About a decade ago, I saw a video show the explosive effect generated when you combine Diet Coke with Mentos. Now this Italian guy has added Nutella and put it all in a condom. You don’t have to understand Italian to enjoy this, or to know that he is really excited at the end. Well, at least one of the ingredients is made in his country (the Nutella).
Like I said before, how about them ‘Cats! This has got to be the most exciting time of the year for Lexington. Last Friday in the NCAA tournament the University of Kentucky beat their arch-rivals, the University of Louisville, 74-69. Thus, there was celebrating all weekend on the streets around UK. I understand a few couches were set on fire outside, but overall things didn’t get out of hand, the way they did when UK won the championship two years ago.
Then a few hours ago UK beat the University of Michigan in the Elite Eight matchup, 75-72. We’re in the Final Four!
Meanwhile at noon today, my brother Chris dropped into town. He is just here for a couple of days, to do my father’s taxes. Most of the work will get done tomorrow, but we had all the paperwork he needs; so far so good. Too bad the cold weather of this March is delaying the opening of the spring flowers; he’ll probably miss how pretty the neighborhood can get in early April.
Since December I have been updating my papers on Indian history. These cover the seven countries I consider to be “South Asia”: Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. They were badly in need of an update; I first wrote about Indian history in 1988, rewrote the papers in 1991 and 1998, and only gave them minor, cosmetic changes for the next fifteen years.
All four chapters saw new stuff. For Chapters 2 and 3 I mainly added new pictures, while Chapters 1 and 4 were completely rewritten. For Chapter 1 that meant adding new material to cover archaeological discoveries since the 1970s. With Chapter 4 there are five new sections. India and Pakistan got new sections for events in recent history, and Bangladesh got its own section; previously I simply lumped Bangladesh with Pakistan, which made sense when most people were old enough to remember when Bangladesh was called East Pakistan. Finally, new sections were created for Bhutan and the Maldives, two countries I barely mentioned previously, because it was hard to remember anything that had happened there.
- The Road to Independence
- India Under the Nehru Dynasty
- Is This the Indian Century?
- Pakistan: Between a Rock and a Hard Place
- Pakistan in the War on Terror
- Bangladesh: The Difficult Years Since Independence
- Nepal: An Ex-Kingdom In the Clouds
- Bhutan: A Real-Life Shangri-La?
- Sri Lanka: Paradise Lost–and Regained?
- Maldives: The Sunny Islands
And if you want to take another look at Chapters 1-3, go to http://xenohistorian.faithweb.com/india/index.html . I hope you like the updates!
Now I should get back to the project I have been working on for most of the past three and a half years, a complete history of Latin America. So far I have written five chapters for the lands “South of the Border,” covering events up to 1959. One more chapter will probably complete the project. I put off working on it for the last four months because I couldn’t think of a good title to cover the years from 1959 to the present; if you can think of one, suggestions are welcome.
Since I told readers about getting a job last Monday, I have been getting ready for it. On Tuesday morning I went to a nearby clinic for the drug test, on Thursday I faxed and e-mailed the paperwork for the background check, and last hour I got a phone call where I was asked a question they still had on the background check. Hopefully I got all that done quickly enough to avoid any delays.
The main thing bothering us this week is telemarketers and scammers. Arrgh, since Tuesday we have been getting more than a dozen calls per day, from phone numbers we don’t recognize, and even worse, calls where no number shows up on the caller ID! They especially bother our parrot Brin-Brin; he’ll start screaming when the phone rings, unless Leive is around to act as a calming influence.
I learned how to use our phone service to block calls from the worst offenders, but at the rate new bogus numbers are appearing, I am concerned that our list of blocked numbers will be filled up quickly. And I haven’t figured out yet how to block the anonymous callers, or even if I want to, because occasionally a legit call comes in that doesn’t show up on the caller ID. If all else fails, I may have to change our land line number, or abandon land line service entirely. Spammers and scammers, thanks a pantsload for ruining another institution.
Today the outside temperature got all the way up to 70 degrees in the afternoon, so I took Leive out to get a haircut and stock up on groceries. Oh boy, was she happy to get out, after being cooped up for most of the winter. Spring is definitely Leive’s favorite season. During the winter months, she was only likely to leave the house to go to church, and for the groceries, I usually went alone.
Now as I write this, it is an hour and a half before the University of Kentucky – University of Louisville game begins. Not only are they statewide rivals, but it is also a meeting of the 2012 and 2013 champion teams, so yes, it IS a big deal for Kentucky. As a resident of Lexington, I will put up a logo for the Wildcats, but it’s probably best to say, “May the best team win!”
I have shared with you the weird things about Florida, my former home state, on pages like this one. And the funny stuff never seems to stop coming. The latest I’ve seen are the signs on a veterinarian’s office in Eau Gallie, a suburb of Melbourne on the Space Coast:
Still, there are reasons why Florida is about to overtake New York as the state with the third highest population. While I’ve never been a fan of The Huffington Post, I enjoyed this article that lists 23 of Florida’s good points:
Would you believe it, the author even listed the offbeat news stories as an asset, for their entertainment value. I can think of a few other reasons that weren’t in the article, but I guess it is too much to expect a liberal publication to praise low taxes.
It’s hard to believe it is already spring, with the cold weather continuing here. Last night and today the temperature dropped below freezing again, and we got a dusting of snow this morning. Fortunately it didn’t interfere with me going out to take care of the drug test for my new job.
Then this afternoon came something I haven’t seen before -– fog and a snowstorm at the same time. Not quite what they call “whiteout” in a blizzard (you can’t have fog and wind together), but it was close. We got an inch of snow out of it. Again, most of it quickly melted before it caused any problems.
In past years we had excessive pollen and mold in the spring, so if the flowers survive all this cold, the yellow precipitation shown in this cartoon could be next.
It’s not actually over yet, but the end is finally in sight. After not having worked a day in the last twenty-three months, I have been offered a job in my field. It will be at least two more weeks before I can start working again, so I will call this month "Dawn." The sequence will be as follows:
April to June 2012: Twilight. Back then I had hopes that this spell of unemployment would be short. At the time it looked like I would soon get another assignment in Connecticut, or find comparable work here in Kentucky.
July 2012 to February 2014: Night. The worst part; the less said, the better. After I interviewed for the new job, I was asked to explain what I’ve been doing since I got back from Connecticut, and I ended up writing a two-page paper entitled "My Lost Years."
March to April 2014: Dawn.
Anyway, the phone call came this morning, at exactly 8:45 AM. I’ll admit I answered it with a bit of trepidation; it is legal for strangers to call as early at 8:00, but for better or for worse, it is usually important when somebody calls before 9:00. It was the company I interviewed with in Richmond, KY on March 11, informing me that I got the job! Because the human resources manager was out of town last week, this must have been once of the first things he did upon coming back in the office.
The only thing is, they’re not sure when I can start. He said the earliest date is April 7, but it will more likely be on the 14th. It depends on how long the background check and drug test take. I told them I only traveled out of state for three short trips last year (to Baltimore, Oklahoma and Georgia), and haven’t eaten a poppy-seed bagel in months, so I trust both can be done quickly and without a hitch.
p.s., I haven’t forgotten that a lot of other Americans are dealing with long-term unemployment. The recession/long night for the nation is by now means over yet, and the essay I wrote last year about a coming dark age is still valid. Stay tuned for the next episode!
p.s.s., How appropriate that all this is happening at the beginning of spring, and when my home town’s favorite basketball team is doing so well!
As usual at this time of the year, Kentucky in general and Louisville and Lexington in particular are caught up in the hoopla that is the NCAA basketball tournament. This weekend, the University of Kentucky played its first two games and it really has something to crow about. On Friday night, UK beat Kansas state 55-49 in what has been called “a messy victory.” But a messy victory is still a victory, and this afternoon the Wildcats went up against Wichita State, a team with a perfect (undefeated) record for the season.
As you might expect, a game against the number 1 team is going to be a tough one for the underdogs. Still, our wildcats managed to prevail, winning 78-76. How about them ‘cats! I did not get to watch the game, but judging from what I heard on the radio and saw in print, it must have been a great one.
Now I’m starting to hear that UK will be playing Louisville soon. Oh boy, we’re going to have another grudge match in the playoffs, like we did in 2012.
I told everyone yesterday that Leive & I are glad that spring has arrived. The rest of our community is glad, too. Here’s the proof in our local newspaper, The Lexington Herald-Leader:
But’s that’s not all we have on our minds in March. The big news is that the University of Kentucky is playing its first game in the NCAA tournament tonight, against Kansas State. Didn’t we beat them to win the championship in 2012? Anyway, that game will be starting about the time I post this message.
And March is Pothole Month in Kentucky! So expect sober folks to be driving a bit more erratically than usual, to avoid these new developments in the roads. In that sense we are like the Michigan drivers in the cartoon below: