I Went For a Walk In the Woods

I went for a walk in the woods (Fontenelle Forest, to be precise) and a quick visit to the connected raptor rescue, where they rehabilitate birds of prey. (Just birds of prey. Not ducks. Not woodpeckers. Birds of Prey) They also house a number of birds which would not be able to survive in the wild for various reasons. The short-term residents are kept separately, since they’re not supposed to be socialized to love humans, but the long-term birds are out for the public (provided that they aren’t fostering orphan birds, of course).

Now, to be clear… this is one of those places where an annual membership would be much cheaper for regular visits (uhm, actually if two adults in your family go more than twice in a year) and also there are some benefits (such as after hours access) that would be well worth having, if I lived closer.

A hawk. Unreleaseable due to partial amputation of her wing.

Unmatched pair of owls.




More trees.


There are even indoor trees! This one is more naturalistic than some bookstore trees I’ve been acquainted with.

The raptor area and some of the trails are wheelchair accessible, as is the main building. (boardwalk-style trails, if that makes a difference to anyone.)

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.

On Eclipses, Weather, and Gullibility

I’m already awake and waiting for the eclipse to begin.

The weather check is a little sketchy. Uhm… Periodic clouds, whatever that means.

There is a contingency plan, in which we drive out along the line of the eclipse until there are not periodic clouds. We are seeing an eclipse today, even if we have to use a tractor beam to drag the moon back into position.

The thing I wasn’t prepared for with this is just how many people do not care. I’m pretty much bouncing off the walls, but I’ve run into a whole lot of So What? And even a couple of people who would prefer not to see it. (Apparently, it’s creepy.)

And I’m also running into a few adults–reasonably intelligent, normal-type adults–who have no idea of either: 1.) What an eclipse is or 2.) The relative positions of the planets in the solar system.

Well, you see… there is a rumor going around that because of the alignment of Jupiter and some other planet (suggestions vary) There will be 19 days of darkness later on this year.

I would hate to accuse my boss of starting this rumor, but he does seem to be the one who benefits the most. (Doesn’t matter if you miss this, ’cause you can’t possibly miss that.)

I have tried to explain that this is not possible… that for Jupiter (even with planet X) to block out the sun, Jupiter would have to be between the Earth and the sun. This does not seem to take.

Because planets move.

There is some–we won’t call it skepticism–debate on the subject, but no actual cry of “Bullshit!”

, And aside from that, there seems to be a lot of resignation about not being able to see the eclipse. I have heard the phrase “oh well” more times than I can count, and some days, I feel like I’m completely surrounded by Eeyores.

As I may have mentioned, before… Science is important, and in the event that something is open during the eclipse, that means that individuals and families are being denied access to the event of a lifetime so that you can buy a tostada. Do NOT buy a tostada. Do not buy anything. Do not spend money to promote the idea that denying people access to science is profitable (either short-term or long-term.)

Boycott anything which is open.

That Horse Trailer Full of T-Shirts

On my way home from work, yesterday, I passed a man selling eclipse T-shirts. He must have had a lot of them, judging from the horse trailer he’d dragged them in in, and I’ve seen him around town before. I stopped to talk, mostly because I was passing within ten feet of him anyway,  and he was looking straight at me. He pointed to the other guy, and said that he had designed the t-shirts and had a bunch made up.

So, yes, that’s more or less how it goes. They made eclipse T-shirts, and then plonked themselves down on the corner of Livestock Equipment and Big Box Store (Also Selling T-shirts) and hoped for the best.

Now, I’m really not sure where you’d go to sell t-shirts in my town, and maybe business will pick up, once the eclipse crowd gets here… any minute now…. any… minute…

But I do think you should have a pretty good idea before you buy a horse trailer full of shirts.

These are… well, they’re shirts. They’re blue, and say “Eclipse 2017” or some such, and have the Homestead National Monument printed on the back. (It’s a hideous picture of a hideous building.)

picture of homestead monument

Told You So. (Courtesy of the Parks Service.)

But there has been a lot of speculation surrounding the Eclipse, and that ranges from people letting out rooms in their house, to people trying to sell eclipse glasses on Amazon (From Utah!)… to people buying a horse trailer full of T-shirts.

And I don’t know how you sell a horse trailer full of T-shirts.

I don’t know how you sell eclipse glasses long-distance, after Amazon bans you for not having enough customer feedback for the number of sales on your new account. I don’t even know how you sell them, when it turns out that the local fast food places are giving them away with meals.

And the bed & breakfast thing? Well, I might just wait til closer, to see if you can get a look at the people in real life. It’s damn hard to get a drunken astronomer out of your waterbed. Especially after he gets out the snorkel.

There has to be more of a plan than just “I’m going over there and I’m going to sell (product).”

As of right now, I have seen more vendors than tourists.