Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Viewing total eclipse in Wyoming a profound experience

In Wyoming last Monday morning I stood amongst sweet-smelling sagebrush on a high promontory and watched the sun totally get its hiney handed to it. 

The moon just floated up in there at exactly the right angle and, shoomp, the world around me became dark, cool and so quiet you could almost hear my friend Bob refilling his cup from the boxed wine. 

I am joking, of course. There was whooping. Near-religious spectacles call for whooping. 

I filmed myself, just in case I wept, which I hear people do at a total eclipse, or fell to my knees, or was converted on the spot to the Republican party. It turns out that in the face of once-in-a-lifetime, awe-inspiring views, I tend to look like I am watching a really high altitude documentary about adjustable rate mortgages. 

I did choke up a bit, then became aware I was choking up, then thought “why are you choking up?” Right there is the history of my people. 

Apparently, any given spot on Earth will have a total solar eclipse every 350 years or so. Not patient enough for that kind of wait, my other friend Greg is an eclipse chaser. This was his fifth. A professor of physics, he brought two big telescopes and filmed the thing. 

In contrast, the other two dozen of us mostly sat in camp chairs drinking Arnold Palmers and munching banana bread. Each of us channels his inner scientist in his own way. 

I will never forget the perfect black sphere of the moon silhouetted by the wispy white corona of the sun, but mainly I will remember the way the dark fell. In a span of five seconds day became night, and the primal fear which each of us has inside, going all the way back, was triggered and just as quickly countered. Some whooped, some wowed, some sat slack-jawed, but all, I am sure, felt the same thing—we are tiny. We…are…tiny.

The drive back to the airport, hundreds of miles from the viewing, was a traffic jam of L.A.-on-Thanksgiving-morning proportions, extended the entire day. One little girl in a small town, trying to capitalize on the massive flow of potential customers, paced the sidewalk holding up a sign: “Shave Ice.” 

I wanted to get home, everybody did, but if she had just flipped the sign around, revealing the words, “See you in 350 years,” I would have been her first customer. 

. . .

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Wednesday Wa Pic - Guess they were ready for their closeup

That feeling when they steal your security camera. 

Sunday, August 20, 2017

A road trip to the Great American Eclipse

Not since the Civil War has the country been so completely split, so upheaved, so divided into two camps—going to the eclipse, and not going. 

Going to the totality, I mean, the total eclipse experience in which half the U.S. population tries to cram itself into a 75-mile wide swath of land 2800 miles long. It is deeply appropriate that this rare spectacle on the American continent will result in the most American of pastimes—massive traffic jams and novelty t-shirt sales. 

My friends have been planning their trip to the totality zone for years, but I did not commit. I figured it would occur around the time school started back up for my wife and son, and I should be around for support. Then I caught eclipse fever, and support be damned. 

I caught it late, with less than three weeks to spare, and when I checked, lodgings for one night in the area I wanted to visit cost $1000. For that kind of money, I had better be seeing “Hamilton” get between me and the sun.

Luckily my long-planning friend said just come out and we’ll find a place for you, so as you read this, I am driving across Wyoming. To get in the mood, I wanted to get an audio book with a story set in the state, but “Brokeback Mountain” was not owned by any of my libraries. 

Others, like “Savage Thunder” and “Trailer Trash” were already checked out. I finally settled on “The Lost World” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. There is no Wyoming connection, but it involves people being awed by an incredible spectacle, so close enough.

I have watched several videos online of people experiencing a total solar eclipse, so I can observe proper eclipse etiquette. Evidently, to fit in, I should do this:

As the moon starts to blot out the sun, say “Whoa, it’s getting darker.”

When the eclipse is in full effect, express my awe by whooping like I am at a football game, perhaps my first ever football game, after drinking my first ever beer.

That pretty much covers it.

Since we are spending the night outside the totality zone, then driving 80 or 90 miles into it on eclipse morning, a monster traffic jam is my greatest fear. That, and there is currently a 20% chance of rain. But whatever happens, the t-shirt is going to be epic. 

. . .

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Wednesday Wa Pic - Getting Faced

Half off this month for politicians looking to save.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Wednesday Wa Pic - Niche Market

Not only do they block UV rays, they live-stream C-SPAN.