Lessons From the Oldies

When I was in college one of my English Profs suggested a method to find a topic to write about. I won’t bore you with the details but it is simply to make a list of topics. Period. Then select one and begin. That is what I am doing right now. When I hit the very first key I had no idea what my topic would be for today. I still don’t, but eventually it’ll kick in and I will start pounding keys at a great rate.

I spent a few minutes reading other peoples BLOGS today. It always amazes me as to the variety. Some are so simple yet so entertaining, others are eloquent and just plain confounding. Some writers write words, words, and more words. Usually these are eloquently phrased words, and sometimes I even understand what they say. In most cases they read like an eighteenth century novel. The author is speaking English but with a different twist. It makes for very hard reading. During COVID I began reading books that I downloaded off the internet for free. The operative word there is “Free.” Many of them are extremely old. Like “South, the Story of Shackleton’s Expedition,” or “The Pioneers,” by James Fenimoor Cooper, or The Kama Sutra of Vatsyayana. The oldest and toughest to understand is the Kama Sutra.

Reading stories like these gave me a greater appreciation for our modern language. One thing I noticed throughout the works is the author’s use of vocabulary. I found myself constantly switching to the dictionary to learn the definition. In most cases I had a sense of the word, but not the exact meaning.

Currently, I am being visited by a friend who migrated to our country from the Baltic States. Frequently, during our conversations she will stop me and ask what does that mean? Every time, I have to stop and think about how I will explain the meaning of a word without using it in the definition. Most times I am able to finds simple words that I can use to explain. In rare cases I find myself going to the dictionary for help. Recently she asked me the difference between woods and forest. Again, I was challenged, but came up with the difference; “woods” pertains to a small grove of trees, while a “forest” is endless acres and acres of trees.

Another thing I am gleaning from these ancient stories is a better understanding of the hardships people lived with. For instance, In “Pioneers” by Cooper, the harsh temperatures of northern New York during the winters of the late 1790’s was explained in detail. Just cutting the amount of wood that was necessary to heat a small cabin during the cold months required continuous back breaking labor. Cooper also pointed out that if locals continued to cut down centuries old trees that soon there would be no more trees to cut. He further realizes that the trees they were using for heat take a hundred years to grow. He relates a similar concern about fishing. Instead of using the native Indian philosophy of, if you are hungry catch a fish, they used the more modern approach of let’s use a long net, sweep it through the lake and catch a bunch of fish. He questioned how long it would take the pioneers to fish the lake empty. Today, we ask the same questions not only about our inland lakes but about the world’s oceans as well. Thankfully, we have been smart enough to regulate fishing seasons and to put limits on fish populations.

All in all, I have enjoyed reading the oldies, but didn’t like the difficulty which I encountered trying to understand the written words and grammar of the age.

The most disappointing book I read was the Kama Sutra. Having heard so much about the work beforehand I expected something like an ancient Playboy. I’m sure in it’s day, it was that, but in my day it was not very stimulating, and I had trouble with the philosophy that led the authors to write this tome. I am also certain that the ladies of the world consider this to be a male chauvinist work because it is written from a man’s point of view with little regard for that of the woman’s

Here I am seven hundred and thirty-one words after beginning a post that had no direction at all in the first paragraph, and that is all I’m going to say about that.

RUSH

At my age I never thought I would take the time to listen to a rock band, but I did. A few months ago I was in conversation with a friend at a pre-COVID gathering and we discussed road trips. The friend suggested I read a book by Neil Peart. “Who?” I asked. Please spell the name. Being really deaf I couldn’t’ make out the sound. P E A R T he spelled. “Just like it sounds,” I said. “Who is he?” He is the drummer for the rock band RUSH. “Who are they?”

Geddy Lee Neil Peart Alex Lifeson

“They were popular back in the eighties and nineties” was the reply.

“I never heard of them.” I made a note on my phone and several weeks later I ordered the book from the library. Then COVID hit and all things went into hiding including the library. A week ago, I got notice from the library that I had a book waiting. I was surprised when I picked it up that it was by Neil Peart. I had forgotten that I ordered it.

The book is called “Far and Wide, Bring That Horizon To Me,” by Neil Peart. I am now educated on who he is and what RUSH is. I can’t believe that after so many years I am still in the dark about this band. The book is a celebration of the band’s fortieth year together, their last road tour, and Neil’s last big motorcycle trip. The interesting thing about Neil is that he can’t stand spending his life on a tour bus while on tour. To make his life interesting he charts road trips in between concerts and rides the route on his BMW motorcycle. He has one travel companion who rides with him (Safety in Numbers).

To honor their forty years together RUSH did forty concerts on the R40 tour. The rationale was that the members are aging, and afraid that if they didn’t do it now they wouldn’t be capable of doing it later. Aging does have a way of changing minds and joints, and such. There is nothing like a guitarist with arthritic fingers and a drummer with tennis elbow. Then again it might have led to a completely new sound.

As I searched for photos of Neil and RUSH on Google Images I spotted a caption citing Neil’s obituary. What? I just found out about the guy and he died. Yes, he died this January 11, 2020 at age 67, four years after he published the book I just read. He must have learned of his brain cancer shortly after that last road trip. The Glioblastoma took him out of our lives. His goal in life was to be a person that people looked up to. I know I am one of his converts. I want to lead my life as he did, always learning, always seeking new information, always exploring the back ways of the world.

Global Warming Ice Age

The first of June and it is cold again. Of course cold is relative. The temperature today is what I considered warm back in January, but for June it is now cool, no, cold. At 1:00 p.m. it has risen to 67 degrees F. All this attention to cold has been brought on by my reading. I’m attacking a group of books the titles of which I have seen for years but never attempted to read. The latest is South: The Story of Shackleton’s Expedition. The adventure took place during World War One 1914-17. The short version is Ernest Shackleton’s journey to be the first too find the south pole by land. How he and his crew ever survived this trip to frozen hell is nothing short of a miracle.

Throughout the read I kept thinking about how those who truly believe that global warming will cause Antarctica to melt are daft. I recommend theses people read this book and then tell me you still believe it will happen because we use fossil fuels. I believe the world will exhaust its supply of fossil fuel long before Antarctica melts. As long as earth is tilted as it is, and as long as the south pole is where it is, at the bottom of the sphere it will take armageddon to melt it even partially.

Oh yes, the earth can tilt like it did when our moon was formed and send the Sahara desert into a zone where it is cold and then maybe just maybe the south pole would melt. But, wouldn’t it stand to reason that as the existing pole shifts northward to expose it to the sun that another area of the planet will take its place and freeze into a new Antarctica? Wouldn’t it also stand to reason that as the planet shifted it would do so slowly thus causing the freeze to occur in a continuum so by the time Antartica was melted its counterpart would be frozen?

Reading this story was a double feature for me. I loved it as an adventure and second it got my stagnant brain to begin thinking logically about what would happen to all that ice. The reason for the ice is because most of Antarctica is in the dark just as the north pole is in the dark for much of it’s year. The second reason is that because the axis of the earth is tilted it puts Antarctica further from the sun so the place is really cold. Shackleton recorded minus fifty-five degrees below zero for a winter segment of his journey. He described what happens when the ice that had trapped and was holding his ship captive, cracks open and water fills the void. At minus 55 the water turned to ice four inches thick within minutes.

The photo above shows the change of Antarctic sea ice between 1850 to 2013. I learned in my fourth grade science class that water expands when it freezes, and it subsequently reduces when it melts. What that tell me is that we should have been seeing a loss of coastal regions to ice melt water since 1850. Have we? I have never read nor heard any such phenomenon reported. Try this experiment for your self. Fill a glass tumbler with ice cubes to the brim, next add water until it is at the brim. Let the ice-water filled glass sit for a couple of days and watch to see if there is any water on the surface the glass sits on. There won’t be any. That is because as the ice melts it’s volume contracts you will have a full glass of water without ice when it is done.

Watch the animation above and see how the sea ice changes from year to year. Tell me have you read of any reports that the oceans are rising and falling at our shorelines in sync with this changes? I haven’t.

I believe only God can increase global warming that will cause the ice at the poles to melt. I don’t believe that mere men can effect such an extreme shift in temperature that will cause the ice to melt and the oceans to flood the earth.

My recommendation to all the people who believe in man made global warming that will cause the ice at the south pole to melt and flood the world is this: put your energy into believing in God. Nature will take care of planet earth and we will not be responsible for it’s demise, but God will.

I Hate Books That Make Me Think

Today, I finished reading The Point of it All by Charles Krauthammer. The first anniversary of his death is just around the corner in June. I became aquainted with Charles while watching Fox News. He appeared daily on Bret Baier’s news show. Krauthammer’s analysis and opinions alway impressed me. He spoke with knowledge and conviction. It never mattered what the subject was he spoke eloquently on the topic.

On the very first day I watched him I noticed something about the way he breathed. It reminded me of my polio days when many of my friends breathed funny because their polio affected their chest muscles. In all the years I watched him I never spotted anything like a wheelchair or saw his arms or hands move. Much later when curiosity got the best of me I searched the internet for information about him and learned that he was paralyzed from the chest down. Injured in a diving accident as a student.

Charles never let his handicap interfere with his life. Same with me. He moved forward the best he could with his affirmity. It is strange when positive people have accidents or terribly crippling events in their lives the terribleness never stops them from moving on with life. In my case my dream was to play football in high school. All through my fevered period when the virus spread through my body I kept thinking I have to beat this thing and get to tryouts. A couple of months later the realization that I wasn’t going to make the tryouts hit me, and I shifted gears to learn how to swallow. Swallowing doesn’t sound like much but when the muscles involved in making that normal function stop working your life is on hold. Thankfully, the medicine of the day was advanced enough to thread a feeding tube through my nose into my stomach, and I lived.

It took weeks to learn how to walk and to keep my head from rolling around like it was attached with a slinky. It took months to learn how to smile, and longer to learn how to swallow, All through this rehab I never wavered from getting back to school, but football left my mind.

Charles didn’t allow his paralysis beat him from reaching his goal, he became a doctor, a Psychiatrist. He practiced for a number of years before quitting to become a writer. He died a writer, and a damned good one too.

The problem I have with books like his is that they force me to have to think. That means reading the book is no longer a pleasure it is an effort. Big words, new phraseology of big words all slow me down, and sometimes put me to sleep. Charles succeeded in giving me a nap several times during this read, but it didn’t stop me from completing the book.

He makes so much sense in his thinking, and he is a conservative too. I would have loved to watch a debate between him and the most liberal debater on earth, that is, if one could be found.

Asparagus and Uranium


The sign of a great writer is the ability to create interesting and real characters, and to place them into interesting situations. I just completed reading a book titled The Accidental Further Adventures of the 100 Year Old Man. Writer Jonas Jonasson lives in Sweden and crafted a superb story around two elements; asparagus and uranium. He included world leaders like Trump, Merkel, Putin, Rocket-man Kim Jong un, and others to embellish the story. In my opinion he lost points by making Trump a doofus. Other than that bit of bias I enjoyed the story because it was intriguing and funny. The idea of a one hundred year old man going on adventures drew me in.

So how were asparagus and uranium involved? A side kick of the hundred year old man grew and sold asparagus and the two of them happened upon a suitcase filled with nine pounds of enriched uranium headed for North Korea. Jonasson wove a complicated tale and made it all come together in the end.

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