Appliance Operators

Before this summer, I had never really heard this term very much.  It refers to many of the users of technology today that simply don't understand it.  Like a toaster, you put in two slices of bread, and two pieces of toast come out, unexplainable and like magic.

Lordy, you haven't seen (heard?) an appliance operator until you've gotten on Amateur radio.  Some of these operators are completely clueless as to what is going on inside their radio.  They just go out and buy a thousand dollars worth of radios and antennas and tuners, etc etc, and then get on the air, almost like magic.

Like magic, they're able to talk to anyone else in the Bay Area, or if they figure out EchoLink, they can talk to anyone in the world!  They can moan and groan about the same bad traffic every night, and talk about how they managed to work a station in the UK yesterday, by dialing into a node in the UK, and how magical it was.

I was like that too.
I won't lie.  I started in June and was completely clueless.  I didn't know a PL tone from an offset.  But, in a matter of three weeks I bought, studied, took, and passed my General test.  The week before that, I bought 10 feet of copper tubing and built myself an antenna.  I've gotten packet radio to work on my laptop with little more than a speaker and a 3 foot audio patch cable.

I've improved.  Yet these same people I hear every day talking on the radio, are just as clueless now as they were two months ago when I knew as much as they did.  The community continually heralds us Amateurs as the cutting edge of technology, yet 80% of the people I hear on the radio refer to computers as those "new fangled confusing machines."

So now I'm confused.
This entire rant comes down to this question: What is it really like?  I've so far been limited by equipment to short range communications inside of a valley.  My plan at this point was to get an HF rig for Christmas, but if it's all the same, I don't want to go buy another radio so I can hear people on the other side of the continent refer to them as "new fangled confusing machines."  There has been a lot of doubt injected into my future in this hobby.

I might be wrong though.  For all I know, these people really just can't pass the General test and are stuck, suspended indefinitely, on 2 meters moaning about the traffic and pointing out that it's sunny where they are too!

FYI: I think the closest person I've met at any Amateur function to my age was in his mid 30s.  I have nothing against hanging out with people three times my age, but I know most people my age do.

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