Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Dentist

For years, I have been deathly afraid of going to the dentist.

My experiences as a child at the dentist were horrible.  I remember my friends talking about Novocaine and how it made your mouth feel.  I do not remember getting Novocaine regularly when I went to the dentist, although I had a lot of cavities and my teeth required a lot of work, including drilling at every appointment.  For years, the thought of drilling my teeth made me extremely anxious.  I remember mean lectures and lots and lots of pain.

I hated my smile and my teeth, that were crooked and and ugly.  And, my childhood dentist never addressed that.

Consequently, as an adult, I have avoided going to the dentist as much as I could.  But, my teeth gave me problems, and some years ago, in the early 1990s, I had enough trouble that I had to go to a dentist.  I had dental insurance that limited which dentists I could use.  I felt that the one I went to was rough and mean. Again.  I had oral surgery, and that was that.

Over the years, I had a bad front tooth that embarrassed me, but not to the extent that it sent me to the dentist.   I just could not do it.  Until that tooth abscessed, and I felt I had no choice.  I asked around, and a co-worker recommended a dentist who was very good, very gentle, very kind.  

I took my time getting an appointment, and when my appointment day arrived, the abscess had all but resolved.  My secretary (whom I love dearly) was concerned I would not keep the appointment, and reminded me of it.  I kept the appointment.

I was amazed!  Everyone in this dentist's office was so kind, so friendly, so wonderful... The dental assistant and the dentist explained everything they were doing. They used maximum pain deadeners, and the dentist even lectured me to be sure I used the pain medication he
prescribed to keep the pain in control   (That was the only lecture he gave me.  Nothing about my poor oral hygiene and my not using dental care regularly.  I told him my coworker who referred me told me he would not yell at me. He acknowledged that as being counterproductive to getting people to going to the dentist.)

Everyone with whom I had contact said if you need something, call. I had a follow up appointment.  I did not need pain killers this time.  But everyone with whom I interacted said if I needed something, call... Wow! 

I am thoroughly amazed by the customer service attention that is exhibited by ALL the staff at this dental office.  Can  you imagine if you went through your day, and everyone had the same attitude... Wow!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Waiting for the cool

The heat on the South Plains is interesting.  Sometimes, it cools off so much in the evening and overnight, that the windows can be opened and the fresh air allowed to cool off the house.

This year, after unusual wet weather in July, we have had weeks of oppressive heat without the overnight cooling that is typical of the South Plains.  So it is very late, well after midnight, before the the cooling occurs.  Recently, we have had some cooler overnight weather.  Which has been so pleasant.

I have been waiting for the cool this summer.  And, now, it seems to have arrived. In fact, there seem to be a aura of autumn in some of the cool weather.


The Language of Baseball

Often, I think about the language of baseball, and how it is insinuated into our daily language usage:

Get to first base (make a hit with someone,especially dating)

Make a hit (get a favorable response)

Safe at home (score a run or victory)

Score (get a winning response)

Double play (two for one)

Bat it around (think about it)

Strike out (get no where, not to first base)

Two strikes against (starting out behind)

Farm out (send to the farm team for more experience or practice)

Hit a homer (score a run with one swing, get results)

Foul out (hit a foul that is caught/played for an out)

Go to the bullpen (get help)

Be in the bullpen (be available to be ready to help)

Throw strikes (pitch perfectly)

Pitch (toss something out for consideration)

On deck (waiting {to hit})

The World Series of (the final competition for supremacy of)

Error (mistake)

Pinch hit (step in for)

Can you think of more?

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Revisionist History

I know someone who has a habit of revising history.  When he tells the story of an event, he frequently tells it in a way to may everyone involved in the story come out looking as good as possible, and to make the outcome be as good as possible...

This person is trying to be a very kind man, but sometimes his revisionist history masquerades the truth about events and can be harmful.  I understand that he does this because he does not want any one's feelings to be hurt.  But sometimes his revisionist history allows people to not take responsibility for their inappropriate behavior.  And, allows them not to face consequences, and not to feel pressure to change.  When you are the recipient of this revisionist history, sometimes it is nice to be "let off the hook."

I recently read a book of poetry Delights and Shadows by Ted Kooser http://www.tedkooser.net/. It contains a poem called "Tectonics." This my favorite poem in the book, for several reasons.

I am fascinated by the geological theory of plate techtonics http://www.platetectonics.com/, which explains continental drift, how continents were built,  how the earth renews itself.

The poem "Tectonics" explains how our memories of life change over time and perspective.  More gradually than someone doing revisionist history, but still along the same principles. This is a normal phenomena, and is not bad. And as our memories and perspectives change, so do we and our world.

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Saturday, August 28, 2010

Remember the Titans

I am watching the 2000 movie Remember the Titans, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0210945/  and was interested in how close to truth the movie is.  I found an interesting comparison http://espn.go.com/page2/s/closer/020808.html on an ESPN sight.  There were some interesting comments. 

I think one of the things the sight says is that the prejudice and integration problems were not that bad.  I remember 1970, and by then much of the rioting was over, but I was in the North.  I have to believe the tension in the South was still pretty bad, because when I came to Texas in 1977, the tension was still pretty bad. 

Another comment in the ESPN comparison indicated that there is an awareness now that people would not want to admit to the prejudice that existed in 1971. I think that is probably true.  And makes sense.  We do not want to admit how bad it was, but in a sense we have to remember, so we do not ever go back to how bad it was. 

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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Serendipity in the Max

A coworker needed a ride to pick up his vehicle at the repair shop...He was flexible with time, and I was leaving early to go to a reading club meeting. 

Normally in the summer, I have the kayak in  the Vue, and do not have passenger capacity, but because I had brought the view in for service, recently, I decided to take the kayak and paraphenalia out of the vehicle.  So, I had passenger capacity.

I thought the reading club was at the Distance Learning Center on the Texas Tech campus. The repair shop was between where we work and the Distance Learning Center: no problem.  I always leave a little early to get to the reading club because I dislike the feeling of being rushed...and I hate to be late.

I dropped off the coworker, and wended my way through the city streets and Texas Tech Campus to the Distance Learning Center.  I was early, but realized that there were very few vehicles there (many of the reading club members arrive early).  Oh, I realized that we had changed the location of the reading club to the Barnes and Noble store, which is located at the South Plains Mall, more southwest of town.  Well, I made my way to the Mall, and got to Barnes and Noble before the reading club began...Wow!  That was amazing to me...

It was a good discussion about a book of poetry.

Had I been paying attention to where the reading club was meeting, I could not have assisted my coworker.  Helping my coworker is important to me, and I am glad all worked out.....

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Wind Chill

This is the 26th of August on the South Plains of West Texas... A few days ago, our highs were in the mid to high 90s and lows in the high 70s. 

This morning, a little before 7:30, as I drove to work, the official weather report had the morning temperature at 52° with a wind chill of 48°.  Why are we talking about wind chill in August in Texas.  Because it is there.  FOR REAL!

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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Front Blew In

A coworker commented today that the front blew in about 3 AM today.  The wind was luxuriously freshening when I walked out the door this morning.  Another coworker commented how unusual our summer weather has been: we have had heat and humidity but very little wind.  It is the wind the helps to make living on the plains in the summer tolerable.  It cools the night.  But we have not had night cooling this year.  I check at midnight, hoping the front had blown in, and it was still 82° and still too hot to open up the windows.

The first thing I did tonight when I got home was open the windows. The fresh air is great!  With the front, the grey clouds moved in.  It was nice to have the cloud cover, which helped to keep things cool. We hope for rain, but are relieved at the break in the weather.

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Monday, August 23, 2010

Adult Learning

Two years ago, I joined the Texas Tech Osher Life Long Learning Institute, http://www.depts.ttu.edu/outreach/ , which is a series of mini-classes, lunch and learn, reading circles, symphony and dinner for adults over 50.  The topics vary, there are no grades, no homework.  They take input regarding topics. 

I have really enjoyed the various classes I have taken: astrology, archeology of the Lubbock area, the reading circle, comparative religion, reading and mystery books seminars, printing, symphony and a pre-symphony meal, to name a few.

I will be signing up for more classes tomorrow: there is an orientation/sign up session at the Frazier Pavilion on the Texas Tech Campus. I am looking forward to more classes this fall and next spring... This is exciting.

I recently joined Elderhostel, which has changed it's name to Roads Scholar http://www.roadscholar.org/ . They have a large number of travel/educational experiences both in the United States, and internationally.  Many of the trips are longer than I want to take: I like 3-4 day trips, and many trips are 5 or more days. But some of them look very exciting.  I wish my travel budget was bigger.

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Saturday, August 21, 2010

NASCAR at Bristol

I have been a NASCAR fan since the early 80s, and at that time, there were many short track races, but very few night races.  The August race at Bristol, Tn was the exception: a short track race at night.  It is one of my most favorite races, unless there are so many cautions, that there is little racing.

I like short track racing... The speeds are slower, but the action is greater, and drivers who are several laps down can easily come back to place well... There is a lot of "traffic racing" and cars that have severe body damage can still race competitively.

I like night racing:  there is more "flash."  I am sure the paint jobs on the cars are designed to reflect the light.  You can see the sparks, and the cherry red glow of the brakes much easier.  It is more festive, and you do not notice the smoke as much.

This is NASCAR at its best.

This is the Bristol weekend, and the action does not disappoint.  For the Spring Cup racing, tickets are hard to come by, and some years, are snapped up well before race time.  It is a well attended race.

I have been to the track while driving cross country.  The highways into the area are designed to handle the massive amounts of traffic.  The track looks like a steep bowl, and has a store where memorabilia can be purchased even during non-event times.  You KNOW this is an economic boom to the Thunder Valley Bristol area.   Good for them. 

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Tax Free Weekend

I do not know when it started, nor where it started, but the State of Texas has adopted the practice of having a tax-free weekend in August to help families prepare for school. Clothing, shoes, and backpack items less than $100 dollars are exempt from state and local use tax.

Additionally, the State of Texas has recently included school supplies under $100, purchased by individuals (not businesses, unless they have an exempt certificate) in the tax free status.

This can be quite a savings, of usually about $8 on the hundred, for families with many children, or even one child.

Because it is difficult to screen for use, many non-students benefit from this weekend.  Whether or not that is right, it happens. 

This was tax free weekend in Texas.  I was shopping late Saturday afternoon, and it was sort of crazy in the store:  lots of crying children, people stopping in the middle of the aisle without regard for the fact they were blocking traffic on either side of them, full parking lots, scarce shopping carts, and security being extra careful... Normally, the cashiers do not bag things like multipaks of soda, but today they did.  It made sense:  bagged items were cashed out and payed for, but non-bagged items were suspect.  Entering and leaving the store, the "greeter" was stopping and watching people with non-bagged items, checking everything very carefully... The increased traffic in stores makes security more difficult, and shoplifting easier...

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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Old Movies

I like old movies from the era when "the studio system" was in play, from 1920s to 1950s.  One of the things I like about those old movies is to see up and coming stars in minor roles in movies, before the become "famous."  Does that happen now?  I do not know... I suspect it does, but I am so not interested in current movies that I do not notice this.


Start Early and Hit the Ground Running

I had an appointment this afternoon, and decided that when it was finished, I would go home, not back to work.  But, I went into work early, having prepared everything I needed to on Wednesday, to "hit the ground running."  Having done so, I was able to accomplish as much in 4 hours as I often spend all day working on.  Part of that has to do with having cooperative coworkers who facilitated my tasks by getting patients in and out of their cells (remember, I work in a psychiatric prison) so I can interview them.

Maybe there is a lesson in this.  I do know that I get impatient doing the preparatory work so when I see patients, I can  just focus and concentrate on that.  Several times lately, I have forced myself to do the preparatory work so that I could just see patients.  It works. Lesson in life.

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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Isn't Modern Technology Wonderful?

Or is it?

When I purchased the Saturn Vue, I purchased On Star, which is an interestign option... It can offer many things:  electronic diagnostics, hands free phone, emergency call in, even GPS services... Some are included in, some optional and extra. 

I get a monthly diagnostic report, which has told me about need for oil change, low tire pressure, and recently, an emissions problem.  

Just this week, I took the car in for what I thought was a starter problem, but turned out to be a fuel pump problem. This was warranty work, required two days at the shop, and a loaner vehicle. On the way home from the dealer, the check engine light came on, and my monthly diagnostic arrived in email... I checked in with Onstar, they ran a diagnostic, and even offered to call the dealer for me!  Wow!  Well, it is a hassle, but I have another appointment to have the car serviced (under warranty.)

So, while On Star did not detect the original problem, it did detect a subsequent problem (and since it might be simply a loose wire, I am wondering if it happened during the repair work.)

Is technology wonderful, or this "Big Brother is Watching?"



I love musicals... Tonight I am watching Rogers and Hammerstein's South Pacific."  I am always amazed and astounded that musicals offer so much social commentary.  "South Pacific" has so many comments.  The nature of war. Class difference, race difference, the human condition.

Leonard Bernstein's "West Side Story" also talks about cultural clash, racial/ethnic difference, learning to live with one another, the senselessness of clash over territory and culture.

"Oklahoma," again by Rogers and Hammerstein, alludes to different lifestyles (ranchers and farmers) learning to live together.

"The Music Man" by Meredith Wilson reflects on values:  a cheat who gives people hope and a chance for a future, vs. being exposed as a cheat. 

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Friday, August 13, 2010

Angelic Candles

A coworker's grandchild was involved in a fund raiser, and they were selling candles. I love candles, but do not burn them openly in the house.  I had a candle burning on my dining table, a cat jumped on the table, swished her tail, and caught it on fire.  Fortunately, I was sitting right there, and put the fire out by just running my hand on her tail....She did not like the smell of burning protein/hair which she demonstrated by wiggling her nose in distaste.  But, it was her fur...I, too, do not like the smell of burned protein, or burned hair, which is the odor you will encounter when you smell the after effects of a permanent wave procedure... (Yuck).

So, I am enjoying the wonderful scent of this candle, which is from Angelic Candles. My coworkers who have also purchased and burned their candles have expressed delight in the scent from these candles...

Thank you, Jaden, for allowing us to purchase these candles.


Thursday, August 12, 2010

Swish, Swish

I have an 8 foot, 25 pound Pelican Burst sit upon kayak.  When I purchased it, I owned a Ford F-150 pickup truck with a shell over the bed, and could load and lock it into the bed area.

When I went looking for a new vehicle, one of my requirements was to purchase a vehicle that would allow me to load, store and transport the kayak, locking it in the vehicle.  The Saturn Vue I purchased allows just that.

It is the peak of kayak season in Lubbock:  I have no interest in doing white water kayaking (if I did, I would have purchased a sit in instead of a sit upon kayak.)  I like lake, pond and slow river kayaking.  The first year we purchased the kayaks, April was unseasonably hot and we were out frequently in April... This year, it was May before it was warm enough to get in the water, by my standards.  The month of July was so filled with storms or the promise of storms, that I did little kayaking.

Yesterday, a friend and I went to Lake Allen Henry http://www.lakealanhenry.com/  to kayak.  We had a good day.  I got lost, but my friend saved us from being lost.  And midday, the clouds gathered.  I was very concerned about the rapidity with which the clouds gathered, and I do not  like being on the lake with storm clouds around.  We saw rain and heard thunder.  Graciously, my friend conceded to my weather concerns, and we did not kayak any more.  We might have been safe, but I sure hate to take a chance.

When we loaded the boats into the back of my friend's pickup, we acknowledged they had taken on water.  The kayaks are self bailing, but do gather water, and have drain plug to relieve them.  Since the kayak did not feel very heavy, I thought the water it held was minimal.

This morning, when I drove to work, I had the disconcerting experience of hearing that water slosh around in the kayak. I swished forward when I braked, it swished backward when I accelerated.  I drove to work, and to and from a meeting, and then home.  I went to a social event tonight, and decided enough was enough, and emptied the kayak on my lawn.  If there were 2 cups of water that came out of the kayak, that was a lot.  But, it does not take much water to swish around in the kayak while driving....


The Yankees Rallied!

I guess I am not a very good fan of the Yankees.  Last night, I wrote them off, but continued to watch the game and the WIN!  

Go Yankees!


Wednesday, August 11, 2010


I live in baseball nether land, which means TV does not show Red Sox nor Yankee games very often:  Sometimes, when these teams play each other, but otherwise, only when they play the Texas Rangers.   This week, the Yankees are playing the Rangers, and this weekend, the Red Sox are playing the Rangers. Consequently, I will get some local broadcasts of the these games. 

That does my heart good.  However, last night, the Yankees lost to the Rangers, and it is not a very encouraging game tonight... But, check back, and see how the Yankees do....

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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

My CoWorkers

I am scheduled for a day off on Wednesday, August 11, 2010.  I had an emergent situation occur today, August 10, 2010, and for a while I thought I might have to cancel my day off.  The situation required several entities at work to do something in a timely manner.  My job was to dog these entities, if they did not do their task...

A coworker helped me to figure out a logistics problem, and the person covering for me agreed to follow up on a minor deed. The logistics problem occured because I had a dental appointment and could not see it through at work.  The doctor involved, and the clinic scheduler involved did what they were supposed to do... The notary public involved was flexible to help us.

I can take the day off on Wednesday August 11, and pick up the pieces Thursday.  Isn't it wonderful when everyone does their job the way they should, and your coworkers help you out when you need it.

Way to go, guys!

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Monday, August 09, 2010

Who is Anita?

And why is she reading my blog at 4:30 in the morning?

I recently have received some coments on my blogs from Anita...  Anita who?  I know several Anitas but do not know if any of them know about my blog...

I appreciate her comments, and am delighted to know that I now have at least 3 people reading my blog... But I would like to know who Anita is.

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Sunday, August 08, 2010

Oil spill

I have not commented on the BP Oil Spill because it churns my stomach to think about it... Now they have claimed to stop the spill and hopefully things will be getting better.  Let me say, first of all, whatever BP says I take with a grain of salt: I honestly do not trust the corporation. 

I am also not sure about the government pronouncements that the oil is being cleaned up the various interventions and bacteria...Not this quickly.  I think it is a hoax, and the government has taken a pay off by BP.

Mostly, when I think of this oil spill, I think of all the defenseless creatures who are exposed to this toxic matter and how can they survive, avoid, evade, what has been put into their home environment... It makes me sick  So I go into denial.

I think we need to re-think our policies of off-shore drilling, AND any drilling that threatens the environment. We are too cavalier about how we can interface with the environment.

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Saturday, August 07, 2010


When I was a little child, I remember being impatient at the talking and stories that my elders shared.  

When I became a teen and young adult, I began to enjoy listening to their stories.  Imagine what I missed by not listening as a child!

Now, I enjoy listening to people's stories: how they met as a couple, what brought them to prison, why they chose the line of work they chose.  I love stories.  I enjoy hearing people talk about themselves.

This is good, since as a social worker, one of my tasks is to do psychosocial evaluations that really are the story of patients' lives. 

But I am not limited to wanting to hear the stories about my patients.  I enjoy stories from other folks, too.  So, tell me your story...


A Book of Poetry

I read a book of poetry tonight.  Delights and Shadows by Ted Kooser http://www.tedkooser.net/ , about whom I know nothing other than what I read on the book. I read the book because it is the selection for the August Reading Circle of the Texas Tech Osher Life Long Learning Institute.  It has been a long time since I read a book of poetry, although I have read selections from books of poetry in the last 10 years.  Someone I met on line published a book of poetry, and I read some of that.

My favorite poets are Emily Dickinson and Robert Frost, and I have books of their poetry.  I have other books of poetry.

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Thursday, August 05, 2010


I love words.  I know I have written that statement before, but it is true, and it has not changed.  I remember fondly a coworker with whom I could talk for extended periods of time about words: what they mean, what feelings they evoke, what they are associated with.

I play word games:  early in my life, I learned about crossword puzzles.  I had two uncles, one on my mother's side, and one on my father's side, who loved crosswords puzzles. The uncle on my mother's side was my most favorite uncle of all.  He completed the newspaper crossword puzzle daily, and submitted it to the newspaper in hopes of winning a prize.  I am not sure he ever won a prize, but he loved his puzzles.

The other uncle used to visit us on Sunday evening to use our dictionaries in his effort to complete the New York Times crossword puzzle.  He shared that with me...And he often completed the puzzle.  And, as I got older, I participated.  (He moved in with us at some point.,too.)

I went off to college, and did not know that completing the New York Times Sunday crossword was quite a feat! 

Some years ago, an administrative secretary at work made the daily puzzle available to us.  Sometimes Friday's puzzle stumped me, but I could do most of the others.

I discovered double crostics somewhere in my life, and fell in love with them. I am not now as diligent as working them as I was years ago, when I did not have on line puzzles, but I LOVE double crostics.

On line, I have found scrabble, letter rip, pathwords.  All wonderful word games.  I can play scrabble with someone, or with the computer. 

I love words. 

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I like to learn.  I like to learn for learning's sake, and I am blessed with a mind that allows that.  I remember things that are important to me.  I make connections. I sometimes can conceptualize. 

I am happy looking things up (on line, in a dictionary, in an encyclopedia.)  When I was young, sometimes I would just sit and read the encyclopedia we had. If something sparks my interest, and I do not know enough about it, I "look it up."  These days, looking it up might mean, and usually does mean, getting on the Internet.  I love the convenience of looking things up on the Internet.

I will admit that there are somethings about which I have no interest, so I do not pursue them, but put in the situation to learn about them, I do not mind.  I do enjoy learning about nature, geology, the environment, the stories of people in history (not dates, places, etc, although that puts the people in their place).

I joined the Texas Tech Osher Life Long Learning Institute http://www.depts.ttu.edu/outreach/ two years ago, and have thoroughly enjoyed the learning opportunities.

Recently, I signed up to get information from Elderhostel http://www.roadscholar.org/, whose new name is Road Scholar.  I am excited about thinking I can plan some trips through this organization. Because they are fun and educational.

It is said we should learn something new everyday.  And, if we keep learning, we keep living.  Well, keep me learning. 


Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Finding things

This was a day.  Because of a water heater complication when I awoke today, my early morning was a little frazzled.   I knew I had placed the cell phone on the night stand, as always, and plugged it into the charger.  But, this morning, I could not find it.

This afternoon, I was looking for my wrist purse, which holds my driver's license and Chase credit card, and it was no where. Until I looked in the wrong pocket of my fanny pack which I use as a purse. And, it was there.

Well, the water heater complication was that I did not have hot water this morning, so had to do a "shower in a bucket" and get on to work.  Before I Ieft the house, I relit the pilot, which is still lit tonight and I do have hot water.

Complications, but not serious problems. Reminders not to take life for granted...


Monday, August 02, 2010


I could be but am not a hoarder...I am not a collector, and there are many, many people in this world who are collectors.  I can not imagine collecting like compulsive collectors do. You have to have the space, the interest in going out and finding things, and an eye for a deal, and a willingness to bargain, barter... That is so not me...

But, collectors serve an important place in our society. They keep "stuff" that has minimal value for the rest of us, until someone realizes how valuable, priceless, rare some of the "stuff" is. 

I think of all the museum artifacts from the Revolutionary War period, and wonder, in 200 plus years, how much will be available from our time period.

One of the funniest commentaries on artifacts, archeology, "stuff", etc that I have ever read is the book:  Motel of the Mysteries  http://www.houghtonmifflinbooks.com/catalog/titledetail.cfm?titleNumber=690599  by David Macaulay.  If you have not read it, I would recommend that you take the very short time it would take to read it... It is hilarious... And demonstrates what kind of miscontruances can occur with incomplete information.

I had not watched Antique Roadshow  http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/roadshow/;  Pawn Stars http://www.history.com/shows/pawn-stars ; American Pickers  http://www.history.com/shows/american-pickers until the OLLI Appraisal Fair.   That turned me on to these shows.  And, they are wonderful.. I really enjoy them, when I am in the mood.

I think my most favorite is Pawn Stars.

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August equals Summer in Lubbock

July was unusual... It is not that we did not have hot weather, because we did.  But we had lots and lots of rain and gray days even without rain, which made for very humid conditions.  In Lubbock, Texas, we are not accustomed to humid conditions for any period of time...

Ahhh, but August is here, and the heat has really returned, without the high humidity... and the skies are blue and almost cloudless, compared to what we experienced in July... This is the summer Lubbockites come to expect.....

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