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The question of the Millennium for Amateur Radio

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I stumbled on this in an amateur radio discussion forum

The question –

I don’t get it. I know people, friends even, who shrug their shoulders when I talk about having talked to somebody in another country. “Big deal, I can do that on the Internet”. Well sure, anyone can do it on the Internet, but can you say that you sent a radio signal directly from your house? They insist that ham radio is obsolete, that cell phones are way better, and that we don’t do anything useful. I try to tell them about Skywarn, about public services I’ve helped out with, and they still just act like it’s no big deal. I just leave them with “Well, if we’re so useless, then what were hams doing during 9/11? The police and fire repeaters went down with the towers, as well as cellular services. Hams were helping out with communications.”. They still just shrug their shoulders. Then again, these same people shrug their shoulders when I say I make my own beer. “Big deal, you can get beer at the grocery store”. (faceplant)

A response posted in the same forum –

My hands-down favorite description of Amateur Radio is three paragraphs by Ernest Lehman, K6DXK (SK July 5, 2005) from his novel “The French Atlantic Affair”. The following breathless prose about the wonder of Amateur Radio is the opening of Chapter Seven of the novel. Memorize it and then recite it with appropriate passion when someone asks what you like about Amateur Radio.

Yes, Dr. Berlin, but what do you hams talk about? Is what they usually said to him, and he’d realize then that they’d never understand, and he’d change the subject. But sometimes, though rarely, he’d come across someone who really dug his hobby, and then you couldn’t get him off. He’d go on and on about the feeling it gave him of being able to move himself through time and space, annihilating time and distance, his mind, his body, his consciousness out there roaming the planet like some cosmic spirit, and the sense of power, benign power, not the evil kind, knowing that his voice was rattling a loudspeaker in a far-off room in Bombay, or going out through an open window in Johannesburg to someone walking by on the street outside, or filling a room carved out of ice below the frozen wastes at the South Pole.

The here and now, the physical and geographical limitations that all beings are stuck with, would fall away from him as he immersed himself in the action on twenty meters on a good night in spring when the sunspots were dancing and the ionosphere was in a reflective mood and the short path was open to Europe and the Middle East and the Antarctic and Australia, and maybe Africa would come sneaking in the other way around, and later the Far East and Indonesia, you never knew what. He’d close his eyes, or gaze hypnotized at the speaker, and he’d listen to them and talk to them, voices in the night, his night, that is, with the moon shining into the den through the great beam antenna that rose from the lawn outside…

…And while it was his night in California, it was tomorrow morning in Oslo and Hil was getting ready to shovel the snow from in front of the garage so he could go to work, and in Brisbane it was late tomorrow afternoon and Tommy had just gotten home from a rainy day at the lab, and Toshi in Kyoto had just finished tomorrow’s dinner, and then later, Phil was talking to him from his car speeding through the Malaysian jungles to pick up Margaret at her French lesson in Penang, and Phil would lower the car window and let him hear the street noises of Penang even as he sat in his den in the house in Bel Air while the guy right next door was listening to the eleven o’clock news on Channel 2, …

… for God’s sake, and you ask me what do we talk about? We don’t talk about a [darned] thing and it’s terrific.

So, what are we to make of this?

Why does the Millennial generation have a hard time understanding Amateur Radio?

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by frrl

July 17, 2011 at 3:00 am

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