Mammoths, alligators and butterflies. Oh my!

One of the stops we made on our trip last week was a stop in Gainesville, FL to meet up with one of our friends who just started a post-doc at the University of Florida. After having lunch together, we all headed off to the Florida Museum of Natural History on the University of Florida campus.

Mammoth!
Mammoth!

It’s a pretty nifty museum with a lot of neat interactive displays. Great place to take the kids.

One of these is not like the others
One of these is not like the others

Part of the museum is the Butterfly Rainforest, a really cool place to get up close with hundreds of butterflies. Watch them fluttering all around you, landing on flowers, and even you if you stand still long enough.

Then we went for a walk to the Lake Alice Conservation Area where we were treated to some very nice views of the lake, turtles and an alligator.

UF is a pretty big campus, and seems like a pretty nice place to walk around.

Back to Kennedy Space Center

The Kennedy Space Center Visitors Complex is one of those places I never get tired of visiting. We road-tripped back there over the weekend to get in one more visit before  the multi-day passes we purchased last year expired.

You'll need a pretty big tree for this ornament
You’ll need a pretty big tree for this ornament

On this visit, Connie noticed that the Welcome sign above the door to the Space Shop welcomed visitors in 9 languages, including Klingon.

yI'el
yI’el

We went there over two days, and spent the second day at the Saturn V exhibit building. The bus tour takes you past the gigantic Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB). Next to the VAB they’re working on building a new launch platform that will be used by NASA’s SLS rocket. It’s an impressively large structure and even larger than the launch platform used for the shuttle.

The bus then takes you past Launch Pad 39A. The last time I was on the bus tour, the pad was one of the stops and people were able to get off the bus and go onto the launch platform. 39A is being used by SpaceX now, so it’s not a stop on the tour anymore. I was on the wrong side of the bus and couldn’t get any decent photos when we went by.

The Apollo/Saturn V Center is always impressive, and it’s pretty easy to spend 2 or three hours exploring all the exhibits here. Next to the Atlantis exhibit, it’s my favourite exhibit at KSC.

Saturn V main engines
Saturn V main engines

A new exhibit (new since my last visit to the Saturn V building anyway) is a memorial to the Apollo I astronauts (Ed White, Virgil Grissom, and Roger Chaffee) who died when a fire started in the command module. It’s a nice exhibit featuring personal items belonging to each of the astronauts as well as the hatch from the command module.

Apollo I hatch
Apollo I hatch

Next time you go, make sure to reserve plenty of time for the Apollo/Saturn V Center.

Maize Maze

We went to the West Farm Corn Maze this afternoon with a friend and her kids.

West Farm corn maze
West Farm corn maze

It was my first time doing a corn maze, and it was pretty fun. It was a good day for a corn maze weather-wise too: sunny, but not boiling hot and with a bit of a breeze to cool things off.

It’s a great place for the family with corn sand boxes (filled with corn kernels instead of sand), a little hay bale maze, big climbing area, petting zoo, pumpkin painting, and of course the corn maze. There was the big maze, and also a little maze for the kids.

West Farm goat
West Farm goat

The maze itself isn’t too hard to navigate with the map, but if you do manage to get lost, there are volunteers (corn cops) in the maze who can help you out. There were 12 check points at various places in the maze that can also help you get reoriented on the map.

Corn maze entrance
Corn maze entrance

After the maze was lunch and then a hay wagon ride. Nice relaxing ride that went around the corn maze, through some woods and by a little pond with some turtles lounging in the sun.

Fun time, and lots of people who looked like they were having fun there.

Southeast Linxufest 2017

Had another fantastic time at Southeast Linuxfest 2017 last weekend. There was a pretty decent sized crowd (not sure about numbers yet) with a lot of familiar faces and a lot of new ones too.

As usual I was taking a lot of pictures and being the unofficial official SELF photography guy. I was able to get in to some pretty good talks.

New this year was the Networking boot camp that was really good. Sat in a couple of those sessions. I also went to some of the Zero to DBA sessions to find out about some of the new features coming in MySQL 8.

One interesting talk given by an engineer at Western Digital was called Rethinking RAID. He did some interesting benchmarking on how long it takes to rebuild a RAID using the big terabyte disks now available. A RAID10 using  10TB disks might sound pretty cool, but if one of the disks craps out, it’s going to take a loooooooong time to rebuild the RAID.

Back again this year was the craft beer share, and thanks to last minute sponsor Logtrust, the Saturday party was open to everyone. Craft beers all around! There was also a BYOC LAN party during the Saturday party this  year too.

Saturday's musical entertainment
Saturday’s musical entertainment
LAN partiers
LAN partiers

The  amateur radio licensing test session at SELF saw 28 people sign up to take the test. Don’t recall the numbers, but half left with either a new amateur radio license or an upgrade.

The LockFALE guys were back again this year with their table full of locks. This year I spent some time hanging out there and had them show me how to pick a lock. It’s surprisingly easy to do with a little time and patience.

LockFALE showing people how to pick locks
LockFALE showing people how to pick locks
LockFALE showing people how to pick locks
LockFALE showing people how to pick locks

Once again, another great time was had at Southeast Linuxfest. One of the things I love about SELF is that I always come away with something new to learn and explore, and this year was no exception.

Southeast Linuxfest 2018 will be #10, so it should be a pretty good one. I hear there are some big things in store for it. Hard to believe it’s already been 10 years since I first got involved with SELF. Can’t wait for next year.

Percona was a big sponsor
Percona was a big sponsor

You’ll find my collection of photos from SELF 2017 over in this photo album.

Fun with Canadian money

Discovered this cool trick with Canadian money via imgur.

Take a laser and shine it through the center of the maple leaf on one of the polymer Canadian bills. You’ll see a projection of the bill’s denomination.

Fun with Canadian money
Fun with Canadian money