My step-mother recently passed away. While the term “step-mother” often conjures up images of an abusive pseudo-parent: this was not the case with Doris. She was always kind and loving to my siblings and me, never tried to replace our birth-mother and was a devoted wife to my father for over 30 years. I felt it was important that I get to her funeral to pay my respects to her and to support my dad. Achieving that goal proved to be somewhat daunting.
My initial reaction was, as normal, to drive the 1,000 miles separating me from her home of Sprague Nebraska. But a number of factors conspired to make that option impractical. Some of these might have been mitigated through car-pooling with a brother who lives in the same general part of the nation as I, but that too was quashed by circumstances.
Marie and I decided the best option was for me to fly to Nebraska and back and we began researching airfare and schedules. In the end we decided on United Express, a division of United Airlines, and a flight plan that took me from the Knoxville Tennessee airport to O’Hare airport in Chicago then on to the Lincoln Nebraska airport with only a 1½ hour lay-over in Chicago. This would get me to Lincoln by 9:45 AM and I didn’t need to be back on board for the return flight until 6:15 PM, giving me most of the day to visit with relatives and attend the funeral service. The cost was doable and it seemed a reasonable solution. Read the rest of this entry »
Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room. One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs. His bed was next to the room’s only window. The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back.
The men talked for hours on end. They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service, where they had been on vacation.
Every afternoon, when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window. The man in the other bed began to live for those one hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the descriptions of the activity and color of the world outside. Read the rest of this entry »
Most normal people have, at some time in their lives, laid on their back in the grass and looked up at the summer sky as clouds drift slowly over. Often we play games of finding familiar shapes in those clouds. But have you ever wondered how much a cloud weighs?
At first thought, that would seem to be a nonsensical question: obviously, it doesn’t weigh anything because it’s floating in the air. But if you think that through a bit more, you’ll see that this claim doesn’t hold water.
What are clouds made of? They’re mostly air and water in some form or another. Generally this would be water vapor. Think of it as cold steam. The droplets are so tiny, they can ride eddies and currents of air that constantly swirl about in our atmosphere. Dry air is also denser than water vapor, so it will buoy the clouds up until the vapor turns to larger droplets (rain) or freeze into snow or hail.
It is a common sight here in the Great Smoky Mountains to see fog banks that form overnight along creeks and rivers be lifted up the slopes of the mountains as the morning sun warms the trees, which warm the air, which rises. As the warmer air rise, it drags these fog banks with it, up the slopes, to the mountain crest, then they launch; changing from fog to cloud (which is essentially the same thing except for location).
Water has weight: 8.34 pounds per gallon at room temperature. So if clouds are made of water, clouds must have weight. Can we calculate the weight of a cloud?
There has for some time now been a tug-of-war going on between two schools of thought about how writers should dress when they go to “work”. On one end of the rope we have the combatants who advocate dressing for comfort: if that means a well broken-in sweat suit and bedroom slippers, then so be it. On the other end are those who insist that writers treat their writing like a job and dress appropriately, just as if they were going to work in an office with dozens of other people. This is not necessarily a power suit, but at least a dress shirt and slacks for men, and equivalent for women.
Both camps have some compelling arguments in their favor. Let’s look at them. Read the rest of this entry »
Most of the rubber that is recycled comes from automobile and truck tires. The EPA says that over 300 million tires are disposed of in America every year. If they end up in a landfill they cause problems because of their bulk and their void space. The empty area inside can trap and hold methane gas that is supposed to be collected and vented out of the landfill. Air or methane inside causes the tires to “bubble” up through the landfill composition. They can also damage the liners placed in some areas of a landfill to prevent ground water contamination.
Tires that are stockpiled or dumped illegally create an eyesore and a breeding ground for mosquitoes and disease carrying vermin. Tire fires can occur easily: burning for months and creating substantial pollution in the air and ground.
Tires account for most of the rubber available for recycling, but not all of it. Shoes, especially sports shoes, often have rubber soles. Rubber is used in construction materials, floor mats for home, industry and automobiles, and inner tubes for bicycles, trailer tires, hand trucks, wagons, etc.