Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Random Thoughts on the Eclipse

I chased around Tucson on Sunday afternoon, looking for the appropriate eye wear, dogged, once again by procrastination.  You'd think I'd learn.  You'd be wrong.

I bought my National Parks Old Person's Lifetime Pass this week, just a few days before the price goes from $10 to $80.  I've known that the price would increase since I qualified at age 62.... three years ago.

Really, you'd think I'd learn.
After a phone call revealed that the cupboards in the library were bare of the free viewing glasses (again, advertised for weeks), I was directed by Sarah, my local librarian, to Lunt Solar Systems.

2500 and something Coyote Something, off Grant, west of the I-10... her directions were more precise than my memory proved.  It became obvious that I was not the only one searching (for what turned out to be 2520 N Coyote Drive, Suite 111) when I joined the stopping-and-starting parade of vehicles wending our way through the (very empty) light industrial park that looks like every other light industrial park in America, on a random Sunday afternoon, when nothing but the place with the $4 each viewing glasses is open.
They have special hours this Sunday, Sarah told me.  They were very special, indeed.

It was a cash only salesroom, with two lovely people behind the counter, taking dollars and marking the sales in a notebook, with a pen, cross-hatching every fifth one handed out.  Nothing electronic, including the glasses themselves.  Cardboard and special filtered papery protective lenses and a cool design on one side, all the information one needed on the other.

Yes, he said, you can look directly at the sun with these glasses.  He said it.  He didn't growl or roll his eyes or have any snark at all. His co-worker was handling similar questions with equal equanimity.  It was a very Tucson experience, very special hours indeed.
I walked outside a little after 9:30 this morning, after proving to myself that the last piece of wisdom from Lunt Solar was true - I could see absolutely nothing unless I was looking directly at the sun.  That is to say, I put them on in the hallway and stumbled into the wall before removing them carefully if forcefully.
I looked at the sun.  It was amazing.

Then, I drove to Amphi Middle School, careful, once again to protect my eyes, changing the sun visors at every corner.
In the lobby, after another long look, two students who've never known their campus without me approached, silently, smiling, proprietarily.  We hugged.  They are big girls now, but we walked around their playground when they were very, very little, and we all remember that time.

We wondered what they made of eclipses before there was science.  I smiled, thought of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, and, before I got too far into how predicting an eclipse saved a man's life, I thought to make sure that they'd heard of Mark Twain.

They hadn't.

Channeling Tom Hanks, I wondered aloud what they weren't teaching kids these days.  On the drive home I decided to read Huck Finn aloud to anyone who wanted to listen during lunchtime.
Did I mention that I paid close attention to the warnings?  Did I mention that I checked the certification numbers on my viewing glasses?  Did I tell you that I asked, even though I knew, if I could look at the sun?  Did I tell you how worried I was about burning my retinas and losing sight in the middle of my visual field?

Did I mention that these warnings were everywhere?  That it was impossible to pick up a newspaper, listen to a radio, and, most important to this final rant, I couldn't find a channel on television that wasn't telling me this, in bold, in italics, sternly, definitively, absolutely DO NOT LOOK AT THE SUN.

With his aides shouting that which we'd all heard everywhere all day across all media, there was this:
Res ipso loquitor.
(The thing speaks for itself.)


  1. The rules do not apply to him, as we well know.

  2. It's actually res ipsa loquitur, but the butthead behavior does indeed speak for itself. :(

    1. And to think that I asked my legal eagle husband for the correct spelling and THIS is what he came up with !

      At least he didn't do it in a fashion that kids could emulate.

  3. So typical of the Trump. He's frequently blinded by the light.
    Glad you got glasses. Kinda wonder about people who didn't prepare. Many who procrastinated were out of luck.

  4. I've glanced at the sun many times in my life. It's continuing to watch beyond a few seconds that blinds a person. With all the years of being told not to stare at it, I found it hard to do even with the glasses-- what if they failed! lol


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