Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Interesting Book

I've been reading a book called "Napoleon's Buttons - 17 Molecules That Changed History". It is written by two chemists for popular reading. 

Among the stories are: how European demand for the spice molecule piperine (the basic molecule of pepper) not only fueled early exploration, but also inspired the practice of buying and selling shares in the modern stock market. How a minor house cleaning mishap and an exploding cotton apron led to the development of modern explosives and contributed to the photography and movie industries. 

I was particularly intrigued by the chapter on Molecules of Witchcraft. Many of the women accused of witchcraft were herbalists, skilled in the use of local plants to cure disease and provide relief from pain. Some of this would seem magical. Many of these herbs inspired modern medicines. Some of them caused hallucinations (such as flying). Fascinating reading!  I'm glad my kids recommended it.  

A few atoms added here, subtracted there, is all it takes to make the difference between male and female sex characteristics, between a harmless molecule and a deadly addictive one. How that works, and indeed how culture has been shaped by chemistry, is the subject of this wonderfully readable book. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Month of Doctors Continues

As I said before I went into radio silence, I went to my primary care doctor for a routine check up. Everything is good. He told me how to find an audiologist, who tested my hearing. One ear needs help, which I knew. It's been bad ever since i can remember, but age has probably made it worse. The other ear is marginal, but close to normal. I need hearing aids!

When I got my eyes tested, I was told that it was time for cataract surgery. I was surprised, although I knew it was coming. Research done, questions asked, and surgery scheduled. The first eye will be done May 28. and the second about a week later.

My son found the name of a hearing aid lab which sells aids more cheaply by cutting out the middle man. I took the results of my test to him and could have walked out hearing better except that there was too much wax in my ears. I was sent home with an ear cleaning kit and went back a few days later to get hearing aids. The unit I got is small and fits behind my ear with a small tube that goes in the ear. They are set up by computer to give me exactly the help I need. Also they are small enough that I can still use my Bluetooth for my phone! I love hands free talking. I also can use the earphones I have for the gym. I'm still getting used to a more noisy world. My brain is starting to filter out unnecessary noise, like the ticking of the kitchen clock.

My knitting guild sponsored a weekend with Sally Melville. I was able to go on Friday night and all day Sunday. I learned a lot. I worked on the black sweater. It is on hold right now, because I am knitting a pair of socks for my son-in-law. His birthday was Sunday and the socks aren't done. I seem to have less knitting time these days. His home is in Florida, but he says he lives in his truck. I might see him again in July if he gets to the Cleveland planned. He and my daughter were here in late April for a visit. Anyway, I won't see him for his birthday, and will send the socks on as soon as they are finished, or save them for July when they come here.

I did finish the shrug. It's a little big, but I think that's all right. It's been too warm to wear it. I've also been knitting on my sock yarn sweater. That cut into sock knitting time too.

It's time to grandkids soccer/baseball games. I can knit during those. It's also time for yard work. Lawn mowing seems to take forever right now. the grass is long, thick and wetter than I would like. The mower wants to clog up. Years of the fertilizer man result in a lawn that looks great, but the thick, vigorous growing grass is a problem right now. I haven't eve n started on the weeds!

Today is tooth cleaning, so the body maintenance continues. I'll stop typing and go schedule my mammogram. That's the last thing that needs to be done for now. By early July when I can get a new glasses prescription, I'll be a new woman. I may only need reading glasses, but we'll see.