Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Long Ago, but Not So Far Away

I once found myself thoroughly bemused by amateur radio (ham radio). This was near the time of the Citizen's Band radio craze -- 10-4, good buddy -- but ham radio is an electron of another amperage. Ham radio requires a written technical test and a proficiency in Morse code.

I received my license, and ultimately progressed (1980 was the year) to the top license -- Amateur Extra, which required Morse code sending and receiving skills at 20-words-per-minute. I loved Morse code operation. There was something exotic about tapping out a message on a low-powered transmitter and conversing with a person across the continent or on the other side of the world.

About that time I met Wes, a physics professor at the University of Kansas who later went to work for a laboratory at Los Alamos. We conversed for years, always through Morse code, and we met in person several times. Wes died last year. I sent his widow my sympathy and sent a Christmas card last month. When she replied, she sent along the picture shown here, and an old QSL card* I had sent Wes. It brought back a lot of memories, all good.


*My FCC call sign when I met Wes was WB0OMC. In phonetics (used for clarity in voice transmissions), it was expressed as Whiskey Bravo Zero Oscar Mike Charlie. I had the bright idea of using the three monkeys (Hear no evil. Speak no evil. See no evil.) as Oscar, Mike, and Charlie. After I had the QSL cards made, I became hesitant about sending them to contacts in the Far East because I couldn't remember if the monkeys had religious connotations.
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