A clearly impressed eclipse onlooker. Photo by Thomas R. Cordova.

It was no transit of Venus

It might come as a surprise to people, given my impressive science background, to find that I don’t get much of a kick out of solar eclipses. And certainly not partial ones such as the celestial miracle that we Californians witnessed on Monday.

My non-enthusiasm, like everything else about me, stems from my childhood. I was at the family cabin on Big Bear Lake in the summer of 1963 when my parents, or someone much like them, told me that there would be a total eclipse on that day, and I was flabbergasted that the afternoon would turn pitch black and wild animals would run amok.

What no one told me was that only a bit of an eclipse would affect Southern California; it was more of an Alaska thing and while the day might’ve grown a barely perceptible dimmer, it was certainly nothing like the spectacle I expected after listening to adults blather about it. I was bitterly disappointed and have refused to let myself be conned into getting excited about one ever since, including the one we had on Monday that had the northern Atlantic coast all atwitter.

I’m much more of a Transit of Venus guy, which is a tough thing to be since there’ve only been two in my lifetime, with the next one set to occur 89 years from now in 2113. I’m really looking forward to that one.

Things fall apart

One enjoyable aspect of retirement is sitting in my easy chair by the fireplace with my dogs watching things go wrong with our house. It doesn’t take any effort; you just sit there and — boom! — something happens that costs between $2,000 and $40,000 to fix.

This week it was the water heater. I quietly turned the shower on last Sunday and waited for it to get warm enough to jump in. That never happened. Maybe it needs more time. Nope. Stayed cold.

Steve the Plumber, my regular go-to guy, was unreachable so I had to just blindly grab some company off Google because they said they could offer same-day service, even though it was a Sunday, which is both a day of rest and a day when most things tend to break.

I don’t think I need to tell you that in my particular case, they couldn’t offer same-day service because, I guess, Sunday doesn’t qualify as a same day, I don’t know, but they said they would come the next day and it would cost $2,200, because that’s just what getting broken things fixed costs these days.

I’m taking bets now on what’s next. The buy-in is a couple grand.

Breakfast by request

Tom Richey, one of my faithful correspondents, told me that my daughter and I should try Gourmet Pies & Bakery as part of our worldwide quest for the best place to have breakfast.

So we did, driving for the second Monday in a row, on the red side of the Orange Curtain.

GP&B, at 5350 Katella Ave. near the race track, was quiet when Hannah and I arrived a bit after its 8 a.m. opening, and we were given a large booth, but soon the place was packed, including a large party of 16.

I had blueberry pancakes, Hannah had the Belgian waffle, both with sides of bacon. The breakfast was OK and service was good. The menu is prodigious and to give the place a fair review we’d have to try a half-dozen other things there, but we’ve got more work to do first. Still, I’d like to return for something more adventurous.

What I binged on over the weekend

I love a good con movie: “Ocean’s 11,” “The Sting,” “The Talented Mr. Ripley.” And now Mr. Ripley is excellently redone in “Ripley,” a gorgeously filmed eight-part series on Netflix.

Filmed in extra-noir-ish black and white at various locations in Italy, mostly Rome and Naples, it’s visually stunning and with superb and understated acting by Andrew Scott as Tom Ripley, Dakota Fanning and Maurizio Lombardi as a sly but often-flummoxed investigator.

The casting of lesser players is an additional treat, from the hotel clerks to the butlers.The entire series is a joy to just look at, and the cunning and elaborate confidence game adds to the fun. It’s the best series I’ve seen since “Fargo.”

Tim Grobaty is a columnist and the Opinions Editor for the Long Beach Post. You can reach him at 562-714-2116, email [email protected], @grobaty on Twitter and Grobaty on Facebook.