Terry was surfing on her iPhone one evening last week when she showed me an item conveying news of the passing of long-time San Francisco Giants broadcaster Hank Greenwald.
You perhaps know that I grew up a Dodgers fan and I am today a Dodgers fan. But there was an interim period when Terry and I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area that I was a Giants fan. Hank Greenwald had everything to do with that.
Terry and I had rented a house in Mountain View, in the heart of Silicon Valley. The house had a lot of foliage that needed attention. I don’t mind doing yard work, in fact I rather enjoy it. At the same time I need something to listen to when I’m doing yard work. The nice thing about the Giants broadcast station KNBR is that it has a strong, clear signal and baseball is a great companion for yard work.
I immediately loved Hank’s wry witty style. He not only called the game, but he had great stories and his wry humor was a delight. My engagement with Hank developed into a full-fledged Giants fanship until Terry and I moved south and childhood loyalties won the day.
Hank brought a lot of pleasure to a lot of people and he will be greatly missed.
The Tangled Tree: A Radical New History of Life
Simon & Schuster, 496 pages, August 14, 2018
Kindle edition $14.99, Amazon hardcover $19.49
This book discusses two different but interrelated topics: the classification of living things and the horizontal transfer of genes.
Quammen starts by going back in time and discussing the work of Carl Linnaeus, Charles Darwin, and others. Linnaeus, was among the first to seriously explore taxonomy, the classification of plants and animals. Darwin, of course, developed the theory of natural selection.
While the book contains an extensive history lesson, much of it focuses on the modern era. Quammen discusses the likes of Lynn Margulis (once married to Carl Sagan) and Carl Wose. Both were interested in classification and both studied horizontal gene transfer. Margulis hypothesized, and was later proven correct, that the mitochondria in cells originally came from bacteria. Wose was known for splicing RNA molecules and creating a new classification system.
Quammen’s writing is engaging and readable and frequently displays a sense of humor. He recounts his visits to many of the key players in the field, which are some of the most entertaining parts of the book.
The book does not have a satisfying conclusion. Quammen closes it by discussing the death of Carl Wose and remembrances by colleagues. But there would be no way to properly wrap up the stories of horizontal gene transfer and classification as the work is ongoing.
I cooked my new favorite pasta, rotini, in boiling water. In this case I used three-color rotini. I sliced up two mild Italian sausages and cooked them in a frying pan. I drained the rotini, put it back in the sauce pan and added half a jar of Alfredo sauce. I cooked under medium heat for a few minutes.
I put the rotini and Alfredo sauce on two plates and topped with the sausage. A quick, simple Sunday dinner.
Love: The fifth and final movement of A New World by Paul Smith. Performed by VOCES8 and a massed choir of adults and children at BOZAR, Brussels.
I have loved halibut since I was a youngster. There was a restaurant that we went to when I was growing up, and whenever we went there I ordered halibut.
I have been fixing halibut at home all of my adult life. My method has changed little over the years. I baste it with a mixture of lemon juice, white wine or cooking sherry, and spices. If I am feeling lazy I will use Old Bay, which is quite good and the classic seafood seasoning. If I am not feeling lazy I will make my own seasoning mix. Most recently I used granulated onion, granulated garlic, medium hot chili powder, Italian herb mix, and freshly ground pepper. It worked out well.
By the way, I am very specific in the way I load my loaded baked potato. I start with light butter, add freshly ground pepper, then grated cheddar cheese, which I top with sour cream, on top of which I sprinkle Greek seasoning, and then fresh green onion from the container garden.
The two together make for a marvelous Saturday dinner.
PBS just finished its series The Great American Read. It was all about the one hundred novels that Americans found the most rewarding. That is not to say American novels (I took the American Novel class from the great Bob Vieten back in high school), but novels that Americans enjoy and recommend. The list included literature from around the world.
There were no limits on which novels qualified for the list. It included serious literature such as War and Peace on one end of the spectrum and the ultimate page-turner, The Da Vinci Code on the other. Some entries on the list were rather dubious to my mind, such as the Left Behind series and Fifty Shades of Grey. Others very much belong, like Lord of the Rings and Invisible Man. There were certainly some clear omissions. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is on the list, but Huckleberry Finn is not. Every English teacher will tell you that the latter is without question the deeper and more profound book. Likewise Crime and Punishment is on the list, but the Brothers Karamazov is not.
As for me, I have read only seventeen books on the list. Not a terribly good average, I suppose, but then I have read both Huckleberry and Karamazov.
It is not perfect, but PBS is to be commended for producing and airing the series.
I wrote a while back about grocery delivery. I noted that it was very useful for Terry and me when we lived in Gilroy and both commuted into Silicon Valley. I said that when I started working from home delivery was no longer so important. I wrote about grocery delivery becoming available here in Hemet and stated that while it would be great for people who weren’t able to get out of the house I enjoyed doing my own shopping.
I did have occasion to use the Instacart delivery service last week when I couldn’t get out of the house. Terry had just had knee replacement surgery and I needed to be home and look after her for the first few days.
The results were mixed. The Instacart system is very sophisticated. It tracks the status of your order every step of the way. And you are in real-time text message communication with your shopper for issues as they arise. My shopper was less than the most efficient. She said that the store didn’t carry my favorite cereal when in fact it does I buy it there all the time. My personal-size frozen pizza needed a substitution, but the substituted pizza was full-size, not personal.
It seems that the system is only as good as your shopper. I did get a response to the feedback I submitted about the errors, but it was not terribly satisfying.
My feeling is unchanged. I prefer going to the store and doing my own shopping.
Terry had knee replacement surgery on Tuesday. I got my walk in on Monday. Tuesday was a long day, leaving the house before 5:30 a.m. and not getting home until nearly 6:00 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday I needed to stay close by and take care of Terry. On Friday I was getting antsy and missing my exercise. Terry was doing well enough that I could take thirty minutes away and do my walk. That felt good.
The nice thing for me, though, was that I was missing my exercise. So I suppose I’m doing something right.
I have enjoyed Toastmasters, but recently Toastmasters International (TI) has rolled out a new program. The previous program used print manuals and had a very clear progression. The new program, Pathways, is entirely computer-based and is focused on workplace and career skills. The previous program had a much broader base and addressed a diversity of interests.
We had a visit recently from our area director and she was asked if the attrition in membership was related to Pathways. She simply nodded. She also said that TI was much more interested in corporate-sponsored clubs at the expense of community clubs such as my own Menifee Toastmasters.
It is a sad and unfortunate thing. As president of my club I did receive a survey about a pilot program for more extensive local advertising, so provides a bit of hope. But the new program remains unchanged.
I’m not clear about my future in Toastmasters.