The Amateur Amateur: Thanks for the Megahertz!
By Gary Hoffman, KB0H
This is a
column about Thanksgiving. Every married man knows that he had better
thank his wife first. My wife didn't just tolerate my hobby, she
joined me in it.
November 20, 2003
Life's been a
little bumpy this month. On top of everything else I seem to have
picked up a virus that makes my head feel like a ripe watermelon.
(Don't worry. You can't catch it over the Internet.) I kept putting
off doing my column, but a subject eluded me.
Nancy, N0NJ. Married men know that they'd better thank their wives first.
Why? Because they deserve it.
desperately, my bloodshot eyes rested on the calendar, which reminded
me that Thanksgiving is just ahead. "Yeah, I'm sick, I've got
sick computers at work, my head is so clogged that I can't think
straight, and I haven't written my column. I should be really
thankful," I thought, feeling dreadfully sorry for myself.
"You do have
a lot for which you should be thankful," a little voice in my
head piped up. "You should be really
thankful for Amateur
For a moment I
was simply stunned (I think they call this "the moment of
inspiration"). The little voice was right!
Amateur Radio was
one of the best things that ever happened to me. And so,
appropriately, I dedicate this Thanksgiving column to Amateur Radio.
I thank first? Well, that's obvious. Every married man knows that he
had better thank his wife first. In my case, my wife Nancy didn't
just tolerate my hobby, she joined me in it. That's really saying
something, because she was something of a technophobe when we
started. Amateur Radio was her own way to build self-confidence.
I'm not sure how
far I would have gotten in Amateur Radio without Nancy. I didn't
really know how to study for the exams until she showed me. She also
was my study partner through the various upgrades. That helped a lot.
More recently, we've done a few of the ARRL Certification and
Continuing Education courses together.
I could go on
(and on). Nancy has been more than helpful and supportive, she's also
kept me well-grounded. Many are the times she's said, "Don't get
on the roof unless I'm here" or "That's nice fan mail.
Don't let it go to your head." Thank you, Babe, for everything.
The second person
I need to thank is Michael Redman, KA0YXU. Mike and I became
acquainted many years ago because of our mutual interest in police
scanners. In 1994 Mike offered a class to get a Technician license.
He arranged for a volunteer examiner team to come on the last day of
class to give exams. Nancy and I were in that first class and were
two of Mike's first graduates. So in a very real sense, he introduced
us to ham radio. He's brought many more people into the hobby since
Mike also talked me into becoming a VE, introduced me to emergency
communication, and got me interested in teaching. For all that and
more, thank you Mike.
On the Air! magazine
The next person I
should thank is Perry Joseph, KB0ZUZ. Perry edited the newsletter of
our local police scanner club and published my Amateur Radio
ramblings and foibles in its pages. I called my column The Amateur
Sound familiar? The SABRE Newsletter
is where it
all started, back in 1995. Thanks, Perry.
In 1997 very
nice fellow up in Ontario named Dave Hamilton, VE3KIU (then VA3UE),
started up a new Amateur Radio magazine called On the Air!
submitted my column to him, he accepted, and The Amateur Amateur
went international. (It was at this point that Nancy first said,
"Don't let it go to your head.") Dave always had sage
advice such as, "It should always be fun!" Sadly, the
magazine did not last. But I'll always be grateful to Dave for his
support and his good cheer.
Do you know Rick
Lindquist, N1RL? [Who, me?--Ed
.] He's the reason you're
reading The Amateur Amateur
right now. He's ARRL Senior News
Editor, and in 2001 he accepted my column as a feature for this Web
page. This new, wider audience is much more likely to catch any
mistakes I make. Rick helps to keep me on track, corrects my grammar
and punctuation and throws me a lifeline when I wind up in quicksand.
For all that and for laughing when no one else thinks it's funny,
thank you, Rick. [You're most welcome, Gary.--Ed
My brother Chris, K1KC. "The Junkman" will always give me an
answer, even if it is incomprehensible.
Then there is Ron
Ochu, KO0Z, president of the St Charles Amateur Radio Club. In the
midst of a storm of e-mail telling me that my car wouldn't have
caught fire if I'd used properly installed fuses, I received an
invitation from Ron to speak at one of his club's meetings. Thanks
Ron. I desperately needed a lift right then. (Immediately after,
Nancy once again warned me not to let it go to my head. She was
right. It turned out that although I can write a humorous column, I'm
a bust as a stand-up comedian.)
Of course I
have to mention The Junkman, my brother Chris, K1KC. He's my number
one source of information regarding Amateur Radio. Although we still
have some difficulty with the translation stage (Techno-to-English),
Chris has never let me down. If he doesn't know the answer (which is
rare), he'll keep looking until he finds it. Humble Grasshopper says
thank you, Oh Wise Junkman.
I also have to
give a big thank-you to you, the readers. More than 400 of you have
written to me, the first being Dana Joines, W0AIA, and the most
prolific being Rick Maestas, KD5HVU. Almost all of your messages have
been positive and friendly. You've shown an old cynic that there are
still many, many good people still out there. Thank you very much.
expression of gratitude is to Amateur Radio itself. It has brought my
family closer together. It has taught me so much, and it has shown me
that I can still learn things. It has given me literally hundreds of
new friends. And it has shown me that I have talents and abilities I
didn't know I had. (I know, dear, "Don't let it go to your
note: ARRL member Gary Hoffman, KB0H, lives in Florissant,
Missouri. He's been a ham since 1995. Hoffman says his column's name
-- "The Amateur Amateur" -- suggests the explorations of a
rank amateur, not those of an experienced or knowledgeable ham. His
wife, Nancy, is N0NJ. Hoffman has a ham-related Web
page. Readers are invited to contact the author
© 2003 American Radio Relay League