Saturday, March 21, 2015

Odds and Ends

This week started as a normal week (I know, define normal) but ended as a very 'different' one. All my classes were pretty typical, except for astronomy, where we are talking about pretty unusual things that form at the end of the life of a high mass star. Things like neutron stars, pulsars and stellar mass black holes. This is just one more reason why I love teaching astronomy. This stuff is crazy. As an example, a neutron star is so dense that if you took one teaspoon of it, it would weigh (have the mass of) a mountain.  I used the terms 'wild, wacky, weird and wonderful' when talking about these things.

The week ended by me doing something that I dislike doing very much. Friday, I missed a day of school. I really don't like to do that. I feel that the students signed up to take these courses with me and I am the one most prepared to teach it. But I had to schedule a medical procedure that required me to miss an entire day. You see, several years ago I was diagnosed with Barrett's esophagus. I have suffered from acid indigestion (heartburn) for decades. Rolaids were with me at all times. After the Barrett's diagnosis, I was prescribed pantoprazole and it has made a tremendous difference. Barrett's is also know to be pre-cancerous. Now when I heard the doctor say that, I became more than a little concerned. But is really means that it is not certain that it will result in cancer, but it needs to be monitored. Hence the missed school day. The procedure I had was a colonoscopy. The procedure itself requires anesthesia, so it doesn't hurt a bit. The preparation that I had to do the day before was the unpleasant part. I will leave it to your searching the Internet if you want more details.

In other news, Friday was a new moon, a total solar eclipse and the vernal equinox. That was a big deal for northern Europe. We had the equinox (the astronomical start of spring), but not the eclipse. Reports are that much of England was clouded out. (Twitter rang with the tag #anticlimax) Ireland got reasonable views of a partial eclipse, but only those people in the Faroe Islands and Svalbard got to see the total eclipse from land. A total solar eclipse is a truly spectacular sight. More on that at a later date.

The end of the week came today. After doing some yard work, Bonnie and I went to the Sarasota County Fair. We go every year and enjoy it very much. In fact, in my opinion, if you live in Sarasota County and have never been to the fair, you need to go. It is part of the local culture and has many things to recommend it. There are the carnival rides (Nadia loves these), the midway with its games of skill and chance, the animals, the shows, and the food. There isn't much in the way of exotic fair food here, but plenty of good eats. Ears of corn, steak and cheese, fresh lemonade, Amish doughnuts, fried vegetables, frozen bananas, bar-b-q, Suncoast Church Strawberry shortcake booth, and elephant ears to name a few. This is a great place to people watch. A real melting pot of humanity. There is Crackerland (old time Florida) with its forge and wrought iron items being made and its music shows, the Old West gunfight, the Rosaire Pig Races, the bear show, magic show, musical acts and more.

Next Wednesday, March 25, marks the end of 3rd quarter, so my next post will be made during my final quarter of teaching. Oh and it won't be much longer until my big announcement. Stay tuned.

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