Saturday, August 28, 2010

guest weirdness

While not a full Moon weekend, we were not expecting a gaggle of guests to the Carr Astronomical Observatory. That said, the weather was looking fine. So maybe we'd get some takers perhaps. At the last minute. And then there was our mystery person, Pete...

Wed 25 Aug

Dietmar pulled me aside at the pub, after the RASC meeting, to say that he had received a direct email from a person named Pete. He wanted to visit the CAO this coming weekend. But Dietmar didn't recognise him so asked Ralph to investigate. Asked if I knew him. No.

Thu 26 Aug

12:37 AM. Dietmar emailed me. He thought Pete was a new member but his application was still being processed.


8:24. Received an update from Dietmar. He said "the guy is not listed anywhere." Still trying to get more info.

8:40. Ralph communicated with Pete. Said he couldn't find him in the National database. Asked Pete for his 5-digit member ID.

9:17. Pete sent his ID number to Ralph. He said he had signed up earlier in the week and had spoken to Irina. He said on following up, he found his status to be pending. Some sort of glitch in the iMIS system...

6:04 PM. Tim sent a note to the listserv saying he was the CAO supervisor for the weekend. That the weather was looking good. And he'd make his final go/no-go decision on Friday morning.

10:17. Meanwhile, Margie sent an email, via the Yahoo!Group, to say that she and Bob would be coming up to the CAO but were not planning on staying.

Fri 27 Aug

12:39 PM. Tim sent a note to the group saying he would, in fact, open the CAO for the weekend.

1:07. Got some good advice from Katrina for helping me deal with white witch, ex-hippie, freeloaders, with half-eaten loafs of bread who might show up at my presentation tomorrow night... Breath deeply. And carry a membership application!

4:52. Ralph followed up with Pete. Welcomed him aboard. Told him how to sign into the Centre web site and told him to book his CAO stay.

5:07. Dietmar told me that Ralph had accessed the National database and confirmed Pete was a new member. But they still didn't know if he bought a CAO annual pass.

5:33. Pete said he was having login issues and National wasn't able to help him. I wondered if he was trying to use his Centre login info on the National web site. He then said he was going to come up for the weekend, leaving after rush hour. Departing on Sunday. Asked about protocol. Provided a cellular number.

5:57. Dietmar forwarded the email thread between himself, Ralph, and Pete.

I don't remember the time but Bob phoned at some point. Said they were on their way.

8:58. Tim and I discussed Margie and Bob coming up later in the evening. We were a little worried about them travelling so late at night. They could hit a deer, raccoon, skunk, rabbit, moose, bear, train, another car...

Late in the evening, Tim and I wondered what had become of Pete. Maybe he had changed his mind. Perhaps he had gotten lost. But we hadn't heard the phone ring...

11:57 PM. Margie and Bob arrived at the CAO. I saw their headlights along the walls of the GBO observatory. A few moments later, as I happened to be walking to my car to get something, I said hello. I reminded them to sign in. They headed to the house for a bit.

Sat 28 Aug

12:11 AM. A light-coloured car entered the driveway, did a 180, and left, within about 20 seconds... Who could it be? Driver didn't get out. Tim and I had no idea that this had happened at the time... It was only later on checking security records that we spotted the mystery car.

12:30 AM. Our intrepid couple visited the GBO. I asked if they had received my email (about booking a room). They didn't really respond to that. I asked why they didn't want to stay. They didn't really respond to that. But they did say, "Oh, we've stayed before." OK.

1:13. Margie and Bob looked through the eyepiece of the Celestron 14" SCT at Jupiter. I had been at very high power. It was a bit blurry and shaky in the marginal seeing. I dropped to 217x power with the 18mm eyepiece. Bob said, "Life becomes liveable."

We let them play with the Tele Vue Genesis on the equatorial mount. Tough without a finder scope. But, good for their learnin'.

1:49. Margie and Bob left a few minutes ago.


10:00. During our late breakfast, Tim and I wondered what happened with Pete.

10:45. I emailed Ralph and Dietmar saying that we'd keep an eye out. I asked if they had provided a map. Or our phone number.

10:50. We heard and saw someone walking around the deck. The living doors were unlocked so I head over. Found a young man looking a little lost. He introduced himself: Pete. Ah! The mystery new member Pete. We welcomed him in. Funny timing.

We remarked that he had successfully found us. Not trivial getting up here. Pete revealed he had started to travel from the east along 18th Sideroad but when he reached the warning signs stopped and asked for directions. Someone rerouted him correctly so to come from the west. I asked where he had received his map from. He said he had one, from about a year ago. Odd. I wonder where he got it. I pointed out on the new local map, hanging from the bulletin board, how I had updated the road numbers, added the roundabout, etc. (Tim mentioned that I might need to update it again...) Alas, he made it to the right stop.

We asked when he had come up, expecting him to say, now. He replied, "Last night. I got here around midnight." We were stunned. We asked if he had come on the property. Knocked on a door. Phoned us. He relayed that he had driven into the parking lot. Twice, in fact. But didn't see anyone. Thought there was no one around. He drove back to the bottom of the driveway and parked. Slept in his car!

Later, Tim and I tried to grapple with this. I remembered turning on the deck red lights to "send a signal." The roof of the observatory was rolled back. There would have been mine and Tim's car parked in the lot. Possibly Margie and Bob's too. Then, at 1:45 AM or so, Margie and Bob would have driven by.

Regardless, he was here. While Tim hovered at the dining room computer, I gave him a tour of the house, assigned him a bedroom, walked him through the CAO Site Facilities document, rules and expectations, and later showed him the observatory.

Tried to help him feel welcome.

I did feel bad for Pete. I imagined how intimidating it would have been to arrive at night, not knowing the way, not knowing anyone.

Gave him the Lyra room. So he'd have a bed to sleep in tonight!

I know... I'll recruit him into service!

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