Monday, July 22, 2019


We were hit by the heatwave that affected much of the country, and the temperature got up to ninety-two here. It's quite cool again, which makes it easier to think of spending time outside. For the hottest days I set up a TV and reclining chairs in the basement, where it never goes above seventy-two degrees. The ceiling is low, but the arrangement is comfortable, if a bit dusty. Though I always have a hard time finding things to watch, the Netflix series on Ted Bundy wasn't bad, and we've started a BBC series with Mary Beard on ancient Rome. As for my reading, I've been lackadaisically working through an old book of articles by Anatole Broyard; it is interesting in places, though not sufficiently substantive to warrant comment. I have a different book on hand but decided that I may skip it. There is a popular book on global warming on its way here which I'll most likely read.

I had to send one of my stargazing devices to Australia for repair, and now it's on its return trip. One of the most satisfying aspects of stargazing is the fact that much of the equipment is made by very small companies, and when you need something you communicate directly with the owners. If I have a problem with my Dobsonian telescope, I email Rob Teeter, who made it himself in New Jersey, and get an immediate reply. This time I spoke to Serge Antonov, the owner of Astro Devices, in Australia. When I drove down to pick up the Dobsonian telescope in Massachusetts in 2014, by coincidence I met Al Nagler, the owner of Tele Vue, which makes the eyepieces I use. In 2017 I directly contacted Charlie Starks, the owner of Markless Astronomics, which makes instrument stalks for Dobsonian telescopes. Since this is a cottage industry, it offers a different and more satisfying experience than buying from large, anonymous suppliers. There is a trade-like, medieval aura surrounding the hobby.

I'm getting a little concerned that the blog no longer generates much of a reaction. Although Teresa Gill, who dropped out in late 2015, didn't always provide comments that I considered ideal, she was thoughtful and interesting enough to liven things up a little. Without her, the blog seems more closed off than ever. Still, I prefer limited comments, because I'm sure that a large increase in them would create too much of a distraction. When I look at comments on other sites, I invariably decide that it would be better not to have to deal with anything like that. Since the readership here is so small, I am sometimes tempted to write more autobiographically and more personally about people I know, but that might offend or upset some, so I have consistently decided against it. I'm beginning to think that an honest, thoughtful memoir written for posthumous publication would make for the best reading, but I'm not ready to commit to that myself. Some of my posts have been very personal – more personal than what I've seen elsewhere – but that's about as far as I want to go at present.

In any case, this blog probably won't fizzle out soon. I've noticed that most blogs do come to a halt rapidly: that could be an interesting subject in itself. I would guess that many blogs die out because their authors soon discover that they're not becoming rich or famous. Before long they realize that they are putting time and effort into something that will never pay off. In my case, none of that is relevant, and the only things that are likely to stop me are boredom with the process or mental incapacity – which could take a few years. Sometimes I am tempted to write fewer reviews and more opinion pieces, but I prefer to continually infuse the blog with new information, because that creates an atmosphere in which the blog can't easily be written off as the rants of some old crank. Anyway, I do get occasional views from anonymous readers, and I wouldn't mind it if some of them communicated their reactions or preferences to me from time to time.


  1. Since you mention comments, I'll say that I enjoyed your post on Broyard.

    One of your points here, on your contact with the owners of the stargazing equipment you buy, reminded me of something my mother, who has Parkinson's and underwent a procedure called deep brain stimulation, told me. She had a fairly long (and reassuring) phone conversation with the owner of a small medical equipment company that makes the frame (I think that's what she called it) used in the procedure.

    1. For me, the Broyard book was a real find. Unfortunately, I doubt that I'll be able to locate many equivalent ones. In 1946 there was a real freshness in the arts that now seems to have evaporated.

      I hope that your mother recovers adequately. We have a lot of old fogy friends here who are starting to die off. One has Parkinson's but seems to be holding up well.

      Thank you for your comment. I don't really need a lot of comments, but it is nice to get one every once in a while to know that someone is actually reading this blog.