Wednesday, August 28, 2019

The planets were aligned

We went to see Once Upon a Time in Hollywood last Saturday night. We loved it. Our daughter, a native born Southern Californian did not.

"It was too long. Too self referential. Too indulgent. And too damn long."

Clearly, she needed a Snickers, so we decided to get something to eat.

On the way to the restaurant we mosied on over to Culver City's latest development -- there are many -- the Culver Steps. They all seem to sport architect-inspired catchy names: The Platform, The Steps, The Plaza, The Dungeon, The Abyss, The 9th Gate of Retail Hell. You get the point.

Construction is still going on, but it is clear to see this development will soon become the center of attention in Culver City, bringing with it, traffic, people and street performers. I have little stomach for amateur balloon benders, clowns, and roving troupes of untalented cartwheeling boys/girls. More ominous than that is the promise of public urination.

We stopped visiting the Santa Monica Promenade years ago. When the Santa Anas are blowing, the omnipresent stench of pee pee can be detected all the way over in Culver City.

But I digress. We still have a year or so before all that retail tzuris reaches us. In the meantime there was an older gentleman on the plaza who had set up a very expensive looking telescope. He had a small gaggle of people surrounding him. As we passed, he leaned over and said, "Do you want to see Saturn?" 

Hell yes, I want to see Saturn.

Just a few months ago, I had carted my Brookstone-purchased telescope up to the Eastern Sierras for the same purpose. That endeavor did not end well.

"I'm not sure if that's Saturn, or a speck of dust on the lens." 

I might not have properly calibrated the azimuth. Or triangulated the scope with the North Star. Or it might just have been an excess of rum and cokes. But I can tell you setting up a telescope is not layman's work.

But Mr. Pith Helmet Man on the Plaza had no such issues. From the ooohs and ahhhs, coming from the passersby it was clear this was a fellow who had read the instruction manual.

We stepped up to the scope, gently leaned in and peaked through the quarter-sized lens.

It was unmistakable. It was magnificent. It was Saturn.

Mind you, you couldn't see any color. The rings looked more like one ring. And the image was considerably smaller than the picture above.

In fact, it looked more like this...

Only, about 1000% smaller.

Nevertheless it was exhilarating. More importantly, it gave me an opportunity to unleash my inner 14 year old in front of a captive audience, and I know you see this coming.

"Thanks mister. That was great. Can you show us Uranus?"

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