Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Thoughts while sorting stuff

It's just after noon on U.S. Independence Day. I'm pleased with the earlier morning's accomplishments in the backyard. I also cleaned my two ceiling fans and started them up. I thought the one in the bedroom was broken, but the chain just gets stuck. So I have to climb on a step-stool and pull the chain right next to the post, trying not to de-knuckle myself when the fan is going.

Now I'm sitting at my desk continuing to go through papers. It's bearable in here because of the ceiling fan. The portable fan/heater just wasn't powerful enough for this heat.

So as I sit sorting stuff, I'm jotting down some of my random thoughts.

Fans are much superior to air conditioning. Anaïs linked to a two-part article about air-conditioning and its impact. I am happy to have grown up in Africa without the "benefit" of air-conditioning. Shade trees; buildings with grass roofs; windows that actually opened; taking it easy at the hottest part of the day (at school, we had rest hour at 1:00 pm; at the hospital, lunch "hour" was from 1:00 to 3:00); wearing simple, non-constricting clothes; going barefoot or wearing sandals; fans; going swimming; not being afraid of getting sweaty.

Our house was a metal pre-fabricated building, so it could get HOT. As the day heated up, the metal roof would expand and sound like something hit it.

The hottest I remember being was riding with my grandfather in the back of our non-air-conditioned pickup truck with the canopy on and the windows closed because of tsetse fly while driving Kafue Game Park. I was wearing one of those 1970s baby doll shirts and used the ample material to wipe the sweat pouring off my face.

Here in So. Cal., the older homes were often built with screened sleeping porches to take advantage of the cooler evenings. I have heard stories of people living in Sudan, where it did not cool down at night, soaking their sheets in water and wrapping themselves in the wet sheets to cool off enough to sleep.

I've just thought of a way to file all the church bulletins I keep because of the art work and photographs on the covers: I'll file them in order of the Bible verse that is printed on them.

As I sort out notes from the Adult Forum I lead at church, re-file class notes from seminary and Ph.D. studies, and put away commentaries and theology books, I wonder what to DO with all that. Are the reasons I didn't finish my Ph.D. program still "in effect"? Or I have changed inside and maybe could re-tackle such a project? Or is it just too intense, too all-involving? Do I want to do too many other things to concentrate my time and money on finishing?

I've enjoyed the Adult Forum—looking at different subjects; getting people to discuss and tell stories; receiving lots of positive feedback and appreciation; finding the connections amongst the texts, other Lutheran publications, and current issues and events—but it's certainly not Ph.D. studies.

Sunday afternoon I took an un-air-conditioned bus to downtown Pasadena to see Al Gore's movie, An Inconvenient Truth. I can't say I did not appreciate the air-conditioned movie theatre, however.

I also popped into air-conditioned Vroman's and bought some books, including Gardening When It Counts: Growing Food in Hard Times by Steve Solomon. I learned of the book via a link on Idleworm. I first read the author when I was on holiday in Washington state and checked out his book Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades from the city library. (By the way, Solomon only recommends the fourth and fifth editions of his Cascades book.)

Solomon takes issue with some of the intensive gardening practices promoted by, for example, Jeavons. In my most certainly inexpert, inexperienced opinion, probably much depends on the amount of land available and the circumstances under which one is attempting to grow vegetables.

I've enjoyed reading through the book, including while waiting at the bus stop after having had just missed the previous bus. Solomon has lived an interesting life. I also learned that Solomon established the online Soil and Health Library, which has many classic agricultural books in digital form.

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