I'll admit that for the past month or so, that I've been a "lazy' CW op. Instead of getting on my bug, I have been using the paddles and keyer. As a matter of fact, I really love my Elecraft/Bencher Hexkey paddles. I've got them adjusted so fine that I do not feel any paddle movement at all when I produce Morse Code characters. It's the closest thing that I can get to using a touch keyer without using, well ........ a touch keyer.
Last night I felt a very small pang of guilt for neglecting my Vibroplex Orignal Standard. It sits there looking lonely and underused. So I switched the K2 over to "hand key" mode and plugged the Bug in. I was really surprised because I thought after the layoff that I was going to sound real lousy. Just the opposite occured when I started tossing the finger pieces back and forth. My code actually sounded agreeable (even decent!) to my own ear. As I am by far my own worst critic; it might have even sounded better than decent to fellow hams.
I originally had no idea why the layoff would have allowed me to send such decent sounding code. But looking at it 24 hours later, I think I might have an explanation. Going back to the paddles and keyer for a month got my ear retrained to what "machine perfect" code sounds like. It's not that I don't want any soul or personality in my Morse while using a Bug; it's just that I want to be good enough to the point where I don't send receiving ops screaming into the night with their ears bleeding from trying to decipher terrible sending. Listening to the keyer produced code helped me to send code that sounded almost as good using a mechanical device. In other words, if you know what good is supposed to sound like; then it becomes a bit easier to try and match it.
I ended up having an hour long rachew with a Ham, using the Bug. I have to figure that he was either amazingly polite; or that my sending was good enough where he didn't mind conversing with me for that period of time. In retrospect, my sending must have been good enough; no one's that polite anymore that they would put up with an hour of torture if they didn't have to.
73 de Larry W2LJ