We decided it was time to pay a visit to the Leader of the Palos Verdes Sundancers. Conditions had not been the best during the 5A1A operation and we were curious why. So we headed off for Palos Verdes country and found them down in the barrancas. It was clear there was a lot of activity and the melodies and heel- clicking was ringing in air. "What's up?", we asked, "The last time we were down, you were telling us about the switch to ragtime and the new approach. How's it working?" The Leader of the Palos Verdes Sundancers wiped the sweat from his brow and said, "Not very good. It looks like we will have to change tactics."
"How so," we asked, "why isn't the ragtime doing the trick?" "It's complicated," replied the leader, "It is and it isn't. You have to be careful to pick just the right style or the risks will outweigh the benefits." We were not following, but since the Palos Verdes Sundancers had brought on the last three sunspot cycles, they were the experts. "What's wrong?", we asked. "Well," he replied, "it's not enough just to bring up the sunspot count. When the 5A1A was on, we were going in three shifts, 24 hours a day. We managed to get the flux up into the eighties, but we also started a geomagnetic storm! For a couple of days the K index was hitting four and five." We did not understand at all. "How did you cause the geomagnetic storm?", we asked, with a confused look on our face. "It's the accented bass in the ragtime that's doing it," he replied. "The melody and 2-4 time gets the flux up, but the bass causes shock waves in the interplanetary solar wind. We talked all this over with the NASA scientists at the Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena."
We were starting to wonder if perhaps the long shifts during the 5A operation had taken their toll, but we knew better than to suggest this! Any true blue DXer has to respect the Palos Verdes Sundancers. So we were properly sympathetic and prompted the Leader with a quizzical look. "We always coordinate these things with the scientific community." he continued. "The ability to influence the solar cycle isn't to be taken lightly. So we're going to try something different. We're going to give up the ragtime and switch to Bluegrass music. The guys at the Jet Propulsion Lab suggested this."
Son of a Gun! We'd expected something, but not this! "It's a sure thing," he continued, "The scientific staff at the JPL told us that bluegrass music, characterized by instrumental virtuosity, high-pitched vocals, and fast tempos would drive up the sunspot count and not affect geomagnetic activity. So we ordered mandolins, fiddles, and banjos as lead instruments. Just give us a few weeks to adjust our dancing to the new music and the solar flux will be well over 100 again. And there will be no significant geomagnetic activity, either! There will be DX for all!"
We slowly made our home, pondering what we had been told and trying to reconcile it with the Mysteries of the Ages. The previous success of the Palos Verdes Sundancers was not in question. These are trying times in this world of DX. Son of a Gun! If the folks at the Jet Propulsion Lab and the Palos Verdes Sundancers said bluegrass was the key, then bluegrass it is! Bring on Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys! Somewhere in the back of our mind though, we were beginning to doubt that any of the guys at the JPL were DXers . . . and we couldn't recall any of the SAREX missions counting for DXCC, either! But, we knew that to be a true blue DXer, you had to be a Believer! DX IS!
Best Regards, Paul
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