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    Re: Curious Onlookers was Sextant calibration.
    From: Robert Eno
    Date: 2007 Apr 20, 20:13 -0500
    Frank wrote:
     
    To me, the biggest problem with any of these outdoors methods of sextant calibration is that you have to deal with the inevitable questions... "whatsat thing do? are ya lookin at the Moon?" So I answer, "well, no, I'm just calibrating it so that it measures angles accurately." And when I see that look on their faces that says 'this guy must be crazy', I throw in "...so that I can sell it on ebay." And then their eyes brighten and it all makes sense to them --they walk away happy in the knowledge that they are seeing digital commerce in the making.
     
    Robert comments:
     
    So very true. I generally try to find a quiet, secluded spot from which to practice. I sometimes feel like I am conducting some kind of shameful or illegal operation, such is my desire to not be seen practicing my craft. One day last summer, I was shooting the sun off of my deck, thinking I was all alone. A good buddy of mine, who is a plumber and who was going to do some work for me, drove up to my house on this afternoon, opened his truck window and shouted: "Hey, Admiral Nelson: when your finished figuring out where you are, come talk to me about your pipes".  Well at least he knows what a sextant is for!
     
    A late great friend of mine, a retired US Army officer, used to practice with his sextant out on his front lawn using his artificial horizon. Although he lived in a quiet street in rural Maryland, he inevitably attracted curious onlookers from his immediate area. One day, a neighbour wandered over and asked him about the strange contraption he was holding. "Well", my friend said, "this is a sextant and it is used to determine one's position on the face of the earth. I am trying to figure out how much my house has moved due to continental drift".  The fellow wandered away with a perplexed look and no doubt believed that my friend was a daft, though harmless old man.
     
     

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