2014 Oct 26 | solar eclipse in Santa Monica, Dave & Busters for David's birthday

These two dogs were walking down the side of the highway. I wonder how they got there.

Palm trees lining the road.

I hope that guitar doesn't shift; it'd be hard to keep your balance.

I love the big parking garages in Santa Monica; so cheap to park in them.

Neat glass thingy on Wilshire.

Aw, this Audi was trying to turn out of a garage while we were at the red light, but the Toyota behind me blocked him. The Toyota should have stopped farther back and let him in.

There was a solar eclise on Thursday. My maximum zoom lens is 300mm, but that still doesn't give a very big picture; the sun and moon are still pretty small with that. I could buy a teleconverter for $200, which basically doubles the distance to 600mm, but those aren't great since they really slow down the lens. I'd come across this huge zoom lens by Opteka before, though. Up to 2600mm for only $250. However, it's huge, it's slow, and it's really a 1300mm with a built in teleconverter, so it doesn't take very good pictures.

On the other hand, a quality zoom lens, say 800mm, is a bit out of my price range at $14,000.

After a bit more searching, though, I came across this 800mm lens. It's much shorter and cheaper because it's a mirror lens and still gets decent pictures. The downsides are it's also a bit slow and has really funny looking halos around lights, but neither of those matter much for moon and sun pictures, and it's much easier to carry than a huge one. So I figured I'd give it a try.

I needed some sort of solar shield for my camera, though. It was too late to order from Amazon, but I found two places in LA that might have them: Griffith Observatory and Rainbow Symphony. I drove to Rainbow Symphony and sure enough they had a couple of different sizes; one fit quite nicely over my 300mm lens and one fit just inside the 800mm lens, so I grabbed both of those, along with 10 eclipse glasses. I gave some of the glasses to Ogii for her coworkers, left at couple at my Thursday office for people to look at, and then headed to Santa Monica. Here's my camera set up with one of the solar shields over the lens.

What I'm looking at.

And the resulting picture with the 800mm lens. It came out pretty well for a $200 lens; you can pretty easily see the huge sunspots, too. The only problem is the lens is basically kind of like a telescope, so you need a special adapter to fit it on the camera. I didn't have it, but thankfully the pictures still came out with me just holding the lens in front of the camera. All that last minute buying would have been for nothing otherwise; disaster averted.

I wanted to get a shot with the trees silhouetted, but it didn't really work like I wanted to because you can't tell the sun is eclipsed. Even with a bunch of different neutral density filters and camera settings, I couldn't get it to look like what I wanted. Oh well, I'll have to wait until 2017 for the next one.

When I got home I found the lens adapter in the box for the lens. What a dummy.

Friday night we went to Rascal for David's birthday. It was really good food.

Then we went to the new Dave & Busters in Hollywood.

Everyone playing a trivia game.

Thinking hard.

I wandered up to this, played it once, and got the jackpot.

502 tickets.


Four-player air hockey.

Some random person wandering by. Everyone was having a good time here.

More air hockey.

Close up of me.

Dmitry was good at this game.

David trying it out.

Ogii on a flying game.

Two player air hockey that drops a ton of little pucks at some point.

This dumb bouncing game only gives a few tickets unless you hit the bonus, but we always play it.

David playing it.

I got 324.

Ogii playing.

Aw, she beat me.

Four-player Pac Man.

Having fun.

Ogii got eaten.

Guitar Hero.

Temple Run.

We gave all of our tickets to David.

I got a few more folding chairs at this office supply outlet.

They had these really nice automatic soap dispensers for only $15. Seems super cheap, but I really don't need them. Keep in mind for the future, though.

Right next door was this weird place.

Looks like it's similar to a haunted house.

These flowers smelled like chocolate; crazy.

Ogii bought me the toilet paper I like. Except she bought Cottonelle; I like Quilted Northern. They do look very similar, though.

Someone covered my car; that's weird.

Ah, but something is plugged in here.

Follow the cord and it goes out here. All of the cars out on the street were covered as well.

Looks like they're painting or something. Nice of them to cover the nearby cars.

I went to the Bicycle casino to play in one of their Quantum Reload poker tournaments. It's only $40 and if you win you can get a couple of thousand, so really good ratio. I did fairly well but ended up getting knocked out before making it to the money. Still a fun time for $40.

I should look into doing these ads in the grocery carts at the nearby stores for my office.

Amazon lets you rent textbooks now.

I won, but only because he ran out of time. Then again, I only had 2.4 seconds as well.

I like this review for these jelly beans.

I got a notice for jury duty and decided to do the training online instead of in person. There's a quiz at the end, but it's not pass/fail; if you don't get an answer right, it immediately pops up and tells you so you can change your answer.

I bet big on the final A and both other players folded; whew. I don't think I was winning otherwise.

Two pair, but lots of scary draws, so again, I bet and everyone folded.

I'm a little worried about straights and flushes, but my three fives won.

I bet and won. There's an option to show what the next card would have been, and it was a K. Not sure if I wanted that; QT would make a straight.

I got lucky on the river.

These players went all-in on the flop and pushed me out. Good play by them because I would have made my straight.

One pair and a straight flush draw, but he had the 8 of diamonds I needed for that.

I was a little too aggressive here; two overcards on the flop means I'm likely behind.

Fun hand; I'm glad neither of them had an 8.

Again, lucky he didn't have a 6 or 7.

I'm pretty far ahead here, too.

That's a beautiful flop.

Aw, he hit his heart on the river.

If you make a full house or better, the cards start on fire.

Exactly why you play small and medium pairs: hope to hit three of a kind and hope the opponent hits an overcard.

I almost played this hand but decided to fold. Arg.

Win a big pot and the money rains.

Only way I'm winning this hand is by betting, and it worked.