Thursday, November 30, 2017

Hammin' It Up

Ain't it like most people? I'm no different, we love to talk on things we don't know about.” - The Avett Brothers, Ten Thousand Words

Harboring a fantasy and living it, let’s be honest, is not the same thing. Daydreams are ephemera. Vague notions that get us through a busy and otherwise tedious day. Fantasies not really supposed to be realized. Not really. Until they are. At that point our dreams, the passionate insight, become something else. They become something more tangible.

In my case it was the sharp stabbing pain of realization that while I’d been sailing for a good deal of my life, I’d never actually owned a boat. I’ve owned houses, cars, lawn mowers, step ladders, computers, but never a boat. What was once someone else’s problem, the charter company’s or the ferry authority’s, was now mine, or more correctly ours. The context has changed from whimsical vacations to a life or death lifestyle. Phrases that we blithely kicked around as amateurs suddenly become yawning gaps in knowledge and abject manifestations of ignorance.

Take the phrase ‘SSB’. Innocuous enough. Three simple letters that even a novice sailing BS’er could figure out meant Single Side Band (a type of radio). But in all honestly, when presented with the glowing screen and myriad buttons of Aleta’s iCOM-m802, I didn’t know my HF from TNC , or my arse from my elbow. But I’m a lifelong learner. As a child I hated school. Brought up surrounded by intellectuals I wanted to compete, but realized early on that I was bringing corkscrew to a knife fight. Far better to shut up and listen than get involved with expressing opinions. Thus an autodidact, worse an empiric, was generated.

Many years later I realized that life is made up of experts who as soon as they’re outside their ‘wheelhouse’ simply make stuff up to keep the conversation going. With that insight I’ve developed great respect for source materials, and I’m especially appreciative of apparent common sense - a depressingly rare commodity. To paraphrase Prof. Einstein, the hallmark of true genius is making the complex simple. For that people deserve Nobel prizes.

Thus when faced with 124 pages of iCOM instruction manual I first turned to the ARRL study guide for the Technician class ham operators. iCOM simply assumes too much knowledge. Now, thanks in no small part to the valiant efforts of several Forest Grove, Oregon, ham radio buffs, I now know enough to be consciously incompetent, and informed enough to skim the m802’s manual, start turning knobs, and connecting COM ports to computers. Let the 'net' partying begin!

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