Friday, July 26, 2019

Day 3501

Maybe I'm getting too much sleep. I woke up early and couldn't get back to sleep. Since I wasn't tired, I took this as a sign that I should walk early. Not that it made any difference but it was surprisingly cool outside. The air quality was terrible though. My new watch told me so.

I had thought the water level at the lake was so low because of the Summer heat. I guess I was wrong. I saw something on the news today that said a piece of the dam that regulated water level had broken. The dam had sprung a leak. This wasn't a piece of high-tech equipment that broke. It was just a big piece of wood. That doesn't seem hard to replace. Maybe I'll see the water level rising again soon.

I didn't see much on my walk today. I took a better camera with me to photograph Egrets but they were too far away. Yesterday they were close to shore. Birds are unpredictable. Today the only thing I could find to photograph was a small lizard.

Instead of going out for breakfast this morning I stayed home and finished off the fresh fruit. I should have gone out. I think the breakfast restaurant tradition started in the first place because four smoothies in a row was all I could handle. While I was eating I tried to figure out some of the new functions of my watch. In addition to providing air quality warnings and electrocardiograms, it also did a lot of other cool stuff. Maybe it wasn't such a bad purchase after all.

I noticed that some new viewing dates have opened up at McDonald Observatory, so I started investigating a trip out there in more detail. Planning a trip was more complicated than I anticipated. Special viewing nights at the big telescopes are limited to eight people and even thought viewing dates for the Fall were just announced a few days ago, they were already filling up fast. Since astronomy trips are fairly worthless unless you have clear skies, I tried to see if there were special long range weather forecasts for astronomers. Surprise. Actually there are. I looked at several potential observing dates in September at the 82" telescope and there was a high probability of thunderstorms. Not good. It looked like there was going to be a clear day in August when there was an opportunity to visit the smaller 36" telescope, but there was only one opening left. I think Janet wants to go on this trip, so that wasn't good.

Were all these forecasts event even remotely realistic? Usually the weather forecasts for tomorrow are wrong in Dallas. How can you accurately predict the weather for September? It's a mystery to me. Every day in September had a specific prediction though. Forecasts for August were even more specific. Can I trust these forecasts? I'd hate to drive all the way out to Alpine, Texas and have it rain on my viewing night.

Planing the trip was so complicated that I decided to think about it for a while. Do I drive or take Amtrak? Oddly, you can take the train to this small Texas town. Which telescope is the best? There are three to choose from: the 102", the 82", and the 36". At first glance you'd think that the biggest one would be the best, but that isn't always the case. Viewing nights for the 102" inch telescope are only offered when there is a full moon. The smaller 36" telescope is available on a few select nights where there are dark skies. Also, tickets are not refundable if it rains at the last minute. You just go listen to an astronomer talk instead of looking through the telescope. It's all kind of a crap shoot. You just have to pick a day and hope you get lucky.

So far, I haven't been very lucky with my U-Verse service. The fiber optic line still goes down periodically throughout the day. A technician is coming over on Sunday, but I bet he isn't going to have the patience to diagnose an intermittent problem like this. I bet he just replaces all the equipment instead.

Smokey is today's Dalmatian of the Day
Watch of the Day