Monday, March 20, 2017

A to Z Theme Reveal: Female Scientists Before Our Time

Hi. With all the news about science and the education of our youth in the news of late, gravitating toward a science theme for the A-Z Challenge was easy. I am not a scientist but there are plenty of scientists in my family. 

I also read online that only "6.7% of women graduate with STEM degrees vs. 17% of men, meaning men are 2.5 times more likely to enter these high paying fields." Goodness, I would encourage both sexes to enter the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. We need more of you!

So being a historian at heart, especially when it comes to women's history, I have decided to explore female scientists, going back as far as I can to women in our ancient past and the Middle Ages. Nothing heavy mind you, and I promise to keep it interesting. 

Best wishes to all who participate this year!!  

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Mercy Ship Expedition - Stop in Ouidah - One Nurse's Story

My friend Marilyn is off on another 
Mercy Ship adventure in Africa. Those 
who followed her story before on the 
Africa Mercy know that Marilyn is a 
volunteer nurse on a hospital ship that 
sails the African coast in search of patients. 
She emails me and I share her post with you. 
I hope you enjoy!

March 18, 2017

Ouidah was a major departure point for the slave trade--several million
slaves were shipped out of here during those years. The Portuguese had a
big compound, a fort, with a moat filled with crocodiles, and gun
turrets on the four corners. Slaves were kept in the courtyard in the
back, thousands at a time, with no shelter and only a bit of bread to
eat. Many were chained, and many died. From the fort, they were taken
to "cha cha square" where they were sold and branded, then to "the dark
house", another very cramped, airless, sunless place used to "acclimate"
them to life on the ship, which was more of the same. Many died there,
too, of course. None of this was new information, really, but it was
sad to see the actual places where it took place.

Another fact that I've known, but it got more vivid today, is that the
Europeans didn't really go "slave-hunting." The Africans did that.
Instead of killing their enemies from other tribes, they conquered and
sold them to the Europeans. The African kings got quite rich off the
slave trade, so they encouraged it. Plenty of heartlessness all around,
it seems to me.

The trip to and from Ouidah was interesting in itself. It was a good
divided double-lane highway between the cities of Contonou and Ouidah,
about an hour's drive each way. It might have been two lanes, but there
were often three lanes of traffic weaving in and out, not to mention the
swarms of motorbikes. I'd guess there were ten times as many motorbikes
as cars, and a fair number of large trucks also rumbling along. I
figured out that honking the horn was a polite way of saying "I'm coming
up behind you and I plan to pass you, so don't do anything stupid like
swerving into my intended path." There was a lot of horn-blowing...

Buying gas was interesting. There are petrol stations somewhere, I
guess, but gas is cheaper if you buy it from vendors along the roadside,
who sell it in big jugs. Our van just pulled up onto the sidewalk, and
the guy poured about ten gallons of gas into the tank from his jug.
Sometimes they water it down, of course, but quality control isn't high
on the list of requirements. Avoiding the tax at petrol stations is.

There were eleven of us from Mercy Ships on this expedition, and we had
a hired guide who explained things to us in English as we went along.
He had a lot to say about the country, its history, and its politics.
After about 30 years of revolutions, with some presidents lasting only a
day or a week, it finally settled down to presidents lasting for five
year terms, and even getting re-elected. There are about 200 political
parties, the guide said. They aren't really representative of the
people. They are established by rich businessmen, who then use their
influence and their wealth to control elections. The current president
is the richest man in the country and owns the cotton industry. The
second richest man helped him to get elected a year ago, but they have
since had a falling out, so that may be where the next challenge comes
from. Since the richest man controls the port, and since a container of
gold and money "disappeared" from the port before the election, rumor
has it that perhaps that's how the election was purchased... That's the
perspective of our guide, anyway. But maybe it just makes a good story
for the tourists... 

Next week we plan to do cataract surgery on children. Kids get
cataracts for a number of reasons: genetic is a big one, but trauma can
cause it, or rubella during pregnancy, or malnutrition. When we do
children, we do both eyes, because if you don't do both together, the
non-operative eye nerve pathways don't develop properly, so the eye goes
blind even if you remove the cataract later. Children also need to be
done under general anesthesia, so they are admitted to the ward the
night before, a whole different process. I've never been here for
children's cataracts before, so I'm in for new experiences the next two
weeks. Looking forward to it. I'll probably have more to say about
that next time.

Meanwhile, blessings to you all


Friday, March 17, 2017

Exploring the Georgia Colony by Brianna Hall: Book Review

Exploring the Georgia Colony
Author: Brianna Hall 

Publisher: Capstone Press, 2017
Reviewer: Sharon M. Himsl
Ages: 8 to 11, Middle Grade
Pages: 48 
Georgia became a colony in 1733, as the last and most southernmost of the thirteen colonies established in North America. Named after England’s King George II and founded by James Oglethorpe, the colony began as a dream to help the poor. One hundred fourteen English settlers arrived from England’s poorest communities to farm the new colony, each settler given supplies and fifty acres of land as a start. Most Georgians, however, remained poor. 

Malaria in the summer, crops that didn’t thrive in blistering heat, rural lack of education, and the initial ban on slavery (unlike in colonies to the north) threatened their survival. Crops grown were cotton, tobacco, rice and indigo. Despite the hardships, some colonists became wealthy after the slavery ban was lifted. 

Similar to other colonies, Georgia’s relationship with nearby Native Americans varied. Among the tribes were the Cherokee, Yamasee, Hitchiti, Yamacraw, and Creek nations. Hall includes stories of their struggle for peace, conflicts, and recruitment during war. The Creek, for example, fought alongside the colonists in the War of Jenkin’s Ear, started when a British sea captain had his ear sliced off by Spanish pirates. 

During the Revolutionary War Georgians fought again, but at first debated entry in the war. Many were loyalists. Eventually Georgians joined other patriots in the fight for independence, enduring a long siege when Savannah fell to the British. In 1788, Georgia became the fourth state to sign the constitution and join the newly formed nation. 

Research tools include “did you know” side notes, mini bios, illustrations, quotes, glossary, index, and “Critical Thinking with Primary Sources.”  

Celebrate the Small Things: Buzzing Along

I'm buzzing along, getting work done this week, enjoying my new computer. The old one still works (we'll use it for photos), but without Windows updates (Vista is no longer supported), I've been concerned about security. This prompted me to activate Twitter (note my new link) and to setup an author page in Facebook (for future use). Happy about that.

I've also been:
  • working on a second novel (I need to find a woman veterinarian to interview for research; I have someone in mind)
  • submitting the first novel and exploring more markets
  • thinking about self-publishing a nonfiction book
  • working on my A-Z posts (2 down, 24 to go!)
  • And gardening finally. It's in the 60s here. 
Have a nice  
weekend everyone!

To join "Celebrate the Small Things:  visit Lexa Cain's blog
Co-hosts are: L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge
Tonja Drecker @ Kidbits Blog