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Australia Day Nine: In which we observe

The Sydney Observatory has wonderful objects. I confess that I like scientific instruments better when they are made out of shiny brass and wood. This is part of a telescope and I love the intricacy:



I think that it is something to do with my way of thinking. I may not understand mechanical things, but at least they have visible parts that move when they are working. Electricity is sneaky and silent. Modern parts are often plastic, so no real burnished exteriors. And the engines of industry and computation are rarely painted anymore in bright colors with flourishes. My aesthetic sense gravitates toward the older things. I like that they are beautiful as well as functional. Sometimes older technology has issues, however, as reported by this sign (on the other hand, a lot of my current technology will be lucky to run so long!):



Telling time used to be an obsession of navigators. Accurate clocks allowed them to determine longitude, which is important if you are in the middle of an ocean and you’d like to know how far east or west you’ve traveled. We saw a number of spiffy chronometers and clocks and also this sundial from fifteenth century Korea:



After we’d poked into various nooks and crannies of the observatory—a grand building with copper domes that served as both observatory and residence for the chief astronomer—we visited the shop. Alas, I have created a monster. T. wanted this periscope:



He has used it to peer over bushes (traditional), over a cannon (still somewhat practical), and into the depths of his own pocket (yep, empty!). He is much amused and mostly amusing.

The park around the observatory was full of people doing fitness boot camps. I could watch them, secure in the knowledge that I had already done my exercise for the day: after much consideration and perusal of the probable weather here, I have decided not to get a bike after all. I joined a gym with Brent for the same amount of money and I will be able to use it rain or shine.

On our walk up to the observatory, we passed a sushi place, so we stopped for lunch on the way back. The server did not know the Japanese names of things, which we discovered when T. said “unagi” and she looked blank. Also, hamachi appears to be something else here than at home. Nonetheless, the food was delicious (I have realized that one reason I will never be a food blogger is that I only think of photographing my food after I’ve already eaten it) and we tried something new for dessert: white sesame ice cream, which is a very good idea.

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