Thursday, August 28, 2003

Now that that bit of ugliness is behind us, so to speak, I can tell you that yesterday the wife and I went to a "Water 101" class given by the Orange County Water District. We, of course, wanted to see just how many times we could fill our Mr. Turtle kiddie pool every day before we need to start feeling guilty about it. Turns out it's eight times a day, so that might put a damper on the end of summer.

The real highlight of the seminar for me was a video about the Sacramento Delta and the terrible water mismanagement that goes on there. Actually the video was not terribly exciting, but they did show protesters outside a the capitol in Sacramento, one of whom had a sign that read "I PAY TAXES -- FISH DON'T!!"

A couple of thoughts sprang to mind about this sign:

- I hope that the sign carrier had made the sign one morning, after a visionary dream, and had been waiting years for the appropriate opportunity to brandish it angrily. Maybe she had tried her sign at other events, like an Evangelical Christian revival for example, with disappointing results.
- What if fish did start paying taxes? Maybe the California economic difficulties would end. Or maybe some philanthropist, like that Percy Ross guy who used to give away money in the newspaper to needy people on the sole condition that he had to look like a really great guy, could spot the fish some tax money.

But wait! Fish are for the most part unemployable (besides some in middle-management positions), so if they were assigned social security numbers they would undoubtedly turn into welfare cases and get huge tax refunds every year.

Further study is definitely needed.

Seriously, the seminar confirmed that California and indeed much of the country and world, is headed for a big water crisis as the population grows and you, yes you, continue to water your lawn.

After the water seminar, we headed off to the free Mars viewing at the University of California Irvine observatory.

Somehow, I don't think the staff of the observatory anticipated that five thousand people would show up. Traffic was backed up for blocks and we ended up parking about a half-mile away and hiking up to the observatory, where we found thousands of kind of pissed-off looking people in the kind of line that you can grow a beard in. Luckily, there were some amateur astronomers with their own telescopes there, and we had a look through one such device. I think it was Mars I saw, at least. It could really have been any roughly circular off-white object.

It wasn't a real strong telescope.

I'm guessing they probably turned away all the would-be stargazers about midnight, maybe with free passes to Laser Floyd Night or something. One can but dream.


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