I have been using UKIRT for about a quarter of a century. Two things have changed. The first is that it works much better. UKIRT was always ground breaking and world leading, but now it is a kind of flawless machine as well. The second change is that the mountain is now heaving with tourists. Enterprising companies charge grockles two hundred bucks a shot for which they get a boneshaking ride, a nice warm coat, and the chance to shoot photos from the roof of the world. So we have to lock the door or folks wander in and bugger the dark runs.
My last night on this run saw a particularly large infestation. It was President’s Day so I guess there were lots of locals as well vacationers from Pittsburgh. (Can you imagine a holiday called “Prime Minister’s Day”?). They were crawling all over the summit as twilight fell, and I remembered what they call tourists in Cornwall : Emmets. Cornish for ants.
Jack, Jack, and I were outside taking our own pix, and a few emmets were brave enough to speak to us. They turned out to be Welsh and were tickled to find out Jack was too. TSS Jack Ehle (not Welsh) invited them in and gave them a quick tour before they had to scuttle back to their emmet bus. They went away beaming. Well hell the government PAYS us to come here, so we should give something back to the peepul.
Lots more data. Happy days.