Monday, December 29, 2014

-stan

The hyphen shows that this has nothing to do with the name "Stanley". It is the suffix for a land or country, as in Pakistan Hindustan, Waziristan, Kurdistan, etc. I like the two "anchors" on the PBS Newshour, which Barbara & I watch almost every night (Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff) But they don't pronounce "-stan" properly. The main additional announcer is Hari Sreenivasan, who pronounces it correctly as "stahn". The BBC also use the right pronunciation. I sometimes wonder why their producer doesn't instruct them to use the same pronunciation. On the other hand, if she/he did order them to con form, it would be the "wrong" one. So I am thankful when Hari is the news reader.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Diplomatic Representation

Barbara & I were delighted when the President announced a thaw in our nation's relations with Cuba. I can't say I was surprised when he received criticism for this d├ętente, but it is unwarranted. We are not engaging in a military alliance, or even establishing a trade treaty, we are merely ready to exchange ambassadors, and asking Congress to end the punitive embargo on commerce with an independent nation. We want to "normalize" our relationship. Critics who complain because Cuba is not making any "concessions" to the US miss the point. We are merely ending a unilateral "cold war" against our neighbor initiated because of our leaders dislike of the lack of US-style "'freedoms" in a "communist" state. There are aspects of Cuban society which we may envy--free health care and education, in particular, just as there are aspects we deplore, such as restrictions on political expression and free travel. I have no desire to smoke any of Cuba's fine cigars, and adequate substitutes are available for its superb rum, but I would welcome the end of trade barriers. I would like to see the US return Guantanamo to its rightful owners, but that won't happen until we either end our policy of holding prisoners without trial there, or find another country we can persuade to accept them.

Monday, December 15, 2014

A Roll of White Paper

The late philanthropist Warren Hellman was a friend of my step-daughter, Laurie Lewis, and through her I knew him slightly. He once said that life was rather like a roll of toilet paper: the closer you got to the end, the faster it went. Some folk may remember the controversy in Dear Abby, many years ago about whether the top sheet of paper should come from over or under. Ours is an "over" household- although on one occasion I needed to take off the roll and reverse direction. Although Barbara and I have been together for over forty-five years, I only recently noted an instance where our respective customs diverge. When I have made use of TP, I always leave one or two sheets of paper ready for the next user. Barbara, on the other hand rolls it up so that no loose paper is showing. In my view, this makes it harder for the next user. We have never spoken about this to each other; we have just continued our respective practices. Our different views on this issue are essentially trivial, so I think there is no end in site for these different approaches. I sometimes wonder how this is handled in other families.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Hand Washing in a Mild Climate

As a child, I was taught the routine: Turn on the hot tap (faucet) until the water begins to warm up; insert the plug in the drain outlet; add warm water into the basin; moisten hands; apply soap; wash; rinse; dry. Soon after I went to work for American Home General Agency shortly after coming to the USA in 1057, I wa surprised to find that there was no drain plug for the washbasin in the men's room. My request for what then seemed a necessity was promptly complied with, but it was explained to me that most folk didn't fill the basin: they just used warm water directly on their hands. I soon accepted this American short cut when washing my hands. I have always tried to avoid wasting water, but during the present ongoing drought in California, I have avoided running the hot water supply until warm water arrives--a longer time in the upstairs bathroom. At first I used water from the hot supply, but then I realized that this was a waste of fuel, since the replacement water was being heated. So now I just use the cold water faucet, and I find washing in cold water here in California is easy and pleasant.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Health News

It may seem an irony that as we increasingly conquer disease, and people live longer, the market for the print form of Health News continues to expand. However, as we live longer, there remains a hunger for ways of extending life. For many years, we have subscribed to the University of California's monthly publication The Wellness Letter. Somehow, month after month, this publication finds new items to write about. Another institution that offers a similar product is Johns Hopkins, and I'm sure there are many others. We recently received a solicitation from some place, probably a hospital. The publication Bottom Line has a "report" with the same concept. Some months ago, the San Francisco Chronicle began publishing a weekly section of Health news, (I never read it, not being obsessed by the subject). I have no quarrel with these publications. I just wish the developed countries of the world could do a better job of seeing that the poorer nations of the world had easier access to.clean water, shelter, and adequate food.