2012 Sep 07 | California Science Center, Rose Garden, Vision Expo in Las Vegas

The California Science Center is free, although it's $10 to park.

My favorite airplane, the SR-71 Blackbird.

This was a training plane, so there are two seats.

And the science begins: lift a 5400-lb truck using a lever.

Some kids lifting it up.

Very pretty skylight at the entrance.

It makes the floor all purple.

The door to this space capsule looks extremely complex. Then again, I don't think you want it randomly opening when you're flying around in space.


Simulator rides.

Lots of exhibits.

A bullet in bulletproof glass.

I wanted to play with it, but some guy kept having his dumb kid mess it up. You're supposed to press the green button to lift up and reset the house, then turn the wheel to make the house fall through the sand. The kid kept doing them out of order, though, so her dad kept trying to have her do it correctly, and I was getting pretty impatient. Sorry, your kid's too dumb, move on and let other people try.

Make a mini earthquake by moving around.

These areas are awesome. All kinds of blocks and things.

Infrared camera.


With glasses.

A table with light and mirrors, prisms, colored glass, etc. I'd try to set it up in a certain way and kids would come by and mess with it before I was done. Don't parents teach their kids respect, patience, and control any more?

More exhibits.

A virtual reality system.

It scans your picture in and then you can play different games by moving around.

A camera that does special effects to a picture of you.

This one is kind of fun.

Musical instruments to play.

A spacecraft replica.

Replica of the Wright brothers' plane.

A wind tunnel where you put on these wings and can tilt them to play with wind resistance and lift.

That looks neat.

Except the top wind speed is only around 80mph, which is a category 1. I wonder if it doesn't go higher because people could get injured?

Body exhibits.

A giant neuron.

Drunk driving simulator.

This was pretty cool. It was a surgery room with a fake body.

And a TV in the chest showing the surgery.

An exhibit on fetus growth.

They had models at each interval.

All the way up to birth.

Too bad they're just models; it'd be neater if they were real.

Aww, baby chickens.

Not so aww, a roach model.

And real roaches.

These are big.

Heart models of different animals.


I couldn't find the queen, but I did see some workers.

Another little room.

With various animals.

A tarantula.

And a boa constrictor.


A giant movie.

All kinds of different environments.

A little game where you shoot balls into the holes in the middle.

Another one where you try to grab different types of balls.

Ah, it's a bird-beak simulator.

And the science along with it.

Tortoise sculpture.

Lots of collections.

This was probably one of the most fun things. You stick your arms through the tubes and try to catch balls, like a little barnacle waving your feeding legs around.

A giant aquarium from the top.

A petting area.

A giant wall of ice. I wonder how long it takes until it melts and they have to replace it.

Arctic vs Antarctic.

You could use this joystick to move a camera around out in the desert somewhere.

Ooh, a bat!

"Listen for insect footprints?" That's impressive.

A bat hanging out.

A desert display. It had an infrared camera you could turn around with the joystick. I figured out where the camera was by extapolating from what it was seeing and then managed to turn it back to face us.

A turtle going into a hole.

Onto another exhibit.

A giant earth displaying different weather patterns.

This floor was really spongy.

Ah, because it was an exhibit on rot.

Lots of maggots.

Always love the big drums you hit to make air fly out and make impressions on a wall of metal pieces.

Real scientists at work.


So pretty.

The giant aquarium from the bottom.

That's a bright fish.

Looking out towards the upper part.


The urban scene.

A climbing wall.

There were two restaurants: A McDonald's and a traditional museum one. Almost everyone went to McDonald's.

Planes above the entrance.

The cockpit.

Lots of little play rooms.

A bicycle above the entrance.

That you could actually ride across.

The rose garden right outside.

The gates were closed.

But a few people snuck in, including me, through the holes in the walls.

Hey, that's not a rose.

A sculpture.

There's one.

And some white ones.

There were a lot of patches.

Pink and yellow.

A whole bush.

A big tree.

A view across the garden.

Some interesting clouds.

I've seen this image on various cars, but I don't know what it's for.

It's about a 5-hour drive to Las Vegas for Vision Expo. Thankfully there were very few cars on the road at night.

My room. I did the $20 sandwich trick: you put a $20 bill between your ID and credit card when checking in and ask if they have any complimentary upgrades. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. It depends on the clerk you get, the hotel policy, and if their supervisor is watching. I went for a clerk who was young, in a good mood, and was bouncing her head to the music of some nearby singers like I was. She seemed a bit apprehensive about it and kind of fumbled with the money, but she gave me a little upgrade. I got a room with a jacuzzi, a mirror on the ceiling...

... and a balcony.

I picked up Talish at the airport and then we went and grabbed some food.

The ceiling of the Venetian.

There weren't too many celebrities, but Hope Solo was one.

Dr. Onofrey's lecture.

I'm guessing those are to make it easier to move big items into the conference center: just lift them up right from the street rather than drag them through the hotel.

After seeing all of the $5, $10, and $20 tables, this is more my kind of machine.

People really play War at a casino?

Some very pretty purses.

Onto the expo.

Neat cases.

Some more.

Interesting temples.

A grungier look.

Frames from Switzerland, very modern.

Excalt Cycle frames made out of cork and wood.

Tons of colorful frames.

These were pretty funky.

I like the brushed look.

Rimless with tinting along the edges.

Another interesting frame line.

These were probably my favorite: cut out metal with all kinds of swirls and spikes.

The brand was called Nowosad.

Foldable ones.

Taking a break on the massage chairs.

Bazooka Joe, but in Hebrew.

Aw, I didn't win the grand prize.


Cazal have a pretty retro look.

Gotta love the little games to win stuff.

These Menizzi frames were really great for kids: they're super flexible so it'd be almost impossible to break.

They also had some very unique ones for adults.

Very posh display.

Dr. Gee giving a lunch lecture.

Sponsored by Solution Reach.

The first time I've ever had a little tin like this. I kept trying to open it by prying the little clasps off, but all I managed to do was mess up my fingernails. At one point it popped open and I realized you press down in the middle of the cap to get it off.

That's a lucky room number; better go play some slots.

Ah yeah, this is my kind of machine, only a penny to play. It had the biggest jackpot in the casino that I could find, too, at $14 million. Most of the times when I walked by people were on it, but I played it a few times when it was open. To have a chance at the jackpot you had to play $3, though. I lost all 3 times I played.

Fine, I'll go play the arcade games. They're more fun anyway.

Getting ready to go out for the night by putting a few shiny rhinestones along the edges of my shoes.

The pants I found in a thrift store and already had rhinestones, but I added a sparkly blue strip along the bottom.

A shiny hat and blue shirt, some stick-on jewel symbols on my neck and arms, and some shiny blue nail polish.

And, most importantly, my wristbands for no cover and free drinks.

My little map of bars / clubs. It was nice they were all within a block or two.

A giant pancake at Hash House a go go.

Luxor is still my favorite Vegas hotel because no matter where you are, you can always find it by looking for the giant beam of light in the sky.

The delivery guy hiding my package by sticking it behind the poster on my door.