After the last class I spent about 5 minutes going through the next letters and numbers so I would start thinking about them. I then went to bed and it was a good and much needed break. The next day I started Session 8 practice in earnest and it went extremely well for me. I can feel a lot of classmates are frustrated and feel like they are making very little progress. Don’t worry because we are all making a lot of the same mistakes. We have to just keep putting in good practice time and reviewing previous sessions as we go and don’t forget to practice sending.

Day 1 after session 7: We are at the half way point in the class and this will be 21 letters and 7 numbers. This session is the letters B, V, and numbers 7, 9 and /. The only new ones were the B and V. During the session practice on Day 1 after the last session I had problems with the B and 2. I know that they are not the same in any way but I messed them up two times. The frustration sets in when I do something like that. I have even got the A and I missed up before as well as the W and D. No how can you mess up the A and the I or the W and D? I still screw up the A and N at times as well. Anyway, I digress. I have been doing half a session and then take a break and come back and repeat the first half and that has been going well for me. That was the plan with session 8 but I got to 25 and I had only missed 3 words at 20 WPM and 10 Farnsworth so I keep going. It took me 90 minutes to get through the lesson the first time and I missed eleven words. Once the call signs started I slowed down to 20 WPM and 5 Farnsworth.

TIP: Don’t get frustrated! If you find that happening then I recommend you take time to walk away and come back 10 or 15 minutes later. Frustration will hinder you from learning.

Sometimes these sounds gets to me and I start to feel as frustrated as a long tale cat in a room full of rocking chairs. When that happened last year I would force my way through, but this year, I stop and walk away. I think that has really helped me focus more.

The second practice session I was having problems. It took me 22 minutes to get through 1-25. I missed 6 words at 20 WPM and 5 Farnsworth. I was mixing up the D & W, the T & E, and the U & V. Those letters caused me to miss the 6. I was getting all the letters but mixing up those. Funny story, the word BED was sent and I wrote down BEW. I keep repeating the word 5 or 6 times and could not figure out what BEW meant. I hope these are normal mistakes that everyone experiences. So I took my on advice and stopped the session and will take a break and come back to it later to see if it helps. I spent about 2 hours and 20 minutes today not counting the time I was trying to tap license plates when I was driving around today.

Day 2 after session 7: Back at it, working on session 8 again and finished up the 2nd part of the session after getting frustrated last time. I spent 30 minutes finishing up the lesson and I made some silly mistakes. I hope I am not the only confusing the V and the 4. I’m convinced the A and the N are my mortal enemies. Time to go back and review session 1 for a much needed refresher. On session 1 I reviewed at 20 WPM and 20 Farnsworth for 10 minutes and completed the lesson and then did it at 20 WPM and 10 Farnsworth and completed in 5 minutes. I missed some on both and when the A and N are speed up it takes me a few times to get the difference. Am I the only one getting these two letters reversed?

Back to session 8 for more practice. I spent the next 45 minutes completed Session 8 once again. I had the settings at 20 WPM and 10 Farnsworth. I missed a total of 9 out of 50. Some of my problems are the A and N and the U, V, and 4. They sound very similar to one another and are only one dit apart. The 6 and the B are also very close and hard to tell apart for me. I hope more practice will help with those numbers and letters. I find myself anticipating again. I usually anticipate wrong and get it in my head what is coming next and when it doesn’t come I get lost. That is a bad habit that I have to find a way to break. I spent roughly 2 hours of practice today and I feel like I need much more to get these problems heading in the right direction. Just a word of encouragement to all those out there trying to learn. I still really enjoy these sessions and challenging myself, yes I get frustrated like everyone else, but if you really want to learn then you have to go through those frustrations nd set back in order to see progress. Alas, I’m going to bed and will listen on my IPhone and the CW Generator.

TIP: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, you have to put in the time to get better. I don’t think I could do this if I was only doing 30 minutes a day. I would not get through a session in a day. You have to make it a priority.

Day 3 after session 7: OK, back at it again. I spent 45 minutes completely going through session 8 again and then 15 minutes going through all the sender segments. That / mark is tough for me to send but I usually don’t have any problems recognizing it, knock on wood. I’m still having a hard time with the 6 & B and the A & N are still my enemy. I did not anticipate much this time and really concentrated on that aspect of it.

I told you before that life happens and you may not get to do all the practice you would like to. Well that happened this afternoon, my daughter was home from school this weekend and today she got me watching a series on Netflix and I spent way too much time in front of the TV. So at 10:15 PM I started on session 8 once again but with a different way this time. I set the word speed at 20 and the Farnsworth at 10 and went through the first 25 without writing this down. I don’t know if it is because they are familiar to me after the last few days but I was able to get most of the words without writing them down. I just missed a few but that maybe because I can’t remember as well as I’m concentrating on what is coming next. My hope is that the remembering gets better the more I practice not writing them down. I got in a good 20 minutes of practice on the first part of session 8 tonight with some sending practice also. The plan for tomorrow is to finish up with this session, review a few previous sessions and practice sending session 8.

TIP: Try something new in your practice session to change things up. I tried to not write down what I was hearing and the results were interesting. I bet Alan would be happy to hear that.

Day 4 after session 7 and class day: I spent about 20 minutes looking at a program called LCWO.net. It is a CW program that teaches using the Koch method. The site, Learn CW Online (LCWO), was established in May 2008 by Fabian Kurz, DJ1YFK, hoping to make learning and practicing CW (Morse code) as easy and effortless as possible. It is free and seems to be pretty good but I did not want to try it out until I have completed this course. After my experimentation I went back to finish up session 8 at 20 WPM and 10 Farnsworth and did not write down the words this time. I did pretty good but not writing them down takes some practice as well. I would forget in my head what I had decoded before I could say the word. That is another piece to learn! On to Session 8.

Until next time, keep practicing and stay at it. We can do it!

Aloha and 73!

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Darren Stacy Holbrook