[amsat-bb] Re: AMSAT Satellite Communications Achievement Award #500

Nate Duehr nate at natetech.com
Wed May 20 23:57:17 PDT 2009

For all who think the AMSAT awards process should be changed: 

I can get away with saying it, so I will -- your elected officials have
to be nicer, I suppose.  (If that's the type of officials you vote
for... I'll add with a grin.)

I didn't see any volunteers to do the job.  Or in the more modern
vernacular:  "Step up, or step off." 

For those so inclined, a Biblical phrase might also suffice:  "Don't
muzzle the ox while he's treading out the grain."  In other words...
Bruce is doing the job.  Anyone thinks they can do it better, should
talk to Bruce about their perfect migration plan to take it over and
make their AMAZING sales pitch about how they'll make things better by
at least an order of magnitude.  (In other words, you better fix ALL the
problems while you're at it, or it isn't worth the change.)

Volunteer organizations exist because people volunteer.  Not because
they complain about the organization or the processes the organization
uses.  If all it took was votes to run a country...  or AMSAT... or

Hams complain too much.  I recently started seeing this when I started
spending more time AWAY from Ham Radio and in a completely different
hobby "crowd".  Seriously.  That group throws breakfasts that are open
to the public, they invite people to come see what they're doing almost
EVERY weekend (not just "Field Day"), etc.  Yes, there are some ham
groups that do this... AMSAT is one of the best at trying to "get the
word out" that Amateur Radio & Satellites is fun.

As President of a much smaller Ham group than AMSAT, I know the ratio is
about 40:1.  How do I know?  400 members in my organization, 10 that
actually do any work.  MAYBE another 10 if I'm lucky and beg a lot... so
we'll call it 20:1.   19 "whiners in their recliners" and 1 person
working to make it better actually works, but just barely.   I
appreciate the membership dues greatly from the 19, but I value that ONE
person out of that 19 more than anything else in the organization.  If
the 19 complain and none step up to fill the one's shoes, that one
pretty much gets to do things as they see fit, unless 10 of the 19 walk
away because of it.

How many members in AMSAT?  How many working on for for AMSAT?  In a
volunteer organization, you either complain about stuff, or fix it
yourself... there's really only two choices when it comes down to it.

More interestingly in this whole thing:  Only 500 awards total?!  That
in itself was a shocker to me... maybe I don't know the history
(timeline) of the award, or maybe it's just a sign that only 500 people
have ever bothered.  I know I haven't...  

I'm an ardent fan of aerospace and everything about it (hint: The "other
group" is the General Aviation community... you know, those
much-maligned "small planes" that seem to magically have just started
"making noise" when their airport that used to be miles from anyone, is
suddenly surrounded by a wave of idiots... ahem... nice homeowners who
built underneath the airport's traffic pattern?  Yeah, they go BEGGING
for people to come out to the airport, go flying, bring the kids out,
eat some free pancakes, and see what's going on.  EVERY good weather day
in the summer there's a group somewhere within a few hour's drive doing
a fly-in, a breakfast, a public good-will event.  Hams?  Field Day. 
Once a year.  And a hamfest or two.)

Anyway... as one of my friends would say, "Good on you, Bruce.  Don't
let the bastards get you down!"  (Not implying anyone in the
conversation here is a bastard... it's just my friend's phrase.  Feel
free to NOT do the standard Internet "thing" and read more into that
than was meant.  You can't hear the funny accent or get the slap on the
back from my friend that would go along with it, from an e-mail, trying
to cheer you up!)

Thanks Bruce, and thanks to AMSAT for being there.  Some of us out here
know EXACTLY what it's like to volunteer -- others just wish for a
better life, instead of making their own.  A lot of that going on in
Washington's sales pitches these days, too.  I think it's WAY cool to
tell someone... "Did you know I could walk out to the Jeep with you and
sometime in the next hour or so, we could talk through a satellite to
someone else doing the same thing somewhere else in the country?  Free?"
 That always boggles people's minds... if they really "get it" about any
of the costs or operational issues with putting a satellite in orbit. 
Even those who don't -- still are somewhat amazed.

Let's focus on THEM and not what pieces of paper with dates and numbers
we can put on the wall.  I VHF contest to win, but if someone new shows
up at our contest site, they're ALWAYS given some time at the rigs...
even if it slows our "Q rate" down and we lose a notch in the standings,
at least we go home knowing EVERYONE got to play, and we had fun.  Isn't
that the point of a hobby where we drag three trailers, one for towers,
one for a communications/operating trailer, and at least one camper
trailer to sleep in, sometimes two... to the top of a cow-pasture
(literally) in Eastern Colorado to call "CQ" once a summer?

Another ham I originally mentored, but as all things... they end up
teaching you something too... said once... "I'm having fun.  Are you?" 
He's also ordering a bumper sticker, "If it isn't fun.  Stop doing it." 
:-)   Trust me, if you do that... you'll drive those who are incapable
of having fun, even when they have all the ingredients... crazy. 
Utterly crazy.

By the way, that new ham I mentored... was my dad.  And he has more fun
with his gear than I've EVER had.  What a great example he sets...

Awards?  Contests?  Not his thing.  Catching something rare or
interesting on the bands and talking to them for a few minutes... makes
his whole day.  He has more DX logged already than I ever have, MOBILE. 
In the bottom of the sun-spot cycle.

So, folks... if AMSAT Awards and/or how they're administered aren't FUN
for you -- just move on and operate.  Take it a little less seriously...
and leave folks who do a GREAT job like Bruce to do the jobs they enjoy.
 (Trust me, if he didn't enjoy doing it, he wouldn't be.  It's too much
work and too little thanks to deal with that 20:1 ratio.  Believe me...
or volunteer to walk in his shoes.  But please... only volunteer if you
ENJOY the work.  Ham radio's joyless enough already as it is.  For some
of you.  NOT ME!)

Havin' a blast on the radio here... and I don't care about Bruce's
method of picking some numbers for some wallpaper... THANKS TO MY DAD


Nate WY0X
  Nate Duehr
  nate at natetech.com

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