Surprises At Work

Yesterday, my supervisor came to me and said I had to move to a new desk, because all the cubicles in my area were needed for a special project.  Then he took the sign bearing my name off my cubicle and told me to bring my personal belongings, papers and computer to the cubicle where he would put it.  When I complied, I found that he had chosen the cubicle once occupied by my former co-worker, the one I was roommate with last June!  There are more than a hundred desks in the office, but he swears it is just a coincidence.

My oh my, I followed my former co-worker from Kentucky; am I going to be following him for the rest of my life?  If so, it could mean I’ll be going to Kansas, when this job is finished.  However, I don’t plan to get there by cutting and running, the way he did.  As a homeowner, husband and grandfather, I have too many responsibilities to do that.

Today, I was invited to come in to work nine hours of overtime tomorrow, and maybe four hours on Saturday.  The hours are welcome, because they will help pay for the bills I ran up last Monday, but I could also be too busy to write anything more here until Sunday.  In that case, I’ll see you when the work is done.

Shana Tova, Israel (and Righteous Gentiles)!

 

Yes, tonight marks Erev Rosh Hashanah, the beginning of a new year of the Jewish calendar.  Happy 5772, everyone!

In the past, I posted here a funny video appropriate for this season, entitled “Shofar, so good.”  It still gives me a smile every time I watch it, but this year I want to share a break-dancing Rosh Hashanah video from Jerusalem, that I just discovered today.  Who says Jewish holidays have to be boring?

Unexpected Expenses

On both the car and on me.  Yesterday was the first time on this job assignment that I wondered if I would be better off in Kentucky.  Let me explain.

Yesterday morning, I left the apartment at the usual time, to begin another work week.  When I got into my car and put the key in the ignition, the lights and radio came on, but the engine would not turn.  In both Florida and Kentucky I could count on family or friends coming to the rescue if I was stuck with a broken-down car, but not here in Connecticut.  Well, I went online and joined AAA so I could get a tow truck to help.  Joining AAA is probably something I should have done sooner; I knew where their nearest offices were in BOTH Florida and Kentucky!  Well, the first truck they sent couldn’t get it started, and because the battery was working, the driver thought I needed a new starter.  Then, on my request, the second truck towed my Buick to the repair shop I had gone to last week, to get an estimate on some other items that need fixing (front struts, rear shocks, EGR valve).

The mechanics replaced the starter in two hours and charged $190 for the work; according to my co-workers, that’s pretty good for Connecticut mechanics.  I got to work just in time; we turn in our timecards on Monday morning, and if I had been a few minutes later my next paycheck would have been late.  I’m planning to work until 6 PM each day for the rest of this week, to make up for the hours I missed.

For the past month I have also had a problem with blurred vision.  I first noticed it on August 25, while I was in Costco buying emergency supplies before Hurricane Irene arrived.  The blur is worst when driving at night; then it becomes hard to read signs.  By contrast, early in the morning I can see as well as I did before the trouble started.  A couple weeks ago I bought a vitamin A supplement, and I wondered if this would have happened If I was still eating Leive’s kale stew; both of us ate a lot of kale in Florida and Kentucky, because kale has more vitamin A than any vegetable besides carrots.  I also shopped around for an eye doctor/optician, and made an appointment with the optical department at the local Sears store.

Anyway, the appointment came after work yesterday.  Now that I have that behind me, the good news is that I’m not going blind.  My vision was blurred because of the natural aging process, combined with the fact that I’ve worn the same glasses for nine and a half years.  No glaucoma or cataracts.  Therefore a new pair of glasses will fix everything, and they promised to have them ready by October 5.

All these expenses cropping up!  Besides my eyes, I’ve had my car in the repair shop four times since July.  The glasses are pretty much a one-time deal, but now I’m wondering if it is time to replace my car; I’ve had it nearly as long as I had my current pair of glasses.  Assuming it can last for the rest of my time in Connecticut, I think I will be in the market for a new car when I get back to Kentucky.

The Xenophile Historian Newsletter, #19

If you are on my mailing list, you should be receiving this today.

The Xenophile Historian Newsletter, #19
( http://xenohistorian.faithweb.com/ )

Greetings once again to all my loyal readers!  Charles Kimball is here, to give you the latest news on my world history website.  I’m writing earlier than I normally do, it being only four months since the last newsletter.  In early June I moved from Lexington, Kentucky to Danbury, Connecticut, to take a job offered there.  The original job assignment is supposed to last six months, so I am a couple of weeks past the halfway point.  However, I hear that if the company still likes me when the assignment is finished (and so far they do), they may offer me another assignment, or even permanent employment, so I’m not really expecting to return to Kentucky in December.  Other adventures include visiting the neighborhood where my family once lived (1964-66), my roommate running away, finding my way around in an environment that is both strange and familiar, and Tropical Storm Irene.

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As promised, the second part of my Latin American history series was released at the end of May, just ten days after the previous newsletter went out.  I was working on both Chapters 1 and 2 at the same time, but chose to hold off sending another newsletter until I had something besides Chapter 2 to announce.  Anyhow, Chapter 2 is called "The Age of the Conquistadors," because it goes from 1492 to 1650, covering the stormy period when Spain and Portugal conquered Latin America.  I also talked a bit about French, Dutch and English involvement, mainly in the Caribbean.  As I have done with other history papers over the past few years, I divided it into two parts, which are organized as follows:

Part I ( http://xenohistorian.faithweb.com/latinam/la02a.html )

Christopher Columbus
Population At First Contact
The Conquests of Ahuitzotl and Moctezuma II
Huayna Capac
From Hispaniola to Mexico, and the Discovery of Brazil
"Pioneers Take the Arrows"
The Conquest of New Spain
The Conquest of Central America and Western Mexico
The Conquest of Peru, Act 1
The Conquest of Peru, Act 2

Part II ( http://xenohistorian.faithweb.com/latinam/la02b.html )

The Conquest of Peru, Act 3
Colonizing Paraguay
Filling In the Gaps
Miners, Traders and Raiders
The Conquest of Peru, Act 4
The El Dorado Dream
The Church Comes to Latin America
The Colonization of Brazil
French and English Inroads in the Caribbean
Spain Comes To the End Of the Line
Population Figures After the Conquest, and the Columbian Exchange

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Now what else has been added to the site?  Since it has only been four months since the last newsletter, and I have been busy in the real world, now that I’m working again, it won’t take long to cover them.

First, I gave my essay on alien life a complete rewrite.  The original essay simply passed on the argument that aliens must be stupid, because according to those who believe in UFOs, they try to communicate with us in ridiculous ways, and go to redneck communities instead to important cities.  I kept that, asked why the people who claim to have been abducted by aliens talk about anal probing so much, and added two new sections to the essay.  The first new section talked about how we haven’t found any earthlike planets in other star systems yet, so if there is life out there, it won’t be much like earth life.  The other new section suggests that any civilization that can cross the stars is more likely to be ruthless than friendly; culture shock is the best thing that can happen to any less advanced civilization they meet.

http://xenohistorian.faithweb.com/holybook/articles/aliens.html

To Chapter 7 of my African history (http://xenohistorian.faithweb.com/africa/af07.html), I added paragraphs about two strange wars that happened around 1900, the Anglo-Zanzibar War and the War of the Golden Stool.  If you want to read the new paragraphs, without also reading the page they were added to, go to the blog entry below.

https://xenohistorian.wordpress.com/2011/07/26/two-strange-african-wars/

I also looked at the natural disaster we have suffered lately, especially the earthquake/tsunami/partial meltdown that northern Japan suffered last March, and concluded that nature is our enemy more often than our friend.  That inspired a commentary entitled "Nature Is A Mother."

http://xenohistorian.faithweb.com/holybook/kup4.html#nature

Finally, on the tenth anniversary of 9/11, I got ready for future challenges from those who believe the US government, or somebody else beside Arab terrorists, was responsible for the attack on that fateful day, by posting "Why I Am Not A 9/11 Truther."

http://xenohistorian.faithweb.com/holybook/articles/911.html

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What’s next?  I’m still working on the Latin American history project, of course.  Chapter 3 will cover what happened from 1650 to 1830, namely the rest of the colonial period and the struggles that brought independence to the region.  And there are still plans to update the older papers; hopefully I can report I did some of that next time.

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And that’s the website-related news since last May.  If you missed older issues of the newsletter and want to see them, they can be downloaded in a zip file from
http://xenohistorian.faithweb.com/download/index.html .  And the links below go to topics I mentioned in previous issues, that are still valid.  Please visit them, if you haven’t already:

The Xenohistorian Weblog, this site’s official blog.

https://xenohistorian.wordpress.com

My world history textbook, "A Biblical Interpretation of World History."

http://www.rosedogbookstore.com/biinofwohi.html

http://xenohistorian.faithweb.com/worldhis/index.html

My Pre-Paid Legal website:

https://www.prepaidlegal.com/hub/charlesskimball

And my Blastoff Network webpage:

http://ppl.blastoffnetwork.com/charlesleive

 

Take Care and God Bless,

Charles Scott Kimball

I Still Say That President Obama Doesn’t Care About Kentucky

A few days ago, President Obama came to Cincinnati, to promote his latest economic stimulus.  I understand that he made a stop on an old bridge across the Ohio River, to promote the idea that repairing the bridge will be one of the projects in the stimulus package, and to challenge both John Boehner and Mitch McConnell, because the bridge runs between their home states.  Is it a coincidence that he only stood on the Ohio side of the bridge, and did not come over into Kentucky?  Ever since he ignored the big flood we had in May 2010, I have felt that Obama doesn’t really care about Kentucky. Moreover, he has only set foot in the Bluegrass state twice (May 2008 and May 2011), and both of those visits were brief stops in Louisville, lasting just a few hours, so he did not get a good look at the rest of the state.  He did not even attend the Kentucky Derby on the second visit, though he was here at the right time of the year.  Is it because the Queen of England came here for the Derby, four years ago?

 

2012sign

Goodbye, Recess and Summer Vacation

Earlier this year, I made a list of 39 things that will probably disappear in our lifetime.  Now it is a list of 40 things, because I added time out from school.  You can read the whole list here, if you haven’t already.  Or continue on to read the new entry (don’t mind the paragraph numbers).

  1. Time Out From School. In the past, schools gave students several opportunities to blow off stream. One was recess at some point during the school day; another was a summer vacation that lasted from early June until Labor Day–a full three months. Unfortunately, at the same time we fell behind other countries, academically. Far Eastern countries like South Korea routinely get the highest test scores in math and science, while the United States ranks alongside modernized but minor nations like Lithuania. In the name of correcting that, and meeting the standards of the "No Child Left Behind" law, American schools are cutting recess short, or cutting it out completely, so they can cram more facts into the kids and they will score better on those standardized tests.
  2. On the other hand, childhood obesity is also a serious problem, so the kids are going to need some physical activity every day. Well, there’s one recess activity I had as a kid that future kids won’t have — dodge ball. Dodge ball has few rules and requires only one piece of equipment (a large ball), so any school can play it, but most are getting rid of it, because they see it as a mean-spirited, violence-promoting game. Oh, really? Back in the day, I hated getting hit by a dodge ball, but I also got over it by the time I was in my next class.
  3. As for summer vacation, today I am a winter person, but when I was a kid, summer was my favorite time of the year, for one reason–I didn’t have to go to school. I was thirteen years old when Alice Cooper’s hit "School’s Out" was released, and I could really relate to that. For the next three months I was free, unless my parents sent me to camp, a special summer class on subjects like art, or they decided to go someplace. Here, as with recess, school districts are shortening the time out (these days, the typical school year starts in early to mid-August, not September), in the name of more instruction time.
  4. When we ask why school summers are getting shorter, the answer we get is that summer vacation is an archaic leftover, from the days when most Americans were farmers. According to this, the typical family needed extra hands to work the farm in the summer months, so the kids stayed home to help, and the schools cooperated by planning their schedules around the farming cycle. This isn’t really true. The times when little farm hands were needed the most were for spring planting and fall harvest. In the Northern states, summer was the second slowest time of the year; only farm animals were likely to need much attention. In the Deep South, summer was the slowest time of the year, when about the only thing the farmers had to pick was okra; you didn’t need extra hands for that.
  5. Summer vacation was meant to make life easier for city folks. By the mid-1800s, the US had several big cities, starting with Boston, Philadelphia and New York, but they weren’t nice places to live. Contrary to what you hear from today’s environmentalists, in urban areas, pollution was worse in the nineteenth century than it has been since. Before the introduction of the internal combustion engine, cities were choked by coal smoke, industrial waste, poor sanitation, and most of all, horse manure. Most of the people living in cities did so because their jobs were there, and before there were automobiles, suburbs and zoning laws, it made sense to have your home as close to the workplace as possible. Urban smells and filth were at their worst in the summer months, so any working man who could afford it got his wife and kids out, usually by sending them to a beach or into the mountains, and if possible, he would go with them.
  6. Anyway, there are two real reasons why school boards would like to make summer vacations a thing of the past. First, they have noticed that the countries where students are doing great don’t have long vacations for them. Second, there is the problem of kids forgetting most of what they learned during the previous school year, while busy with anything that doesn’t require much brainwork, so the first few weeks of a school year involve re-teaching what the kids should have remembered. Some districts are trying semesters in which kids are in school for nine weeks, and then out for three, the idea being that they won’t forget as much if they take several short vacations, in place of a big one. Others are simply making the school year longer, at summer’s expense. By 2012, 10 percent of all American students are expected to have some kind of year-round schooling, and as time goes by, that number is only expected to increase.