Sam Bauman: ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ and tips on blood pressure monitoring



Summer is coming and it’s a pleasant time for seniors to sit in the sun (or shade) and just relax.

Or maybe a time to renew acquaintances with old literary friends. Like “Robinson Crusoe” or anything by Shakespeare, the greatest of them all, maybe “The Tempest.” Or for the outdoors reader, Hemingway’s “The Green Hills of Africa.”

And then there’s the children’s fantasy that continues to live in new theatrical forms after a century of delighting millions. Perhaps it is not read as much as in the past, but it continues to live in many formats.

It’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” (often shortened to “Alice in Wonderland”), an 1865 novel written by English author Charles Lutwidge Dodgson under the pen name Lewis Carroll. It tells of a girl named Alice falling through a rabbit hole into a fantasy world populated by peculiar, anthropomorphic creatures.

It follows no tight literary program and is wildly erratic, but great fun. Who can ever forget once reading of it the Cheshire cat who’s grin stays long after the he has disappeared? Or the Mad Hatter, the March Hare, the Dormouse, the Dodo, Eaglet, the Duck, Bill the Lizard. All still live in the book (along with the sequel, “Through the Looking Glass”)

The book was born on a sunny afternoon when Dodgson, with two little girls on a boating trip, made up the Alice story for their amusement. And the rest belongs to readers and math professors who interpret the book.

Seniors may not want to follow all the interpretations of “Alice,” but they can easily enjoy the fantasies. You may even have a copy tucked away in your bookcase.

Here’s another classic, if not by literary types, but certainly by readers. It triggers many a dream of living on a deserted island and it brought into use the concept of a Man Friday, who appears to help us in our imaginations.

“Robinson Crusoe,” a novel by Daniel Defoe, was published on 25 April 1719. The first edition credited the work’s protagonist Robinson Crusoe as its author, leading many readers to believe he was a real person and the book a travelogue of true incidents. According to wikipedia, it was published under the full title, “The Life and Strange Surprizing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, Of York, Mariner: Who lived Eight and Twenty Years, all alone in an un-inhabited Island on the Coast of America, near the Mouth of the Great River of Oroonoque; Having been cast on Shore by Shipwreck, wherein all the Men perished but himself. With An Account how he was at last as strangely deliver’d by Pyrates.”

Not much left to add to that, but the book is one we often read back before TV took over our time.

Another classic of a more romantic type is Margaret Mitchell’s “Gone with the Wind,” published in 1937. It went on to become America’s second favorite book in a 2014 poll, with only the Bible outselling the 30 million copies of “Wind.” Few seniors will have to be reminded of the story of Scarlet O’Hare’s survival as a Southern plantation Civil War victim.

Although the book employed stereotypes and racial insensitive, it survived, and the movie starring Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable lives in memory.

Tips on using home blood pressure monitors

Lots of comments these days about using home blood pressure devices. I’ve got one, and I use it on occasion, not regularly, reflecting my feeling that if I can’t do anything about it, why bother? A nurse recently changed my mind and I now use it often. Here are some tips from the Mayo Clinic health letter:

Be consistent. Try to take a test as the same times and use the same arm. (Other authorities suggest switching arms regularly.)

Take your blood pressure between 5 a.m. and 9 a.m. before using blood pressure medications. This is when the pressure is highest, and if it is well controlled then it probably will be well controlled at other times.

Take your pressure before eating, smoking or using alcohol or caffeine, or wait half an hour after doing so.

Go to the bathroom first. A full bladder slightly increases the pressure.

Take the test before exercise. Pressure can be significantly different than normal after workouts.

Sit correctly. Keep both feet flat on the floor. Stretch out the arm with the palm up so that the arm is level with the heart.

Attach the cuff on your bare arm. Don’t roll up the cuff so that it constricts the upper arm.

Sit quietly for three to five minutes before taking a reading, and take a reading. Pause for a minute before taking a second reading. The first reading will often be higher.

Good testing!

Sam Bauman writes about senior affairs, among other things, for the Nevada Appeal.


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