Cornelius turns 78 years old today. Let’s look back 78 years to when he was born and then 78 years before the year of his birth. And let’s continue looking backward, 78 years at a time, in that fashion to some of his ancestors:

Person Year Born Ancestor Born
Cornelius turns 78 today 1944 1866
   Ancestor 1 1866 1788
    Ancestor 2 1788 1710
        Ancestor 3 1710 1632
          Ancestor 4 1632 1554
                Ancestor 5 1554 1476

My point is this: each of us has an almost immediate history stretching back centuries. And most of us know virtually nothing about the people whose lives made ours possible. We may know bits and pieces about our parents’ lives and even our grandparents’ lives, but almost nothing about those before. How odd that we study the history of humankind so intently, but we rarely look deeply into our own past. What would we discover if we could travel back to the time of our great-great-great-great-great grandfathers? What lessons would we learn from their ability to live in an atmosphere absent the technologies we have come to take for granted?


Our ancestors are totally essential to our every waking moment, although most of us don’t even have the faintest idea about their lives, their trials, their hardships or challenges.

Annie Lennox


Watching and listening to a storm’s fury can have the same effect as staring into a clear night sky. Both can make a person feel tiny and insignificant. After sunrise this morning, I will determine whether last night’s ferocious hail storm did any damage to our cars. And when morning light permits, I will gaze southward, checking for signs of damage between my house and Brookhill Ranch, just over a mile and a half south of here. Frantic television meteorologists said last night that a tornado had been reported “on the ground” north of Brookhill. A short while before that news, the fierce hail and rain suddenly stopped; because I’ve been told such an abrupt halt to stormy weather can precede tornado strikes, I was quite concerned. A few minutes later, hail and rain began anew, but not as heavy as before. Television weather coverage a short while later indicated a large, potentially deadly tornado was on the ground north of Little Rock. The National Weather Service declared a tornado emergency for an area north of Little Rock while we watched weather coverage on television. A tornado emergency is “an enhanced version of a tornado warning, which is used by the National Weather Service in the United States during imminent, significant tornado occurrences in highly populated areas.” A chilling emergency message from the National Weather Service broadcast to cell phones in and around the area of violent weather spoke to the severity of the threat:

A large, extremely dangerous, and potentially deadly tornado is on the ground. To protect your life, TAKE COVER NOW!

While I do not know whether the severe weather did any damage elsewhere, I know nothing of catastrophic consequence took place in my immediate area. I suspect news reports will inform us of the impact of last night’s storms elsewhere. Based on the reports from last night’s news, I suspect a major tornado did considerable damage somewhere close to the Little Rock Air Force Base and the surrounding area.


We drove to Little Rock yesterday afternoon for an  appointment with an ophthalmologist for mi novia. The appointment was to remedy a post-cataract surgery cloudiness of vision, a pretty common after-effect of implantation of artificial lenses. YAG laser treatment opens up a thickened area around the lens capsule and lets more light get through to the artificial lens. The procedure takes only a few minutes. The post-laser follow-up involves special eye drops, a prescription for which was sent by the ophthalmologist to a local pharmacy. Unfortunately, when we got back to town to pick up the prescription, it was not ready; the drops called for are unavailable. So, this morning will be devoted, in part, to checking with the doctor about alternatives. Ach!


Eventually, we learn what we need to know. About the world, of course, but more importantly, about ourselves.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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