I’m sure you have heard it MANY MANY times (and perhaps you have used the phrase):
“I have been in this hobby for over fifty-six years!” (or some number in the 50’s)
I never know how to interpret this common utterance. Is it a statement of the operators tenacity to continue with their beloved hobby? Is it a statement of their wisdom in selecting this hobby so many years ago? Is it a slap on the their own back for the good sense of not having died prematurely, to arrive at their present age? Or is it an indication of their accrued wisdom in the field?
I don’t know.
Perhaps it means different things for different people.
First off, this is not going to be a screed against our incredibly experienced and learned elders. I have learned to value them and their hard earned wisdom above all else. Sometimes I wonder how long it took before they got so smart, and think that this might have been self evident fairly early in their pursuit of this hobby.
I tend to think this is a variation of what I call “my diploma is bigger than your diploma”. I used to know some particularly pompous people that addressed their holiday season greeting to diverse family members as Dr. & Dr. Smithstein (names and call signs have been changed throughout this article, to protect the pompous). They indeed both had procured Doctorates in English Literature, so some might suggest that their Doctorate was based on a glorified book report.
You see more than a few “Yahoos” on the Yahoo Groups that do this very often. I have read messages from a guy that is self identified as “Dr. Howard W. Black”, and if you didn’t notice the title, the bottom tag line reads:
Howard W. Black Ph D. P. Eng., VE2WGF /K4 ex-AD6GP KY5PA Website:www.AintISmart.com
No doubt this all began a long long long time ago with cavemen boasting about the size of their own personal appendages – now their descendants use diplomas and years “practicing” instead (perhaps we should be thankful for that small favor).
Credentials are all well and good and an excellent starting point, but it should NEVER be your final destination. Is the fellow offering cogent, non-contradictory insight or is he babbling almost incoherently? Ultimately, it is what the individual “brings to the table” that is the most pertinent to me.
If three PhD.’s in Linguistics tells you that the Moon is made of Green Cheese are you going to fly up there to make a nice salad? Hell, if they had PhD.’s in Astro-Physics I still wouldn’t believe them – I would think that they were either pranking me or got their degrees at some diploma mill! If an old timer tells you that the length of your 50 ohm coaxial cable determined the Standing Wave Ratio of your antenna, when there was no common mode transmission involved, is it any less a foolish statement if he had 50+ years as a hobbyist to back it up? Nope!
You want an award for surviving? Well, fellow survivors are more than happy to print one up for you and themselves. You still have to put in the time to learn this hobby well, and it isn’t reflected in the date of your first license.
So, to all you wise and generous mentors out there, that spent all this time to good use and have learned much and offered that wisdom to those of us who came after, thank you so very much.
But to those dim bulbs that flash a date on a license around, the same way morons keep crowing that “at least they have common sense”, go peddle it in the funny papers (that’s what people used to say, way back then, right?).
– Your [Cranky] Editor –