All this talk about s-meters and signal strengths and RST reports
and radios without s-meters being whatever they are reminded me
of two things. The first was, easily enough, my first receiver.
It was a Heath SB-310 (the swl version of the SB-301). It had a
meter, but I never figured out how to use it and just let it sit
there on the front panel and wiggle at me.
The second memory was a conversation -- with notes -- that some
of my friends and I had during a class about grading student
papers. The process of grading -- like giving signal reports --
appears to most to be highly subjective. We came up with some
points and questions:
->> Does a grade really tell anyone anything?
Grades measure only small ranges of ability, those ranges
being decided upon, more often than not, by the teacher
whose position becomes that of observer.
->> Asking for grades is asking for inaccurate feedback because
grades are really comments about work done.
->> For many students, not having a grade on the paper is like
having nothing else to look at. No grade means that the
work appears to have been done in vain. Students, like
most of us, want to feel that their work means something.
This is the result of a societal convention of establishing
hierarchies of power, skill, knowledge and outright
->> Ultimately, grading appears to involve my asking the student
to do something that she or he has never done before and
then saying that I'll measure how much the student fails.
If we apply the same considerations to RSTs and s-meter readings,
it becomes pretty obvious pretty quick that we're just looking
for validation of a permission to send a signal. If we are heard
at all, we feel that the hours spent bent over a board with a
soldering iron in our hands were hours well-spent. The more
easily we are heard, the better we feel. But it's important to
remember that it is not just our skill as builders, designers or
modifiers that gets us the validating signal report. We are also
dealing with wires in the air, clouds of ionized oxygen and the
amount of pidgeon dung that is crusted between one side of the
insulator and the other. S-meters, like the people who design the
circuits which drive them, are subjective beasts that operate on
the basis of cold physics. The fact that all of us, ultimately,
are part of those cold operations of physics slips past us and we
find ourselfs listing 579(!) in our logs with a sense of smug
satisfaction on our faces.
It's simply this: we all wanna be loved, even by the laws of the
universe that we play with every time we flip the power switch to
"on." And sometimes we get lucky.
"Now junior, you know how we feel about people who can't suppress
their food barks."
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