kc2gva writes "I had my first experience with HF the other day as I sat with pen in hand logging the contacts my Advanced-class friend (and great elmer...thanks again, KG2LI) made on 10m. It was exciting! He worked Russia, France, Portugal, England and Argentina all within about a half hour. As a Technician class licensee, I had only worked 2m and 70cm repeaters and simplex with my buddies. In this brief period of time, I was shown the REAL amateur radio experience. But there was one thing that really put a damper on the excitement, and here's where my Tech class naivete showed itself. I was taught that amateur operators are always supposed to use the internationally recognized phonetics (ALFA, BRAVO, CHARLIE, etc.) so that everybody around the world can understand call signs and other spellings. What I found was that ALMOST NO operators actually use the "official" phonetics; they make up their own. Now for somebody who is inexperienced in logging real-time contacts in a fast-moving DX environment, I have enough trouble keeping up with the standard phonetics when copying; now I had to struggle with decoding these custom phonetics as well. For instance, someone used "America Mexico" for part of his call. I'm thinking, "Was that his QTH or his call?" I was quite surprised to hear all this because I figured that international operators by default needed to standardize to overcome language and accent hurdles, and I thought this kinda stuff was just happening on the 2m repeaters. While I'll quickly admit I have much to learn and much experience to gain (I'm only starting to learn how much I don't know), I don't believe this is a license class issue, since the offenders themselves are higher-class licensees by default--so don't try to tell me that higher license class holders get special permission for poor operating practices. Instead, I am appealing to hams everywhere to break the bad habits and use the standard phonetics--not only to help out the less experienced, but because it's just plain GOOD OPERATING. Doug, KC2GVA"