I will clap my hands thrice, thus — full moon! At the third clap, eclipse yourself!
I just came in from the great outdoors. I spent the last four hours or so watching the lunar eclipse. I turned in last night around 10:30 and set my alarm for 2:30 this morning. When it went off, I got up and got dressed and grabbed my telescope. It was a beautiful evening. Fortunately, the weather was quite warm here in Livermore — no jacket required. At first, I tried viewing from the backyard, but the trees made that somewhat problematical. I watched the shadow of the Earth slowly swallow the moon. It was difficult keeping the telescope focused on the moon. To just watch it with the eye, it doesn't appear to move all that fast. When observed through a telescope though, it is easy to see that the Earth's rotation quickly takes the moon out of the telescope's viewing field.
I got my flashlight and house keys and headed down to the park a couple of blocks from where I live. I'm in town, but the lights aren't really too bad. I could have done without the streetlights though. I set up the telescope on a picnic table in the park. It was quiet, although traffic in Livermore apparently never sleeps. I was surprised how many people are about business in the early morning hours, even on my quiet street. The moon was difficult to resolve in the telescope. Features were difficult to make out in the shadow of the Earth. When the moon entered the umbra, it took on a coppery color. Eventually, a rim of brighter color appeared. This resolved itself into a bright white crescent on the lunar surface. At last, the telescope started to show clearly the familiar features on the moon's face. Over the space of the next hour or so, I watched the moon emerge from the shadow of the Earth. The smaller the shadow became the more the brightness of the exposed parts of the moon made seeing what was still in shadow difficult. As the moon became brighter, I noticed its light beam out of the eyepiece of the telescope when I stepped away from it. I imagined what my eye must look like with a moonbeam shining into it when I bent to look into the telescope. I kept bumping the eyepiece with my glasses and this caused vibrations in which made the image shake, and that was a little annoying. At 5:30, the moon had fully emerged from the shadow and I packed it in.
Oh, swear not by the inconstant moon
My great uncle, John, is dead. My mom told me that my parents were going to the viewing Sunday. Apparently, about the time that his wife, my Great Aunt Eva, died a couple of weeks ago, he stopped eating according to the home where he was living. He had Alzheimer’s. I would have thought he wasn't up on current events to really understand that his wife was dead, if that had anything to do with it. At any rate, he clenched his jaws and stopped eating and died about two weeks after his wife did. He was a nice guy, and a really good husband for my Aunt Eva. They worked well together. Hmm. I'm running out of the close relatives of my grandmother. When I first came out to California I thought only a little about what I was leaving behind. It is weird now though, to be getting older and be so deracinated. I know others in positions like mine -- my ex wife, for one. I wonder if she feels it as well.
It's been quite a week. On the fifteenth, I got a tearful, disjointed call from someone I treasure, telling me that her seven-month-old son had died in a freak accident at the end of last month. I've had a few bouts of insomnia thinking about that. There's nothing that can be done and I have no idea what could possibly be said or done to lift some of the awful weight of grief off of her shoulders, even just a little.
I think I owe an LJ friend of mine an apology. She works with American exchange students in France. Last year, one of her students committed suicide. She was really broken up about it. When I read what she had written it seemed to me that she was blaming herself for not doing more to have prevented the death. I kept pointing out that she was castigating herself uselessly, because there was nothing more that she really could have done to stop it. The kid was severely messed up, but he was "functional" and secretive, and obviously planned what he did. I think that my insistence that she was not to blame and that no omission of hers was in any way contributory to the death kind of irked her. I see now that I was apparently missing the point. When something like that happens, you want to scrape it off of you. I think it was her sense of helplessness, more than anything else that was distressing her. It feels awful to be brushed by tragedy like that. You want to do something, to give something, or take away some of the pain that the other people having, the tragedy they are experiencing, and you can't. You can't touch it. It's frustrating and depressing, and it makes your mind run in circles. We want to feel responsible because responsibility implies that something could be/could have been done. It is harder to accept that one slip, one brief opportunity for circumstance to overtake the bounds of knowledge or wisdom, is all it takes to cost us so much.
Well I wonder why are the seas still dry
I haven't been keeping up with the reading here since about the 15th. It's been rather hectic in my neck of the woods the past two weeks. About the only online communications I've had in the time have been e-mails to various mutual friends about the incident above. On top of this, I have been up to my ears preparing for a final software release review on four switch controls upon which I have been diligently working these past few months. I am glad to get them off my plate finally, but the work gets intense around the time of the release. We are thorough and careful. It doesn't do to ship equipment that monkeys up a utility's ability to provide reliable power for their customers. Bugs are not optional.
After work at the day job, I have been at Robert's house in Berkeley until around nine or ten in the evening. We are presently trying to write up a technical document explaining the theory behind McGuffin's design. We have been taking advantage of the opportunity afforded by his wife and daughter being in Bali on vacation to get some intensive work done. Neither of us are physicists, but we do have an intuitive grasp on some concepts which have guided Robert in McGuffin's design. Unfortunately, I am somewhat handicapped in documenting the principles which underlie McGuffin's operation. Robert has a better handle on where he's going, but he doesn't write well at all. Quantum Mechanics causes headaches. I always knew that I should have taken more physics when I was in school. I did pretty good at it, but math has always been a battle for me. We are still talking to potential investors and other possible interested parties who may be able to offer us some assistance. Robert has spoken to a couple of physicists at U.C. Berkeley who have expressed some interest in what we are doing and may be useful for setting up some experiments which may help us demonstrate proof of concept. The patent application, after being delayed by the US Patent and Trademark Office for two months for some administrative bureaucratic reason or other, publishes on September 6, barring any other delays. About this we are rather excited. Nevertheless, it may be five years before the patent itself is awarded. Being a government agency, the USPTO is horribly slow and behind in their reviews of applications. So far, they have made no other replies to the application, which from what Robert and I have seen in perusing the patent office site is a good thing. Our good fortune in securing the services of a first rate patent law firm and one of their best partners at that, has no doubt put us in a good position with the patent office. They are notorious for returning flawed applications.
It's seven AM. Time to hit the shower and head off to work again. Fortuanately, Robert's wife and daughter will be returning today, so we won't be putting in the long hours this evening. Also fortuitous is the four day week. I'm looking forward to the four day holiday and having Friday free.