The Eclipse: A Starred Review

Before the eclipse, the group I was going to see it with and I were debating the weather–and alternate plans–and exactly how far into the line of totality places were. The weather was… not bad, for a random Monday, but pretty sketchy for watching an eclipse. So, staying was a gamble, and so was going. I looked at the radar, and wound up staying. I was the only one who did, but the radar, combined with the fact that the alternate location wasn’t as close to the center line made me wary of leaving. It seems that if you have an eclipse under patchy clouds, the longest duration is probably your best chance of seeing at least some of it.

And I wasn’t sure. There was a part of me that was heartbroken watching them pull away without me… certain that they were right and I was wrong, and it was too late to fix the mistake.

So, an hour before the eclipse, I looked up at a cloudy sky and set alarms for the beginning of transit, and also for the beginning of totality.

I was pretty sure it was going to be raining, but I figured I could still go out in the rain and enjoy the darkness.

It didn’t rain where I was, and while the clouds never cleared up completely, they were whispy enough not to be a problem in viewing the eclipse. I spent a couple of hours lying on the grass in my yard with binoculars (actually, special Sunoculars, with a sun-filter built in) watching the eclipse.

Sunoculars are another world, entirely. I got them–at a cost of mumble, mumble–because I’m pretty near-sighted and cardboard things do not always work well with my prescription. If you point them at a lamp in the house, you will not be able to tell if the lens caps are on or off by looking. They turned out to be a really nice, really clear view, and you could also see the sun-lit clouds, and the shadows of some of the leaves above me, but I was skeptical until I actually saw it. I do recommend them. The magnification was good, too.

From where I was, you could hear the loud speakers on the high-school football field, but not the crowd, itself. I think they drug in the usual sports-oriented announcer, and that he was frustrated with the lack of screaming fans. His timing was also dangerously off, as he’s telling people when to put their eclipse glasses back on. (That might be something you have to know in advance.)

I got a couple of pictures, and the best of them is the featured image for this post. I’ll either take a better camera next time, or pass on the photos, entirely. They don’t do it justice.

I didn’t see any stars, probably due to clouds, but I did feel the temperature drop.

And then, totality passed, and I watched until the clouds gathered, and blotted out the sun, right around 70 or 80%.

As for the rest of my group? Well, it was raining in alternate location, and they had to settle for an indoor picnic and a few hours of togetherness.

Take that, extroverts.

Eclipses, Bowel Resections, and Priorities

I am not going in to work on the day of the eclipse.

I really can’t see giving up a once-in-a-lifetime experience for a job I think about quitting on a daily basis. It’s not a great job, and it’s not an important job. I’m not walking out of an emergency room mid-bowel resection, or anything. Not parachuting out of a fighter jet, or taking my finger out of the dyke. My being there or not… well, it just doesn’t matter.

And let’s be honest, I have enough time accrued.

We can just call that a “mental health day.” It would be incredibly bad for my mental health to work through an eclipse. Almost a concession that I don’t matter as a person.

I’m still keeping my mouth shut about this, because not everyone feels that way. Maybe it’s financial, and maybe it’s a matter of priorities, or maybe some people are teetering on the brink of being fired, anyway, but there are plenty of people who–apparently–fully intend to miss out. It’s big enough to complain over, but not big enough to do anything about. (I was just told by one of these that anyone who calls in should get suspended. For a week. DONE! )

Yes, I’m at a point where suspension sounds like free time with my manuscript. Okay. I might be the only one there.

In all honesty, it reminds me of a movie I watched a million years ago–I’ve forgotten the name–where the main character misses the only day of sunlight her planet is expecting for her lifetime.

I think she died.

The idea of missing something that big–of anyone missing it–makes me sick.

The idea of missing it for nothing… well, that’s worse. Because it is nothing. There is nothing I do that you can’t plan ahead for, and let me and my co-workers go out to see the eclipse.

So, right this second? What I want to say is plan ahead. Boycott anything that’s unnecessarily open, because those are human beings being asked to give up their chance of seeing the same thing thing you‘ve traveled around the world to see.

If you value science and education…. If it’s open, and you’re not bleeding or in labor, don’t spend money there.

Pike’s Peak Writer’s Conference Day One

I’m going to admit I hit drained pretty early yesterday. I don’t know whether it’s the change in the altitude, or my own shift from my regular schedule to… uhm… normal human being hours and then on to mountain time. Or… quite frankly… the fact of being surrounded by people wearing my allergens (perfume, cologne, and—horrors—fabric softeners.) I do much better with those when I’m moving around than when I’m sitting still.

I skipped out on the last session yesterday, and also wound up ditching the costume party. I was down to the last dregs, by then. And not really meeting anybody because I was afraid I’d either throw up on someone or go full-on bitch.

I got out of the crowd, and had a snack out here:

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If you’re noticing the solitude, that’s because it was 43 degrees at the time, and even smokers didn’t want to be out there.

Still, the best I’d felt all day.

The best presentation was the one I almost didn’t go to. Something about freeing your inner extrovert. (I also hit my limit on presentations about building characters). The presenter was David R. Slayton. (The R is important–it’s what gets you the writer on a Google search.) There was a lot of audience participation–of a meet your neighbors variety–and I met my neighbors. Who were a lot of fun. And… most of them are writing sci-fi or fantasy.

Also, for the record… it is snowing here. I woke up to this, this morning.

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That’s the view from my discount-dive motel, not from the Marriot. (Sorry, but I’m getting motel room for basically half the price, and it’s a bargain, if you’re willing to do a little driving.) 7.5 inches predicted for the weekend, and absolutely tragic, if I get snowed in.

I will point out that Colorado Springs combines the worst of the city (tangled, looping freeways) with the worst of the country. Look out! A deer! but it’s a beautiful place, so when I do die my fiery death, at least it’ll be in the shadow of snow-peaked mountains.

For those of you from Holly’s website, the highlight so far has been meeting Carol and Josh Englehaupt and Bill Bush and his daughter (I think she’s still a minor, so no link or name mentions yet. I’ll owe her one.)

I may have been spoiled by ballroom events, but I think it’s safe to say that the food here is… well, edible. The brownies we had for snacks were actually very good. The chicken on my salad? Well, I could have used a sharper knife. My expectations were definitely a little too high. Uhr… a lot too high.

I got a fast-food cheeseburger for dinner. (I’m not sure what the dinner at the conference would have been, but it involved the word “chicken” again…)

And They Had To Go and Make It a Costume Party…

I’m fiddling around with ideas for costumes, right now. Apparently, someone decided it would be a good idea to make dinner the first night at the writers’ conference a costume party… heroes and villains theme… and then set a bunch of writers loose to do as they please.

There are some practical limitations, of course. You have to be able to sit, and also eat. It would be nice if you could do those things comfortably, and also, you know… stand for a while.

I’d also like to be able to wear at least some parts of the costume again, in a non-costumey way, since I spend maybe… uhm… just guessing, but probably 99.9% of my time not at costume parties. So, that ruffle-y blouse that would be perfect with what I’m thinking, but which I would never wear again… gone.

At the same time, I feel like this is a good opportunity to be impressive as possible. Impressive=memorable. And after all, memorable is what I’m going for. In a non-trips over her own feet, takes out three tables of honored guests, and face-plants in the keynote’s spaghetti sort of way. Just to be clear.

I’m leaning toward some kind of steampunk demon-y thing.

Yes, I know you’re supposed to go as your favorite hero or villain… but in a room full of people who all have a vested interest in their own books… I’m not actually stupid enough to step in that hornet’s nest.

I might even get a haircut on the way out to Colorado. You never know.

Things to See and Do in the Cybersphere

Holly Lisle is bringing back her  How To Think Sideways course, starting right now. It’s a comprehensive course on how to write a novel, from the idea to–well, dropping it in the mailbox, if you’re publishing traditionally, and publishing, if you’re going the indie route. It also–and this was the tipping point for me–comes with access to Holly’s forums, which are some of the nicest, most supportive, and stable writers’ forums I’ve come across. It’s a good community.

I happen to be a moderator over there, so be sure you say hi, when you’re there. Yeah, mostly, it means I answer questions, but sometimes I also get to be moderate.

This month, Juneta Key is hosting the StoryTime Blog Hop. The basic rules are:

 

  • Short Story/Flash Fiction up 1000 words
  • (PG RATED–No Violence, Erotica or Foul Language)
  • Genre:      GENERAL Speculative Fiction
  • DEADLINE JANUARY 20TH, 2017 (Get your links to Juneta by then.)
  • MUST DO:  Pre-schedule post to Go Live with other participants.  Failure to do this may cause your link to be removed from the lineup of story participants when the rest of the links are live on the day.  Info for pre-scheduling here (required). 

The stories don’t have to be for children, but as a general rule of thumb, you shouldn’t use anything that will make the children’s authors in the hop put a bag over their heads.

I’m still chugging away at the 52 Week Writing Challenge.  One of my good influences just dropped out because of a family thing, though, so if you wanna join in, and be my new icon of writerly virtue, there’s an opening. Or, you know, if you want to join in and be a bad influence, or just write quietly in the corner. Plenty of space for everyone, and only a week in.