22 Dec. 2006
SETI League
PriUPS Project

Ben's Best Bids 'Bye

As the year starts thinking about coming to a close, we cast our minds back over our lives, think about our loved ones, and silently or noisily contemplate meaningful people and events.  At least we do if we're someone else.  This we, editorially speaking, is contemplating at the moment an event both momentous and trivial, and do not plan to be especially noisy about it.  In particular, if you click on the "MP3 - LISTEN," icon, you will not be treated to a version of this blogitem in Morse Code.  Why?  Morse Code, is now officially out.

When last I wrote about Morse Code, it was still a requirement for obtaining a ham license.  A minimal requirement, to be sure, since the facility required had been reduced by a factor of four over the years, to the point where one had to "copy" at only five words per minute.  In the past, 20WPM was required for the highest grade license, and the most proficient operators could easily double that.  5WPM sounds almost as slow in Morse as it would be if you had to talk or read at that rate.

Is it still a requirement?  Not any more.  On 19 December the FCC dropped the third shoe:  No more Morse.

I learned Morse Code almost fifty years ago!  Which means that I have been a ham radio operator for about half the time that radio itself existed.  I don't need to cut off my leg and count my rings to give myself permission to wax a bit sentimental, which I hereby do.  I love Morse, and will continue to do so until all the twitch goes out of my fingers.  (I can easily send right- and left-handed, which is more than I can say for my ability to produce legible scribbles.)  The rest of the country will note its passing with the odd "human interest" story or perhaps semi-comical news column or radio interstitial.  And I will note it just with this brief blog entry.  No gnashing, no bemoaning, and only the slightest, attenuated wail, which could have been a zephyr rustling the mounds of leaves.  (Nope, sounded like an attenuated wail to me.)

Why such a minor mourn?  Morse is no longer required, but it isn't going anywhere.  It's neither forgotten nor forbidden, and the dits and dahs will ring out on the ham bands 'til the last codger emits his final SK.  As for me, I'm about to program some Morse ring tones into my new Motorola Q*.

This is my last entry 'til after Christmas.  Please to have the nice celebratory weekend.

*The jury is still out on the Q.  I ordered and received it, as I reported recently, and haven't decided if I want to keep it.  It has issues.  More on this soon.

NP:  "Love Loss & Lunacy" - Mary Lee's Corvette (On Pandora, which deserves its own blogitem)

Richard Factor

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