Friday, 19 August 2011

08:52 – Barbara and I drove out to the body shop this morning to pick up her car, only to find out that it wasn’t ready. Originally, it was supposed to be ready Wednesday afternoon. When I called Wednesday around lunchtime to check, the guy who was doing the work said they were having problems with their spray booth and he wasn’t sure it’d be ready that afternoon. He said it would be ready by Thursday at lunchtime. I told him that Barbara worked, and first thing Friday morning would be better for us. He said that’d be perfect, so we just headed out this morning to pick the car up. Apparently, the spray booth problem took longer to resolve than they expected. They promised the car would be ready in a couple hours, but Barbara had to go to work. So the body shop is going to send someone over to pick me up when the car is ready.

I’m still working on the prepared slide sets. The first set, Slide Set A, has 25 slots available, of which I currently have 19 allocated. The problem is, it’s an iterative process. I have to make sure I have at least one source for every particular slide, and ideally a second source as well. Then I have to correlate the slides I’m choosing with the text. If it turns out that I can’t reliably source a particular slide, I have to re-write the text to use a different slide that I can get. And that may in turn affect other slide choices.

It’s all a balancing act. I’d like Slide Set A to represent as broad as possible a selection across kingdoms and phyla, but at the same time be deep enough to be useful. The depth requirement mandates, for example, that I allocate three of the 25 slots to monocots and dicots: cross-sections of a representative monocot and dicot leaf, stem, and root. I’d like to include a representative monocot and dicot flower bud as well, but that’ll have to be in Slide Set B. Similarly, I’d like to include both a cross-section of a Grantia and Grantia spicules, but there isn’t room for both in Slide Set A, so the spicules slide will have be in Slide Set B or even C. Oh, and I’m trying very hard to keep the price of the 25 slide sets A and B to $50 each or less.

11:14 – I just got back home with Barbara’s car, which looks fine. That was the first time I’d driven it, and probably the first time I’ve driven a car-car in 15 years or more. I’ve been driving SUVs since I bought my Jeep CJ in 1979. Driving a car reminds me of riding a motorcycle. Both are low, nimble, and zippy compared to driving a heavy truck.

Speaking of which, the other day I was talking to my neighbor about motorcycles. He still rides. I haven’t ridden in 30 years, although my driver’s license still has a motorcycle endorsement on it. Yesterday while I was walking Colin, Steve was out working on his bike. He asked if I wanted to give it a try. I told him that was tempting, but I hadn’t been on a bike in 30 years and Barbara would kill me when she found out. Assuming I survived the ride. So I regretfully declined.

I do miss it, though. I had a superbike, a Honda 750F that I paid a guy a lot of money to performance tune. We did a timed run once. Zero to 60 MPH in 2.8 seconds with my weight on it, and I was still in first gear when I hit 60, cranking over 10,000 RPM. As someone commented at the time, that bike accelerated faster than a fighter jet on take-off. Of course, the fighter has a better top end. My bike topped out around 140 or 145, or maybe 150 downhill with a tailwind. But I was always reasonable on the Interstate, seldom exceeding 135.

Barbara and I were watching a Numb3rs episode the other night, and it showed one of the characters printing a letter rather than using cursive writing. That got me to wondering. Do schools still teach cursive handwriting nowadays? If so, why? I haven’t written anything other than my signature in cursive in at least 30 years. I print everything. I don’t even use upper and lower case. All the characters are uppercase, with those that would normally be lower case just smaller versions of the upper case letters. I can print at least as fast as I can write cursively, and the result is much more easily readable. I wonder if cursive is becoming a lost art. Do homeschoolers teach it? I understand that one of the arguments for teaching cursive is that it helps kids learn to control their hand and finger movements very precisely, so perhaps there’s still a place for it.