The Observer doesn't like to move much on Saturdays. Setting up on a couple of couch cushions with ready-made, pre-packaged, carbohydrate-rich food products — easily within reach — is more our sport. But this past Saturday, with absolutely clear skies, a light breeze and newly-rusted fall foliage calling our name, we couldn't help but get up and get out of the house for a little while.
We decided to visit our friends from the Central Arkansas Astronomical Society for a little star-gazing from their observatory situated between Conway and Little Rock. The sunset highlighted the fall colors on the meandering drive there, but once our own big ol' star settled down over the horizon, the cloudless sky was illuminated with stars shining, satellites circling and meteors streaking.
We've never had the opportunity to look through a professional telescope before. We had no idea what to expect when we squinted, easing our eye over the eyepiece, but, suffice it to say, the view was awe-inspiring, our view of the moon particularly. This was no long-distance glimpse, but a close up shot revealing all the crags, cliffs, craters, peaks, valleys and shadows we've seen only in textbooks and magazine covers. This was the real deal — a true, unfiltered and magnificent image.
Over the course of the night we were lucky enough to see sunlight reflected briefly off the solar panels of satellites, globular clusters of stars and distant galaxies — hey, maybe someone was looking up at us too!
As our nerdy (in a good way) friends packed up their telescopes, binoculars, and laser pointers, we got into our car, feeling really good about what our Saturday had turned into, and really insignificant all at the same time.
The Observer is a Halloween addict, a sickness that includes the amount of stuff we have on hand for decorating Chez Observer every October. One of the ways we've managed to gather up so many ghoulish goodies without going broke is by hitting the stores the day after Halloween for the sales. Yes, smarty-pants: We start planning for Halloween 364 days early.
This year, like every other, The Observer was up bright and early All Hallows morning, parked outside Target so we could score the half-price decorations as soon as the doors opened at 8 a.m. What surprised us, however, was the number of people who seemed to be intent on doing the same; maybe 10 to 12 brave souls in their jackets, some of them hovering at the front door so they could be the first one to slip through the crack the moment the deadbolt was thrown.
At the stroke of eight, the doors opened. One elderly gentleman burst through, grabbed a shopping cart, and galloped off at a literal hard run to the back corner of the store, several other folks in hot pursuit. We feared for his ticker, and his knees. The Observer, who wouldn't run if a white-hot chunk of space debris was bearing down on him, took our time. Our thinking was: better to mosey and miss out than to have a video of us fistfighting a fellow shopper over a bat-shaped serving platter on Youtube for all eternity.
Though we expected the shelves to be bare by the time we got back to the half-off Halloween stuff, lo and behold, all the decorations were untouched. The same couldn't be said for the candy, however. Some of the folks who had broke and run when the doors opened were doing the double-armed scoop into their shopping carts, loading up on Almond Joys and Snickers and Butterfingers and Laffy Taffy. The old fella who had done his impersonation of Jesse Owens had at least one cart full — enough candy to put a small country into a diabetic coma.
“The big bags are scanning at $2.45!” he proclaimed. That was tempting, given we'd nearly broke our checking account for the same bag of candy two days before Halloween. But in the end, The Observer collected our skull cookie jar and dancing skeletons doormat and headed for the checkout.
Note to self: If Junior gets some candy next Halloween that tastes like it's been in somebody's freezer for a year, we'll know why.
Central High students showed their support for their team and their political colors at last week's football game against Catholic High: Their loud resonant “Ohhhh …” anticipating the kick-off was followed by “… bama!”