Category Archives: education

Let Me Look that Up

Today marks the anniversary of the first publication of the Encyclopedia Britannica in 1768 in Scotland.  I love encyclopedias. I loved the World Book set my parents got me and I read it all the time. Wikipedia pales in comparison, I think, to holding a real encyclopedia in your hand.

What are your favorite reference books?

 

 

Turkey, Eggs, & Onions

This past Sunday was an early Thanksgiving Feast, a potluck at our Unitarian Fellowship. Husband is on the planning committee for that, so we ended up roasting two 12# turkeys. There is still some leftover turkey.

The next morning I woke up realizing “Oh, we get to have Turkey, Eggs, and Onions for breakfast!” This is a dish I learned about when married to Wasband, and living in and around New York City. He was from a Russian Jewish tradition, though I suspect this dish is more an East Coast thing than Jewish. (East coasters eat turkey all year round – a good inexpensive fowl to have any time.)

It was quite a learning curve when I arrived in New York with Wasband in 1974. I had absorbed four years’ worth of San Francisco and coastal California culture, and thought of myself as rather worldly. Ha! Within a couple of months I experienced living (briefly) in a household with completely different family dynamics from mine (and a strong Brooklyn accent); a new religion, though they mostly practiced what I call “Holiday Judaism”; and the death of Wasband’s father, with all the rituals and drama that surround that.  

A couple of months later we were living in our own apartment in Brooklyn, and I had found a job being messenger for a typographic firm in midtown Manhattan. As I ferried packages of type from one building to another, I was a pretender to a whole new set of cultural mores – riding the subway up and down Manhattan (from, i.e., Wall Street to Central Park); ordering “kwahfee” or buying a pretzel from a street vendor. At first, Wasband’s friends were my only social circle. Then one woman invited me to join her Ladies Poker Night, so I was able to have some of my own experiences with other “real New Yorkers”.

After two years, I left all that for the more familiar Midwest territory. But I’m very glad I was able to experience these other cultures. And once in a while I’ll do something that reminds me of that time, which makes me smile.

When have you adopted customs of a culture different from the one you grew up with?

What’s your favorite thing to do with Thanksgiving leftovers?

Too Smart for My Own Good

As I’ve mentioned here before, I’ve been taking Guinevere to dog classes on Monday nights for a few months. While the training is a nice benefit, the main reason I take her is for her “social anxiety”.  She is afraid of everything and because of that she acts aggressively because she thinks she needs to protect herself from all that everything!  She’s doing fairly well and I think we’ll keep going even though she would prefer not to.

Because of this fear, I tend to think of her as not too bright, but I learned a long time ago that she can tell time. YA works mostly nights, usually getting home between 8:30 and 9 p.m.  Guinevere knows when that time frame rolls around and she reacts to every noise she hears that might possibly be YA’s car coming home.  And take a look at those ears; they hear A LOT.  The earlier part of the evening, she is calm but beginning at 8:30, she’s on alert.

I learned Monday night that she also knows the night of the week. I got home from work at the regular time, had a bit of dinner, fed them – all the usual stuff.  Then I headed upstairs to watch TV for a bit since we don’t have to leave for class until 6:30 or so.  Suddenly at about 6:15, Guinevere started to cry and whine.  She was on the bed with me, so she hadn’t hurt herself, she just started to fuss.  She kept it up until I put the leash on her and put her in the car, where she was quiet right up until we turned into the parking lot of the dog school.  Then she started to cry again – a pitiful cry that makes it sound like I’m sticking her with a hot poker.

Guess I’ll have to revise my thoughts on how smart she is. Now that she knows the nights of the week and how to tell time, it’s probably only a matter of time before she can spell!

Have you had any pets too smart for your own good? 

The Beginning of (Computer) Time

Today’s post comes to us from Barbara in Rivertown!

This morning, we had a young man named Paul come to help us with our computer – just a few little things that we might have been able to learn for ourselves with some internet searches, help links, etc. but WHO HAS THE PATIENCE FOR THAT? He was probably here a half hour, and I handed him a twenty… he thought it was a bit much, but it’s the best $20 I’ve spent in a while.

I was remembering back to the beginning of my computer use, in (I guess) the mid-nineties. The internet still didn’t really have ads (!), at least nothing I can remember. About all I did was to use an online encyclopedia, look at the library catalog, and email. There were a couple of amazing things about emailing with aol.com – which ‘most everyone had at the time. If memory serves: 

1) If you caught it in maybe half an hour, you could “delete” – remove – an email you’d just sent to another aol.com subscriber. I didn’t use this a lot, but came in handy when I’d caught a major error.

2) I hadn’t yet needed to keep any emails, and certainly not sort them into folders. Whatever emails were there in your inbox, AOL would delete after two weeks – kept you on your toes! [Who knows when I started doing folders? Now there are folders with hundreds of old emails that I should go through and delete.]

So, a couple of questions:   Am I dreaming – was aol.com really like that?

What do you remember about your very early computer days?

The Hot Jupiters

I was catching up on some of my favorite science vlogs and found one on SciShow Space talking about “Hot Jupiters”. These are gaseous giant planets that orbit so closely to their sun that their year would be just a few days on Earth.  Apparently Hot Jupiters are fairly easy to detect but still not fully understood. All this aside, my first thought was “that would be a good band name”.  The Hot Jupiters.

Come across any good band names of your own recently?

The Blues

Maybe not a breakfast topic, but what the heck!

Last Thursday I woke up in the wee hours and couldn’t get back to sleep. Even turning on my “go-to-sleep” movies didn’t help.  Then when I finally decided to just get up, I had a headache – an unusual occurrence for me.  I was scheduled to give blood later in the morning so spent a couple of minutes checking on Google if there was anything I could take for a headache before getting stuck.

Then I trudged into the bathroom and blew my nose. It was blue.  I’m not kidding.  And not just any blue, but aqua blue.  Bright aqua blue.  Disturbing to say the least.  Since I had the laptop all powered up, I headed back to my room and searched “blue ____ (fill in your favorite word)”.  I was not really expecting to find anything, but it’s the internet, so I should have known better.  Apparently there is a bacteria (Pseudomonas pyocyanea) that causes this blue output.  One of the other symptoms – headache! This infection doesn’t seem to be majorly life-threatening although a few websites did say if it went on for more than a day or so, you should definitely get to your doctor.  Great. So then I spent time trying to figure out if I should give blood if I might have this bacterial infection.  That I couldn’t find.

I was still struggling with whether I should cancel my trip to the blood mobile when I went downstairs. As I went to get Rhiannon’s morning pill on the kitchen counter, my eyes fell on the Ukrainian dye that I had stirred up the night before.  Purple and — wait for it — aqua.  The dyes are made up of really fine powder; I must have gotten some of it in the atmosphere and breathed it in.  Subsequent nose blowings confirmed the blue to be a one-time occurrence and not a continuing “infection”.  I felt like an idiot after spending at least an hour searching online.

Hypochondria isn’t an affliction that I usually count among my foibles, but after Thursday, I’m not so sure anymore.

Any embarrassing revelations to take the heat off of me?

Among Us?

Photo credit: Miriam Espacio

Ten years after the UFO incident in Roswell, New Mexico, it was on this day in 1957 that the most impressive UFO sighting happened in Levelland, Texas; the impressiveness was due to the large number of witnesses over the short period of time. Ufologists continue to argue that the Air Force investigation was too short and that the phenomenon was NOT ball lightning.

A few days later, Jim Lee, who was the head of the Interplanetary Space Patrol (perhaps named after a popular TV show of the day “Space Patrol”) stated that the Levelland sighting was indeed a visit from outer space and predicted that UFOs would soon begin to come in large numbers, large enough that there would be no more non-believers. Lee’s group pushed the agenda that humans could work and collaborate with our visitors via radio waves.

“The days of the skeptics are numbered, and they had better find a good place to hide away for even the entire populations of our large cities will see these ships as they come in from outer space. They will soon come in large numbers for all to see and the skeptic will not have a leg left to stand on. There is no need for alarm over the situation at this time.”

While I try to keep an open mind about things I can’t prove or dis-prove, I’m pretty sure that if we are visited by extra-terrestrials, it probably won’t go well. Considering how many problems we have to solve just to get to Mars, any travelers that could get themselves here would be so far ahead of us technologically (or magically if that’s your bent) that they could squash us like bugs.  That’s just my opinion, of course.

But the bottom line is that Jim Lee was wrong… we’re still not seeing UFOs in great numbers, in all our large cities.

Have you ever had a prediction of yours come true?