Learning the Code (again) – Part 2

My CWA class and I are entering our fourth week of study, and it seemed an opportune time for a quick status update.
First, a quick word about our instructor. Glenn, W4YES, is a retired NASA engineer with a passion for morse and a real talent for cheerleading. His patient understanding of our frustrations and stumbling blocks has been remarkable. He is ably assisted by Phil, W2OZB, a retired airline pilot with an enthusiasm that is hardly contained by Skype during our bi-weekly online meetings. Together they’re a great pair to have as a resource, and their constant support keeps us all focused.
The six students in the class hail from a variety of backgrounds and experience, and although we have no youngsters in the group, the rest of us cover quite a few decades. None of us learn at the same rate, and not all of us have unlimited time in which to study. But somehow, through gentle cajoling and exhortation, we all seem to be progressing at roughly the same rate.
Last week I had just about given up on learning faster morse code. I enjoyed early success with diligent study, but I had hit the proverbial wall and was beginning to regress. Others in the class were saying that the 20 WPM practice sessions and short stories were coming easily to their ear, and I was struggling. 20 WPM? I could barely manage 13. Feeling somewhat down, I decided I would go to one more class, the sixth of sixteen, and then write Glenn and tell him that I just didn’t have what it takes.
At the beginning of each class, Glenn gives us all a chance to voice our concerns, brag about our victories, and ask questions. I took this opportunity to tell everyone that I seemed to be stuck in a quagmire, and not progressing. To my surprise almost everyone told me they were in the same place. It is said that misery loves company. I’m not sure that’s true, but I felt much better knowing the others were feeling as I did. I decided to stick it out. What is the worse that could happen? Certainly, the world wouldn’t end, nor would the balance of geopolitical power be affected. Time to move on and leave the self pity behind.
Following the sixth class, I got on the air and listened to some morse code. I was easily following along with a conversation between two hams, and guessed the speed was about 13 to 15 WPM. I fired up a computer decoder, and found it to be 20 WPM. Oh. Maybe I can do this, if I stop worrying so much about measuring myself against others.

To be continued…

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