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Local quirks of a Sunday morning - To verb or not to verb. [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Mikolaj Habryn

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Local quirks of a Sunday morning [Oct. 7th, 2007|11:59 am]
Mikolaj Habryn
[Current Location |San Francisco]
[Current Mood |dazzled]
[Current Music |Recapturing the Vibe - Hilltop Hoods]

When I opened my bank account here, they gave me a temporary cheque book. Despite expecting this to be a cheque culture, it has taken me until this weekend to actually get through it. It has almost caused problems along the way - msvyvyan almost didn't get her scooter because she presented one of these cheques, which don't have a pre-printed name and address on it.

Ever since, she has been gently reminding me to Do Something About This. Today, I raided Safeway for essential supplies[0], and, while there, went to the in-store branch (open on Sundays! *awe*) to find out what happened to my real cheque book. There's a step in the chequebook ordering process here that I haven't done before. Since this is a big cheque culture, you get to choose your cheque book from a range of styles.

To cut a long story short, I will soon be receiving my new book of personalized leopard-print chequeschecks. America truly is the land where dreams come true.

Next door to Safeway, incidentally, is a camera shop that will sell you a 4" reflector on a fully computerized equatorial mount for US$600. By 'fully computerized', I don't just mean that you can punch in azimuth and bearing and watch it track, and not even that it has a catalog of objects that you can search through and ask it to point at - no, 'fully computerized' in the sense that when you first set it up, you point it at the three brightest stars you can see, and it then automatically works out where it is and which way it's oriented. I want one... and a private roof.

[0]: CD-Rs and Mountain Dew, dammit.

[User Picture]From: cherry_torn
2007-10-07 09:47 pm (UTC)
My checks have a 1920's theme. They're so pretty I don't want to use them.
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[User Picture]From: dichro
2007-10-08 02:49 am (UTC)
Heh. I don't want to use mine becaues it invariably means I'm giving someone else a big chunk of money. But I'll feel a heck of a lot better about it if it's leopard print!
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[User Picture]From: msvyvyan
2007-10-07 11:05 pm (UTC)
Leopard print? *blink* Right. Ahem. I guess that almost makes up for the lack of true modern banking, y'know, online and stuff.

(Hmm - can I get a cheque book? And can it be black and red and steampunk?)
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[User Picture]From: dichro
2007-10-08 02:48 am (UTC)
You seriously need to see the catalogue :) And I don't see why you wouldn't be able to get a cheque book - I'm sure that's quite standard... right?
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[User Picture]From: talmor
2007-10-08 01:29 am (UTC)
The 'Sky scout' is also very cool:


It's the size of a small video camera, with an internal GPS, magnetic compass, and altitude angle sensor, plus a (non-magnified) viewfinder with crosshairs. You point it at anything in the sky, with no setup at all (apart from waiting for a GPS lock) and it tells you what it is - on screen or with voice commentary. Alternatively, you select whatever you want to find from the target list, and it gives you up/down/left/right directions to find it.

It's also got a mount for attaching to a tripod, or on the side of any telescope...
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[User Picture]From: dichro
2007-10-08 02:52 am (UTC)
Ooh. But with the telescope, I could join the global hunt for spy-sats ;)

And more ooh - you're somewhere interesting. Or you were somewhere interesting and you're now back home...?
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[User Picture]From: talmor
2007-10-08 03:20 am (UTC)
Yep, I was at La Silla Observatory (run by ESO) for a couple of weeks in May, and got to visit Las Campenas Observatory for the day while there (run by Carnegie, and some other US uni's).

I'm guessing you were looking at a Celestron NexStar, probably the 4"? Those things are pretty small, and the tripod/mount isn't very steady. You're better off with a bigger aparture and a sturdy mount for your money - it's not hard to find stuff in the sky (especially the things you could actually see with only a 4" scope), and if you want the automated help, a skyscout stuck on the side works fine...

If you only want to look through it, a Newtonian is better value, and easier to collimate if it goes out of alignment, and either equatorial (computer or manual) or alt-az mount (computerised only) is fine.

If you want to stick a camera on the back, now, or eventually, go for a Schmidt-Cassegrain. They have better balance with the camera on the back, not the side. Equatorial mounts are better for photography, because any alt-azimuth mounts have the view through the eyepiece rotate as it tracks, so for long exposures you need to rotate the camera backwards to compensate. They sell field rotators that are driven by the telescope drive computer, but it's an extra cost, an extra weight on the back of the tube, and an extra source of error.
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[User Picture]From: loic
2007-10-09 06:46 pm (UTC)
Cheques^H^H^H^Hcks freak the fuck out of me. Especially when you notice that you can transfer any money out of your account by entering information of the check.

Anyway, I got some printed with my ugly face on them. Because they don't actually need to be issued by your bank...
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[User Picture]From: dichro
2007-10-09 06:51 pm (UTC)
*blink* Really? That's somehow disturbing. Although, I guess if they have the same information on them, and there's a medley of possible cheque designs anyway...

Hmm. This has possibilities, you know :)
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