2017-08-21 Mon


I have read Sam Kean’s book “Caesar’s last Breath”, a layperson’s guide to gases. The old chestnut about every breath we take includes a molecule exhaled by Caser is the prelude to everything you always wanted to know but didn’t know you wanted to know it about gases.

I grew tired of reading “exact same” and disagree with Kean’s treatment of the kinetic energy of a fluid, but apart from that, a good read and I shall borrow other books by him.

Borrow, as in “from the public library”.

I look at the publication data – published in 2017, July 2017, and here I am reading it in August 2017. It doesn’t get much newer than that!

Further I have scanned the “Woks Cited” section and plan to borrow all those works which (a) are books and (b) are cited twice or more.

I Almost Died During the Eclipse in Toronto!

I am partial to solar eclipses, but this was only a partial eclipse, and a very partial one at that. We are about twenty degrees latitude from the path of totality.

The sky was not as bright at two o’clock as it had been at noon, but then, to my untrained eye it looked no dimmer than a regular high-air-pollution day in Toronto, and I’ve seen thirty-five years of them.

Anyway, that didn’t stop every man and his dog from milling around on the sidewalks (“It’s the chance of a lifetime to get away from your desk and just chat and ignore the haze”) and putting their hands above their eyebrows in the hopes that for them it will be different, and the sun will recognise from the placement of their hands that they don’t want to incur eye-damage (“Oh, OK then. I won’t burn out YOUR retina”) or pointing their smart phones at the sun, or away from the sun, presumably taking a selfie (“Me and the eclipse!”).

If you have ever tried to take a photo of the full moon, you’ll know what a pointless exercise that is. Photos and videos of the sun just don’t work for amateurs, and you won’t find professional photographers trying to get a photo of the sun from the sidewalk outside Shoppers Drug Mart.

At least one lady wasn’t engrossed in the eclipse. She was ahead of me at the checkout at NoFrills, and when one credit card didn’t work, she had to secrete it away in a hidden compartment of her wallet and then locate another secret compartment in her wallet, pincer the card out of its skin-tight hidey-hole. That didn’t work, either, so that second card had to be reset and a third sought ...

Every man and his dog was not a problem, but the fat lady waddling down Parliament Street with her fat dog waddling on the far side of the sidewalk saw me anticipate hurdling the leash, but in the end I thought better of it and just ploughed into the leash and stood still. I am still not sure who yelped, the lady or the bitch.

I managed to catch the streetcar thanks to the considerate Toronto Transit Commission driver who saw me running and re-opened the door. I slumped in the seat and saw tomorrow’s headlines “Seventy year old pensioner has heart attack during eclipse”.

And since you ask: Yes! A total eclipse in Mount Gambier in October 1976, I think it was. The most stunning part for me was the birds whirling in dis-array trying to nest before night fell, and a mob of horses galloping crazily around a paddock as the totality swept across the land.

That and the eerie chill as the light faded.