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Good Mountain Press Presents DIGESTWORLD ISSUE#141
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~~~~~~~~ In Memoriam: Gail Kelley Webb ~~~~
~~~~~~~~ [ nee Gail Leslie Rimmer 1951 - 2013 ] ~~~~~
~~~~~~~~Click Here to Read Bobby's Eulogy at Gail's Memorial Service ~~~~~
From Obituary in Times-Picayune:
"Gail was a lady devoted to helping those within her universe achieve their most in business, international and local community service, and life.

"Gail Leslie Rimmer was born April 30, 1951 in Brooklyn, NY, daughter of the late Ruth and Richard Rimmer. She graduated from Oxon Hill High School, Maryland and the University of Maryland-College Park, with a degree in Philosophy. She was an alumna of the Université d’Aix-Marseille, France (Cours Moyen), and held a post graduate diploma in Management from the National Defense University at Fort McNair, Washington, D.C.

"Gail was the beloved wife of Lt Colonel James T. Webb; mother of Chad Jeremy Webb, wife Sarah, and Donovan Jason Webb; grandmother of Allysia Brooke and Winter Song. She was the sister of Barry Rimmer and wife, Lynne, and Lynn Rimmer Eisenberg; and Godmother to Kara Gormont. She is survived by many loving nieces, nephews, cousins and wonderful friends across our Earth.

"Gail served her nation in many ways in Federal, State, and International community service. Prior to forming St. Charles Consulting, Inc. she was Deputy Branch Chief of the Support Branch of the Air Force Comptrollers, at the Pentagon. Later, she provided management and team development for the Executive Office of The President of the United States.

"As President of St. Charles Consulting, Inc., Gail provided her community and surrounding industries with the forum to achieve the utmost in community service and leadership training. She was Louisiana’s only Internationally Certified Professional Facilitator, and provided high stakes facilitation, strategic planning and team building for nonprofit organizations and corporate America.

"Gail was president of the Rotary Club, St. Charles Parish, named Club Rotarian of the Year-2008, and Rotary International District 6840 Rotarian of the Year-2008-2009, as well as a multiple Paul Harris Fellow. She developed and coordinated the Rotary District Training and Leadership Academy. Gail was the past chair of both the River Parishes Council and Small Business Council of the New Orleans Regional Chamber of Commerce; was a Board member of the Junior Achievement of Greater New Orleans; Board member for the National Speakers’ Association of New Orleans; member of Women Business Owners; member of The American Society of Military Comptrollers, and Board Member of the American Society for Training & Development.

"Gail was on the Board of Directors for Goodwill Industries of SE Louisiana; president of Junior Achievement of Greater New Orleans; and served with the Girl Scouts of America. She was a senior consultant for the Center for Non-profit Resources (United Way); on the board of the New Orleans Humane Society; and was a Guardian Angel for Best Friends Animal Society."

Our friend Chris Bryant sent this Eleanor Roosevelt quotation,
Many people will walk through your life,
but only true friends will leave their footprints on your heart.
Gail left her footprints in my heart and Del's heart and we expect to walk alongside her again one day.


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Quote for the Snowy Month of January:

As I talked with the woodchopper who had just cleared the top of Emerson's I got a new view of the mountains over his pile of wood in the foreground. They were very grand in their snowy mantle, which had a slight tinge of purple.
Henry David Thoreau, American Naturalist and Author, in his Journal, Dec. 12, 1859.

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GOOD MOUNTAIN PRESS Presents ISSUE#141 for January 2014
                  Archived DIGESTWORLD Issues

             Table of Contents

1. January's Violet-n-Joey Cartoon
2. Honored Readers for January
3. On a Personal Note
       Flowers of Shanidar Poems
       Movie Blurbs

4. Cajun Story
5. Recipe or Household Hint of the Month by Bobby Jeaux: Announcement
6. Poem from Yes, and Even More:"That's the Spirit"
7. Reviews and Articles Added for January:

8. Commentary on the World
      1. Padre Filius Cartoon
      2. Comments from Readers
      3. Freedom on the Half Shell Poem
      4. Eulogy for Gail Kelley Webb
      5. MAKE IT RIGHT

9. Closing Notes — our mailing list, locating books, subscribing/unsubscribing to DIGESTWORLD
10. Gratitude

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#1 Jul  #2, Aug  #3, Sept  #4, Oct  #5, Nov  #6, Dec  #7
2001: Jan  #8,  Feb  #9,  Mar #10, Apr #11, May #12, Jun #13, Jul #14, Aug #15, Sep #16, Oct #17, Nov #18, Dec #19
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
2003: Jan #32, Feb #33, Mar #34, Apr #35, May #36, Jun #37, Jul #38, Aug #39, Sep #40, Oct #41, Nov #42, Dec #43
2004: Jan #44, Feb #45, Mar #46, Apr #47, May #48, Jun #49, Jul #50, Aug #51, Sep #52, Oct #53, Nov #54, Dec #55
2005: Jan#051,Feb#052,Mar#053,Apr#054,May#055,Jun#056,Jul#057,Aug#058,Sep#059,Oct#05a,Nov#05b,Dec#05c
2006: Jan#061,Feb#062,Mar#063,Apr#064,May#065,Jun#066,Jul#067,Aug#068,Sep#069,Oct#06a,Nov#06b,Dec#06c
2007: Jan#071,Feb#072,Mar#073,Apr#074,May#075,Jun#076,Jul#077,Aug#078,Sep#079,Oct#07a,Nov#07b,Dec#07c
2008: Jan#081,Feb#082,Mar#083,Apr#084,May#085,Jun#086,Jul#087,Aug#088,Sep#089,Oct#08a,Nov#08b,Dec#08c
2009: Jan#091,Feb#092,Mar#093,Apr#094,May#095,Jun#096,Jul#097,Aug#098,Sep#099,Oct#09a,Nov#09b,Dec#09c
2010: Jan#101,Feb#102,Mar#103,Apr#104,May#105,Jun#106,Jul#107,Aug#108,Sep#109,Oct#10a,Nov#10b,Dec#10c
2011: Jan#111,Feb#112,Mar#113,Apr#114,May#115,Jun#116,Jul#117,Aug#118,Sep#119,Oct#11a,Nov#11b,Dec#11c
2012: Jan#121,Feb#122,Mar#123,Apr#124,May#125,Jun#126,Jul#127,Aug#128,Sep#129,Oct#12a,Nov#12b,Dec#12c
2013: Jan#131,Feb#132,Mar#133,Apr#134,May#135,Jun#136,Jul#137,Aug#138,Sep#139,Oct#13a,Nov#13b,Dec#13c
2014: Jan#141,Feb#142,Mar#143,Apr#144,May#145,Jun#146,Jul#147,Aug#148,Sep#149,Oct#14a,Nov#14b,Dec#14c
2015: Jan#151,Feb#152,Mar#153,Apr#154,May#155,Jun#156,Jul#157,Aug#158,Sep#159,Oct#15a,Nov#15b,Dec#15c
2016: Jan#161,Feb#162,Mar#163,Apr#164,May#165,Jun#166,Jul#167,Aug#168,Sep#169,Oct#16a,Nov#16b,Dec#16c
2017: Jan#171,Feb#172,Mar#173,Apr#174,May#175,Jun#176,Jul#177,Aug#178,Sep#179,Oct#17a,Nov#17b,Dec#17c
2018: Jan#181,Feb#182,Mar#183,Apr#184,May#185,Jun#186,Jul#187,Aug#188,Sep#189,Oct#18a,Nov#18b,Dec#18c
2019: Jan#191,Feb#192,Mar#193,Apr#194,May#195,Jun#196,Jul#197,Aug#198,Sep#199,Oct#19a

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1. January Violet-n-Joey CARTOON:
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For newcomers to DIGESTWORLD, we have created a webpage of all the Violet-n-Joey cartoons!

This month Violet and Joey learn about the New Year's Date Glyph.
"New Year's Date Glyph for 2014" at

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Each month we choose to honor two Good Readers of our DIGESTWORLD from those all over the World. Here are the two worthy Honored Readers for January, 2014:

Tess Cummins Hipps in Virginia

Cathline Marshall in NYC

Congratulations, Tess and Cathline!

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Out Our Way:


December began with a bang for Del as she and our daughter Kim headed to New York City to celebrate Kim's 50th birthday. Shopping, Broadway Plays, Shopping, and more plays were on their agenda. Thanks to her new Z10, Del has become the Adjunct Photographer for the DIGESTWORLD, and her photos document the fun she and Kim had after zipping from the Big Easy to the Big Apple. A photo of Del and Kim appeared in the previous issue just before it went to press. They attended "Kinky Boots" and thoroughly enjoyed it, a musical made from a recent movie about saving the family shoe business. Apparently Del and Kim underestimated the amount of time and fun they needed in NYC because the Fates grounded their plane on the flight back, and they spent a night in a lugubrious Quality Inn in Queens before heading back to their Broadway area hotel for one last night of fun, shopping, and one last Broadway play. Del wrote in short TXT messages along with photos, e. g., of the Rockettes performance, "Rockette seats -- We are so close we can almost touch the stage." Unfortunately, her cell phone battery was used up and she was unable to get a shot of the actual Rockettes's lined up on stage. (This prompted me to buy Del a portable cell phone recharger for future trips.) Del and Kim loved the Rockettes show! They also took shots of themselves at Serendipity, inside the Trump Tower with its huge Christmas tree, in front of the Swarovski Star at Rockefeller Plaza, and their luncheon with our sister-in-law, Karen Richards and her niece/sister Kelly. Their spirits were damped a bit when they were bussed to Queens and due to fly to Cincinnati the next morning en route to New Orleans, but they quickly rebounded by rebooking their flight another day later (to avoid any delay in Cincinnati due to predicted freezing rain) and got a direct Delta flight to New Orleans. Plus they called their hotel in NYC and booked the next night there, and quickly found tickets to new play, "First Date", a short walk from the hotel. By this trip Kim and Del are seasoned travelers, ready to roll with any punches the weather might send their way and enjoy the process.


I like to include this section for people who work daily on their home computer as I do, so that they won't feel like they're the only ones with problems. If this does not apply to you, feel free to skip to the next Topic Heading.

My new four monitor Setup worked great for adding photos during the crunch days at the end of the month getting DIGESTWORLD ready to publish. I used the far left No. 1 monitor to display photo thumbnails with a preview screen open on No. 2 screen, so if I wanted to preview a photo before using it I had it full-size. I put my handy HTML Editor (Notepad++) on No 2. Screen, and, at the bottom of No. 3, I put WS-FTP for transferring photos to remote. On the large rightmost monitor, No. 4, I opened a small version of Explore, no preview, and lined it up with "13c" fixed in the Search field, the DW Issue No. Thus whenever I saved a cropped photo ready for transfer to remote in the November folder, the "13c" Search field selected ONLY the cropped files. With the display set on EXTRA LARGE ICONS, only four photos were visible and after doing three, I could Move them easily to October folder. Each one to be xfr'ed to Remote, I clicked and dragged to remote /images/ folder and while it was xfring, I edited the digest13c.shtml file with the (in ClipBoard 5) and the full descriptive name (in CB 6). All this minimized the amount of typing and manipulating, lubricating and shortening the overall process of Issue publication. I kept IE10 open on No. 4 monitor to view any changes in the published DIGESTWORLD Version immediately. Each time I clicked the digest to transfer a photo to remote, I moved my cursor (without clicking) and held it over the Refresh button for DW Version on No. 4 monitor.

I kept my left hand hovered over the ENTER button on the keyboard, and when it signaled a need for an overwrite acknowledgment, I simply clicked ENTER, and with my right hand I clicked the Refresh button on Monitor No. 4 and up came the modified page, so I could confirm the change I intended actually showed up. Sounds dreadfully complicated, but I've been doing this on a monthly basis since August 2000 and this is by far the easiest process so far for DIGESTWORLD publication to the web.

The woes started one morning when my favorite Optical Mouse (with 5 pushbuttons for Left Click, Right Click, Copy, Paste, and Scroll) was broken. Been using this MS Optical Mouse for over twenty years and have not found a suitable five-button replacement, up until now. I bought about 5 of these and still have two working ones left after this one broke. The red light at the tip of the mouse(visible in above right photo) would no longer come on and had probably burnt out. All I can say is "Guys! Make more 5-button mouses!"

That was a minor woe, solved by plugging in one of my backup mouses. The next one was a big woe and OH NO! It came as a result of an automatic upgrade to Microsoft software, namely, to Internet Explorer, IE11. I didn't want this upgrade, and didn't expect that allowing updates to MS Windows to come automatically would cause my IE to upgrade without a "May I?" But it did, so I have turned off such upgrade permissions. I want to decide that this moment is the right moment in my work schedule to hazard an upgrade, particularly for something that I would prefer not to have upgraded, like IE11. Since IE11 was already upgraded and my PC rebooted, I figured it was a good time to upgrade Flash, but it started with an okay to add Google Chrome before I could stop it, so I aborted the upgrade. Minutes later my IE11 browser had stopped working, but only on my site. Called Earthlink support, but they were no help, just got a mealy-mouthed, "It's working okay on our computers. Try another browser." Began the process for contacting MS and suddenly it began working again. No idea how that happened. Did MS wave a magic wand? Did Google finally give up after I decided to load Chrome browser? Soon as Chrome was loaded, IE11 began working again. Now I have a backup browser to double-check when some problem arises. Immediately I unpinned Chrome from Task bar area as I have no use for it other than as a backup during computer woe periods.

A few minutes after my computer woes cleared up, a major woe appeared in the form of a phone call from Jim Webb that his beloved wife for twenty-six years, Gail, had been admitted to St. Charles General Hospital in Luling and was in ICU and not expected to survive more than a few days. When I hung up with Jim, I immediately called Del who was still in New York City to inform her that Gail's health has drastically changed for the worse. We both hoped that Del would return on Thursday as planned and I would pick her up at the airport and drive her immediately to see Gail in the hospital. More woes: Del and Kim got on their airplane to leave Thursday morning and were taken off again because JFK was so fogged in that no flights were going out or coming in. They had to stay two more days in NYC and Gail died during that time.


After the call from Jim, I decided to give him a day to get Gail transferred to East Jefferson Hospital and called him on the next day. Couldn't reach him, but remembered that Gail's sister Lynn was staying at the Webb home, so I called the home number and talked to Lynn who told me the doctors scuttled the transfer to East Jefferson when they discovered there was little that could be done for Gail except keep her comfortable. So I drove immediately to St. Charles General and found Susan Leger and Chad Webb with Gail, taking care of her. She was able to talk with difficulty after removing the oxygen mask, and remained lucid when I was there, receiving morphine only when she requested it.

After spending the morning at the hospital, I left to drive home and relax a bit. Stopped by my brother Steve's house in Luling and visited with him and Janice. We haven't seen them much since Dad died, and this was a good chance to say hello and catch up with them. They informed me that their daughter was having an operation the following week and asked my prayers for her. This added another bit of stress as that operation was due to take place on the same day as Del's cousin Sally's long-delayed funeral service on St. Charles Avenue. Penny, Sally's mom, and Del's first cousin, was flying in on Saturday to stay with us, and at this point, I didn't know if Del and Kim would be back from New York City. While at Steve's my Edward Jones broker in Luling called saying he had a check for me, and I planned to drive there to talk to the broker. But I had another mission, to stop by to say hello to Dot and Shelby Duhe who live a block away from my brother's house. They were home and it was a treat to see Dot doing so well. Still some right-side hemiplegia, but with Shelby's help she can maneuver around the house and go out to eat, etc. We had a nice visit and Dot asked if I would take photos of her Christmas Cactus. It was a mixture of white and pink blooms which she said came from two different plants, but it seemed like a hybrid of two colors until I inspected the branches thoroughly.

The next morning, Thursday, I got dressed to pick up Del and drive her to see Gail, but Del called to say that she was fogged in at JFK and had to get off the plane. She and Kim eventually went to Quality Inn in Queens for the night and are switched to a plane to Cincinnati and then to MSY tomorrow morning. So I went to Rouse's and got groceries for week. Came home and made 4 trays of icebergs using the freshly picked La. Strawberries, then planted the veggies I bought from Rose Garden in the three new rows: 4 plants each of: Romaine Lettuce, broccoli, brussels sprouts, and cabbage, plus one artichoke plant. I harvested what potatoes were below the frozen potato plants, about a half dozen medium-sized red potatoes. They went into green beans and potatoes dish which I cooked for when Del got home. Gail died the next morning on Friday and I talked to Jim, helping him to think through the arrangements which had to be made. Del and Kim were due back on Saturday, and I drove to our daughter, Maureen's, in Metairie on the way to the airport to pick up Del. Got to see two of my great-grandsons, Aven and Preston, at Maureen's. Preston called me Mr. Bob till his grandma Mo corrected him to Grandpa. Was just nice to hear him talking since I last saw him.

I went into the Timberlane Screening Room while Del unpacked and showered off the NYC dirt and got ready for our dinner out at the Club. I whiled away the time by watching the Kickoff of the SEC Championship game. Auburn and Mizzou were in a big cat fight all afternoon into evening. 59-42 was final score and the outcome was in doubt until the waning minutes of the game. WHEW! Then Michigan State was beating Ohio State 17-0 near half-time, so I got interested in that game after the SEC game was over and MSU won and knocked OSU out of the BCS Championship Game, likely to be replaced by Auburn. If Auburn wins the National BCS Championship that will be the second time in the past decade that LSU was the only loss suffered in regular season by a BCS Champion, the other one was Alabama.

Halfway into SEC game, we arrived at Timberlane Country Club and joined Diane Cruz's table for dinner. Carl Panebiango was there, Tammy "Marilyn Monroe" Cruz was there, George and Beverly Strunk, Jon Gegenheimer, and several other couples filled out our table. Joey and Katie (Domini and John Garrity's daughter) were there with their baby boy Patrick, I think. Enjoyed talking to Joey and telling him how I first met his wife when she was 11 about twenty years ago. I was typing and caught sight of a white rabbit running past the sliding glass door to my left, and when I turned I saw this young girl chasing the white rabbit, "Alice!" I thought.

The next morning Del and I went to our planned Patio Planter's Christmas Luncheon at Muriel's Restaurant in the French Quarter. The food was delicious, upstairs at Muriels, all you could eat of omelets (had the seafood one), Pain Perdu, grillades and grits, etc. It was bitter cold outside, so I wore my overcoat. Got several comments on my holiday vest. Parked on Conti for a nice walk up Decatur to the St. Louis Cathedral area where Muriel's is. The Golden Rain trees were brilliant yellow in Jackson Square, looking ever so much like Fall Color in the Northeast, something we get late if at all down in New Orleans. Took a bunch of photos. Came home thinking Saints and Panthers were on Monday night, but they weren't, instead the game was that very night. Just like it said on the top of Sean Payton's Menu in the TV commercial, the Saints smothered the Panthers and got a big win in the process. Still holding onto first place in NFC South Division.

Penny showed up on Tuesday night and stayed with us a few days while attending the funeral service of her 43-year-old daughter Sally who died after the Frankfort Book Fair about six weeks earlier. Took that long to arrange to get her remains returned to the States and schedule the services. Jim asked me what day was best for Gail's service and luckily he was able to schedule it the very next day after Sally's.

The Wednesday morning of Sally's service, Del had the Christmas luncheon for her Twilight Garden Club scheduled at Ralph's at the Park. She had worked for weeks on getting the midget Christmas Trees decorated for the luncheon tables. She left to attend that luncheon and met me at my Club's parking lot which was a short walk to the St. Charles Avenue Presbyterian Church on St. Charles Avenue. It was a frigid cold day and even a short walk was uncomfortable, even with our winter coats on. Sally's sister Pat Cleeland was the minister for the service and the church was full of friends and relatives of Sally there to pay their respects. After the service Del and I decided to forgo the reception nearby which would require to move our two cars or walk twice the distance we had already walked in the frigid air.

Thursday was Gail's service, this one in St. Charles Parish's Presbyterian Church which shares its space with the Methodist Church. Again there was a full church of friends and relatives paying their respect for Gail, including a great many Rotarians from the local Rotary Club. The minister was a friend of Gail's, Anita Dinwiddy, and I was chosen to do the eulogy for Gail, which I have posted below in my Commentary Section. During call for friends to speak on Gail, Mike Jamison talked about Gail was a mentor to him who turned into a colleague. A Past-President of Rotary talked about Gail's contributions which led to her being Rotarian of the year several times, how she took the one job no one wanted and turned it into fun, parking cars for the Alligator Fest, with Jim and his cadets help. Several folks we knew from the area came up to say hello, Bob Derveloy from Holy Family Church came up to me to say hi, as did Ira Cazenave who lives across Wade Street from my brother Steve's house, also Cressend Shoenberg and his wife. Carol. Cressend was a poker buddy of my dad and knew Gail from the Rotary. Lauren Lemmon said hi, also a Rotarian and the daughter of my schoolmate Mary Ann Vial Lemmon. Chad, his wife and daughter Winter Song. Lynne Rimmer Eisenberg (the ice-mountain) played the flute, Kristi who said she was a minister and married people.

Jim's sister Susan was there. A Jim Karr who introduced Jim to Gail after working with her for a long time — he may have been the one crucial link in the chain of events which led to Gail and Jim becoming married: you can't marry someone unless you meet them.

We drove back home and I changed into my red bowtie and multicolor vest for my club's Christmas Party. The vest is filled with colorful Mardi Gras masks, but few notice the theme and I have always received compliments on the vest, which I have worn more to Christmas events than to Mardi Gras events. Our friend Jenny exuded amazement with the volume of work which goes into each DIGESTWORLD Issue. She is definitely a Good Reader, someone who not only looks at the photographs but reads the reviews, poems, and all.

One glitch happened during Gail's memorial: as I sat down and the minister rose to begin the service, I got a hum on my Z10 indicating a phone call and I checked it to see it was our Security System, so I quickly walked outside and they reported an alarm at our home. This was very puzzling as we had not set the alarm because Del's cousin Penny was staying with us, so I suggested they send the police out to check, identifying Penny as our guest. As I walked back to my seat, it occurred to me that Del had received a phone call just as we were leaving and likely set the alarm unconsciously, even though we had decided not to set it. No big deal, Penny had come in through the front door, but was unable to walk to the back door in time to silence the alarm before it went off. Penny left later to visit a friend across the Lake and the next morning we left about 7 am to drive to our daughter Kim's home in Alexandria, about 225 miles away.

When we arrived about 11 am, Kim's house had all its doors and windows open due to a problem with the gumbo that had smelled up the house. There wasn't a warm place to sit down and Wes and I went outside to talk. This unfortunate set of circumstances likely triggered the head cold which set in the next day and stuck around for a week and a half. The doors were shut a few minutes later and the house warmed up with our three Hatchett men arriving with their families from Mandeville, Dallas, and Baton Rouge. We ate the re-made gumbo and the other Christmas treats and opened presents from each other. About four pm Del and I drove to check in our hotel room at the Candlewood Suites a few miles away, and rested before we returned for Steve and Katie's wedding shower, a few doors down from Kim's home. Another party, a houseful of guests, more food, drink, and festivities. When we left that party, that was one more thing on our agenda for the day: listen to East Jefferson High School play in the Superdome for the State Football Championship. This is the first time ever for EJHS, founded c1958, to play for the championship. It was their first-ever unbeaten season, and they had shut out many opponents.

They were, however, playing Karr which had won State last year, and was a perennial powerhouse. There was no local radio broadcast, so I hooked up on my Z10, and using the Wi-Fi in the room, was able to listen to the football game, until with 6 minutes left in the game and EJHS fighting back from 8 points down, the WWL switched to cover an LSU basketball game! Our three boys graduated from EJHS, and our daughter Maureen is Asst. Principal there, so we had a lot at stake in this game. I texted Maureen who I knew was in a Suite in the Superdome and asked her to tell me the final score. EJHS came out on top to win the Championship. A trip to Alexandria, two parties, and a State Championship in one day!


My head cold was a doozie, but Christmas season was in full swing, and I coped the best I could, getting a lot of rest, and going through a dozen boxes of tissues by the time Del and I were done with our colds. She began hers about four days after me, which made it possible for her to help me through the worst and me to do the same for her. As far as working on my DIGESTWORLD, it was pretty much impossible. Apart from processing a few photos and making a few journal notes, I could not concentrate to do any creative writing at all until after Christmas Day. Wasn't sure I could get an issue out this month and was fairly sure I wouldn't complete a review for this issue, but the "Police" showed up. Carla and Patrick gave me a hardback of the new Jo Nesbø novel, "Police", and I began reading it as my head cleared up after Christmas.

I had begun working on gathering the pieces together for my Issue, and when I needed a break from writing, the novel called me back to it. These Harry Hole novels are intricately plotted and if you allow a day's break in reading one, you can lose track of who's doing what to whom. So I finished the novel and woke up the next morning at 5 am determined to write a review of it while everything was still fresh in my memory.

But back to December 20, in the middle of my head cold, I was still able to make a quick stop at PJ's Coffeeshop each morning to get my latte. On this morning, I decided to get a cranberry muffin and when I got back in my 2000 Maxima, the key would not turn in the ignition. Tried everything. Some kind of mechanical interlock. Moved steering wheel, put foot on brake pedal, nothing worked. I located my backup key in the car, put it in and after a few tries, it worked and I drove home. Put car in garage, stopped engine, removed the key. Put other key back in and it would not turn. So I called Abdul, my car repair advisor, and drove to Nissan. While waiting for Abdul, I removed key and tried the key I had in my wallet which won't work to start engine (I knew that, but exactly how the process went, I didn't know, up until now.)

It slid right in and rotated fine. Tried to start engine: starter turned over, but engine didn't start running. Removed it and put other keys in and neither one could start the engine. What was going on? When Abdul arrived at my car, I explained the problem I came for: the ignition switch wouldn't turn. Then asked about the flat key and why motor wouldn't start after I used flat key. He explained that after you try to use the flat key, the motor require 5 minutes or so to reset its mode back to normal. Since the keys entered and rotated in the switch after I inserted the flat key, perhaps the flat key went in further and reset the mechanical interlock which kept my other keys from turning earlier. Wished him a Merry Christmas season and headed for home with a stuffy head. My head feels like I'm climbing altitude in a plane and my ears haven't popped yet.

Second glitch: it was the next day and my two daughters were coming with their families from Texas for our Christmas together, and that morning the Christmas tree lights would not go on. Been working since before Thanksgiving and now they decide to break just as our kids and grandkids are coming for a couple of days to visit and open presents together! The remote switch would not turn on the lights!

When I got up, the Christmas tree was dark and stayed that way when I switched the remote on. Began debugging and found the power was coming thru the wall cord but not getting into first string. By the way, the previous italics text was typed by me using my Blackberry Z10 and a Virtual Keyboard given to me by our daughter Kim for Christmas. Difficult to type with for accomplished typists, but should be a boon for hunt-n-peckers, as the keys are large as regular keyboard. Too many false keystrokes for me to make it worthwhile; you have to hover your hands above the keyboard, and the slightest move of a finger can type a letter. Clumsy new technology perhaps, but it's a pointer to holographic technology which will eventually lead to the HoloDeck of Star Ship Voyager!

The first EMH (Emergency Medical Hologram) of Voyager was likely outlined in red lines like this keyboard. If they were to build up a physical-feeling keyboard with a force-field, and my problem with the erratic performance of the virtual keyboard goes away.

Back to the light glitch: I found a blown fuse at the beginning of first light string and drove to Appliance Parts to get new 7 amp 125V fuse. Had none. Then I went to Auto Parts to get fuse, all they had were 10 am 125V fuses, so I bought a pack. Also got Brake Fluid and Power Steering Fluid to put into Birthday Bag for Greg for his new pickup truck, the Babe, which we are giving to him and our daughter Yvette to take to their new ranch in Brenham area of Texas. These are the fluids, the 1990 F-150 needs on a regular basis.

Replaced the fuse in the first string, but still no Christmas lights. I traced that string up to the top of the tree where the angel is. I needed to pull in the 8ft ladder to reach the top of the ten foot tree, and replace the bad string with the wall cord and lights came on, except for the topmost angel string. Key to successful engineering is to get the customer to relax the specifications, and being the customer myself, I decided to relax my requirement that the Angel be lit up and call the repair job done. This work wiped me out. My head cold was beginning to drain; I was using two tissues every time I blew my nose. No fun, and a houseful of company was coming. Thankfully, Del was still feeling OK enough. She drove to DiMartino's to get food for the kids' arrival and the Deli was closed. But someone came to the door and said they could make a large Muffaletta for her. Also sold her a gallon of seafood gumbo that had not been picked up. Patrick bought a Gambino's chocolate doberge cake, but Del had already gotten one decorated for Greg's birthday, so we finished Greg's cake first and took the second one to John & Kim's party on Christmas Eve.

It was now Sunday morning and we needed to take care of switching the title for my Ford F-150 pickup truck, the Babe, over to Greg. After coming back from PJ's with Patrick, I called ABC Title and the lady answered, "Yes, we're open." I took Patrick and Greg with me to the Title place, going by Earhart Expway to David, and up to Vets and found the place easily. She charged Greg only $20 Notary Fee to transfer the title and took some extra steps to keep him from having do title work again in Texas. I gave the three sets of Babe's keys and paperwork to Greg. On way home, I took the Huey P. Long Bridge so they could see the expansive new bridge. I missed the turn for WB Expressway, and to Lapalco, so turned left on Jamie Drive in Avondale and took them pass the TPC golf course, the new Churchill Farms Business Development Park facilities, and the new Sports Car Race track, new facilities which I had never seen before. Got back home and we watched the Saints game. Looked like they'd win it, but instead of going for a first down, Sean opted to punt and we lost by a last second TD. It's going to be a nail-biter of a season finale for the Saints. [Follow-up: Saints whipped Tampa Bay Bucs, 42-17, and play at the Philadelphia Eagles in the first playoff game round.]

Maureen came by with Jay, Trinity, plus our grand-daughter Jennifer. After game I got the girls together for our Xmas shopping trip. Promoted Jennifer to honorary daughter for the day so she could join me and my daughters. For me, these last minutes Christmas shopping trips with my three daughters are always fun. I never got to raise them when they were teenagers and now in their forties and over, they still act like teenagers when they get together for shopping. We drove to Macy's at Lakeside and couldn't get in their covered garage, but found a spot in Penny's and walked back over. After an hour of chaos of shoe-looking, trying on, etc., they found a shoe lady, and soon they converged on a pair of boots apiece. We headed back home where Greg had moved the Babe (after Bunyan's Blue Ox, our name for my blue half-ton F-150 Pickup Truck), to the front driveway and Jay had driven the Babe around the corner so he could drive it upon the ramps of the trailer. All this was done in the cold rain which had just started, so I could only watch from the doorway. By end of day, Greg was ready to roll out with the Babe.

With the Babe all ready, everyone came in for some refreshments and we began opening our presents for each other. Garret loved his large and light camping bag. Aidan his folding shovel with the saw in the handle. We sat around in animated chat until Mo & Jay took Jennifer and Trinity back home, then Pat and Carla and kids headed back to Beaumont, Texas, for home. Pat had taken a nap while we were shopping and needed to be in Houston for his kids' arrival on Monday. I suggested that Greg not leave until the next morning at first light, and that's what they did. We had two guests for the night: Yvette and Greg. The Babe was tied down to the trailer for the night. Over the next several days, Yvette sent me pictures of Babe settled in her new home at the ranch, and reports of the successful registration and Texas auto inspection.


When Del was pregnant a few years after Kim was born, doctors didn't have ultrasound and could only detect twins by hearing separate heartbeats. Because Del was gaining weight faster than she should she was given diet pills, which back then were amphetamine-based. All this led to her being surprised when she awoke after having given birth to find TWO armbands on her arm in addition to her own hospital band. The nurse came in holding her two newborn boys, Jim and John. They were identical twins and so their heartbeats were synchronized and the doctor could hear only one heart beating. Now, almost fifty years later, this surprise event occurred on two days before Christmas. A large cardboard box appeared at our doorstep, left by FedEx, sent by Kim Gralapp, Del's daughter.

I cut open the box and inside were identical twins, two stuffed versions of Mr. Bingle! I checked the packing slip, and it clearly stated "1 Bingle" but somehow two Bingles were added to the box, and once again Del has had identical twin boys delivered for her! I asked what she was going to call the twins and she said, "Jim and John, of course".


Even though Del's head cold had kicked into high gear, she felt well enough for us to go to a Christmas Eve party. We stopped on the way at Maureen's house so Del could deliver some candy cane trees to our kids. Got to see our grandson Gabe. Party was at John and Kim Hatchett's home. Since their wedding a couple of months earlier, John has put his house on the market to sell and moved into Kim's house. We wanted to be there, especially since John will have a full family together for Christmas Eve for the first time in several years. When I thought "full family" I wasn't imagining the houseful of Kim's relatives who filled their home. The doberge cake we brought was a hit. We sliced it in thin parallel slices and I ate one of the first pieces to make sure I got some. As we prepared to leave, I reminded Irene that the Gambino's doberge cake is perishable and needs refrigeration and she replied, "I don't know if there'll be any left to put in the fridge!"

It's New Year's Eve as I type these notes and Del's head cold has finally broken. We shared a po-boy from DiMartino's Deli for lunch, her first solid food in several days. We will be celebrating New Year's Eve in the Timberlane Screening Room tonight and enjoying a traditional New Orleans dinner for New Year's Day at noon tomorrow, namely, blackeye peas over rice, boiled cabbage, and cornbread.


For the past 31 days December has been a month of frigid winter weather, Brrr! ! ! Our Louisiana Bald Cypress trees turned golden orange-brown early in the month, and a orange coating of cypress leaves have painted our normally green estate in a multi-colored palette. Our snow on the mountain camellias are in full bloom across the East Portico, dropping white leaves which look like snow on the ground at their base.

Having survived two funerals, a wedding shower, three Christmas parties, and two head colds, we're ready to welcome in 2014 and all the good things it has in store for us, God Willing. So until we will next see you in these pages in the February, 2014 DIGESTWORLD Issue, whatever you do, wherever in the world you and yours reside, Remember our slogan for the NEW YEAR:



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Quotes Selected from quotes.htm this month:

  • Improve every opportunity to express yourself in writing, as if it were your last.
    Use and commit to life what you cannot commit to memory.
    Henry David Thoreau ( 19th-century Naturalist and Writer ) on December 17, in his Journal No. 3.
From Flowers of Shanidar, A 1990 Book of Poetry by Bobby Matherne

       In a small dark cave in the hills of Northern Iraq near the Turkish border the excavator Ralph Solecki found in 1960 the bones of a young man placed in the recess between two large boulders. Analysis of the remains from the cave of Shanidar determined that the burial occurred over 60,000 years ago.
       Soil samples collected near the bones were only analyzed several years later and produced a quite unexpected result. Ordinarily a small random assortment of pollen grains would be found in funereal soil samples, but the Shanidar soil analysis revealed thousands of pollen grains from wild flowers of the region. Flowers of rose mallow, hollyhocks, hyacinths, and other indigenous varieties of flowers had been systematically collected and transported to the cave of Shanidar as a funerary tribute.
       Astonished, the scientists were confronted with the earliest known evidence of a burial ritual. From the very dawn of mankind a message had come down to us, written in pollen grains from the flowers of Shanidar, of the birth of a new consciousness — the consciousness of death.
       How far have we progressed in the knowledge of ultimate destinations in the 600 centuries since that funeral celebration? As we stand before the door to the new millennium, do we dare to knock? Are we ready for the new flowers of Shanidar and the birth of consciousness that will surely accompany our passage into that new era?

These poems are from Bobby Matherne’s 1990 book of poetry, Flowers of Shanidar and have never been published on the Internet before. Here in the beginning of the new millennium, we are publishing each month five poems, one from each Chapter of the book. (Flowers drawn by Artist Maureen Grace Matherne)

1. Chapter: Hollyhocks

      Mowers and Growers

There are two groups I know
      that have diverse opinions
The Pro-Growers and Pro-Mowers,
      filled with marching battalions.

Pro-Growers picket lawnmower shops
      holding pictures of new mown hay
They taunt and tease and traffic stops
      to take in what they have to say,

"Grass is a natural product
      and must be allowed to live
For that is God's code of conduct
      and none of us escape that sieve."

Pro-Mowers want their grass
      cut as low as the mower can,
No blade of grass will they let pass,
      left uncut by the Scyther's hand.

"The right belongs to us, you see,
      and ne'er will we let you forget,
This land is bathed in liberty,
      so on we mow without regret."

2. Chapter: Hyacinths

      Out Of New The Old

'Tis the saddest story that can be told:
Those who create out of the new the old.

Listen to this poem in your same old way —
There will be no epiphany today.

Your brain is locked in conscious mind embrace
Which creates old thoughts
      when new ones take place.

"This is just like..." and "I tried that before."
Tell others we do not think anymore.
What substitutes for thinking
      is the rote recall
      of patterns from our sacred past
Which thus re-welds the chains that hold us fast.

But recognize the diff'rence that you make
Makes all the difference in the world:

The chains will begin to weaken till they break;
The flag of creative thought will be unfurled.

3. Chapter: Rainbows & Shadows

This month, as we near the completion of Bobby's first book of Poetry, Flowers of Shanidar, we continue with a poem from his second book of Poetry, Rainbows & Shadows (1995). This month we read "Admission".


Like a teenager
      in an amusement park
I live my life
      holding the ticket called present
Which I submit to the gate keeper.

If my ticket is worthy
I am provided admission
      else I am rejected from the ride.

The past and the future are not tickets
      but merely illusions;

Memories of tickets spent
      and to be spent.

4. Chapter: Rainbows & Shadows

This month, as we near the completion of Bobby's first book of Poetry, Flowers of Shanidar, we continue with a poem from his second book of Poetry, Rainbows & Shadows (1995). This month we read "$ign of Cooperation".

            $ign of Cooperation

Jack had a pretty girl friend
      her name was Mary Lou —
She was only twenty
      and he was twenty-two.

She told him, "I love you, Jack,
      and I always, always will.”
Then one day she was raped
      at the point of a hundred dollar bill.

She begged Jack's forgiveness
      and cleaned up her act
They took a ride in his Ford
      and made love in the back.

Just when Jack was certain
      Mary Lou was not a whore
A stranger cornered her with the keys
      to a Porsche 944.

Jack loved Mary Lou
      and he says he always will
But he'll never forget the day
      that she was raped
At the point of a hundred dollar bill.

5. Chapter: Violets

      Roller Coaster

Life is like a roller coaster
      full of ups and downs and ins and outs.
It's noticing what you have left
      and not noticing what you've lost.

The widow lost her husband, Frank,
      he died about a year ago,
Every time she thought of him
      it filled her heart with grief and woe.

Not even happy thoughts brought cheers,
      no one could ever take his place.

One night she had strange dreams
      she's on a roller coaster
She's scared, excited and she screams
      as the car keeps rumbling faster.

Over her shoulders she feels
      a comforting, familiar arm.
To her left a sideways glance she steals
      and finds it's Frank who keeps her warm.

When she awoke upon the morn
      the grief and woe had gone away —
She felt like a babe reborn
      and threw back the shades to seize the day.


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 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, no commercial interruptions, and all of the original dialogue. Microwave some popcorn and you're ready to Go to the Movies, 21st Century Style. With a plasma TV and Blu-Ray DVD's and a great sound system, you have theater experience without someone next to you talking on a cell phone during a movie plus a Pause button for rest room trips.
P. S. Ask for Blu-Ray movies from NetFlix, and if it says DVD in your Queue, click and select Blu-Ray version.
Hits (Watch as soon as you can. A Don't Miss Hit is one you might otherwise have missed along the way.):
“The Albatross” (2011) “The Albatross” (2011) writer of “The Cliff House” unable to write another hit novel and it becomes his albatross, literally and figuratively, Emelia’s albatross is her Conan Doyle ancestor. Both find each other and lose their albatrosses in the process. A DON’T MISS HIT ! !
“The Good Guy” (2010) and the sleazy womanizer. Guess who wins the girl and who get left out standing in the rain begging?
“Trouble Along the Way” (1953) John Wayne stars as football coach who rescues small college from oblivion.
“White Heat” (1949) with Jimmy Cagney and Virginia Mayo, he gangster and she just learning to say lines in a movie. Interesting part was the triangulation using a radio transmitter planted in a gasoline truck. I counted like fifteen or more men required to plot the location of the truck. Now a tiny GPS locator will do the entire job at less than the cost of one hour of those men’s time back then, probably about $20. Hit
“Blonde Venus” (1932) Marlene Dietrich runs from the law, donning new costumes in dozens of cities as she does short performances under other names in the States, then heads to Europe where she becomes famous as Helen Jones. At one point she prefigures Scarlet O’Hara by saying, “Tomorrow is another day.”
“The Art of Getting By” (2011) George loved drawing instead of doing homework and schoolwork, but his work conspires to make him done all his missing assignments during the last three weeks or not graduate. His final project becomes the love of his life.
“Love and Pain and the whole damn thing” (1973) — now we know all about it. Maggie Smith and Timothy Bottoms return to La Mancha for marriage. A Lucy & Desi in a trailer bit, only in Spain.
“It’s a Kind of Funny Story” (2010) A Cuckoo’s Nest story with a happy ending. Suicideal teen commits himself to psyche ward and Zack tells him, “He not busy being born, is busy dying.” (Bob Dylan line). Those five days turned the kid busy being born again.
“Treme: Season 3: Disc 1" (2012) Antoine’s band directing, his ex-wife’s bar is booming, Davis’s girl friend getting gigs in Austin, and old cases from Katrina are rising to attention.
“Tracker” (2010) starts up slowly, but becomes gripping as two strong men, a Boer and a Maori battle each other for their lives in the wilds of New Zealand. The fiercy Boer Tracker finally had his finger on his prey and lost it. A DON’T MISS HIT !! ! !
“Treme: Season 3, Disk 4” (2012) Gigi’s lounge goes up in flames likely by Ladonna’s rapist whose received a mistrial. DJ Davis goes viral by quitting, his girl friend goes NY-crazy, Tony & Terry shack up as Glover case develops, and the piano man marries his Vietnamese sweetheart.
“Of Gods and Men” (2010) French Trappist monks in remote monastery of Atlas mountains are besieged by Islamic terrorists, but refuse to budge from their helping of the poor people with clothes, medicine, and love.
“Treme: Season 3, Disk 3” (2012) Due to delivery glitch, Disk 3 came after Disk 4, so we got to see the lead up to Gigi's arson, Janette's grand retaurant opening, her advice from Emeril, Fats Domino, and the Glover case build-up.
"A Kiss at Midnight" (2008) two preteen girls setup computer match for thir widowed dad with interesting result affecting two dating services.
"Bonfire of the Vanities" (1990) Tom Wolfe classic novel brought to life with this dictum, "If the truth don't set you free, than lie."
"Chalet Girl" (2011)" a fun version of Shirley Valentine goes to the Alps, lives in expensive Ski Chalet, and learns to snowboard her way to love and fame.

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.

“Another Year” (2010) and the same old boring story, especially for Mary and for the rest of the movie audience. See DW#117 for earlier viewing. Less patience with this slow-paced movie on 2nd viewing: it repeats everything several times and has an hour of inane dialogue.

Your call on these — your taste in movies may differ, but I liked them:

No Plain Vanilla movies this month!

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Le Boudreaux Cajun Cottage, drawn by and Copyright 2011 by Paulette Purser, Used by Permission
Idea for the joke came from Jo Anne Montz. Thanks, Jo Anne.

Boudreaux and Broussard decided to go on another moose hunt in Alaska this year. They flew into Alaska and found a bush pilot to fly them to the best moose hunting area. After a full day hunting each of the Cajuns had shot themselves a large moose. The pilot looked at the two moose and told them, "Boys, there's no way I can fly you back with those two moose in my plane."

Boudreaux looked at Broussard and said, "Broussard, didn't that pilot last year put both of our moose on his airplane?"

The pilot kept insisting the moose were too heavy for his plane, and Boudreaux and Broussard raised a ruckus, throwing some favorite cuss words, like "sac-a-papier" etc.

The pilot would have none of it, not flying the moose.

Finally Boudreaux went ballistic! "Maudits quelque chose! You better damn well fly us and dem moose back. Da pilot last year did it in a plane just like dat one you got, and so can you!"

Reluctantly the pilot agreed. Shortly after take off, sure enough, the heavy-weighed down plane veered to the side and crashed. As the three climbed out of the wreckage, the dazed pilot looked around at the terrain and said "Where in the hell are we?"

Boudreaux took a good look around and said "Bon Dieu, Broussard, don't yah t'ink dis is jest about where we done crash last year?"

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5. RECIPE or HOUSEHOLD TIP of the MONTH for January, 2014 from Bobby Jeaux:

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From 2002 to 2013 we have provided a new Recipe each month. These recipes can be found by Clicking Here or on the Kitchen Image at Right.

Beginning 2014, we will provide either a new Recipe or a Household Hint in this Section Each Month, similar to the Hint we provide to make storing and fetching V8 Juice Cans last month: Click Here.

When worthy recipes come around, we will include them here and on the Recipe page. In between, we will endeavor to have an interesting Household Tip, often including a short Video Clip for you, in this Section. Bear with us as we put these changes into place.

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6. POETRY by BOBBY from "Yes, and Even More":
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       That's the Spirit

Every new scientific discovery,
      if it’s a basic paradigmatic shift,
is born into a world of skeptics.

“How do you get an idea
      loaded into humanity’s mind?”

How do you get a program
      loaded into a computer?

You use a program-loading program.

“How does that program get in?”
You use the primitive program loader.

“How does that program get in?”
Fat-fingered, by God.

“That’s the Spirit!”

Yes, and even more.


That's the Spirit (©2014 by Bobby Matherne): Written in Timberlane bath on November 27, 1997 at 8:35 am as soon as I got out of the Executive Shower.

The subject of this poem is “bootstrapping” — whether a new idea, new discovery, or new program, it must be loaded into a thinking machine before it can become active and actually do something.

In a new computer, before you can load a program, there must be a program in the computer. Let me repeat that: what you’re trying to load must already exist before you can proceed. The logical complexity of this is called the bootstrap problem because of its similarity to the logical impossibility of pulling oneself up by one’s bootstraps.

Yes, I know Colin Powell said during a 1996 lecture that some people were so poor they didn’t have boots, that may be so, but they are subject to the same bootstrap problem as the rest of us.

In computers during the 1960's we had to key in the bootstrap loader, the most primitive loader, the one that could only a read a short section of paper tape that contained detailed loading instructions on them. That keying into the front panel bit-by-bit was an inescapable part of loading a program and it came to be called by the inelegant name fat-fingering. In human thought, the process of getting a completely new idea or new discovery into human minds, so that it is understood and acted upon, is exactly as difficult. Without some part of the idea or discovery already existing in the mind, it won’t go in. An idea loader must be loaded first, or no human brain will be able to think the idea.

What do idea-loaders look like? The most important idea-loader is intuition or inspiration — by whatever name we call the process, it is the process by which an idea is directly loaded into one human mind. To get the idea inside someone else’s mind, one must produce a semblance of the idea or it will be immediately rejected, unable to be loaded because no bootstrap loader is present.

Isaac Newton said, “If I have seen farther than others, it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants.” He was referring to another form of idea-loader: another human being who creates the basis for your idea by their idea. Their idea, without which you would have never entered the semantic space that led you to think your idea. These are another form idea loaders.

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7. REVIEWS and ARTICLES for January:
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NOTICE: For our Good Readers, here are the reviews and articles featured this month. The first two reviews this month are from 1998, one by Edelman and one by Eiseley, and they have not appeared in a DIGESTWORLD Issue, up until now. Hope you enjoy them both. The new review is of a Harry Hole Novel, "Police", by Jo Nesbø

Background Comment: the first and/or second review of each month will be one which was published before the first DIGESTWORLD ISSUE in 2000 and will be of interest to our new Good Readers. The rest of the items will be new additions to the top of A Reader's Journal, Volume 2, Chronological List, new additions to A Reader's Treasury, or Essays previously unpublished.

Some Review Blurbs may be condensations of the Full Reviews, lacking footnotes and many quoted passages. For your convenience, if you wish to read the full review or to print it out, simply CLICK on the Book Cover and choose Printer Ready option at the top left corner.

1.) ARJ2: The Remembered Present — A Biological Theory of Consciousness by Gerald M. Edelman

This book by Gerald Edelman is a very comprehensive and difficult to read book, one I've been able to get through, not so much based on my sketchy knowledge of neurology, but on my in-depth knowledge of real-time software design and recursive software. He uses his theory of neuronal group selection [TNGS] to create mechanisms for short term and long term memory storage.

In Roger Schank's Tell Me A Story, Schank offers a theory that all of our conceptual memory capability requires that we tell or relate the happening to ourselves or to another person. He makes a good case that, lacking such telling, the memory will be gone within weeks. That makes a lot of sense to me personally. As I try to recall specific episodes during a traumatic period of my life, when some things happened that I told no one, I find very little that I can recall. Only memories from that time are episodes of things I have since related to other people.

Edelman points out that memory is not placed in the brain as a content, but as a reentrant strengthening of synaptic connections, which by reinforcement during the re-telling, can come to the level of long-term potentiation (LTP) that would create what we call permanent memories. If a memory of an event is reinforced by relating it to others, it stays in the same place, but that place becomes easier to visit with each relating. That's why a District Attorney will question witnesses over and over again before the trial. It's so that what they say at the trial will be easier to recall if they repeat what they had said to the DA before the trial. The idea is to reduce the possibility of some unexpected memory coming up during the trial

In Edelman's TNGS the places or paths are the memories themselves. The content of the memories is the way to retrieve them [we call this: associative memory] and the process of retrieving the memories is the content of the memories. What happens as you begin to think of the memory is that your brain activates certain neuronal groups, which activation helps you to create the memory you desire. It also helps you to strengthen its later recollection.

The title Recategorical Memory would be more appropriate for this book which is filled with long strings of sesquipedalian phrases, such as reentrant cortical integration, anatomically mapped reentrant connectivities, and interoceptive homeostatic regulation. The title phrase "The Remembered Present" says it short and sweet: the biology that creates consciousness does so by recovering the past in the present, comparing the past with the present, and re-storing the modified conception. Note the way that Edelman says a similar thing on page 102:

Primary consciousness may thus be briefly described as the result of the ongoing discrimination of present perceptual categorizations by a value-dominated self- nonself memory.

Edelman says on page xvii, talking about his work leading up to the current book:

My main focus was on perceptual categorization as it related to memory and learning. I proposed that these functions could be understood in terms of "neural Darwinism" — the idea that higher brain functions are mediated by developmental and somatic selection upon anatomical and functional variance occurring in each individual animal.

Later, on page xviii, he adds:

I proposed that this ability depended critically on two of the most striking features of the brain, its variability and its reentrant connectivity.

These two features he has masterfully combined in his Theory of Neuronal Group Selection or TNGS, which is described in detail within this book. The Remembered Present gives a bio- theoretical basis for an insight that I had some twenty years ago as expressed by the following equation:

Perception [now] = Function [ Perception [now], Perception [past]]

In this equation the term Perception [past] refers to the integrated sum of our past perceptions (created by using this same reentrant equation). The exact function is unspecified, but may be considered as a comparison of two memory traces: one accumulated over a long period of time and one generated from the instantaneous sensory input being received. Edelman refers to the Perception [past] term as past categories. He says that (also on page 102):

If no comparison took place between value and past categorizations to form a special memory, consciousness would not appear.

Value he defines on page 287 referring to: "evolutionarily or theologically derived constraints favoring behavior that fulfills homeostatic requirements or increases fitness in an individual species." Thus value is the "special memory" that was selectively laid down in neuronal groups in the past during comparisons of past values and past categorizations.

This process is easier to understand directly from my equation above. Our perception of the now is a function of our total past categorizations and our perception of the now. What we perceive now is a function of the perceptions made available to us now from our exterior surroundings (nonself) and the sum of our past perceptions stored in our interior self. What we perceive is influenced both by our individual past inputs and the inputs coming into us now. Think of a file that you keep in a drawer, and every time you take the file out to look at it, you make a note on it before you return it to the drawer. This will give you a sense for what happens when we perceive something: we change our ability to perceive.

The equation is reentrant because the result Perception [now] appears inside its own evaluation. Each time a new perception is received a slight alteration to the neuronal groups is laid down, and this alteration becomes the Perception [past] . When a Perception [now] comes in, the alteration to the neuronal group continues: it is added in with the new Perception [past] and creates a new resultant Perception [now] . In a sense, what we call we is the correct condition of our neuronal groups as they have integrated all our idiosyncratic experience for us since the moment of conception.

The Reader may wonder how it's possible for perception of the past to affect perception of the present. Given two good sets of eyes, two people looking at the same object will both see the same thing, won't they? Not necessarily so. When Charles Darwin's ship, the Beagle, anchored off South America, the native peoples there had never seen any boat bigger than a canoe. When asked by Darwin's men what the natives thought about their big ship, the natives said, "What ship? That's a sea bird!" That was all their Perception [Past] allowed them to see.

When Virgil, a fifty year old blind man recovered his sight, he went from a competent sightless adult to a handicapped sighted person. [See ARJ: An Anthropologist on Mars] He spent hours turning over toy automobiles, skyscrapers, and animals, inspecting them from every angle, over and over again, like a toddler at play. What looked like child's play to others was a very serious endeavor on Virgil's part to be able to perceive the objects in his brand-new real-world visual environment. He needed, in order to become a normally functioning sighted person, to be able to separate objects from the camouflage mazes of background colors and patterns they were embedded within. His sister painted a white line through his living room so he could walk through with his eyes open. If Virgil followed the line the room looked normal — if he deviated to one side or the other, the entire room collapsed into indecipherable mazes of patterns for him, and he would stumble and fall in a room which he could easily navigate with his eyes closed. He was, by playing with the miniatures, creating for himself a Perception [Past], one which he had been deprived of by his childhood blindness.

The process described by the equation is important when one considers dogma, the accepted body of one's beliefs: it is also a Perception [Past]. The process is neuronal group selection all the way down, or rather all the way back to our conception. Each event after the initial fertilization of the egg that created us adds its spin on the evolution of our individual nervous systems, our individual perceptions, and our individual beliefs.

The sum of all these, we call, along with Edelman, consciousness. Lacking a Perception [Past], animals lower than primates do not possess consciousness.

One key concept in the philosophy of mind when considering whether consciousness exists is called qualia. As he gives the definition on page 166, qualia are "the various subjective experiences, feelings, and sensations that constitute or accompany awareness." There are two parts to the qualia: feelings and sensations. 1.) Feelings are the re-triggered physical body states originally stored before the Memory Transition Age [about five years old]. This is a major tenet of the new science of doyletics, the definitive book on which is yet to be written. [See ARJ: PANACEA!, Emotional Intelligence, Passion & Reason, Emergence, and Thinking in Pictures.] 2.) Sensations, as subjectively experienced, are not capable of being shared objectively, only correlated with our own and other's experiences. This can be stated simply: We do NOT see the same color red, and we are helpless to prove otherwise.

Let me explain how I arrived at my conclusion in 2.): I have four television sets in my Screening Room and have had the same video on the four screens many times. The color red is always different on each of the four TV's, and although I could make the red color get close on one or two of them, they were never the same color. Why? Differences in aging of the red phosphor in the screen, voltage differences between sets [high voltage supplies also age], and manufacturers' designs account for the differences in the red colors of the four sets.

It should be obvious that our eyes are subject to equivalent sorts of variation due to aging and manufacturers' designs [genetics] and that would cause each of us to experience a different subject color of an object that we would each agree to call red.

A TV camera points to a red object and displays the same object on four screens and we see four different colors we call red on the four sets. To do the same experiment with humans we place four people in a room to view the same red object. We can assume that each one of them sees a different shade of red. The insurmountable problem is that no one can see all four of the shades they see. There is no position from which we can view, like the TV sets, all four views of the object. Each person sees a different shade of red, each calls it red, and they all agree that they see the same shade of red as the others. But they are probably wrong and we can never prove otherwise. A moment's reflection will lead you to see that we cannot even say that each of the four people see a shade of what, if we could ever see it, we would agree is red. One of the four might unknowingly have color blindness and be seeing green. But that is a form of color variance that can be tested for: one need only present information to them in which the context of the color is removed and they cannot make a distinction. The number charts do this quite well. There is no test for the variance in color perception I'm talking about because the person sees a given wavelength of light, perceives a color [whose shade we don't know and can't know], and calls it red. Everyone else who sees it calls it red, but we cannot compare what they are seeing from an objective point of view. We have only their report of their subjective experience. We do NOT see the same color red, and we are helpless to prove otherwise. The same helplessness applies to all of our other perceptions. We can describe them, but others cannot experience our perceptions, only their perception of what we describe.

Descartes viewed the world as two realms which he called mind and matter. In Descartes' view perceptions were stimuli from the world of matter that were presented to world of mind inside the brain. This view has had a long standing philosophical problem: it requires inside of the mind what it presumes to explain, that is, a fully functional human being looking at the perceptions being presented inside of the mind. This is the problem of the homunculus, a little man inside our brain. What Edelman has done is to create a biological theory of consciousness which eliminates the homunculus and its infinite regress. What he replaces it with is a biological level of recursion in which the infinite regress is replaced by an infinite progress, if you will. At each moment the perception of the now is compared to the perception of the past and a new perception of the past is laid down in one's neuronal groups. Edelman leads us to see that we live always in the remembered present.

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2.) ARJ2: The Night Country — Reflections of a Bone Hunting Man by Loren Eiseley

While reading The Anatomy of Memory by James McConkey, a wonderful anthology of articles on memory, I encountered the essay "The Brown Wasps" and was entranced by Loren Eiseley's writing, especially his use of the metaphor of the brown wasps to describe the old homeless vagrants who populated one corner of a large urban train station. I quickly ordered myself a copy of The Night Country, in which the wasps appeared, so that I might read more of Eiseley's literary essays. I was not disappointed and neither will you, dear Reader, if you choose to visit the night country where:

[page xi] There is a shadow on the wall before me. It is my own; the hour is late. I write in a hotel room at midnight. Tomorrow the shadow on the wall will be that of another.

In every essay of this book I found treasures, not the kind of treasures of gold and jewels that one finds in a pirate's chest, but the kind of treasures of golden memories that one finds in one's own chest, in the very heart of one's being. Like the treasures of wildflowers that grace the edges of highways, about which Eiseley writes:

[page 4] It takes a refugee at heart, a wistful glancer over fences, to sense this one dimensional world, but it is there. I can attest to it for I myself am such a refugee.

The night country is for fugitives from the harsh daylight world of everyday reality; it is an inner life in which one wanders freely by virtue of the camouflage of "sedate citizenship" which Eiseley calls the "ruse of the fox." The fox's secret of Antoine St. Exupery may be paraphrased thus, "It is only with the heart that one can see rightly what is essential is camouflaged from the everyday eye." Eiseley trains the reader's eye to penetrate the camouflage of everyday life, to see with one's heart the wonders of the world that lies in the night country.

The night country might be in the narrow passageways of underground caves or it might be in the smoking car of a midnight train in which the conductor has just shouted, "Tickets!" and a tattered old man who was in deep, deathless sleep, his head flung back, holding onto to the paper bag between his knees, stirs into reluctant wakefulness.

[page 63] Slowly the man opened his eyes, a dead man's eyes. Slowly a sticklike arm reached down and fumbled in his pocket, producing a roll of bills. "Give me," he said then, and his voice held the croak of a raven in a churchyard, "give me a ticket to wherever it is."

The night country, with a ticket to wherever it is, is a journey all of us are on, but not all of us see the same thing. Some, like Eiseley, see with the eyes of the child.

[page 75] The Russians in their early penetration of space saw fit to observe irreverently that they had not seen heaven or glimpsed the face of God. As for Americans, in our first effort we could only clamorously exclaim, "Boy, what a ride!" During these words on a newscast I had opened a window on the night air. It was moonrise. In spite of the cynical Russian pronouncement, my nephew had just told me solemnly that he had just seen God out walking. Concerned as adults always are lest children see something best left unseen, I consulted his mother. She thought a moment. Then a smile lighted her face. "I told him God made the sun and the stars," she explained. "Now he thinks the moon is God."

As Eiseley, the itinerant bone hunter, wanders about the world searching for his treasures, some buried, some glinting in the overhead sunlight, so do I wander through his essays searching for treasures. Here is one in which he echoes my thesis that art is the process of the destruction of sameness. In his text, he refers to science in which discovery is an art, and which discovery is soon replaced by a stultifying sameness.

[page 140-141] Science, of course, in discovery represents the individual, but in the moment of triumph, science creates uniformity through which the mind of the individual once more flees away.

Further on in the same article written sometime before 1970, he bemoans the lost culture of the village in America.

[page 141-142] Gone for America is the kind of entertainment still to be found in certain of the world's pioneer backlands where a whole village may gather around a little company of visitors. The local musician hurries to the scene, an artist draws pictures to amuse the children, stories are told with gestures across the barrier of tongues, and an enormous release of creative talent goes on into the small hours of the night.

Today such a global village exists on the Internet where local artists musicians, and artists from around the world may be found by a simple search operation twenty-four hours a day.

In his "Mind as Nature" lecture to the John Dewey Society, Eiseley commented on the reception given to pioneering inventors:

[page 209] To an anthropologist, the social reception of invention reminds one of the manner in which a strange young male is first repulsed, then tolerated, upon the fringes of a group of howler monkeys he wishes to join. Finally, since the memories of the animals are short, he becomes familiar, is accepted, and fades into the mass.

Eiseley has certainly felt this repulsion from his peers for his sallies into literary writing such as in these essays. More than once he was advised to not taint his scientific reputation by writing such fluff.

[page 214] I have had the vague word "mystic" applied to me because I have not been able to shut out wonder occasionally, when I have looked at the world. I have been lectured by at least one member of my profession who advised me to "explain myself" — words which sound for all the world like a humorless request for the self-accusations so popular in Communist worlds.

In another case, a young man visited him to point out that the time Eiseley had wasted could have been better spent on his own field of scientific work. This episode leads me to note that all young men's views are narrow views, but that the blinders of youth widen with age and we may finally in time's season stray off the beaten paths in peace as we, with pioneers like Loren Eiseley leading us, enjoy random walks among the wildflowers that have braced our paths, embraced our travels, and now at last have become our loving and constant companions.

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3.) ARJ2: Police — A Harry Hole Novel by Jo Nesbø

This is a Harry Hole novel, but Harry is nowhere to be found, only a Russian Odessa revolver hidden in an old cupboard which could put Harry behind bars due to a little unfinished business about a case he never really solved as much as dissolved. Policemen begin dying mysteriously, obviously due to a serial killer, and we know Harry is the Sherlock of choice for ferreting out such purveyors of dastardly deeds. Each new death is déjà vu all over again as policemen are found murdered at the site of a previous bloody murder, sometimes after they had walked away from their car leaving a loaded pistol behind. What could possess policemen to do that? Theories abound and in the absence of Harry's decisive mental processes, his former associates are wandering in the dark, their only solace coming from various rules of Harry's that they occasionally recall.

Ståle Aune, for example, he left the grueling schedule of police work to become a full-time therapist with regular hours.

[page 21] Did he miss profiling sick souls who killed people with such gruesome acts of brutality that he was deprived of sleep at night? Only to be woken up by Inspector Harry Hole demanding quick answers to impossible questions if he did finally fall asleep? Did he miss Hole turning him into the inspector's image, a starved, exhausted, monomaniacal hunter? Snapping at everyone who disturbed his work on the one thing he thought had any significance, slowly but surely alienating colleagues, family and friends
      Did he hell. He missed the importance of it.

This is the reader's dilemma about wether to read another Harry Hole novel: we would miss the importance of it, an importance which is quickly established in the first few pages as mutilated bodies are discovered, an importance that only Harry Hole can address and resolve. And in this novel, Harry is nowhere to be found; only well-meaning but floundering underlings whose only recourse is to ask themselves and each other, "What would Harry do?"

When young Stian was roused from his bed in the middle of the night to investigate why the ski-slope T-bars were running, we feel that Stian is walking into a trap. He is unable to find the emergency stop pole but manages to finally stop the T-bars from running when a feeling grabbed him.

[page 41] The feeling that someone was there. Someone was watching him.
      Stian Barelli slowly raised his head.
      And he felt the chill spread from an area at the back of his head, as though he were turning to stone, as though it were Medusa's face he was staring at. But it wasn't hers. It was a man dressed in a long, black leather coat. He had a lunatic's staring eyes and a vampire's open mouth with blood dripping from both corners. And he seemed to be floating above the ground. . . . He had found the emergency stop pole. It was protruding from the mouth of the man attached to one of the T-bars.

Harry Hole novels are not for beginners, nor for the faint of heart, and reading one into page 160 before Harry appears in the flesh is cruel and unusual punishment for a veteran reader. Harry Hole is the Sherlock Holmes of the 21st Century — his methods of analysis defy logic but go to the core of the matter at hand. Take this example when Harry first appears to Ståle Aune.

[page 160] "Harry could still be wrong," Beate said. "Both with regard to how the murderer operates and that this is the next crime scene. Since the first officer died we've passed several dates for unsolved murders in Østland and nothing has happened."
      "But," Ståle said, "Harry's seen a similarity between the Saw Man and the other murders. Discipline planning combined with apparently unbridled brutality."
      "He called it gut instinct," Beate said. "But by that he meant &mdash "
      "Analysis based on non-systematized facts," Katrine said. "Also known as Harry's method."

Soon Harry's method is present in the flesh, entering Beate's house, possible site of another murder or abduction.

[page 231] Harry got up slowly. Stood quite still listening. Scenting the air.
      He was rusty, but he tried to absorb it and memorize everything he had seen. The first impression. He had emphasized it in his lectures again and again, how the first impressions at a crime scene were often the most important and correct, the collection of data while your senses were still on high alert, before they were blunted and counteracted by the forensics team's dry facts.

It was as if Harry were saying, "Wait! Wait! Don't tell me!" to all those around him, or better yet, getting there before any pre-formed opinions were lying in wait to distract his own senses and grab away his attention to details which others may not have seen, smelled, felt, heard, or otherwise noticed. He taught his students to move over the entire crime scene systematically so as to avoid missing items by focusing only on seemingly important areas. One should look at everything and only then will the important items shape into hard relief. "Don't search for something, just search."(Page 357) However, Harry had a fourth commandment, "Start searching where there is light." This process was used, not for crime scenes, but for deciding which area to investigate first in a complicated case, like the ones Harry was called in to work on.

As we enter the last third of the novel, the dead bodies build up almost as fast as the potential suspects for the killer. Every scene becomes a potential crime scene, and Harry Hole is likely to be the next victim, as each place he inspects could be luring him to his death or to a solution of his case.

Harry is working as a consultant to the police, but that doesn't keep him from giving orders, as when he demands Katrine check FBI statistics and correlate some data for him. She refuses.

[page 377] "Just give the figures, OK?"
      "Not OK!"
      "Well, regard it as an order then, Katrine Bratt."
      "OK, but . . . hey, just a minute! Who's boss here?"
      "If you have to ask, I doubt it's you."

Before the case is over, two attempts are made on Harry Hole's life, both of which are successful, but . . . wait a minute, they can't both be successful, can they? Even if the second one, a bullet to the head at close range bouncing around the inside of Harry's skull, segues to a funeral with Harry all dressed in black arrayed for all to see at the altar? Can we believe our eyes? Is this the end of the great Harry Hole or just the end of another great Harry Hole Novel?

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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.

1. Padre Filius Reads a Warning Sign this Month:

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 with us some amusing or enlightening aspect of the world he observes during his peregrinations.

This month the good Padre passes by Warren Easton High School's Library:

2. Comments from Readers:

NOTE: I love hearing from all my Good Readers and including your missives here (slightly edited).
If you prefer any comments or photos you send to be private, simply say so and they will not be published.
  • EMAIL from Joann Montz:
hi bobby, joann montz here ... what is your mailing address? i want to send you something the regular post office way. thanks, joann
I sent Joann my address and added this note:
Btw: “the regular post office way” is called “snail mail” vs "email". Cute, huh? Now I hear is innovating “air mail to your front door” using drones which will drop your packages at your front door. We’ll need a cute new name for that, won’t we?

Perhaps, “hail mail”. You heard it here first.


  • EMAIL from Eddie Clark:
    Warmest greetings from Dallas!
    This is probably your only 'rock star' subscriber. Okay, how about 'washed up' rock star?
    Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
  • EMAIL from Kevin Dann
    Thanks so much for the heads up. It looks like Del & Kim are painting the town — we have nice New Orleans temps for their visit.

    I had no idea you had a Blurb-Meter! I'm getting ready to revisit the Thoreau biography, and your reflections on Volume 3 of the Journals were inspiring.

    Well, I had a Blurb-Meter before you broke its Richter Scale!

  • Text Messages from San Anselmo of Happy Faces of Robie's Family: Meghan, Sierra, Walden and Emerson with Christmas Gifts from Timberlane.
  • EMAIL from Tess Hipps:
    Ummm, I ponder the phrase “recycled-electrons”. What does it mean to you?
    If you read QED by Richard Feynman (I have a review of it), he shows how a positron can be an electron going back in time. Since electrons don’t have names or identities, one electron going back in forth in time is enough to fill our world with electrons! An electron is like the Tardis, can move to any place and any time.
  • So my writing in electronic form, where electrons light up the pixels on the screen, can be considered as re-using that one recycled electron. I say “electrons” to keep from having to describe the above.

    The dead tree route is publishing words on paper, but I prefer recycled electrons now. Gives me more time to think and write not having to deal with obtuse editors and publishers. I write the way Thoreau wrote, for myself. More people read my writing in one day than read his Walden when it first came out. He received 500 copies which couldn’t be sold and had store them in his home.

    He writes of that experience in one of his Journals. When you use a recycling electron, it take up very little space, just appearing when you call it and then just as quickly disappearing. For my own reading, btw, I never use eBooks, only read from paper books because I annotate the books as I read them and use those notes during reviewing. I review every book I read, since my first review in 1987 ARJ1.


    3. Poem from Freedom on the Half Shell: "A Telling Metaphor"

    Give me your poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free and I will give them taxes, regulations, restrictions, and every manner of unfairness ever created by persons saddled with the illusion that they can decide what is best for someone else's welfare. The individual, like the business professional, knows what's best in a given situation and, given the freedom, will take that action. The forces of coercion are prying open the shell that contains the living muscle and spirit of the American people — will we resist those forces and keep our muscles and spirit alive, free to open at will, or will we give up like the oyster and settle for "freedom on the half shell?" Here is another poem from Freedom on the Half Shell:

                 A Telling Metaphor

    Einstein was a patent office clerk.
    Isaac Newton was director of the mint.
    Nikola Tesla was a ditch digger.
    Benjamin Lee Whorf was a fire inspector.
    Will Rogers was a rope twirler.
    Ben Franklin was a printer.
    Jesus was a carpenter.
    Peter was a fisherman.
    Matthew was a tax collector.
    Moses was a sheepherder.
    Krishna was a butter thief.
    Mohammed was a soldier.
    Thoreau was a pencil maker.
    Thomas Paine was a girdle maker.
    Wilbur and Orville were bicycle mechanics.

    Surely these men were more than their
          Weird Occupations.

    4. Eulogy for Gail Kelley Webb
    We think of everything as going from A to Z, but the Greeks had an Alpha at the beginning and an Omega at the end of their alphabet. Thus Alpha and Omega have come to mean the beginning and ending of things. When Jim asked me to speak during this service, he said,
    It would be so blessed to have you do the Alpha and Omega for a beautiful marriage!

    We each have a different Alpha point with Gail, and, as we gather here for the Omega point of her lifetime on Earth, we each would appreciate an opportunity to feel deeply how Gail improved our lives by her presence before she passed into a life of living spirit.

    Let us begin by meditating on the words of the Bible from Ecclesiastes [3:1-8]:

    For everything there is a season, and a time for very purpose under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to sow, and a time to reap; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear apart, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.

    Gail has had her time to be born and her time to die, and now is the time for peace, for Gail and for us, and we pause here to remember Gail and how she touched each of us in our lives.

    Remember when you first saw Gail?

    For her siblings, Barry and Lynne, perhaps Gail was a young sister newly born or an older sister already around.
    Perhaps Gail was your aunt, your Godmother, your cousin, or your Grandmother?
    Perhaps Gail was a schoolmate of yours?
    Perhaps Gail was introduced to you by a friend? I recall the day when my friend Mal Morgan introduced Gail to me at Houston’s Restaurant in Metairie in the early 1980s.

    Perhaps Gail spoke in front of a group you were part of?

    Perhaps you remember how Gail looked you directly in your eyes as she spoke to you? Gail had a special gift for doing that. Gail was always true to herself and gave you permission to do the same. Gail was the epitome of an honest human being. In a world in which wiles and womanhood seem to be equated, Gail had no wiles. Gail was an honest woman.

    Perhaps you met Gail as part of a Rotary Club.
    Gail has been a member of St. Charles Rotary Club for many years before becoming its President recently. She spoke to me and Del of her fond wish to become part of Rotary International after finishing her term here, so that she could continue to contribute to Rotary after Jim retired.

    For me and Del, Gail was a good friend.
    Ralph Waldo Emerson spoke of a good friend in this way,

    We will meet as if we met not and part as if we parted not.
    Gail was that kind of friend to us — though we parted we were never separate and got back together whenever the opportunity arose. Every other week, Del and Gail would get together for a beauty event, usually a manicure and pedicure at their favorite salon nearby, but it was really a chance for them to spend some time together.
    Gail would either meet Del at the Salon or she would drive to our house in Timberlane Estates, and that would be my chance to spend a few minutes with Gail.

    On March 9, 1987 I wrote a note to Gail saying that I was delighted to hear she had decided to get married — that it was no wonder, given her interest in successful teamwork, adding that I was also enthused about performing the ceremony for her.

    When April 11th came around, I met Jim Webb that morning on the rooftop facilities of Julia Place Apartments in downtown New Orleans. Jim was attired in his dress white Air Force uniform and we became instant friends that day, and have remained so. I could tell immediately that he was both worthy of Gail and right for Gail.

    In preparation for Gail and Jim’s wedding, I had located in the collection of crystals we had mined in Arkansas, a double quartz crystal, which I carefully separated into two crystals, so that Gail and Jim could each have one. These two crystals had lain side-by-side touching each other for over a billion years in the Earth before we raised them to the light of day. After the ceremony I gave one of the crystals to Gail and the other one to Jim, knowing that no matter how far away from each other they might be, these crystals would always be connected together.

    Baal Shem Tov once wrote,

    From every human being there rises a light that reaches straight to heaven and when two souls that are destined to be together find each other, their streams of light flow together and a single brighter light goes forth from their united being.
    These two crystals united again will represent that single brighter light going forth straight to heaven.

    The Lebanese mystic, Kahlil Giban, wrote these words with which I would like to close:

    Your fear of death is but the trembling of the shepherd
    when he stands before the king
    whose hand is to be laid upon him in honor.

    Is the shepherd not joyful beneath his trembling,
    that he shall wear the mark of the king?
    Yet is he not more mindful of his trembling?

    For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind
    and to melt into the sun?
    And what is it to cease breathing,
    but to free the breath from its restless tides,
    that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?

    Only when you drink from the river of silence
    shall you indeed sing.

    And when you have reached the mountain top,
    then you shall begin to climb.

    And when the earth shall claim your limbs,
    then shall you truly dance.

    Farewell to you, Gail, our lives have been improved by the time we have spent with you and the love we have shared for each other.



    The wooden steps and porches constructed by the MAKE IT RIGHT Project in New Orleans are all having to be replaced because the "Green" wood, infused with glass instead of chemicals, is rotting. The 40-year guarantee to the contrary, the wood is falling apart within only a few years after construction. The New Orleans Adovcate quotes this nifty bit of Bafflegab in an email from the VP of TimberSIL company, expressing confidence in his product and adding ". . . with limited information regarding matters of storage, installations and finishing, it is difficult to determine the conditions and circumstances that underlie the performance questions that have been raised." [Page 4A of Thursday, December 26 Edition]

    Makes one want to yell back at the Veep: "HEY! It's rotting. Your warranty sucks! What other information do you need?"


    This reminds me of a story. In 1965 I worked with a gal, Mary Evan, who was at Bell Labs at the time AT&T was designing the Transatlantic Cable. Bell Labs was asked to help them decide whether to use transistor repeaters in the cable or vacuum tube repeaters. The new transistor technology offered 25 year mean-time between failure compared to the vacuum tube technology's 6 months mean-time between failure. The decision should be a No-Brainer, right? Use the more reliable Transistor technology!

    But Bell Labs made the case for using the vacuum tube technology with this non-obvious, but cogent argument:

    Vacuum Tubes have been around for 25 years and have a proven mean-time between failure!

    Transistors have been around for a couple of years and have NO TWENTY FIVE YEAR proven track-record.

    AT&T laid their trans-atlantic telephone cable using vacuum tubes and it was an outstanding engineering success.

    If people want to Make It Right, they need to consider the potential disasters which can occur by taking projections of product stability for reality. AT&T knew that projections can be worth less than the castles in air that they are based on, and that one long track record of a product can trump any projected lifetime specification for a product!

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