A sense of rhythm

 This morning, I have had a comfortable chat with Jack W8KR on 20m after a bit of interval.

He ran his old bug quite fascinatingly as usual. The polar flare, however, was terrible in the beginning of the QSO, which sometimes disturbed us to read each other. While I went QRS with my keyer, he started using a straight key. What beautiful Morse Code! I wondered if it was a straight key or the dash side lever of the bug he was sending with. He answered it was a straight key since his beginner's days. I was again impressed at his very beautiful keying with it.

His mentor W8QIX used to tell him at his age 13 years not to use a bug for a year. After having operated that straight key he got in 1955, he got the present bug for his birthday gift and began using it at age 15 years. I believe that training period for a year and plus with the straight key has made his keying so perfect. His decent keying might be thanks to his talent in rhythm but also to that training. Each letter sounds neat. Most impressively, the spaces between words were what they should be. The space lets us easily copy the sentence. Needless to say, we understand the message based on each word composing a sentence. If each word is not clearly distinguished from the other words, it might be quite tough for us to read the sentence and comprehend the message.

We believe sending Morse Code in proper spaces. Between dashes/dots as well as between words. In actual communication on Morse Code, the inter-words spaces are crucial to have the hearer understand the message due to the reason stated above. It is, however, quite a matter of subjectivity. It is a capability to objectively listen to own sending by him/herself. It requires us some training. In Jack's case, he might be blessed with a talent in that point. And his mentor has made it flowered. His flexibility in rhythm must has made it perfect in the period of training.

I should hook the straight key I got at age 13 years to the radio and sometimes practice with it. In my case, it is a discipline to endure my short temper.

I told Jack he could have been a musician if he had not grabbed a key but a musical instrument at age 13 years.


Preparing a farm ridge and prospect of food deficit

We have been in cold snaps coming successively since mid Dec. last year. It has been below the freezing point every day. In the daytime, I don't have so much to do in the garden/farm. The only work I have done in the farm was to clear the fallen leaves from the chestnut tree in the strawberry farm. Exactly, without caring for, it is a lot of strawberry plants grown wild beneath and close to the tree. There were a lot of chestnut fruits among them as well.

We could hardly find any sign of spring yet. But a ume tree is already in bud, even though they are still pretty small. In a week or two, it may start blooming. It is still rather late this year.

I thought it was the time to cultivate ridges for potatoes, which should be planted in the end of next month. Compost made from weeds was mowed into the bed. Natural farming I am interested in lately tells not to pull the weeds grown there. Weeds  should be used for mulching the plants. It sounds reasonable to me that the farm should be ecologically closed not taking things away so much and not adding there things like artificial fertilizer to the farm. I wonder if I could follow their way of farming. So far, I would be friendly to weeds or worms there. They are not enemies for ecological farming.

I would prepare such ridges for various vegetables for summer. It begins with potatoes. 

I have had back pain even with this amount of work. Aging and disuse syndrome. I should exercise a bit more before it comes the season of farming. 

As you know, there was a big eruption of submarine volcano near Tonga yesterday. It has caused Tsunami in Japan without almost any damages. I am afraid it has brought certain size of damages in various countries/islands in the South Western Pacific. International society should give a hand of help to them as soon as possible.

Another point of concern is what effect it would cause the world weather for the coming years ahead. This eruption was comparable to that caused by Mt. Pinatubo in Phillipines in 1991. The latter has brought about the cold climate for a year or two which lead to the poor crop especially in the northern hemisphere. Our country has had to emergently import rice from abroad due to poor harvest of rice. In caloric base, our country is only 40% self-sufficient as for food provision. The food self-sufficiency rate in this country has been gradually dropping since 2 or 3 decades ago. To subsidize the farmers by the government is really necessary in our country. But the program the related governmental office appeals seems only a series of slogans. Our government is really enthusiastic for expansion of armaments against Chine in Okinawa and related islands there. But before such military security works, our country could be devastated due to food deficit in the near future, I am afraid.

So that is partially why I would work hard to grow such as potatoes and sweet potatoes in order to survive in such an occasion.


A pirate in the East Coast and a factor which determines ham radio activity

 Yesterday, Don WB6BEE has sent me an e mail with a couple of photos. One was his new shack in the basement. No radio yet. But it could be a storage of a lot of radios. The only issue for him is how to set an outdoor antenna. I am sure he will get it done soon.

The other photo showed the map of signals his skimmer had received. He said it had captured "my signal" on 40m. Strange enough. It was when I was not on. "My signal" was too loud at the skimmers in the East Coast. And I could never carry on such QRS as 17WPM "my signal" sender was going with. Evidently, it was my pirate possibly in the East Coast.

Nowadays, very few are enjoying the ordinary old fashioned QSOs. But there are still such pirates pretending even me. I sure would like to see "me" and to ask if "he" could put up with such slow sending/receiving for his navigation speed. I am too short tempered to stay slow in that way.       

With Done gone away from Colo. to Va., 7026 KHz has become more empty than ever. He used to hang out there in his early morning hours before going for morning walk. There were quite some guys gathering on that spot around him. Without him, that spot sounds like a candle that is about to extinguish its fire. The over all activity in ham radio, especially in this small world of CW, might be determined by such a guys' activity. It must be important to have someone like him activate certain spot on the bands. 


Langsamer Satz by Belcea String quartet

Just for a memorandum.

 I have written about Webern and this piece, one of his early works, in a previous post.  Here.

This performance by Belcea String Quartet, a British ensemble debuted in 2000, attracts me most. It starts quietly with the melody by the 1st violin. The beginning won't indicate the lively drama coming up later. The 1st violin player renders exquisitely moving passages. It could not be more romantic. I believe she is positioned as the center in this ensemble. This quartet is named after her family name. I am most indulged in her song with the instrument. I wish they would have released this piece with CD. Not yet. 

Last night thinking over about this piece when going to sleep, I felt this piece is not only a romantic piece but also expressing the sorrow of existence. As with deeply emotional music, it expresses both pleasure from romanticism as well as sorrow at the same time. It is strange enough but sure reflects two aspects of a life event. That may be why such a piece of music fascinates us so much. 


A psychological research regarding reception of Morse Code

 When I found this article among abstracts in PubMed, I could not suppress a grant of admiration at it, or more exactly, was deeply impressed at the fact that such a theme as this is epistemologically investigated.

I could hardly mention or evaluate about the content of this research due to lack of knowledge about the concept in psychology. I should understand about the methodology of this investigation, which is not described in this short abstract. 

I could point out that they have not paid much attention on the function of prediction as for what will follow next in the context of the message sent on CW. This is the important point to achieve reading by ears on CW as in the ordinary verbal conversation as I repeatedly emphasized in some articles in this blog. In this research, the short term memory function is regarded vital, which I could not fully approve.

Secondly, the terminology such as item memory is now related with function at certain area in the brain. They should relate such concept with brain physiological findings. Nowadays, such relationship of certain psychological concepts with anatomical/functional findings could be investigated with such as functional MRI.

The laboratory the 2nd author belongs to is in University of Pittsburgh, where, I remember, there were researchers as for reception system of CW. This theme could never be an object of research which attracts academic attention. But if CW, the simplest form of communication is investigated with modern technology in brain science, it might be flourishing in an field of experimental epistemology. CW won't become extinct at least.    


Comprehension of Morse Code Predicted by Item Recall From Short-Term Memory



Purpose Morse code as a form of communication became widely used for telegraphy, radio and maritime communication, and military operations, and remains popular with ham radio operators. Some skilled users of Morse code are able to comprehend a full sentence as they listen to it, while others must first transcribe the sentence into its written letter sequence. Morse thus provides an interesting opportunity to examine comprehension differences in the context of skilled acoustic perception. Measures of comprehension and short-term memory show a strong correlation across multiple forms of communication. This study tests whether this relationship holds for Morse and investigates its underlying basis. Our analyses examine Morse and speech immediate serial recall, focusing on established markers of echoic storage, phonological-articulatory coding, and lexical-semantic support. We show a relationship between Morse short-term memory and Morse comprehension that is not explained by Morse perceptual fluency. In addition, we find that poorer serial recall for Morse compared to speech is primarily due to poorer item memory for Morse, indicating differences in lexical-semantic support. Interestingly, individual differences in speech item memory are also predictive of individual differences in Morse comprehension. Conclusions We point to a psycholinguistic framework to account for these results, concluding that Morse functions like "reading for the ears" (Maier et al., 2004) and that underlying differences in the integration of phonological and lexical-semantic knowledge impact both short-term memory and comprehension. The results provide insight into individual differences in the comprehension of degraded speech and strategies that build comprehension through listening experience. Supplemental Material https://doi.org/10.23641/asha.16451868.

An e mail from an old friend of mine since med student days

On the New Year's Day, I have received an e mail for the New Year Greeting from an old friend of mine, Ms. U. 

I have first known her more than 40 years ago. It was at a backstage of a concert hall when we, the university orchestra, have finished a concert. It was the only opportunity when I played the role of the cello top. A violinist, Ms. K, took her there. They have proposed to me to play a piano trio. Both of them were students of music education at a famous women's university. Both of them were freshmen of the university which has been the cooperative school for orchestral activity with our mother school. I was more than happy to have had such a proposal from such not only lovely but also proficient musicians like them. It was the Archduke trio by Beethoven we have played. Apparently, both of them, who would be professional musicians in the future, were much more skillful at their instrument than me with cello. That was why I have enjoyed playing with them. I still remember like events yesterday that we have practiced at the old rehearsal room of the university or even at its big hall. In half a year or so, we have finished all the movements of that trio. Ms. U has performed grand music with absolutely reliable technique. 

This photo was taken at a summer camp of the orchestra. Ms. U, the person in the middle of the photo, has joined the orchestra for a year as a cellist. She quit the club in order to concentrate on piano then. What lovely girls!

Ms. U used to visit us at the dorm for the residents at a med school where I and my wife served residency. She went for a postgraduate school majoring in piano performance. Later, she went to the US with her husband, a medical researcher, and studied further piano at a university there. It seemed she had worked as an accompanying pianist for the other musicians as well as a practice pianist for the Saito Kinen orchestra chorus organized by Seiji Ozawa.

It has been for more than a couple of decades we talked to play each other in some occasion only in the New Year's greeting cards. Both of us have been too busy and involved too much in own work and family affairs.

When I started my own practice and recalled playing cello for a hobby in late '90s, it was her name that brought up in my mind as a pianist. I would like to play chamber music with her. At my request to play something together, she kindly accepted it and came to see me in Tokyo. She looked all the same as in the student days. We have played the 1st movement of Mendelssohn's 1st piano trio for the first time. The violinist was a younger friend of ours, an alumni of the med university. For the next few years, we have played various chamber music together. One day, we have gathered with other players in Nagano for chamber ensemble. A lot of pieces were performed in that event. Drinking and talking a lot as well. In the end, we have played the famous d minor piano concerto by Mozart in chamber music arrangement, of course, with her as the soloist. I could not forget her playing really demonish cadenza for the 1st movement. Her son, aged around 11 or 12 years, was beside me as a cellist then.   

This photo was taken at a small concert we played that Mendelssohn's trio. Twenty three years have passed!

Several years again have elapsed without any contact with her. I have received an invitation to her concert of Schubert's Winterreise with a baritone singer. I and my wife have gone to listen to them. It was 2010 a year before the big earthquake. A memorable concert. Her piano sounded mellowly beautiful like water droplets on leaves. It seemed she was busy talking to the audience. We went back home without greeting her. On the way, she has noticed our visit and has given me an e mail for gratitude. This piece was, as she said, a music which her father had loved most.

Again, there has been a long interval without any correspondence etc with her. And the New Year's greeting e mail has broken that long absence. You may understand how pleased I was to have it. She is still teaching at a college while caring for her old parents. I have almost quit playing cello with a right arm issue. We won't have any chance to play together. I am still so glad to have her as a friend since student days.   



Farewell to 2021 with a can of dark beer and roasted bonito

 2021 is going away. I have had a pleasant dinner with family. And bringing another dark beer in the shack, I have called CQ on 40m for a few times. No luck. Closing down in the new year's eve for now. May the new year be freed from the pandemic!

A can of dark beer with home brew lightly roasted bonito. 

A very chilly evening. I am sad that I haven't finished this year with CW fix. But life is always going on in this way. Now going to bed!

Have a happy and healthy new year, everyone!