"Solar Eclipse This Evening" -- 07/31/00

No, don't run to look - it was yesterday. That title is taken from the text description on a hotlink on msn.com yesterday leading to an article about a solar eclipse that ould be briefly visible on the west coast shortly before sunset on Sunday.

It just cracked me up. Solar Eclipse This Evening. Duh.... Can you say Oxymoron, Microsoft?

I do find oxymorons to be amusing. Jumbo Shrimp! Yes, I'm also a sucker for puns. Anyway, here are a few oxymorons for your amusement:

military intelligence airline food civil war
legal ethics truth in advertising moral majority
rap music temporary tax clearly misunderstood
Microsoft Works new improved original copy
plastic glass old news half naked

The background is meant to go with today's weather... actually, the weather for the past week or so. Sure we've maybe had a glimpse or two of sun, but mostly its been cloudy with rain from time to time. Most of June and July brought warm and sunny weather so I suppose I shouldn't complain. The kind of weather pattern we've had here reminds me too much of the kinds of weather that afflicts the Binghamton, NY area. So I will complain. Won't do any good, of course, but...

Cloudy and rainy Sundays are sleepy days. I didn't sleep; not even a brief nap (oh, okay, so my eyes did get a bit droopy late in the afternoon when I was reading a book about Enterprise JavaBeans, but I was sitting up the entire time). My legs were still a bit tired from the track workout I did on Saturday and I thought that I probably shouldn't stress them two days in a row, so Nancy and I went out for a nice brisk two mile walk at mid-afternoon. Later on, after dinner, I still felt a bit restless, wanted to get in more of a workout, so I went for a bike ride. There was just a bit of a mist in the air -- not even enough to call a drizzle -- when I started out, but as I was going down the bike path it began to rain, just a light rain, not a heavy downpour, but I managed to get fairly damp, nevertheless. Six miles in the rain. No windshield wipers on my glasses.

I had thought about going for a run this morning. Yeah, "thought" is the right term because I sure didn't do it. I had my alarm set for 5:40 a.m. but when it rang I just turned it off. Not hit the snooze feature; turned it off. I didn't get up until Nancy's alarm went off a little before six thirty. Too late to get in a morning run. It was dark and overcast but not raining when I went out to get the newspaper... but it was raining hard by the time I left for work.

I can remember sitting in my first grade classroom in early autumn (1949!) on a rainy day. Thick, dark clouds, heavy downpour, the chilly wet darkness outside contrasted with the warm bright classroom. My desk is in the row nearest to the tall windows, reflections of the lights that hang from the high ceiling overlaying the view of the rain-soaked schoolyard. Miss Sullivan, my teacher, is a white-haired, kindly, elderly lady. A gentle woman, ideal for working with young children (and yet, quite firm, tolerating no rowdy behavior), she had been teaching when my parents had attended public school number four. The elementary schools in my town were numbered; they didn't begin naming them until sometime in the late fifties. The principal, Mr. VanValkenberg (known to one and all as "Mr. Van") had started as a teacher at Number Four when my parents were students. In other words, Mr. Van had begun his teaching career prior to World War One and Miss Sullivan had already been teaching there several years before his arrival. In fact, a number of years after I had her, the school system forced Miss Sullivan to retire, somewhere past her 65th birthday; she immediately became a teacher in the parochrial school system. The school building itself dated from just after the Civil War (the second oldest poured reinforced concrete building -- the first was our church -- the technology was proven just in time to be used in constructing the base of the Brooklyn Bridge.) In 1963 a new, modern elementary school was under construction to replace Number Four. It was to be named The VanValkenberg School in order to honor this man who had retired just a few years earlier after spending his entire career in this building, most of it as its principal, to honor him while he was still alive to be honored. Then came November of 1963 and, joining in the sudden rush to name (or rename) everything in sight (thus Idlewild Airport became JFK and Cape Canaveral became Cape Kennedy, although a few years later local residents forced a rollback so it became the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral), the school board suddenly voted to name the new school the Kennedy School (one of about what seems to be at least seventeen thousand Kennedy Schools) and, although neighborhood residents were very upset, nobody wanted to stand up in public and appear unpatriotic.

Gray rainy days. More than half a century apart. Damn, I'm old! But I remember being there. How to describe this? I was there, me, I was present in that room observing my environment and self-aware, aware of being there... I can recall being there so clearly, the sights and sounds and smells, the feel of my chair and desk, it was real, it was my now, it was the present moment, present tense, moving every forward in time, one second after another... and now I'm here in the year 2000... the future. Sixty seconds per minute, sixty minutes per hour, that's 3600, times twenty-four is 86,400 (don't you just love calculators!) times three sixty-five point twenty-five is 31,557,600, times fifty point seven-five is 1,601,548,200. Damn! That's a lot of seconds. Now I'm tired.

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