July 17th, 2005



Took the wrong road trying to find Sunnyvale Nursery, found Yamagami's instead. Worth the trip - they had all the cactus-like objects I was looking for (it took me 20 minutes to decide what not to buy) got two medium aloe plants, plus one small flowering one and a tall-ish spikey succulent. They also had a sale on perennials, including salvia. I bought 8, could have used 10 but they didn't have a wide variety of colors. I may go to the local place to get that, but I think I've $pent enough already.

I got there the long way, up Sunnyvale --> De Anza, but took 85 back, since they are at the intersection.

Put the plants out on the patio, will mess with them Sunday. Walked to the larger of the complex's two pools, the one behind the office. It was completely empty when I'd gone to get a package 2 hours earlier, but was already starting to fill up. I had a good swim, but then bailed when the screaming children and idiot parents throwing their screaming children got to be too much. Passed by the smaller, closer pool on the way back. More eye candy and no audible children. Will go there tomorrow.

After dinner went to NASA, and either I misread the notice or they changed it since sending the email. Though I got there 30 minutes before the lecture, the parking lot was full, and I had to park in what is now overflow for the medical clinic. The line was all the way around the Discovery Center, but people with maps in their hands were walking onto the main campus, which requires you to show ID to get in since it is still partly a military base. Pretty feeble security, just the way I like it. All the way at the other end of the base was where the lecture was. I got there just before they closed the doors (there were two overflow rooms, I would have ended up in one of those). On the way, there was a major kid's event and mini fair happening on the lawn. And the telescopes were set up as promised.

They said they had 2,000 people at the event today. I think there were about twice that. I knew it was a Family Day thing, and I knew it was free, I didn't know how popular it would be. I've gone to a lot of things there, and this was by far the best turnout.

And speaking of turnout, it turns out the lecture was not about the recent comet smashing experiment which I thought they had advertised. Instead it was an effort by some former astronauts and JPL people to get some popular support for a program which would find large near-earth-orbit asteroids, predict which ones were on a collision path with Earth, and move them out of that path.

NASA's new administrator apparently recognized the project proponents as insurance salesmen. By these guys' numbers, there is one such event every 10,000 years, and we just had one in 1908. They have found two asteroids which may be candidates, with a 1/12,000 chance of hitting us in 2039. Their pitch is 1/12,000 is also your chance of being in a car accident, and you pay insurance for that, don't you?

Anyway, it was interesting, just not as interesting as what I was expecting to see.

Afterwards, there were all kinds of telescopes set up on the lawn, again I thought it was to see the comet, but it was way too light out, and most were pointing at the moon. The lines were all very long, so I just got in the car and went home.

There was a pretty good show going on in the fish tank. The Betta which had sired the batch of babies a couple of weeks ago was making out with a very fat female, curling around her to squeeze some eggs out, then diving after the eggs and spitting them into a small bubble nest at the surface. There were about 30-40 in there by the time they were done. She seems to have survived, too, which is rare, but the last batch of females were larger than usual. Also, she changed color from gray with dull brown horizontal stripes to deep blue and violet, to match the male. She had been coloring up all week, actually.

I think it's a 10-day gestation period. This time I have a lot of floating plants in the tank, so I'll see if they survive without being separated from the rest of the tank.

Watched another episode of Firefly - I'm on disc 3. The use of Chinese has gotten a little more intelligent, but to date I've only heard one currently common phrase used the way it would be used today - Kaylee says "Shi-shi" captain. "Thank-you". She even does a halfway good job of pronouncing it. I usually screw it up - I learned it with a Thai accent...

When it cooled down a bit, I pulled the marinated beef chunks out of the fridge, and started a heaping wok of green curried beef. Water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, baby corn, mushrooms in a base of coconut milk & green curry paste. It's going to simmer a long time - the beef is cheap lean stew beef and it's going to need some help getting chewable.

After that was started, I boiled some water and dumped in three artichokes, the idea being to have some with my salad tomorrow. Set the timer for 30 minutes, did not hear it go off. Rescued them after about an hour. Some of the leaves peeled off and the stems were coming off too, so I made the sacrifice and melted some Promise and ate them. Put the bulk of them in the fridge for tomorrow.