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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The "Yesterday .... All My Troubles Seemed So Far Away! : Part V - I'll Say A Prayer For You" Story

Foreword:  Previously I told of the day I found that I had prostate cancer.  I have decided to take you along with me on my journey to try and conquer the disease so that if you are a male or have a spouse or close friend who is a male, you may better understand what they are experiencing and can help your loved one with their journey through the disease.

It was an ordinary day.  Talking with Bill about what I can expect when I have my Cryosurgery or Cryotherapy.  If you have been following my journey towards being cancer free, you realize I have been going through a series of shots of Fermagon which are administered to help reduce the size of my prostate.  I first had two shots given to me in my stomach and a month later had a third shot.  I am supposed to have one more shot in about a week before setting the date for the Cryosurgery.  I questioned the nurse as to why I have to wait so long between shots and was told it was because Medicare wouldn't pay for them if they were any closer together.  Asked if I could pay for them myself and she told me they are very expensive. Just left it go at that.  Yesterday I got a statement telling me what has been paid for me during the previous month and found the shots are $1,500 each.  I will wait the month between shots.  In the meantime I asked my urologist if he could supply me with the name of one of his patients who has had the Cryosurgery before.  Within a week he called with a telephone number, telling me not to expect the gentleman to give me his name.  Not a problem!  I tried for weeks to reach him, but never could connect with him.  Well, yesterday Dr. Seiber called once again and gave me another number.  Immediately called and got an answering machine.  I hung up, not wanting to leave a message.  Shortly I left for my part-time job, but when I returned home my wife told me a woman called wondering why we dialed her number.  My wife noticed the number she called from matched the number Dr. Seiber had given me and talked with the woman, telling her why I had placed the call.  In no time she had given Carol her husband's cell number which I called when returning from from work.  Bill was a few years older than me when he had his Cryosurgery.  It was only the third time that Dr. Seiber had performed the surgery.  That was in 2010!  He had nothing but good things to say about Dr. Seiber and the good job he did.  He told me his recovery took three weeks with two bouts of having a catheter in place during those three weeks.  His recent PSA test showed a number under 1.00 telling him that he is cancer free.  Wow!  We talked for over a half-hour and we finished with him telling me he would say a prayer for me that all goes well.  I thanked him and asked if he minds if I call again if I feel the need to talk.  Told me to call anytime I want.  Nicest guy you'd ever want to meet.  My journey towards a better life is being made much easier due to so many nice people I have met along the way.  I await the procedure with a much more informed mind and a prayer that will be said for me.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.


Postscript: Well, I have just received my fourth and final shot of Firmagon.  The injection point is more sore this time than before, perhaps due to the amount I have in my body already and my body not being able to absorb the entire shot at one time.  The lump at the entry point is raised and about the size of a bottle cap.  My next event is a trip back once again to have a bone scan completed next week.  Firmagon is said to make your bones very weak and brittle and I guess they want to see how it has affected me.  I have listened to the nurse and have been taking a Vitamin C tablet every day.  I also will need to find out the date for my procedure.  I did read a booklet I picked up at the doctor's office today telling me that Cryotherapy has been OK'd by the FDA, but is still a rather new type of procedure, and they don't have too many test results in yet to give me better information on the procedure.  I still feel confident I have made the correct choice and will be one of those statistics that will announce to the world that Cryosurgery is the best way to go! Met another fellow today, Norm, who used to be a custodian at the school where I taught and now drives bus for them.  He looked at me and asked why I look depressed.  Wow, didn't think I was depressed, but maybe he can read me better than I can.  Told him about my upcoming surgery and he said he had his prostate removed in 2001.  Said I have nothing to worry about.  He is also an ordained minister and he told me he would have his group pray for me.  Getting better all the time! Hallelujah!!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The "They Found My Hat In Harriet Lane's Boudoir! - Part II" Story

The front of "Wheatland" which faces President Ave.
It was an ordinary day.  Getting ready to take you with me as I head up the staircase in President James Buchanan's "Wheat- land".   The entrance that is used for tours is in the rear.  But, the main entrance facing President Ave. is awesome.  The home consists of a two and one-half story central section flanked by three-story wings.  
Nancy stands at the top of the stairs in the
rear of the house.  Mahogany and maple
bannister takes you to the second floor.
The main block of the building contains a central hall with two matching rooms on either side; there are 17 rooms in all.  A Doric-columned porch dominates the front of the main section of the house.  Very few changes were made over the years except for the installation of a furnace and central heating, replacement of the open hearth in the kitchen with a cast-iron stove and the addition of a modern convenience in the form or a tin bathtub.  The last private owner of "Wheatland" is the George B. Willson family who purchased the home in 1881 from Harriet Lane who had inherited if from her uncle James. "Wheatland" was then inherited by a relative of Mr. Willison in 1929 and eventually put up for sale.  
The coral colored Mortgage button on the newel post.
In 1936 The Junior League of Lancaster purchased the home.  Today Lancaster- History.org retains 10 acres of the original 22 acre property, including the home and three outbuildings.  Well, back to the tour.  My tour guide, Nancy ushered me up the stairwell to the second floor.  The awesome bannister is made of mahogany with 111 spindle balusters made from tiger maple.  
Harriet Lane's bedroom.  I was checking out the wire signaling
system alongside the bed when my hat must have slipped
from my jacket pocket and fallen on the floor.  It was found
later and returned to me outside of "Wheatland".
The carpet is not original, but does match the Venetian Stripe pattern that was in the house when it was built.  We first went to Harriet Lane's bedroom which was covered in wallpaper with white curtains.  It reminded me of a woman's room.  Under one window stood a small desk while on the floor, closer to the door, was a huge chest that evidently was used for travel.  
A small desk or perhaps a make-up area
are lit with natural light in the room.
It had several stickers on it showing she had traveled out of the country.  Out of all the items in the house, the chest was one of my favorites.  Reminded me of the three small suitcases Carol and I have covered with stickers from all the locations we have visited.  The small middle room was said to have been occupied by James Buchanan "Buck" Henry, Buchanan's nephew.  "Buck" was James' sister's son.  When his sister and brother-in-law both died, James made a home for "Buck" with him just as he had done with Harriet.  We next visited James' bedroom.  In the closet was a simple jacket and two top hats.  A Daguerreotype of what the room looked like when James occupied it was on display.  The room was made to look like it was in the photograph.  
Harriet Lane's traveling case.
In one corner of the room was a chair commode which was the only method they had for bathroom facilities.  The house wasn't electrified until in the 1930's, so lanterns were the means of lighting the home in the evening.  James' bed was quite high, but not in excess for a man over six foot tall.  On the floor was a tin wash basin showing how people would bathe.  The home did not have a bath tub until after James died when Harriet had one installed in 1868.  One thing I noticed as I was leaving Buchanan's bedroom was the frog doorstop.  I visited "Wheatland" last summer to take a photo of the pond near President Ave.  
The middle bedroom was sparsely
furnished and is where "Buck" slept.
James loved frogs, thus the pond.  The final bedroom belonged to Esther "Miss Hetty" Parker, James' housekeeper who lived in "Wheatland" the entire life of Buchanan.  From the corner of Parker's room, steps led down to the kitchen.  Nancy showed me photographs of what the kitchen used to look like when it was first built, how it had been changed, and then changed once again until it looks as it does today.  As I stood in front of where the oven used to be, I looked to my right and saw the remains of the dumbwaiter that was in the house.  Well, my tour was over and as Nancy placed her hand on the old metal handle to usher me out, I thanked her for the informative and interesting tour I had of Lancaster's President of the United States.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.



Closet in James Buchanan's bedroom.
A Daguerrotype of what James' bedroom looked like. 
The commode. 
James' bed.  Sitting on the floor to the left, behind the rope, is what was used for bathing.  You stood in the small metal basin and poured water over your head.  Thank goodness for modern showers.
The small frog doorstop can be seen here.
A metal bathtub was only added in 1868 by Harriet Lane.
Wash basins stand on a table across from the tub.
The final bedroom belonged to Miss Hetty.  It was very simple with little furniture. 
The stairs lead from the second floor to the kitchen.
The kitchen with the area were the stove used to be.  
Another Daguerrotype showing the original stove in the kitchen.
This stove, as shown in this Daguerrotype, was installed by the Willsons.
The remains of the dumbwaiter can be seen to the left of the photo.  It would go from the kitchen in the cellar to the second floor.
The lock on the kitchen door used to allow me to leave.
Kathy said Good-Bye to me as I left after my tour.  Little did she know she would be asked to search for my lost hat and have to return it to me.

Monday, February 20, 2017

The "They Found My Hat In Harriet Lane's Boudoir! - Part I" Story

The rear of James Buchanan's "Wheatland" (click to enlarge)
It was an ordinary day.  Standing on the rear porch of President James Buchanan's home known at "Wheatland" waiting for my hat.  Seems I was in Lady Harriet Lane's boudoir and somehow my hat slipped out of my pocket.  I was very careful to make sure that wouldn't happen, but ...  
Miss Nancy ushers me into "Wheatland"
Wasn't long before Nancy opened the rear door and handed me my hat.  "Feels like your going to need that today," she said as she closed the door behind her.  The day was sunny, but the chill in the air made the day a hat day, especially for someone who is bald.  My visit to "Wheatland", in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, is part of my membership to the Lancaster Historical Society which Carol gave me as a Christmas gift this year.  I entered the Historical Society to check in at the desk and walked out the rear door, heading towards "Wheatland"; a short walk down the red brick pathway.  
A young James Buchanan
Before I take you with me on my tour, I should give you a bit of background information about James Buchanan.  Before his Presidency he served two years in the Pennsylvania Legislature, 22 years in the U.S. House and Senate, four years as Secretary of State and six years in Russia and Great Britain as a U.S. Foreign Diplomat.  In 1856 "Wheatland" served as his presidential campaign headquarters.  From 1857 to 1861 he struggled to calm the nation divided over slavery, states' rights and popular sovereignty.  His term ended with the secession of seven States after the election of Republican Abraham Lincoln.  My tour was to start at 2:00 P.M. so I sat on one of the large white benches by the rear door.  
The dining room table with setting
The house was built in 1828 by Mr. William Jenkins, a local lawyer, on 165 acres of wheat fields and thus the name "Wheat- land".  He used it as a summer home for a few years, then sold it to William Meredith in 1841.  Eventually it was sold to Mr. Buchanan in 1849.  James moved into in with his young niece Harriet Lane, his 7 year old nephew James Buchanan "Buck" Henry and his housekeeper, Esther "Miss Hetty" Parker.  
China displayed in the corner-cupboard.
The top three shelves hold china
that was used in the White House.
Harriet would later become his "First Lady" in the White House.  Their 20 year difference in age did not stop her from becoming her uncle's political consort as well as his personal confidante.  Well, shortly the door opened and out stepped Nancy, dressed in period dress.  I was the only guest today so we introduced ourselves, walked in through the rear door and headed toward the dining room.  The 13 foot ceilings of the brick Federal-style home made for an impressive entrance. Once inside the dining room, Nancy pointed out the corner-cupboard that held two sets of china.  One set was a gift from the French Ambassador in the 1840s and was used by James while at the White House.  Another cupboard held the china that Harriet purchased when she married two years before her uncle James died in 1868. 
The floor in this room bore the original wooden boards from 1828.     
The West Parlor
After admiring the table setting, we headed towards the West Parlor.  As we walked back toward the rear door, I asked about the flooring in the entrance.  Nancy told me it originally was was oilcloth, but was later replace with linoleum that Lancaster's Armstrong Cork Company made to match the same pattern as the oilcloth. 
Beautiful fireplace with portraiture
of James Buchanan above it.
In the West Parlor I admired the stone fireplace which I was told had been filled in and  a grate at the bottom allowed for heat to enter from a coal furnace in the cellar.  All rooms had fireplaces, but those on the first floor were opened to the cellar for heat from the furnace.  On the wall was Buchanan's portraiture that had been painted in 1856.  Stepping through the door we entered the vestibule of the front door.  Standing along one side was a tall coat rack that held a few of his black top hats.  Off to the East Parlor which I was told was James' inter sanctum.  On one end of the room stood a beautiful engraved desk that was given to him by an official in India.  The desk was transported to the White House while he was President.  
Entrance vestibule
To one side stood another smaller desk that was used by his nephew "Buck". On the other side of the room sat a table that had a bottle of James' favorite, a bottle of 1827 Red Seal Maderia bottled in 1832.  This bottle was found in the wine cellar a few years ago.  Well, I have taken you about half way through "Wheatland" with me.  Tomorrow I will take you upstairs with me to show you where I had misplaced my hat.  Shame on me!  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.



Top hats held in place on the mirror.
The front door knob and lock.  Can you imagine how many dignataries placed their hand on the door knob during the last 190 plus years.  Would make a story by itself; if we only knew the answer.
Fireplace in the East Parlor
James Buchanan's desk in his study.  To the right is the desk used by his nephew "Buck".
The frayed armchairs are a testimony to the use of the desk.  The drink on his desk probably helped him make decisions.
An original letter on his desk.  Click to enlarge and you may be able to read some of the letter.  His penmanship is beautiful.  And, his aide is to the left of the letter.
A beautiful piano at one end of this study.
A favorite bottle.
A closer look.  This bottle has never been opened. It was found in the wine cellar of he home.
On our way back to the stairs to find treasures on the second floor.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

The "Too Old To Be Young!" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Reading an online article telling me that 60 is the new 40!  Well, I'm telling you I'm past 40, way past, as well as quite a bit past 60, and I can assure you that 60 certainly isn't the new 40.  I can slightly remember what it was like to be 40, both physically and mentally, and when I reached 60 I certainly didn't have the same physical or mental presence that I did when I was 40. Nah, I take that back since my mental capacity is much better now that I'm way past 60.  Just ask anyone who knows me.  As far as my physical capacity is concerned, I can't run the base paths as fast during softball games and couldn't throw the ball as hard as when I was 40.  Matter of fact, I didn't even think of playing softball when I reached 60 and when I do throw the ball, as when a ball is hit to be during my grandson's baseball games where I sit in the nearby bleachers, I throw it underhand.  Too many chances of tearing muscle tissue in my shoulder to try throwing overhand.  And, now that I'm nearing my mid-70s, I hand the ball to someone near me to throw it back onto the field.  When I was 40 I never even thought what it would be like when I was 60 or 70.  I guess that proves that I am gaining wisdom since I know what my strengths and weaknesses may be.  I still do things that I did back in my 40s such as quickly jog across the street if needed to avoid traffic, put my 40 foot extension ladder against the house so I can climb it and paint, lift 40 pound cases of paper while doing the in-house printing chores at the high school where I taught and drive fast like I used to; even at night!  I now have one bum foot due to shingles, scars all over my body from stuff being cut out of me from being out in the sun too much, a finger that bends in an unusual manner due to getting it stuck in the printing press over 40 years ago, ears that don't hear as well as they used to (even with hearing aides), and eyes that have these little things that float from top to bottom each time I close and open them.  
A very relaxed and older LDub contemplating the subject of age;
of course, with more wrinkles!  Photo by granddaughter Camille.
I have bones that make funny crunching noises when I move certain directions, funny noises that emanate from my stomach and other parts of my body on a frequent schedule, no need to go to the barber anymore and teeth that should have been fixed when I was a kid, but parents that couldn't afford that.  But hey ... I can still beat many younger than me at guessing the right prices on The Price is Right, knowing the questions on Jeopardy and guessing the puzzles on Wheel of Fortune.  And, Vanna was turning the letters when I was 40!  I can still run the vacuum, wash the floor on my hands and knees, do the dishes, clean the bathroom, do the windows inside and out, mow the grass, wash the car and shovel the driveway and walk.  I can still sing most of the songs from the era when songs actually had words you could understand; that is if da doo run run is language you can understand.  I can still shake, rattle and roll, literally.  But, I still have trouble with the hand jive, just as I always did.  And, I still think I'm pretty hip since I like shows such as The Big Bang Theory, Modern Family, Life In Pieces, American Pickers and Dating Naked.  But none of them will ever top the reruns of Seinfeld.  Come to think of it I did watch Seinfeld when I was in my 40s.  I still look at life as a glass half full and still love smelling the roses and the variety of plants and flowers my wife raises in our lovely garden.  When it comes to love, I have the comfort of knowing I found the right one almost 50 years ago, but I knew that when I was 40; actually when I was 22. And spiritually, I talk to God through prayer as often as I can; that's what keeps me going right now.  You know, with all that's going on it the world today, I at times wouldn't want to be 40 again.  I'm worried what's going to happen in the next 4 years. Worried for my children and grandchildren. But you know, as Jack Benny once said (even thought I never heard him say it), "Age is strictly a case of mind over matter.  If you don't mind, it doesn't matter."  That and the fact that I am really only 22 years old ... in Celsius.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.    

Saturday, February 18, 2017

The "A Wunderkammer: Part II - Collecting Life's Pieces In Snapshots" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Going to present a bit of a different angle today regarding my subject known as Wunderkammer, or "cabinet of curiosities."  Wrote yesterday that the 14th to 17th century European Renaissance's "cabinet of curiosities" were the beginnings of our modern day museums.  Displays of just about anything relevant to the eras could, and would, be displayed on shelves, in cases of any size or shape or in curio cabinets made predominantly of glass with a metal or wooden framework.  I also presented photographs of the two "cabinets of curiosity" that are in the high school where I taught at one time.  Well, today's story will show you that the European Renaissance "cabinet of curiosity" is still very much alive today in homes across the world.  This past weekend my wife, Carol, and I traveled to State College, Pennsylvania to visit our close friends and traveling companions, Jerry and Just Sue.  We enjoy our visits back and forth and spent this past weekend touring a museum in Williamsport as well as the Woolrich fabric and clothing store in Woolrich, PA.  
Sue's "cabinet of curiosity" located in her basement. A full
shelf plus another half shelf of snapshots if her family's life.
Click on photographs to enlarge them.
Interesting day, but one of the most interesting few hours of the weekend was looking and talking about what I will call, Sue's "cabinet of curiosity".  Sue loves to document her family's history and she does in by means of scrap books filled with snapshots and descriptions of those snapshots.  
Sue looking through one her many scrapbooks
that feature vacations from her and Jerry's past.
She has scrapbooks that feature every vacation she and her husband have taken; some by themselves, some with neighbors and the many vacations they have taken with us.  She has scrapbooks she has been making for each of her sons and their families.  But, the most interesting "cabinet of curiosity" is the one in their basement which fills an entire wall of their TV room.   Forty scrapbooks that carry she and Jerry's life, each filled with snapshots of an event in their lives that were important to them.  One of the scrapbooks is a glossary to help you navigate through the remaining 39 scrapbooks.  I had never looked at any of the scrapbooks until this weekend.  I was fascinated with page after page of the life of their family, from Album #1 (Nov '63-Dec '68) through Album #39 (2016-?/until full).  
Album #1, page one.  These snapshots
feature Jerry and Sue's wedding in November
of 1963 at St. Matthew's Lutheran Church.
I have known Jerry since we first stepped into Mrs. Good's 1st grade classroom at Brecht Elementary School in Manheim Township School District in 1949 and have known Just Sue (not Susan, but Just Sue) since she entered Manheim Township High School as a sophomore in 1959.  Needless to say, Jerry and Sue eventually married, raised a family and documented the entire journey in their own "cabinet of curiosity".  And, I love it!  As I sat there with Jerry in his basement, looking at Album #1, I told him how lucky he was to have all these neat photos to experience his entire married life over again any time he so desires.  We spent some time looking at a few of the scrapbooks ... then I told him we just had to share them with Carol.  
Jerry and Carol looking at one of the scrapbooks.
Wasn't long before we headed up his basement steps and were talking and laughing in the living room with both Carol and Sue.  All four of us often talk about what will ever become of our travel scrapbooks, which I too have made after each vacation Carol and I take.  But I never knew to what extent Sue had gone to collect all these neat pieces of her life over the past 52 plus years.  It is a remarkable feat that she has diligently worked on all her married life.  
October of 1967 features the first color snapshots.
Historical moment in photographic history when color
photography was available to the average person.
I'll bet there aren't many people in the entire world who have done what she has done, and with such loyal care and commit- ment.  Tell you the truth, I am jealous, since I don't have a family history in snapshots such as she and Jerry do.  Oh yeah, I have baby photos of special events and vacationsin the life of our children and extended family, but not EVERY day in their life.  As to what will eventually become of all the scrapbooks, well, they may be placed in a modern day museum, illustrating life in the lives of a twenty to twenty-first century family.  Why not?  I can't imagine they would ever be discarded. They are too much a part of modern day history for that to happen. Just wait and see. I know I'm right in this case!  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.



The last entry into Album #39 features Jerry and one of his relatives. More snapshots will follow since there is plenty of room left in the album.
Part way through Album #39 features a snapshot of Jerry and me and the retired Industrial Arts teachers from Manheim Township School District.  Jerry and I are both in the front row; Jerry is second from left and I am on the far right.
    

Friday, February 17, 2017

The "A Wunderkammer: Part I - The Background And History" Story

An early illustration of a Cabinet of Curiosities.
It was an ordinary day.  Trying to learn a bit about the background of the modern day museum.  I have been to a variety of museums during my lifetime and will more than likely be spending quite a bit of time at the Lancaster Historical Society, which is much like a museum, since my wife gave me a subscription to the society as a Christmas gift.  Found that something known as a "cabinet of curiosities" became popular during the European Renaissance which was from the 14th to the 17th centuries.  
Another early Wunderkammer.
Also known as "wunder- kammer", the cabinet of curiosities seems to be no more than a an exhibit or wide variety of objects and artifacts, with a particular leaning towards the rare, eclectic and esoteric.  The selection of objects chosen told the story about the world and its history during those centuries.  The "cabinet of curiosities" seemed to play a role in the development of modern science, even though it wasn't always scientific in what was displayed.  Dragon blood, mythical animal skeletons, dried insects, shells, fossils and even works of art filled the "cabinet of curiosities" years ago.  
My own "cabinet of curiosities" made into a living room coffee table.
Then I got to thinking about my own personal "cabinet of curiosities" that I have in my home; a multitude of them, matter-of-fact.  I have a open faced cabinet in my office that features sands from all the islands my wife and I have visited held in miniature rum bottles; a cabinet shaped like a boat.  
Another of my Wunderkammers.
Think what the citizens who lived during the European Renaissance would have thought about that.  I have another "wunderkammer" in my living room filled with seashells, crustaceans and coral from the same trips where we collected the sand.  We have another cabinet with drawers which could be classified as a "cabinet of curiosities" in our family room that also houses a few hundred shells, mostly from the island of Sanibel in the state of Florida.  In my second floor landing stands an antique pie safe that is filled with curiosities such as old newspapers, baseball memoriabilia, antique type tools, type, letters and blocks, and old wooden and cardboard cigar boxes.  In total, they form a type of "wunderkammer".  I'm sure we all have collections which we could label a "cabinet of curiosities" in our home or place of business.  
One of two cabinets at Manheim Township High School
which feature collections from students all gathered
together in a "cabinet of curiosity." Click on photos to enlarge.
And these "cabinets of curiosities", my friends, are what led to our modern day museums.  In the past, "cabinets of curiosities" were collections which were frequently organized into about four categories (labeled in Latin) known as: 
(1) Artificialia - groups of objects created or modified by humans (antiques, works of art); (2) Naturalia - creatures and natural objects with an interest in monsters; (3) Erotica - including exotic plants and animals; (4) Scientifica - bringing together scientific instruments.  
In the showcase are a series of replicas of the earliest chemical
experimental photographs that were made in the early 1700s.
The photos were found by a few tourists in Europe while looking
where they were not supposed to be.  Lucky for the world that
they were found.  It eventually led to the discovery by Johann
Schulze that the darkening of silver salts is caused by light.  His
discovery helped provide the knowledge needed to develop photography. 
Well, my reason for trying to learn more about the modern day museum was due to a visit I recently made to the high school I graduat- ed from as well as taught in for over 30 years.  I was making a delivery of envelopes I had printed to the high school tech department and as I walked down the hallway past the library, I noticed, on either side of the doors leading into the media center (the library for those to old to know), two showcases which carried hand-made signs reading "Cabinet of Curiosities".  

This is the project showing how a magnet
will float forever.  All students in the class
were required to handwrite, in cursive, the
results of their work to go with their display
in the cabinet.  Many struggled since hand-
writing is no longer taught in school.  The
computer is great ... but!
In each showcase, cabinet if you must, were displays developed by sophomore students in an Advanced Placement world history course showing collections of objects and artifacts from the era when the "wunderkammer" was popular.  One student put together a miniature biology project based on the anatomical research of English physician William Harvey while another student collected and dried plants available in winter for a tiny herbarium.  This student's exhibit was based on the work of English botanist Thomas Johnson who died in 1644.  One student created a diamagnetic levitator based on the work of English physicist Michael Faraday.  In this case a small magnet is suspended between two larger diamagnetic blocks that repel it.  Trapped in the center, the magnet floats, moving with air currents.  It should stay there for 100 years or more, undisturbed.  The "cabinets of curiosities" are fantastic and took quite a bit of thought and preparation, much like the "cabinets of curiosities" from the 14th to 17th centuries; and, much like our ultra-modern museums of today might be.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.