We Get Comments…

And despite what some people think we publish them all with the exceptions of the white supremacist, racist, homophobic, illiterate, stupid, libellous or repetitive stuff that all sites attract.

BTW if you haven’t seen your comments here check the list above.

Anyway want to bring to your attention the comments received to posts including Peter Gamble’s posted this morning and Dave Hayes, Diane Bruce and Dave Hayes again in reply to Diane. John Bartlett also offered us a guest post on July 17. Thanks to everyone for their wisdom and for sharing them with us.

Here’s a few of my thoughts in brief:

  • I absolutely disagree that money is a deterrent to membership. Dinner out for two with your sweetie costs more than a year’s membership in RAC. (This precludes dinner at Harvey’s but you wouldn’t take your best girl or guy out to a hamburger joint would you?)
  • My membership in Toastmasters International (which I’ve held for 17 years or so) costs three times my RAC membership. But of course I get way more value from Toastmasters and there’s the point. RAC’s value argument is hard to justify.
  • I and a lot of members of my contest club (Contest Club Ontario) put out way more money in draw tickets at the annual BBQ than I pay in RAC dues. Same principle applies: I get way more value from CCO than RAC right now. Sad.
  • I’m buying 200′ of LMR400 which in retail terms could have paid for my RAC membership for five years. I’ll get more use of the cable!
  • ARES people seem to be under the delusion that we can create some sort of universally accepted credentials that will have police waving us through roadblocks.
  • I was a newspaper journalist/photographer and trust me during the early hours of anything when everybody knows nothing then nobody is going anywhere regardless of what card you’re waving around.
  • Even if we could get national or provincial agreement all of the members would have to go through police and security checks. Many won’t submit and some couldn’t pass. That’s just the way it is.
  • Amateur Radio will be called days after the “big” event when ordinary movement of civilians has been re-established and help is needed for the recovery period. We aren’t first responders although we have been the first on the scene (Alaskan Earthquake of 1964 was one our last moments of glory.).
  • What happened at 9/11 when untrained eager volunteers were turned away happened already at Elliot Lake when a self-appointed, self-trained “rescue” squad showed up and were promptly sent packing by the authorities who had to worry about little things like the law, litigation, chains of command, let alone the actual safety of the structure, possible loss of life and the viability of the rescue.
  • Few Amateur Radio operators have the time or inclination to take more than a smattering of formal training. It’s not why they’re in Ham Radio.
  • The Oakville ARES list is a good example. I’m looking at the call list and of the 41 names on the list a third I don’t know, a third are too old and infirm to be of much help (I count myself here) and a third might be capable of creating a half decent radio network at least on two meters. Sorry if this seems harsh but it is what it is and it ain’t pretty.
  • I really like what Peter Gamble says about the state of repair of most club repeaters. Here’s right on here but hand-talkies with home-made antennas up 20′ can provide sufficient coverage locally. 80 meters covers a region. Simplicity is key, complexity cripples.
  • Peter is also right on when it comes to Amateur Radio needs to be seen as a team player. That’s the role of the ARES leadership to establish these connections with the national, provincial, regional and local players.
  • I have my doubts on how well we’re being served here and that’s a big problem and I’m not alone in thinking this way.

2 thoughts on “We Get Comments…

  1. “I absolutely disagree that money is a deterrent to membership. Dinner out for two with your sweetie costs more than a year’s membership in RAC. (This precludes dinner at Harvey’s but you wouldn’t take your best girl or guy out to a hamburger joint would you?)”

    You said it yourself later when you said:
    “I’m buying 200′ of LMR400 which in retail terms could have paid for my RAC membership for five years. I’ll get more use of the cable!”

    That shows RAC has been doing a terrible job of getting amateurs engaged. I know you are proud of TCA, but taking the devils advocate here for a moment, there are now so many technical resources on the Internet, why should I pay for technical information that is handled better elsewhere? Why should I pay for amateur radio news when there are other sources?

    “What happened at 9/11 when untrained eager volunteers were turned away happened already at Elliot Lake when a self-appointed, self-trained “rescue” squad …”

    “Few Amateur Radio operators have the time or inclination to take more than a smattering of formal training. It’s not why they’re in Ham Radio.”

    “… a third are too old and infirm to be of much help…”

    The nightmare for anyone involved in emergency communications is exactly this, untrained amateur radio operators trying to ‘help’ or ‘self deploying’. However as I keep pointing out, emergency communications is not the reason most people are in Ham Radio nor should it be. (I think we agree on that point.) So now you have a small group of Hams who really do think being in Ham radio is about being somehow an auxiliary for the police (The whackers, Sorry Peter Gamble) You have a larger group that is not interested in doing emergency communications at all but would of course offer their services in a pinch if they can help at all. Then thirdly you have an aging amateur radio population. At one time I was very active in CW traffic nets, (early 70s) a recentish nostalgic visit back to old haunts and I saw it either died or had nearly done so. The last cw op still at it was very elderly, I am not so sure the phone nets are much better. The obvious solutions spring to mind. You are not possibly going to get the Ham who does DXing or contesting involved in emergency radio, but you certainly can at least provide them with a basic ‘cheat sheet’ if the fin hits the shat. That’s something an AREs group could at least easily work upon and provide. We can make the hobby much more attractive to the younger generation by making the hobby known and showing it is still relevant *technically* in todays age. For an example, here is the colour brochure we had at our last field day
    http://www.oarc.net/presentations/oarc_db_brochure.pdf

    We can do better folks. So enough with the platitudes of “We are doing this and planning that”, let’s do it. There is no lack of good ideas and potential people resources, so what is stopping us?

    73 Diane VA3DB

  2. Greetings again, Peter & Diane,

    On the money as a deterrent to RAC membership: I disagree somewhat. I agree that it should NOT be a deterrent, but I believe it is a catalyst for finding other excuses to refrain from plunking it down. Diane is correct in saying in response to your value assessment, “That shows RAC has been doing a terrible job of getting amateurs engaged.” I believe that they are trying to improve that, albeit slowly.

    Just to clear things up WRT Elliot Lake & Peter’s statement: “What happened at 9/11 when untrained eager volunteers were turned away happened already at Elliot Lake when a self-appointed, self-trained “rescue” squad showed up and were promptly sent packing by the authorities who had to worry about little things like the law, litigation, chains of command, let alone the actual safety of the structure, possible loss of life and the viability of the rescue.”

    This had absolutely nothing to do with the ARES team there. They were not involved in any way. I believe Peter was referring to other responders than radiomen who were not needed with this catastrophy. If there is information to the contrary, I would like to know about it.

    WRT ARES, there is room for everyone in our emergency assistance. Both you & Diane agree that most people are into ham radio for reasons other than emcomm. That is quite true. However, there are a few that eat, sleep and breathe emergency communications. It IS their raison d’etre as a radio amateur. They, perhaps, are the backbone of ARES and developing a better service to our served agencies. (Of course, self-deployment is one of the no-no’s of that.) Notwithstanding, at least up here in the North, we have room for everyone somewhere in the ARES group in our response plans.

    Now, back to RAC membership & fees. $50+ is not insignificant. However, it is reasonable for what RAC needs to do. Incorporated in that is membership fees for IARU based on the number of amateurs in the country; not on RAC membership. We seem to be hearing here is that RAC is doing a terrible job with this and with that and with pretty much everything one can point their finger at. Is it really so? Or, is it as Diane says, that RAC is not getting the word out?

    What I am hearing reminds me of American politics (Canadian, too). When the Republicans are in the White House, the Democrats will criticise everything that they do. Even if they do agree with some law or proposal, they will say “it should have been sooner”, or “it doesn’t go far enough. Of course, the reverse is true when the Administration is Democrat. However, no one suggests that the US government be disbanded or that the government, per se, is responsible for the mess in the country. The blame is always on the party in power. This is similar to a courtroom senario, wherein it operates on an adversarial basis. Does this apply to RAC?

    I don’t think so. Not that we all can’t use a little criticism every once in a while, but too much would give anyone pause with their $50+ in hand. And so, our public harranging on RAC’s leadership can also fuel reluctance to join.

    You see, I view RAC as different from many. They look at RAC as some separate entity by itself, like an old horse. My view of RAC is, to borrow from a name of a children’s retailer, as RAC ‘R US. We are RAC. This is us, the Radio Amateurs of Canada, by description as well as membership. We are RAC, not some temporary bodies filling various governance positions within the organization. RAC is US!!!

    And so, when we heap vitriolic abuse on RAC, we are doing it to ourselves. Do we do nothing to improve RAC? Of course not, but it has to be constructive to be of benefit. My own view of RAC’s deficiencies in servicing us the way we want reflects directly back on us. Too few want to do anything to help out; there are too few volunteers. That applies to the “top” down. A case in point is the lack of contested elections, or acclamations, that occur.

    But it’s not just with RAC. Local clubs are experiencing the same apathy. It’s hard to get anyone to do anything. Many clubs are dying for the lack of interest on the part of its members. (As well, the membership is getting older and they are getting tired.) How do we stimulate that interest, that desire to be a part of something special?

    John Bartlett had a plan of action to involve everyone, all Canadian amateurs, in the process of making RAC the organization we want. While the executive and board of RAC did not fully embrace the concept in the past, why can’t we go through some of the steps here? That is, identify what we want to see – our “dream” RAC – and how do we get there? That would be a positive discussion well worth having.

    I would love to see such an edifying discussion as that. And, just perhaps, we might stir some of the lethargy inherent in the amateur population. You see, where we are now would discourage many from joining. All they see are the cat-fights going on within and without RAC. That’s enough to turn anybody off.

    Is it possible to get something postive going here? A John Bartlett type discussion? Since RAC ‘R US, maybe we can have a positive impact on the metamorphosis of our national organization.

    Dave.

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