Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The very model of a modern myocardial

Plunking my self into a chair to check in at cardiac rehab, Nurse M-- had the intern come 'round the desk to look at the screen with my info.Nurse M-- asked when my last catheterization was. "2009". Reading aloud, Nurse M-- tells intern that my ejection fraction, according to the test, was 20-25%."Look at him", she says, "no way his ejection fraction is 20-25% now, he'd would have trouble walking.". "See", she continues, "the value of attendance at rehab?". "He could be a model for a rehab poster.". Whoah. Been a long time, if ever, since RR was used as a model; usually he has been held up as a dire warning.

A correction: in the June 2010 "Tool Shed Thursday" I named the knife in the top photo as a "wrong way knife". Wrong: it is a farrier's knife, used for cleaning out hooves.

Obviously, cable is back and so is RR. It has been interesting.I have been having a blast working the teen desk at our newest branch. Tiring for this modern myocardial, but very rewarding. I really enjoy being that synaptical point between person and book. No matter the format. Connecting people and books is our field's schwerpunkt.

I am reading Leigh Hunt's Autobiography, edited and with an introduction and notes by J.E. Morpurgo. This Cresset Library edition, purchased for the princely sum of $1.00 somewhere, is being read with 2 bookmarks: one in the text, and the other marking my place in the copious endnotes.
I discovered Lulu.com, a print-on-demand publisher, through my interest in aviation history. Imagine my joy when I learned that the author of a blog I regularly read , "Conrad Walks", has published books there. I ordered Conrad Walks:Lands End to John O'Groats, and enjoyed the 77 day trip. So much so, I later ordered his most recent, Conrad Walks Wales. Inspiring stuff, with touches of humor. More on all three titles later.

Veg challenge: well, this year was a very mixed bag. I was distracted by events and the veg garden box missus and I made. This topic too will require a revisit and more space.

Thank you everyone for your comments and notes while I was away. I will be more disciplined in my attention to The Shebeen.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

And the song of the gen-set will be heard throughout the subdivision...

Quick note. Had no power for 3 days, came though ok, except the shallow root ball tree(as most trees do around here) that fell over had the cable line running through it. No cable (inc. computer) til further notice; be at least a week 'til it is restored. Hence, my stealing time on my employer's machines. More later.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Little minds: Two years at Ralph Talbot Elementary School.

My beloved brother who is a good man and needs a job if anyone needs a highly trained mechanic, knowledgeable i.e. having worked on: HVAC, commercial electrics, and high speed food production machinery maintenance and repair,as well as clean room experience; an excellent ‘we’ll cobble something up’ (but never a dubber) guy, has sent two of my report cards from Ralph Talbot elementary school. He found them while rooting through papers.

O baby; if they had short buses then, I would have been a passenger, judging from the comments made by Mrs. Bresnahan, and the grades earned by young master RR. The first marking period in November is the worst. RR has been torn from Vermont and plunked down in S Weymouth, MA. People drink ‘tonic’ there. I did not know how to write cursive. Social progress was cool: no check marks in ‘needs to improve in’ boxes. Down in flames in arithmetic the first three grade periods. This grade 2 report in music was grim: ‘fair, fair, fair, does not show too much interest’, consecutively. Mrs. Bresnahan is silent on art activities in the June marking period. On the bright side, RR’s reading grades went from D to C, then another C; B was earned the last period. Give a little whistle.

Thus the tone was set for an undistinguished academic career.The other report card is from grade 4: should be hitting stride now, work habits formed. Teacher M.E. Gauld is not remembered. Marks are poor to middlin’: many c, enough ‘b’s to keep parental units hopeful. Arithmetic is still abysmal. F. Must have really liked history and geography: 5 boxes out of 8 are ‘b’. Never tardy, RR is absent 7 days over the year. Music and Art are ‘Satisfactory’ across the board. A foolish consistency is recognized as The Way: head down, be the faceless rabble in the halls. No outbursts.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Movie House of Memory: Hey! Who moved the furniture?

Trying to jumpstart a stalled theme, I reached back into memory for movies seen early on, and found broken connections. I could not remember the title of one, though it made an impression. Another apparently faded out of existence, and I was just plain wrong about the last title. Jarring to one who values a here-to-fore excellent memory.

A single detail of the first could be recalled; the title eluded me. Dog-like creatures in cages of fire attacking a planet. I didn't say the thing was worth remembering. A slog, not a 'surf', on the web was called for. Cycling through the list of 'sixties science fiction films, one sparked a memory. A still photo later, and I had it. The title is "The Phantom Planet", released in 1961. Young master RR was enthralled, there in the dark, watching the Solarites attack the planet where a tiny astronaut was marooned: tiny because the atmosphere had a shrinking effect on people. Rubbish, but magic to a nine year old kid.

No problem remembering the next movie. Details could be recalled, as well as the title: "Puss n' Boots". There are many versions out there: this one was unique. 'Live' actors, in costume, absolutely creepy. A vivid bit branded onto my brain: Puss, drinking with the evil sorcerer, convinces him to show him what he can do. The sorcerer, in his cups, changes himself into a mouse. Puss chases him around the joint, grabs him, and eats him. Whoah! The thing is, a search of IMDB listed several versions of the tale ,but not this one. As we librarians say: "If we can't find it, you don't need it". I needed this title. I dug more and found the movie and the interesting story behind this title. You can read about it here.

The last, and to some the least, was a Three Stooges film. The problem:it was presumed to be one of their late films, with Joe Besser. I ordered it from Netflix, and it was different. Back to the interweb. I had details mixed up. The one I remembered was not a feature movie, but a short ("Space Ship Sappy"), indeed with Joe Besser. "The Three Stooges in Orbit" with Joe DeRita, the film I ordered, was an entirely different kiddle of fish. Maybe the blending of details and titles was proof of the caution our parents gave us when we watched the boys: "that stuff will rot your brain". Or the ravages of time and too much rubbish. That is okay: at least I got to see and remember them this long, even if I was wrong.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Air Show!

The missus and I recently attended something new,an import from England. 'Flying Proms': 'a symphonic airshow', like they do at Duxford or Shuttleworth(?), with music playing while vintage aircraft do fly-bys. It was program music, themes from films:"Battle of Britain", "The Blue Max", "Out of Africa", "The English Patient", and "Victory at Sea".The aircraft were the stars of the show, types I never expected to see flying.

I grew up in the flight path of NAS S.Weymouth. When we first moved to Weymouth, blimps droned overhead, headed out on patrol for Russian subs lurking off the coast.There were air shows featuring the Blue Angels, the Navy precision flying team. Days before the show, they came honking in,low and fast,causing the best house trained dogs to have an accident. RR and his pals would walk to the base on Saturday for the air show. I do not remember if it was these shows which started my lifelong enthusiasm for aviation, or the time my father said to me "Hear that?That's a B-29", pointing to a silver glint waaay up there. I later learned they were 'weather monitoring' flights.Dad, having served in the AAF and flown The Hump, knew B-29s when he heard them. Or was it the time I talked with Eddie Rickenbacker on a radio talk show? No matter. Hooked, poor sap, looking up at the most mundane aircraft, and getting really excited when something interesting passes overhead.

Interesting aircraft flew at the proms. First,a Supermarine Spitfire Mk. IX, elegant lethality, flew. Magnificent. A pair of Fokker Dr.1's, full sized reproductions of the overrated German WWI fighter, still striking and able to turn on a floating dime, did their stuff next. One of the loveliest designs to fly, a DeHaviland DH89 Dragon Rapide, made her stately progress above our heads after the Fokkers. Spats on the undercarriage make her even more attractive. A Stearman Trainer, the 'Yellow Peril', flew next.She was followed by another jewel, a Hawker Hurricane. The last aircraft was an F4U Corsair: big, blue, and powerful. We were seated about 50-80 yards from their flightpath, and the power of that big radial could be felt from where we were sitting. She was not more than 40' off the deck. Glorious.

The reason we were able to see these aircraft fly was the venue. The Military Aviation Museum is a nest of aircraft restorers. They acquire these machines, fix 'em up, and fly most of them. Swell: remember, these are old and rare machines. One prang and they are scrap. I read of a Me109G6 flown in England, even after the Germans cautioned them about flying her too much.The DB605 engine in Messerschmitts, along with the Rolls Royce Merlins in Spitfires, were hand built precision machines. Machinists today, even with CAM, are not able to get the close tolerances necessary for these high performance engines.Guess what happened. The 109 was pranged, lightly; enough to tear up the the engine. This summer, two aircraft of the Commemorative Air Force here in the states crashed, two more off the roster of flying pieces of history.

Even so, if I hear of an airshow nearby, and the weather is good, I will pack up the sunscreen and the missus (a good trooper, she has crawled through a B-17 with me), and be there. See you near the flightline.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Mixed grill: too many vampires and vegetables

A mixed grill today,along with hearty thank you for the inquiries as to the status of the missus and RR.
It has been a hot unhealthy spring. I am looking forward to a hotter but healthier summer. Cancer has been discovered in mother-in-law, so we will be dealing with that. As to what is on the grill, this must be brief as once again my computer is down and I am stealing time---

Work-- working with 65,000 new volumes in a new branch is swell for this bibliophile. The plethora of vampire novels, zombies, and manga, the insidious Japanese reading level destroying book form which is killing fiction for teenagers, is not swell. More on this trend in the future. Unfortunately, my energy levels do not match my hopes for service.

Reading-- as an antidote to all this supernatural fiction, I have returned to an early interest, American realist and naturalist novels. I am currently reading Upton Sinclair's Oil! , a novel which served as the "inspiration" for the (unseen) film "There will be blood", starring Daniel Day Lewis, whose work I enjoy. Frank Norris's McTeague, never read I am ashamed to say, is in the batter's box. His Octopus, the first of a proposed trilogy on wheat which Norris did not live to complete, was read many years ago, and will be read again. So much for fiction: I find as I get older I am less interested in it, preferring non-fiction for my casual reading. I am also doing much re-reading except Thomas Wolfe: no one over the age of 19 can re-read Thomas Wolfe.Do your reading habits mirror these?

CSA/veg challenge-- the greenery is winning, even with my preparation for the challenge. Kohlrabi, a heretofore unknown and unused veg was the first gauntlet. I made empanadas with it and squash, also on offer with our share.They are easy to make, even for a tyro like me. Here is the recipe.On the bright side,I have re-discovered the smoker. Sap that I am, I bought a 4-plus pound brisket of grass fed beef. Grass fed meat demands slow, low cooking because of the lower fat content; otherwise one might as well be gnawing on a boot. Smoking it is the way to go. My last smoker adventure, because of technical difficulties, made me gun shy on using it.The beef came out well, and missus RR and I will be finishing it up this weekend. Just in time for my next protein adventure: smoking a chicken which I plan to purchase when we next pick up our CSA.

Monday, April 04, 2011

‘difficult to translate’: The German Genius by Peter Watson

BB mentioned The German Genius in his blog, and, always glad to hear of some interesting new non-fiction, I borrowed it from the library here in the Yellow Tavern quadrant. Glad I did, even if I did have to renew the doorstop sized (964 pp.) thing.

Part of my fascination is language. Profs say English is from one kinda Deutsche or another;swell until a word like Bildung comes along. It is not just a word: it is a concept, very important to understanding Germany. Which is important and really needs to use a lot of pp. to tell you why. One word does not equal one word in another language. Several word/concepts like that. When you see italics, start paying attention.

Watson's basic tenet is this: from 1750-1933 it was the Germans. They transformed themselves, assembled a country, and dominated the cultural and academic scenes. Ask the average citizen to name 3 ‘classical’ composers: chances are they will mention at least 2 German musicians. Sociology. Psychology. Painters.My old Penguin pb copy of Also Sprach Zarathustra uses Friedrich’s "Wanderer above the sea of fog" on the cover. That is the sole piece of German art I can recall. Well excpt Bierstadt, but he was American.America has benefited by steady influx of German people, for many reasons. They invented Expressionism.The book has 849 pp., plus a list of “35 Underrated Germans”; goes quick in spots. Watson is thorough in his coverage of German culture (and Kultur); being Germans, there is a difference. I looked forward to the post war sections and was rewarded. We learn why 1968 was an important year for modern Germany. I enjoyed reading about science and chemical industries; copious notes with bibliographic citations can help one pursue topics. Dyes. IG Farben, which is Thomas Pynchon country. Rocket science, theoretical physics.Practical physics, for example the electron microscope. How the Germans invented the seminar and research was institutionalized by the universities with the development of the modern PhD. It is all in there. Dealing with WW2. Why Germans are such good recyclers.

Each chapter is like another term paper: Watson uses many direct quotes, and not always in a supportive of his thesis role. He will occasionally use a quoted adjective; I found this irksome. It gets slow at philosophy; Germans have been at work there too. Never knew of the philosophical link to the music, the notes, of Wagner, who frequently (along with his erstwhile pal Nietzsche) pops up. The section on German film was satisfactory for a book of this size. I never quite wanted to put it down. Watson has a conversational style; a plus over the long haul. One has to be interested in Germans, very much, or in intellectual/scientific history to read this. I am glad I did.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

How many lumps with your tea?

"Many a bum show has been saved by the flag." George M. Cohan

First, a warm Shebeen welcome to a new follower, Dr. Morbius, who writes an interesting blog on film .

<- This is what we are dealing with these days in America. They are the Tea Party, a hydra of gun nuts, flat earthers, libertarians and people just plain pissed off. They are angry about taxes when in actuality taxes have gone down. Opportunists like Sarah Palin and Eric Cantor have become remoras, running dogs to the tea baggers. They want to undo any progress, and want to 'take America back': to the Gilded Age as far as I can tell. No pesky gummint regulation, no OSHA, no EPA, and back to the gold standard. No health care, no separation of church and state. Crappy misspelled signs littering the landscape. Pick a sample of weirdness that has popped up in America in the last century, and there is a tea bagger for that cause. No FDA, no Public Broadcasting Service, that viper's nest of liberalism; edjumication will be back to the '3 Rs'.

Here is an example of how Tea Party government will work, from Obion County, Tennessee. The city of South Fulton, Tenn. imposes a fee of $75.00 per annum on neighboring county residents for fire department coverage. A man called to report his house was on fire. When the fire department got there,they proceeded to hose down his neighbor's house, and let the burning house burn to the ground. Turns out the man had not paid his fire fee. He tried to pay when they got there, but the heroes said it was too late. He lost everything, including his pets. According to the mayor, people who cannot afford or do not pay the fee are 'out of luck'.

These people have all kinds of whacky concepts. There's birthers, who maintain that President Obama is not an American citizen, and have deluged the Hawaiian records department to such an extent that now the department charges a fee for copies of birth records.

It was not always this way with conservatives. One could sit down, have a drink with conservative colleagues without the screaming. Back in the day, I remember watching William F Buckley on his PBS show, "Firing Line". Quiet , reasoned discussion; unless he was talking to Gore Vidal. Not any more. I place the entry of meanness at the feet of George "Iraq has WMD" Bush, a Texas ward heeler. Look at his administration's reaction when the French passed on the second phase of American adventurism in Iraq.

What will RR and the missus do? We're going to fight them, challenge them in every way until the next elections , in two years. If they win, it means more prisons, more meanness, more getting beaten over the head with religion. Welcome to Amerika.

Friday, January 14, 2011

This is not an abandoned blog.

Sorry, 'bout that folks. I have been in a medically induced coma since the last election, to protect myself and others says the missus. These tea baggers, patriots every one, were on my mind too much. . More when I have better fine motor control and an adult sized keyboard for my fat fingers .