Tuesday, January 8, 2008

A darned shame

I lost a good RV building buddy today, and you probably did, too. Darwin Barrie is one of my favorite people. He's also the straw that stirs the drink on the annual RV BBQ at Oshkosh. I can't imagine an Oshkosh without him.

Darwin ran into a developing problem in the RV community, and has decided to pull out of it, except for giving advice and being available to local RV builders in the Arizona area.

The atmosphere on Planet RV has gotten poisonous in recent months, I've noticed. There was a time, you young whippersnappers, when the RV community was a group of like-minded individuals in matters of airplanes, who were smart enough to know that politics, religion, and primer were three subjects to stay away from, because most of us valued the joy of being together too much.

That was then, however. And this is now. Increasingly, it seems, one can't offer advice on the many bulletin boards without a flame war of some sort breaking out, each clinging to the misguided belief that there's only one true way to build these airplanes.

Darwin ran into it on a VAF thread and, as a result, decided to pull out of VAF and all of the other bulletin boards where he's been such a helpful voice for years. He also let me know he won't be involved with the RV BBQ at Oshkosh this year. I can't say that I blame him. As the RV community becomes more like the world at large, the joy it brings is markedly reduced. For that, I blame ... well... us. I suspect we'll see more of this as the "old guard" moves on. What a pity!

I feel his pain and, frankly, I've been wondering lately whether it makes sense to have the RV BBQ anyway. There is more and more bickering taking place as hundreds of new builders come into the community, and maybe it's better if we try to remember the BBQ as it was, and remember a time when everyone got along and enjoyed being with one another.

Those were certainly the days.


  1. I read your post at the Yahoo RV group, which led me to your blog. I did not read the thread you were referencing but it does not take much of an imagination to visualize its contents. Some where, along the way to newer technology, we have lost the ability to communicate our ideas, beliefs and concerns clearly and civilly.

    Maybe it is the media. If I were talking to you face to face, there would be as much communication via my face and body as there was my spoken word. While computer technology gives me a larger audience, it does not give me the necessary feedback that tends to ensure I am not misunderstood.

    Maybe it is the people. In some cases, their typed message is worded in a fashion that seems, or is read, with more intensity or meaning than is really intended. Others may try to type “tongue in cheek” that is a misunderstood attempt at humor. Unfortunately, many can be described as poisonous. They do mean to communicate in the fashion and method they employ.

    Maybe it is our culture and society. They have both moved decidedly to the poisonous communication method. Turn on just about any talk show, news show or featured interview and you can see it everyday. Talking heads shout at each other, interrupt each other and, generally speaking, are just rude. Those conducting interviews exhibit the same behavior. Even NPR has moved closer to that model. For example after Bob Edwards was replaced the tone of Morning Edition has changed to one of confrontation, more of a “Foxification” of NPR.

    I am not sure how we change this situation. I tend to believe it will not change if we shut down BBQs or disengage. When I was younger and spoke rudely, I was corrected. Maybe that is the better course of action for us all; civil, polite and firm correction.

  2. I know how Darwin feels. In the 5 1/2 years it took to build my RV-7 I have answered a few peoples questions. I was rewarded in almost every case, not with thanks, but with an antagonistic "that isn't the answer I wanted to hear" attitude.

    For the most part I only answer questions off-group and direct for that reason. I think the Internet and politics is the death of civilization and civility in the world today.

    Bob, I would hate to see you give up the barbeque, but I certainly can understand the reasons why. Forge on with your project and don't let "them" beat you down.

    Kevin Faris N426KF Flying, weather permitting

  3. Ok, I'm not a builder, but...

    I wonder if some of this kind of thing happens not only because of the overall breakdown in society (which I believe has happened, but I didn't see anything to that degree in the thread, although it may have been expunged before I got there) but simply because the RV fleet has grown so large.

    With as many completions as there are now, it's not unlikely that new ways of doing tasks that formerly had a "tried and true" method that was accepted as something akin to gospel have emerged. Is there the perception of heresy from some of the old school that might make them a little over sensitive to differing opinion? I'm not saying that happened in this specific case - it's more of a general question.

  4. I know exactly how he feels. I left the Matronics list to go the VAF site years ago when Doug first started it. Scott McDaniels left those lists when he tried to give out honest to goodnes bona fide Van's Aircraft advice to builders but was often criticized or belittled. He works for Van for crying out loud!

    Now two or three distinct camps or clicks have developed within it. If you are not a member of those clicks, no one will listen to you, no one will take you seriously.

    I also decided to abandon VAF a few months ago but no took notice. I'm also going to divest myself of everything RV because of something I've found; the guys that fly the old tube and rag planes are a lot more fun to be around. Heck, even the ultra-light guys are more welcoming than any RV shindig I've been to. Over the next few months I'll slowly divest myself of all RV memberships. It's too bad really. The good ol' days are gone.