Partly sunny

Indignity Vol. 4, No. 61

Partly sunny


The Available Eclipses Are Dwindling 

IT WAS A good eclipse, if you got some of it, wasn't it? Eclipses are chiefly a kind of weather—rare and drastic weather—under our departmental frameworks here, so most of New York's version of the eclipse will be reviewed as such, in tomorrow's edition. But eclipses are also events. Heather Havrilesky wrote a very nice eclipse-anticipatory edition of her Ask Polly newsletter about being in Dayton, Ohio, with her mom (and her sister and her aunt) to experience the event in its fullest form:

My mom started planning it more than a year ago. I was always on the fence. Nothing about her plans sounded that great. I had my doubts about the hotel she booked. I kept picturing unwanted clouds and hours of gridlock.
But there are times when indulging your doubts gets you nowhere. Ambivalence is just another form of hiding in plain sight, a way of keeping yourself safe from everything you can’t control. Sometimes worrying is just another defense mechanism, a method of shielding yourself from disappointment, a strategy for remaining untouched by the unknown.

As it happened, my own mom was also in that part of Ohio with her sister. They had made plans to go for it and had followed through. Not had I not gotten out to Ohio myself, or up to Buffalo or Niagara Falls or somewhere, I hadn't even run down any pairs of eclipse glasses. I saw that the libraries were giving them out so I called the neighborhood public library on Saturday and the librarian told me they were all out before I got past the I-was-wondering part of the question. Then I called Warby Parker and pressed the number for information about their eclipse-glasses giveaway and the recorded information was that they were all out of eclipse glasses. 

Somewhere in the process of calling Warby Parker I recognized that this had all happened before, that they had given out glasses for the previous partial eclipse in New York City, and that time I had also failed to try to participate in the eclipse preparations until the glasses were all cleaned out. That time, the totality was out in Tennessee and Kentucky, and my wife was with the kids at her parents' place in Indiana, and my in-laws decided to take a spur-of-the-moment road trip to see the eclipse in Nashville, which turned into a road trip to get off the highway in Bowling Green, Kentucky, to see the eclipse, before going on to Nashville to see Nashville for a few hours. 

While they were doing that, I just stood on the rooftop at work and watched the city around me get uncannily dim, as if my eyes were failing. At some point someone let me borrow a pair of cardboard eclipse glasses. Sure enough, the sun was a crescent. I could also tell it was a crescent because there were potted trees or shrubs on the roof casting little crescents everywhere the light came through their leaves. I knew about that from the annular eclipse years and years before that one, when I ducked out of the mailroom where I was temping in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and was shocked and amazed by the ring pattern in the shade of the scrawny trees on Kendall Square—much more shocked and amazed than I was by whatever I saw of the sun proper, by whatever means I saw it. It was like a shirt of armor drawn in wavering light on the sidewalk, and what it meant was that every other time I'd ever seen dappled light under a tree, in my whole life to that point, I had been looking at the image of the disc of the sun

Before that one, while I was still in college, there was a total eclipse in Baja California. My friends from home and I talked about making plans to drive out there, a big adventure, but we never got past studying the Mexico part of the road atlas. There would be more eclipses.

Will there? My mom is 30 years older than me, and she went out and got this eclipse. I read in the coverage that the next total eclipse in the continental United States won't be until 2044. OK, fine, I'll be 72, not at all prohibitive. Then I looked it up: it's really going to be in Alberta, Canada, and points north, and will just dip down into the Dakotas and Montana. The year after that, when I'll be 73, one will cut clear across the country on a Southern track, from California all the way to Florida. Maybe I'll see that one, if it's not cloudy. 

Or I could chase an eclipse around the globe; there's one nicking Iceland, Portugal, and Spain two years from now. But part of the mystery of the eclipse is the idea of seeing the familiar landscape made strange. If you've already dislocated yourself to Iceland, would the darkening sun even register on top of the jet lag and volcanoes? 

If you stay home, though, an eclipse might never come around. A total solar eclipse happens on a scale of immensity in time and space greater than one local human life. New York City won't get one until 2079. My home part of Maryland won't get one this century at all. 

Meanwhile, here I was, off the path of totality. I'd wondered what it would take to pull off a desperate road trip, having the kids skip school, and then I remembered on top of all the other reasons I had a physical therapy appointment this morning that had taken weeks to set up. I found a monocular in the toolbox—I think it was meant as a phone-camera accessory—and went down on the stoop with it, to shine the dwindling shape of the sun through the scope onto index cards and wait for my younger son to get home. 

Alt: The crescent sun is projected through a monocular onto a white card resting on a lined notebook page. The shadow of the monocular surrounds the image of the sun.

When he did, with about a half hour to the maximum, I suggested we go to Central Park. He didn't see why. Wouldn't it be crowded? So what if it's crowded, I told him. If there are a lot of people, someone can let us borrow glasses. 

The Park was, in fact, crowded. People were out for it in numbers, even if it wasn't total. If you're reading this in the United States, you probably saw your local production of it. Something not unlike darkness fell. We were standing by the track around the crown of the Great Hill, shining the monocular onto paper, when a man approached us. Did we want some glasses? he asked, opening his jacket. He had extras. We thanked him and put them on and faced straight into the sliver of sun. 

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Completely blue sky

New York City, April 7, 2024

★★★ Clouds marched across the morning sky, making an orderly exit with the wind till only a few white shreds remained in the afternoon. The piece of pigeon fluff stuck to the balcony shoes had to be cleaned off, having failed to otherwise resolve itself. New, drooping leaves on some woody growth on the rocks in the Park were almost the russet of old leaves, only slightly pinker. The air was still stubbornly not warm, but the rock by the shore of the Pool had its full burden of turtles. A cloud of midges boiled above the uphill path. 

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It's getting easier getting back to easy! This first rectangle, below, is the podcast file right here on GHOST. This totally 100 percent works. You can just stay right here and click that sideways black triangle and listen to five minutes and three seconds of podcast.

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This next rectangle delivers you to the mighty and 247 episodes of INDIGNITY MORNING PODCAST since the first episode, which aired on February 1st, 2023. Exciting!

INDIGNITY MORNING PODCAST Episode 250: Indignity Morning Podcast No. 250: A slurry of nonsense.

Visit for the RSS thing and also Apple stuff! Let us know at if you encounter difficulties with the links. We're still trying to see what works, thank you for trying to listen! Podcast!

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A scale with a hand doing "thumbs up" gesture opposed by another hand also doing a "thumbs up" on the other side of the scale but weighing more even though they look the sameA scale with a hand doing "thumbs up" gesture opposed by another hand also doing a "thumbs up" on the other side of the scale but weighing more even though they look the same

Ask The Sophist

GOT SOMETHING YOU need to justify to yourself, or to the world at large? Other columnists are here to judge you, but The Sophist is here to tell you why you’re right. Please send your questions to The Sophist, at, and get the answers you want.


WE PRESENT INSTRUCTIONS in aid of the assembly of sandwiches from New Presentation of Cooking with Timed Recipes, by Auguste Gay with the collaboration of Anne Page. Published in 1924, and now in the Public Domain and available at for the delectation of all.

For each sandwich
2 slices of buttered bread
1/2 tablespoon horseradish, grated
1 tablespoon nuts, chopped
2 teaspoons mayonnaise sauce

Mix all ingredients together and spread on both slices of bread, put together and press lightly.

For each sandwich
2 slices of buttered bread
1 tablespoon nuts
1 hard boiled egg
1 tablespoon boiled ham
1 tablespoon mayonnaise sauce

Chop boiled ham, nuts and egg together. Mix with the mayonnaise sauce. Spread on both slices of bread, put together and press lightly.

If you decide to prepare and attempt to enjoy a sandwich inspired by this offering, be sure to send a picture to 


The second printing of 19 FOLK TALES is now available for gift-giving and personal perusal! Sit in the strengthening sunshine with a breezy collection of stories, each of which is concise enough to read before the damp ground seeps through your blanket.

HMM WEEKLY MINI-ZINE, Subject: GAME SHOW, Joe MacLeod’s account of his Total Experience of a Journey Into Television, expanded from the original published account found here at Hmm DailyThe special MINI ZINE features other viewpoints related to an appearance on, at, and inside the teevee game show Who Wants to Be A Millionaire, available for purchase at SHOPULA.

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