Monday, August 21, 2017

Total (well, Partial) Eclipse

Partial eclipse that was seen in totality in other parts of the country
I foolishly scheduled a minor medical procedure for this morning, before realizing this was also the day of the total eclipse—an event that hasn't spanned across the United States in 99 years. I had already canceled the procedure once and so didn't want to reschedule again. However, as soon as the nurse began her preparations, I mentioned that I was hoping to be done in time for the eclipse. She nodded politely.

Two hours later, Tim and I were heading home just as the moon started to cover the sun. As we drove along Venice Blvd., we saw several people standing outside, wearing protective glasses and staring up at the sun. The peak of the eclipse was happening at 10:21AM and it was already 10AM. Would we be home in time to experience this once-in-a-lifetime event? And would our neighbors let us borrow their eclipse glasses, because I hadn't even bothered getting any since I assumed I'd be stuck indoors at the doctor's office.

We pulled up in front of the house at 10:10AM. Happily, our across-the-street neighbor came over immediately and offered us a welder's mask that he was holding in his hand.

"Use this," he said as we tried glancing up at the sun. "The protective glass will shield your eyes."

Sure enough, I put on the mask and could see the moon partially covering the sun. "Cool!" I yelled. 

Pretty soon other neighbors emerged as we passed around the welder's mask. It was a wonderful moment: standing in the street all together, sharing an historic moment, if only for a few minutes.

Our eclipse was only partial—about 60% coverage—but it was part of a much larger national event that brought people together under the shared banner of nature and science. A small thing, perhaps, but such a reliefeven if just brieflyduring a month marked by violence in Charlottesville and national divisiveness. 

Thank goodness for heavenly bodies . . .

Sharing a once-in-a-lifetime experience*

Selfie: our neighbor Elizabeth in the welder's mask*

Even the neighborhood dogs got into the act!*

*Thanks to Elizabeth for letting me use her photos!

Touring DTLA

Despite a serious need to relax more during our well-earned retirement, we managed to squeeze in not one but two tours of places in downtown L.A. last Friday. The first was the L.A. Streetlight Museum, located in the city's Public Works building. Open for only 30 minutes a month, the museum is managed by the Bureau of Street Lighting, which decided two years ago to share and celebrate some of the most beautiful lamps that have illuminated—and still light—Los Angeles since the late 1800s. It was a short but fascinating visit.

Lamps from the late 1800s, plus an old switch box

Early 20th century lamps

 The lamps (on concrete pedestals) that 
we grew-up with—and still love—
when we were kids

1930s lamps

1950s beauties


Specialty lamps for UCLA (left) and Chinatown (right)

Still lighting DTLA (see below)

After a quick nap back home, we took the lightrail back to DTLA for a "Modern by Moonlight" tour offered by the L.A. Conservancy. Starting at the Central Library before sunset, we ventured north and west only a handful of blocks over the next two hours. The views were, of course, magnificent. We do love our city . . .

Bonaventure Hotel before sunset

U.S. Bank building (formerly aka "The Library
Tower") with the real library in the foreground

Wonderful old lamps we saw at the
Streetlight Museum with the new Wilshire
Grand in the background

Across the street from the library

The most beautiful building downtown: Los Angeles
Public Library

Tallest building in L.A.: Wilshire Grand 
pointing skyward

Looking south down Flower from the Bonaventure

Thursday, August 10, 2017

STLV 2017


The big annual Star Trek convention in Las Vegas is akin to a celebrity cruise: Even though you're confined to the same space with the same 5000 people for five days, you're never bored thanks to a jam-packed schedule of activities that include panel discussions, interviews, trivia contests, costume competitions, photo opportunities, and lively nighttime entertainment. Plus there's always the chance you'll share an elevator ride or two with your favorite stars.

Karen and I enjoyed last year's convention, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the original Star Trek (ST) TV show, so much that we decided to return again last week. This year's theme: the 30th anniversary of our favorite and arguably the best of all the ST series, Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG). Even Tim decided to tag along and took many of the photos below. 

 TNG anniversary logo

Arriving at the con
Convention highlights included: a museum of costumes and artifacts from the upcoming new TV show Star Trek: Discovery; behind-the-scenes slides narrated by ST creator Gene Roddenberry's assistant; an early morning program featuring concept art for new ST starships (I was one of the few women in the audience!); Klingon karaoke; a panel discussion of my favorite TNG episode, "The Inner Light;" a mash-up costume contest, where cosplayers cleverly used iconic non-Trek elements to create new ST characters (see several examples below); competitive compilation of Sir Patrick Stewart's top-ten non-Trek roles (our nominations did not win); and a closing night concert by the Rat Pack, several "minor" ST actors who wear tuxedos and sing standards with a special—and usually very funny—twist. And, yes, we did get to ride the elevator with a couple of our fave ST actors: John deLancie, who played Q on TNG and Star Trek: Voyager, and Robert Picardo (twice!), the Doctor on Voyager.

Celebrating ST:TNG

Sir Patrick Stewart (Captain Jean-Luc Picard)

Michael Dorn (Klingon and security officer Worf)

LeVar Burton (Geordi) and Brent Spiner (Data)

 TNG costumes: Guinon and Data

Borg Queen's skull and spine (cool!!)

Wearing my Ten-Forward t-shirt in front of a replica of
Ten-Forward, ST's first intergalactic bar

Other Celebs

 William Shatner (Captain Kirk)

Kate Mulgrew (Voyager's Captain Janeway)
 Star Trek: Discovery

Klingon armor (made on a 3-D printer!!)

Klingon helmut

Klingon uniform

 On the bridge of Discovery (replica)

 Favorite Costumes

The Gorn (Tim's fave)

Guinon (bartender extraordinaire
on TNG)

Klingon females: the Duras sisters (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine)

Klingon (original series)

"Plato's Stepchildren" (original series)


Green Orion women and Ferengis

Vulcan ambassador

Kermit as starfleet officer

Captain Cruella deVil and commander Spot

The "away team" (Wrath of Khan)


(Can't remember its name!!)

Best Mashups

Santa Gorn and ST Jack Sparrow (left)

Miss Gorn


ST Elvis

Snow White and the Seven Worfs

Klingon Jedi

Wookiee Klingon

Steampunk science officer

"Walking red . . ."

All the Rest

Up early to see the costume parade

Parade participants

Even dogs cosplayed!

 Great signage

In Klingon as well as English

Klingon karaoke: Duras sisters singing "Killing Me Softly" 
(in Klingon!)

Live long and prosper. . .