This is primarily a travel blog in which I write about traveling in our motorhome. Our travels have

Nacogdoches, TX, United States
I began this blog as a vehicle for reporting on a 47-day trip made by my wife and me in our motorhome down to the Yucatan Peninsula and back. I continued writing about our post-Yucatan travels and gradually began including non-travel related topics. I often rant about things that piss me off, such as gun violence, fracking, healthcare, education, and anything else that pushes my button. I have a photography gallery on my Smugmug site (

Saturday, May 11, 2013

I'm a Rambling Man

A lazy day so far.  Carol Ann is an early riser and usually wakes me up with a cup of coffee that I drink while sitting up in bed.  This morning was no different except for sleeping a little later than usual.  I didn’t get out of bed until 9:00AM.  I then spent all morning with camera gear, tools, books, and assorted miscellany covering the floor as I attempted to sort and find a place for everything.  We tend to bring everything but the proverbial kitchen sink, which if the motorhome didn’t already have one, we would have brought.  We also had a good hard rain this morning.  It has been following us all the way from Texas and finally caught up with us.  At least we didn’t have to drive in it over the 800 miles we have traveled.  A little later this afternoon we will drive around the park and take a look at Lake Hartwell.

If I happen to jump from subject to subject in my blog it’s because of the way my brain is wired.  I have adult ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) without the hyperactivity (known as ADHD).  It wasn’t diagnosed until just a few years ago but it provided much insight into why a lot of things happened the way they did as I was growing up (although not diagnosed until I was an adult, it’s something with which you are born).  I always had trouble concentrating for very long on one subject.  I was easily bored with things that I was not interested in.  So I tended to skip around from one thing to another, tasting from various plates but never really eating the entire meal. 

I was fortunate in high school.  It was a small-town school in the late 50’s and early 60’s.  There were no advanced or AP courses.  They all seemed to move at about the pace of the slowest learner in the class, which made high school easy for me.  Take for example chemistry.  It was taught by the assistant football coach whose background in chemistry was questionable.  He just read the book to us during class and performed some experiments like he was cooking from a recipe.  During our mostly unsupervised lab sessions we made smoke bombs, stink bombs, black powder, and attempted to determine which chemicals, when poured out of the open windows, would kill the shrubs growing there. 

One of my friends made a large quantity of black gun powder (potassium nitrate, charcoal powder, and sulfur) and filled a pint-sized mayonnaise jar with it.  He punched a hole in the top of the jar and inserted a homemade fuse.  I remember telling him it would probably just fizzle and smoke.  He then wrapped the jar in adhesive tape until no glass was visible and decided to go out behind the school to set it off.  I followed hime with 3 or 4 other guys and watched as he put the jar in a drainage ditch and lit the fuse.  He turned and ran.  The rest of us, although we didn’t think it would explode and were teasing him about it, still maintained a respectable distance from it.  There was a terribly loud noise, a fireball, and a huge cloud of black smoke.  As we turned and ran towards the school’s back steps we were pelted with small pieces of red Georgia clay from the drainage ditch.  We were running up the back steps to the high school when we ran into the principal who was running down the steps to see what had exploded.  Needless to say, we were in a bit of trouble.  I don’t actually recall the punishment but mine was probably not anything nearly as bad as that of the bomb-maker, as this particular individual tended to be in some kind of trouble most of the time.

I rarely had to open a book in high school and yet received (I wouldn’t say “earned”) mostly A’s with a few scattered B’s.  I had some natural “smarts” plus I was popular as evidenced by the fact that I was president of the Beta Club, president of the student council, co-captain of the football team, and Mr. CHS.  I managed to make it through two years of French by reading the day’s lesson in “home room period” each morning.

I graduated 3rd or 4th in my class (there were only 44 of us) and went off to the University of Georgia, as had my mother and father before me.  No other school was ever considered.  I thought everyone went to the University of Georgia.  Why would I even consider going to another school?  Back then people would say, “Herman Talmadge is God and when you die you go to Atlanta” (it should have also included that everyone went to UGA).  Herman Talmadge an ex-Georgia governor and was one of Georgia’s US Senators.   His family had been a fixture in Georgia politics forever.  A few years later he and Sen. Russell (the other Georgia Senator) would have my Vietnam orders delayed for 6 weeks so that I could be home when my son was born.  I went to “the ‘Nam” a week after he was born and Neil Armstrong had taken his “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” (maybe not those same words, but close.)  Now, you see how I have managed to jump to another topic?  I was talking about going off to the University of Georgia.  I figured if I could make all A’s and a few B's in high school without opening a book that UGA would be a snap. 

Because of my extracurricular high school activities and my grades I was one of a group of new Freshmen invited to attend Freshman Camp for a week prior to the start of the Fall Quarter.  I was given an appointment with a counselor to discuss my studies and set up my classes.  He asked me what my major would be.  I didn’t have a clue and had never really given it any thought.  My dad was a physician but I had no desire to follow in his footsteps.  The counselor asked what my favorite high school course had been.  Naturally, I said “Chemistry” because of the fun I had in the lab. The counselor then asked if I wanted to pursue a B.S. degree with a major in chemistry or a B.S. Chem degree.  What’s the difference, I asked.  A B.S. Chem degree was about twice as much chemistry, he answered.  That sounded like a better degree and I would get a better job, I said.  So he laid out my first two years of courses for me.  In addition to at least one chemistry course every single quarter there were courses in math, physics, and German (at that time, the world’s most respected chemistry literature was still in German).  One of my German professors would occasionally allude to “Uncle Adolph” and the good things he gave the German people, such as Volkswagens and autobahns.  In addition to those core courses came a very slight smattering of the liberal arts plus microbiology and vertebrate zoology courses.  I had at least one 3-hour lab almost every other day in either chemistry, microbiology, vertebrate zoo, or physics.  There were no “light” quarters.  I was in class or lab all day, every day, Monday through Friday. 

I had a very difficult time studying.  I never had to work hard in high school and I didn’t know how to study.  My yet-to-be-diagnosed ADD made it even harder.  I could not concentrate on any one subject long enough to learn very much before I had to jump over to another subject.  I wasted a lot of time spinning my wheels while attempting to study.  I just couldn’t seem to learn and retain like many of my classmates seemed to do with ease.  I made my share of D’s and F’s and spent my summers retaking courses.  There was never a break. 

The few times, usually only the holidays, that I would go home, I would sneak down to my dad’s medical office when it was closed (the office key was on his car key ring) and rifle through his samples in search of amphetamines.  Back then, amphetamines, although prescription medications, were not controlled substances as they are today.  They were “just diet pills.”  I never sold them at school, but I did share them with my friends when we stayed up nights cramming for final exams.  When I studied while on amphetamines I really learned things.  I remember studying for a chemistry final and feeling that I knew the subject so well that I could teach the course!  That’s how I managed to pass most of my courses.  The funny thing is that amphetamines are now prescribed for people with ADD!  Since I was diagnosed with ADD I have been taking a long-acting amphetamine every day and I feel great most of the time.  I guess I was just way ahead of my time when I was in college.

After two and a half years of sheer torture, tremendous pressure, and impossibly difficult courses I came to realize that I had made a very big mistake by majoring in chemistry.  I had been reluctant to change my major because I was afraid of my dad and what he might say about it.  Besides, I still had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up.

How I changed from being a B.S. Chem major to my current profession or pharmacy will be covered in my next posting.  This one is long enough.

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