That's the best word that I can think of to describe my effort for Flight of the Bumblebees 2013.
The weather was certainly a distraction. With the forecast (all week long) calling for a 60% chance of rain on Sunday, I was not surprised to find that it was raining when I left Mass yesterday morning. That sealed the deal for me regarding my operating position. Right then and there, I decided that I would be a home station this year, and would forgo using my Bee number. As it turned out, it ended up being sunny, then rainy, then sunny, then rainy in small cycles just about all afternoon. Thunderstorms and torrential downpours waited until the 5:00 PM hour, just when I would have been tearing down.
Operating from home has its conveniences and creature comforts, but it also comes with its share of distractions. The phone rings when you don't need it to, spouses and children ask for things like they always do .... it's just a bit different than an evening Sprint, which are generally shorter and occur when things have already pretty much settled down for the night.
But the biggest distraction of all was this little guy (and I am definitely NOT complaining!). Meet Harold, the newest member of the W2LJ family, who came to live with us on Saturday.
We met Harold last Sunday, when we went to the local Petco store to pick up a bag of cat food for Sandy. Happy Paws Rescue was there with a full compliment of dogs looking for homes. Harold was not down on the floor with the other dogs, he was sitting in one of the volunteer's laps. We didn't even see him at first.
The first dog we were interested in was a retriever mix named Tia. She was a very playful and friendly little girl, and most importantly, I was informed that she was cat friendly. But it turned out that someone was already filling out papers for her while we were looking at her. There was another retriever mix there, a little older and a little bigger, named Hershey. However, the volunteers weren't able to tell me if he was good around cats, or not.
Disappointed, we were about to head to the checkout with our cat food, when I decided to ask if they had any dogs that were cat friendly. They immediately told us that Harold was being fostered in a house that had cats and that there were no problems. Interested, they put Harold on a lead for us, and allowed us to take him for a walk around the store. That's when the volunteer told me about Harold's background.
Harold is a nine month old beagle pup who was bred to be used as a test animal at either a pharmaceutical or cosmetics company. The inside of his ears are tattooed with a serial number, as a testament to this fact. Lab dogs like him are never really "named". It turned out that Harold was never used for testing, and was just an extra dog that was going to be offered for adoption. A secretary at the company found out about this and got him put into the custody of Happy Paws.
And now, he's with us. He's a very friendly little fellow, who like Jesse before him, seems "to not have a mean bone in his body". He loves to be held and played with, and right now, is a bit of a "nose and stomach on four legs". While he's a tad underweight, this little guy eats his meals so thoroughly, and with such gusto, that we briefly kidded about changing his name to Hoover. He loves to join you in whatever chair you're sitting in and totally relax next to you, in essence becoming a "puppy puddle".
So far, Sandy our cat, has made a few wary attempts at getting familar with Harold. With Jesse, she was used to an older dog who really paid her no mind. She is not quite sure what to make of this little brown, black and white furball of energy. They have been getting closer and closer to each other (nose to nose at one point, in fact) without any bouts of barking, hissing or chasing. If they don't end up becoming best friends, I am fully confident that at the very least, they will become quite comfortable with each other's presence.
So while I was making a few paltry contacts on 20 and 40 Meters yesterday afternoon, my head just wasn't in the game this year. My head and my heart were more fixed upon Harold, and also Jesse, whom I think would approve of his successor, very much. Even though he is a totally different breed and a much smaller dog, each time I look at Harold, I can see Jesse shining through him. And that's a very good thing, because now it really does feel like Jesse is still right here with me.
As for the news about the Skeeter Hunt - Brady AC0XR wrote a logging program specifically for the Skeeter Hunt this year. It can be found at http://www.qsl.net/ac0xr/skeeterhuntlogger.html Some of you may remember Brady from last year's hunt. He was one of the few entrants who built a homebrew key for the event for bonus points.
I feel like we've hit the big time! Our own logging program - thanks, Brady!
By the way, as of tonight, we're up to 94 entries. I'll be issuing Skeeter numbers right up until the morning of the event - but don't wait for the last minute. And remember, this year SSB has been added as a mode. So if Morse Code's not your thing? You can join us anyway and get in on the fun!
72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!