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2012/08/16 Dan Chan the Magic Man
π 2012-08-16 01:01 in Outings
Jennifer got tickets to see Dan Chan the Magic Man, and Kat the Acrobat.

Since I grew up seeing magic shows, I can be a tough public, and I thought they did a really good job, their show was enjoyable.

They have a new deal where they work with restaurants to perform there while people get dinner, and that worked out pretty well. If you're thinking about going, do get tickets from him directly though they're cheaper than the online offers and he gets to keep the money that would otherwise be lost to those ticket sites.

The balloon trick was fun
The balloon trick was fun

Dan also did close up before and after the show, in addition to his show
Dan also did close up before and after the show, in addition to his show

His web site is http://www.danchanmagic.com/ if you want to go see him or hire him.

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2012/08/11 How To Succeed Without Really Trying Musical at Foothill College Theatre
π 2012-08-11 01:01 in Outings
Jennifer recently signed up with Goldstar and since she's been having more time at home, she's found some shows that we can go see.

"How To Succeed Without Really Trying" is an old musical that was performed at Foothill College. It was actually quite enjoyable for an old musical from a work area that is quite different from today's work culture, and the performers were quite good too.



I need to remember that Foothill does perform good plays.

2012/08/10 Visit of Lick Observatory up Mt Hamilton
π 2012-08-10 01:01 in Outings
Jennifer got us a pair of tickets for talks and a visit of the observatory, we took 2 people from the group she signed up with, and I got to drive every one up to Mt Hamilton.
It had been a while since I had done that drive. I remembered it was 'fun', but I forgot how long it was. I was confident that I would easily beat the 1H estimate I got from google maps, but actually I barely matched it despite some spirited driving up the road, and passing multiple cars (almost all were nice enough to pull over).




a few other people were outside to do their own viewing
a few other people were outside to do their own viewing

We got there 15mn before sunset (i.e barely in time to get a few pictures), and went to attend the history talk about James Lick. His story is actually quite interesting, you can read up on it here. Because Jennifer was still on crutches, they thought it'd be best that we stayed in the room with the great lick 36 inch refractor. It was actually quite cool to see it operated, that also meant that we did not get to see the science talk that was being given at the same time :(





By missing the science talk, we got to see the refractor being setup, and it's so long that the entire floor is raised and lowered so that the operator can be at the right height. It's pretty cool :)

After looking at the constellation they finally managed to focus on after a while, we went to see the Nickel Telescope, which is a 40 inch reflecting telescope which was actually made out of spare parts.

A few random slides they were showing on screens:





The drive home was also fun :)


2012/08/05 Watching the Nasa Curiosity Mars Landing at Moffett
π 2012-08-05 01:01 in Outings
I was able to get a ticket to go watch the NASA Curiosity Landing displayed on a giant screen at Moffett. They had some displays to show the different modules on the rover, including a laser that can actually do a basic detection of rocks from 7 meters away (so it can be busy analysing something locally while shooting its laser at other rocks to see if it should go there next).

The other interesting thing is that it weighs 900kg, or almost the weight of my miata, and that was the largest weight they had the technology to send to Mars, without it crashing on impact. The last rovers were 9 times lighter and were dropped in giant airbags. This was too heavy for airbags and had to be dropped with 2 different parachutes for different speeds, and then slowed down with trusters and a platform that lowered the rover down with cables on the ground and flew off. It was a very complicated list of things that had to go just right.
I personally thought "no way, those guys are crazy", and they indeed called the landing "the 7 minutes of terror", but it not only went perfectly, the rover was also able to send pictures right after touch down, something that they weren't sure would work at all that night, due to radio relay line of sight issues.

It was flawless, great job folks!










Nasa Moffett designed and tested the chute in the wind tunnel
Nasa Moffett designed and tested the chute in the wind tunnel


And then we "watched" a rendering of the landing from telemetry that was received (14mn late):





that's the flying platform lowering the rover to the ground with cables
that's the flying platform lowering the rover to the ground with cables


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