So, this afternoon we're having the solar eclipse thing. In ancient times this would be the occasion of great terror complete with the rending of garments, the splitting open of animals and terrified calls to repentance. Today hundreds of small towns will be overrun with herds of dorks craning their necks skyward, geeked out with protective eye ware the serious minded had ordered from NASA, while the last minute eclipse partiers picked up from the discount bin at Bob's Diner and Thrift Shop. The entire thing is supposed to be over with in a little over three hours, kind of like Lawrence of Arabia, or any movie by Peter Jackson.
I'm not even sure what I plan to do during all of this eclipsing. I didn't get any of those cool glasses. Of course, I could make one of those makeshift cereal box things that allow me to see the shadow of the thing reflected off the inside bottom of the box. But that seems like a lot of trouble. I can't just go about my day and ignore the whole thing, can I? I mean, isn't this one of those once in a lifetime things that one just has to participate with in order to be fully alive? Seriously, how lame would it be to spend the afternoon of the great solar eclipse preparing spreadsheets of account balances for a client? No, I will do my part to join in with the rest of American humanity and participate in the experience.
Maybe I'll go outside and stand in the semi-darkness, back to the sun, and wait for the temperature to drop. Part of me wants to hustle around town looking for a pair of those glasses, but another part of me is wary of buying solar eclipse glasses at the last minute. No telling what you'll get. My son had toyed with the idea about a month ago of buying a bunch of NASA issued glasses in bulk for a dollar a piece and then selling them for $10 each the day of to his unprepared co-workers. This would have been a raging success since it would have taken brilliant advantage of free enterprise and the human tendency towards procrastination. Knowing my son, he probably dropped the idea out of either misguided guilt over the vulture capitalist overtones of such an endeavor, or he got distracted by Neo-Nazis marching around his beautiful home state, or his beautiful girlfriend, or a new video game. He hesitated, and now the opportunity has passed.
Meanwhile, closer to ground zero down in Columbia, South Carolina, my daughter's National Park Ranger husband is in science geek heaven about now. He will be guiding visitors to Congaree National Park through the afternoon's event with wild enthusiasm and erudition. No observer under his care will suffer any retina damage. The same cannot be said for the rest of the country. Large areas of the country are inhabited by Americans who often preface poorly thought out plans with the phrase, "Hold my beer!"
We can only hope that large percentages of the Neo-Nazi, white supremacist and KKK population fall into this category.