I had some good courses in college.  But the most useful was a year long course on advanced first aid which ended with me getting a Civil Defense medical responder card (remember – this was 1966).  I thought – I’m an Eagle Scout – this’ll be a snap.  It was not.  But the knowledge gleaned from this course has come in very handy over the years.   

Of all the subjects I endured in high school — far and away the best course I ever took was typing.  It was called “touch typing” – a skill developed by Frank Edward McGurrin (a Salt Lake City court stenographer) in 1888.  Thank you, Mr. McGurrin!  I use this skill every day.  In abundance. . . . . 

I am able to type the way one was meant to type. Accurately. Fast.  Fingers flying (whooosh!).  None of this two finger business.  I often type my own letters, lengthy reports and loquacious emails at a speed of perhaps 60 words a minute with minimal error.  Rarely looking at the keyboard.  Typing.  What a value-added learning tool for a young person today.  But do schools teach typing the way they did?  I dunno but if not, it belongs on the menu. 

By the way – do you know the longest word in the English language that you can write using the letters on the top row of a typewriter or keyboard?  “Typewriter.”  Yep . . . .


(A repeat from 6/12/2014)

It’s quite possible that some of you reading this post will one day save a person’s life.   Maybe save the life of a child.   By prompt action and a knowing response.

I get on the train every day and pass by a panel which announces the location of an “AED” unit (“Automated External Defibrillator“). I’ve seen this notice time and time again. My eyes glaze over and I move to my seat. And pull out my newspaper.  

In my post of October 21, 2011, I recounted that the best course I ever took in college was a year-long tutorial on advanced first aid (it has come in very handy over the years). Thus, a few weeks ago when I looked at the AED sign, something clicked.  I oughta figure out what this “AED” thingee is.  So while having lunch at my desk – I logged onto a YouTube video which told the story of the AED (see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xfvu5FCQs6o ).  I’ve got a better idea now of what an AED does.  And how it works.  I would urge those reading this post to spend 4 minutes and learn about the AED.

And while you’re at it, why not learn the Heimlich Maneuver? I’ve done it twice – successfully. See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7CgtIgSyAiU&feature=kp

A baby choking? See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DUSnEpheYkY

How about CPR (“Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation”)? See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cPEFskCrdhQ&feature=kp

Heavy bleeding? See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OwV39oxGwZU

Rescue breathing?  See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xu9WTPOCxwU  

If you watch all of these videos (if they don’t “link” just paste them in your browser), you will spend maybe 35 minutes. It may be the most valuable 35 minutes you ever spend. And someone – maybe you – will be eternally grateful.


I was walking to the train station with a friend. He mentioned that he is taking a course on Lucretius – the Roman poet and philosopher (99 B.C.-55 B.C.).   His previous course was on Cicero and the one before that on some unpronounceable Roman chap.  My friend went on talking about Lucretius and his publications on the nature of the universe and Epicureanism.  Sounded pretty neat.  I asked what he was taking next semester and he was not sure.  Maybe something on analytics or Euripides.  It was then I stuck my chin out. . . . .

I asked my friend if he had ever had a course on first aid.  He looked at me – “no.”  I asked if he’d ever taken a Heimlich Maneuver, CPR or AED course.  I got the same answer.  He asked me if I had done so and I recounted briefly my year-long course work on emergency medical response at Augustana College (see October 21, 2011) and my AED review (see June 12, 2014).   I said that over the years, this knowledge has come in handy.  On a few occasions very handy.

It’s great taking courses on Lucretius and Cicero though my personal bent might involve guitar lessons, bird study or a tutorial on card magic.  But lemme say this — acquiring knowledge on the subject of first aid (including AED, Heimlich, CPR) may someday prove to be more valuable than reading De Rerum Natura or Iphigenia at Aulis.  You never know when some southbound emergency will raise its ugly head.