand just in case I get a few last requests. I'll post my unopened packages and boxes on a few websites and the first reasonable offer gets em. 

I have written in the past that I have a nice foreign stamp collection thanks to Ham Radio! I kept every foreign stamp I ever received and they are safe in hopes that someday, my kids can enjoy them and maybe even make a few bucks. Like the days of Box 88 in Moscow, this "back in the day" shack accessory is becoming a vintage memory for this ham. There are still those that send direct and I think sending direct will be like Morse Code. Some thought it was a dying form of communication but it continues and will continue. So maybe someone will be able to put these envelopes to good use. These are great backdrops for the American Global Forever Stamp.   

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Do I QSL? Um, Yea...

The last several days have been unseasonably warm here in southern Oregon. We have seen temperatures hitting triple digits at the house. Very warm but I'm thankful we do not have the humidity that we had on the east coast. The warmer temperatures had me visit the local big box store and pick up a couple air conditioners. Many of the local stores are now sold out, so I'm thankful I beat the rush.

Since it's so warm outdoors, it makes it easy to stay indoors and accomplish ham tasks. I once again decided to dive into the shack and continue my QSL purging exercise. I've stored my QSL cards in totes for several years and this one happens to contain many of the cards I received while I was active in Alaska as KL8DX. All of these cards have been answered either direct of via the bureau. I actually have a few hundred I received in my last bureau drop that I need to answer. I will leave no request go unanswered! 

Floor to Door
I went through each and every card, one by one, as I removed them from the tote and put them on the shack floor. As you can see, I have hundreds from all corners of the globe. QSL cards have changed over the years and many are now photo quality and simply brilliant. With digital cameras and being able to easily send photos to QSL printers, each and every card is unique. Many even print their with photo quality printers.  

When I moved to Alaska, I no longer had to send for QSL cards as many came to me first. I did send off for confirmations to DXpeditions or new entities but 99.89% of my QSL duties were answering those QSL cards I received, direct or via the bureau. And let me tell you, the more active a person is, the more requests one gets. I had to actually get a larger Post Office Box just to accommodate the volume of QSL cards I received direct. Needless to say, bureau envelopes were bursting at the seams. It's always great traveling down memory lane but I still have a handful of boxes to go through. My goal is to save my favorites and one or two from each DXCC entitiy and place them in large photo albums. Several of my QSL cards and contest certificates along with various awards will now be easily be stored on a shelf. I will always answer hard copy QSL requests for as long as I receive them. I will continue to keep credits or envelopes at incoming bureaus until no more QSL cards are received. At the end of this year, it will be two years since I operated as KL8DX, but I'm expecting to receive QSL cards for at least the next five or six years. The bureau is an inexpensive way to exchange cards but the turn around can take several years. The beauty of electronic confirmations, they can be received and credit awarded in minutes. One of the highlights of getting QSL cards direct is I've accumulated a nice stamp collection. Now that, I will never part with.