Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Monday, November 15, 2010
The book centers itself around the life of Isaac Cline, a weatherman. He was the first person to establish reliable frost forecasts, but like almost all people of his time, did not understand hurricanes. They could only be understood well later with new technology and new scientific understanding. This was a time before aviation and photography/film was just in its infancy. The wonderful retelling of the tale of the Great Hurricane is embedded in the culture of the early twentieth century. There is quite a bit of thinking about what might have happened if only there was more communication with nearby areas in the Caribbean. Engineering Schools were first being established and beginning to separate themselves a little from agricultural engineering, but this was way before the separation of science into many scientific specialties of today. The findings of many new sciences were finding their way into the discourse of educated people. Unfortunately, communication was still extremely primitive. Their were no radio's or radio stations. There were no telephones or instant communications to share many sentences or much detailed information. For rapid communication, we had only the telegraph. It was used for brief, very truncated communications. Mr. Isaac Cline had downplayed the idea that a hurricane could ever overwhelm Galveston and no break wall had been built around Galveston.
I loved this book because it is a story with keen lessons even for us today. Think of all the lives that were lost in Katrina in 2005. People had been warning about that potential disaster for many years. There were warnings several days in advance that this might well be a catastrophic storm. Unfortunately New Orleans lower areas were not evacuated. Isaac's Storm is a book about learning lessons from a disaster and then taking action based on the new sciences. We as a society would do well today to revisit what happened in Galveston. In 1900 people learned and adapted. We were not a polarized society and regarded science and learning very highly. Today we polarize issues such as oil well safety or climactic change and there is little or no adaptation to show that our society has learned important lessons. Read Isaac's Storm or listen to it in an audio book. It will keep your attention and if you are like me, introduce you to critical thinking. What did they believe wrongly that led to this storm becoming a disaster? How did the people involved act in counterproductive ways? How would you have acted differently and why?
Friday, November 5, 2010
I have struggled for several years with the issue of trying to get well or what I am capable of given my limitations. How do I improve my quality of life given several chronic illness and chronic pain? Unfortunately I have seen this as big C Change. I'm finding that it is more like little c change. Like St. Theresa says, It is the little things that matter. Last Sunday I got out and made some calls for a political party at a community center nearby. Took my own cell phone so I could use my headset and made 17 calls in about an hour. Was able to make contact with 5 people and encouraged them to vote. The rest of the people were not home. That’s typical for an early Sunday afternoon. Most people are not home. With all the people I talked to, I learned about their feelings and about them. I also asked them if they would support our Governor's Candidate and other party candidates too. All but one said they would. That was a positive affirmation of me as a person. It was just what I needed and something I don’t get much of being at home most of the time.
One person was an 85 year old woman who talked to me about the ballot layout. Is it all in a straight line? I said, Yes. It's been like that in all the 14 years we've lived in Minnesota. She was relieved to know that. I asked her if she knew where to vote. She did. She said you sure are working hard there aren't you? I've gotten called by 3 volunteers. I said, yes we all are. To myself I said whew, bad call coordination here!! I said, goodbye Cecilia and thanked her for voting and for her support. Each conversation was a version of this one with variations. One person was an immigrant and she was very busy, but would be voting for us. She would vote for us this year and would consider calling our supporters next election. One person was probably a young man just out of college by two or three years. He supported us all the way. One woman was very mad at us and her husband was too. I said, please be sure to get out and vote. When you do that our democracy works better. Don’t let any conversation turn into a duel.
The beauty of all this time spent on calling, learning a script to vary as I'd like, recording the calls on the statistics forms, and thinking about how to do a little better on each call was getting out of myself and into a normal routine just for an hour or so. Life is not very normal for me because of pain, arm and hand cramping, and lack of stamina. If you are like me and have several chronic illnesses, I’ll bet you crave being able to go back to a normal life. I had a friendly, low-pressured hour of conversation on Sunday afternoon. At the end, when I decided I’d done as much as I could handle, I wrapped things up by talking to a young man with blonde hair and a dark-haired young woman (probably his girl-friend) working with him. They told me they’d been active doing this since their high school days and loved calling people and putting their fingers on the pulse of their community like this. I was impressed with their commitment to our Democracy. That friendly conversation allowed me to stretch out my very stiff and painful legs and arms and move them around. It let me exercise them with the drainage movements I've been taught to help the swelling decline a little. Time to relax at the end and to head home. I had done as much as possible and felt good about that human contact.
Did you know that about 40% of people 45 and up are quite lonely? I read that in my newest AARP Magazine (for folks 50 and over) So, that conversation had been good for me and good for some of them too. Yes, it is the small things, small actions that make for change and for discernment. I had never done anything quite like this before. Have to tell you though it was much easier than selling Kiwanis Club Pancake Dinners by walking through a neighborhood. Only sold two or three dinners after visiting almost forty homes back in the mid 1980’s. Hundreds or thousands of small experiences combine together to create a mental landscape of what my world is like. Those experiences allow wisdom, kindness, and most likely, discernment to grow. It was another important step in discovering what I enjoy and am capable of given my circumstances.
Monday, October 4, 2010
Thursday, August 19, 2010
I post many thoughts and mind exercises to help my friends on Carepages.com where I and many others make every effort to live more fully even with severe chronic illnesses. It is the first blog I got brave enough to post regularly on. At Carepages.com my blog's name is FrankLivingFully (upper of lower case doesn't matter). To be able to read it, people will need to sign up for Carepages.com . There is an easy link once there for people to find my blog. Don't stop there though. Search for the name of a disease or chronic illness you are interested in and it is easy to find patients with similar issues and concerns.
Carepages.com is a support site for people who are ill in a hospital, clinic, or recovering at home. It is supported as a service by several hundred hospitals and clinics, mostly in the United States. During almost three years now while writing there I've found friends from all around the United States as well as many from Canada and even Australia. Several are lifelong friends now. The purpose is to enable people to share and learn from each other and to stay in touch with those they love. There is no cost for signing into it or registering for it. Carepages is much like CaringBridge.com .
Monday, April 5, 2010
Italian Vegetable Bake RecipeI've been looking for some tasty vegetable recipes recently and finally found one. A couple of weeks ago we got my Diabetes Outlook magazine from Healthways, a company that helps people with chronic illness like me to maintain our health. The spring 2010 issue had a tasty and moderately spicy recipe that looked good. It can easily be toned up or down. It's also gonna be possible for me to exchange the Okra with something like fresh green beans. Mary and I will love the sprinkled parmesan cheese on top. I don't have much energy to cook and am looking for simple recipes like this with no more than about ten easy to find ingredients. Well, good, this has eleven and it looks simple. It will break me out of my regimen of granola bars and light cuisine frozen dinners. Geez anything would be an upgrade for this guy here.
Try this and let me know what you think. I'll be struggling with the Okra because I see now that it calls for half a pound of it and 1/2 pound of green beans too. Maybe, just maybe some parsnips chopped up into small cubes will work. You'll find a copy of the article and the recipe next to it here. Let me know if you try it and what modifications you made. It's some improvement for me to at least be thinking about cooking you know. God bless you all and happy taste bud exploring. Frank