I was licensed as a Novice (WN5AUY) during high school through the encouragement of W5KDM. I never got comfortable with CW, the sole operating mode for Novice Class. I was not active long and didn’t advance to a General Class ticket. But, I never lost the desire to return to ham radio and become competent with Morse code.
After a very long hiatus, intent and opportunity converged, and I was re-licensed in 2002 with a General Class ticket (KG4QWP, changed to W4MSL), and then moved to Extra Class. I made sure my first contact after getting re-licensed was with CW. During those days, the paltry 5 wpm code requirement was still in place. While I “mastered” the content of the licensing exams through a lot of study, working and re-working equations and using Smith charts, I doubt I would have gotten either the General Class or Extra Class ticket very quickly (if at all) had the old 13 & 20 wpm standards been in-effect. It felt like a bit of a “back door” return to ham radio with the lower code requirement. So, I determined to “earn” my tickets retroactively, so to speak, by pushing myself to become reasonably proficient at CW and get to at least 20 wpm. K7QO’s (Chuck Adams) code course got me started, and I copied out drills from his MP3 files in cursive during long haul international flights. Much more progress came from great CWA instructors in Basic, Intermediate & Advanced CWA courses.
I have interests and responsibilities apart from ham radio, which limit my OTA time and Morse code progress, but I do participate in weekly CWT sessions, which provide a convenient and fun way to keep my finger(s) in the hobby. I did S&P with QRP for the first time recently, and was surprised by the fair number of contacts garnered, including an exchange with RM2D on 20 meters at 5 watts. Wow! Maybe I don’t need either an amp OR even 100 watts to have fun. And maybe my 135 foot window-line fed doublet is good enough for multi-band operation after all!
I read constantly, write some, garden (flowers—especially camellias—and vegetables) and have particular interest in Anglican Psalm Chant, along with other choral music, classical and modern. My musical talents and proficiency are greater than my CW skills, but still quite marginal, but good enough to almost enjoy singing challenging pieces. Kind of like CW: you have to achieve a certain level of competence to begin to enjoy either. I’m active as a chorister and Lay Reader in my local Anglican congregation. My reading is quite broad. I especially enjoy works by the “Inklings” and recently re-read all of Charles Williams’ novels. Presently, I am reading Evelyn Waugh’s war trilogy, “Sword of Valor” and slowly working my way through a seven volume commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews by 17th Century theologian John Owen. Sitting on my back porch affords both a venue for reading and CW practice as well as enjoying breathtaking and frequent appearances of bluebirds. A few weeks ago, a pair of migrating swans startled us with a day’s visit on the lakefront.
I retired from a variegated career as a physician in 2019. In addition to my medical degree (Tulane 1983), I hold a BS in Chemistry/Math (University of Southern Mississippi 1979), and advanced degrees in Epidemiology (University of Iowa 1990) and Medical Informatics (Duke 1996). I consider myself a life-long student, and have taught and published in areas of expertise. But, I consider membership in CWops a fresh and welcome achievement and hope to make some small return by “giving back.”This biography is what appeared in Solid Copy when the member joined CWops.