Saturday, February 26, 2005

I've been thinking about a particular small town in the south of Germany near the Swiss border. George Rodney, Anne, Beth, Lynn and Russ Lambert, and I spent a memorable night there.

We got into town before supper and checked into an old inn. As many hotels are in Europe, there was no TV and the bathroom was on another floor.

Everyone left to go to supper but I decided to claim some alone time, but soon someone, I forget who, came back to get me because they were having so much fun.

We left and went down a typical street with the sidewalks right next to the buildings. Then there were some doors like barn doors and we went in. There was a courtyard restaurant like you read about. A few tables, big wine barrels, people in native customer, and no one spoke English and we surely did not speak German.

I don't know who ordered but soon they came out with platters for us. First a large platter of french fries was put in the middle of the table. Then Russ got a platter with steak on it. The rest of us got individual plates with french fries piled on them.

I don't know if they mistakenly ordered these ridiculous things or the Germans were laughing at the stupid Americans.

Anyway we enjoyed our meals and the evening.

The next morning Russ was going up the stairs to the bathroom when he met a woman going down the stairs. Her only clothing was a small towel that she carried in her hand.

Later while we were eating breakfast at a small cafe across the street , she came in with her group and Russ, good church of Christ member that he is, blushed beet red.

To make the story perfect, when we left we saw that their car had a Swedish license tag.

Of course, George Rodney claimed that forever after Russ refused to stay in hotels with private baths.

This was the Lamberts' first trip to Europe. When we arrived in Paris from the US, they were so excited that jet lag didn't affect them. They went out walking down toward the Eiffel Tower.

When they stopped at a sidewalk cafe, they ordered cappucinos. Lynn didn't want hers but after spending $6 for each cup, Russ was not going to let them go to waste so he drank both.

The next morning he reported he didn't sleep a wink. Not only could he not sleep, he was on such a caffeine high he claimed he had been unable to even close his eyes.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Whenever I see Vladimir Putin on TV, I can't listen to what he says because I am concentrating on his body language.

People who study this would say he has a lower class manner. He occupies a large space as opposed to the upper class whose bodies are kept more taut, upright, and close to the body.

When he walks he is all over the place. He swings his arms rather wildly and he leans from side to side. When he sits, he sprawls, even on formal occasions like photo opportunities.

He is the only world leader that has this manner. It has made me wonder if it is an affectation. Maybe this is a mind game. Maybe he thinks he gains an edge mentally by encroaching on other's space.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Julia and I went to a meeting today at the nursing home. They say that nursing home care will not be cut because of the demise of TennCare. perhaps the drug benefit will decline if the patient is taking many drugs.

The new addition to the nursing home has been put on hold because the county needs a new justice center. (think jail.)

the nursing home is always between a rock and a hard place in so far as falls are concerned. The state does not want them to use restraints but comes down hard on them when a patient falls. They have to report every fall to the state.

I have signed papers saying that I know that Mother falls but don't want any more restraints on her. Next step for her would be a tippy-toe wheelchair, I suppose. I want her to walk as long as possible. She gets around fairly well now. Today she was strong enough to walk all the way to the cafeteria.

So far when she falls, she falls softly. Meaning that she just sort of sits on the floor. Only one time did she bruise.

Afterwards Julia and I ate lunch with Mother. A visitor's lunch costs only $1.50 for excellent food. That is a real bargain.

Today the menu was green beans, chicken and dumplings, corn muffin, and cake. Mother dislikes green beans so they had carrots on her plate. She ate almost nothing. I am not worried about her not eating but she needs to drink more.

They said we should have a goal of getting her to drink two swallows of liquid when we visit. Just that small amount can make a difference. Maybe she will get used to drinking more.

I intend to take her some sweet tea every time I visit.

Richard Henderson, our dear friend in South Carolina, had a corneal transplant today. The operation went well and he hopes to be able to see much better. He was almost blind in that eye, could not read with it. Modern medicine is wonderful in what it can do for us. As with most operations now, this was outpatient surgery.

Monday, February 21, 2005

BookTV on CSpan was particularly good over the weekend, which extended to today because of George Washington's Birthday. (No Presidents' Day for me.)

Michael Crichton was on talking about his latest book, State of Fear, or something like that. When I saw it at the store, I read the dust cover and the back and could not figure out what it was about. Now I know why they obscured the topic. It is a novel but it tries to debunk global warming. That is very un-PC.

I thought global warming was the least interesting thing he talked about. He talked about the related topic of politization of science. I can myself think of many examples of this. On the left the criticism of the Harvard president for his remarks about women in science, the IQ controversy of a few years back (the book was The Bell Curve)AIDS and Aids research, and the right has not been immune. I think about the latest research on the ineffectiveness of abstinence education.

He touched briefly on what is science. He was taught that science is setting testable hypotheses. On that basis what is string theory? And what is anything that Stephen Hawking does? His theories about the end of the universe can not be proven by either testing or observation. Does he just do the mathematics and never, ever says "Assume...."

Then Thomas Woods spoke on his book The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History. Did you know that Thomas Jefferson believed or at least studied nullification?

Mr. Woods says that we did not have a civil war. He says a civil war is when two internal entities struggle for control of the government. If the South had won, it would not have thrown Lincoln out of the White House.

he did not elaborate but said that neither Roosevelt nor World War II got us out of the Depression.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Dr Ronald Ferguson of Harvard talked about the achievement gap in schools between black and white students on Tony Brown's Journal on PBS yesterday. I know, I know, just reading that pulled a lot of chains in your mind but it was informative and objective.

Dr. Ferguson has studied the achievements of black and white students in the school systems of Ann Arbor, MI, and Shaker Heights, OH. Both are cities where both the white and black parents are upper middle class, yet the gap still exists.

Some conclusions:

1. Black and white students study about the same amount of time.

2. Black students watch twice as much television.

3. Black students, although middle class, start out without the verbal and reasoning skills of the whites.

4. Black parents tend to think they have done their part just by getting their children into the outstanding school systems.

5. Black and white children believe equally in the importance of education.

6. Black children believe blacks are as capable of achievement as whites.

Some surprisings findings there and there is good news and bad.

The television watching is particularly interesting. The more white friends a black has the less television he watches. The more black friends a white has the more he watches television.

The researcher asked the black students why they watched so much TV; they replied to "get material." Evidently that is what they talk about among themselves so they watch to have something to say.

(This is not just a black phenomenon. Has anyone studied it among white widows? This sounds like Julia and I. )

Sunday, February 13, 2005

I fought the battle of Midway tonight. Well, actually I watched the movie Midway. If you have never seen it, watch out for it. I am not particularly fond of war movies but I enjoyed this one.

It was on the History Channel and is supposed to be generally accurate. I did not understand a lot of it. The strategies were beyond me. I needed George Rodney with me because he studies such things in ROTC.

I felt for the pilots. That is what I would like to have been but I don't know if I could have done it. The task required them not just to b e brave, but go beyond that to being rash, foolhardy, totally dedicated to the mission.

The European front of World War II is the vogue now and the Pacific front is forgotten. When I think of that area I think of the battle of the Coral Sea which saved Australia and New Zealand. When we visited Canberra, the capital of Australia, we were delighted to find the American monument, a commemoration of America's part in the Battle of the Coral Sea. We were there a few days after the anniversary of the battle and many wreaths were around the monument. They were from the people of Australia, the Returned Servicemen's Association of Australia, the American ambassador, the prime minister, etc.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Sometimes things happen that revise our beliefs of our own actions.

Tonight I ran out of spray paint. Since I did not want to shop at Wal-Mart on a weekend, I found myself shopping very late which put me in the parking lot at 11 pm.

I don't worry myself about getting a parking place close so even on this night I was parked pretty far out in the lot. I was putting my purchases in the back seat of my car, when I noticed someone getting into a car. I realized that a man had walked past me and gotten into the car two spaces down from mine, the place between us was vacate.

He was perfectly harmless but I had not noticed him consciously. Rerunning the scene in my mind I remembered seeing him out of the corner of my eye.

It is late at night in a deserted parking lot. A man walks close to me and I don't notice it? That's scary. I thought I was vigilant, aware, all those good things.

Evidently I am more complacent than I thought.

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