magnifying glasses and the luxury of youth
Tuesday, March 29 2005
Today was the first reasonably warm day in weeks, if not months. There have been sunny days of late, but I don't know if it's been above forty five degrees (Fahrenheit) since that one freakish evening in mid January. The thermostat on the window of the north laboratory deck briefly read in the 60s, though it never felt quite that warm.
I took the dogs with me on an errand into town to look for cheap optical equipment. I have plans to build a makeshift digital telescope out of some PVC, lenses, and a cheap webcam. I know a crude telescope can be built with just two lenses, and my successful experience with physically holding a digital camera up to the lens of a 60x telescope has given me the confidence to build some sort of bionic visual organ into the "head" of my rotatable antenna mast.
I started my search modestly in Staples, hoping just to find a magnifying glass. But there were two problems with the ones available there. Firstly, both had secondary high-magnification lenses built in (they were bifocals) and secondly they were expensive - $10 each.
A few minutes later as I walked the office supply aisles of Target looking for a magnifying glass, I wondered if I'd remember this day in the distant future should I ever have to go looking for a magnifying glass because I'd become old and my eyes had started failing. How would my memories then be about the luxury of youth, when I could buy a magnifying glass just to tear it apart and build a makeshift telescope?
The magnifying glasses at Target were half the price of those at Staples, but they didn't offer any that weren't bifocals.
The solution to my problem turned out to be at Best Buy, the store that was shot up a few weeks ago by a gunman with an assault rifle. It turns out that Best Buy sells a range of binoculars, some as cheap as $15. I bought a $20 16x model which contains everything I need to build not one but two telescopes. These would be a good kind, too, and not subject to the problem of rainbow halos.
This evening Gretchen and I watched a special editor's cut of the movie Pootie Tang, which was possible because we happen to know one of the editors who worked on it. He'd said great things about this particular version, but to us it just looked like it could really use, you know, a good edit. The scenes seemed to drag on too long, there was no voice over, and Pootie didn't present the movie as an extended "clip" during the course of an interview. At the end when the credits rolled, the lines all said the same thing: "End Credit Here."
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