Eclipse party!

Unless you’ve been living in a seriously deep hole under  a big rock, you know that there’s going to be a solar eclipse coming up this August. It’s the first one that will be crossing the entire US in quite a while. All of North America will be able to see at least a partial eclipse, and a good chunk of the US will get to see 90% or more of the sun in eclipse.

The US path of the August 21 total solar eclipse starts in Oregon at around 1600UTC (10:00 AM PDT) and ends in South Carolina a little after 2000UTC (4:00 PM EDT).

Back at the old house, we were just at the right edge of the path of totality. Our new house is much closer to the middle of the path (about 22 km from the center as the crow flies) and will be a much better place to watch the eclipse from. In addition, aside from houses, we have an almost unobstructed view of the entire sky from the house and a great big field to hang out in at the end of the street (if the yard gets too crowded).

2017 Eclipse path
2017 Eclipse path through the Charleston SC area

See that path of totality? We’re practically right in the middle of it.

The last solar eclipse I was able to watch was back when I was in elementary school. I remember all the windows of the school had been covered up with paper, and nobody was allowed to go outside during the eclipse. Welding shades were taped to the windows of several doors so that kids could look up at the sun to see the eclipse.

The plan for this eclipse is to acquire a few #14 welding shades and make at least a couple of pinhole cameras for friends and neighbours to view the eclipse with.

Hopefully the weather will be good. August is starting to get into the peak of the hurricane season. Don’t want one of those coming by at the wrong time and messing things up.

Eclipse data from Xavier Jubier’s interactive map.

2m 22.7s (total solar eclipse)
2m 24.5s (lunar limb corrected)
Umbral depth : 61.05%
Umbral depth : 22.3km (13.9mi)
Path width : 114.7km (71.3mi)
Obscuration : 100.00%
Magnitude at maximum : 1.00918
Moon/Sun size ratio : 1.03009
Umbral vel. : 0.670km/s (1498 mph)
Event Time (UTC)
Start of partial eclipse 17:16:25
Start of total eclipse 18:45:20
Maximum eclipse 18:46:31
End of total eclipse 18:47:42
End of partial eclipse 20:09:21

If you want to come by to watch the eclipse, drop me a line.

Sidelined by sciatica

Adding to the list of unlocked old age accomplishments, now I can complain about sciatica.

It started off with just a sharp pain in my lower back that made bending over difficult. Didn’t think much of it and figured it would go away in a few days.

Then the pain started radiating down my leg making bending even more difficult.

A visit to the doctor resulted in a diagnosis of left sided lower back pain with left side sciatica, and prescriptions for a muscle relaxant and steroid for inflammation.

The pain from a nerve being pinched is pretty high, and not at all pleasant. It’s quite literally a pain in the butt. And leg. And back.

Lying down helps a lot, but standing or sitting for any length of time gets to be quite uncomfortable.

I’m hoping I get over this soon because as nice as it is lying around in bed all day, the pain really sucks.

If it’s not better in a few more days, it’s back to the doctor and maybe some physical therapy for the back injury causing the sciatica.

Closet shelves!

Most of the big house projects are done, and now it’s time for the smaller ones. The closet in my office called out for shelves for some vertical storage.

Closet pre-shelves
Closet pre-shelves

Some wall brackets and 12″ wide 6′ long shelves fit into the closet perfectly.

First set of shelves
First set of shelves

I put in three shelves to start with, and have plenty of room to add full length or shorter shelves later if needed.


Plenty of room now for project parts and spare bits.

Learning to play mahjong

Growing up, there were a lot of big family gatherings, and in the basement there were usually 3 or 4 tables set up for mahjong. When all four tables were going, it made for quite a racket especially when the tiles were being shuffled. I watched a lot of mahjong games when I was a kid, but never learned how to play. It was more interesting watching people play, or stacking up the tiles to build things when nobody was playing.

We shopped around locally, but didn’t really see a set of tiles we wanted to get. Found a pretty nice set on Amazon though and ordered it.

Mahjong case
Mahjong tiles case
Mahjong case
Mahjong tiles case
Mahjong tiles
Mahjong tiles

The tiles are nice and big, feel solid, and the symbols are engraved nice and deep. They feel just like the tiles I remember playing with when I was a kid.

The rules for mahjong are relatively simple (I’ve seen it described as kind of a combination of poker and rummy) but with lots of variations. The basic idea is to get pairs, sequences, or 3/4 of a kind of particular tiles in your hand. The complexity and strategy comes into the kinds of hands you build, and that certain types of winning hands are worth more points than others.

Character tiles
Character tiles – 1 through 9
Flower tiles
Flower tiles
Wind tiles
Wind tiles – East, South, West, North

I’ve got the basics figured out, but I’m still working on remembering what some of the character and tiles are.

Now we need to find two (or more) people to play with. Interested?

Charleston Eats: 843 Korean BBQ & Sushi House

843 Korean BBQ & Sushi House has been open for a little bit under a year now, and today we got around to trying it out.

There was a bit of a wait to get into the Korean BBQ side of the restaurant, but not too long.

This was the first Korean restaurant I’ve seen in the Charleston area with grills in the table since Kim’s in West Ashley (although by the time I had started going there in the early-mid 2000s, they weren’t being used anymore).

Having a grill in the table and cooking your own food there is definitely an experience.

Grill surface
Grill surface in the middle of the table

They offer an all-you-can-eat option which comes out just marginally less expensive than ordering off the menu. Everyone at the table has to order it though and there ends up being a whole lot of food. Something to consider if you’re in a group with big appetites.

The japchae came out first, Delicious combination of rice noodles, zucchini, carrots, green onions flavoured nicely with sesame oil. Very tasty.


Then the Korean BBQ came out all at once: bulgogi, chicken, pork belly, and the banchan

Korean BBQ
Korean BBQ

The waiter fired up the grill for us, and we placed the meat onto the hot surface. Everything is thinly sliced, so the cooking only takes a couple of minutes on each side. You can make lettuce wraps with everything if you choose, or just eat. The bulgogi was the winner for both of us.

Banchan was yummy, with several different kinds of kimchi and this odd dish of peanuts and small fish.

Peanuts and fish
Peanuts and fish

Wasn’t a big fan of this one.

Overall, 843 Korean is definitely worth a visit. Can be a bit on the spendy side, but very delicious and fun. Definitely will be going back again.