I try to post something of interest in blogs, and based on the past several years, usually it's scientific or informational. I've tried to stay away from all things Trump although that's increasingly hard. Since Sunday mornings, especially, are introspectional for me, with classical music on KMFA FM, here goes something different.
Two things really grabbed me today and I feel the urge to comment on the big world of personal connectivity out there. Feel free to discard these thoughts as dodderings of a man in his mid-seventies, but I do hope you will indulge me.
Several times a week, I enjoy going up to my ham radio station, which is located in a guest house a hundred feet or so up a hill behind our place here. After years of trying lots of different things in the hobby, I've earned the right, or maybe just flat-out got tired of trying new stuff, so for ten years I now operate only Morse code. This antique method is used still by hundreds of thousands of radio hams around the world, and can substitute for the lack of knowledge of a specific language. For me, however, it's just flat-out relaxing, and somehow the mental translation magic of hearing these dits and dahs coming through the radio and coming out as information is wonderful. I kid myself (maybe it's not kidding) that it helps my brain fight off all sorts of old-age problems. Hmmm.
There are times when the conversations are quite routine: signal report, name, and location. Fini! But more and more I enjoy getting into the backgrounds with people. Lately, I've run across the former head of R&D for all of IBM's semiconductor business, as well as a fellow who lives on a horse ranch in Reddick, Florida. This latter man is retired from some huge business he founded working with DARPA in DC. It's a bit odd that he, himself doesn't ride at all, and rents out his stables, etc, to trainers for other people. Both of these dudes are PhDs and clearly out of my league in many respects. But we share the love of Morse code. So where am I going with this morning's "personal escapade"?
Actually, both contacts this morning were pretty routine. No one was a captain of industry or sported more degrees than a thermometer. Both were salt-of-the Earth chats, and about fifteen minutes long. I had contacted each before in the past six months. The first fellow was in Pikeville, KY. Now you may not know much about Pikeville, but this eastern Kentucky town has been in the past the home of some of the richest coal veins and wealthiest coal barons in the country. "Doug" was not a coal guru, just a retired fellow who lives out of town "in the deep, dark Kentucky hills" as he says, and likes to sit on the porch and read. Oh, he also likes to ride his motorcycle on hundred mile trips, but with a knee replacement coming up in a few weeks, he's staying close to home. He told me that he had read my book, Contact Sport, and enjoyed it. Hmmm. Nice to hear that!
The second contact was even more personally emotional to me, as "Steve" near Rochester, NY, called me just as "Doug" and I were signing off. To be candid, Steve called me at a rather slow speed, and his signal was not that great, but mostly solid copy. I went back thinking this would be an "in and out" contact, but as it turned out, we had talked (Morse of course) while he was in his car back several months ago. He's a slow-but-sure Morse man and told me he had bought both of my books. He went on to say that he read Reunion in two days, and the second night he stayed up until he read 200 pages and finished the entire thing. He said "I loved the story." He then went on to say he was reading Contact Sport now. Although he didn't elaborate, I got the impression that he wasn't exactly ripping through the non-fiction tale of the "Ham Radio Olympics." Not sure. But it was so self-assuring to hear that two people, neither of which I know other than this thin thread of Morse code and ham radio, would connect with me on the radio as well through my efforts to write. An example of the "Six Degrees of Separation" theory? As I sometimes tell people, that's probably worth a quarter, which will get me twelve minutes of parking on an Austin street.
Oh well. This has been from the heart. Thanks for letting me get all "personal" with you.
JK (Jim) George
Please feel free to post a comment here on the blog, or email me directly at <firstname.lastname@example.org> with any remarks. Also, I'll very much appreciate your recommendation of "Contact Sport" and/or "Reunion" to friends and book clubs. In addition, I'd be pleased to appear at book clubs and/or radio clubs within a two-hour drive of Austin to discuss either book.