Monday, April 30, 2012

You're old, I'm old . . . Get used to it----20 reasons why growing old is great

You're old, I'm old . . . Get used to it----20 reasons why growing old is great
By Virginia Ironside

Book review by Richard L. Weaver II

There are no footnotes, no references, no further readings.  This book is all Virginia Ironside, and it is delightful.

If you’re over 50, you’ll love this book.  It is full of amusing little stories — just short vignettes with which you will quickly identify.

Ironside is a story teller.  In her section on “Public Speaking” (now, I wonder how I discovered that section!), “The prospect of reciting ‘To Autumn’ by Keats at a school concert when I was young reduced me to a gibbering wreck.  My palms sweated, my legs trembled, my heart thundered and I felt sick.  Now — I can hardly bear to admit this — if anyone asks who would like to deliver a eulogy at a funeral, I feel my hand shooting up before they’ve even got the words out. . . “ (p. 51).

On “Exercise” Ironside writes, “My exercise routing involves getting out of bed, going downstairs, having a bath, going upstairs to sit at a computer, going downstairs for a cup of coffee, and occasionally walking to my car. . . “ (p. 66).

What I especially liked is not just the great writing, the directness Ironside has with readers, her honesty and straightforwardness, her willingness to self-disclose with abandon, but the great quotations she incorporates throughout the book.

        She quoted Kingsley Amis who, “on being asked at seventy whether he had sex, replied that he was delighted when his libido vanished because he suddenly realized that for sixty years he’d been ‘chained to an idiot.’”

        She quoted Logan Pearsall Smith, lexicographer, who said, “Another sunny day!  Thank God I don’t have to go out and enjoy it!”

        She quoted John Barrymore, who said, “Die?  Certainly not.  No Barrymore would allow such a conventional thing to happen to him.”

        She quoted Eleanor Roosevelt, who said, “Beautiful young people are accidents of nature but beautiful old people are works of art.”

        She quoted Francis Bacon (along with three others at the beginning of Chapter 17, “Time,”), who said, “I will never be an old man.  For me old age is always fifteen years older than I am.”

Besides the numerous quotations scattered throughout the book (and there are nearly one or two per page), each chapter also begins with a well-chosen quotation or poem.  Those scattered throughout the book are so neatly incorporated, so quietly and elegantly subsumed by her narrative, that they simply add to the attractiveness and glow of what Ironside writes.

I have never really thought of myself as “old.”  And yet, when I read Ironside’s musings about ailments, memory, confidence, spare time, death, sex, recession, work, downsizing, looks, young people, travel, funerals, boring for Britain, alone again, old friends, time, never again, wisdom, and grandchildren (all of her chapter titles), I realize (a sudden, uncontrollable, internal yell!), “Holy Shit, I AM old!”  This material is entertaining simply because Ironside is so witty, charming, endearing, and cool.  (My mother never liked reading anything about getting old, because it reminded her too much of her stage of life.  I find such writing illuminating and supportive — just like the last portion of Ironside’s book title: “Get Used to It!”

My wife and I have taken ten cruises.  This is what Ironside says about cruises: “ . . . the rub about cruises and old people is that so many other oldies have the same idea.  And I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be trapped on a floating prison with dozens of people with crutches all over the place . . .” (p. 134).  She continued in another paragraph, this quotation put into brackets: “(I also don’t want, incidentally, to sleep in a room the size of a small coffin in a bed the size of a schoolgirl’s pencil case, nor do I especially want to learn Flower Arranging on the lower deck portside on Friday afternoon, not indulge in Scarf-Tying Class on Monday morning in the Royal Tea Lounge on the Promenade Deck . . .” (p. 134).  My wife and I don’t attend the ship’s activities either.  What we like on the cruises we take are 1) excursions, 2) time to relax and read, 3) great food that my wife doesn’t have to think about or cook, and 4) moderately good entertainment (sometimes even outstanding).  What makes this book fun is reading about another person’s impressions.  The world is full of characters, and Ironside, for all her warmth and charm, is truly a character.

There is no question that Ironside celebrates the great things about being old.  Look, for example, about how she describes getting ready for a funeral: “Arranging a funeral isn’t difficult or distressing.  On the contrary, it’s a real pleasure to organize things when someone dies.  It gives you a sense of control, a feeling of doing something for the person who’s gone, and it also gives you something to take your mind temporarily off the disaster that has just befallen you, so that you’re not completely overwhelmed” (p. 145).

This is the kind of book for which you dress in your most casual attire, take it out to the back porch, find a comfortable chaise lounge in the shade, have a tall glass of iced tea or lemonade nearby, settle down and relax, and leisurely read at a sedate, undemanding, slow pace knowing, in advance, that it will bring pleasure, contentedness, and true happiness.  It’s like being next to a cracklin’ fire, all wrapped up in a warm, snuggly blanket, on a cold, crisp snowy winter’s evening, huddled down in your favorite lazy-boy recliner.  Now, that’s indulgence!

Friday, April 27, 2012

LAUGH . . . And Then Some!

A science teacher was talking to the first grade about whales when a little girl asked a question. Little Girl: "Do whales swallow people?"

Science Teacher: "Even though they are much bigger than us, they have throat pleats that filter food..

Little Girl: "But Mrs. Watson says Nicola was swallowed by a huge whale."
   
Angry Science Teacher: "Blue whales can’t swallow people."

 Little Girl: "Well, when I get to heaven I'll just ask Nicola if he was really swallowed by a whale."

Even Angrier Science Teacher: "What if Nicola went to hell?"

Little Girl: "Well, then you can ask him yourself!.



Laugh Like There's No Tomorrow: Over 2,000 jokes from the Internet, Volume 2

From Day #35 in a second complete manuscript compiled by Richard L. Weaver II

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Why I wouldn't want to live on a Caribbean island

 by Richard L. Weaver II, Ph.D.

When we went to “Super J’s” grocery store for milk on Friday — they received no shipment on Monday and said their next one was due on Friday — they were already out, if they received a shipment at all.  We had to purchase half-gallons of Lactose-free milk at $15.99 EC$ (more than $5.00 U.S. ) each, but we were totally dependent on island deliveries, and for most of the week (all except the first 2-3 days), we could not have our regular skim milk.
    
That isolation and dependency would be difficult to tolerate for very long.  It reminded me of Skagway, Alaska, where residents are totally dependent on the grocery deliveries by container ships, and in Skagway, residents can only purchase what comes in those containers.
    
There are numerous reasons for not wanting to live in this environment, and the above example is a minor one to be sure.
    
We lived in Hawaii for a year, and our feelings at that time were similar to those now.  First, w enjoy the change in seasons.  We have never disliked snow; however, the kind of weather conditions going on right now back home (we skyped our son and daughter last night) — cold, rain, snow, sleet, and ice — almost makes me want to reconsider this thought!
    
A second reason I wouldn’t want to live on a Caribbean island is also weather-related, too.  We don’t like being hot (sweaty hot) and wet all the time.  (I’m writing this essay at 8:00 a.m. on our last day on St. Lucia (Saturday), on the bed in our air-conditioned bedroom on the ground floor of our rather luxurious (well equipped) rental house — three stories overlooking the town of Rodney Bay, the whole Bay area, and the Rodney Bay Marina.
    
(Our landlord, Greg Skinner, who has been ushering us all over the island, goes around in an open, faded, short-sleeve shirt and Bermuda shorts all the time — but he is always perspiring.)
    
There is another reason for not wanting to live on a Caribbean island, and this has to do with a factor we found in Hawaii as well.  Really, it’s no different than living in the south in the United States — but I don’t like it and find it hard to tolerate.  Last night, for example, I killed 2 mosquitoes in our bedroom.  I’ve killed many flies, crushed 2 cockroaches with my flip flops, and destroyed hundreds of ants.
    
Just an aside here.  When my wife and I went to a nightclub in Waikiki (we lived in Kailua on the other side of the island for a year), we could see movement on a wall near where we were seated.  When the lights came up after the performance, we noticed that the entire wall was covered with cockroaches!  Covered!
    
I don’t mind insects during one short season (summer) of the year but to have them year round — and ants all over the floors and counters (just as in Hawaii) with everything having to be protected from them, is hard to tolerate every single day during every season.  Give me a break!  Give me winter!
    
We have been in local markets (on St. Lucia they are called Vendor’s Markets or Vendor’s Arcades) on many Caribbean islands (and around the world).  They are interesting and full of local produce, crafts, and artifacts, and one trait found in every one of them is the necessity of bargaining for anything you want to purchase.  Some people may bind this fun and think they have discovered real bargains, but I prefer set prices, less aggressiveness by the vendors, and cleaner venues.
    
One more aside here.  When we were in Bangkok, Thailand, some vendors at their “knock-off mall” would actually grab your arm and try to pull you into their cubicle.  We found more aggressiveness there than in many other locations worldwide.
    
When we visited a local market in Granada, once when we were on a cruise, my wife and I looked around to discover we were the only Caucasians there.  Now, I want you to know this is not the least bit scary or risky for us, and we were never worried about being robbed or kidnapped.  Often, my wife and I seek out places like this precisely because they are local, interesting, and do not (at least blatantly) cater to tourists.
    
In general, we have found malls that cater to tourists are fairly predictable.  For example, today (our last day in St. Lucia), we went to three separate Vendor’s Malls in Castries (the capital).  They were big, full of individual stalls, and each stall was staffed by a middle-aged, local woman.  (Most men who staff the stalls seem to be elderly (retired).)  These places tend to be dark, in need of more ventilation, and somewhat musty in their odor — fun to visit for a brief time.
    
In Castries, the three vendor’s malls are in the dock area near where up to 5 cruise ships can dock at one time.  Think about this: Castries is a town of about 55,000.  If 5 cruise ships were in port at the same time, it could add up to 15,000 people to the local population.  These malls would be teeming masses of humanity!  Fortunately for us, when we were there, no ships were docked in port.
    
There is no doubt that a few of the reasons why I would not want to live on a Caribbean island have to do with the life and lifestyle with which I have become accustomed — but this shouldn’t come as a shock.  For example, I like strict sanitary, hygiene, and cleanliness standards.  There is something to be said for government control, regulations, and laws.  When businesses (or communities) are left to regulate themselves or set their own laws, everything erodes and degrades.
    
There are so many things I expect.  For example, I expect to be able to drink the local water.  In Beijing, China, just as in St. Lucia, you cannot.  I want to eat vegetables grown on the ground.  In certain places in the world you must be careful or you are likely to contract amoebic dysentery.  For example, this is true in Pakistan.  Also, I like to have choices in grocery stores; the smaller the population (as in Australia), the fewer choices you are likely to have.
    
I love traveling, and I love sampling other lives and lifestyles.  I am a people-watcher, and while waiting for our ride in St. Lucia, at a number of different places, I watched how local people dressed and acted.  When we traveled I observed how those in other cultures lived.  This is a treat, to be sure.  And, in many cases, I have observed that the lives of many in other cultures are simple and less complex than many in the United States.  By contrast, I prefer our modern conveniences, technical “necessities,” and the complications and complexity we have.  When it comes right down to it, I wouldn’t trade my life or lifestyle for any other in the world!
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At the website St. Thomas Traveler there is a very cute, short, delightful (tongue-in-cheek) essay, “Living on a Caribbean island is truly the stuff of dreams” (January 23, 2011).   The writer, Lyssa Graham, says: “Living on a tropical Caribbean island is truly the stuff of dreams, provided, of course, that those dreams include nightmarish scenes filled with every kind of six-legged critter imaginable along with a healthy dose of reptiles, amphibians and people-eating plants thrown in just to round out the dreamscape.”  She supports my arguments completely.

At 43things you will get a large number of personal reactions to or thoughts about living on an island.  Even if you may not want to live on an island (anywhere in the world) the responses here are great to read.  Some of them refer to Caribbean islands.
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Copyright April, 2012, by And Then Some Publishing L.L.C.

    
   

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Take time to grieve.

SMOERs: Words of Wisdom"There is no grief which time does not lessen and soften." ---Cicero





Day #307 - Take time to grieve.

SMOERs: Self-Motivation, Optimism, Encouragement Rules! - Daily Reminders for Outstanding Living An everyday guide full of quotations to uplift your spirits.  This is one of four motivational quotations for Day #307.  

Free 30-Day sample: smoers.com

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

And Then Some News

Thursday's Essay Preview

The first paragraph of Thursday's essay, "Why I wouldn't want to live on a Caribbean island" reads as follows:

When we went to “Super J’s” grocery store for milk on Friday — they received no shipment on Monday and said their next one was due on Friday — they were already out, if they received a shipment at all.  We had to purchase half-gallons of Lactose-free milk at $15.99 EC$ (more than $5.00 U.S. ) each, but we were totally dependent on island deliveries, and for most of the week (all except the first 2-3 days), we could not have our regular skim milk.
    


Thursday's Essay Excerpt - from the last paragraph of the essay

I love traveling, and I love sampling other lives and lifestyles.  I am a people-watcher, and while waiting for our ride in St. Lucia, at a number of different places, I watched how local people dressed and acted.  When we traveled I observed how those in other cultures lived.  This is a treat, to be sure.  And, in many cases, I have observed that the lives of many in other cultures are simple and less complex than many in the United States.  By contrast, I prefer our modern conveniences, technical “necessities,” and the complications and complexity we have.  When it comes right down to it, I wouldn’t trade my life or lifestyle for any other in the world!
       




And Then Some News

Monday, April 23, 2012

The shallows: What the Internet is doing to our brains

The shallows: What the Internet is doing to our brains
By Nicholas Carr

Book review by Richard L. Weaver II

If you have read Sharon Begley’s book, Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain (Ballantine Books, 2007), or read Shawn Achor’s book, The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work (Crown Business, 2010), then you are already familiar with the subject of neuroplasticity — the basis of and foundation for neurogenesis (brain growth).
Also, I wrote an essay on the subject on my blog, and if you Google “neuroplasticity,” you will be overwhelmed with available information and ways to positively iinfluence it.

What’s the point?  If you understand neuroplasticity (which Carr explains in his book), it makes all of the arguments Carr offers in this book more reasonable, substantial, and valid.  Basically, he argues (as pioneer researchers Michael Merzenich and Eric Kandel did before him) that our brains “change in response to our experiences.  The technologies we use to find, store, and share information can literally reroute our neural pathways” (front flyleaf).  (According to the research on neuroplasticity, this isn’t even a debatable issue.)

One of the essential points of the neuroplasticity research it that neural pathways are expanded by mechanisms such as "axonal sprouting" in which undamaged axons grow new nerve endings to reconnect neurons whose links were injured or severed. Undamaged axons can also sprout nerve endings and connect with other undamaged nerve cells, forming new neural pathways to accomplish a needed function that are unused are discontinued.  

The downside to neuroplasticity is also essential to his argumentj.  There is a process, called “synaptic pruning,” in which connections that are inefficient or infrequently used are allowed to fade away.  The effects of old technology — the old ways we had for receiving, storing, and using information — are discontinued and supplanted by the newer technologies.  The downside is simply the loss of that intellectual ethic.  It is precisely Marshall McLuhan’s point that Harrison shares, “ . . . an honest appraisal of any new technology, or of progress in general, requires a sensitivity to what’s lost as well as what’s gained” (p. 212).

What I loved about this book was the way Carr offered readers the history behind such changes.  That is, with the case of every new information technology (throughout civilization), there is an accompanying intellectual ethic. The way humans have adapted and changed is chronicled and supported.  If you have any interest in the history of the media, or how writing was developed, or how the technology of the book, or the legacy of the oral world took place, Carr explains it all.  His examples are well-selected, scientific explanations are well-described, and recent advances in cognitive science are carefully and meticulously provided.

I thought Harrison’s warning in his final chapter, “A Thing Like Me,” was especially apt: “As the many studies of hypertext and multimedia show, our ability to learn can be severely compromised when our brains become overloaded with diverse stimuli online.  More information can mean less knowledge. . . “ (p. 214).

In that same final chapter, Harrison stated the following (which pleased me greatly): “A series of psychological studies over the past twenty years has revealed that after spending time in a quiet rural setting, close to nature, people exhibit greater attentiveness, stronger memory, and generally improved cognition.  Their brains become both calmer and sharper” (p. 219).  Here, here!  (He adds on the next page, “It’s not only deep thinking that requires a calm, attentive mind.  It’s also empathy and compassion” (p. 220).)

There are 31 pages of notes and further readings, and most of the references used are recent.  Some, obviously, are older (like St. Augustine, Francis Bacon, William James, Lewis Mumford or Marshall McLuhan), to support observations Harrison makes regarding earlier technologies.

Carr is an excellent writer and, thus, the reading is engaging and entertaining.  Not only that, it is challenging and thought-provoking.  There is just so much information in this book to digest and consider and weigh.  If you are interested in the process of learning (throughout history), the effects of technology (across civilizations), what is taking place in our society (around the world), how our brains work, or simply want to read an excellent book, this one is a great choice.

I’ll leave readers here with one of Harrison’s parting notes, “What matters in the end is not our becoming but what we become” (p. 222).

Friday, April 20, 2012

LAUGH . . . And Then Some!

Two men stumble out of a bar and begin to walk down the street, when they see a dog happily licking itself.. One man says, "Man, I wish I could do that." to which the other man replies, "Maybe you should pet him first..."




Laugh Like There's No Tomorrow: Over 2,000 jokes from the Internet, Volume 2

From Day #31 in a second complete manuscript compiled by Richard L. Weaver II

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Planning to go to St. Lucia?

by Richard L. Weaver II, Ph.D.
    
There are several things I learned from a week in St. Lucia that may help others who are planning to go.  It is a popular Caribbean destination, and St. Lucians are trying to make it known as a romantic getaway and the destination for honeymooners.  In this essay I will address the kind of dress that is appropriate, the situation regarding food, and transportation.
    
Trying to plan, in advance, for all eventualities is difficult, to say the least.  For this week’s trip to St. Lucia every member of our seven-member party decided to take carry-on baggage only: no checked luggage.  What I took worked well for me.  The “uniform” of preference on the island is a tee-shirt and bermuda shorts.  I took two or three pairs of bermudas and a couple of extra shirts.  For the purposes of traveling there and back, and also for the purpose of going to a restaurant while there, I took one pair of long pants and 3 collared, knit shirts.  I used them all.
    
The preferred type of shoe, of course, is flip flops.  But, if you’re going to do a great deal of walking or hiking, a pair of gym or tennis shoes works well.  I took one pair of each plus some low-rise white socks for the shoes (to absorb sweat).
    
There is no need for a jacket, sweater, or sweatshirt unless, of course, you will be spending time in air conditioning.  Many homes have air conditioned bedrooms only because electricity is so expensive.  Even the ventilating breezes that blow in the evening are warm — not cool or chilling in any way.
    
A swimsuit is mandatory as is sun screen.  (I used sun screen with an SPF of 50.)  If you are traveling during the insect season (we were not), you will need insect repellant or insect wipes.  Wipes are especially effective if you will be walking on the sand beaches during the summer to protect yourself from the sand fleas.  (Purchase inexpensive sun screen at Walmart, and squeeze it into a 3-ounce plastic container.  That can last you for a week of moderate use.)
    
A backpack will help you when you go shopping in the markets, for going to the beach, and for carrying extra water bottles.  We put our water bottles in the refrigerator freezer overnight and found the cold water delightful the next day.  The hot, humid temperatures do not allow it to stay frozen for too long.
    
In addition to dress, there is a concern about food.  We stayed in a house and had to purchase all our food (except the two times during the week when we ate out) at the local grocery store.  Food on St. Lucia is very expensive.  We had to plan for dinners for seven.  For breakfasts we had Cheerios along with orange juice, toast, and a banana. For lunches we had peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches along with cut-up carrots and an apple.  We bought a large bag of 16 pieces of chicken.  They were legs connected with thighs, and they served our purposes well.
    
We cooked 8 pieces that we sliced for sandwiches we had on one of our island tours.
    
We covered one set of 8 pieces with bread crumbs, cooked them in the oven, and had them with mashed potatoes (from the box), gravy from a can, and two cans of green beans.  It proved to be a great and tasty dinner everyone enjoyed.
    
For our last big meal on the island we had leftovers, and there was enough chicken left over for everyone to have a piece.
    
(For one evening meal we had macaroni and cheese along with hot dogs, for another we had spaghetti, and for yet another we had frozen Tombstone pizzas.  Along with two meals out, and one of leftovers, that covered the evening meals we had while on St. Lucia.)
    
Staples such as milk (although we had to buy Lactose-free because regular skim milk was out because deliveries were not made to the grocery store), bread, yogurt, and bananas were all available — although expensive.

Moving from dress and food to transportation, I want to discuss the problem.  First, there is no public transportation.  All transportation is private.  There are private vans moving between all the towns on the island, and the rates are controlled — and cheap.  Vans, for example, moving between Castries and Rodney Bay (a 20-30-minute trip depending on the traffic) carried passengers (about 10-14 per van) for about $2.00 EC$ or less than $1.00 U.S.
      
We had to make a decision about whether or not to rent a car.  The owner of our rental home said he would take care of transportation for us, and, in retrospect, he did.  But that made us totally dependent on him.  Also, to get us to and from the airport, and for our tour of the island, he charged us — and he wasn’t inexpensive!  It took us two vehicles to get to and from the airport and cost us $80.00 U.S. each.  To tour the island it was $80.00 per adult; there were three of us.
    
Perhaps we could have rented a car and saved money; however, it is unlikely that renting a car would have worked out well, and there are at least six reasons for this.  First, driving on the left (as the British do) makes it somewhat difficult at the outset.  It isn’t that U.S. drivers cannot or should not drive on the left, but our normal instincts and natural reflexes are the opposite; thus, in trying or stressful traffic situations, we are likely to respond in the opposite way we should.
    
The second reason that renting a car would not have worked out well is that there are no road signs nor speed limits.  Ali Breen, our designated taxi driver, told us that the hilly, twisty, narrow roads of St. Lucia impose their own limits regarding speed.  Third, it is difficult to find your way around.  Main roads may go through the two large cities (Castries and Soufriere), but they do not flow in a straight line by any means, and with no highway numbers, without a local map, which would, perhaps, make things easier, it can be a maze that is best pursued through trial and error!
    
There are three other reasons.  The fourth is that local drivers tend to be fast and aggressive.  The deference and respect shown to other local drivers is negotiated and follows local customs — which foreign drivers don’t know.  Fifth, roads are narrow, twisty, with lots of hills.  Cars pass on hills and curves with abandon — and high risk.  It’s a wonder there aren’t more accidents, and Greg, who drove us around most of the time, said there are a lot!  The sixth reason, and the best one, is that I’m not sure I’d even like to do it.  There are far too many arguments against it!  (One argument I did not use was the cost.  It is not just expensive to rent a car or van, but the gas is expensive, too.)
    
Dress, food, and transportation are some of the factors that need to be considered if you are planning to go to St. Lucia.  We went to accompany our older daughter and her 3 kids, and it was a great choice (very expensive to get there, to rent a house, and to buy food), but we saw the island, experienced the culture, enjoyed the cuisine, swam in the water, and would want to experience another place for another time.
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The website VirtualTourist has a page called “St. Lucia Favorites” that gives numerous hints about what to see and do (and how to prepare) by people who have been there.

Visit St. Lucia: Traveler’s Essentials has a brief essay entitled “Safety in St. Lucia that is a must read for anyone planning to go there.

The website St. Lucia Guide.info discusses the seasons, when it is best to visit, and in “Time’s On Your Side,” also offers information on the events and festivals.  There is, for example, a two-week jazz festival in May of each year that is popular and well attended.
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Copyright April, 2012, by And Then Some Publishing L.L.C.


   

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Do not be overcome by fear.

SMOERs: Words of Wisdom"Courage is the ability to face fear."  ---Anonymous



Day #306 - Do not be overcome by fear.

SMOERs: Self-Motivation, Optimism, Encouragement Rules! - Daily Reminders for Outstanding Living An everyday guide full of quotations to uplift your spirits.  This is one of four motivational quotations for Day #306.  

Free 30-Day sample: smoers.com

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

And Then Some News

Thursday's Essay Preview

The first paragraph of Thursday's essay, "Planning to go to St. Lucia?" reads as follows:

There are several things I learned from a week in St. Lucia that may help others who are planning to go.  It is a popular Caribbean destination, and St. Lucians are trying to make it known as a romantic getaway and the destination for honeymooners.  In this essay I will address the kind of dress that is appropriate, the situation regarding food, and transportation.
       



Thursday's Essay Excerpt - from the last paragraph of the essay

Dress, food, and transportation are some of the factors that need to be considered if you are planning to go to St. Lucia.  We went to accompany our older daughter and her 3 kids, and it was a great choice (very expensive to get there, to rent a house, and to buy food), but we saw the island, experienced the culture, enjoyed the cuisine, swam in the water, and would want to experience another place for another time.    




And Then Some News

Monday, April 16, 2012

The last speakers: The quest to save the world’s most endangered languages

The last speakers: The quest to save the world’s most endangered languages
By K. David Harrison

Book review by Richard L. Weaver II

If you are a world traveler as I am, you are likely to find this book fascinating.  Why?  The question is answered in Harrison’s first paragraph of the book: “My journey as a scientist exploring the world’s vanishing languages has taken me from the Siberian forests to the Bolivian Altiplano, from a fast-food restaurant in Michigan to a trailer park in Utah.  In all these places I’ve listened to last speakers — dignified elders — who hold in their minds a significant portion of humanity’s intellectual wealth” (p. 9).

Did you know that “80 percent of languages [are] yet to be documented”?  Did you know that “the Yupik of Alaska name 99 distinct sea ice formations”?  Did you know that “positive attitudes are the single most powerful force keeping languages alive . . . ?”

Talk about taking a position on language use, enjoy this: “‘English Only’ is one of the most intellectually ruinous notions ever perpetuated upon American society, and one of the most historically na├»ve.  We have always been a multilingual society, even before we were a nation” (p. 13).

I found his first chapter, “Becoming a Linguist,” absolutely riveting.  His educational background, how he became language proficient, and his various travels and experiences.  All of this information excites me not just because I am a world traveler but because I have an interest in language and people.

If you are interested in words, languages, and nonverbal communication, as I am, then his chapters on “The Power of Words,” “Finding Hidden Languages,”“Six Degrees of Language,” and “Saving Languages,” will be especially interesting.  Harrison is a good writer, and he brings his stories to life through clear descriptions, excellent word choice (what would you expect?), and by talking directly to the reader.

In the first of these chapters, “The Power of Words,” Harrison says, “At some deeper level, human cognition may be the same no matter what tongue one speaks.  But languages package knowledge in radically different ways, facilitating certain means of conceptualizing, naming, and discussing the world” (p. 59).  To me, this is fascinating stuff.  It is in this chapter, too, where the slaughter of a sheep is described in great detail and following exactly the Monchak (a migratory tribe in Mongolia) routine.  Of this experience, Harrison writes: “Collecting words during a sheep slaughter could not have been further from a dry academic discussion of how grammar is constructed.  Yet it revealed a richness and precision about the Monchak way of talking, indeed of how they apprehend the world” (p. 69).

Incidentally, the chapter on “Finding Hidden Languages” has nothing to do with nonverbal communication — like Edward T. Hall’s book, The Hidden Dimension (Anchor, 1990) .  A “hidden language” is defined by Harrision in this way: “. . . some communities are known only locally and have managed by chance or design to avoid being identified in official records, censuses, and surveys and by scientists.  I propose to refer to languages that have eluded prior notice by outsiders as ‘hidden languages’” (p. 119).  Harrison’s description of the tiniest Koro village in India, called Kichang was exhilarating. (Pp. 123-127) This is just one of many, many stories throughout the book that were truly galvanizing — like his trip via the Trans-Siberian Railway to Tofalaria with its language of Tofa — “This corner of the world lies virtually untouched, inhabited by only about 800 souls, most of them native Tofa hunters and reindeer herders, along with a few Russians who have migrated or married into the community” (p. 223).  Unbelievable, fascinating, and engaging.

The chapter titled “Six Degrees of Language” is named after the famous trivia game, “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon,” and the point is a simple one: “We are all connected, and it is language, not film, that plays the greatest role in spinning the links between us” (p. 153).   Harrison end this chapter saying, “Because it is so powerful in shaping our worldview and our self-view, I cannot regard people being coerced — no matter how subtly — into abandoning their languages as anything other than a form of violence.  It represents an erasure of history, of creativity, of intellectual heritage. . . .” (P. 177).

 In the final chapter, “Saving Languages,” Harrison mentions seven ways in his section “How to Save a Language.”  And even though they are listed and discussed, Harrison admits: “We may not know for decades which strategies [for saving a language] succeed.  But we can observe and admire their efforts [those who make the attempt], and perhaps as scientists or outsiders contribute to their cause” (p. 270).

I loved this book, and I know those who travel and those who love language will appreciate Harrison’s explorations, stories, and passion.  But, if you enjoy good writing, excellent story-telling, and a fascinating read, you’ll enjoy this book, too.

Friday, April 13, 2012

LAUGH . . . And Then Some!

A research scientist dropped a piece of buttered toast on the floor and was amazed to see that it landed butter-side up, thereby disproving the long-held theory that toast always lands butter-side down. Thinking that he might have made an important breakthrough that could lead to the rewriting of science textbooks, he took the slice of toast to a colleague for his observations.

"How could it be that when I dropped this slice of toast, it landed butter-side up when all previous knowledge suggests that the opposite should have occurred?"

"It's easy," said the colleague. "You must have buttered the wrong side."   





Laugh Like There's No Tomorrow: Over 2,000 jokes from the Internet, Volume 2

From Day #26 in a second complete manuscript compiled by Richard L. Weaver II

Thursday, April 12, 2012

St. Lucia: Some observations

by Richard L. Weaver II, Ph.D.
    
For an island just 27 miles long and only 14 miles wide (238 sq. miles), it hosts a number of extremes.  The first and most obvious (easily observable) is the geography.  The terrain is described as volcanic and mountainous with some broad  fertile valleys.  It is more mountainous than many other Caribbean islands (except, perhaps, St. Vincent) with its highest point being Mount Gimie (pronounced “Jimmy”) at 3,120 feet above sea level.  There are 90-inches of rain each year with temperatures averaging 70-90-degrees Fahrenheit, and the island hosts 2 separate rain forests that, together, cover 19,000 acres.
    
Another extreme is the road system.  We visited in March (March 20-27, 2011), just 5 months after hurricane Tomas (October 30, 2010) wreaked havoc.  There remains a great deal of highway damage to be repaired.  There are just about 500 miles of road on the island, and only half of it is paved.  If the road to Cap Point (the northern-most point on St. Lucia) is any indication, once we passed the only golf course (far north and almost at the end of the road), the dirt road was heavily rutted, rough, extremely rural, and traversed slowly.  (Many of the paved roads — especially those through neighborhoods — are full of deep pot holes.)  There is one single road across the island (from Dennery to just 3-5 miles south of Castries), and much of it is good pavement.
    
A third extreme is the climate.  For one island you can get 90+-inches of rain per year in the rain-forest areas, but in the north you have near-arid conditions with a wide variety of cacti growing wild.  Some of the modern, luxury homes overlooking the Caribbean Sea are landscaped using cacti as their main plants: beautiful to see.  Just driving down from the Tet Paul lookout (we did not go all the way up nor did we walk the Tet Paul nature trail), we drove from a heavily moist climate with lush crops to a much drier area and fields where horses and some cows grazed in pasture lands where water was available but not as plentiful as higher up.
    
There is a fourth contrast, and that is the extremes seen in the housing or, really, the difference between the rich (or middle class) and poor.  You have, of course, those venues that cater specifically to the filthy rich — gated communities or resorts where it can easily cost $1,000.00 U.S. per night to stay.  Also, the homes of the wealthy are striking with their views overlooking the towns and out onto the sea or ocean.  Even the place we are staying (Sunwest Villas) has a swimming pool and a similar view.
    
We traveled (as we drove from Castries to Soufriere) through several small fishing villages and the extremes in housing are immediately noticeable and stark.  Those who inhabit these little fishing villages live in weathered, run-down, ramshackle huts, with a single, old, wood door, windows of solid wood that are propped open for ventilation, but with no screens.  People in these fishing villages scurry around (as worker bees in an active bee hive), with children sometimes in tow, and just a cursory view from the main highway reveals numerous bars, little restaurants where people congregate, mothers twisting their daughter’s hair into corn rows on their small porches, and even naked children.  It is a grim, poor, dirty existence — and each town often has a Catholic cathedral at its center or nearby.  “Roman Catholics form roughly a two-thirds majority (67.5%) of the island's population,” says Wikipedia.
    
Most of the homes we see from our porch (veranda) are pastel colored (cream, green, yellow — some white) most with red asphalt or tile roofs.  It reminds me a bit of Bermuda, but there the houses are more brightly colored.
    
Let’s shift our focus now from extremes to the local cuisine.  There are 2 local foods to which Greg introduced us on our tour of the island.  The first is deep-fried plantains (like bananas) that are thinly sliced, covered lightly with flour, deep-fried then lightly salted.  They were $1.00 U.S. per small bag, and like potato chips, it is hard to eat just one!
    
Where we bought the plantains, Greg identified a number of local fruits that were for sale: breadfruit, soursop, guava, papaya, tamarin, calabash, passion fruit, and a number of others.  I saw no sea grapes, kenips, nor carembola (star fruit) there.
    
Along the highway there was a small wooden building that sold cassava cakes.  Cassava is a staple of St. Lucian tradition.  The cakes are made with raw grated cassava, sugar, egg, vanilla extract, flour, milk, baking powder, grated coconut, butter, and a few grains of salt.  They are flavored with ginger, tamarind, coconut, or other fruits and are baked at 400 degrees for 40 minutes.  For $3.00 U.S. each, we bought one with cinnamon, and one with apples and raisins.  Not only were they delicious, they were filling.
    
Perhaps our best introduction to local cuisine was in the evening.  Ali Breen, our designated taxi driver, took us to the Triangle in downtown Rodney Bay.  We had barbecued chicken (curried chicken, and barbecued pork were our choices) a spaghetti-vegetable stir fry, baked potato with cheese, and a tossed salad for about $8.00 U.S.  We had a low picnic table outside (where only two of about a dozen other tables were occupied), and we were entertained throughout our meal by two mating cats.
    
There is another aspect of local culture that is interesting but not surprising.  This was our 7th visit to the Caribbean, so, for us, it was “business as usual.”  The Caribbean artifacts for sale are all similar.  Whether it is at roadside stands, at the scenic vistas where you stop to take pictures, in the local vendor’s markets and arcades, or at the small souvenir stores at the airport, the jewelry, carvings, scarves, dolls, and toys are similar wherever you go — and wherever you go in the Caribbean as well!
    
I looked for an embroidered tee-shirt and could not find one anywhere on St. Lucia.  Why?  One vendor told me they are too expensive, and if vendors don’t sell them, they are stuck with the expensive shirts.
    
We have enjoyed St. Lucia because of its history, geography, climate, local food, culture, and overall ambiance.  It is one of the most outstanding of the Caribbean islands because everyone speaks English (the locals chat with each other in Patois, which is a blend of African-Caribbean language, heavily laden with French), they cater to tourists, it has irrefutable beauty, and it is easy to get around.  It has been a fun, relaxing, pleasant week — despite the heat and humidity.  That said, it is unlikely we would ever need or want to come back.  We have seen in St. Lucia all we need or want to see; we prefer going to places we have never been before, and that is why we came to St. Lucia in the first place.  There are so many elements that harmonize to make St. Lucia a true destination in the Caribbean especially for those who have never been to a Caribbean island.
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At Visit St. Lucia, the essay, “About St. Lucia: A look at our past - From Settlement and Colonization to Independence,” offers some great information about the history and background of the island.

At Caribbean Breeze there are several great photographs from St. Lucia.
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Copyright April, 2012, by And Then Some Publishing L.L.C.


       
   

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Do not let evil overcome you.

SMOERs: Words of Wisdom"The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it."  ---Albert Einstein
 
Day #305 - Do not let evil overcome you.

SMOERs: Self-Motivation, Optimism, Encouragement Rules! - Daily Reminders for Outstanding Living An everyday guide full of quotations to uplift your spirits.  This is one of four motivational quotations for Day #305.  

Free 30-Day sample: smoers.com

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

And Then Some News

Thursday's Essay Preview

The first paragraph of Thursday's essay, "St. Lucia: Some Observations," reads as follows:

For an island just 27 miFles long and only 14 miles wide (238 sq. miles), it hosts a number of extremes.  The first and most obvious (easily observable) is the geography.  The terrain is described as volcanic and mountainous with some broad  fertile valleys.  It is more mountainous than many other Caribbean islands (except, perhaps, St. Vincent) with its highest point being Mount Gimie (pronounced “Jimmy”) at 3,120 feet above sea level.  There are 90-inches of rain each year with temperatures averaging 70-90-degrees Fahrenheit, and the island hosts 2 separate rain forests that, together, cover 19,000 acres.
    


Thursday's Essay Excerpt - from the last paragraph of the essay

We have enjoyed St. Lucia because of its history, geography, climate, local food, culture, and overall ambiance.  It is one of the most outstanding of the Caribbean islands because everyone speaks English (the locals chat with each other in Patois, which is a blend of African-Caribbean language, heavily laden with French), they cater to tourists, it has irrefutable beauty, and it is easy to get around.  It has been a fun, relaxing, pleasant week — despite the heat and humidity.  That said, it is unlikely we would ever need or want to come back.  We have seen in St. Lucia all we need or want to see; we prefer going to places we have never been before, and that is why we came to St. Lucia in the first place.  There are so many elements that harmonize to make St. Lucia a true destination in the Caribbean especially for those who have never been to a Caribbean island.
    




And Then Some News

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Hidden Brain: How Our Unconscious Minds Elect Presidents, Control Markets, Wage Wars, and Save Our Lives

The Hidden Brain: How Our Unconscious Minds Elect Presidents, Control Markets, Wage Wars, and Save Our Lives
By Shankar Vedantam

Book review by Richard L. Weaver II

I liked this book.  It is well-written, the stories are engaging, the research is impressive, and, overall, the author’s point is not only well-presented, but it is well-supported too.

I have always believed there was a hidden brain.  “The reason people have no awareness of the hidden brain is that it is usually not accessible through introspection” (p 43).  I loved Vance Packard’s book, The Hidden Persuaders (Ig Publishing, 2007).  It was published 40 years ago, and when it came out, I read it from cover-to-cover and found it informative and insightful.

I enjoyed all of the various ways Vedantam applied his argument (that there is such a thing as a hidden brain).  He applied it to work and play, mental disorders, bias, gender and privilege, disasters, terrorism, extremism, the death penalty, politics and race, and genocide.

One of the things that makes this book a fantastic read is that Vedantam tells the stories in such detail, and with great specificity and exactness, that it is easy for readers to identify with the characters and the scenes.  This is truly an art, and for readers it offers great pleasure — even though not all the stories are positive and uplifting.

What is absolutely outstanding about this book is that it creates a paradigm shift.  That is, once you read this book, and once you know what is going on in your brain, you begin to look at life differently.  That is, you become more cautious, more sensitive, and  more aware.  It isn’t that you won’t be guided by your hidden brain ever again, because many of the responses we make because of it are part of our nature; “there is nothing we can do about it” (p. 254).

This is the reason this book is so important: “But there is something we can do about our actions.  We can choose to allow our actions to be guided by reason rather than instinct . . . But putting reason ahead of instinct and intuition is also what sets us apart from every other species that has ever lived.  Understanding the hidden brain and building safeguards to protect us against its vagaries can help us be more successful in our everyday lives.  It can aid us in our battle against threats and help us spend our money more widely.  But [understanding the hidden brain and putting reason ahead of instinct] can also do something more important than any of those things.  It can make us better people” (p. 255).

“. . . Reason is our only rock against the tides of unconscious bias.  It is our lighthouse and our life jacket.  It is — or should be — our voice of conscience” (p. 255).  That is the same message I taught my basic, speech-communication students for 22 years.  Your only protection is to relax, be patient, take your time, do not make a hasty judgment, collect the necessary facts, and draw only tentative, qualified conclusions until all the facts are in.  That is the important story in this book, and that is precisely why it’s essential reading.



Friday, April 6, 2012

LAUGH . . . And Then Some!

A woman was waiting in the checkout line at a shopping center. Her arms were heavily laden with a mop, a broom, and other cleaning supplies. By her actions and deep sighs, it was obvious she was in a hurry and not happy about the slowness of the line.

When the cashier called for a price check on a box of soap, the woman remarked indignantly, "Well, I'll be lucky to get out of here and home before Christmas!"

"Don't worry, ma'am," replied the clerk. "With that wind kicking up out there and that brand new broom you have there, you'll be home in no time."




Laugh Like There's No Tomorrow: Over 2,000 jokes from the Internet, Volume 2

From Day #25 in a second complete manuscript compiled by Richard L. Weaver II

Thursday, April 5, 2012

St. Lucia: What we did

by Richard L. Weaver II, Ph.D.
    
Our older daughter made the arrangements, and we rented a 3-story, 4 bedroom, 3 bathroom house that looked out to Rodney Bay from the side of a “mountain” (large hill), along with many other beautiful, modern, well-landscaped homes, most of them (but not ours) gated.  The house is fully furnished with all pots and pans, dishes, towels, and air conditioners in 3 of the 4 bedrooms (electricity is expensive), but no air conditioning in the main parts of the spacious house.  As I write this essay, we have 3 of the full-length sliding glass doors (only 2 with screens), wide open and the front door (no screen) open for cross ventilation.
    
(As I write this, too, we have just experienced the hardest, longest rain so far, and this is the 5th day of our stay on St. Lucia.  We have had some light rain, but most days are sunny with temperatures between 80 at night and 85-90 during the day with high humidity.  It is very hot!)
    
All our flight connections and meeting with our contacts at Hewanorra International Airport in St. Lucia were exactly on time — even though our plane was about 15-minutes late getting in because of a late departure from Miami.  From Miami it is about 3 hours.
    
We drove from the airport in St. Lucia along the eastern (shortest) route by Dennery and up through Castries (the capital; population 55,000) to Rodney Bay.
    
Greg Skinner (the Canadian owner of our rental unit), and the one on whom we are dependent for our transportation, took us on an “orientation” tour of the northern part of the island on Monday, the day after our arrival.  We toured Rodney Bay, Gross Islet (ee-lay), and drove out the causeway and up to the gate at Pigeon Island National Landmark.  Then we drove farther north to Cap Point (on a rutted dirt road, along the outside wall of a large, private resort).  Cap Point is at the far north end of St. Lucia.  There we found part of a washed-up shuttle booster rocket, a small shack-like restaurant, tables full of souvenirs, and horse rides.  It was a poor, run-down area staffed by locals who looked like singers in a Caribbean reggae band.
    
The tour then took us along a narrow, paved road up into the hills where some of the expensive mansions are located — a large white one with high walls and gates was where Justin Beber (a current teenage heartthrob) might have stayed — we were told.
    
Greg took us back to the Rex (Hotel) at Rodney Bay where we swam for 1 1/2-hours on the Caribbean Sea side (western side) of the island in great waves.
    
Pigeon Island (our destination for Day #2 of our stay) which, according to our AAA Caribbean Tour Book lies “off the northwestern coast is named after Admiral Rodney’s carrier pigeons, which were once housed at the ruined fort.  Joined to the main island by a causeway, the area is now a national park which contains Arawak remnants, lookouts, gun batteries and barracks set amid tropical plant life” (p. 220).  We spent a full day in the park. (All page numbers refer to this Tour Book.)
    
We climbed up to the fort from which we could see (about 20-25 miles away), the island of Martinique.  When we climbed the higher hill, we could see Martinique by looking north and St. Vincent (about 100 miles away) by looking south.  The view behind us — all along the coast from Rodney Bay northward was spectacular.  The town of Castries is blocked by a mountain.
    
Following our hike (climbing up to the 2nd peak was tough), we went to the restaurant within the park.  It was an antiquated building with a thatched roof, and on the porch we found an old picnic table that seated seven.  Grant and I had king-like chairs at the ends made out of driftwood.  We had vegetable soup and soda bread plus a smoked-turkey and Swiss cheese sub-sandwich.  Although service was slow, it was good food, reasonably priced, and very filling.
    
The rest of our day was spent on the beach in the park, but we had to vacate it at 3:15 for a planned wedding.  A couple from a cruise ship (docked in Castries) was getting married at 4:30.
    
While enjoying the sand of a nearby beach, we heard music coming from the wedding site, so we watched (as best we could), then at 4:40 or so, we walked over along a sidewalk above where the wedding was taking place.  Besides a photographer, a musician, and a set-up crew of 2, there were no spectators except for those on a sidewalk above (where we were), exiting the park, who would pause briefly to listen.
    
To our surprise it was Rob “Zi” Taylor playing his sax to his own recorded, electronic music.  Rob “Zi” is well known throughout the island and “around the world” because of his participation in the St. Lucia Jazz Festival — “now one of the world’s top jazz events, [which] draws international acts — and their fans — for two weeks in early May.  Free lunchtime and evening concerts are held at Derek Walcott Square in Castries” (p. 219).
    
Earlier yesterday we passed Rob Zi’s home, and we were told about him by Greg.  During the wedding, while photographs were being taken some distance away from where we were watching, I went down a dozen stairs to the beach and asked Rob “Zi” for his business card, which he retrieved for me.  (Before getting his card, we weren’t positive it was him.)
    
When we left the park, and just outside the main gate, we encountered a very friendly, 19-year-old taxi driver, with whom we talked for nearly a half hour while we waited for Greg to pick us up.  All St. Lucians speak fluent English, and U.S. currency is accepted everywhere, but not always credit cards.  The bank exchange rate is $2.67 EC$ to $1.00 U.S.
    
On our fourth day, we took an full tour of the island with Greg.  Our tour began at 8:55 a.m., and our first visit was a drive through Castries and the dock area where the Caribbean Princess was docked along with another large ship.  Five cruise ships can be docked at the same time. This was not a shopping tour, so we did not go into any of the local markets.  The traffic in and out of Castries is stop and go — more stop than go!
    
From Castries (the capital), we traveled south along a scenic, narrow, twisting, hilly road to Marigot Bay — a popular tourist destination.  It is a small, idyllic, deep blue bay (full of small boats), surrounded by tall, very green mountains and from a small lookout platform high above where all the ship excursion buses stop for the view, they sell sample “rum shots” for $1.00 U.S.
    
We drove through several, small, very poor fishing villages — where we would have loved to wander around.  Anse La Raye, one of these, was badly damaged by hurricane Tomas (October 30, 2010).  There is nothing these little villages can do to protect themselves from hurricanes and the accompanying torrential rain in their shack-like, no screens, rickity roofed, little homes — except to move to higher ground.
    
We drove around the small port village of Soufriere (soo-free-air) — population 7,656 — which we could view from the road above.  It is located in a low-lying volcanic crater, derived its name from the bubbling pits of sulphur, was once the flourishing capital, and is now a sleepy fishing village.
    
We stopped around Soufriere to get pictures of the towering twin Pitons (pee-tons) — the island’s most noted landmarks.  These are “volcanic peaks that spring forth majestically from the ocean to a height of more than a half-mile.  Gros Piton (2,619 ft.) can be climbed by experienced hikers; Petit Piton (2,438 ft.) is not considered safe to climb” (p. 222).
    
From the Pitons we drove farther south and east to Hewanorra International Airport and at the southern-most tip of St. Lucia, we had lunch and watched a couple of wind surfers at Sandy Beach where the kids changed into their bathing suits and used the restrooms at The Reef Restaurant and Beach Bar.
    
We arrived at Adventure Tours in Dennery at 2:45 p.m.  Three of our grandchildren did the 12-platform zipline, and the fourth suited-up just for pictures.  We left there at 4 p.m.  It is one of the most popular tourist attractions on the island, and the kids loved it.
    
On our way home we traveled the “roller coaster” road down into Castries by the governor’s mansion.  We stopped briefly to have a wonderful view of the entire town and port area.  One of the docked cruise ships was getting ready to leave, and by the time we were in the port area itself, it was nowhere in sight.
    
We arrived back in Rodney Bay around 6:00 p.m. after a very long day.  I have saved my observations about the island and island culture for my second St. Lucian essay: “St. Lucia: Some observations.”
- - - - - - -
At tripadvisor  there are at least 20 things to do in St. Lucia.  We either did them or we considered each of them as a possibility.  There is a great deal to do, and each item offers a unique and interesting perspective.

At 10Best you can click on beaches, sightseeing, or tours and excursions to get the 10 best of each.
- - - - - - - -
Copyright April, 2012, by And Then Some Publishing L.L.C.
   

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Seek economy in all that you do.

SMOERs: Words of Wisdom"Beware of little expenses; a small leak will sink a great ship."  ---Benjamin Franklin
 
Day #304 - Seek economy in all that you do.

SMOERs: Self-Motivation, Optimism, Encouragement Rules! - Daily Reminders for Outstanding Living An everyday guide full of quotations to uplift your spirits.  This is one of four motivational quotations for Day #304.  

Free 30-Day sample: smoers.com

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

And Then Some News

Thursday's Essay Preview

The first paragraph of Thursday's essay, "St. Lucia: What We Did," reads as follows:

Our older daughter made the arrangements, and we rented a 3-story, 4 bedroom, 3 bathroom house that looked out to Rodney Bay from the side of a “mountain” (large hill), along with many other beautiful, modern, well-landscaped homes, most of them (but not ours) gated.  The house is fully furnished with all pots and pans, dishes, towels, and air conditioners in 3 of the 4 bedrooms (electricity is expensive), but no air conditioning in the main parts of the spacious house.  As I write this essay, we have 3 of the full-length sliding glass doors (only 2 with screens), wide open and the front door (no screen) open for cross ventilation.
    


Thursday's Essay Excerpt - from the last paragraphs of the essay

On our way home we traveled the “roller coaster” road down into Castries by the governor’s mansion.  We stopped briefly to have a wonderful view of the entire town and port area.  One of the docked cruise ships was getting ready to leave, and by the time we were in the port area itself, it was nowhere in sight.
    
We arrived back in Rodney Bay around 6:00 p.m. after a very long day.  I have saved my observations about the island and island culture for my second St. Lucian essay: “St. Lucia: Some observations.”


And Then Some News