Eclipsing the Eclipse

They said that it was the greatest show under the sun. The solar eclipse of August 21, 2017, billed as the Eclipse of the Century or also referred as the Great American Eclipse was visible within a band across the entire United States. The last solar eclipse that was seen across the contiguous United States was in 1918.

Where I live now, which is in Central Iowa, we only have partial eclipse, but it is still 95% cover. But if I want to see a total solar eclipse, all I need to do is drive about two hours west, or two hours south of me, and I will be in that narrow band of total solar eclipse path. Two hours travel is nothing. When I was still in Manila, it takes two hours just to cross EDSA.

There were places that I know that advertised their town or city as “the destination” for the best viewing area for the total eclipse. Their hotels were fully booked months before the event. I know some friends of mine tried to book a hotel on these popular places but were not able. Though they were still able to find hotels in smaller towns nearby.

In one place, they made their city parks and regional airport as the designated viewing place, but you have to reserve a spot for parking weeks before the event as they expect a wave of visitors. Of course there’s a fee involved. In another place, it was a military base that they assigned to welcome eclipse travelers, but again you need to reserve a slot there. Perhaps all the streets in these prime towns and cities suddenly have parking meters.

Even several weeks before the solar eclipse, I already knew that I am not working that day. It’s because I would be on-call the weekend before, so I am off that Monday. Thus I considered going to those prime viewing places. However, I learned that by that time, summer vacation is over and my children will be back in school already, and so I did not make any early plans.

As the event got nearer, and the hype for the eclipse got hotter, I thought that maybe we don’t even need to stay overnight in those choice places. I could easily drive early morning that day as it is just 2 hours away from us, and the time of the solar eclipse is not until around noontime anyway. And even if I have not made any parking reservation in those viewing areas, I thought I could just park in their town’s Wal-Mart.

Few days before the eclipse, I still have not procured the recommended glasses which is needed to safely view the solar eclipse. I tried to look for the certified eclipse glasses in the stores around our area, but all of them have sold out. I want to see the solar eclipse but I also don’t want to go blind. It was really poor planning on my part.

The weekend of my duty came. I worked and was on-call for an ungodly long time of almost 60 hours straight. Besides being so busy it was depressing too. In one stretch of time, we even had a string of deaths in the ICU that Sunday. I was just glad it’s over.

Solar eclipse by the way, for the superstitious, is regarded as an evil omen. The word “eclipse” comes from the Greek word “ekleipsis,” which means “an abandonment.” Thus it is not a surprise that civilizations throughout history associate it for bad things to happen.

Come Monday, the day of the eclipse, I was awakened by lightning and thunderstorm. I checked on the weather and found out that it will be raining the whole day in our area. Rats! So much for viewing the solar eclipse.

I also checked on those areas where I initially planned on driving to see the totality of the eclipse, and the weather forecast there was cloudy too for the whole day. Suddenly I felt bad for those people who made such elaborate arrangements and plans to view the solar eclipse, only to be disappointed by the cloudy weather.

I end up just visiting my daughter in her university which is also two-hour drive away. But it was north of us and going farther away from the band of the total solar eclipse path. I reasoned, If I’m not able to see the total eclipse due to the weather, at least I’m seeing my daughter.

When we arrived at the university, it was cloudy there too. The university have even arranged an eclipse viewing party. Outside the university campus, in the town center, there were also lots of kids and their parents gathered outside the public library with their lounge chairs and eclipse glasses. But all were disappointed, as the sun can be barely seen due to the cloudy skies.

Below is the best we were able to get a glimpse of the solar eclipse:

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The greatest show on earth was covered not by the moon shadow. But by the dark rain clouds. The eclipse was eclipsed! What a bummer!

Clouds are part of our lives here on earth. And so are disappointments. We can make all the elaborate plans for the future. But there is always that element of unknown that is beyond our control. All we can do is make the best of the situation.

It was still cloudy when we got back home. It even rained some more. But as the sun was about to set, this showed up in the sky:

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Sometimes, those rain clouds that disappoint us can also give us unexpected joy.

 

(*photos taken with iPhone)

Raindrops

One dreary morning,

I was slowly traveling,

The world I cannot see,

For everything was blurry.

                             I turned the wipers on,

                             Yet the haziness remain,

                             For it was not the rain,

                             It was my tears and my pain.

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(*This poem is brought to you by ibuprofen. My body aches again. Damn that volleyball!)

(**photo taken with an iPhone)

Chasing Rainbows

I went out this morning to run. Just before I head out the door, I checked the weather forecast on my phone and it was a balmy 70º F. That’s kind of warm for an early May morning where it usually in the 40-50’sº.

The forecast also called for 60% chance of rain at that time, and 80% chance in the next hour. But I still took my chances. And ran.

Besides the sun was shining. At least partly.

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And on the other side of the horizon, there were nimbus clouds. In other words, rain clouds. Nothing scary though. No lightning flashing. No thunder rolling. No tornadoes forming.

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Have you heard of the avid suitor who said: “I’ll give you the moon and the stars if you asked me, my love. And I’ll come back tomorrow night. If it does not rain.” Such a fickle dedication.

But not me. It takes more than nimbus clouds to intimidate me.

Not long after I started my run, the rain came. These meteorologists were really accurate in their weather forecasting!

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see the rain drops in the water?

Anyway, it was light rain only. I am water-proof. My dedication is water-proof. Even my running apparel are water-wicking. I would be alright.

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The rain may have dampened the road, but not my spirit. I’ll just sing “I do my running in the rain.”

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At least this lonely gravel road would not be so dusty. Not muddy. But the rain moistened it just enough that I would not be eating billows of dust if ever a lost car pass by me.

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The rain did not really get more than a pitter-patter. And I finished my run without really getting soaked. Though I still broke out a sweat.

Would I catch pneumonia. Nah!

But I caught this.

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full arc rainbow

If the looming clouds deterred me from going out, I would have missed the rainbow.

Just like in life. Sometimes we need to go out of our comfort zones. Take our chances even if the odds is against us. And chase our rainbows.

Maybe next time I would also catch the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

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(photos taken with an iPhone)

 

 

Crazy Weather

Exactly one week ago, I posted this photo.

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It was taken right after a light shower, with a visible rainbow in an almost complete arc. The brown grass was starting to turn green, and the empty branches were beginning to show their buds. Spring was on its way.

Then two days ago, our temperature went way up to the 80’s Fahrenheit. We put away our heavy coats into the closet. Me and my son played hoops in our driveway basketball court in our t-shirt and shorts. That night it was hot enough that I was tempted to turn on the air conditioner. Did summer arrived already and altogether skipped spring?

Yesterday the heavy rains came and it was gloomy all day. But it was alright, for we badly need the rain. Besides, the saying goes, “April showers bring May flowers.”

But this morning I woke up to this.

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Snow? No! The temperature dipped below freezing again. Needless to say, our heater was on once more, and our winter coats were out of the closet again.

Crazy Iowa weather!

 

Frozen

The title is not about the latest Disney movie, but about our current predicament.

We are having an unusually cold February in our area. The mercury has not wandered above freezing point for quite a while now. On cold days like these, I wonder if the contention of global warming phenomenon even exist. But that’s a different topic on its own.

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Above is a photo of the water tower in our area. Apparently there’s a leak in the pipes in the tower somewhere, causing the water to gush down. But it is so cold that the cascading water is frozen like a plume of icicles.

I have to agree, that even a problem like a leaking pipe and a subfreezing temperature can still be viewed as beautiful.

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(*photo taken with iPhone)

Above the Storm Clouds

I was saddened to see the utter destruction wrought by tornadoes in Oklahoma earlier this week. A whole town was completely obliterated by a mile-wide tornado that touched down with wind speed of more than 200 miles per hour. Several lives were lost, and thousands of homes and properties destroyed. My thoughts and prayers goes to all who were affected.

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Moore, Oklahoma (photo from news4jax.com)

We were in Philadelphia when all these violent storms happened. When we arrived here in Iowa, I learned from our friends that we did had some bad storms in our area also. In fact, my friend said that during his daughter’s dance recital a few days ago, it was temporary interrupted for several minutes, when they announced a tornado warning. Though they were not forced to evacuate into a storm shelter.

We were just glad to come home and see that our home and our trees (including our  leaning tree), as well as our whole neighborhood to be still standing. But violent weather, including tornadoes, is a fact of life here in the midwest. Even the local university’s football team has a name that bears it, the Iowa State Cyclones.

Schools, offices and even hospitals have required drills, to be prepared in case a tornado hit. Just recently about two weeks ago, in the hospital where I work, we had a tornado drill. Although many people, and that includes me, did not take it too seriously when it was announced overhead, and acted nonchalantly as we know it was just a drill. But what if it’s not just a drill anymore? Will we survive?

When we were flying from Philadelphia back here to our home in Iowa, we have probably flew over places where the strong storms had passed and wreak havoc on their path. But one reality strikes me. A different perspective if you will. That is, it is always sunny above the clouds.

Storms, not just atmospheric, are facts of this life. Some may be extremely violent. Sometimes we will be hit by theses realities. And you may be experiencing one right now. But they too will pass. Let us just hold on tight and weather these storms of life. For it is always sunny above those dark clouds.

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photo taken at 33,000 feet

White Christmas

I am dreaming of a white Christmas. Not!

A warm Christmas maybe. A brown Christmas will do. Or better yet, a green (as in tropical!) Christmas.

I agree a white Christmas is so beautiful and iconic. Until you realize you need to shovel that pile of snow in your driveway in the subfreezing temperature. And there’s nothing beautiful in the bitter cold unless you are a polar bear.

But whether it is white, or brown, or green, or red, or even pink, that is not important. For Christmas is not about snow or colors. It is about the birth of a Redeemer, that though my sins are like scarlet, He made them as white as snow.

In that sense, it is a white Christmas after all. Have a blessed Christmas!

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(*photo taken last winter)