It Was the Worst of Times

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only. —Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

When you boil it down to the true essense, no matter the lofty press releases that the ARRL produces about the public service aspects, ham radio is just a hobby for most of us. I think we all get frustrated with aspects of the hobby (and the jerks who ruin it) at times, and we have different ways of dealing with it. If things get really bad, most hams can just turn off the radio or unsubscribe from the reflector full of loudmouthed trolls.

Side note: I don’t know what it is about the more technical hobbies (and professions), but they seem to attract a large contingent of zealous acolytes who could give the most rabid religious fundamentalists a run for their money. Disagreements often turn into the “intellectual” equivalent of a pissing contest, with all of the irrationality that implies. Particularly strident defenders of the faith see those who disagree with them as akin to a heathen atheist or a card-carrying Satan worshiper. There must be some pathology of the brain responsible for this kind of reaction. In some folks it manifests as fervent belief in their particular brand of religion, in others it shows up as a certainty in their unique knowledge of The Scientific Truth™.

Usually you get pissed, then you give yourself some downtime, spend some more time with the family, or play with a different hobby for a while. The problem comes when you start to get yourself more wrapped up in the hobby than usual. When your enjoyment and fate in the hobby starts to be tied to ensuring the success of others, it’s not quite as easy to pull yourself out without having a negative impact on others. The case in point for me is the difficulties with the 2nd kitting of the Willamette QRP transceiver. This project has been a source of great excitement and enjoyment for me (as well as others, I think). But now it feels like the albatross around my neck. My life is going though a lot of changes right now, and changes equals stress. The last thing I need right now is the added stress from a hobby project gone sour. It would be nice to be able to just brush aside the troubles, but I feel that would be a betrayal of those who are counting on getting what they paid for.

Truly, this is a bittersweet topic. If it wasn’t for all of the great times I’ve had and good friends that I’ve made, I would have probably already given up. But I feel that there have been too many positive effects from the project to let it end on a bad note. I’m praying that we can soon arrive at an outcome that satisfies most of the participants. Perhaps that will salvage some of my faith in humanity and will help to keep me from wanting to give up on these public projects.

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