Day 201 – Morse Code

Today’s new thing was something I’d been putting off for a while, but I was surprised by how satisfying it was to learn it.

Invented by Samuel Morse in 1844, morse code has been used to quickly communicate messages over a long distance by pilots, armies, and radio enthusiasts. The dot-dash system means it can be communicated in sound or light, making it particularly useful when radio-silence is required.

I obviously don’t need to prepare for radio-silence anytime soon or worry about flying a plane (although that would be an interesting new thing…), but I did think it would be useful to build on my survival skills from a few months ago and learn how to signal that I needed help.

At first, morse code reminded me of learning Pitman shorthand – a strange other language with lines and dots – I didn’t know where to start. Luckily the internet is full of people have tried the same thing, and YouTube threw up a plethora of videos to help.

I figured learning from a memory champ could be useful, and I was not wrong. Rather than memorise the way each letter looked in morse code, Nelson suggested using mnemonic devices to remember the sounds. For example, the dot and dash for ‘A’ became ‘a-plenty’, to represent the short then longer sound.

This was such a useful technique that I successfully memorised the alphabet in around an hour. Feeling smug, I tried to listen to some code and couldn’t make sense of any of it. It was so fast! That definitely needs a lot more practice, but my brain was pretty fried from all the memorising so I’ll pick that up another day.

I’m pretty chuffed I now know how to send morse code, I think it’s a useful skill to have in an emergency, and just a pretty cool thing to know. Another successful new skill for me!

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