Posted by: GW7AAV | October 21, 2009

Strange=Interesting, Normal=Boring?

Dr Strange (Marvel Comics)

Dr Strange (Marvel Comics)

Radio amateurs can be a strange bunch. Ranging from the weird to the brilliant and from the almost normal to the down right sad. The ends of the spectrum for me are marked by the twenty stone guy with skin like white marble who at 49 is still living at home with his mother and spends most of his time in his room with headphones clamped over his ears and the mad scientist type who’s neighbours think probably has a lab in the basement and a modified DeLorean in the garage. There are of course many other stereotypical hams out there that could be placed within that sliding scale and even some who are in a league of their own. To try and list them might be fun and maybe one of these days I will take the time to do it. It could then be immense fun to go to the local ham fest with the ‘I Spy’ book of ham radio operators and tick off the various types. Look over there, by the bookstall with his flat cap and nicotine stained fingers it is the Andy Capp type who chain smokes his way night working 40m CW and there by the RSGB stand the Colonel Mustard type with a plum in his mouth who does 80m SSB on the Royal Signals net.

Do not get me wrong on this I have no axe to grind, you are whom you are and we are all strange in our own way. I would hate to be considered normal as that implies being somewhat average and I do not like to think of myself as average, who does?

In the world of amateur radio I have met some odd people but only a couple of them have been so odd that I would go out of my way to avoid them. In general radio amateurs have been some of the nicest and most helpful people I have met. We all tend to have differing interests within the hobby and our expertise and different life experiences leads to some rich and interesting discussions on the air and over a pint at the radio club.
There has been much discussion about how to get new blood into the hobby and I must admit to being in two minds as to whether or not the present system of the Novice, Foundation and Full licences is doing its job. We are seeing more and more youngsters coming in to the hobby which is a good thing but they lack both technical knowledge and life skills, which when combined leads to, in a lot of cases, a complete inability to say anything the remotest bit interesting.

I admit I can be as boring as anyone on the radio, you just have to listen to the conversations I have with my wife on the local 70cms repeater as she drives home from work; “What shopping we need?” or “Do the kids need new shoes?” and “What is for tea?” It is possibly unfortunate for some locals that my life is lived on the amateur bands like some badly written soap opera. I have few secrets as a result but what you do not get is a stroke-by-stroke description of painting the bathroom wall or how I had the vet around to give my cat an enema. Occasionally I do have what I call a ‘white page day’, these usually happen when I am slightly jet lagged from working the night shift. A white page is what a writer stares at when he has writers block and my ‘white page days’ are when I sit there with a microphone in my hand and just cannot think anything the least bit of interest to say.

So I ask you, do we have to put up with those for whom every day is a ‘white page day’? Is it simply that by dumbing down the amateur radio examination process we have dumbed down amateur radio? Only time will tell. The answers lie in new licensees obtaining knowledge by listening on the bands, by reading books, magazines and Internet posts, experimenting and building equipment and antennas. Only then they will become interesting enough to be considered strange and strange enough to be considered interesting.

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