Month: June 2018

Solar Eclipse, 10:16 AM 21 August, 2017

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On Monday Aug 14 I flew to Bellingham,Washington,  on Alaska Airlines. Marili was working in Yuba City so I went to SMF in a Smart Car. It was a last minute flail but worked out; the driver, Sucha, a Kasmiri drives a new car which he is paying for through his fares, coordinated for him by a hired  scheduling service. It will take him another two years to pay off his loan, but then it will be his. He’s a well established immigrant with two children, both in Sac State Collge, the American Dream being lived. My return flight would arrive near midnight so I reserved a BlueVan for that trip. 

For many years My Sister Sally and husband Gary have liked to go to the Oregon Coast, staying in Yahats at the Fireside Inn; it’s a nice place,  even though owned by foreigners, Californians. The coast there is quite different from most, because there are so many rocky outcropings off shore that the wave and surge is diminished. Many homes  are built right  over the  low beach bluffs,  and along an Oregon Ocean Trail open to anyone. There is typical cold water of the NW coast.

Two days before the eclipse promised to appear, we drove Kelso and stayed the night in a Super 8 and on to Yakuts the next day. I took a couple of long walks on the beach trail, probably four miles, twice. I didn’t move fast or push it, yet found that by the fourth mile I was quite unsteady. I later found that can happen with exercise when I forget about the effect on my blood glucose; I try to keep my BG as close to 85 as possible using twp kinds of insulin. But if I carelessly forget the effect of prolonged exercise that can be a problem. Thimk.

We were concerned that, being on the ocean, fog might obscure the eclipse. Further, Yahuts was not  quite on the eclipse path center line. So we decided to drive abput 30 miles north to Newport, and find an open beach there, if the sky was not clear we would drive inland a half hour or so, to escape the sea fog.

That morning at Yahats and at Newport there was moderate fog. We went to big beach, with a lighthouse and park,  north of Newport. But the light house was, quite logically,  placed high on a big upthrust of coastal rock which promoted  uprise of cool air, and of course, fog. The place was fully prepared for a crowd, with a big eclipse display; it was  very busy but.. no sky to be seen. 

A parking lot attendant, a teen who had lived there all his life, said if we were to drive back to Newport, and head uphill to the East of town, we would find sun after a  only couple of blocks. We did just as he advised, and there it was, a clear day! At a big parking lot in front of a Fred Meyer store people were gathering, settng out chairs, clutching black opaque glasses. More arrived. The stores across the street closed, spilling people onto the sidewalks. The Fred Meyer closed and their employees appeared.

At 0915 a faint dark spot began to invade the sun’s orb at its right uppe edge. It gradually grew, spreading downward and to our left. To my surprise, the light around us didn’t fade much until the sun was fully covered, nor did we cool down much until then. At almost complete, Venus and Satur brightened up to watch. Faint stars appeared. About an hour after the beginning of the eclipse, it was complete. The excitement was palpable. People began to clap and cheer and whistle. Gary it was, I think, who started the call


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We were in total for about two minutes, when, as suddenly as it started, a big bright diamond of light appeared at the same place the shadow first appeared. With the lens covered by dark eclipse glass, I took photos with my electronic camera; but even at full eclipse, when one could look at the black sun without glasses, there was still  too much radiant energy; it blinded the frightened camera. But Gary, using a regualr reflex camera, got fine photos. Later, always thinking, Sally took the picture  into Fred Meyer to have it printed on T shirts!

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Looking Southeast from the  partly darkened parking lot, when the eclipsed sun was just beginning to uncover, the planet shown seemed very bright and very large; but it — Saturn?– was much enhanced by the camera eye seeking more light. The eclipse itself was almost directly overhead.

It was a an unforgettable experience. The thing that impressed me most of all, though, was that the moment a tiny sliver of sun began to appear, light and warmth both began to return immediately. I had expected it to be a slow process. Apparemt;y there is so much energy pouring out of the sun that even 1/2% of it is powerful; and maybe some energy is gravity- bent around the moon, as Mr. Einstein demonstrated. I have heard that the energy hitting earth  is so great that it should make life here impossible; but that doesn’t happen because  of earth’s atmosperic overcoat, and the fact that so little of that energy is electromagnetic photon radiation. It mainly consists of protons, whose  energy  decays very fast, based on distance… so what we get are attenuated bullets of photons that have already given up the largest part of their energy to: distance.

We drove all the way back to Ferndale the next day, leaving early and arriving after about 12 hours on the road. Gary and Sally did he planning, organizing and driving; I was simply a happy opportunist. It was a surprise to learn that there are several total eclipse tracks across the earth every year, in different parts of the globe. The next USA track will be in the Southern States, especially Texas. If one is ecliptophilic,  or an ecliptomaniac, with time and money, there are many options. But for me, this eclipse is enough for this life, this earth and this Sun.


A Letter From Richard Steele*

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I realize, dear reader, that it has been more than 300 years since I last penned an edition of The Tattler; and that the United States, didn’t exist back then. But over the years I have always followed events assiduously. The cybernet is limitless, and allows me to reach you now in America ( I should say in the USA, because America refers to an entire hemisphere, right? My bad as you Yanks say.) What seems to be happening there stirs up my quiet conscience and dormant public spirit.

Over the centuries, I have resisted reacting to crude and violent uncivil rage, like the kind that is everywhere around you in the Colonies. (Sorry, as ‘you guys‘ say in  that gender warped way) , it is tempting for me to ignore that Revolution. But I take comfort that language is still something we share; more or less. Bet you don’t know what lucubrations are!

It is specifically the chronic reports of the death of a prominent political pretender to high US office that forces me to comment. I do so with reticence and some embarrasment, because I am rather a coward; I will not name that candidate, in order to avoid being economically destroyed by those, not excluding government, who by comparison to me, commnand unlimited funds, and unlimited time to prosecute!

Although I am still in England, America has a long reach; who knows what  a bity of my old DNA permit, or 23 & me turn up; I must think as a US citizen should. The average person there, facing your system of justice, can neither expect the speedy trial promised by your constitution, nor pay a multimillion cost of defense in the case of an abusive opponent having unlimited funds. The choice is bankruptcy, or a plea of guilty, deviously termed ‘a ‘bargain’, in exchange for an unjust result; it’s a legal kind of blackmail or coersion. Moreover, today,  in an atmosphere of national outrage, certain defendants  can face ugly threats from enraged or uncaged partisans.

That is why, dear readers, to face US justice, ‘ain’t me, babe,‘ in your parlance; so I rely on you to supply the name, which should be easy, since the news of the  most recent death is echoing across the cyberworld ceaselessly, like joyless monotonous waves on an ocean beach. 

The candidate first died in Nov 2008; and again in Nov 2016, but  still appears everywhere, claiming to be alive; to have been alive for many decades; saying a far flung conspiracy exists to lie and decieve.  With due respect, because the eminent candidate  clearly merits that,  I urge acceptance of the dead state bravely and wisely; though the legs and arms may still appear to perform animal functions, the art is not there; the candidate is gone. I hope these lucubrations  help to make that more apparent.  


Adapted from The Tattler No.1 April 12, 1709.