Thursday, June 17, 2010


[RAY-DEE-OH ZOM-BEES - 1.Elitist 2. To look down upon. 3. NOS, or bust.4. Picky]

I came across this thought the other day while perusing some equipment ads on a popular website which sells used HAM gear. Some ads had pictures, others only with descriptions. Most of the advertisements having pictures allowed you to click on them to allow you to see it all up close and I found myself mumbling stuff like "Hmmm, scuff mark", "Scratched bezel", or, "Looks more than only 3 months old to me". Suddenly, I realized what I'd been saying to myself, and fervently began to look for bite marks on my body! I didn't see any, yet still I wondered: "Had I become a Radio Zombie?"

Confused? Let me explain -

I remember 'back in the day' when I was a). first starting out in CB and later, b).first starting out in HAM radio, and I don't recall being all to picky about the exterior condition of an acquisition. It could have electrical tape holding the top cover on, a digit or two out on the display (ed. - Hell, or no freaking digital display at all - just ANALOG), and enough dust bunnies to feed several starving dustbusters; the only thing that I was concerned with was "DID IT WORK?" If it did, and the price was right, I was happy. After all, shacks weren't usually a place you would associate with Martha Stewart, Vacuum cleaners, or Moms white glove test for dirt and dust; they were places for men to spread their equipment, miscellaneous parts, and tools around without much thought on how perfect the equipment looked as odds were that the equipment would get a nick or two while you worked on one project or the other.

But then, slowly but surely, steadfastly and fashionably, Zombism attacked from within the shack itself - yes, we were slowly becoming aware of regular bathing and grooming, and...cleanliness. We slowly turned into Radio Zombies, demanding only NOS looking gear which would be fastidiously stacked, arranged, photographed, and displayed on a web page for all to see. If you have a used rig for sale (today) that is sans original box and scuffed up a bit from Field Day use, you can hang it up right there - it will be a tough sell.

I owned an ICOM IC-725 for a time, and it was butt ugly. Beside numerous scratches and dings, it was missing the power button, forcing me to come up with a variety of creative techniques in powering it ON, then OFF, while using it mobile. Rough on the outside, yet tough where it counted. When I did sell the rig, it wasn't an easy sell but finally I found someone who was just happy to get his first HF rig. Perhaps his first shack was like my first shack - a piece of wood for the table, cut to the width of a small closet, supported by cinder blocks. It wasn't pretty, and it wouldn't make the cover of a magazine, but it served it's purpose. I've tried to maintain the same "if it works, use it" attitude throughout the years. Maybe one day in the future, I'll have a shack decked out with new looking rigs & other various gear, dusted and arranged perfectly on an expensive desk......nah, just kidding.

See the first definition of a Radio Zombie - it's "Elitist". These are the guys that (usually) are found on various HAM group websites quick to point fingers and slur a fellow HAM with their smarmy term General "Light" or HAM "Light". I don't know who came up with the term (used for new amateurs who weren't required to take and pass a code exam), comparing it to beer (REAL beer tastes good; LIGHT beer is not as good) but it's been picked up by similar minded amateurs that seem to look down upon the new breed of Amateur Radio operators who became a HAM after the Morse Code element was dropped from the exam. They're also quick to talk about how hard it was for them years ago with stories that started off with something like: " the olden days I had to do 5wpm on the way to school, and 15wpm on the way back", so any other HAM prospect should do the same.

If it weren't for the influx of all the new hams this past decade Amateur radio in the US would be facing the prospect of losing frequencies due to lack of use (and declining membership). The smarmy guys attitude is a slap in the face to those who have recently joined the ranks. Many HAM radios newbies probably wouldn't have become HAMS at all if it weren't for the FCC dropping the code requirement - not because it was too hard for them, but because it was of no interest to them. To the new tech savvy breed of Amateurs taking a code test to gain a foothold, or, further privileges, would be akin to someone taking their first drivers license test and having the person in charge say "Okay you've passed the written exam, but before you taking the driving test you'll have to demonstrate your ability to handle a horse and buggy".

But before you slap a "HAM-LIGHT" sticker on my car, let me tell you that I passed my code test back in the 80's and yet I don't feel the slightest twinge of elitism towards those who didn't have to take the exam. Personally, I like cw, but I recognize the fact that not everyone does and they shouldn't be looked down upon because they came to the dock after the CW boat sailed. The ones that do feel that way, seem to think that the CW test helped weed out the bad seeds, but from what I've heard (when the code test was mandatory) on EXTRA portions of the band, morons have no problem learning Morse code.

They also forget to mention those who, while not having taken the CW exam to get their license, chose to learn it anyways. At times it's hard to believe that I'm still hearing this nonsense, yet other times I'm not, because this "If I had to do it so does he" way of thinking is across the board; in your job, hobbies, and life in general. For those of you, who like me, bear no ill will to our new Amateur friends please remember that sometimes, the parent has to sit the oldest child down and tell them that just because he had to take out the garbage every night when he was 8, doesn't mean his younger sibling has to do the same thing now....

Times, circumstances, and rules, all change! 73, Woody

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