Monday, March 14, 2016

Respect and learning


There's an ongoing discussion on the ARRL NPOTA page on Facebook.  It appears that a newbie Ham activated a Historic Site and posted a picture about it on Facebook.  The problem is, that from the picture posted, it's apparent that the operation took place in front of the site, on a street instead of on the actual property of the Historic Site. As a result, his activation was disqualified.

In NPOTA rules, that's a no-no, unless you get dispensation from the ARRL after explaining mitigating circumstances. In the case of an Historic Site, an NPOTA activation has to take place on the actual site, its parking lot or driveway - not on the public street in front of it, as that space in NOT administered to by the National Park Service.

Instead of dealing with the mistake and the ensuing disappointment, the newbie Ham resorted to what only can be politely described as a ...... umm, err ............ lengthy bout of whining. He was whining about why he thought the rule was faulty, in his case, and then he started whining about the rules in general and about Sean Kutzko, the NPOTA Administrator, in particular.  He also whined about the lack of a prompt response and how he perceived that others in the group were "disrespecting him."

I try to stay away from such threads as they quickly become emotional quicksand.  The guy is disappointed and seems to be hurt by what he believes to be a lack of support from the Ham Community in general.  But I had to reply.  Basically this is what I said ......

"(Name withheld), yes, you're right, we all started from nowhere. And we've all made our share of mistakes. You can choose to learn from it, carry on and have the satisfaction of having gained some experience, or you can choose to stew about it. Not trying to be snarky or disrespectful, but each and every one of us has been down that road. Just remember that nothing worthwhile comes easy ..... and as a wise old boss of mine once said, "Respect is earned and not granted."

I've noticed that some of the younger generation can't seem to refrain from using the "vulgar vernacular" of the streets in their posts. There's no need for street language or "cussing" in a discussion with people who are other than your immediate circle of friends.  IMHO, using that type of language is not conducive to earning the respect you are so desperately seeking.

And then the matter of making the mistake.  So what?  We've all made them. Some way more serious and costly than this.  All he lost was time, basically.  Some (many) of us have made mistakes that have cost money, like blowing up power supplies, or frying finals, for example.  But even there, you have the choice on how you want to handle it.  You can learn from your mistake and move on, or you can throw yourself a pity party (to be blunt).

It's smarter to move on and learn.  If he's like most of us, he won't make the same mistake again.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!


  1. Larry, I could not agree more!! Rules are rules and from the photo the person posted, it was obvious it did not qualify. I personally had issues with affixing an antenna to the fence (not sure he had permission) not to mention, it appeared their feedline probably ran across the public sidewalk to where the truck was parked. If that was in fact the case, I see that as a tripping hazard and disrespectful to any pedestrians walking by. I won't mention that most towns and cities have limits on how close you can park to a fire hydrant, and that appeared to be in violation as well. I did not weigh in as it seemed that no matter what anyone posted, he was in the right and everyone else was in the wrong. You hit the nail on the head. 73, Phil AK7DD

  2. Hi Larry,

    Good thought provoking post. Disclaimer: I do not have access to Facebook. My choice and one that I won't change, so I have not followed the discussion on the disallowed activation. When NPOTA was announced in October (I think???), it was not fully hatched. That is to say it was not announced with 14 pages of rules. I was thrilled and considered that the ARRL had hit upon a really cool way to: 1) Spur activity similar to SOTA or IOTA for those so inclined to seek adventure. 2) Give a really cool goal for those who chase paper and count coup. And finally 3) Electrify LOTW participation. Now the ARRL is not shy about issuing rule. Take a look at any of their contests, oh and bring your lawyer and magnifier glasses cause there definitely be a party of the first part, second part and, well you get the idea. So NPOTA was birthed with what can be described, not as rules, but guidelines. That's a different thing. A difference that respects the goals of the program without drawing hard immutable lines in the sand.

    Personally, I signed on for the "guidelines" version of NPOTA. When the rule police take over the show, I'm heading for the sidelines. A "guidelines" program is not based on zero-tolerance, and unfortunately for me, that seems to be where it is heading.

    I don't know a thing about the disallowed activation. I do know that the 2 activation's I participated in were a freaking gas. We tried, as best we could, to follow the rules, such as they are, but in the event we bent a few, well that was in line with my guideline's interpretation, where safety, respect and having an enjoyable event for activators and hunters is the measure of the day.

    And I agree with your comment regarding language. 14.313 and several spots on 75 mtrs aside, hams should conduct themselves in an exemplary fashion. In our local ham club, I have commented several times that when disagreements occur, the conduct or resolution has been wonderful. Nobody was belittled or verbally accosted. The situation was resolved and that was that. No drama. Everyone was still friends.

    Hope I did not hijack your thread. That was not my intention.