I Am Officially an Old-Timer

Today I got a haircut and renewed my driver’s license.

Years ago the Georgia driver’s license process was an incandescent mess. (The fact I can remember those days tells you I’ve lived here a good while longer than I’d hoped to.) A lot has been done to ease the process since then, but today I went to the barber shop for a haircut and then headed to the license office to renew.

The barber shop was about as busy as it ever is; both haircutters were busy when I sat down.

When I went to the driver’s license office, I had taken advantage of something Georgia’s DMV-equivalent calls “Skip-A-Step,” where you can fill out your renewal application paperwork online, as much as 30 days ahead.

My wait at the barber shop was longer than my wait to see the clerk and hand over the documents I needed to bring to convince them I am who they say I am. I think the haircut even took longer than the license clerk took in getting me processed and out of there.

I’d been dreading this renewal because it was the first time I would need to comply with the “SecureID” requirements, but this was a breeze.

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Caveman Chic

From the time the prehistoric existence of Homo neanderthalensis was detected, it’s been a standard trope to call someone with allegedly primitive habits of thought, a Neanderthal.

But in recent years it’s been discovered that Neanderthal Man didn’t simply die off; his DNA now exists in wide swaths of modern humanity. Essentially, anyone with ancestry from any part of the world outside of Africa is now presumed to have a small but significant amount of Neanderthal DNA.

The inventors of agriculture? Part Neanderthal. Builders of the first civilizations? Part Neanderthal. Developers of the world’s great philosophical schools? Part Neanderthal.

The great cities of today — centers of economic, social and cultural progress — are brimming with descendants of that handful of cavemen who got to Europe and Asia millennia before Homo sapiens made it.

If there’s any part of the human race that can genuinely claim to be of pure blood, it’s the Africans.

Something for the white nationalists to contemplate.

Hey, Microlimp

Solitaire is not a social game. If I open a Solitaire game I don’t need to log in. All I want to do is play the game.

I deleted your stupid Solitaire game because instead of letting me play it started doing something with “save data” in “the cloud.”

Why the hell do I need to save missile-firing Solitaire games in the missile-firing CLOUD???

Texted

So earlier today I texted to Mrs. McG: “Would a retired wine lover call his hobby vineyard a cru de coeur“?

To which she replied, “If he also grows tea leaves it could be a cru de thé.”

We seem to deserve each other…

If I Had Ever Made a Bucket List

 

…that would have been on it.

 A while back I referred to “the dark spot where the sun was just a minute ago” — I had no idea how exactly right that would be.

The sky was only as dark as, say, half an hour after sunset, but inside the halo of the sun’s corona the moon was, or at least looked, totally black.

Before totality, I had been watching a patch of cloud to our west, figuring the shadow would fall on it first.

20170821.bananamoon

Meanwhile, Copperhill’s street lights started coming on. Then, I looked west again and saw that the clear sky beyond the clouds was bright while the clouds themselves … weren’t.

And darkness fell.

Photo credit: Mrs. McG

Later, as the edge of the sun began to emerge, there was finally the famous shimmer on the ground that I’d been too distracted to notice before, so subtle that I didn’t see it so much as detect it, slightly away from where I was looking directly. I’ve read that it’s too faint to ever be photographed, and I believe it.*

Did birds fall silent or critters take to their dens? Copperhill may be a small town, but it was busy and noisy yesterday afternoon.

Mrs. McG made the arrangements for that experience, and I am glad she did.

Assorted Afterthoughts, Addenda, and Additional Apocrypha: Yesterday, as described by fellow eclipse-watcher Richard: “Mostly sunny, except when it was partly moony.”

A Wyoming time-lapse, apparently facing eastward.

Copperhill, Tennessee, and its counterpart McCaysville, Georgia, would seem to be one town if you didn’t know there was a state line running through it, across the supermarket parking lot, and through some of the downtown buildings. Mrs. McG and I, and her father, had time for lunch between our arrival and the day’s big event, so we went to the Copper Grill, whose bar and dining room (and shaded sidewalk dining area, where we sat) are in Copperhill, but whose kitchen is in McCaysville.

After we ate, I wondered out loud which state the men’s room was in. Well, to find it I had to go past the kitchen. It would have been a waste to visit a town like that and never cross the state line while I was there, but I wouldn’t have expected it to happen like that.

Photo gallery and another time-lapse, from Casper, Wyoming.

We didn’t encounter unusually bad traffic until the drive home this afternoon, when we found ourselves mired in creeping traffic on the interstate for three solid miles. Of course we bailed at the first exit, but we hadn’t been the only ones to have this idea, and I grew increasingly worried about the traffic we might encounter on our usual alternate route away from the freeways; on past occasions even that route has been horrific during afternoon rush hour, which was fast approaching.

Finally I opted for one of the very few roads in Georgia that leads to Rome instead of Atlanta. Once we got to Rome, the drive homeward was much more pleasant.

A Wyoming web-journo makes more of an effort to convey the experience than I have. For example, he took video — some of it from a drone. In Part 2 he writes:

Having watched many documentaries in preparation for the eclipse, I found that I agreed with those who had witnessed it before. The experience is existential, highlighting the fragility and preciousness of life on Earth in the vast cosmos.

I didn’t have that reaction. I’ve seen a lot of things that give other people that kind of feeling but it never seems to hit me that way. Yes, it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I wouldn’t mind seeing another one (heh), but maybe it’s because I don’t need spectacular reminders of life’s fragility and preciousness that these spectacles don’t get at my soul like that.

If I had needed a reminder, the drive through Atlanta last Sunday was sufficient.

*Correction: Do a web search for “eclipse shimmer” now (Wednesday, August 23) and there are videos, like this one. Clearly some manifestations (or observers…) are sharper than others.

I Know Those People!

There’s an interactive map on Ancestry.com that can show how your family surname was distributed at three points in American history.

The map for McGehee is interesting to me because, apparently, at one point people in my ancestral line were pretty much the only McGehees in Indiana. I’m not giving anything away there because I already posted last May about my great great grandfather and his two brothers, all from Indiana, who served in the Civil War. In 1840 all three of them would have been in the same Indiana household.

Indiana wasn’t the only non-Confederate state with a recorded McGehee presence, but all of the other states were slave states. If there were any McGehees in Union blue besides my ancestor and his brothers, I’d be very surprised. After the war, my kinsmen had dispersed across the Sunbelt, including to California.

By 1920, of course, we had spread like the flu to all corners of the nation…

Truth Is Stranger than Fact

Many years ago, there used to be awards bestowed upon bloggers, in recognition of the quality of their blogging.

Believe it or not, I even managed to get nominated a time or two, under whatever moniker I went by at the time (“McG” is a relatively recent distillation; most of the time I’ve gone by “McGehee”, mainly because, as I was wont to observe, every seventh blogger was named Kevin).

One category in which I was never nominated was “Lifetime Achievement”, and I probably would have demurred anyway because back then — hell, even now — I don’t consider my oeuvre to have amounted to a lifetime’s worth.

If it were called the Life Achievement Award, well…

No, guess not.