Monday, August 30, 2010

The Flea and The Lightning

Today we went to the San Jose Flea Market (The Flea), which claims to be the largest market of it's kind with over 2000 stalls operating on a regular basis and tonight we headed out to Oakland for a birthday party for one of David's colleagues, where he and his friends played with Jacobs Ladders, exploded fruit with electrical energy and cranked up some Tesla Coils (The Lightning).

Josh playing with lightning

The Flea Market is truly huge. It's easy to get lost in here (although easy to find yourself again too if you just follow the outside row of stalls back to where you came in) and the 2000 plus stalls sell everything from jewellery and perfume to car accessories, Western and Mexican wear to sofa's and other furniture. There are several food and drink stands set out throughout The Flea, although they all appear to be run by the same company and are actually very reasonably priced considering that they appear to have pretty much a monopoly on food inside The Flea. There are also a number of mobile 'beer vans' that dispense cups of Pepsi and beer as they drive around the markets, meaning you're never more than a couple of minutes from a beverage if you so desire. And that pint of Millers or Bud is only $4, the same price as at any of the fixed food vans.

The San Jose Flea Market

I ended up buying some more Mexican blankets, as I figure I'll no doubt have a use for them in one of my cars in the future, and they'll at least have a little more of a story behind them if I've had to haggle with a Mexican shopkeeper at a flea market for them, instead of just buying them over the counter at a parts store. I also picked up a Western style straw hat, mainly to sit next to my Akubra at home. I'm still hoping to pick up a genuine Stetson while we're here, but will do a little shopping around for that over the next couple of days.

Using electricity to cut a cantaloupe

After we left The Flea, we came back to David and Nicole's, and piled everyone in the Caddy for the drive up to Oakland for Josh's birthday. Josh was one of the groomsmen at David's wedding last year, and he likes to play with things that most people would consider a little dangerous, including Jacob's Ladders and Tesla Coils.

Time for a little fire breathing

With that background, Josh's birthday party was never going to be a boring affair. When we arrived he was shoving electrodes into an onion, which he then proceeded to blow up by charging up a large capacitor and then discharging it across the electrodes inserted in the onion. This process was repeated a number of times during the night with varying results, using a lime, a cantaloupe and a sausage.

Now that's a fire!

Also in action was a Jacob's Ladder that ended up being used to cut through a watermelon and a cantaloupe in a manner not dissimilar to most welding processes. There were also two Tesla Coils, one smaller one of Josh's used indoors during daylight to demonstrate the principle and another much larger unit set up outside that was fired up after the suns rays started to fade and aside from the visual show, also provided musical accompaniment at certain points during the night.

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