I'm new here! Per a quick check with John, I'm starting an "introductions" thread.
My name is Mig, I currently live in Sunnyvale and work as a CRM admin at Shutterfly (the photo gift place). I've had an interest in astronomy since I was in third grade, in the 80s. It started when my grandmother got me a subscription to the now-somewhat-defunct Odyssey Magazine. (It still exists, but from a different publisher and it's now a general science format rather than just astronomy.) The mascot, Ulysses 4-11, actually answered one of my questions that I'd written in. I started with an Edmund Scientific 3" reflector on a horrible, nearly unuseable mount.
As Halley's Comet mania built, I saved and saved and saved for a Coulter Optical 13.1" Odyssey. After my parents saw me forego comic books and slurpees for over a year to save for this, they stepped in and helped me with the purchase. I then found myself on the now-infamous 12+ month waiting list... it was looking like I wouldn't get it in time to see the comet. At one of the Coulter star parties, I was talking to a veteran Coulter employee, Joe Neu. (I wonder whatever happened to him... he had a license plate that said "NGC 4565"! There's a picture in the Dickinson book that I swear is him.) He told me that while the waiting list for the standard blue Zolatone paint dobs was long, they had a random can of white Zolatone paint and had painted 12 of them white. They would only sell them in-person, not via mail order. And if I was up for taking a white one, I could have it immediately. So I went for it! The pic (attached) is from 9th grade, I can tell by what I'm wearing.
A year or two later, I expanded my eyepieces to include a 32mm Erfle (the Coulter guys loved these) and the ultimate luxury of that time-- especially for a kid my age-- an old school 13mm Nagler, which at the time was the only such eyepiece of that kind. I loved that thing. Dropped it once and I still remember the horrific feeling!
I then spent many evenings in my parents' driveway with "the baby" as my parents referred to the scope. From the southerly latitude of San Diego, I was especially happy to be able to see Centaurus A and Omega Centauri. And once or twice, was barely able to see Canopus.
Into college, I'd haul the scope out to the desert over summer breaks to visit new college friends and observe there. I finally brought the scope up to college, and observed with it once before it sadly perished in my friend's garage fire. (I still have the mirror.)
I've been itching to replace it for years, but debated endlessly on what to get, and what the budget should be. I'd been hankering for an SCT/equatorial mount combo, but in order to gratify my itch sooner and get back into it, I recently got an Orion 10" dob. I just took it out for the first time and easily found "old friends" after all these years. (Some summer Messier objects.) I'm going to be acquiring some fancy eyepieces; then I'll probably step up to an SCT (either instead of, or in addition to).
The whole hobby has changed so much in recent years-- so many amazing eyepieces, photography is available to the masses, and there are things like internet forums that didn't exist back then. I'm happy to find this group here, and look forward to observing with you all soon!