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~~~ GOOD MOUNTAIN PRESS DIGEST #08a Published October 1, 2008 ~~~== == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == ==Quote for the Halloween Month of October is in the form of a Haiku:
Life is like a Final Exam
Skip the hard questions
The first time through.
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THE GOOD MOUNTAIN PRESS DIGEST #08a, October 2008Archived Digests
Table of Contents
1. October's Violet-n-Joey Cartoon
2. Honored Readers for October
3. On a Personal Note
4. Cajun Story
5. Recipe of the Month from Bobby Jeaux’s Kitchen: Dessert: Avocado Delight
6. New Poem by Bobby: "Tight Rails"
7. Reviews and Articles Added for October:
8. Commentary on the World
- ARJ2: Uncle Tungsten — Memories of a Chemical Boyhood by Oliver Sacks
9. Closing Notes - our mailing list, locating books, unsubscribing to Digest
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2002: Jan #20, Feb #21, Mar #22, Apr #23, May #24, Jun #25, Jul #26, Aug #27, Sep #28, Oct #29, Nov #30, Dec #31
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1. October Violet-n-Joey CARTOON:
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For newcomers to the Digest, we have created a webpage of all the Violet-n-Joey cartoons! Check it out at: http://www.doyletics.com/vjtoons.htm Also note the rotating calendar and clock that follows just to the right of your mouse pointer as you scroll down the page. You'll also see the clock on the 404 Error page if you make a mistake typing a URL while on the doyletics.com website.
The Violet-n-Joey Cartoon page is been divided into two pages: one low-speed and one high-speed access. If you have Do NOT Have High-Speed Access, you may try this Link which will load much faster and will allow you to load one cartoon at a time. Use this one for High-Speed Access.
This month Violet and Joey learn about Wild Blueberries.
"Wild Blueberries" at http://www.doyletics.com/images/093008jv.gif
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2. HONORED READERS FOR October:
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Each month we take time to thank two of our good readers of Good Mountain Press Digest, books and reviews. Here's our two worthy Honored Readers for this month. One of their names will be in the TO: address line of your email Digest notification. Our Honored Readers for October are:
Rossella in Turin, Italy
Michaela Sefler in Montreal
Congratulations, Ross and Michaela !
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3. ON A PERSONAL NOTE:
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Out Our Way:
Quick Summary: New great-grandson, two hurricanes Gustav & Ike, and a cruise around Italy for two weeks. This month's Digest will be a little different due to the large number of activities and the short amount of time left to pull them all together. There will be only one review this month — I finished reading another Steiner book, but its review will be next month. Lots of photos to choose from, over 800 from the cruise, so enjoy.
Our Wind Event
Monday, day of Gustav:
Okay, everyone knows it as Hurricane Gustav, but to me it was just a wind event. And a fun and interesting one for me, I hope you will agree. I grew up in the New Orleans area, living right across the river from Uptown during the 40s and 50s and in Metairie in the 60s. I lived through hurricanes when I was in elementary school and remember a couple of big ones in the 40s when the air cooled in September and the wind blew. They were fun. Sometimes water filled the ditches in front of the house. We cleaned up the mess afterward and went on.After Hurricane Betsy blew its 110 mph winds across our second-floor apartment where my wife and two toddlers were huddled in 1968, I figured I'd lived through the worst hurricane New Orleans could sustain. Our power was off for four days, and a lot of damage, but life went on. We thought the levees would be kept fixed to keep out the kind of roof top flooding that Arabi suffered after Betsy. Katrina proved us wrong. The political appointees on levee boards have been replaced by professionals and the boards consolidated since Katrina to keep the levees safe again.
There was no way I was going to evacuate for the Gustav wind event. I now had a generator which I bought after Katrina and never used. I had a small room AC unit which I also bought and never used. I was ready for whatever happened. Del chose to visit her daughter in central Louisiana for the wind event and joined about 13 other folks there for the duration of the storm, which moved directly over their house and caused historic levels of flooding in Alexandria. Our son-in-law's firm had some water in the building but his home was okay, losing power for a short time.
Here's what happened to me at Timberlane as I wrote it down then:
It's 5:50 am and the power finally went out about 5:20 am. Am typing this on my HP LT while watching Carl the weatherman on WWL on the 6" B&W TV in Timberlane on the kitchen bar. My portable fan is keeping me cool.
I've been up since 4 am and turned the AC down to as far as it would go to keep some cool air in the house till I can open the screen doors or get the compressor running later this morning. Cox Cable was the first to go out, again. Placed a cell phone to Del and left a message shortly after I got up. About 5 minutes ago, I placed a land line call to her cell. AT&T was still working while Cox is dead in the water. Got Del's lamp hooked into my APC UPS battery and it works. Shutdown the desktop computer immediately since I knew it wasn't going to come back up any time soon. Took a large painting and the atomic clock off the outside walls and put them inside the garage.
Trying to type with monitor tilted to illuminate my keyboard and save the flashlight and 6v batt lamps.
I went to bed about 11 pm and slept peacefully till I got up at 4 am. Recognized that I should eat a hot meal so I heated up some frozen seafood gumbo, toasted English muffin, and a pot of coffee. I ate the gumbo and the muffin, and put the rest of the gumbo back in the fridge. I had some coffee and it was still warm.
The rest of the day Gustav blew gusts peaking at 70 mph. I watched as my three Lombardy Poplars knelt over my vegetable gardens protecting my eggplant fruit. These poplars are a gone pecan so far as I'm concerned. I will have our landscaper David Babin cut them down and pull them all out.
As soon as it got daylight, I pulled the generator out of the garage and set it up to run, but I didn't know how to run it and couldn't find the instruction manual. About 9 am, I called Nobie who had used it while holding it for us after it was delivered to him by my daughters after Katrina. He liked it so much he bought one just like it. I had picked it up several months after Katrina and for three years it sat in the corner of my garage untouched. I called Nobie and asked him how to start it. Nobie said, "Turn this knob to ON, this one to FUEL, and pull this lever to choke it, and pull the starter rope. It should start on the first pull." I thanked him and thought, "Yeah, sure, first pull." Well, I followed his instructions to the letter and it started, first pull! I was excited. I had 12 gallons of gasoline, two in my lawnmower can and two full five-gallon cans I had just filled a couple of days earlier. I was set.
In the afternoon, I decided to hook up the 5,000 BTU room Air Conditioner in our Master Bedroom. It's the only safe bedroom. The Guest BR is too close to the generator since the exhaust runs by it through the breezeway. The two long red cords worked perfectly. The first one went through sliding down on breezeway side and is double protected from the exhaust by duct tape on both sides of the door. This one provided fridge power, TV, Microwave, and runs the second red cord to the MBR AC. I then began typing on my HP LT in the MBR with the AC running, the BOSE radio, the portable land line, the lamp, and the charger for my cell phone hooked up. I was set.
About 3:30 in the afternoon, I went out as the winds died down to clean out the culverts which were filled with debris. As I raked away some cypress branches, a baby squirrel with its eyes still closed was moving. It had been knocked out of its nest in the cypress tree and fallen to the ground. I took a quick movie and a closeup photo of it.
Our three Lombardy poplars were all kneeling by this time. I took a nap in the afternoon and was awakened by the sound of a brrrrr! Brrr! I looked out the window and saw a blue truck over in front of Alex's house. Went outside and took a photo of this guy with chain saw cutting up the tree which fell from Garretty's yard (next door neighbor) across Timberlane Road to Alex's yard across the street. Turns out the man in the blue truck's name is Beavers! How apropos!
His wife is one of the busy Beavers on the Gretna City Council and will likely be our district representative on the Gretna City Council when we move to Gretna come January 1.
Apparently the Gretna City police patrolled our neighborhood as if we were already in the City during the course of the storm. Good to be wanted and treated special. Never felt that way a single time during Katrina aftermath when only the Jefferson Parish deputies were supposed to be patrolling our streets. Felt more like neglected orphans back them.
I went to sleep finally on Monday about 10 pm and woke about 2 am when the power went off. MBR still cool, so I went back to sleep till about 4 am when I got up, refilled the generator and turned the power on. Since the primary job of the generator was to keep the freezer compartment frozen and the fridge cool, it didn't have to be running all the time. The compressor on the fridge only runs about an hour and shuts off for an hour. So when the compressor ran out of gas I let the compressor cool down for an hour or so before refilling and restarting it. Each time it started on the first crank. Thanks, McCollough!
Tuesday, day after Gustav:
Got a call from my neighbor across the fence on Ciena. He had a deer in his freezer in his garage which he was afraid would be rotting by the time he got home on Saturday and asked if I would remove the four large bags of deer meat and place them over a drain in his backyard. When I opened the freezer, the meat had begun to thaw and a large slab of partially frozen blood fell out on the garage floor. I had donned rubber gloves and hauled the bags out, feeling ever so much like Samuel Jackson as "The Cleaner" while I did so. When I had stashed the last bag, I found a garden hose and hosed out the freezer of all the blood and washed off the floor as best I could. It looked ever so much like one of the bloody crime scenes that Jackson specialized in cleaning up after in the movie. When I headed back to the gate in the fence, I noticed that a large branch of the red maple tree had snapped and was balanced on the lower trunk about 20 feet in the air, just over the spot where I had to enter the gate. And the wind was gusting so hard that I had to lean back to keep from being blown over. I inspected the position of the broken limb and convinced myself that it was safely anchored in the crotch of the lower tree, but just to be safe, I waited patiently for the gusts to die down before rushing through the gate. Another wind adventure.
In the afternoon I met Patsy Klees who works for Police Chief Art Lawson. She stopped by in her car as I was talking to Mike Hunt who spent the storm in his daughter's house across the street. Patsy lives in Timberlane and gave me and Mike Hunt her card, and said to call her anytime we had a question or a problem. We will join the City of Gretna officially in January as a result of the annexation vote in July, but we already feel like we're a part of it.
Today I spent timt getting things done in the yard. First off I planted the radish seeds I harvested from my Spring crop of radishes. Then I cut back the fig tree and planted the baby fig tree which we have nurtured in a container for the past year. It is now in the ground ready to grow up and replace its parent tree, which if it doesn't fruit again this year will be biblically cut down.
Mr. Beavers with the sharp teeth was at work on removing more of Garretty's tree today so I went outside with my rake to help him remove the debris as he cut away the heavy branches. I also went up and down Commerce clearing away the debris from the culverts. Took photo of neighbors's Onan RS 45000 generator setup running on natural gas in case we decide to get a backup generator installed.
Later in the afternoon, I took the desk chair from TSR and moved it to the front porch and sat and read. Three young guys came in large pickup to raise Alex's downed live oak tree. While they were doing that, next door Billy Isbell was on the flat roof inspecting the roofing tiles, obviously taking a proprietary interest in the home which he may inherit in the future.
Listened to reports of a tornado hitting Westwego when I came back in, so went out to take a photo of the sky in that direction since the sun was almost shining on us, giving me the idea that the cloud would be visible in the west. It was, but not sharply defined, just a little dark cloudy area.
Also took photos of helicopters flying over area on obvious inspection tour. Probably a Coast Guard helicopter carrying Gov. Bobby Jindal. At night I warmed up the red beans-eggplant etouffee and it was delicious.
At night on my small B&W TV in the master bedroom, I watched Fred Thompson say, "No other VP ever knew how to field-dress a moose." and he added, "except perhaps Teddy Roosevelt". Another Republican, of course. And he was talking about a woman, Sarah Palin, governor of Alaska and John S. McCain's running mate. Then I listened to an impassioned speech by Sen. Joe Liebermann from Connecticut about John McCain. He is truly an Independent and not a flunky of Democrats, Joe is, but he would serve his country better by becoming a Republican or a member of President McCain's cabinet.
Wednesday, Power Returns:
Wednesday morning the 24 hour curfew was lifted and I drove down to Belle Chasse highway and looked left and then right. Down at the end of the highway I could see some street lights and traffic lights, so I drove towards Belle Chasse. When I got over the parish line into Plaquemines Parish, the State Oil gas station was open and pumping gas. I had my two empty five-gallon cans in the trunk and filled them up. I was so thankful to have gas. Still didn't know how long our power would be off. I thank my Guardian Angel and I was doing so, the loudspeaker overhead which had been playing 1950s rock and roll songs crackled out "Johnny Angel". This synchronicity led me to personalize my Guardian Angel with the name Johnny, and led me to recall that my confirmation Saints name was "John." All these things may seem like coincidences, but that's just a way we have of talking about deep truths. I left for home with as much gasoline for my generator as I had when the wind event started.
Later that morning I went outside to work in my vegetable garden. I had been weeding and cleaning it out for fifteen minutes when I heard the sound of a chain saw next door. I walked to the front yard and there was John our neighbor directing a young man cutting away the trunk of the huge cypress tree which had fallen across Timberlane Road earlier. I asked John if he was going to start his generator. He said, "We got power." I was incredulous! I ran immediately in looked into my bathroom and sure enough, our power was on also! I had exactly the same amount of gas in the cans as I had before the wind event and our power was back on.
We had power but no Cox cable yet. Funny how the Cox spokesman led everyone to believe that our cable would be on as soon as the power company fixed their problems. So I was stuck with broadcast TV signals. I spent a lot of time trying to get sound to come out when I was watching the HD TV, but no dice. Finally I noticed the HD Tuner unit was warm and may have overheated the optical signal generating circuit. I relocated a short wire and placed the tuner safely atop of the Magnavox TV, and the sound came on several minutes later as I was pushing other buttons. I still think it had finally cooled down and the sound circuit began working properly. In the meantime, I had switched two optical cables with no effect. Learned again how to do system setup on my Pioneer amp, and how the functions work. All to no avail and then suddenly there was sound!
Then I worked over the Dish satellite receiver, trying to get it to receive signals. I replaced the Smart Card with the new one, hoping that would solve my problem. Nope. Finally got it to display on the Kuro TV, and with sound, but the only thing worth watching was a c1995 movie, Kid Monk with a 20 ish Mr. Spock, Leonard Nimoy. Black and white, fuzzy period piece about a young boxer, so I watched the ending. No wonder they had Mr. Spock throwing so many punches on original Star Trek.
My daily hot showers and shaves are coming back soon as the electric hot water heater does its job.
I'm listening right now to Governor Bobby Jindal's press conference. He's doing all the stuff that Blanco never did, and doing it very effectively. When Entergy said they could only have half the power up by 9 days, he said that was totally unacceptable. He offered them Blackhawk helicopters to help them view their long line HV power lines. Thank God we have Bobby Jindal on duty during this emergency. He is a true governor.
Thursday Del Returns
I was working at my computer about 6 am and was startled by the kitchen door suddenly swinging open. I was not expecting anyone, much less Del, this early. She had left Alexandria at 3 am and driven home in about 3 hours and 15 minutes, probably a new record for that trip. Obviously she missed all the returning evacuees traffic.
Del and I got in the car about 8 and drove past PJ's (not open), then Breaux Mart (not open), then to State Oil and filled up her Caddy. Then Rouse's Mart (open), but they were still clearing the expired or questionable dairy away ( all of it). We got some bananas, juice and a couple of other things, also some Alstromeria flowers. Came home and fixed some oatmeal and enjoyed our breakfast together.
Later in the morning we drove to Westwego to try to find some crab meat. Hit a thunderstorm and came back empty handed. Ate some salmon sandwiches. I then began cooking some cresh, but without the crab meat, so it is a shrimp-eggplant etouffee or "See".
It came out great, and I called Rosie to take her some, but she had made herself some powdered milk and was eating a big bowl of cereal. Her power was not on and she faced the prospect of no AC overnight.
Just when I thought we were safe from another wind event, Jeff Parsons called from Hattiesburg. He's a FEMA inspector we met when he stayed at my brother's house for three months after Katrina. I told him he could stay for just one night, and said he'd be here by 7:30. Del and I ate supper, and then we watched Masterpiece Mystery with Lynley. We got almost to the end when Jeff showed up. He and I talked untill he went in the Guest Bedroom to make phone calls, at which time, Del watched the rest of the show. Then Jeff and I watched John S. McCain's acceptance speech before retiring.
Friday Almost Back to Normal
Almost back to normal. There were two bags waiting in each front yard: one had Mon, Tues, Wed newspapers and the other Thurs & Fri. I began reading them and got up to Thurs when Jeff Parsons came into the kitchen. The two places I had thought for him to stay both had complications, so the best I could do was point him to Century Suites at Manhattan and WB Expway.
Del and I drove to Rosie's and found her just arising, but home with power on. Ronnie told her to dump contents of her freezer, so she did it last night! 88-yrs-old and she was exhausted, still so this morning.
Del's going to a massage at 1 pm with Charlotte in Metairie and when she returns, we planned to get together to visit Tiffany at Ochsner's on Jeff Hwy and see our latest great-grandson, Preston Michael Ostarly. We hoped to do this, but it didn't work out and because of the Italy trip we won't get to see him until October.
We went to Rouse's on Belle Chasse Hwy and got some L&L and milk, but no eggs yet. Saw this young man on his back near seafood area with people all around him. I called Del to come over to attend to his spirit. She prayed a said she felt that he would be alright. A gal who was next to him then told Del he had a seizure, probably epileptic, and was okay.
Then we drove to see if PJ's on De Gaulle was open and it was. Charlie Sampey and Yvonne Le were handling customers. Told Charlie his Manhattan store had lights in it. He said he'd get it opened for tomorrow. Had a great latte and cranberry muffin. Long time between drinks!
Next step is to get some internet connection via phone line. Earthlink is first stop. Did that. Can cancel it any time and only pay for time used. $9.95 a month for up to three months. Excellent for vacation usage. Dial up line. Good for squirrel mail, faster than snail mail, slower than email.
Article on how the TP managed to deliver five newspapers to our door this morning:
Powerless 'Times-Picayune' Still Reporting — Not Delivering
By Joe Strupp
Published: September 02, 2008 11:10 AM ET
NEW YORK The Times-Picayune of New Orleans has not delivered a print newspaper since Saturday, and has been without power since Monday morning, according to Dan Shea, managing editor/news. But despite those limits the staff remains in the paper's main building, working with a generator and essentially producing a full edition for its Web site.
"We lost power at about 9:30 a.m. [Monday] and we continued," Shea told E&P Tuesday morning. "We worked there all day, we probably had 50 people there and another 50 out in the field."
During a weekend that saw 95% of New Orleans evacuate to prepare for Hurricane Gustav, the Times-Picayune also launched into storm preparation mode, printing and delivering its Sunday paper on Saturday and running presses early Sunday evening for its Monday edition.
But, because of a lack of couriers and continued storm activity, the Monday paper has yet to be delivered. Tuesday's edition, written and laid out on computer, has yet to be printed due to the power outages. Shea said if power is not restored by this afternoon, the paper will look for an alternate site, perhaps its sister daily, The Press-Register in Mobile, Ala.
"About 70% of our metro area is without power," Shea said from his home, which is utilizing an emergency generator. "Hopefully, by Thursday, we will have power and people coming back for the paper."
Even without electricity, Shea says the Times-Picayune newsroom is working with an emergency generator, as well as air cards and cellular phones. "The big problem is there is no air conditioning in the building," Shea said, noting four staffers stayed at his home in nearby Old Metairie Monday night.
Although the generator has made working in the newsroom and photo labs possible, Shea said it cannot power the printing presses.
Apparently as soon as the TP received power, they printed all the back issues they had created and delivered to our home on Friday morning. What a treat it was to have my morning newspaper back and have the last five days of reporting in print, in summary, and not have to depend on the ephemeral TV talking heads for news. Only with a newspaper can one get an overview of all the news on one's own time schedule.
Called and talked to Betty Chowning — she was on the road heading home. Then called my cousin Nancy Matherne after her mother Maryann's phone was busy. Then Daniel called. He said, "It's Daniel, your cousin." Which Daniel, I got two, it was Danny Barrios!
Talked to Betty a long time since she seemed to be enjoying the call. Nancy filled me in on how the Houma crew fared, so I was able to squirrel mail (dialup email) Fr. Peter Rogers back in New York. He asked how every one made out there. I wrote him back that his cousins Carolyn, Marie and others evacuated to Shreveport.
My cousin Danny Barrios lives in Bourg behind the old school and just told me over my cell phone that his house had no water, so that bodes well for Carolyn's being high and dry. So most likely my Matherne grandparent's home survived, but my Babin grandparents' home was slammed into by a huge pecan tree. The only bathroom, kitchen and all the bedrooms are destroyed. No one hurt.
I'm on squirrel mail also. Like the name, faster than snail mail slower than email! :-) This is my temp earthlink.net email address til Cox gets its fragile self back to gether. Thank God for ATT and its deep redundancy. OUr land lines worked all through the storm. Just signed up for this new account a few hours ago and finally getting to answer my emails.
We invited Rosie Harris to come to supper here and she accepted. I've fixed some "Avocado Delight" ala Brazilian style for dessert. It's chilling right now in its cozy ramekins in the fridge. (It's featured as recipe of the month in this Digest.)
We had an elegant and delicious meal. The Shrimp-Eggplant Etouffee was great, steamed the wild & long grain rice, heated the See in a small pot. The dessert was delicious, but needed more lime. The lime I used had waited too long and dried out a bit. Use fresh lime next time. Had a cup of coffee and talked to our good friend Rosie. At 88-yrs-old, she returned from her evacuation to an elegant house near Jackson, Ms. to find her fridge empty and her freezer had to be emptied and its contents discarded. Orders from the mayor, her son, Ronnie Harris. So she had only powdered milk and cereal for nourishment all day while she cleaned the debris from her porch, her yard, her driveway and scrubbed pieces of leaves and grass stuck the front of her house during our wind event. The woman has an indominible spirit and great stamina.
After she left we began watching "Emma", the Gwenyth Paltrow one, but I nodded off just before Mr. Knightly did the knightly thing and professed his love for Emma.
We called our landscaper and he was able to get his crew to Timberlane and cleaned out the wind event debris. Took the large red maple branch down, removed the four Lombardy Poplars which had either blown over or tilted during the storm. Plus they cleaned out the dead branches in our oak tree and basically tuned up the grounds as if nothing untoward had just happened.
The Saints game was still on for Sunday, September 7, and Del and I decided to go. Del and I left for Superdome about 10 and got a parking place where Baronne crosses the overpass. Road was blocked by National Guard troops in order to allow returning evacuee buses to unload on Loyola Drive. The lot we were forced into took a long time to turn left after the game. The game was thrilling, with everyone on tenterhooks until the last 40 seconds when on 4th and 6, Scott Fujita was sent in specifically by Coach Payton to keep his eyes on the QB's eyes and be wherever he was throwing.Worked so well, Garcia threw the ball into Scott's arms. He caught it, went down and the Saints went into victory formation to end the game. Great TD's by David Patten, Devry Henderson, and Reggie Bush. Bush juked a defender between him and the goal out of his shoes and flew horizontal to the ground with ball in his outstretched hands breaking the plane of the goal line. So close that the first call by near side lineman was out-of-bounds, but he was quickly over-ruled and the TD were on the scoreboard, 24-20 and that was the final score. Many heroes on offense, Drew Brees with 3 TD passes, Jeremy Shockey with three great catches for 1st downs. He made those closes calls by falling forward with his large body and clearing the down marker just barely. He was pumped up and pumped up us fans. Hopefully the Saints are beginning a streak of winning home games in addition to road games.
Take a Hike, Ike!
We saw that sign during a football game, and it expressed our sentiments exactly. Del had worked hard planning our Crystal Serenity Cruise for September and for the first week or so of the month it looked possible that Hurricane Ike might cancel the flights out of Louis Armstrong Airport in New Orleans. We checked on leaving earlier or changing our flights to leave directly from Atlanta (with us driving to Atlanta), but we lucked out and Ike did take a hike, and angled towards Texas, blowing due South past us the day before we flew out.
I had wondered how my drummer friend, David, behind the counter at my favorite PJ's Coffeeshop made out with his band Sustenance and their House of Blues gig right after Gustav. David said, "We were the only concert that they had and they were tickled to have us. The room was packed, and Sustenance sold almost all of the CD"s we had on hand." Obviously a great night for David and his band. Last word I got was that House of Blues wants them back for another performance. Great work, David.
The latest New Orleans Magazine arrived with a cover photo of Imagination Movers, a New Orleans group which just began a regular Disney Channel show at 9 am each morning. A friend of mine from UNO, Mary Hicks, married Scott "Smitty" Smith a few year ago, and he is one of the quartet of singing and dancing fun-makers who create the magic for kids and adults alike. I called Mary and asked if she wanted a copy of the magazine. She said, "Yes" and we met at PJ's on Gen DeGaulle one morning. Smitty was there, also, and they were both delighted to get their own copy so fast. Didn't even know it was out or that IM was filling the cover. Got a photo of them reading the magazine before we said goodbye. Mary was a member of our final project in a graduate education course under Dr. Paulsen a few years ago. Mary, together with me and my daughter, Maureen, formed "Aliens in Black" and presented our curriculum design for Earth University.
After a tumultuous ride with two wind events, Del and I were ready for a bit of peace and quiet, and where best to find it than on a cruise ship named "Serenity"? We flew out as scheduled on the 11th about 1:30 PM and got out of the plane in Venice, Italy about 10 AM the next morning. I listened to classical music on my earphones while Del watched "Smart People". She got interrupted by our dinner being served and we ended up watching the full movie later aboard ship. It was strange how the night following "Smart People" the ship theatre showed "The Visitor", two movies about an aging, newly widowed college professor who is bored with his job, is having trouble with his latest book, and is forcefully given a job assignment he doesn't want by his boss. We often get two movies of the same type by accident from Netflix, so this seemed to continue that curious synchronicity.
One of the little challenges we met upon arrival in Venice was getting our bags from the airlines baggage rack to where we were to meet the Crystal baggage handlers who were to take them to our stateroom. We needed a one Euro coin to get a baggage cart. We had lots of Euro bills, but no way to change them into coins. We could change US $5 bill into 3 euros, but we couldn't find that fiver. I had a ten but it wouldn't work in the machine. Finally she located an Exchange and got 6 euros for $20 and rented a cart.We loaded up the six large bags and moved them about 50 feet through a door and there were the Crystal baggage handlers. We could have tugged the bags with difficulty that far, but we didn't know how far it would be. You never know until you find out. Life seems full of these one-off things which after you learn from it, you never get to use the information again.
We got on board ship and went to the twelfth deck which overlooked Venice. The sun was shining and the city looked great. Little did we guess that it was the last time we'd see the sun shining until we left port. We got to our stateroom about 3 PM. I showered and shaved and felt much better. We ate dinner and then headed out on the water shuttle to San Marco Piazza to explore Venezia by night. We didn't know for sure which way to go from the dock, so we walked left as far as we could, then turned right and wandered through quaint back alleys, finally coming upon St. Marks' Square which was mostly empty of tourists, except in front of several public bandstands.We found Caffe Florian (where we planned to meet Luciano Galvani the next day), then a place across the square with some great energetic music, like "Brazil" with the sparse but enthusiastic audience clapping and dancing. We had a great time, but we were so tired from the day's trip, we left after an hour and went back to our cabin to get a good night's sleep.
VENICE IN THE RAIN
Del wanted to sleep late, so I got up and had a light breakfast along the port side of the ship. Two women, Mimi and Jane, were having breakfast and asking their waiter something which he was sure about, but I was, so I stopped over to take to them. Very interesting gals from NYC.Later that night they would join us at Table 27 which was their assigned seating. Jane recognized me immediately, but not Mimi, until I put my hat on, and then she did. They would come late to the 6 PM seating and decide it was too early for them and join the 8:30 seating, but in the last days of the cruise they would return to our table for several memorable nights of dining.
We had a full day planned in Venice. Weather off the SB side of ship looked a bit threatening and that should have told me, "Walk back and retrieve jackets and rain gear," but I didn't. I wished I had. What we needed was full coverage rain gear by the time the day was over, but we managed to enjoy ourselves and make do with what we had. We walked to the Florian Caffee, and it was too chilly outside, so we found seats inside with the thought of having coffee there with Luciano when he arrived and then finding a place for lunch. Luciano, also known as Lucky, I met about a year ago on the Internet and he has already translated several of my doyletics pages into Italian. Del and I were excited about meeting him, and he had suggested the Florian and said he planned to bring his daughter with him.
We were looking out the window and I saw a guy in a red shirt who resembled Luciano, but a bit thinner. Key was he was with a young pre-teen girl. I walked out and called to him, and finally caught him on the arm, and it was clear this was our friend Luciano Galvani. What a joy to meet him at last. We ordered three coffees which were $9 apiece. That seemed a bit high, but we were warm and wanted to talk to our friends. When the bill came they had tacked on a $27 supplemental music charge even though the concert had not started, and there were no band members in the bandstand by the time we left! No signs, no warnings, just a big added charge which made no sense to us. Luciano gave him a piece of his mind in Italian, but we just paid it gladly. We walked through the rain swollen street and stopped quickly for lunch at a small Trattoria. Lucky pointed to the staging materials stacked along the edge of St. Marks and other streets and said that was for a raised boardwalk for very rainy days. They would stand about three feet in the air.We need those in New Orleans some days. But Venice was lovely even in the rain. Del had a small portable umbrella and I had my hat, but that was all. Luciano gave Del his jacket to wear and Del pulled out a green poncho for me. We sat down to eat as the rain beat down just outside the open window. Chiara ordered herself a pizza, gave us each a small slice, Lucky the meat spaghetti, Del some spinach and an omelette, and I got the tomato spaghetti dish. No charge for the rain outside, which did show up, and the bill was reasonable this time.
When we left the trattoria, I told him that Del wanted some Murano glass pieces. We walked along and found a small shop which had Murano in tall letters all over the shop. The clerk was a buxomy blonde named Ariadne, who was very helpful. Del bought a glass pendant for Chiara, herself, and somebody else. Then Ariadne told us about a glass-blowing place right around the corner, and we walked over this Venetian bridge into this multistory bldg full of huge and beautiful glassworks.In the lobby was a life-sized green glass horse. We walked up the stairs and through galleries. I took photos freely and one photo I took had an alarming and salubrious result:
The photo I wanted was of a pink plate with a mandala pattern on it. I raised my camera to clear the bowl at the base of the plate and my camera hovered slightly over the plate. As I turned to go into the next room with Del, Lucky, Chiara, I noticed a slight change in illumination in the room, so I looked around and found that the four lights over the glass shelves where the plate was had gone out. Curious I thought. Then I thought perhaps a silent alarm. Nothing happened at first so I waited to see what might happen, if it were an alarm. A man in a suit who could have been a customer, came slowly up the stairs and looked around as a tourist might, but I paced with him and felt my breathing restricted, so I explained to him that I had taken a photo of this pink plate, he barely reacted, but I felt more comfortable right away because he started breathing normally again.He then came over and met Del and the Galvanis and invited us to an explanation of the glass products. His name was Maurizio Ballerin of Vecchia Murano glass company and he gave sales presentations to large groups. We were a group of only four, but he decided to give us a personalized tour.
He began pulling expensive glassware with 24K gold trim on it and explaining how it was made. Seamlessly he flowed into showing us place settings of various colored goblets and vases. I suggested we get two of the Alexandrite tumblers, and Del decided to get a Murano vase trimmed in gold for a Christmas gift for all eight of our offspring. The vases came in six colors, so we doubled up on the Alexandrite and the deep blue, I believe. The red was about a little more expensive than the other colors. Maurizio wrote up the order and will ship them to us. I took photos. He was humorous and informative, and looked like Woody Allen at times with his auburn hair and glasses. He also arranged a live private demonstration of glass blowing for us. We hated to leave the place, but we were needing to head back to the Serenity and the lifeboat drill for 4 PM. This is a requirement for all cruise liners before setting sail, and we were leaving port about 5 PM. We couldn't miss the ferry boat back to the ship. It was still raining and Lucky insisted Del take his jacket and umbrella as we hugged them goodbye. It was an incredible day in Venezia, one we will always remember. Thank you, Luciano!
We had one more challenge before we got to the cruise ship. Negotiating through a rest room. There was one next to where our ferry was due to arrive and next to a kiosk which had closed, but whose awnings were providing much needed shelter from the persistent cold rain coming down. I paid my Euro to use the Men's Room and came out in the rain of the open patio trying to find the Exit.I knew that Uscita meant Exit, but the Uscita led directly into the open area with stalls which was clearly the Ladies Room. I just couldn't believe it was set up this way. But, by some obscure Italian logic, the only exit went through the Ladies Room! Del had less trouble with this arrangement than I did.
While waiting for dinner, I took my LapTop to get configured for the wireless/Lan internet connection in our stateroom. I was given 10 free minutes to test out the connection and it worked pretty well, so I decided to sign up for the 25 hours at 300 bucks package. That gave me up to two hours a day and we should be able to place phone calls using Skype over the connection. This worked out okay, but the 10 hours for $150 would have been better as an hour a day was a lot of time on a busy cruise. We had about 9 hours left unused. But we only paid Skype 2.1 cents per minute, and made the effective rate for Ship-to-Landline calls to the USA about 30 cents a minute.Compares very well with the $9.50 a minute using the ship's phone system. The broadband was more like a modelband, skinny band width, and it took a lot of time to get any internet work done. I used it mainly to answer important emails and update my web statistics daily. We made one Skype videophone call to our daughter, Maureen. I was talking to her LT-Landline and asked if she had connected up to Skype. She had, and within minutes we could see each other's face in real-time as we talked with a very clear connection. Mo has laid down the gauntlet now for the rest of our eight offspring to follow. We want all eight on Skype so we can talk/see our grandkids as they are growing up so fast.
We arrived for the early seating in the Crystal Dining room shortly after 6 PM at Table 27 and a couple were already seated there. After a feeling of relief that this was a normal couple (we had experienced a rather odd couple on an early cruise out of New Orleans which is full of odd couples), we introduced ourselves to George and Carolyn MacLaughlin. George is a mechanical engineer who spent recent years acquiring, starting up, and selling large businesses around the world. Carolyn is a real estate agent buying and selling high-end homes. The conversation flowed constantly.
And at 7 we were joined by the two ladies I met earlier for breakfast, Mimi and Jane. Mimi worked in a NYC law office and her office was next to Rudy Giuliano's office in the same law firm. Interesting lady and a lawyer herself, now retired. Another most interesting person to talk to or listen to. She and Jane left their not-wanting-to-cruise husbands home and came together on the cruise. Both from New York. Mimi loved the craps table and she was a joy to watch throwing all those 7's, many of them at the right time.
The night we sailed from Venice was the first formal dress night. Del and I got dressed and went to the early Captain's cocktail party and reception. We danced three or four dances and enjoyed ourselves immensely. I had on my Black Tie Tuxedo and Del her elegant lowcut Black and White evening gown. We had dinner for two by the window with Dejan and Srjan serving us, a Croat and a Serb. Told six foot 10 Dejan, the "Lurch", as George MacLaughlin calls him, a joke to see if he would laugh. I got a delayed smile from him from this one: "Catholic priest, Anglican priest, and Jewish Rabbi walk into a bar. Bartender looks up at them and says, 'What is this? Some kind of a joke?'" Some people aren't sure if this is a joke, but I can assure you that it is indeed "some kind of a joke." Not a normal kind as it is self-referential in an unusual sense.Then we went back to room. We called Kim and Carla and talked to them from the middle of the Adriatic Sea. We found out that Yvette and Greg stayed home in Bellaire during hurricane Ike and are without power. Jim and Jena evacuated to in Waco for time being. We went to the first show in the Starlight Theater, with scenes and songs from great musicals. After that I headed for Connoisseur Lounge to watch whatever NFL game was on, long enough to see the final score of the Saints-Redskins game. They lost.
We hit the sack together about 10 pm. We will wake up in the middle of the Adriatic Sea on our way to Croatia.
Dubrovnik, Dubrovna, and Cavtat, Croatia
Up about 5:30 and went to Lido Café for early breakfast fare. Now ready to leave for tour to Cavtat, Croatia. We left on the tender which was actually an enclosed motorized lifeboat lowered from Serenity and crewed by its staff. We went through the entry point and got on the bus. I didn't see a rest room in the entry point, but figured the bus would have one. It did, but it was kept locked, even when we were out of the city. Just found out that come cities prevent you from using it in their limits, but we drove twenty miles out of town and it was kept locked the entire time. When we stopped for a photo op, I asked the bus-nazi (tour guide) about it and all she would say was that it was locked and in twenty minutes we'd be at our destination, a restaurant. As soon as the bus pulled away from the scenic overlook, there was a couple of portable johns just a hundred feet ahead which she should have known about, but didn't bother to find out or tell anyone.
We arrived at Cavtat (pronounced locally as dzahv — tat) and Del and I had to buy coffee from a small store to use their rest room. They had only one room, but it had urinal and toilet, so she and I both went at the same time in the same room. A two-fer. But we still bought two coffees. Note: if you buy a latte after dinner, you're pinned as an American because the locals only drink expresso after dinner.
The Cavtat stretch of coastline along the Adriatic is a well-kept secret among Hollywood movie stars who can live there and raise their kids in clean environment with no crowding as in so many coastal regions of Italy that we saw. We were told that the water flows north along the Croatian coast and only dumps its sand and silt when it reach Venice in its northernmost reach. The water here is crystal clear and you can see fifty feet to the bottom right in the harbor! And no debris on the bottom, only fish in the water.
I bought a wind chime for 5 euros at a small shop. They had a selection of them, and I noted one of them when the wind blew danced around and tinkled livelier than all the rest of them.The price was 35 kronos and exchange rate was rounded down to 7, so I gave her a 20 eu bill and she gave me 3 5eu bills in return. Nice souvenir of Cavtat, Croatia. I saw a name Hraskva or something like that and asked what that meant. She told me it was "Croatia" in her native tongue. All the natives take English as their second language. English is truly the lingua franca of the world today, as Greek and then Latin was in the Greco-Roman epoch.
Got back in the bus and drove on to a family restaurant in Dubrovna near a series of weirs to run water wheels for making grain and powering other things. Once more it was raining, but not heavily. I took photos of the falls and the wheels. We each had a plate with thin ham slices on two kinds of delicious bread and a couple of slices of whitish cheese. I ate the bread and cheese and fruit. Sat across from Kamoka from Tokyo and we talked. Everyone who heard we were from New Orleans wanted to talk about hurricanes and if the city was safe to visit again. We assured then it was and told them the best time to come is in April or October.
Back on the bus, they threw us a curve and said they could drop us off at the Old Walled City which we had only seen from the air. I had taken a long nap and that made the trip home enjoyable, but neither of us wanted to brave a new place when we were already tired and it was still raining, so we stayed on the bus. Huge traffic jam going into and out of the walled city's entrance.
I had seen a road sign pointing to "Babin Kuk" but was unable to photograph it on the way in. On way back, I saw the sign and snapped a blurred image of it. Later as we got off at the exit point to the tenders, I noticed a city map of Dubrovnik, and since I knew that Babin Kuk was a section of the city, like Metairie to New Orleans, I went over to get a photo of the map and some vandal had torn most of the name away, leaving only the "uk" of Babin Kuk. The mere presence of the name Babin on a place indicates that Peter Babin of Shreveport was right about the Babin name coming from Croatia.He guessed it was from Babinsky, but here is the name in its whole form used as a place name. I digitally restored the name Babin Kuk on the map when I got home. I later found out that Baba means "grandma" and therefore Babin would the adjectival form of Baba. Thus, my Grandma Babin would translate as Grandma grandma, a double grandma!
We got back to the ship just in time for the rain to stop, and the sky to clear up. I was able to take great photos of the asymmetrical stayed cable bridge spanning D's river. Built in the last decade, it shaved off 50 kms from a trip from one side of Dubrovnik to the other. Beautiful, clear Dubrovnik visible from the ship. We were told that this was the first rain they had since May and it may not rain again for months by Dejan, who is the tall "Lurch" senior waiter at our dinner table 27. His assistant is Srjan from Serbia, so we had a Serbo-Croatian set of waiters, a Dejan and a "Sir John". Earlier I had told Dejan a joke to see if I could get him to smile or laugh and was successful so I decided to tell him another joke tonight.
George and Carolyn MacLaughlin joined us for dinner. We had a great meal. The lobster/shrimp appetizer was delicious, but the split pea soup with champagne in it was by far the best pea soup I ever had. Del tasted a spoonful and later ordered herself a bowl of it after she'd already eaten. Main course was Sea Bass from Mediterranean, Dejan said he was having it also for his dinner.
We had cherries jubilee for dessert, and then I told the Boudreaux joke about the bloody Band-aids on the mirror. He, George, and Carolyn all roared. They loved it and didn't see the punch line coming at all. Del asked Dejan where in Croatia he lived and he said, "Right here. My mother waved to me as we were coming into port this morning." That suddenly made him seem more like a young man than a somber giant as he had struck us the first couple of times he served us.
After dinner we said goodnight to the MacLaughlins and agreed to meet them for dinner at Prego, the Italian specialty restaurant on the next night. They had made reservations for four.
When I found out that George was originally born in Canada, I told him my story about Garth Speight who is the first Canadian to have his work hung in the Vatican Museum thanks to Felix, the porno-king of Rome who just happened to sit next to Pope John Paul II's first secretary during their school days in Poland.
George then me told about this artist who painted canvases and would sell them to employees of one of his TRW factories in Rogers, Arkansas. One day, George saw his latest painting of the Last Supper and fell in love with it. "Ray Ware", I think his name was (Ware is correct last name), wouldn't sell it to George, no matter how many times he asked. Would say only that he wanted Pope John Paul II to have it. Well, George had the local pastor of the Catholic Church look at it, and then the Bishop wanted to see it, then the Cardinal. The Cardinal said he wished for the artist to present it to the Pope and TRW paid for the trip to Rome. Big news item in the local Rogers, Ark newspaper.
After dinner we went to see Jon Courtenay. Met Rita and Hans from Munich who had sat by us the previous show.Introduced myself and Del and said I'd heard them speaking German the previous night, at least I thought it was German. I spoke to her in German for the first few sentences, until I could see that she understood and spoke excellent English. I told her about my trip to Rheingau and singing Die Lorelei in Burg Rheinstein above the Rhine River im Abendshoenenschein. Then the show started with a TV-like "live" showing on two screens of Jon being called to do his show from his dressing room. At the 30 minutes mark, a sexy blonde came out, kissing him, athe 15 min, a sexy brunette, scantily clad, and at the five minute mark, a little old lady in a floral dress! Then they showed him leaving his dressing room and getting lost on the way to the stage, but finally making it just in time for the show. He then came out on stage an began singing Alexander's Rag-time band in the most up tempo, improvisation-jazz rendition that I've ever heard. The sax, trumpet and trombone really knocked it! Later Jon sang and played an up tempo "Walking to New Orleans". After the show I told the Cruise Rec Officer how great the band was. Later this same band played New Orleans improvisational jazz in the Crystal Cove and ended with a rousing Saints Go Marchin' In and second line.
This area is better seen than described and as a result I have very little to say about our day in Taormina except that it was feast for the eyes in bright colored Italian pallette of strong earth tones and bright blues and green and orange.
We were anchored right off shore of Taormina and took tenders from the Serenity to shore. From there we were driven to the old city of Taormina which offered spectacular views of Mt. Etna (10K feet high and now dormant volcano). In Taormina we walked down the Corso Humberto, a delightful street full of small shops and a lot of vehicular traffic for a street which is supposed to have none. No rest rooms on this bus, once again.
George and Carolyn walked with us. Del and I had our walkie/talkies, but it was Carolyn and George which could have used them. George got separated from us and reverted to the rules established on their previous trip, which Carolyn did not remember. He spent 45 minutes waiting at the first church we came to, all the while I was looking up ahead for him. Finally I chose the Amigos Bar to wait for the gals and then George showed up. Del and I ordered an ice coffee, something I have never ordered before, but miraculously we were treated to an ice cream soda concoction of vanilla gelato with coffee flavored syrup in a soda glass and straw. We felt like teenagers when we had something take a photo of us posed sharing one of the two delicious concoctions. Met Emile from the Dominican Republic who told us that his son had seen him on the webcam aboard ship and then sent him an email with the photo from their home to his PC aboard the Serenity. He had a big Nikon with a 8Gb mem strip in it and 10 mb resolution. Del bought a beautiful zipped and embroidered handbag/carry all with Taormina on it which we used throughout our later excursions.
The Isle of Capri
Overnight we moved from Sicily to Napoli and docked in Sorrento. We had booked an excursion to the Isle of Capri and almost immediately wished we hadn't. We were shoehorned into a bus which held only 20 passengers, but with planks between the seats blocking the aisles, we jammed 26 people into this tiny bus, and then we aimed to climb to Anacapri (above Capri) and join the cattle call of the wild goats. Isle di Caprosa was its original name when only wild goats roamed its hills, now tourists havereplaced the wild goats and there's not a single square foot of public space which is not filled with these two-legged "wild goats". Every group of two dozen has a lead goat carrying a sign, or a colored flag (Italian, Euro, British, etc), or a lady with a fan, or a handkerchief on a stick, and so on. If you dared to stop in one place to view the scenery, one or more of these will envelop you and move passed you like you were a rock being washed over and around by a mountain stream, only some rivulets of the stream would flow down hill and some uphill, often at the same time and spot on a walkway.
We met in a large retail show room to see a sales pitch for inlaid furniture (a tacky multiple gaming board table for $3K to $5K) Luckily the demo was near a luxurious rest room, the only landlubber one we saw.
Then we filed up the hill to the house of Axel Munthe, a Swedish doctor, who administered to the island's peoples for many decades without charge. He built a beautiful home atop the isle over an ancient summer home of the Tiberius Caesar. He saved the artifacts of ancient Rome found there and incorporated them into his beautiful home. He awoke from a dream one night which told him where to find finely sculpted granite Sphninx on the isle and it is now ensconced in a perch over the sea floor, a 1,000 ft below. I managed a photo showing its banged up face. Also near the sphninx is the eponymous statue of San Michele (Mi-cha-el the Archangel) which is associated with the Chapel next to it. The house and gardens were lovely and we mostly enjoyed the walk. Then we motored back down to the lower Capri for a long trek down hill to the other side of the Isle.What I know about treks that start off downhill is that you will have return, tired and exhausted back uphill, so no thank you very much, Antonio, we ain't going. We found a beautiful church in which to wile away the time and we sat in on the second half of a local Italian wedding. The church was undergoing massive removation, with scaffolding in the nave and over its roof. It seemed intact, and this was mostly cosmetic improvement, re-plastering the white walls with their intricate carvings. Wanted to catch the bride and groom exiting down the aisle, but they spent a lot of time after ceremony, taking photos of the family. We walked out and saw the rice-filled cones and flower petals to throw on the newly married couple, a wonderful fruitful way of sending them on their life's journey, one which sadly the idiots of the save the animals have scuttled from the State-side ceremonies. The rice kills birds is their claim. Show me a bird stupid enough to believe that foolishness and then die from it!
We ate lunch at a small Trattoria run by a very overweight "Sylvester Stallone" looking character who told us, "My brother cooks the pizza." I told Del to order one and what does she immediately do? She asks this obese business owner who is raking people into his shop, "How big are the pizzas?" I was furious! She ordered two pizzas which I thought were horrible, and then two bottles of water, one "gas" and one "still" adding another $10 to our bill. The pizzas were lousy, all wet, looking like something dumped pizza dough on a pan and then poured some stewed tomatoes on top and then a couple of leaves of basil. Yuck! And we got two instead of one. I tell her my opinion and she asks a fat guy who eats ten times as much as we do whether one pizza will be enough for two of us. Then she tips him $5 for this mess! She claimed she didn't know the tip was already included in the bill. This from a women who stoops to pick up pennies from the sidewalk.
The day was horrible. We had to ride in a huge cattle car ferry to Capri, after waiting on shore after the tender arrived from our boat. As we boarded the tender to return to Serenity, a woman said her day was horrible also. "I visited the isle 41 years ago and it was a lovely visit, now it's terrible." That was the Capri that I wanted to visit, the 41 year ago one, but it does not exist anymore, destroyed by hordes of tourists. It's like what Yosemite would be if no limits were placed on the number of visitors. Buses are jammed into every parking place, tourists are filling every walkway like eddies in a mountain stream. Every public bench has folks waiting to sit on them. There are NO public toilets, so you must buy wine, beer, water, or coffee, all of which has you searching for the next non-existent toilet while you wait for your sardine bus and driver to return. Antonio was a nice guy, but doing an impossible job as he had no control over the buses. We made it to dinner in the Crystal Dining room for our 6 pm meal and were alone at our table. George and Carolyn had opted to stay awhile on shore to grab a glass of wine.
My story of the Isle di Capras
The Isle of Capri was originally a deserted island full of wild goats — it was called Isle di Capras. Fifty or sixty years ago it inspired a pop song, "Isle of Capri": "Twas on the Isle of Capri where I found you, . . .". Back then it was a delightful place to visit, very romantic and inspiring. Lovely lanes to wander down, just two lovers hand in hand. Now it's rushing tourists, shoulder to shoulder bumping each other. Here's comes the Swedish Tour with its blue and white flag, it's crossing through the Margarita Pizza flag of tomato, basil, and Mozzarella of Italy tour. Two different kinds of oinks from different places, all milling about in the same place. Trying to get through the hectic throng of visitors. Here's an Oriental tour group headed by a lady holding a tan folding fan spread open and waving it above her head for her Asian tourist group. Here's the bus group standing in the bright sun waiting for their bus to arrive to take them to the pier, a pier they could have walked down hill to in 10 minutes, but instead are being forced to stand in the bright sun in a spot chosen for the convenience of the bus driver.Here's another tour group headed back to their cruise liner who are having to wait for an old lady who lives on the isle to waddle her way down the right hand of the narrow road before the busload of 26 people can pass. Now we see another bus ready to pull out into the road — but wait, it's backing up into its parking place again. What can be happening? Here it comes over the radio: two trucks are bound up the road and the bus has to wait for this "traffic jam" to clear.
So this Isle of Wild Goats, this Goat Island, has returned to roots. It is overrun by wild goats again, only this time, instead of eating these wild goats for their sustenance, the natives feed off of them by making them pay for drinks and food just to use the rest rooms. It is a typically Mediterranean form of torture and extortion apparently. The goats don't seem to mind.They just keep coming and going and the island of Goats prospers more each year. One pop song and it got its 15-minutes of fame which has lasted for fifty years.
For dinner in the Crystal Dining Room I had fried soft shell crabs for appetizer and 4 fried frog-legs for my entree with a Bananas Foster for dessert. All delicious. Then we went to the Crystal Room where some New Orleans jazz was being played. Sure felt like home again with the meal and the music from my hometown. The band from the shows were present and played continuously one piece after another. "Back Home in Indiana" was a rousing rendition. I had a chance to talk to Hans and Rita from Munich. Found out he was a physicist also. They have a place in South Africa where they live half of the year. He recently retired and loves to play golf in South Africa. Said he couldn't find a job which allowed him to work only half-a-year.Knew about Rudolf Steiner only as an educator.
When the band announced its last tune was coming, I was delighted to hear him playing the Saints Go Marching In, but even more amazed when they broke into a second-line and marched onto the dance floor. I immediately got up with my handkerchief waving and followed them. Del was too tired from the day trip to dance with me, so I decided to do it alone. I waved at folks to join and finally a gal named Mary Lou, whom I had earlier spotted sitting nearby with her husband, joined me in the second line. When the band stopped moving she and I jitterbugged to the music and had a great time. Her sister-in-law came over to talk afterward. She lives in Houston and has been to New Orleans several times. Anyway, it was a marvelous evening to top off a problematic day.
When in Rome . . .
When in Rome, do as the Romans do when it rains: get wet. And we did. It showered lightly to medium without pause all day. We had brought umbrellas and rain gear. Del wore the jacket Lucky had given her and I wore a thin plastic green poncho which Del had brought along. Somehow we managed to enjoy ourselves. My great achievement was learning to say the name of the port where we docked without flinching, Civitavecchia.
That makes rain days in Venice, Croatia and now Rome. Cold, highs in upper 60s, and drizzle to pelting rain from the time we arrived until we got on the bus. Fabio was a bit better about the restrooms, but only after we complained bitterly about the two hour drive to Rome in which Del was most uncomfortable before we could finally leave the bus and find a restroom. We went directly to Burger King, but it was only 10:45 and it didn't open for 15 minutes! That was the way the day started. We ordered a couple of capuccinos' in a small café to use his bathroom. Then we walked to the Spanish Steps, then down the Coursa Borgonone, stopping in a Hotel to use their rest room and drink some more expensive coffee. Then we tried to find the Pantheon, but it seemed to move all over the place. We found the Trevi Fountain and tossed some coins in it. Del kept shooting the video even after I told her to stop. "Oh, but you can edit that extra stuff off." "Nope, I have to delete the whole thing." I didn't, but I wanted to make the point that when I tell her to stop, she needs to stop first and ask questions later.
While we tried to locate the way to the Pantheon, the streets, maps and the missing/confusing street signs made it nearly impossible. We walked up a large rise and we got to the top and when we asked him, "Donde Pantheon?" the guard pointed down the hill! No way we were going back down there, so we walked through the Parliamentary square and found the National Monument. We quickly ducked under cover at the Vpila Restaurant (Upila) overlooking the Forum. We ate on the outside covered patio, and the Coliseum was around the corner. The right half of the National Monument was covered with scaffolding, and the street was all torn up with excavations and we could barely reach the edge of the forum. We walked along it and the rain came down harder, so we agreed to walk past the Coliseum as quickly as possible, get on the Metro at the Colesseo Station, and ride to Ottaviano Station near S. Peter's Square. We did that and the line for the Cathedral was huge. Don't know what they were waiting for, maybe just to go in. When I came in 2001, the Mass for St. Joseph's Day was in progress, the bells were ringing all over the Piazza, the sun was shining. It was a truly glorious day, and I walked right into the church. Now we waited during the cover of the near arch, tried to take photos, spotted the various colored umbrellas. Del liked the one with the blue sky and cherubs named Amor and Psyche on the edges. The rosaries were expensive, but Del bought two of them. One for us and one for Noemi.
Then we motored back to Piazza di Populo (Flaminio stop on the Metro). Went to the same Burger King to get ice cream and use bathrooms. Added a Burger King crown to my black hat which brought a few comments. "I've only been here a few minutes and feel like a king." I had successfully led my first tour through Rome and got us home safely. We arrived back at the dock about 90 minutes later. As we left the bus Fabio noticed my BK crown had fallen from my hat. I picked it up and handed it to him and called him "King of the Guides". He was the most caring of all our bus nazis, but waiting until the drive back to inform us that he would schedule a rest stop if anyone needed it, was too little, too late.
We rushed to dress for dinner and arrive about 6:15 and were joined by the Mc Laughlins a half hour later. We enjoyed another great meal, this time from "Neptune's Table". I had Norwegian Salmon and then King Crab Cakes and a Bugs Bunny dessert. Del had the "Mermaid" - a large shrimp and a petite filet. We left dinner to attend the Classical Concert in the Stardust with a pianist and violinist. They were both with the London Symphony and did a tremendous job. Largest crowd for any performance we'd been to aboard Serenity.Gal loved Fritz Kreisler and played several of his virtuoso pieces to strong applause. They both got a standing ovation at the end other concert.
We went to the desk and cancelled both of our next two bus trips. If the Italians cannot provide rest stops or restrooms aboard their buses, we will not use them. We did a foot tour of Livorno and left the long Florence trip for others to endure. We were ready for a break from the tour buses anyway. And the loud tour guides.
Besides it was Saturday night and my LSU Tigers were playing Auburn that night. The game began at 1:30 AM ship time, and if I stayed up I could listen to it on lsusports.com in the Geaux Zone. But I gave in and hit the sack at 10 pm and prayed to awake in time to listen to some of it. I did. I awoke at 2:30 AM and hooked up to the Internet and listened to the come from behind win by LSU. When Del saw the replay of the game the next day, she was incredulous that I could have listened to that game and not awakened her. I told her that I pretended to be Marcel Mareau the famous mime watching an LSU game. I gestured in joy. Many times. All silently.
Another stop where I will let the photos do the talking for me. I took a lot of them during our walk up to the Medicci Fortress. It was a steep walk, but thankfully there were no hordes of "wild goats", the two-legged kind, filling the pathway. We saw only a handful of tourists, mostly couples, and all of them were Italian, it seemed. I had earlier stopped to take a photo of a pretty and unique blue flower, the only one on the ground in the middle of one of the cannon emplacement parks near the top of the fort, when I noticed a man with a camera coming towards me. I thought to tell him of the unique flower, but thought it would seem silly to do so. Unbelievably, he stopped, stooped to the ground as I had earlier done and took a photo of the same flower! There were fig trees in the open areas and they had green figs on them. They were not ripe enough to eat, but they were far enough long to lead me to believe that I might find some ripe ones and sure enough, I did. Right next to the ground, they yielded to my squeeze and I took them back to the ship with me inside my stomach. Very tasty. The views of Elba were magnificent as was the weather. A beautiful sunny day with a few clouds. Great for picture taking and fig picking.
Back on the ship that night we were joined by Jane, Mimi, Carolyn and George at a new table which our Maitre D' had arranged for us so we didn't have to vacate for the second seating. People were ordering their entrees by the time we were eating our desserts. Everyone liked it better this way so we did it one more time the last night aboard ship. We made sure that we showed our appreciation to all our servers when we left the ship, but especially Leo the do-the-impossible Maitre D' with the jolliest attitude I've ever seen in a Maitre D'. Thanks Leo!
Monte Carlo, Monaco
We pulled up next to a dock here and could walk ashore. This made it possible for us to do two tours in one day. The first was to walk up to the castle on the near hill. The second was to take a bus to the Grand Casino area in a farther part of town. We could see all of Monte Carlo from our stateroom on the starboard side. Like the Grand Canyon, it's hard to take photos because you've seen it before in so many photos and movies, but still you must. But walking through the scenery, that was a new treat and one we relished. We found instructions in this French-speaking country useful in proportion to the number of words we received from our request for directions to a place. Since we usually received mono-syllabic responses like, "There", that will give you an idea of how useful it was to ask for help. If we did receive a long answer and asked for elaboration, we would receive exactly the same sentence once again.
As a result we walked up most of the way to the Princess Grace Park and Castle, bypassing an elevator which we missed because there were not yet hundreds of tourists waiting in line to go up. No signs and asking, well, I think I answered that. But we hiked up the stairs to a spectacular view of the sea and cliff side. I heard children's happy voices playing and we walked over to a green square where a full-size basketball court had been set up and school girls were playing during their Physical Education period most likely.
Flowers, birds, bees, and even a hummingbird moth were hanging around waiting for me to photograph them and I had an endless memory stick of 2 Gig ready to oblige my every wish. The Princess Grace Park was a jewel surpassing any faceted dead mineral in the royal crown and treasury. Why? Because the plants there were as alive as they were rare. Coming from Australia and other places just as far, they were lush in their growth, from the Aussie pines to the Arizona cacti. The sculptures were marvelous and fit well into the park's scheme without obtruding on the quiet serenity. In an area that is on a hillside, the park was arranged to have level pathways which terraced and wound back at the end of a walk. One could spend hours in this quiet serenity and never tire of its beauty.
We left it in hopes of getting into the church where the royal wedding took place. Something we found out after we decided we wanted to view the insides of the church, but it was not open until several hours later, during the time we had reserved for the Casino. The church had sculpted winged figures representing the four Evangelists on each of its four corners. We walked back down to our own version of Serenity and had lunch in the Crystal Dining Room before heading out to take the shuttle to the Casino area of town.
The park around the Casino was more full of tourists than Princess Grace Park, but we were let into the Grand Casino and decided to plunk a few Euros into the slot machines (as it was the only place open to casual visitors). I played a Double Diamond Run and twice it reached my last Euro, the Run happened and rescued me from my attempt to leave its handle unpulled. Between me and Del we broke even before we cashed out and headed back to catch our shuttle to Serenity.
We had a date with our friends for another 6 hour dinner in the Crystal Dining Room before we had to say goodbye to them and leave the Serenity to other guests who will need it more than we now that we have had our fill, for a time.
Home Again, Home Again
We had two double event days on our first weekend home. On Saturday our dad celebrated his 91st birthday and we drove over there to play cards and then go to Mass with him and my siblings and spouses. Then we drove home so Del could tend to her mom and I could watch LSU play Mississippi State. Usually a bruising game with enough upsets to get one edgy till the final gun. This was one of those games, but my Tigers came through with the win. The next event was the new member reception at my club at 4 PM and a Saints game at noon. Del did not want to go to the Superdome, so I invited my friend Gus and he drove us there and dropped me off at my club at four where Del came to meet me. We are still recovering from jet lag and I have been getting up at 4 AM and hitting the sack at 8 PM each day. This will correct itself after a while, but for now it's useful as I had over 800 photos to size, adjust, lighten, sharpen, crop, and most importantly name before I could work on my Digest for October. I write these words late on September 30 and with luck will get them posted on the first or second of the month.
Till next month, when through the Grace of God, we will return to these pages with more original photos, reviews, cartoons, Cajun jokes, and other things to help make your life worth living to the fullest extent than I am able.
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Five ART Reviews on Psychotherapy:
1. R. D. Laing's Knots.
"Once in Knots" can mean, among other things: 1) When she first read Knots, she found it helpful, and now she finds it enjoyable reading. 2) At one time she was in knots, then she found help in this book and now finds her life more enjoyable. The second sentence can refer to her friend liking the book or to her friend going through the similar process that she did: of her life tied up into knots, the book helping her to see the knots and leading her subsequently to untying them so that she can enjoy her life more.
These are two examples of what Laing calls "webs of maya" in the only metacomment Laing makes on the eponymous knots that fill the rest of his book.
The patterns delineated here have not yet been classified by a Linnaeus of human bondage. They are all, perhaps, strangely, familiar. In these pages I have confined myself to laying out only some of those I actually have seen. Words that come to mind to name them are: knots, tangles, fankles, impasses, disjunctions, whirligogs, binds. I could have remained closer to the 'raw' data in which these patterns appear. I could have distilled them further towards an abstract logico-mathematical calculus. I hope they are not so schematized that one may not refer back to the very specific experiences from which they derive; yet that they are sufficiently independent of 'content', for one to divine the final formal elegance in these webs of maya.
The first knot illustrates the paradox that every therapist confronts in couples therapy. The couple have a pattern of calibrated interactions. One placates, one blames. One is a victim, one is a rescuer. One is aggressive, one is passive-aggressive. This is the only way they know life to be possible, up until now. It is their maya. They like it this way. They would like their life to change for the better while it stays the same. This is their impasse, their bind, their disjunctive conjunction, their knot. [Note: A disjunctive conjunction is defined by Cassel's Concise Dictionary as: a conjunction (e.g. or, but, though) which unites sentences or clauses in composition, but divides them in sense, as opposed to a copulative conjunction. Knots, in marriage, unite two partners as a couple in composition, but separate them in the disjunctive sense, as opposed to the more enjoyable copulative sense.] The therapist must join them in their game to keep them as clients, or else they will leave therapy. In addition, the therapist must break up the game for the couple to move from a disjunctive conjunction to a copulative conjunction from now on.
They are playing a game.
They are playing at not playing a game.
If I show them I see they are, I shall break the rules and they will punish me.
I must play their game, of not seeing I see the game.
Obviously a couple in such straits is not having fun. Maybe if they had a little fun they would remember the wonderful things that brought them together initially. But let the therapist try to get them to have fun and another tangle develops, which Laing delineates in the second knot:
They are not having fun.
I can't have fun if they don't.
If I get them to have fun, then I can have fun with them.
Getting them to have fun, is not fun. It is hard work.
I might get fun out of finding out why they're not.
I'm not supposed to get fun out of working out why
But there is even some fun in pretending to them I'm not
having fun finding out why they're not.
A little girl comes along and says: let's have fun.
But having fun is a waste of time, because it doesn't
help to figure out why they're not having fun.
How dare you have fun when Christ died on the Cross
for you! Was He having fun?
After a dozen or so preparatory knots involving individuals, Laing devotes a major part of the book to knots involving a couple from the famous nursery rhyme, Jack and Jill. That short verse can be considered to be a metaphor for a married couple's life before entering therapy. For those not familiar with the rhyme or the pattern it describes, you single ones, it goes like this:
Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water.
Jack fell down and broke his crown and Jill came tumbling after.
Jack and Jill decided to get married. As they left the altar, they had a goal in mind. It might have been to raise a family, but metaphorically the goal could be expressed as fetching a pail of water. Along the way, one of them falls down and the other tumbles soon after. One of them begins a knot and the other gets quickly entwined. They go to the knot-un-tier, a therapist, and tell their story.
JILL I'm upset you are upset
JACK I'm not upset
JILL I'm upset that you're not upset that I'm upset that you're upset.
JACK I'm upset that you're upset that I'm not upset that you're upset that I'm upset, when I'm not.
JILL You put me in the wrong
JACK I am not putting you in the wrong
JILL You put me in the wrong for thinking you put me in the wrong.
JACK Forgive me
JACK I'll never forgive you for not forgiving me
This "Jack and Jill" knot, which pervades the book, seems to go on forever, and without a competent therapist's assistance, perhaps it will. The introduction to Knot 3 is a meta-knot, if you will, a knot at the highest level of abstraction, that deals with so many aspects of life that it is worth putting on a bumper sticker, in an email signature file, on a business card, or reciting as a daily mantrum:
If I don't know I don't know, I think I know
If I don't know I know, I think I don't know
Usually, when we speak a sentence with a "not" in it, our human mind creates an image of the sentence's meaning by dropping the "not" out of the sentence. There is no image associated with the word "not." This was hammered home in their early seminars by Bandler and Grinder. They would tell someone in the seminar, "Joe, don't think of a pink elephant." Then later they would ask Joe, "What color was the pink elephant?" Everyone got the message. Whenever we talk, we create images from our words, but there is no image for "not." Well, there is one image that I got from Jonathan Parker: he says when you have a thought you don't want, then take the image of the thought and place circle around it with a diagonal slash across it like in the No Right Turn signs, etc. Notice how I've placed the thought of a "right turn" into your minds by my choice of example. I did it consciously. Even more effective speakers and writers than I am do their choices of examples unconsciously - they don't know they know how to do this, so they think they don't know how.
The other kind of person is one who thinks they know because they don't know they don't know. These persons, who profess knowledge but don't know they don't know, represents the vast majority of humanity, up until now. This type of semantic hubris tends especially to infect those who frequent the halls of academe. They have prestigious degrees and know a lot about many things, but many of them are not able to freely admit that much of what they think they know is only possible because of the things they don’t know they don’t know, so they think they know, up until now.
2. Roberto Assagioli's Psychosynthesis
In one of those cosmic jokes that the world likes play on me, I picked up this book from my "previously read" shelf to review minutes after I had just finished sending an email to the Steiner98 List in which I used the phrase, "that dog don't hunt." To my knowledge, I had never used that phrase before in speaking or writing. As I grabbed it, the book popped open to page 22 on which the following quote was circled in red by some previous owner of this book and in the margin was written the same feminine hand, "This dog doesn't hunt."
[page 22] We are dominated by everything with which our self becomes identified. We can dominate and control everything from which we dis-identify ourselves. . . Every time we "identify" ourselves with a weakness, a fault, a fear or any personal emotion or drive, we limit and paralyze ourselves. Every time we admit "I am discouraged" or "I am irritated," we become more and more dominated by depression or anger. We have accepted those limitations; we have ourselves put on our chains.
This is where my "limitation eraser" [, up until now] comes in. If we carefully practice the application of this technique, we will remove all the chains we have successfully hobbled ourselves with, up until now. Note the change if, instead of saying "I am discouraged," one says, "I am discouraged, up until now." By applying the eraser before one reaches the end of a limitation sentence, one swoops with chains to one's ankles and just before latching the manacles, deftly tosses them aside!
What is psychosynthesis? I can't remember much from my reading of this book some thirty years ago, except that Piero Ferrucci was a student of Assagioli and I was very impressed by his book, What We May Be. Here's a brief synopsis of psychosynthesis from the Introduction:
[page 5] The will [is] an essential function of the self and [is] the necessary source or origin of all choices, decisions, engagements. Therefore, psychosynthesis includes a careful analysis of the various phases of the will, such as deliberation, motivation, decision, affirmation, persistence, execution, and make much use of various techniques for arousing, developing, strengthening and rightly directing the will.
So far as I can tell, I only read the book up to page 72, but given that I developed the limitation eraser some years after reading this book, it was far enough for some of its points to have had an effect on me that will last from now on.
3. Orson Bean's Me and the Orgone
Sometime near the end of the 1970s, I was studying Neo-Reichian work with Eric Marcus and read several books by Wilhelm Reich. I remembered Orson Bean from 1960s game shows like "I've Got A Secret" and "What's My Line?" on television, so when I came across this book about a celebrity who underwent Reichian therapy, I got interested. Besides that, Orson is a rather witty fellow, and I expected some fun-laced information from him. I wasn't disappointed. In this book he describes his orgone therapy with Elsworth Baker. What led Orson to orgone therapy was his "are gone" wife of six years and her new French husband who are gone off to Africa. She left behind a year-and-a-half-old daughter for Orson to take care of — well, him and Bridie, who doubled as maid and nanny. Here's how Orson described her. [Note: droit-du-seigneur refers to the right of a lord to take the daughter of one of his vassals first on her wedding night. I presume Bean's usage of it below indicates this lass was fit for a Lord.]
[page 1] She had a rosy-cheeked, peasanty, droit-du-seigneur beauty and a body that made Raquel Welch look like a rake. It was an odd situation: a horny, miserable bachelor, a year-and-a-half-old baby girl and this ravishing Irish teenager occupying a luxury flat on Manhattan's East Side.
Having flunked out of psychoanalysis eleven years earlier "ten years older and twenty-five thousand dollars poorer," Orson had Reich's book delivered to his theater by a friend who had told him about this "new form of psychiatry that says if you can have a good come, all your neuroses will go away." Orson awaited the book like Saul on the road to Damascus — it flared up in him like a blinding light. Then he read the title of the book, "The Function of the Orgasm" by Wilhelm Reich. "Oh Christ, this is nothing new. It's that nut with the orgone box." So Orson went into this endeavor in spite of his adverse opinion of Reich from the beginning. Here's Orson's summary of the orgasm theory of Reich:
[page 7] Human beings, like all living things from the amoeba on up have within them an energy, hithertofore undetected. Reich discovered it and called it orgone energy (from the root of the word organism). This energy is, in effect, the life force, not in any mystical sense, but physically. The energy is built up by intake of food, fluid and air and is also absorbed directly through the skin.
Reich's focus was on something called "body armor" and Orson's explanation of this armoring focuses on parental injunctions against touching the genital area in children. From a doyletics perspective the concept of "body armoring" is simply "doyle storing", but doyletics hadn't been invented yet, so let's read what Orson says about it from his 1970s perspective:
[page 9] Pleasurable sensations in the genital area are perceived to be danergous by the child in our society. Even the child in an "enlightened" home gets the message after a while when he finds himself distracted every time his hands get close to the danger zone. Deadening the feeling in the entire area is safer than continuing to experience the natural pleasant sensations and being tempted to heighten them by manipulation.
In doyletics we have a concept called stopper doyles — these are doyles whose existence seems to perform the function of deterring or stopping one from some activity that one would otherwise perform and even enjoy performing. Since muscles cannot operate freely if they are under a constant tension, stopper doyles usually have a component of tight muscles somewhere in the body. Associated with the external tight muscles will be some restrictions of the internal organs of the body. Reich had discovered how to diagnose the armoring and remove it and free up the person to be a complete human being again. We can be thankful for the new science of doyletics as it completely eliminates the need to go to someone else to have your muscles "kneaded, pressed or jabbed at" as Orson describes below:
[page 11] Reich's treatment consisted, in a nutshell, of breaking down the armoring and thereby restoring the natural self-regulative process. Using his physician's knowledge of musculature, he discovered exactly which muscles controlled which functions. He found that by kneading, pressing or jabbing at certain muscles used to inhibit crying, he could make the patient spontaneously start to sob and he found that other muscles, when jabbed at or pressed, would cause rage-filled screaming. He encouraged his patients to give in to these natural functions.
In doyletics, if one becomes aware of tension in one's body, one does a simple speed trace and if that tension was blocking one from crying appropriately, one will be able to do so from then on. When one does a doyle trace, one simply takes the current constricted muscles as a doyle and tracks it down in one's labyrinth of doylic memory, and when one goes to a time before the original event during which the constriction was stored, the constriction is relieved and a cognitive memory is created of the doylic event. Read Orson's description of what happens in Orgone Therapy and note the similarities. What in doyletics is called the "original event" Reich called the "original armoring event". In Orgone Therapy one needs analysis as the armoring is shed; in doyletics, no such analysis is required other than noting the answer to the "Plausibility Question."
[page 12] Reich discovered that as his patients found themselves able to cry and rage again, the old feelings from the days when they originally armored themselves came to the surface and could be analyzed. The armoring, it seemed, was not symptomatic of neurosis but was, in fact, the actual physical counterpart of the neurosis.
With the need for analysis obviated by doylic speed traces, one can quickly remove the armoring that is variously called frustration, submissiveness, rebelliousness, anger or fear which is often directed at one's father. In a society where fathers perform the disciplinary function, it would be natural to have such feelings directed at one's father.
The last third of this book is devoted to Orson's New York version of the Camphill School which he called "The Fifteenth Street School." What these schools aim to do is to raise children free of what Reich called the "emotional plague". What an apt name for the communicable transmission of doyles (physical body states or armoring) to children under five years old! One glare or raised tone of voice by a parent or teacher is enough to store a doyle in that child which will represent, rightly understood, an acquisition by the child of a doyle stored in the parent, i. e., a communicable dis-ease has been spread, just like the plague spread, by contact with those who had it.
We live in a society in which the "emotional plague" that affect us as adults is transferred by doylic transmission to the children of our society. Only by removing our own doyles will we allow our children to grow up sans unwanted doyles that stifle and suffocate them for years into maturity. Only by teaching our children within a few years of the memory transition age of five how to do a simple speed trace to remove unwanted doyles will we ever be able to live in that day when bad doyles are removed as quickly as they are put in. Fewer and fewer carriers of bad doyles will be extant in the world around us from then on.
4. Frank Farrelly and Jeff Brandsma's Provocative Therapy
What's so provocative about Provocative Therapy? Inquiring minds want to know. I first read this book back around 1977 or so, and then my friend Tom Mellett wrote me recently about a comment that I made calling him the "Fritz Perls" of the Steiner group. Tom said he considered himself more as the Frank Farrelly of the email group.That sent me to my library in the hallway at Timberlane to locate Frank's book, and it was nowhere to be found.I searched my Library database and sure enough, it was listed as OUT, on loan to my daughter Maureen since 1998. I called her and she knew exactly where to find it, and after I retrieved it from her, I read it all the way through a second time for this review.
The answer to my initial question above came to me full force when I found myself ROTFL — rolling on the floor laughing — when I read the case studies titled, "Tragedy Revisited" and "Clem Kadiddlehopper." Frank discovered that deep pervasive change could come about quickly in his clients if he simply reacted honestly, told them the harsh truth, or consciously or unconsciously provoked them.
First the example of "unconscious provocation" that worked admirably, er, or at least very well in achieving a good outcome: "Tragedy Revisited." Frank had begun consulting outside of the hospital and taking cases on referral from colleagues. The case was to interview the wife of a patient who was hospitalized for paranoid delusions to get some data to clarify the basis for the man’s paranoia. The colleague even suspected her of actually being unfaithful, but in multiple interviews, she had denied that to be the case. Frank woke up late that Monday morning, dressed hurriedly, and rushed out to the isolated farmhouse where she lived. Here's what happened in Frank's own words.
[page 12, 13] In the interview the wife sat on a couch across the living room from me. I leaned forward with my elbows on my knees, my legs spread apart, intently trying to get across to her that we really needed to know about this matter: if she had not been engaged in this kind of behavior, then her husband was paranoid; on the other hand, if she had been, then we were holding her husband in the hospital under false pretenses. Throughout the interview she avoided eye contact with me and seemed to be staring at my nondescript tie with a vague, preoccupied look on her face. To my surprise she openly admitted the whole thing and went into great length about whom she had had sexual relations with while her husband was at the hospital and prior to his admission.
I drove away from that interview with my chest puffed out, feeling elated, very skillful, and a real "pro." I also gloated over the fact that my colleague had worked unsuccessfully on precisely this point for a year, whereas I had been able to elicit the information in a single interview. And I thought, "Man, real skill will win out."
My elation lasted until I arrived at the county courthouse. I went to the toilet to urinate, found that my fly had been open during the entire interview, became beet red in the face from acute embarrassment, and stayed in the room for five minutes because I was so rattled. Upon returning to the hospital I told the ward staff exactly what happened. They guffawed uproariously at my whole "new approach to treatment": "Open Fly Therapy," was the appellation they gave it. Psychologist friends stated ponderously that this proved the dictum, "Change the stimulus, and you change the response." (The patient, it should be added, was rapidly discharged with recommendations for outpatient therapy for him and his wife.)
There were several lessons to be learned from my chagrin. I realized that alongside of the pain and tragedy in this field are some of the funniest things I ever heard and that the comic as well as the tragic mask seem to embody the main themes. In the clinical field. I learned to laugh at myself, at my mistakes, to share my "bloopers," and that other clinicians could often be sympathetic or supportive if I were open about my professional work.
The next case began as a sincere experiment to maximize the therapist's honesty and openness. Frank and the ward psychologist were both to be present for this experiment, and they made this deal with each other: "Not only were we to be congruent in general with the patient but also with each other; if either of us said something to the patient that the other did not like or felt uncomfortable with, we would immediately 'call each other on it,' ask the patient to wait right there in the room with us, and 'thrash it out' then and there with each other." [Page 13] Well, as the poet Robbie Burns famously wrote, "The best laid plans of mice and men gang aft a-gley."
[page 13] After I set things up, the patient came into my office and immediately asked, "Are we tape recording this?" The patient presented an inimitable sight: he was without his false teeth, he had a shock of red hair standing four inches straight off his head — looking as thought he were holding an electric fence. He had two squinty little pig eyes, a bulbous tomato nose, and talked like Red Skelton's Clem Kadiddlehopper.
I promptly went into hysterics, holding my aching sides and laughing until tears streamed down my face. The psychologist froze, cringed away from me, frowned, and stated, "Frank, that's no way to — what are you doing?" I gasped out through gales and guffaws of unstoppable laughter, "I can't help it — he's so screamingly funny!"
Wow! There's an open and honest response, and talk about congruent! Clearly the ward psychologist would have never reacted the exuberantly honest way that Frank did. He would have taken the traditional calm approach and the patient would have continued to be hospitalized indefinitely. What was the result of Frank's guffaws? The patient improved and was soon discharged.
[page 14] "No, it's okay, that's been the trouble. I try to make people laugh, then they laugh sometimes when I don't want them to, and I get hurt and mad and into trouble." Bingo! (Our experiments continued on a weekly basis, the patient was much improved, and was discharged a month or two later.)
What might the ward psychologist have done? He likely would have been incongruent, saying one thing and meaning something else. Frank gives us a great automobile metaphor to describe what incongruent means. "Grinding one's gears," to those who never drove a clutch car in the 1950s or earlier, meant to switch gears without pushing the clutch all the way in or attempting to force a gear change that the transmission was not otherwise ready for. The teeth of the two gear sets did not mesh, but rather spun across each other, literally grinding each other's teeth away! And making a loud and obvious comment about your lack of skill in shifting gears. With the synchromesh transmissions and automatic transmissions of today, few drivers of today ever "grind their gears."
What Frank learned was that patients can hear when the therapist "grinds his gears" in a session and most of the patients are so used to the incongruence that their expectations for a real cure are very low. When such patients meet provocative therapy ala Frank Farrelly, they awaken and their expectations soar! Someone understands them and won't give them, as the "Dangerous Psychopath" told Frank bluntly, "no shit off the wall." [Page 15] Frank had developed an automatic transmission approach to therapy that removed the gear grinding.
[page 14] One thing in my mind was very clear: that radical congruence, if held constant, was very helpful to patients in interviews; that I could not only laugh at patients without detriment to them but even with help to them; that laughter towards patients was not inevitably "demeaning their dignity". I also felt very freed up in interviews. I wasn't "grinding my gears" and my responses towards clients weren't going in one direction while my thoughts, reactions and feelings were going in another.
How can therapists expect patients to listen to what other people tell them and make changes from their feedback if their own therapists do not congruently listen to them? Only by active listening and radical congruence can the therapist begin to join the world of the patient and thereby be of any help to the patient. After all, therapy patients get feedback from people all around them every day, not just in therapy, and ignore it, so the patients' listening skills need some help. Only if the therapist is able to model good listening skills in the session with the patient, can the patient learn to listen actively to others and garner help from their feedback.
[page 17, 18] "So the therapist's task is to get the patient in touch with this feedback either by (1) the therapist himself telling the patient, or (2) by getting the patient to listen to what others tell him spontaneously (and this feedback, one of the most potent sources of change, is available every hour of every day); (3) and finally getting the patient to ACT on this information.
Frank respected his mentor, Carl Rogers, but began to have problems with the two client-centered approaches that Rogers found most useful.
[page 20] Two images that seemed to have real meaning for Carl at this time, when speaking of the role of the therapist, were the roles of midwife and horticulturist. The horticulturist, I remember his saying a number of times, merely provided the appropriate conditions for the seed's growth. In the same way he felt this was what the therapist did to provide growth for the client(1). And the midwife, another analogy he used a number of times, did not create the person but merely assisted in his birth.
When Frank began to vocalize his approach, he got immediate feedback from a colleague that his approach was more along the line of the one conceiving the baby than the one assisting at its birth!
[page 20] I was becoming increasingly frustrated in my work with patients and clients using the client centered approach and waiting for the client to initiate most if not all actions and behaviors. And I remember distinctly the meeting in which finally I vented my frustration and told the project clinical meeting, "I'm sick and tired of trying to be a horticulturist or a midwife. I'm not any good in either role. What I want to do is to pry apart these people's shells, penetrate through to their core, and inject some LIFE into them." (In saying this I was pulling my hands apart, throwing my fist forward, and suddenly opening my hand with splayed fingers to indicate "injecting some life in them") Allyn Roberts, who was listening, chuckled and stated, "Frank, you're so phallic!"
Even though the Rogerian approach called for Frank to respond in a supportive manner, Frank soon learned that his own natural approach was to tell the truth, to treat the patient like an adult who can take the truth undiluted and though it be strong medicine, heal themselves in the process.In a field where recidivism is so high, he learned to warn patients that going home from the mental ward will be the biggest challenge they will have faced and thereby gear them up to meet the challenge. One need only watch the movie "Woman Under the Influence" to learn how crazy-making one's family can be when one returns home cured and all the family mechanism which drove one crazy are still in play when one arrives there. Watch in this next passage how he is tempted to lie to the patient, at first, but catches himself.
[page 21] In 1963 I was working on an adult female ward and was having a last interview with a patient who was to be discharged that day. I was speaking of what she could anticipate when she returned home. She anxiously stated, "My family is going to be watching my every move." I responded supportingly: "No, they won't." Suddenly the "light turned on" again and I said, "Yes, you're right, they will be watching you like a hawk. They're going to be wondering if you're going to be like you were when you had to come to the hospital.During the first week they're going to be 'charting' your behavior every hour in all of your roles as wife, housekeeping, mother and cook — and your husband's going to be checking you out as a sexual partner, too, and watching your expression of feeling and anger. During the second week they're going to 'continue the observation' but will probably remark to themselves, if you're maintaining an even keel, that 'she seems to be in good control as long as we closely supervise her.' In the third week they're going to be saying to themselves, 'It's too good to be true, could it be possible that she's changed?' During the fourth week they're going to be saying to each other behind your back, 'She has changed — but will it hold up?' And during the fifth week they're going to be saying directly to you, 'You have changed, thank God!' During the sixth week they will drop their 'charting', and from there on out, if you maintain a basically even keel, you're just going to be treated like everybody 'else. The point is, you can change the picture that your family has of you in their heads by engaging in the exactly opposite behaviors on your part and holding them all the time, and it won't take you anywhere near as long to change your 'rep', your reputation as you did in getting it. And it won't take any more effort, maybe even less, to act sane than it did to act like a nut."
What was the result? Exactly what Frank predicted. The family even talked of a "miracle" taking place in the patient. This outcome convinced Frank that other patients could change their behaviors if they chose to. He began to see that long, intense therapy sessions were not required.
[page 22] The lesson that came out of this experience was that people did not have to be seen "for five days a week for seven years," as some clinicians at the time were saying was necessary for some of these disturbed patients with whom I was working. It struck me that that was clearly impossible and it occurred to me that "if it's impossible, it's not necessary." We would simply have to find better and shorter ways of reaching and helping these people.
It's highly possible that it was this book that inspired me to tell some of my callers into the Crisis Line that their situation was hopeless(2). I wrote about this earlier in my review of Pragmatics of Human Communication this way:
When I worked on the Crisis Line many years ago, I would occasionally get phone calls from people who would ask for help with a problem and when you offered them a solution, they would slough off the suggestion with such comments as, "That wouldn't work for me." "I already tried that." and so on. No matter what the suggestion or how many suggestions one offered, they countered with a good reason why that wouldn't work. Finally I took to using the following process. After identifying that this person was one of those types for whom no suggestion would work, I would stop suddenly and say, "I've listened carefully to your problem and all the reasons you've given me why none of the suggestions I offered will work for you, and I must tell you that in my professional opinion your situation is hopeless." This advice was offered as a suggestion similar to the other ones that they had refused and they would invariably just as strongly refuse that suggestion. They might bring up a suggestion I made earlier and say, "What if I do x?" I'd recant for them the reason they had previously told me why x would not work and that would force them to overcome their objection. Suddenly the roles were reversed, they were working to find solutions for themselves and I was the one casting doubt on every suggestion they came up with.
When I had the occasion to work eight hour day shifts at the Crisis Line office, I would listen to the regular day counselor offer suggestion after suggestion to certain callers for hours upon end, to no avail so far as I could tell. When one of these callers got on the line with me, it took me about ten minutes. As soon as I recognized the type, I'd use the "hopeless" maneuver, and interrupt their endless game called, "Why Don't You, Yes, But?" It was given this name by Eric Berne in his book, "Games People Play." I came to call these people, my "Yes, Butter's" and actually enjoyed moving them off their favorite game and into taking positive actions to change their lives. Actions that they actually had come up with themselves, and which I only reflected back to them. Saying, "Your situation is hopeless" was exactly what they needed to resist, to push against, and to push themselves into healing and sanity again.
When Frank told a patient that he was hopeless after only 91 interviews, amazing things happened to the patient. He left the road to nowhere and started quickly on the road to recovery.
[page 26] At this point I "gave up" and said to him, "Okay, I agree. You're hopeless. Now let's try this for 91 interviews. Let's try agreeing with you about yourself from here on out."
Almost immediately (within a matter of seconds and minutes, not weeks and months), he began to protest that he was not that bad, nor that hopeless. Easily observable and measurable characteristics of his in-therapy behavior started changing. For example, his rate of speech markedly increased, his voice quality changed from a dull, slow motion, soporific monotone to a more normal tone of voice with inflections and easily noticeable affect. He became less over-controlled and showed humor, embarrassment, irritation, and far more spontaneity.
This was the turning point for Frank Farrelly and he marks his wild stab at saying, "You're hopeless" as the beginning of provocative therapy. It is unfortunate that too often science is taught as if the theory under study were actually created in the systematic way it is presented in the lecture. That is never the case. It often starts as wild guesses, dreams, or flashes of intuition or insight. He quotes from Wm. H. Blanchard who pinpoints the process for discovering a discovery:
[page 3] It is a convention in the scientific world to report the emergence of a new theory as though it emerged slowly and inevitably from the analytical throttling of data. The scientist is pictured as plodding through his method, discovering some discrepancy in experiment results and myopically tracking this discrepancy until he stumbles over the doorstep of theory. Actually, far more often than not the theory springs into the scientist's vision as a wild surmise, and he spends most of his time searching for facts to fit it.
From then on, Frank began systematically adding new strategies to his form of therapy. He wanted a name for it, but rejected the name "Provocative Therapy" at first because of its sexual connotations. A colleague tried to talk him into using it and came up with this clincher: "You do spend time talking about sex, don't you?" Here's a simple strategy which seems too trivial to do much good. If a client stresses the "I cannot", Frank humorously agrees and spews a litany of doom and gloom messages that one's actions stem from economic, social, psychological, or cultural necessities, etc., over which one has no control until finally the client gives up and admits the "will not." Frank actually believes that the client can but wills not to and he doesn't rest until the client agrees, at which point real change in the client has happened.
[page 41] Clients have far more potential for achieving adaptive, productive and socialized modes of living than they or most clinicians assume Doom and gloom prognostic statements regarding clients' lack of ability are rampant in the clinical field and are probably much more a reflection of the individual clinician's subjective reaction of helplessness and hopelessness than any objective statement regarding the client.
When does Frank start his provocative therapy strategies? Many times with the first words out of his mouth. Here's an example:
[page 61] An obese patient enters office.
C: May I speak with you Mr. Farrelly?
T: My God, the Goodyear blimp has slipped its morrings!
But it may come at any point in the interview. Suppose a client begins to get angry. Does Frank try to talk the client out of being angry? No . . .
[page 60] C. (Angrily, loudly): You'd better quit talking like that or I'll . . . T. (Interrupting, evenly, starring steadfastly at client.): If you want to throw a tantrum, why, go ahead, be my guest. (Changing his voice tone to enthusiasm.) Why, hell, here at this hospital we have what I call a temper-tantrum room for people like you who need to have temper tantrums. Actually, the rest of the staff call it the seclusion room, but I think temper-tantrum room sounds better, don't you?
Ever wonder what therapists spend their time doing in those three-times-week sessions? Frank tells us plainly what they do: a lot of hinting instead telling outright. Hinting takes up a lot of time. Just think how much it would cost to have a water pump replaced if your auto mechanic used this strategy of fixing a problem. "Do you think it may be a hose leaking or something more serious? Our time is up now — we'll talk more about that when you bring your car in next time."
[page 61, 62] Too many therapists feel that, as one trainee put it, "You can't just come right out and tell the client your reactions to him or your hypotheses or judgments about his behavior." They usually predict dire results if they were to do so — "Well, the client would get upset!" In various situations responses to that have been, "Hell, he's upsetting me, his family, the court, his employer, the rest of the world, so why not upset him for a change?" or "This is the client's third illegitimate pregnancy, so let's try something different; instead of understanding her needs, her conflicts, etc., get her to understand how everybody around her is upset and the community doesn't like it. If she would start meeting someone else's needs, some of hers would get met in the process." Many therapists prefer to eternally hint to the client rather than tell him bluntly and quickly.
"The human mind needs truth just as human lungs need air." This is a beautiful metaphor by Frank which summarizes the situation. One can imagine the thousands of clients across the country sitting in the stifling air of small therapy rooms which are filled with half-truths, insinuations, and hints instead of truth. They are the modern "huddled masses yearning to breathe free" as Emma Lazarus wrote in 1883. Obviously she was not talking about the air quality of Europe versus the United States of America. It was the quality of truth and freedom that our United States have that she referred to in her famous poem engraved within the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty. Frank Farrelly is a "wild and crazy guy" whose provocative approach to therapy blew fresh air into therapy rooms across the world and changed forever the way therapists viewed their clients and their job.
5. Richard Bandler and John Grinder's Frogs into Princes — Neuro Linguistic Programming
In the fall of 1977 I went to Berkeley to attend the Association for Humanistic Psychology Conference. On the heels of the AHP conference came the Gestalt Conference. Since I'd been in Gestalt training for over a year I decided to stay for that conference also. During lunch this tall young man with Birkenstocks came over and sat across from me. He introduced himself as John Stevens and his girl friend as Connirae Andreas. Finding out that they were attending the Gestalt Conference also, I told them about the exciting new work that Bandler and Grinder were doing. They didn't believe me and seemed a little bored by the prospect of some new guru - after all, who could replace Fritz Perls.I don't believe that I knew at the time that John's mother was Fritz's girl friend, Barry Stevens. So I told them about the eye cues, about the fast phobia cure, about the six step reframing model using the most powerful case histories I had been exposed to, maybe one I did myself. This happened twenty-three years ago, so my memory of what I said is sketchy, but I must have said something that excited them a little, because they showed up at Eric Marcus's afternoon workshop to learn more about what was to become the subtitle of this book, Neuro Linguistic Programming, which later received a hyphen and a trademark.
Here's what John had to say about my introduction of him to NLP:
[page i] When I was first introduced to Neuro Linguistic Programming I was both fascinated and very skeptical. I had been heavily conditioned to believe that change is slow, and usually difficult and painful. . . . If you are skeptical, as I was, you owe it to your skepticism to check this out, and find out if the outrageous claims made in this book are valid.
John and Connirae apparently went to the very next Bandler and Grinder workshop they could and this book is the transcription of that workshop. The comments of his mother, Barry Stevens on the inside cover highlights the refreshing approach of Bandler and Grinder:
"How tiresome it is going from one limiting belief to another. How joyful to read Bandler and Grinder, who don't believe in anything, yet use everything! NLP wears seven-league-boots, and takes 'therapy' or 'personal growth' far, far beyond any previous notions."
What are some of the previous notions, Barry referred to? How about the practice of using the phrase "resistant client" to refer to an approach by the therapist that doesn't work? Would we have ever put a man on the Moon if we had blamed our rocket failures on the rocket? (Paraphrased from page 13.) Here's another example of disabusing therapists of non-useful notions:
[page 17] I think it's extremely useful for you to behave so that your clients come to have the illusion that you understand what they are saying verbally. I caution you against accepting the illusion for yourself.
That sounded quite a bit like John Grinder, the transformational grammar expert. Who's saying what is not credited in the book, and anyone who's been to a Bandler and Grinder workshop can attest that they switch talking sometimes in mid-sentence without breaking stride. What they strove to do was not to teach how to do therapy in those workshops, but rather they taught expert and novice therapists alike to pay attention to the world around them - to come to their senses. Here's an example of one of them doing that:
[page 17] If you take nothing else away from this workshop, take away the following: You will always get the answers to your questions insofar as you have the sensory apparatus to notice the responses.
Bandler and Grinder were not therapists so much as they were modelers that came to therapy as a neat way of applying their modeling techniques. By modeling, I'm not talking about making balsa wood miniatures of airplanes, but rather cybernetic simulations of notions, internal maps of some external territory. As modelers, they say a lot of things that people took to be true, so they explained that everything they said were lies. That one statement tended to wake up the expert therapists in a hurry! Here's how they did in this particular seminar.
[page 18] Everything we're going to tell you here is lie. All generalizations are lies. Since we have no claim on truth or accuracy, we will be lying consistently through this seminar. There are only two differences between us and other teachers: One is that we announce at the beginning of our seminars that everything we say will be a lie, and other teachers do not. Most of them believe their lies. They don't realize that they are made up. The other difference is that most of our lies will work out really well if you act as if they are true.
Want some more examples of useful lies? How about hypnosis? That's a useful lie. Near the middle of the seminar a woman asked them, "Do you use hypnosis for that?" In this case, the responses were credited to the speakers.
[page 100] Richard: Everything is hypnosis.
John: There's a profound disagreement between us. There is no such thing as hypnosis. I would really prefer that you didn't use such terms, since they don't refer to anything. We believe that all communication is hypnosis. That's the function of every conversation.
Some conversations are more powerful than others. There was a therapist on Hayward Avenue in Phoenix who held conversations with people that were so powerful that few of them were able to stay awake while the man was talking. Here's a story about a visit to this man, Milton Erickson, probably by Bandler, who tells us that Milton told him something that has taken him some time to figure out:
[page 136] "You don't consider yourself a therapist, but you are a therapist." And I said, "Well, not really." He said, "Well, let's pretend . . . that you're a therapist who works with people. The most important thing . . . when you're pretending this . . . is to understand. . . that you are really not . . . You are just pretending . . . And if you pretend really well, the people that you work with will pretend to make changes. And they will forget that they are pretending . . . for the rest of their lives. But don't you be fooled by it." And then he looked at me and he said: "Goodbye."
Movies we watched this past month:Notes about our movies: Many of the movies we watch are foreign movies with subtitles. After years of watching movies in foreign languages, Arabic, French, Swedish, German, British English, Russian, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Chinese, and many other languages, sometimes two or three languages in the same movie, the subtitles have disappeared for us. If the movie is dubbed in English we go for the subtitles instead because we enjoy the live action and sounds of the real voices so much more than the dubbed. If you wonder where we get all these foreign movies from, the answer is simple: NetFlix. For a fixed price a month they mail us DVD movies from our on-line Queue, we watch them, pop them into a pre-paid mailer, and the postman effectively replaces all our gas-consuming and time-consuming trips to Blockbuster. To sign up for NetFlix, simply go to http://www.netflix.com/ and start adding all your requests for movies into your personal queue. If you've seen some in these movie blurbs, simply copy the name, click open your queue, and paste the name in the Search box on NetFlix and Select Add. Buy some popcorn and you're ready to Go to the Movies, 21st Century Style. You get to see your movies as the Director created them — NOT-edited for TV, in full-screen width, your own choice of subtitles, and all of the original dialogue. Often you get the Director's Cut Edition which adds back excellent footage that was cut from the theater releases.Hits (Watch as soon as you can. A Don't Miss Hit is one you might otherwise ignore.):
P. S. Look for HD/DVD format movies which are now available from NetFlix.“The Cleaner” (2007) “The Cleaner” (2007) Gives you a new appreciation for Jani-King and other cleaning services. Sam specializes in cleaning up after murders in people’s homes and businesses. He does one job and when he returns to give the key back, the wife is at home and knows nothing about any murder the day before. Oops! How’s Sam Jackson going to deal with this one? This one is gonna be tough to clean up, because he’s connected somehow to the murderer. A different role for Samuel Jackson: he’s quiet, unassuming, and wants to keep his hands clean and raise his daughter. Can they both keep their hands clean when Sam is called to clean up his personal mess? A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! !
“Legend” (1986) tells the story of Ormuzd and Ahriman in mythic form. Ahriman as the dark lord who strives to keep Ormuzd (the Sun Principle) from rising so that the whole world will need Ahriman’s artificial source of heat and light. Kill a unicorn and the surface world freezes up and the only heat is in Ahriman’s kingdom. Love is the only force which save the world, and it wins out in the end. Tom Cruise, when he was still young enough to be vulnerable and real, stars. Look for Rocky Horror lips on Ahriman.
“21” (2008) Young man wants to get scholarship to Harvard Medical School, but the odds are against him unless he can dazzle the man who decides which of the 73 qualified candidates gets it. Giving upon the scholarship, he joins a team of card counters in high stakes blackjack games in Las Vegas and wins the $330K he needs for school. But — there’s always a “but” in a great movie, isn’t there? — will that money change him? A DON'T MISS HIT ! !
“The Riddle” (2007) An inter-weaving of a newly found tale from Charles Dickens’ hand with a modern day business, police corruption, and murder in London.
“The Bank Job” (2008) a true story brought to the big screen of three punks who pulled off a large burglary of Lloyd’s safe deposit boxes. With local police, M5 and M6, and international thugs all searching for them, can they possibility escape with the money or their lives?
“Smart People” (2008) with Dennis Quaid and Sarah Jessica Parker. Dennis and his daughter were the smart people who were really dumb and numb after his wife died in a car accident. He kept all her clothes and got nauseous when he rode in the passenger seat of the car. His daughter hates him, his son hates him, and his adopted brother is broke and Dennis hates him. How can this family be saved? Will take someone to to make a big mistake — and we know God never wastes a mistake. A Don’t Miss Hit ! ! !
“The Visitor” (2007) Took me a while to suss out what the Visitor was. Movie started like “Smart People” — a bored college professor who is given an assignment he doesn’t want, is having trouble with the book he’s working on, and has lost his wife recently. He goes to NYC to give a paper and when he arrives in his seldom used apartment, a black gal and Arab husband have been living there for two months. Rented it from Ike. What’s a prof to do? Kick them out? Or become friends?Watch for the Visitor to be revealed in the final scene before credits roll. The answer will snare you.
“As I Am” (2008) A live performance by Patricia Neal of the story of her life. My eyes were full of tears during this moving performance. She sat at a table and read the script with a single spotlight on her in a darkened auditorium about the Crystal Serenity Cruise ship, but she held the audience spell-bound and received a standing ovation. She was at the top of her career when her son was crushed between two vehicles while in his stroller and needed five brain operations to survive. Her daughter died from measles complications. And while pregnant with Lucy, she had an aneurism and stroke which left her unable to move or speak for forty days. Then one day her ever-present nurse was singing “I Could Have Danced All Night” and Patricia joined in singing, just one long note, but it was the beginning of her recovery. She said, “It was my only singing engagement”. When Lucy was born healthy, Neal said, "It proves you don't need a brain to make a baby." This will become a movie someday. Look for it. And she added, “Tragedy was not through with us yet.”A sure-bet, DON’T MISS HIT ! ! !
Misses (Avoid At All Costs): We attempted to watch these this month, but didn't make it all the way through on most of them. Awhile back when three AAAC horrors hit us in one night, I decided to add a sub-category to "Avoid at All Costs", namely, A DVD STOMPER. These are movies so bad, you don't want anyone else to get stuck watching them, so you want to stomp on the disks. That way, if everyone else who gets burnt by the movie does the same, soon no copies of the awful movie will be extant and the world will be better off.“Introducing the Dwights” (2007) took so long, we decided to scuttle the Dwights before the introductions were over.
“Leatherheads” (2007) — about the early days of professional football with George Clooney and Renee Zellweger making eyes at each other throughout the movie.
Your call on these — your taste in movies may differ, but I liked them:“The Wind Will Carry Us” (2000) about life in a rural village of Iran as seen by a visitor who has to drive to the top of the hill to use his cell phone, over and over and over. A white village in the black valley.
“Innocent Voices” (2004)Chava is eleven and in one more birthday, he will be taken away by the Army to fight in the civil war, unless he skips town with his uncle and joins the rebel forces. But he does have to wait to join the war, his village lies between the rebels and the rest of the country and the war comes to him and his family. Can they survive this bullet-ridden onslaught in their “casas cartona” or cardboard houses?
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4. CAJUN STORY:
== == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == ==Boudreaux rolled over to Marie in bed one night and said, “What you t’ink, huh?”
Marie knew what he had in mind and replied, “Mais, Boudreaux, ah got my doctor’s appointment tomorrow, and ah need to stay fresh and clean down dere.”
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5. RECIPE of the MONTH for October, 2008 from Bobby Jeaux’s Kitchen:
(click links to see photo of ingredients, preparation steps)
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =Dessert: Avocado Delight
Background on Avocado Delight: After my friend Rosie and I helped a Brazilian artist Roseângela Rennó with her work for Project.1 in New Orleans, she gave us a recipe book. Most of the recipes required ingredients which are not easily found in the States, but one of them involved using avocados as a dessert. Roseangelo explained that avocadoes are rarely used in salads and most often in desserts in Brazil. That picqued my interest in trying this recipe. It is quick and easy to make and if you can pick the oranges off your tree fresh as I do, it will taste even better. Give it a try. It tastes as good as it looks. A great excuse to add the wholesome goodness of avocados to your diet.
3 ripe avocados
2 TBSP Brown Sugar
Peel and dice the avocados. Squeeze the oranges and lime.
Place ingredients into blender or mixer. Blend slightly, allowing some lumps to remain in avocado.
Chill before serving for several hours. Add a decorative dollop of whipped cream as a garnish and serve in a small dessert shell.
Can be kept over night and some darkness may appear on surface. Simply mix in with a spoon. It will not affect the taste.
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6. NEW POETRY by BOBBY:
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Tight RailsTight Rails: Copyright 2008 by Bobby Matherne This poem was first drafted on pages 62 and 84 of Learning to See into the Spiritual World. Inspired by contents of Steiner's lecture. "A person is a materialist because he cannot get out of himself — he keeps bumping into himself."
Because you’re tightly tied to the physical world,
You call boredom the condition
When your muscles don’t twitch,
When your muscles don’t move at all.
Rightly understood, what you call boredom
is the condition
When you’re the least tightly tied to the physical world.
Because you carefully avoid boredom,
you keep yourself
tightly tied to the physical world.
By keeping yourself tightly tied to the physical world,
you’re like a steam locomotive,
all huffing and puffing on tight rails.
When you’re slightly tied to the physical world,
you can float as on water,
When you’re even less tied to the physical world,
you can fly as in the air.
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7. REVIEWS and ARTICLES for October:
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And for my Good Readers, here’s the new reviews and articles for this month. The ARJ2 ones are new additions to the top of A Reader’s Journal, Volume 2, Chronological List, and the ART ones to A Reader’s Treasury.
1.) ARJ2: Uncle Tungsten — Memories of a Chemical Boyhood by Oliver Sacks
In this encyclopedic book about chemistry and physics, Oliver Sacks does for these sciences what Denis Guedj does for mathematics in his novel, The Parrot's Theorem. We follow along with a teenage Sacks as he encounters the great innovators and founders of the sciences of chemistry and physics. Especially chemistry. He does his own experiments and duplicates those of these innovators in his own laboratory.
This book had a most unusual trigger for its creation: a resonant clonk when a little bar of metal fell from a package onto the floor as Oliver Sacks opened it. He recognized it at once as a sound from his childhood, "the sound of sintered tungsten" as his Uncle Tungsten would say and then add, "nothing like it." For Sacks it was the auditory equivalent of the taste of madeleines in Combray for Marcel Proust. What it triggered for Sacks was his "Remembrance of Chemicals Past".
[page 315] The clonk served as a sort of Proustian mnemonic, and instantly brought Uncle Tungsten to mind, sitting in his lab in his wing collar, his shirtsleeves rolled up, his hands black from powdered tungsten. Other pictures rose immediately in my mind: his factory where the lightbulbs were made, his collection of old lightbulbs, and heavy metals, and minerals. And my own initiation by him, when I was ten, into the wonders of metallurgy and chemistry. I thought I might write a brief sketch of Uncle Tungsten, but the memories, now started, continued to emerge — memories not just of Uncle Tungsten but of all the events of early life, of my boyhood, many forgotten for fifty years or more. What had started as a page of writing became a vast mining operation, a four-year excavation of two million words or more — from which, somehow, a book began to crystallize out.
When I dropped this book on the wooden floor just now, it went THWOP! but inside of the book as I read along were all kinds of sounds (clonks, explosions, etc), sights (multi-colored metallic ores, chemicals, etc), textures (white fungus of aluminum oxide), smells (phosgene gas — like new mown hay, "stinkogens"), and tastes. Plus various chemicals, elements, molecules, compounds, liquids, gases, and metals in various shapes (solids, liquids) and molecular compounds such as oxides, halides, hydrides, and such, ad infinitum — with explicit directions for the reader to replicate them at home, if you dare. Some kids were given a chemistry set for Christmas when Sacks and I were kids, but Sacks lived inside of a chemistry set, it seems to me. He used an entire room in the large family home and eventually installed a venting hood under which he created hazardous and poisonous chemicals in front of his eyes by his own hands. He was just old enough to remember war-time England when an incendiary bomb, a thermite bomb, fell behind his house and "burned with a terrible, white-hot heat." Only a few years later he was creating a small scale thermite bomb under his venting hood in his own chemical "laboratory".
Like Freeman Dyson, I had the physique for physics and Sacks for chemistry (although his breadth of knowledge of physics was also awe-inspiring). He quotes Dyson from his autobiographical essay "To Teach or Not to Teach."
[page 26] I belonged to a small minority of boys who were lacking in physical strength and athletic prowess . . . We found our refuge in a territory that was equally inaccessible to our Latin-obsessed headmaster and our football-obsessed schoolmates. We found our refuge in science . . . We learned . . . That science is a territory of freedom and friendship in the midst of tyranny and hatred.
One of the catalysts, the platinum force in Sacks's young life, if you will, was his two uncles, Dave and Abe. Dave specialized in hot light and Abe in cold light. Dave was the eponymous Uncle Tungsten, the metal most used for incandescent light bulbs, and he was the manager of a light bulb factory.Dave introduced his nephew, Oliver W. Sacks, to this metal whose chemical symbol is W. Sacks's middle name was Wolf and the chemical name for tungsten is Wolfram. So Uncle Tungsten had, in effect, a Nephew Tungsten! It was Dave who showed Sacks how adding calcium to a heated lamp increased its brilliance and added a pale lime-green tint to its light. This technique quickly was pressed into service to illuminate previously dimly lit stage shows and the expression "being in the limelight" entered the English jargon, meaning being in the spotlight on some stage. One among many hot lights which Uncle Dave introduced to his Nephew Tungsten, Oliver W. Sacks.
Uncle Abe, on the other hand, loved cold light, non-heat generating sources of illumination. He developed and patented a luminous paint, and he was intrigued by glow-worms, fireflies, phosphorescent seawater, will-o'-the-wisps, Saint Elmo's fire, and the Northern and Southern Lights. Abe explained to Oliver how the first matches had to be dipped into sulfuric acid to light them, but by adding white phosphorus to the tip, the first "lucifers" came into being — the first friction matches.
This book is filled with historical anecdotes, too many to mention in a review. It will treat any reader to a full pallette of chemical and physical shades of discovery, innovation, creation, and application. If you think you'd like to be a chemist, read this book first! If reading of Sacks's experiences does not excite you, choose another field immediately.
Platinum — where did it come from, what are its properties, how did it get its name? All things I wondered about, and Sacks came through for me in one short paragraph. This is an example of the hundreds of various elements, gases, metals, ores, and chemical compounds he discusses in this book. Uncle Dave throws his nephew a heavy platinum nugget and recalls a day when platinum was considered dirty and thrown away as trash by miners panning for gold.
Platinum had a very high melting point which made it ideal for crucibles for heating other metals and corrosive acids of any kind had no effect on it. Dave showed his nephew a beautiful smooth and shiny crucible which looked new, but had been in use for about 100 years! (Page 36)
Here is his story about Uncle Dave demonstrating the process of aluminum rust. One can never think the same way about aluminum as a sturdy metal after reading this story.
[page 38, 39] On one visit, Uncle Dave showed me a large bar of aluminum. After the dense platinum metals, I was amazed at how light it was, scarcely heavier than a piece of wood. "I'll show you something interesting," he said. He took a smaller lump of aluminum, with a smooth, shiny surface, and smeared it with mercury. All of a sudden — it was like some terrible disease-the surface broke down, and a white substance like a fungus rapidly grew out of it, until it was a quarter of an inch high, then half an inch high, and it kept growing and growing until the aluminum was completely eaten up. "You've seen iron rust-oxidizing, combining with the oxygen in the air," Uncle said. "But here, with the aluminum, it's a million times faster. That big bar is still quite shiny, because it's covered by a fine layer of oxide, and that protects it from further change. But rubbing it with mercury destroys the surface layer, so then the aluminum has no protection, and it combines with the oxygen in seconds."
I recall kids bringing small amounts of mercury to elementary school in the 1940s, but lucky (or unlucky) for us, we had no access to any aluminum metals to try this on. But we did rub it on dirty buffalo nickels and silver dimes and quarters just to watch them immediately turn shiny. Another trick we did was dipping brown copper pennies into acetone and it would be shiny like new copper while in the liquid, but returned immediately to its brown color when removed, as I recall. Back then, hatters used liquid mercury to cure the felt in new hats and enough of the liquid got into their blood stream and brain to cause them to become hyperactive, and thus the term, "Mad Hatter", came into use.
Of all the metals, Uncle Dave had a soft spot for tungsten, and talked about it at the drop of the proverbial mercury-cured felt hat.
[page 39] But sooner or later Uncle's soliloquies and demonstrations before the cabinet all returned to his metal. "Tungsten," he said. "No one realized at first how perfect a metal it was. It has the highest melting point of any metal, it is tougher than steel, and it keeps its strength at high temperatures — an ideal metal!"
No wonder Oliver called Dave his "Uncle Tungsten." The common name of tungsten came from its ore which was very heavy. Its ore was given the name "heavy stone" or tung sten by the miners. This ore later was named scheelite after the Swedish Chemist Carl Wilhelm Scheele, who first showed it contained the element we now call tungsten. (Page 4)
Chemistry was not studied as a science until the last hundred years or so, but practical chemistry goes back to the stone age. How might cavemen have discovered how to smelt metals? Uncle Tungsten gave young Sacks his guess.
[page 41] He [Uncle Tungsten] would conjure up the first smelting of metal, how cavemen might have used rocks containing a copper mineral — green malachite perhaps — to surround a cooking fire and suddenly realized as the wood turned to charcoal that the green rock was bleeding, turning into a red liquid, molten copper.
The first step from the Stone Age to the Bronze Age — over a home-cooked meal one night in a local cavern. All without studying chemistry. In fact, as much as young Sacks loved practical, hands-on chemistry, he detested the school-bound desk study of his favorite subject. This was one of the reasons he became a neurologist instead of a chemist. More about that later.
Sacks was enamored of the work of chemists, especially Scheele. As you read his paean to the life of Scheele, it's easy to recognize that even though Sacks never became a chemist, he was a pioneer in the growing field of neuropathology and found there a whole undiscovered world of diseases of the nervous system in which he has specialized. After "Awakenings", "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat", "A Leg To Stand On", "Seeing Voices", The Island of the Colorblind, and other books by Oliver Sacks, many young doctors today want to be a neurologist like Sacks!
Among my many unanswered question that I found answered by this book was why the old Merck bottles we had around the house when I grew up were all a dark brown color. "Didn't they want to see what chemical compound was in the bottle?" I wondered back then. Sacks described the colored bottles in his Uncle Dave's laboratory and mentioned that the dark green or brown bottles were for light-sensitive chemicals. Obviously Merck didn't want the chemicals they were selling you as pure compounds to turn into something else while they were sitting on your shelf waiting to be used. My dad worked at an alcohol distillery, and we had these old Merck bottles, alcohol, and lead around the house all the time. Dad molded the lead into sinkers for his home-knitted cast nets and trawls. I used it to mold lead soldiers with a soldier-making kit I got from Santa one year. Santas apparently had fewer rules to follow in those good ole days.
Sacks devotes an entire chapter to smelly concoctions and explosive ones. The chapter is named "8. Stinks and Bangs". Kids will love this chapter. Parents won't. As a parent, I will skip it. See the book.
Carl Jung said that "nothing so motivates a son as what his father almost, but never quite did with his life." Guess what? In the next passage, Sacks reveals that his father almost became a neurologist:
[page 95, 96] My father had originally wondered about an academic career in neurology, and had been a houseman, an intern (along with Jonathan Miller's father), to Sir Henry Head, the famous neurologist, at the London Hospital. At this point, Head himself, still at the height of his powers, had developed Parkinson's disease, and this, my father said, would sometimes cause him to run involuntarily, or festinate, the length of the old neurology ward, so that he would have to be caught by one of his own patients. When I had difficulty imagining what this was like, my father, an excellent mimic, imitated Head's festination, careering down Exeter Road at an ever-accelerating pace, and getting me to catch him. Head's own predicament, my father thought, made him especially sensitive to the predicaments of his patients, and I think my father's imitations — he could imitate asthma, convulsions, paralyses, anything — springing from his vivid imagination of what it was like for others, served the same purpose.
It seems to me that this ability in-form a patient's symptoms within oneself makes one an excellent physician. So often today, physicians do most of their diagnosis from ordered MRI's, Cat Scans, X-Rays, and such, and spend too little time in-forming themselves of what is going on inside of their living, breathing patient sitting before them in the examination room.
Sacks was a practical joker, and as one myself (now a retired practical joker), I could appreciate his delight at getting a couple of lead balloons for his 65th birthday. What's a lead balloon? Well, for Sacks it was a fulfillment of a teenager's dream.
[page 115] More than fifty years later (for my sixty-fifth birthday), I was able to gratify this boyhood fantasy, and had, besides the normal helium balloons, a few xenon balloons of astonishing density — as near to "lead balloons" as could be. . . If one twirled these xenon balloons in one's hand, then stopped, the heavy gas by its own momentum, would continue rotating for a minute, almost as if it were a liquid.
Young Sacks was intrigued by the different colors he could get by replacing the silver salts with copper, uranium, or vanadium, leading to photos of green faces and green double-decker buses. His propensity for going overboard led to this report card saying one time, "Sacks will go far, if he does not go too far." The teacher should get a gold star for that statement. (Page 140)
It was Humphry Davy (the "Poet-Chemist") to whose life and achievements Sacks devoted the most coverage, basically all of Chapter 11. It was he who found that if a platinum wire was placed in an explosive gas mixture, it would glow until it ignited the flame. What a boon that would have been for our gas stoves, if I had known about that in the 1950-60s and could have located a piece of platinum wire — we were always looking for matches to light a balky burner. Like Sacks, Davy was always on the verge of going too far.
[page 131] But, crucially, it was Davy's personality that appealed to me — not modest, like Scheele, not systematic, like Lavoisier, but filled with the exuberance and enthusiasm of a boy, with a wonderful adventurousness and sometimes dangerous impulsiveness — he was always at the point of going too far — and it was this which captured my imagination above all.
Ah, the next thing which Sacks falls in love with as a boy was taking pictures! This was another love of my youth, but one with which I had limited resources at my disposal. The only way I could afford to take photos and 8mm movies was to be the family photographer, which role was made easier by dint of my being the oldest of six. But until the advent of digital photography in the past decade, the wonders that one can do with photography in a photo-developing, printing, and enlarging studio escaped my financial means. So I read with nostalgic yearning about the opportunities to take, develop, manipulate, and print photos which young Sacks had at his disposal. He was able to make light-sensitive emulsions in his home chemical laboratory and test them out. Along the way he began to experiment with exotic chemicals which created various tones of color in his photographs.
It was John Dalton who brought the idea of atoms into the field of chemistry. He even made wooden balls into models of atoms, some of which were still on display in the Science Museum when Sacks visited it as a boy. As any innovator, Dalton was ridiculed by chemists, such as H. E. Roscoe, who wrote, "Atoms are round bits of wood invented by Mr. Dalton." At least Dalton had both an hypothesis and the balls to prove it.
Rightly understood, John Dalton was a martyr to the cause of atoms, he gave his life to the defense of the usefulness of understanding atoms as the basis of all chemistry. Berzelius introduced a new symbolism which Dalton opposed because he felt it concealed the actuality of atoms.
[page 152] Dalton's passionate opposition to Berzelius's symbolism lasted to the end of his life, and indeed when he died in 1844 it was from a sudden apoplexy, following a violent argument defending the reality of atoms.
As Sacks learned back then, an author or a book may have the map wrong, but still be very useful in describing the territory and how to navigate through it. One such book was J. J. Griffin's Chemical Recreations (c. 1850) which Sacks acquired at a second-hand bookstore as a youth.
[page 154] Griffin's book, my first guide in the laboratory, was written in the first half of the nineteenth century, and many of his formulas, and hence many of his atomic weights, were as erroneous as Dalton's. Not that any of this mattered too much in practice — not, indeed, did it affect the great virtue, the many virtues, of Griffin. His formulas and his atomic weights might indeed have been wrong, but the reagents he suggested, and their quantities, were exactly right. It was only the interpretation, the formal interpretation, that was askew.
In learning science, as in human evolution, ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny. One must go through all the stages of understanding a science such as chemistry before one can appreciate the current state of the science.
[page 155,] "It often happens," Cannizzaro concluded, "that the mind of a person who is learning a new science, has to pass through all the phases which the science itself has exhibited in its historical evolution." Cannizarros' words had a powerful resonance for me, because I, too, in a way, was living through, recapitulating, the history of chemistry in myself, rediscovering all the phases through which it had passed.
The prime virtue of this fine book is that it will help those, who like myself, did not have the good fortune to follow Sacks' methodical path through chemistry, both in his own laboratory and in his own discoveries. We have the chance through reading this book to get a feel for how atomic weights led to atomic numbers and then to Avogadro's Number, etc. Things which are so often presented as a fait accompli which we are expected to memorize and accept as flattened-out abstract concepts devoid of the living reality of Sacks' boyhood laboratory experiences.
Rarely do I read a book these days when some personal event is described in which I can see a doylic memory at the root of the feeling or reaction. Sacks recalls riding his tricycle on a summer day in 1939 when he was six years old. It was a Saturday, and his orthodox Aunt Annie pointed her finger at him, shaking her head, saying God is watching you, and fussing at him for daring to ride on the Sabbath in defiance of God.
[page 172] I disliked Saturdays from this time on, disliked God, too (at least the vindictive, punitive God that Annie's warning had evoked), and developed an uncomfortable, anxious, watched feeling about Saturdays (which persists, a little, to this day).
Sacks remembers this event and how he felt. He was six years old and the event is part of his cognitive memory. The event is, however, linked to an earlier doylic memory which contains the feelings he describes above, and it remains, by his own admission, linked to it even to this day. If Sacks were to do a simple speed trace, he could convert the remains of the discomfort completely, and in under a minute. Doylic memories are events stored as bodily states until we reach five years old and then thereafter they are stored as cognitive memories, which by definition, contain no feelings but which can have already stored doylic memories linked to them, until one traces and erases them.
To show how persistent doylic memories are, take Sacks' favorite foods at the age of five, smoked salmon and Bach. If these were his favorite already at five, then they are doylicly based and would continue to this day. This is an example of a doylic memory one would wish to keep indefinitely.
[page 182] [My father] instilled in us an intense feeling for Bach especially, and all the hidden structure of a fugue. When I was five, I am told, and asked what my favorite things in the world were, I answered, "smoked salmon and Bach." (Now, sixty years later, my answer would be the same.)
In Chapter 16, Sacks takes us on a guided tour through "Mendeleev's Garden", the magnificent table of the elements to which Mendeleev devoted his life. We all owe a lot to our mothers, but chemistry owes a lot to Mendeleev's mother: she walked with her son literally thousands of miles from the frozen wilderness of Siberia to Moscow and then to St. Petersburg to get her son into a university. Mendeleev held the possibility of a table of the elements as an unanswered question for over twenty years. He created a deck of cards with the properties, atomic weights and numbers, etc of each known element on one card. On long train trips, he would play a solitaire game with his cards, ever seeking some unifying and organizing principle for these diverse and seemingly unrelated elements. "If the fool would persist in his folly he would become wise." William Blake wrote, and he could have been writing of Mendeleev, for many people thought him to be a fool, and then his new Periodic Table predicted the properties of gallium before it was discovered officially.
Some of the new elements, 93, 94, 95, and 96 were discovered during World War II and were kept secret till after the war. Usually one would expect the revelation of new elements to be made at a prestigious scientist conference, but these elements were revealed over a radio quiz show when a 12-year-old boy asked Glenn Seaborg, "Mr. Seaborg, have you made any more elements lately?"
Another type of cold fire which his Uncle Abe showed Sacks was a type which I encountered in the 1970s when I heard of teenagers on dates crushing Wintergreen Lifesavers between their teeth to produce eerie green lights in their mouths. At first I didn't believe this possible, but a series of experiments proved it to be the case, as I crunched with a needle-nosed plier all kinds of Lifesavers and discovered that, in fact, Wintergreen produced the best effect. It took me some time, in the pre-Google world to discover that the effect was named triboluminescence and it had been discovered by a French scientist many years earlier. The flashes are created whenever new planes of crystals are exposed during the crunching process. Here's how Sacks discovered them.
[page 230] Uncle Abe also showed me other types of cold light. One could take various crystals-like uranyl nitrate crystals, or even ordinary cane sugar-and crush them, with a mortar and pestle, or between two test tubes (or even one's teeth), cracking the crystals against one another-this would cause them to glow. This phenomenon, called triboluminescence, was recognized even in the eighteenth century, when Father Giambattista Beccaria recorded:You may, when in the dark frighten simple people only by chewing lumps of sugar, and, in the meantime, keeping your mouth open, which will appear to them as if full of fire; to this add, that the light from sugar is the more copious in proportion as the sugar is purer.Even crystallization could cause luminescence; Abe suggested that I make a saturated solution of strontium bromate and then let it cool slowly in the dark-at first nothing happened, and then I began to see scintillations, little flashes of light, as jagged crystals formed on the bottom of the flask.
With all this background in the sciences of chemistry and physics, in electromagnetism and radioactivity, in both hot and cold lighting technology, in photography, in pyrotechnics, and other fields too numerous to list in a review, one can only wonder why and how the illustrious young scientific prodigy, Oliver Sacks, did not pursue one of those fields. I think I know because I was an avid reader of science fiction novels from age 7 through age 15, but gradually science fiction held no magic or mystery for me anymore. I still love a good story, and will occasionally read a Robert Heinlein novels like "Stranger in a Strange Land" or the Lazarus Long series, or watch a Star Trek Voyager episode, but science fiction novels I mostly avoid. Something like that happened to Sacks and he recounts the dramatic change for us.
[page 310] But it was not sudden — I did not wake up one morning and find that chemistry was dead for me; it was gradual, it stole upon me bit by bit. It happened at first, I think, without my even realizing it. It came upon me sometime in my fifteenth year that I no longer woke up with sudden excitements — "Today I will get the Clerici solution! Today I will read about Humphry Davy and electric fish! Today I will finally understand diamagnetism, perhaps!"I no longer seemed to get these sudden illuminations, these epiphanies, those excitements which Flaubert (whom I was now reading) called "erections of the mind." Erections of the body, yes, this was a new, exotic part of life — but those sudden raptures of the mind, those sudden landscapes of glory and illumination, seemed to have deserted or abandoned me. Or had I, in fact, abandoned them? For I was no longer going to my little lab; I only realized this when I wandered down one day and saw a light layer of dust on everything there. I had scarcely seen Uncle Dave or Uncle Abe for months, and I had ceased to carry my pocket spectroscope with me.
As a youngster I began reading avidly at 6 years old, and, when the first library in our small town of Westwego first opened, I was there with my mother to take some books about dinosaurs and other wonderful things, like the original Dr. Seuss book, published in 1938, "The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins." It was about a young man who, whenever he took off his hat, a new one appeared. Oliver Sacks as a youth was like Bartholomew Cubbins, whenever he took off one of his hats, a new one appeared. He took off his hot light hat and a cold light hat appeared, he took off his chemistry hat and a physics hat appeared. Soon he had taken off all his childhood hats, and his father's hat appeared, one which remains on his head yet today, a neurologist — a neurologist who has done in his field what Dalton, Mendeleev, Maxwell, Curie, Rutherford, Moseley, Einstein, etal, did in their fields, opened them up to new vistas of possibilities for understanding the world — and for Sacks that world is the human mind.
Read the Full Review at:
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I hear often from my Good Readers that they have bought books after reading my book reviews. Keep reading, folks! As I like to remind you, to obtain more information on what's in these books, buy and read the books — for less information, read the reviews.
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= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =In this section I like to comment on events in the world, in my life, and in my readings which have come up during the month. These are things I might have shared with you in person, if we had had the opportunity to converse during the month. If we did, then you may recognize my words. If I say some things here which upset you, rest assured that you may skip over these for the very reason that I would likely have not brought up the subject to spoil our time together in person.
Padre Filius, the cartoon character created by your intrepid editor and would-be cartoonist, will appear from time to time in this Section of the Digest to share us on some amusing or enlightening aspect of the world he encounters during his daily life.
This month the good Padre hears a Confession from a repentant Dieter.
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9. CLOSING NOTES:
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You can read a description of how to do a Speed Trace (either in English or Spanish):
Learn to Do a Speed Trace Here
Or Watch Bobby extemporaneously explain How to Do a Speed Trace on Video:
To make a connection to the Doyletics website from your own website, here's what to do. You may wish to use the first set of code below to link to the site which includes a graphic photo, or to use the second set of code for a text-only link. Immediately below is how the graphic link will look on your website. Just place this .html in an appropriate place on your website.
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<A HREF="http://www.doyletics.com/index.htm">Learn to Do a Speed Trace Here<BR>
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<A HREF="http://www.doyletics.com/introduc.htm">Learn to Do the Speed Trace at doyletics.com <A/>
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My reviews are not intended to replace the purchasing and reading of the reviewed books, but rather to supplant a previous reading or to spur a new reading of your own copy. What I endeavor to do in most of my reviews is to impart a sufficient amount of information to get the reader comfortable with the book so that they will want to read it for themselves. My Rudolf Steiner reviews are more detailed and my intention is bring his work to a new century of readers by converting his amazing insights into modern language and concepts.
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As of August, 2011 we have begun using a Contact Manager with an Email Merge feature which allows us to send personalized Emails to everyone in our Contact List. You can receive the colorful Email containing the DIGESTWORLD Reminder beginning with "Dear [Your First Name]". It is important that we have your First Name, so if the name you are addressed by in your Reminder is not your first name, please notify us of the name you wish us to use. For convenience you can send a quick email to give us your name by Clicking Here. To Contact Bobby, his Email address is visible on this page.
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Maintaining a website requires time and money, and apart from sending a donation to the Doyletics Foundation, there are several ways you can show your gratitude and support our efforts to keep doyletics.com on-line.
One would be for you to buy a copy of my Dolphin Novel, The SPIZZNET File. Books May be ordered in hardback or paperback form from Xlbiris the Publisher here:
The best source at the best price is to order your copies on-line is from the publisher Random House/Xlibris's website above.
Two would be for you to use the Google Search Engine for your web searches or to find an item on doyletics.com website. New reviews will have a place to do a Google Search at the top and the bottom of the reviews. Just enter a search phrase in the box below to do a Search. Note you can check whether to Search just this site or all websites.
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Any questions about this DIGESTWORLD ISSUE, Contact: Bobby Matherne
Does your Face sometimes resemble the Faces Below? If so, Click on the Faces or Flags to Dig into our First Aid Kit.
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Visit Bobby's Other Reviews, Articles, and Essays
Books are Lighthouses Erected in the Sea of Time
Visit the Counselor's Corner for Suggestions
on Incorporating Doyletics in Your Work.
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