I use this site to post random bits of information about my life and to experiment with WordPress so I can help others learn to use it.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
October 23, 2014 – Why am I still reading this book after more than two and a half months, and I am only two-thirds through it? I have asked myself this question. This is not an easy read. The author shows himself to be very erudite, maybe to a fault, and uses words I have to look up. (And I taught high school English for sixteen years). He is so scholarly about the minutiae of history that I am sure only graduate students could be interested. But yet it is fascinating. It puts me into other times and other great minds that were motivated by the same things I see on the evening news—politics, science, religion, money, power, technology. It shows the human struggle over the millennia to communicate new knowledge in new ways. Although I only read a few pages a night, how can I put down a book that illuminates the minds of others who have shaped our present knowledge? How modern they seem in a world that is still exploring ways to map our universe.
Update 2/14/2015 – Finally finished last night. I could only manage a few pages a night, but I could not stop reading this lengthy tome. Little by little it shed light on the process of creating maps; but more importantly, it revealed the challenges of mapping a globe on a plane and the human motivation to create maps. From Ptolemy to Google it expanded my universe. I will never look at a map in the same way again.
I enter the last quarter of my first century in much the same way as I entered the first with no overdue library books and a lot to learn. What a trip so far! Here are some highlights I can remember.
The first quarter:
I think I was two or three. I remember living with my two grandmothers, my mother, and my great grandmother on 12th Street in Des Moines, Iowa. My father was in the Army and stationed in Europe during WWII. We lived in the boarding house my grandmother and her mother had run. My grandfather died when my mother was 6. My grandmother got a job as a clerk in an office and ran a boarding house with help from her mother in order to support her four children. My mother had grown up there. It had an icebox cooled by two giant blocks of ice delivered each week in the alley behind the house by an ice wagon driven by two horses. My great-grandmother was sick and was in a bedroom on the first floor. I remember having to be very quiet.
After the War, when my father returned, we had a new house on 41st Street in Des Moines. There we all lived–my parents, my two grandmothers, a great aunt, and me. Grandma Williams, my father’s mother, (widowed when my father was 6) had raised him by teaching in one-room schools in Iowa. She taught me to read before I went to school. I was spoiled and probably a brat when I got there.
We lived in Des Moines until I was 12. My brother was born when I was six. This is where I saw my first television–a small green screen on which we watched test patterns and eventually Captain Video and the Video Rangers.
Here I am with my brother by the big oak tree in front of the house the year before we moved to Cedar Falls, Iowa.
I was in Junior High and he was in First Grade when we moved to Cedar Falls, which did not have a Junior High. I had to attend 8th grade in the same school as my little brother. How devastating!
I went to college in Cedar Falls at what was then Iowa State Teachers College. It is now the University of Northern Iowa.
After college I taught 8th grade in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. After a year of teaching, I married a guy I had dated in high school and college. We both taught another year in Cedar Rapids and then moved back to Cedar Falls where we both attended graduate school.
Thus ended the first quarter of my first century.
The second quarter:
After graduate school we moved to California where my husband attended graduate school at Stanford. I taught high school in Sunnyvale and Cupertino. Eventually we parted and went our separate ways.
We moved to “our” mountain shortly after we were married and continue to live there–one of the most beautiful spots on earth.
We both taught high school for a while but our interest in good food and cooking led us to eventually open a restaurant in Saratoga in a beautiful spot overlooking the creek. After five years we sold the restaurant, and I went on to managing hotels.
The third quarter:
By 1989 I decided I needed to move on from the hospitality business and started seeking a position that I could feel passionate about. After a year of searching I happened upon an opportunity to work for the Youth Science Institute, a non-profit that provided science and environmental education for many young people in the county. It was a perfect fit, and for the next fourteen years I spent much of my time there. I still am involved as a volunteer at their special events.
Since I have “retired”, I have been involved–and still am–with a number of nonprofits.These have included Grail Family Services, YWCA Silicon Valley, Young Dreamers, Peninsula Endowment and SeniorNet. I am not willing to quit now. And so on to —-
The fourth quarter:
Begins today. Still a lot to learn. I hope not to have any overdue library books and that the refrigerator continues to run since the ice man no longer makes the rounds.
We have a big country and often our everyday encounters are impersonal. We can be fooled into thinking our vote does not count. I do not believe this.Those of us who have personal contact with voters on election day can do much to dispel this belief and foster the turnout by doing little things that make people look forward to election day rather than seeing it as a duty they would like to avoid.I have been an Precinct Inspector for a number of years, although I have not always been assigned the same precinct. But most of the time I have worked the precinct at St. Nicholas Orthodox Church in Saratoga, CA. This small quaint church, located on a quiet neighborhood street, is both a challenging and an ideal place for voting. The people in the neighborhood are well educated and care–often passionately–about issues. Over the years I have come to know many of the long-time residents of the precinct and have become acquainted with many of the newcomers who are often from other countries. I am committed to making the voting experience important, exciting, and pleasurable to all of them. How do you do this? Here is a list of some things I think are important.
- Talk to people as they come in. Be friendly and…
- Listen and have an answer to any problems they have about voting. This means paying attention during the training (excellent in Santa Clara County, CA) so you know the answers or know how to find them.
- Follow the rules, but politely, by explaining any of them that may not be apparent to the voter. (For example, no political conversation or advertising on T-shirts or buttons.)
- Do not allow private conversations between election officers to go on while voters are present. All attention should be on voters, making sure their needs are fulfilled and treating them like welcome friends.
- Thanking voters (who also often thank you for being there).
And I have a couple of other aces-in-the-hole that might not be for everyone.
I take a small red, white, and blue flower arrangement to put on the table with the literature. In the past I have had garden flowers, but because of our drought this year I didn’t have any. So I had a local florist, Floral Fantasia, make one for me. I have a great red vase and this talented local sole proprietor made a wonderful. arrangement for me. Her shop is less than a half a mile from the polling place and I was happy to help promote her business.
I always provide trail mix as a “reward” for our voters. And this year we had some early voters come back in to donate their leftover Halloween candy to us to give to other voters.
Every election we are busy with many familiar faces streaming in to cast their ballots or to drop off their mail-in ballots. This year, predicted to be a slow one, was no exception. Our Field Inspector who was overseeing five other nearby polling places reported to us that we had more than double the number of voters of any of the other precincts. We were busy all day. It was great to see and talk to so many familiar faces. It is my goal as a Precinct Inspector to make our precinct the best in Santa Clara County and to have our voters eager to return for the next election.
The evening started with a beautiful moon. And then the mountain woke up. The camera ready to roll, we had our usual lengthy visit from a fox at the pond at 11:03. No deer this night. All was quiet until 1:33.
Then it happened. A puma, or mountain lion as they are known in these parts, arrived. No mistaking it. Only twice in the past forty-two years have I had the pleasure of seeing one in the distance on the mountain. But the camera captured one right outside our back door. Exciting!
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This feel-good book makes for great bedtime reading as it chronicles the episodic journey of Bob, an alley cat, who discovered and became a best bud of the author, a recovering addict. These unlikely British mates knew the streets and rose from selling magazines at the Angel tube station or busking in Covent Garden to being book writing celebs. Nice to have the occasional read that doesn’t make you think too much and has a happy ending.