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The Manual-Writing Bonus and the Gift that Muted the World

Friday July 3, 2020

So, last week I hit publish on an Operation Guide for the R-108 shortwave radio. So I thought I’d share some reflections on the experience.

There are three reasons why I wrote the guide. First, I wrote the thing because I was triggered to hear that no one could find the official PDF manual on the internet. That’s always really annoying. And anyway, the manuals for these radios are usually pretty bad. I remember thinking, “I could probably find my copy, but still, whatever I can write from scratch will likely be an improvement.” Cocky maybe, but it’s also relevant that so many of those manuals truly suck.

Second, I wrote it because I was familiar with relevant INTJ Character Bonuses and really, it’s hard to go wrong when you get that +2 or whatever the bonus is on your die roll. If your character’s skill attributes in Research and Consumer Electronics Operation are reasonably OK, then I think there’s a reasonable chance it’ll be a good experience.

In this case I took the “I Rewrote the Manual” Level 2 bonus, but included some Level 3 stuff like my personal tips for getting the most out of it. I am thinking of taking things more in that direction in the future.

And third, I wrote it because I knew the radio pretty well already. I use it quite a bit to tune in stations from around the world, and I have enjoyed getting to know how it works.

Naming the guide was a bit of a weird one, too. In the past, I’ve had some really blunt (er…I mean, smart!) critics write me about naming things. One of these people read a review I wrote, in which I shared my general experiences with a thing. “THIS IS NOT A REVIEW. YOU NEED TO DO MORE RESEARCH ON YOUR TOPIC,” they wrote.

Unfortunately their deep, personal irritation took on a very entitled tone. I like to think this person was probably really excited about the thing being reviewed, and wanted to know it inside and out before deciding whether to buy it. And, unfortunately, I hadn’t consulted them on the title of my work. lol

Anyway, this got me thinking. Wouldn’t it be cool to make this my own type of publication anyway? So I decided to call my version an “Operation Guide”, and then edited it to read “KM6NHH Operation Guide” because I wanted to make sure there was no confusion: I positively revel in the fact that a “KM6NHH Operation Guide” is no one’s concept but my own.

Now, at this point I was starting to give the “depth” facet of the “introvert” mental model a real workout. I was thinking all about this new publication of mine, from top to bottom. I imagined turning it into a starter kit for radio owners. I imagined designing and selling my own radios, with important value-adds that would make the ownership experience more educational and interesting!

By the end of the day, I was positively drunk with interest in the topic. Nothing else was really on my mind at all. I was lost in the effort, and happily lost at that. But people around me were starting to notice. My wife brought dinner out to my office, which is always super amazing, but also a big “???”, as in “what in the world are you doing that’s this important?” Her parents asked a similar question, as they were our dinner guests that evening. “Well, I don’t want to RADIWOW, but you see, the RADIWOW has got me into RADIWOW things so deep that I just had to RADIWOW for a bit, and then I started to RADIWOW even more…”

It’s a funny name for sure. And from that perspective, it all feels so random. Who cares about this little radio? All the same, I can’t fault the experience at all, due to the way it had me humming at some highly-resonant creative frequencies.

This is exactly how it feels to put one’s gifts to use, and even if they only make a small difference, it’s no wonder that these experiences seem to momentarily eclipse the significance of one’s entire universe.

Filed in: Interests /111/ | Energy /120/ | Technology /41/

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