Monday, July 26, 2010
Two years ago, last Thanksgiving, we were visiting our youngest daughter in Mishawaka. While there I discovered a neat book - The Cartoon History of the Universe. I don't remember whether it was Volumes I, II, or III, but I started reading it. It was sort of beat up (four grandkids there) but still entertaining. I think they got it at a garage sale for 25 cents, or did something else like that.
I was so intrigued that I searched on Amazon.com and found all three volumes available, and bought the set. It took me a while, but I eventually got around to reading all three volumes - twice. They are very dense books, and the temptation is to read them like a novel, so that you are left with some strong impressions, but few names and less than perfect recollection of how the events in different parts of the world related in time.
The beauty of it is that the three volumes cover everything in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the near east, not in very great detail, but in enough to tell the story, up to the time of Columbus. And the bibliography for each volume is extensive.
After I had been through them a couple of times, I wondered if Larry Gonick had extended the history, and when I searched I found that he had - starting with Columbus. It takes two smaller books called The Cartoon History of the Modern World, and the series brings you up to Desert Storm. The newer books are just as depressing as the original three. There are lessons that should be absorbed in every one of the books.
Just before Christmas in 2009 our son and his wife visited, and he wanted to borrow the Cartoon History of the Universe. I told him that I wanted to read it once more, and that was the time when I wondered if there were more volumes now. After I read each one I mailed it to him, and told him to keep it or pass it on when he was done. The BW is always complaining about too many books, especially in my room, but in the living room too.
Then all was well until my dermatologist started talking to me. Most doctors I see are focused on the job, but he talks while he works. He was opinionated, and we argued over the Jews, so I told him about the Cartoon History. He knew Case, and had also had a "Western Civilization" course, but that was about the extent of his exposure. He wondered if he could get it at the library, and I guessed that it might be a request, but I had never seen it there.
After thinking about it, I bought another three volumes, and took the first volume in a week later when I went to get my stitches out. The Jews originate with Abraham leaving Babylon in the first volume, and there is plenty of fighting to crush his argument that the Jews were always a peaceful people. In fact, the killing and wars spread fairly constantly throughout all five volumes, and my argument that you do need to be able to defend yourself should be clear to him. Teddy Roosevelt had the right idea. I do recall one 300 year peaceful spell in China, but other than that, it's pretty much conflict all the way through.
The various religions are fairly well covered too.
Now I'm going to read the set again as soon as I get the first volume back, the pass on the last two volumes to Louie. I gave the doctor a month to give the book back, and then I'll buy one more copy if he doesn't.
I don't know why I told this story, other than I'm tired of talking about the weather, walking, and dogs.
Sunday, July 25, 2010
I cut the grass this morning. It had rained 0.9 inches last evening, and the grass needed to be cut, so I did it. According to my pedometer I walked two and a half miles, and according to Spark People I burned 600 calories. I don't know if I can believe that.
Then I make the broth with a five pound chicken and a bunch of vegetables and spices. While it was simmering I worked on the Safe driving course - took apart two Florida Supplements, marked out the pages I wouldn't use, and inserted them into the manual that I use to stay on track. Because they're printed on both sides and sequential pages didn't always go in the same place in the manual, I had to cut up two books. Fortunately I had about 10 supplements too many.
When I volunteered to teach this thing I thought it wouldn't be too hard, but what I didn't realize at the time was that always before I used material that I had prepared, about subjects that I knew, and presented it in the way that I chose. I even taught a several month class on Spread Spectrum Techniques to about 40 engineers in my Division when I was a Division Manager, and it didn't bother me. I planned on a three or four week set of one hour pitches, but it turned into several months.
This course (it's really a seminar) is different, because even though I thought that 12 years on the road made me pretty knowledgeable about driving safety and vehicle maintenance, someone else put the class together, and they expect you to cover the material their way, to start exactly on time and end exactly on time, and do a lot of paperwork exactly the way they want it. That was a pretty big adjustment for me.
The bigger adjustment is that, for one reason or another, they keep changing what they want done, and how to do it. After I figured out how to get the latest plan done, I started at about 10:00 and finished at 5:30. I was just about ready to decide to resign, but I'll try a class next month and see how it goes. I've been doing this for four or five years, and I never stayed in one job more than about four years when I was getting paid, so maybe it's just habit and boredom that irritate me.
I dumped nine tenths of an inch out of the rain gauge this morning. The sun was shining and it looked like a great day, but later the clouds showed up, and at about six thirty it started raining in earnest. By 7:00 we had another inch in the rain gauge and it had stopped, but later it started again. I'm glad the drought is over, but we don't need a tropical storm this year - we're getting plenty of regular rain.
Saturday, July 24, 2010
I think I have a solution to the Florida State/AARP problem. I have several extra Florida supplements, so I can tear apart two books and insert the pages in page protectors, cross out the pages I don't want to use with a china marker, and insert the Florida Pages in place of the national pages where I need them. I have to cross out some of the pages some places because two pages are printed on a single sheet of paper and in some places I only want to insert one page.
Then I'll have to make the students use both national and Florida books, and switch back and forth as we go along. I'm not sure if I can get all the material covered in the same time, but if I leave out most of the stories I use to make points I think it will work. I'll figure something out - I still have two weeks before the next class.
The sun is shining and it's a beautiful day. I'm not sure how good the weatherman is - we're supposed to have a sixty per cent chance of rain today, up from fifty per cent yesterday. When I got up this morning the sky was just starting to get light and was completely overcast. The temperature was 78, which is supposed to be the low, but right now it's 94 and we haven't hit the warmest part of the day. The predicted high was 92. The overcast was still there when I came back from walking the dogs, but it cleared and now there are large cumulus clouds scattered around in a perfect blue sky. We'll see what happens. The grass is perfectly happy with this weather - I don't know if I can wait until tomorrow to cut it, but I do know I don't want to start at this time of day. Maybe dig a few sand burrs later.
We have patches of Johnson grass showing up where it was all bermuda grass before, and I'm starting to think that I might wind up doing the same thing with it as I am with the sand burrs - dig out the mature plants. I'll see how the St. Augustine does, but it's starting to look pretty good in the back yard and the tree lawns. Getting a uniform yard is a challenge, and it's like everything else - you can't give up, and if you don't things do get better, but at a slower pace than you would like. We had a whole lot of bare sand when we moved in, and now the entire yard, front and back, is completely covered with some sort of ground cover. Some of it is weedelia, which I planted, some is bermuda grass that I scattered seed to get, some of it is native weeds which were here originally, some is native torpedo grass, and a whole lot is St. Augustine grass that I planted when I realized how hard it is to get Bermuda grass started. The St. Augustine climbs the fences, covers the concrete, and generally acts like a noxious weed. I completely understand why it's so common down here.
The BW didn't want to have lunch at the Red Lobster, but said she would pick a place for dinner - maybe an early one. Then she decided she didn't want to eat out at all, so we have to agree on what's for supper again. I have a frozen chicken, and I think I'll pull it out to thaw and make chicken soup tomorrow. She wanted to roast the chicken and make soup on the bones, but you don't get really good chicken soup that way, so I offered to buy her a separate chicken, or one that's already roasted.
That's it for now. I had more to say when we were moving to new places, and had more little problems to solve. Around here you don't have to worry about holding tanks, dumping, filling propane bottles, hitches, etc. There never are 15 foot breakers down at the marina like we saw on the Pacific shore - it's ideal for the old folks to hang out. Just so the hurricanes stay away.
Friday, July 23, 2010
This wasn't a clear morning, but it was pleasant. There were thin clouds just a few thousand feet high. They made a cover that was less than complete, but fairly complete. As the sun came up it lit the clouds - I'm sure people who aren't color blind would like the view - first just the ones in the east, then most of them and it got yellow in the east, and then, about the time I got home, the sun was looking bright when it shone between the clouds. It was just above the horizon when you had a gap in the trees and could see it. After I walked the dogs I looked at the thermometer and it was 80, just as the newspaper said it would be. I didn't have a wet shirt.
After that, it was pretty much a nothing day. Yesterday Archie passed on the news that Florida is now insisting that we have to read every word on every page of the Florida supplement. They had spies in three AARP classes, and the coverage wasn't satisfactory to them. If we don't straighten up, there won't be any more AARP Safe Driving Courses in Florida - which would probably be OK with me.
Because of the threat, and because I didn't read any of the supplement in my classes, I planned to figure out how I was going to cover all the material that I am required to cover, and which takes up all the time I have, and still add a lot more stuff to it. The saying is that life is what happens while you are making other plans.
After breakfast I sat down to look at the paper and accidentally had a 90 minute nap. Then some other chores came up. Then lunch. Then a few more chores, and the BW wanted to know what was for supper, and I promised to peel a few potatoes and carrots, defrost a pork chop, and roast the whole mess, which I did. She made the salad and we had supper.
While we were having supper it got around to raining finally - we are due for rain fifty per cent four days and forty per cent three days over the next week. We got three tenths of an inch, so I turned off the irrigation system which I had turned on this morning. We don't need more water tomorrow, and I'll have to cut the grass Sunday or Monday.
Just before supper the UPS man showed up with the new paper shredder. It was shipped with two free corrugated boxes - the outer one plain, and the inner one fancy with lots of advertising. This one has a head that fits the collection container either way it's turned, no light when it's on, and a thermal overload breaker that will turn it off if you get too enthusiastic about making confetti. It was made in China, but a lot of stuff is made there now. Also it's black, which isn't too favored by the BW, who wants everything to be white, but it matches the TV, VCR, and TV stand in my room. Also a few frames around certificates in here. It's too bad the DVD player is silver.
That's it - a nothing day and I still haven't decided what to do with the safe driving course or finished reading the Time Traveler's Wife. And it's bedtime.
Thursday, July 22, 2010
I walked the dogs this morning, then showered and shaved and got ready for another visit to Dr. Altman. I delivered the first volume of "The Cartoon History of the Universe I" to him as a loan. He seemed happy to get it, so I'll see how it works. If he doesn't give it back I'll buy one more copy and not lend it to anyone. I wanted to read all of it again, so I bought all three volumes of the original work (up to Columbus).
He took out the stitches from the first cancer, and when I asked about the second one, they had to dig into the chart and decided that it was another. They wanted me to come back that afternoon, but I couldn't, so I have an appointment in two weeks, but not until 9:30 this time. He asked about my arms, and voluntarily gave me a prescription for a cream (Retin A) to try on one arm. He warned me that it was expensive and my insurance company wouldn't pay for it, but it might work. He said that some people had good results with it, but not all. I was surprised because I thought the sun damage was incurable and permanent. Since I can't stand to wear long sleeves in the heat, I did some online shopping.
Then we left home at 11:00 to attend Jerry and Millie's retirement luncheon. That lasted until about 2:30, and on the way out the BW suggested that I stop at the Canada medicine store, which I did. They came in at about the same price per gram as Drugstore.com, which was less than anyone else showed for the generic. The disadvantage was that they only had the brand name, and only in 30 gram tubes instead of 45 gram. Since my prescription was for six tubes, I would need another prescription to get the full dose. I took their paperwork, and since we were already south, we went to COSTCO where I showed the prescription and had it filled. It was in the big tubes, and cost about 3/4 as much as drugstore.com (with no shipping included) or the Canadian stuff, with shipping. So I'll try it for a few months on my right arm and see what happens. It would be nice if it worked.
Since we were at COSTCO, the BW looked at couches and bought cookies and protein powder, useful for making smoothies which she likes. I got some free samples and a new box of egg beaters.
Then we came home, let the happy dogs out, and changed clothes so I could make it to TOPS on time. I thought I would be out of leeway, but I just barely made the cut. That luncheon was too good.
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