In July 2008, I began to employ certain local fauna as a replacement for the long lost Palos Verdes Sun Dancers. It is an act of desperation really. Making a CW Practice Schedule daily over the course of a year or more during the nadir of the sunspot cycle is work. Not only is it a chore but a also an example of Extreme Scheduling. You’ve heard of Extreme Sports? Well this is Extreme Scheduling. I don’t say that lightly. My compatriot on the eastern seaboard is an expert at using Icepac, Millstone, WWV, meteor showers or even Voodoo if necessary to help our schedule go uninterrupted. A monumental task indeed. Out of a concern for his well being and preferably, to lighten his load a bit, I began to scratch around for ways to help in the task. The first thing that came to mind was a tribal ritual sort of thing involving the old tried and true “Palos Verdes Sun Dancers”. However they had become defunct. I love that word “defunct”. It puts a real syllabic terminator on their contributions. The buggers have not been heard from since the dawn of Cycle 23.
Early in our current pause in sun spots we all thought that October 2007 was the low. A smoothed sunspot number equalling 3 was the true bottom and it occured in October 2007. Things looked better for a while during December and Janurary and again in Feb/Mar/Apr 2008.Then we arrived at spring and summer 2008. The sunspot numbers again tumbled lower in late May until we arrived at the month of July 2008 when our smoothed number reached an abysmal low of 3.X. We are now 8 days into August and still no spots. If sunspots were equivelent to electrical currents, July would not have blown a quarter amp fuse. It is time to stir up a little action with Barnaby and his friends.
Animal Husbandry aside, I took the safe and sane approach to raising Anole in Texas. I provided an Alpha Male, plenty of good breed stock, provided the perfect Anole conditions and plenty of water and food with the understanding that things like this take some time and nature is not a quick study. Last seen in mid-July, my herd of Anole was alive and well under my Hackberry tree feasting on store bought crickets and backyard vermin. While the herd is not large it is growing well and fast. About August 3rd some doubts about this project began creeping into my thoughts. Originally there were 13 Palos Verdes Sun Dancers. These persons had an average weight of 165 pounds. An Anole weighs between 300 and 450 milligrams. To duplicate the moving mass of 13 Palos Verdes Sun Dancers I would need 2145 pounds of leaping lizards. That, my friends, is quite an undertaking. 2145 pounds of leaping lizards equates to 2,777,775 350 milligram average weight Anoles. A shudder moved across my belly. I may need to recruit some neighbors and increase my pasture. I can only hope that available resources do not outstrip the job at hand. You of course will note, that little has been said of the Palos Verdes Sun Dancers dancing time investment per sun spot. Little is known of steps per hour or hours spent dancing to gin up a single spot. Energy required to gin up a spot aside, I have it on good authority that lots of beer was consumed in this process. Beer, however, is not an Anole shortcoming. They prefer fresh foods-mainly meat.
It is now August 9th. The sun is shining in Texas. We have had almost no rain in at least 3 weeks. Last evening I attempted to do a nose count on our flock of Anoles. I was rewarded with a good gecko count at dusk but little movement was noted. No movement is kind of an extraordinary situation. Normally I can see Anole movements sans radio or wind inputs. Last month they did require some inputs from my Yachtboy 300PE portable radio outputting the unlikely Nancy Sinatra tune “These Boots”. Following that I watched in amazement while they adopted both kinds of music-Country and Western. During both aforementioned episodes a small but clearly defined Dust Devil was noted. A Dust Devil is a long way from a sunspot but it is a beginning. This past evening it almost looks as though these guys are on strike! Now I am confronted with Nada. Nil! Zilch! Lots of Anole but no action. No dancing, no fraternity, no BBQ’s no nuthin. Just an Anole village of small tents and hammocks slung under shrubs and thickets. The summer doldrums, along with no sunspots has befallen my clutch of previously active Leapin Lizards. These are truly the Dog Days of Summer.
I am in dire straights. Not only am I short 2.5 million Anoles, the ones I have are becoming lazy slouches. I’m going to have to stir the pot a bit. I will begin vigor training by playing sessions of W1AW code practice recorded from broadcasts made on 40 meters. This accomplishes several things. It stirs the Anole Pot and it also tells these slovenly no accounts how bad propagation is. Hopefully it will not cause them to rebel and begin yet another musical genre and have them take up classical banjo or 12 string guitar. I could record some of this weekends paltry excerpts from the WAE on 20M and blare it out over the Anole Homelands. I think I heard several EU’s leaking through the E Layer firewall we have showing up on Millstone just now. In any event, drastic action is required and I must find the solution soon or our Cycle 24 is doomed to failure and another Maunder Minimum will undoubtedly be upon our souls. If this fails we may have to suffer hearing Al Gore yak about a new Ice Age! As they say in the News Biz, News at 11….
Thanks for reading. Best, Chas W7MAP/5