Circular shadow on the sidewalk, with lots of bright crescents inside, all facing the same direction.

For a lot of reasons, we didn’t arrange another road trip to see today’s total eclipse like we did in 2017 (which was amazing, by the way!). It was only partial out here in California, and not even with as high a magnitude as the one last October.

But we had clear skies, so we broke out the eclipse glasses from 2017 again. After testing them first by looking directly as a bright indoor lamp to make sure there were no scratches. And I’d heard that colanders make interesting patterns (each hole works as a pinhole camera) much like overlapping leaves do, so I brought that out — as you can see, it worked quite well!

I do kind of regret not being able to get out to see this one as total. Partial eclipses can be really cool, especially if you have multiple ways to observe them, but XKCD has a point. There really isn’t any comparison to experiencing totality, and it doesn’t come through very well in photos.

I bet northern Spain is already booked for 2026.

It is interesting to think that solar eclipses happen every year — usually twice! — but they’re not always total, and they’re only visible from a small part of the planet at a time. And sometimes that’s a slice of, say, Antarctica or Siberia or out in the middle of the ocean. Not rare for the planet, but definitely rare for any given location.

On one hand, it’s no wonder people used to see them as omens. With travel and communication slow (and in many cases impossible) in the ancient world, if you’re only going on what’s been seen in your area, it seems super-rare and unpredictable. On the other hand, cultures with sophisticated enough astronomy like the ancient Babylonians were able to calculate the eclipse cycle thousands of years ago!

One bit of funny timing: We’ve been catching up on the last season of The Magicians. Today we got up to an episode that…well, let’s just say the moon figures very prominently in it!

Update: Axios posted a nice map last week showing how fully booked AirBnBs are for the day in different parts of the US…which shows the path of totality *very* clearly!

Me, driving a smallish gas-fueled car in the 2000s: Wow, gas has gotten expensive these days, but at least I’m not spending too much per tank.

Me, driving a hybrid car in the 2010s: Yeah, gas is still expensive, but I’m still not spending too much per tank, and I think I’m filling it less often than I used to.

Me, driving a plug-in hybrid to the grocery store and back during the first year of the pandemic: I have no idea how much gas costs. I haven’t filled the tank since the before times. I hope the gas engine still works.

Me, driving the same plug-in hybrid normally during the 2020s: Oh yeah, gas is kinda expensive. At least I don’t have to fill up the tank very often, and it’s not too much when I do.

Me, driving a rented gas-fueled SUV to the next county and back once: WTF I’M SPENDING HOW MUCH TO FILL UP THIS TANK!?!?!?

Last Friday, I dropped off my ballot for today’s primary election. I’ve got to say, I really appreciate the new approach in LA County of mailing everyone eligible a ballot, maintaining permanent drop boxes at relevant locations (libraries, etc.), and opening some polling places early to accept completed ballots.

MUCH more convenient than needing the time on one specific day and, in elections with a lot of turnout, waiting 45 minutes, an hour, or longer.

The longest I’ve waited was when I was living in Orange County, either 2003 or 2004, and they actually had to apply the “if you’re in line at closing time, you get to vote” rule. Someone brought a box of to-go coffee from the Starbucks down the street (I think Starbucks might have donated it, too?) and was offering it either to the poll workers or to those of us still in line.

The first election in which the county implemented early voting and flexible polling places (instead of requiring you to get to the specific place on your sample ballot) was also the week before COVID-19 hit the area. Now that I think of it, they still didn’t send out an actual ballot by mail unless you requested one. That changed when it became clear COVID wasn’t going to just blow over before November. Since then some of the smaller, local elections have been mail-only.

Four years….WTF

Option 1: will do some things you want, and some things you don’t.

Option 2: won’t do anything you want, will do all the same things you don’t want that option 1 will do, has promised to do more things you don’t want, undo the things you wanted that have already happened, make it more difficult for you to even have these choices in the future, and has previously demonstrated that they’re willing to go through with all of the above.

And yet I keep seeing people say they’re the same picture???

Really????

It’s like…you need to hire someone to fix your heater. One contractor will fix your heater for the advertised price, but break some of your windows in the process and stop taking your phone calls. The other will rip out your entire heating system and your plumbing, and steal the copper phone lines to make it hard for you to call someone else (I know, outdated metaphor), insist that you broke it yourself and charge extra. And they’ll break your windows too.

A bunch of reviews point out that both of them will break your windows, so they can’t be all that different, right?

It would be great to find someone who would fix your heat without breaking your windows! But there’s a glass factory in town that wants more business and gives all the local contractors kickbacks, so your best bet for that is to hire someone from out of town…but they’re booked until summer.

So you can either go with the one who’ll break things even more, or the one who will fix some things and break others, and then deal with the breakage while you still have heating, plumbing, and a working phone.