Linenger's Letters to his Son

March 16, 1997
"
We move fast"

Dear John:

Well, it's college basketball playoff time. Even though I'm in space, I've made my picks. I have my alumni North Carolina all the way, and even though Mommy probably hasn't even seen the draw--I'll bet she picked Duke.

Cousin Tom out in San Diego always took it seriously. He'd study the team stats. Look at end of season trends. Look at the rankings. Then carefully make his choices.

Mommy would pick the teams because she liked the name, knew someone who went to that university, or knew that the team was the archrival of the team I was rootin' for. She usually won. It would burn Tom and I up.

With Coppin State, Tennessee-Chattanooga, and St. Joseph's PA winning in the first round--well, I'd bet you could just randomly point on the bracket list with us recording your "choices"--and you'd probably beat us all!

We have a ham radio up here. We move so fast (17,000+ mph) that you can only talk a bit with people below. Sounds like this:

Me: KC5HBR(that's me!) aboard Mir, CQ (that's ham talk for I want to talk with someone out there listening.)

Some insomniac in Seattle: KC5HBR, this is yankee zulu (static static static) two.

Me: Yankee Zulu something, didn't get it all, good morning (or is it night down there....), I mean good day (I sound like Paul Harvey--but "goodday" covers all bases...)

The Seattle guy: Wow! first time I ever got through to the space station! How are you doing up there, KC5HBR?

Me: Oh, fine. Hey you don't happen to know if Carolina beat Fairfield last night, do you?

The Seattle guy: Oh, yes! I love college basketball. It was a great game. In the final seconds, they (static, static.....)

Me: Yankee Zulu, say again please.

Nothing.

Then, some other guy in Topeka, Kansas, who is now picking me up as I zoom overhead: CQ Mir, CQ Mir.

He might have time to tell me how his beloved Jayhawk team did, but it is static by the time we get around to how Carolina fared.

Then, a Florida guy. Then off into the Atlantic. We move fast.

I told another ham radio operator in LA, Jay, that I liked the Tarheels. Next day on packet (a machine that listens and can receive messages from ham operators), I read a complete story of how Dean Smith had broken the record for most wins for a college basketball coach ever.

Jay came through. Went through all that trouble for me. People are okay, John. He figured he could do something nice for me, and did. Kindness and thoughtfulness--given freely.

Alright you rascal--off to bed. Enjoy your bedtime story. Love you and miss you, John. Goodnight.

Dad.

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