Monday, January 01, 2007

We leave this month!

Happy New Year. Today is the first of January. There are 27 days until I depart for Orlando and Montserrat. As mentioned before, the solar rotation is about 27 days long so what faces us today will likely face us again at departure. As said yesterday, "IT'S BACK: Sunspot 930, which unleashed four X-flares and sparked intense auroras in mid-December, is back. It is emerging over the sun's eastern limb following a two-week transit around the far side of the sun. Since we last saw it, the spot has probably decayed and now poses little threat for strong solar flares. Stay tuned for confirmation." Well, not having flares would be a great start.
The Montserrat trip is, my nearly any measure, a very modest endeavor. I learned just a couple days ago of another large DXpedition being planned by the 5 Star DXers Association for St. Brandon. Here's the announcement. Here's what they promise: "As with previous FSDXA expeditions, this will be a major effort, with a target of more than 100,000 QSOs. There will be up to twelve stations on the air, many using amplifiers and monoband beams, 24 hours a day, for almost three weeks, including three weekends, around the autumn equinox when DX propagation on all bands is typically at its best."
Wow. Now you can see why I describe my 100 Pound DXpeditions as modest. Perhaps miniscule would be more appropriate! There are some very famous operators slated to participate including at least one who is also a member of the Yankee Clipper Contest Club. I've possibly got a chance to get a little "behind the scenes" information. Of course I'm going to try to corner approach this fellow after my return from Montserrat.
Finally, Sandy and I realized that this will be the first year in 20 that we will live without cats under our feet. In 1987, a very tiny and very frightened flame point siamese who was small enough to fit in my hand when we first met joined us. It was difficult to understand how such a magnificent creature could be in a shelter. I picked him up, he clawed his way up my shirt toward my shoulder, and he didn't come off again until we were home.
We weren't actually looking to get a cat that day. (I should not be allowed in shelters. I am a complete pushover when it comes to little fuzzy things.) Naming him was our next challenge. We didn't want a name like Fred or Precious; we wanted something distinctive and unique. I suggested Pointer so we could say, "Good Pointer!" or "Bad Pointer!" If you are not a programmer, you won't get that joke. Sandy was firm: we would not be naming him Pointer.
My next suggestion got some traction. We would name him Pion. Make no mistake, Pion is still a very geeky name. Pion was a joy, but we were spending so much time at work that he became lonely. We got him a couple of new little buddies to keep him company during our daily absences. Muon and Neutrino, sisters (also shelter cats) had a rough start in life, but we made sure that the reset of their days were spent in plush comfort. That was in 1989.
Pion was lost to an autoimmune disease not long after we picked up the sisters. Muon was lost two years ago. Neutrino finally succumbed to kidney failure this year. The last of the particle cats are now gone. We miss them all.
I have this lengthy note at the end of today's blog because I've noticed a surprising number of QSL cards and QRZ images have operators with dogs at their feet or cats curled up warming themselves on the amplifier. It seems many of our ranks also have an affinity for little furry friends. I say enjoy them while they are here, pamper them, and, yes, allow them to put some of that fur into your most delicate equipment. You'll miss them when they're gone, as we do.


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