Several months ago I was invited by French AAVSO member, Laurent Corp, to give a talk for CAPAS 2012, a pro-am astronomy conference on double stars and variable stars in Rodez, France. I was happy to oblige and agreed to give a talk on 'Pulsating Stars in the AAVSO Program'. Neither the organizers or I could afford to fly me to France, so we agreed to do the presentation via Skype.
I sent them an advance copy of my PowerPoint which they translated into French. They would display the slides on two screens, one in English, the other in French, and on a third screen would be the live webcam shot of my cheery face, blown up to giant talking head dimensions. The early afternoon time slot I was assigned translated to 8:30AM local time on Saturday, September 29, the same day I was leaving to drive to Boston, via Buffalo, New York.
I logged into Skype around 8AM and began my talk around 8:40, as the talks before me had begun to run long and late. I essentially covered the history of observations of pulsating stars in the AAVSO, the types of pulsating stars we observe today, and some of the current questions in astrophysics related to stellar pulsation. I was able to stay on for a while after my talk to monitor some of the other speakers as they gave their talks, but eventually it was time to load my suitcase and computer bag in the car and head east towards New York.
Buffalo is a 7 hour drive from my home in Michigan, which happens to be almost exactly half-way between home and Boston. Realizing that the Patriots were playing the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, September 30, I had decided rather last minute to see if I could get a ticket to the game. I could drive to Buffalo on Saturday, go to the game on Sunday and drive the rest of the way to AAVSO HQ Monday morning. As luck would have it, a very good single seat ticket was available in a season ticket holder section down near the 20 yard line. I snatched it up and set the plan in motion.
The drive to Buffalo was uneventful, and I was just able to score a decent hotel room west of Buffalo for the night. I drove to Ralph Wilson Stadium early Sunday morning so I could check out the tailgate partying, pick up a souvenier and shoot some pictures. Deciding not to wear my Patriots hoodie, I opted to go incognito, disguised as a Buffalo fan. I purchased a crazy, fuzzy Bills hat to complete my disguise. Peaking into a VIP tent set up in the parking lot, I got to meet a couple of the Bill's cheerleaders, who obliged me with a picture. The Patriots won the game, coming from behind in the second half so everything worked out great!
I drove into Boston, early Monday morning and arrived shortly after noon. The next four days were filled with meetings from 8:30AM to 5:30PM and working at my desk and tallking on the phone until 11PM. We had some very productive meetings, discussing AAVSOnet, CHOICE, fundraising, grant writing, the variable star plotter, a new binocular program, and various other topics. When I left for home on Friday morning my to do list from those meetings was two pages long!
My next trip to Boston will be for the fall meeting. I'm sharing the drive with Kevin Paxson and Dan Taylor. I hope to see you there. Until next time...