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~~~~~~~~ In Memoriam: Maryann Grasch Matherne (1925 - 2014) ~~~~
~~~~~~~~ Bobby's Aunt in Englewood, Florida ~~~~~
WELCOME TO DIGESTWORLD ISSUE#144 April, 2014== == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == ==Quote for the Spring-filled Month of April:
Man does not have a nature, but a history. Man is no thing, but a drama. His life is something that has to be chosen, made up as he goes along, and a human consists in that choice and invention. Each human being is the novelist of himself, and though he may choose between being an original writer and a plagiarist, he cannot escape choosing. . . . He is condemned to be free.
Jose Ortega y Gasset, Author
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DIGESTWORLDArchived DIGESTWORLD Issues
GOOD MOUNTAIN PRESS Presents ISSUE#144 for April, 2014
Table of Contents
1. April's Violet-n-Joey Cartoon
2. Honored Readers for April
3. On a Personal Note
Flowers of Shanidar Poems
4. Cajun Story
5. Recipe or Household Hint for April, 2014 from Bobby Jeaux: Garbage Disposal Care and Repair
6. Poem from Cosmic New Year by Rudolf Steiner: "Night and Day"
7. Reviews and Articles featured for April:
8. Commentary on the World
- ARJ2: Thinks . . . A Novel by David Lodge
- ARJ2: Winter's Tale — A Novel by Mark Helprin
- ARJ2: Freud's Couch, Scott's Buttocks, Bronte's Grave by Simon Goldhill
- ARJ2: The Humbling — A Novel by Philip Roth
- ARJ2: Ocular Accommodation Strain by Kaisu Viikari, MD, PhD
1. Padre Filius Cartoon
2. Comments from Readers
3. Freedom on the Half Shell Poem
4. Easy Removal of Phantom Leg Pain
5. Sumerian Time and American Temp
6. Dixie Swim Club — Sure to be a SELLOUT!
9. Closing Notes our mailing list, locating books, subscribing/unsubscribing to DIGESTWORLD
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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
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1. April Violet-n-Joey CARTOON:
== == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == ==This month Violet and Joey learn about Hugs.
For newcomers to DIGESTWORLD, we have created a webpage of all the Violet-n-Joey cartoons!
"Hugs" at http://www.doyletics.com/images/140318vj.gif
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2. HONORED READERS FOR April:
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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 April, 2014:
Faith Gibson in California
Amalia Gabor in Romania
Congratulations, Faith and Amalia!
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3. ON A PERSONAL NOTE:
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Out Our Way:
WARM PARADES, BUT ICY, RAINY MARDI GRAS DAY
Mardi Gras was the latest it can be, March 4, this year, and it was within a degree of being the coldest one ever, plus continuous light rain and wind. The temperature barely topped 38 degF for the day, and we chose to stay home and watch the day's parades on the five large TV screens in our Screening Room. We had begun watching "House of Cards" and this was an excellent time to watch the rest of the series, while keeping warm and dry.
We usually have some of our kids coming to town on the weekend before Mardi Gras, but the Saturday after began Spring Break for Carla's college and her kids' school and she wanted to take her geologist self with her family to Big Bend National Park for some exciting rock-watching and a little canoeing on both sides of the Rio Grande river.But Del and I had a Carnival Ball on Friday night, three parades uptown (Thoth, Mid-City, and Okeanos) on Sunday and brunch at Maddie and David Jorgensen's new home in the French Quarter on Lundi Gras (Fat Monday), the day before Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday), so as much as we love Mardi Gras, we would have gone downtown but for both rain and cold at the same time. We've done rainy days, and we've frigid days, but both together, well, we don't have enough Fat on our Bones to endure that a Fat Tuesday in icy rains.
The Carnival Ball was our second one, the first one on the first day of February and the second one on the last day of February. The air for this one that night was dry and not too cold. Didn't need overcoats, but Del wore her mink. Also wore a necklace that she had never worn, since her prom days. I had never seen it, but it looked spectacular with her new dress with the flared bottom and sparkles.(See banner photo just above.) I heard one gal compliment her on her necklace. Our friend Burke Fountain came with Annie Koch, two Massachusetts residents who love being in New Orleans. The Ball was fun, and we were glad to be there after missing the previous year's ball.Enjoyed dancing with Del and swirling her new ball gown as we danced. Got my usual dance with our good friend Tenaj who looks as happy as I've ever seen her. Tenaj is a violist, who usually arranges to skip out on one number so we can dance, and who also doubles as a chanteuse for the New Leviathan Oriental Foxtrot Orchestra. The song playing as she and I danced was My Home in Pasadena, and although George Schmidt was singing it, Tenaj began singing it near my right ear for a few bars. When she stopped, I asked her to continue, adding that I had never danced with a singer before who sang in my ear. She liked that, and mentioned that she really missed me last year.
We basically took Saturday off, not having children in town, planning to do the Sunday parades instead. We found a parking spot right away, a short walk from St. Charles Avenue for the Sunday parades. With our chairs positioned, we could enjoy the folks walking by, talking to our new temporary neighbors. The lady on my left was from South Carolina and she was excited when the Citadel Military Academy cadets marched by in full regalia. The new rules prohibiting ladders from blocking parade-goers went into effect and helped increase the enjoyment.The ladders are usually to hold toddlers on the top, and now being 6 feet back from the curb did not deter them from catching the throwers from riders of the various floats as they went slowly by.
The next morning we were up early for the Lundi Gras brunch at the Jorgensens. Del and I drove to our convenient parking spot and walked down to St. Ann. Met a resident named Danny Poche on the way. He had salt-and-pepper beard and matching hair sticking up through a visor, making him look very cool. Turned out it was simply a cap with realistic hair sticking up behind the visor. Neat guy. Lives on corner of St. Ann, down the block from the Jorgensens. Got to their home early and Maddie took us on a tour of their previous 1Br apartment-condo on Burgundy. Furniture came with it, so it was ready to use. Unfortunately, it had already been sold, and we missed our chance.
David and Maddie's new place is bigger and it has the Holy Grail of French Quarter apartments: Off-street Parking. The ceiling had been gutted to make it cathedral-style and a lean-to was neatly built-out into a nice room overlooking and leading into a comfy open-air patio. Plus their off-street parking for one car acts as an entrance walkway can double as another patio if the car is parked elsewhere. Met a bunch of local residents, including our friends, Sandra Calender and Diane and Ronnie Guthrie. After we schmoozed and ate, we walked to Café Du Monde, but decided the lines were too long for beignets, and the wind and cold air uncomfortable to walk in, so we took a Pedi-cab back to our parking spot on Rampart. We have enjoyed going to Proteus and Orpheus parades on the night of Lundi Gras, but the frigid air nixed that for us this year. We held out hopes that Mardi Gras would at least be dry and we could dress warmly and go downtown. Alas, it was not to be.
Early Mardi Gras morning I drove to PJ's for my morning latte and came home in time to watched Pete Fountain's Half-Fast Marching Club coming down St. Charles. Pete said, "If I had been marching this year, I would have stayed home." At his age, nearing 90, he gets to ride in the open front of the Krewe's Streetcar Float, where he can play his clarinet along with the band behind him. Quickly we decided we'd stay home because of the icy, windy, and raining weather scheduled to happen all day. We also watched, tuned in and out of the two main parades Zulu and Rex, as well as the Metairie parades, and truck float parades which fill Mardi Gras each year. With our side TV screens on local stations to catch floats and TV commentators in their hilarious gear reporting on other peope in even more hilarious costumes, Del and I binge-watched the House of Cards, Episodes 15 through 24, something which might seem hard to do, until you've watched it. Kevin Spacey is at his best in this series, reminds me of him in American Beauty because he talked to us during that movie as he does in this series.Being co-producer as well as the star he can do what he likes and he knows this works best for him, being able to talk to his viewers to explain points that would else be tedious if included as some dialogue. Besides, being a politician, he does not have any confidant with whom he can share all of his machinations, no sidekick he can explain things to, but he can explain these deep dark secrets to us in safety. We can't report anything to the authorities to get him arrested, even for a casual murder or two. He's only a fictional character, isn't he? Or is he? If some of the things remind you of how previous ambitious congressmen got to be President, it's only a coincidence, right?
So it was a cold, windy, and rainy Mardi Gras day! The second year in a row we missed Mardi Gras because of bad weather. Drats! But we stayed warm, had good food and great shows to watch. At night we watched the Rex Ball and the meeting of the Royal Courts of Rex and Comus while the House of Cards kept dealing out surprising new hands to Spacey and his wife as the show rolled on, from one episode to another until the end.
TECHNOLOGY vs BOBBY, TWO VICTORIES IN THE TRENCHES
ONE: Those of you Good Readers of a gentler nature can skip this segment or just enjoy the Mardi Gras parade photos, unless you're interested in how to use your new Smart TV. Our new VIZIO Smart TV was added a few months ago when our new shelves for the Screening Room came in. We used it as just another large flatscreen TV, but one night I was complaining how much trouble it was to set up my laptop to watch NetFlix streaming movies when I realized that the VIZIO TV (VTV) had a NetFlix button on its remote, a button that I had not pushed before and might eliminate the Laptop setup problem. So, I pushed the button. And nothing happened. Well, actually it said that I couldn't connect to a network. I pulled out my 100 foot long LAN cable and ran it from my wireless router to the VTV and was able to sign on to NetFlix and we watched "House of Cards" which we had heard good things about. This is a breeze to do, once you get connected. After each episode, it moves directly to the next one, you can pause, rewind, re-start from beginning of an episode, or pick up from where you left off from an episode if you can't finish one. Only problem was the long white cable running through the middle of our office, dining room, entrance hall, and Screening Room.
My Tech Friend, Elliot (who may be in the upper right photo), explained to me that the Smart TVs have poor Wi-Fi reception. That explained why my Toshiba Laptop could receive Wi-Fi movies, but the VTV could not. I had also tried using an old cable modem to feed the VTV and that didn't work. Elliot explained that Cox would require another subscription before they would give me the codes to connect that modem. That would entail monthly fees, so I bought an expensive rebuilt Wi-Fi repeater so that the long white line could go away. After four hours of working with the repeater, I got it installed, but still the VTV did not pick up the signal from the repeater, and neither could the LT nor our Blackberry Smartphones.After considering the cost-benefit options available to me, I decided the simplest solution was to run the white line, but move it along a line behind the bookcases and under the entrances into the VTV. That took about 15 minutes and we are happy with the result. I decided to hold onto the $40 repeater in case I need an on-site visit from Elliot for some other network problem and we can perhaps install a newer wireless router for the home, office, and Screening Room.
TWO: A little tidbit: I was puzzled by a doubling of quotations in my new HTML Editor, NOTEPAD++. There are two types of double quotations, the " and the "" kind. The straight quote marks are useful for units like 12" for twelve inches, the curly ones to bracket a quoted passage like "this one". WordPerfect automatically generates the appropriate quotes and "automatically" always spells trouble for me.Whenever a computer application offers a way out of an automatic process, I take it. Problem is this: when I convert WP text into .html text, it replaces the curly quotes with the straight quotes. So why did I begin to have curly quotes next to straight quotes, essentially doubling up on both open and closed quotes and cluttering up my published html documents? It was most frustrating! Nothing I could do would remove the curly texts in NOTEPAD++ because they were NOT THERE! WTF? Something was SNAFU, but what?
Finally I tackled the problem head-on with some troubleshooting. I copied the text into NOTEPAD as a simple text file and there I could see the redundant quotes, straight and curly, next to each other. I could remove the curly ones and copy the text back into NOTEPAD++ and the repetition of quotes went away. So this proved that NOTEPAD++ creates the problem by not showing the curly ones in edit mode; if it did show them, they could easily be removed.The work-around for me is to be careful when copying text directly from WP into NOTEPAD++. Instead: publish as HTML even for small bits of code. The alternate is to replace all curly quotes: "" with straight quotes "" before copying. That can be tricky in WP, but is possible by typing 1", which creates a straight quote and the 1 can then be removed. All because of an automatic process in WP which is supposed to help me, but only causes me grief. Give me an option in WP10 to turn on/off automatic process with a shortcut and I'd be very happy!
DAY TRIP TO ALEXANDRIA AND OPELOUSAS
Del was going to our grand-daughter Katie's bridal shower in Alexandria and I decided to spend the day in Opelousas with my brother Paul. Del would drop me off in the morning and pick me up on the way home from Alexandria. We got up at 4 am and left for Opelousas at 5 am, stopping only to get gas and eat breakfast at the Waffle House. We love the Waffle House and have never had a bad experience there, but on this trip through Baton Rouge, we had two bummer experiences: At Waffle House No. 1 the table was dirty, both placemats had dried food and pieces of food on them. This was not a table someone had just gotten up from; this table had been cleared for the next customer, but poorly cleaned. Plus, no one even looked at me all the while Del was in the Rest Room. When she returned, she noticed that her placemat was also dirty with food on it, so we waited a few more minutes. Still no one came over or even looked our way so we could get the table cleaned. At that point, I suggested we leave. I let them know I was unhappy about their lack of service.Figured the dirty table was an accident. We went to get gas and I discovered my driving glasses with the springy frames were gone, probably fell out at the dirty table. Didn't bother to check for them. Figured it would force me to replace them with a better frame pair. Which I have since done.
We stopped at Waffle House No. 2 at the stop on I-10 just past Baton Rouge the table was also dirty. Plus Del's coffee mug was dirty. Servers were polite and helpful, gave Del a clean mug, but two dirty table and a dirty mug strikes WH off our list of places to eat breakfast from now on. Filled out their customer form about our experience. Hope that puts some corrective action into work in their I-10 corridor around Baton Rouge.
Got to Paul and Joyce's about 8:15, a little early, but they were both up. Del visited about 20 minutes and left for Katie's "Recipe Shower" in Alexandria where gifts are family recipes. Paul, Joyce and I visited, walked the garden, Paul cooked some shrimp stew for us and Joyce made a salad. Paul and I went to Sandoz hardware where I bought a large 20 quart, heavy bottomed stainless steel pot which should suffice for making fig preserves.In addition, I walked through the large store and bought some other things: a wire fly swatter for $1.29, hadn't seen those in fifty years. Plus a metal hose nozzle (most have been replaced by shoddy plastic ones) and a single valve hose connector.
When we got back and were in the garden at Paul's house, his neighbor Lee came to the fence and mentioned crawfish. This sent me and Paul to Guillory's for 10 pounds of boiled crawfish, costing $59. I was expecting boiled crawfish to be about $4 a pound as Lee said, but early in the season they were about $5 a pound and worth it. The seasoning was just right (not too hot as often happens these days), no sausage in batch, and the crawfish were caught locally in Church Point, true Cajun crawfish. Del arrived at Paul's about 3:30, we visited for a while and then we left about 4 pm and the drive to Baton Rouge was horrible: the traffic began to build up at the last spillway exit, right as we cleared the last levee, and an hour later (usually a 20 minute trip) we reached the Port Allen exit before the bridge with another 25 minutes estimate to clear bridge and BR traffic, so we headed for 190 Bridge and stayed on Airline Hwy until Siegen lane. Lots of stop lights and moderate traffic but not as heavy as I-10. We reached Kenner area and saw a Traffic Alert Sign of an accident at Williams Blvd in Kenner, so we got off I-10, and took the surface roods home. Got home at 9 pm for a five hour trip that should take only 4 or less. Next time we'll know to check the trip details on our Blackberry Z10 before we reach the I-10 and if it shows ANY DELAYS, stay on I-49 and US 90 to home. With Del driving, I was able to watch all but last two innings of LSU game on the Z10, my first attempt to do that. With a couple innings left, I put the phone down to do something and when I picked it back up the game was gone.It is so difficult logging in on the tiny screen to get game on Geaux Zone, that I didn't bother to get it back on. LSU was still down 2-0 and in danger getting shut out. Only later I found out LSU came back to defeat Purdue, 4-2. We were too tired to eat the boiled crawfish that night, besides it's better during the day and outside on the porch. The next day we ate the 10 lbs. of crawfish out on the West Portico and peeled about a pound of tails for later use. A busy weekend was ahead because Del needed to get the house ready for her her brother Dan and his wife Karen who were staying over on Sunday night and ready for the Twilight Garden Club luncheon here on Monday.
TWILIGHT GARDEN CLUB AND OUR GARDENS
Ever think about what it would be like to live in a museum? Whenever Del has a Garden Club luncheon in Timberlane, I get to experience it. All of working materials have to be hidden out of sight, every place is mopped, dusted, shined, Windexed, you name it, anything that stands still for longer than a minute gets cleaned, even the fingersmudges around each knob on the many cabinets in the kitchen. We went through this cleaning drill in February and March because the Twilight Garden Club was meeting here in mid-March. In February, Del had David Babin and his crew weeded our gardens and planted petunia plants across the front of the house where our grandson Sam and Del had previously planted yellow pansies. They were blooms in pink, red, white and yellow across the East Portico of Timberlane and we were awarded the Twilight Garden Club's Garden of the Month award and a large white plaque installed on the left side of our blooming garden. The other side looked equally as good, so I asked, "What about a plaque for the right side as well?"
All of our acre-sized lot returned from its long winter's nap in a brown state and was now a bright green again, with flowers beginning to show on azalea and blackberry bushes, peach tree, red bud trees, pomegranate tree, wild cherry tree, amarylis bulbs, creeping phlox, and citrus trees. Our artichoke plants, all three of them, are thriving, only slowed down a tad by the freezing winter's weather and showing signs of producing artichokes any week now. We didn't get to St. Joseph's Church to see their St. Joseph's altar this year, but Rouse's Supermarket had a small St. Joseph's altar display around March 19th and I got a photo of it. Rouse's also had a Horned Melon from New Zealand which I had never seen before, so I bought one to decorate the Fruit Bowl, a bright yellowish-orange oblate speroid. Finally I cut it open to reveal its green, kiwi-fruit-colored flesh, full of large seeds. Tasted strange, a bit sour, but Del used it in her daily green juicing mix one day and it tasted okay. Perhaps sweetened it would make a good lemonade-type drink with a green color.
At least I'm not one of the things that has to be hidden out of sight for the Garden Club meetings. I have lunch with them and go back to work at my desk while they're having their meeting in the living room. The pre-meeting planning bothers me more than the meeting itself. Julie Greenberg was co-hostess with Del and Julie and her daughter prepared most of the food for the luncheon.
Before the meeting started, I took some of the ladies on a veggie garden tour, explained what equisetum arvense (horsetail rushes) was and how a tea made with them can add live silicon to the soil and help plants to thrive. During the lunch I made the grits that Julie had brought, and for myself I ate the grits and veggies. I helped load the dishwasher after the meal was over. Pretty much exhausted me and Del when they finally left. But our day was not over. Our sons Jim and Stoney Hatchett showed up and we visited with them out on the West Portico until Dan & Karen came back from looking at house possibilities across the Lake. We took them all to DiMartino's Deli, our local café.The owner Peter was all-dressed up in suit and tie this evening, and he came over to meet everyone. I had the Eggplant Parmesan and the rest had their favorite po-boys and muffalettas. Jim who lives in Dallas was taking a vacation for a week, spending time with his three siblings and with us.
The next morning Dan, Del, and Karen had some lawyer consultation to do and they arrived back about 11 am and requested a crawfish-eggplant omelette from Bobby Jeaux's Kitchen. I donned my LSU Chef's Hat and served up some delicious omelets for us. Ever since Daniel their son had the omelette and raved about it, it's become de rigueur for their visits. I'm happy to serve it because I love to eat it as well. Made a note to cook some more crawfish-eggplant dressing to put into tubes in the freezer so I'll be ready to make more omelettes. That night I went to Dickie Brennan's Tableau Restaurant for a GNO, Inc. Patron Party.
The next night, Jim stayed with us and then left early for a visit with his dad before heading back to Dallas. For lunch, it was just me and Del, so I made a quick sauce, added the peeled Church Point crawfish and poured it over the yellow grits left over in the fridge from the Garden Club luncheon, which Del and I ate for lunch.
GNO, INC. PATRON PARTY AT TABLEAU
I drove down to our favorite parking spot in the French Quarter, only a short walk up Chartres to the Cathedral. But I was 45 minutes early, walked over to Hermes Bar at Antoine's for a few minutes, then walked back up to St. Louis Cathedral, went in, and knelt down in the back and prayed. Then I walked up to front to light a candle and no candles were around. In rear of church, a sign said to buy votive candles at gift shop, but it was closed, and in the front of the church there were no candles to be bought. A Church Security officer in uniform saw me standing by the lit candles and sussed out that I wanted a candle. He said, "Wait here" and fetched one for me. How great was that? It was a large $3 candle and I placed it in the rack, I looked over to the spot where Mom stood to accept her Order of St. Louis medal from Archbishop Schulte the year before she died. I was thinking of Annette Matherne, my mother, as I lit the candle. So long as that candle burned, she would be there remembering me. On second thought I decided to invite my dad, Buster, then Purpy and Maryann to join Annette at the three adjacent candles already lit. Took me many decades to learn how these candles can be seen by the living spirits of our loved ones, if we use this simple and loving procedure.
The Patron Party was near the Cathedral, at Tableau Restaurant on the corner across the street from the Cabildo Museum and the Pontabla Restaurant. Tableau's upstairs outdoor seating area looks down upon Jackson Square with a view I had never seen before. A group of tourists were listening to a tour guide describe the historic area as I watched. I introduced myself to a guest who turned out to be a guy I worked during start-up at Waterford-3 Nuclear Power Plant back in the early 1980s, when he was Electrical Supervisor and I was I&C Supervisor, Don Vinci, who was now VP of Human Relations for Entergy in New Orleans. We recognized each other and shared memories and what we have been doing since we left Waterford.
Later I went to the bar area and had a drink, and a guy named Billy Nungesser shook my hand as if he knew me. He looked familiar, and said his name, and I said, "Please to meet you Billy". I had seen him on TV so many times, knew he was a parish President, either of St. Bernard or Plaquemines. It was the latter as I soon discovered. Billy talked about how great Michael Hecht's help had been in getting the National Flood Insurance Bill through Congress, he took the reins and whipped up a following of Parish leaders all across S. Louisiana and soon it was a done deal. Later I met Jody Guilbeau who is the Chairman of the Plaquemines Association of Business & Industry. He explained how they split off from the New Orleans Chamber of Commerce because they got so little attention from them.
Looking for a quieter area I moved into an adjoining room. I was admiring the old map of New Orleans showing where the water-line of the Mississippi changed in 1857 which made the city's footprint extend further south and made new waterfront warehouses possible. Timmy Roussel, President of St. James Parish, came up to look at the map and we began talking. I told him of my working with then-President Paul Keller in installing the first computerized accounting system on an IBM mainframe around 1980. I recalled working with the Treasurer, Wayne Hymel, and having lunches several dozen times over two years at Hymel's Restaurant, the full speckled trout fried up crispy, which they serve to this day. He told me how, when he took over as St. James Parish President two years ago, he got a bill from GNO, Inc for $10,000 dollars. He couldn't see what that money was going for, so he discarded the bill. Three suits showed up to talk him into paying the bill, but he continued to ignore the bill, even after a repeat visit.Then Michael Hecht called Timmy and said, "We need to have lunch." Timmy told him, "You're not going to buy me with lunch, Michael!" But they met for lunch at Hymel's and Michael told him, forget the bill, you come to a couple of meetings before you decide to pay anything. Well, Timmy attended meetings and was so impressed that he became a strong supporter of Michael and GNO, Inc.. Multiply this by every Parish President in the region and you have an idea of how Michael has put together a strong coalition of support for GNO,Inc which provides great support for building the economy of the region. He calls GNO, Inc. concierge service for new businesses, either startup or moving into the area. Their most recent success was pushing the legislature for Affordable Flood Insurance into law.
Later I found the buffet line in another room and had delicious shrimp and grits and waited for the speeches to start. Michael Hecht paid tribute to out-going CEO, presenting him a parting gift of a plaque mounted on a two foot long cannon. "Just in case you ever need it," Michael added. Next Michael introduced Pat Le Blanc as the new CEO who, in her acceptance remarks, mentioned that Michael had been given a new 5 year contract with GNO, Inc that evoked a loud applause. After that I had my fill of schmoozing I decided to head for home. As I got down to the banquette on Chartres Street, walking just ahead of me were two people which looked like the tall guy with white hair (the former CEO) and shorter gal with dark hair (the new CEO). When the guy split, I asked her, "Are you the new CEO?" and yes, she was, namely, Pat Le Blanc. We stuck up a conversation. She said my city of Gretna was doing well and mentioned she had earlier worked on a project with our new mayor, Belinda Constant. I told her how impressed I was with how Belinda had helped our Timberlane Country Club by holding her Centennial Celebration there. GNO, Inc is in good hands with Michael as navigator and with Pat at the helm.
HIGH FLYING PELICANS AND LSU'S FOUR-H CLUB
As of the twenty-eighth of March, the New Orleans Pelicans NBA basketball team is on a five game winning streak. Okay, not much of a streak, but for a team out of the playoffs (31-40) that's a lot. They nearly lost every other game so far this year. What's different now? Tyreke Evans, for one thing, his indominable drives to the basket usually ending in two points, and his great teamwork with Anthony Davis. This is what the Pelicans have needed, and with Tyreke starting and getting more minutes than ever before, the Pels are finishing games and winning in the last minute instead of losing a game in which they led for the most part. Last night against the Los Angeles Clippers, it was the Pels doing the clipping; stopping drives short of the rim, keeping their hotshot guard almost scoreless (2 points on foul shots) and AD blocking shots of their hard-driving hotshot redhead. In the game on the twenty-seventh, Anthony Davis left in the first quarter with a sore ankle and the rest of the team pulled out a win over the Utah NBA team (which has lost its jazz even though it holds onto the name it stole from New Orleans).
On the flip side, the once-high-flying Fighting Tigers have dive-bombed during the past week. Losing an SEC series to Vanderbilt, then tying Georgia 2-2 when stranding two men on Third Base with one out and bases loaded during a curfew-curtailed game. Then worst of all, hitting into double plays twice after having loaded the bases against Tulane. Wish this one had been curfew-limited at 6 also, instead of LSU losing 3-2 in extended innings. First time LSU had not beaten Tulane for 4 years straight. I was hoping for 25 years like the football team did before Tulane dropped out of the Southeastern Conference (SEC).
I had struggled all day with my decision on whether to go to the LSU - Tulane baseball game at Turchin Field, about ten minutes away from here. The weather was predicted to fall into the 40s with a 23 mph wind blowing out of the north. Next time I struggle that much, I'll stay home! LSU was tied 2-2 and couldn't get a run home twice with bases loaded and 1 OUT! Go figure! Sean Mullins hit a line drive double play the second time. The 2013 1, 2, 3 run-machine trio of Katz, Bregman, and Rhymes has turned into the 2014 1, 2, 3 strike out, pop out, or hit into double play! Bregman has apparently joined the 4-H Club: Hitless, Hapless, Homerless, and Hopeless, up until now. Come back Alex! I think it's likely that this kind of shoddy play will act as a smithy's forge to shape LSU players up for SEC and Omaha play.
The wind was blowing in my face as I sat behind the catcher, first row, and was able to put my new SONY HX50 camera's lens through the mesh to take excellent photos. Caught the swing of Sean Mullins in a video clip, but for a ground-out. When the score was tied at 2-2 in the 11th inning, I left to go, stopped by Men's Room, then on a hunch went back upstairs to watch LSU strike out in 12th, so I left. Game was over by the time I reached my Maxima parked on 5th floor and checked Dandy Don's website to find the game as I suspected, with a well-deserved loss.
LAST MINUTE EVENTS
The final week or so was busy for us. We joined a reserved table right up next to the stage to watch the first performance of Sandy Bravenden's comedy play, "Dixie Swim Club" about five gals who won the high school swim championship together and remained close friends over the decades. They returned every year to the beach on the outer banks of North Carolina for sun and fun, and we catch them over a decade or two.Rollicking good fun with a clown costume, a pregnant nun, and various physical challenges. But the hour before the play we enjoy a great time with Lloyd and Marion Giardino, plus Lloyd's sister Millie, and an old Westwego school chum, Maxine Bergeron Palmer with her husband Pete. We broke to enjoy the delicious buffet, and continued our animated conversation, having so much fun we were sorry the show began. You can read more about the Dixie Swim Club and if you're in New Orleans Area, can probably get a table for 2, 4 or 6 by a quick phone call to a later show which extends into April. Check it out.
I had lunch with our good friend Jim Webb at Tony Mandino's restaurant after he had a massage from our favorite masseuse, Caroline, at the Wellness Spa in the Shopping Center at Timberlane Drive and Belle Chasse Highway a block or so from our home. I was sorry to see the Zack's Yogurt disappear from that location, but to have its spot filled by a very capable masseuse is a real treat.
We went to check out the Westwego Farmer's Market the fourth Saturday of March and found a benefit for Myrtle C. Thibodeaux School was in progress (See photo near bottom of this Issue). I was delighted to find that the woman who as principal of Westwego Elementary School when I went there in the 1940s had been honored by having the school named after her. She was a robust lady with a big smile and gentle disposition. I didn't know anyone who had a run-in with her, nor anyone who wanted to. The Market area has buildings named after the businesses that filled Westwego during the decade and a half I grew up there. Unfortunately Paul's Motors, which was the Kaiser Automobile Dealership across the street from our home, was not included because the Market area at the foot of Sala Avenue comemmorates mostly stores along Sala Avenue. I remember there was a Red Wing Shoe Store back then, and someone found the sign and it is prominently displayed along with Coulon's Hardware, Gem Movie Theater, Muller's Motors and many others.
EVERY GOOD THING MUST COME TO A NEW BEGINNINGIMPORTANT MESSAGE:
The past 31 days of March have been still cold, but the greening of our lawn and bright color filling our gardens have been wonderful harbingers of Spring, which finally arrived (March 21st), bringing us another cold front, but thankfully no sub-freezing and no frost. We have gone from temperatures of 40s to the 70s, the grass has gone from dead brown to vibrant green, the flowers are blooming, and the insects are beginning to return. Caught a shot of a curious grasshopper-like insect on a leaf of our artichoke plant. It had a long pointed snout like a tarpon or a narwhale. If anyone knows the name of this creature, please let me know. (See Please Don't Bug Us Photo at the bottom.) I took several shots and was able to see that its snout comprised two tusks lined up every close to each other.
Till we meet again, when the second weekend of Jazz Fest will kick off the Merry Month of May in New Orleans and crawfish boils will be everywhere, God Willing and the Spring Rise of the Mississippi River subsides, Whatever you do, Wherever in the world you and yours Reside, be it summery or autumny, rainy or dry, shady or sunshiny,
May you remember our earnest wish for this God-given year of 2014:
MAY THE WORLD BECOME PEACEFUL AND SERENE IN TWENTY-FOURTEEN
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Quotes Selected from quotes.htm this month:
When swimming in a sewer the best thing you can do is keep your mouth shut.
Harry Boyd, TA Therapist from Oklahoma during a group session, c. 1977.New Stuff on Website: From Flowers of Shanidar, A 1990 Book of Poetry by Bobby Matherne
You can't make people better off by taking options away from them.
Thomas Sowell, American Writer
There is no bad weather, only bad clothes.
Old Swedish Saying
Patience serves as a protection against wrongs as clothes do against cold. For if you put on more clothes as the cold increases, it will have no power to hurt you. So in like manner you must grow in patience when you meet with great wrongs, and they will then be powerless to vex your mind.
— Leonardo Da Vinci
There's no better way to overcome a trickle of doubt than with a flood of naked truth.
from NetFlix's 'House of Cards' Series
No one has a finer command of language than the person who keeps his mouth shut.
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 Mathernes 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
RNA and DNA
The messenger and delivery boys
Of the Rapid Noshing Authority
Travel the Ribosome Railway
Looking for likely pickups
To deliver on down the line.
Orders and parcels they carry
From the Domestic Naval Authority
To the far reaches of the factory —
Designers genes of their destiny.In a large newspaper office
Virginia asked 'Is there a Santa Claus?'
A question from the heart of childhood
Blessed all those who understood.
At the break of day the Sun
Shone on faces of glowing spirit,
'Yes, Virginia, there is — yes, there is
And thanks for helping us to remember.'
Do their diplomatic pouches
Return empty — or full of questions
Like Virginia's curiosity
Whose answer only our hearts could see.
2. Chapter: Hyacinths
Is it us the world controls
In our petty doings day to day?
Are we at the world's controls
That steer our ship in every way?
Are we helpless passengers
At the whim of almighty God?
Or farseeing navigators
Charting a free will course, by God?
Do we stumble in the darkness
Over the flotsam of our lives?
Or is it the maze we set ourselves
That we have but to realize?
3. Chapter: Rainbows
This month, as we near the completion of Bobby's first book of Poetry, Flowers of Shanidar,
we continue with a poem from the Rainbows Chapter of his second book of Poetry,
Rainbows & Shadows (1995).
This month we read
The term collective unconscious
is a name
For the apparent similarities
Among human psyches
due to their common access
to the mutual communication plenum
That we commonly call God.
4. Chapter: Shadows5. Chapter: Violets
This month, as we near the completion of Bobby's first book of Poetry, Flowers of Shanidar,
we continue with a poem from the Shadows Chapter of his second book of Poetry,
Rainbows & Shadows (1995).
This month we read
Age of Aquariums
"Don't you know it's the Age of Aquariums?"
Charlie Brown's sister asked him.
So I went to an aquarium,
I wanted to see fishes in the wild
But all I saw was fishes in the mild,
swimming peacefully at hand,
never worrying about their next meal
because some employee saw to
The fishes swam and swam and all the while
their demeanor was so mild
I thought I was in Disneyland.
If those were humans in the tanks of water,
all cared for, like they oughta
I wonder if they'd prefer that socialist society
to one in which they roamed capitalistically.
Free to eat their fill and wander as they dare —
Would they choose to have
Public servants everywhere
To see to their every care?
To keep them within their boundaries
Well-fed and stripped of all vagaries?
Or prefer the fish-eat-fish world undersea
With predator and predatee
Eating their way into history?
Van Gogh's Eyes
What if we each could see
With the eyes of Van Gogh, Rembrandt,
Or if we each could hear
With Mozart's or Tchaikovsky's ear?
The boring commonplace would cease
And we would live within a masterpiece.
New Stuff on the Internet:
- YouTube Video Link sent in by Tony Celino:
Murmuration of Starlings
Movies we watched this past month:Notes about our movies: Many of the movies we watch are foreign movies with subtitles. After years of watching movies in foreign languages, Arabic, French, Swedish, German, British English, Russian, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Chinese, and many other languages, sometimes two or three languages in the same movie, the subtitles have disappeared for us. If the movie is dubbed in English we go for the subtitles instead because we enjoy the live action and sounds of the real voices so much more than the dubbed. If you wonder where we get all these foreign movies from, the answer is simple: NetFlix. For a fixed price a month they mail us DVD movies from our on-line Queue, we watch them, pop them into a pre-paid mailer, and the postman effectively replaces all our gas-consuming and time-consuming trips to Blockbuster. To sign up for NetFlix, simply go to http://www.netflix.com/ and start adding all your requests for movies into your personal queue. If you've seen some in these movie blurbs, simply copy the name, click open your queue, and paste the name in the Search box on NetFlix and Select Add. Buy some popcorn and you're ready to Go to the Movies, 21st Century Style. You get to see your movies as the Director created them NOT-edited for TV, in full-screen width, your own choice of subtitles, 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.Hits (Watch as soon as you can. A Don't Miss Hit is one you might otherwise have missed along the way.):
P. S. Ask for Blu-Ray movies from NetFlix, and if it says DVD in your Queue, click and select Blu-Ray version."House of Cards" (2013) Episode 1 through 21: The adventure continues and each episode is gripping, intriguing, and leaves you wanting more, which with instant play, comes about, well, instantly. Great lines, like this: "There's no better way to overcome a trickle of truth than with a flood of naked truth." A DON'T MISS HIT!
"Stories We Tell" (2012) A Canadian family documents their family's life with a few surprises along the way.
"Rabbit Hole" (2010) interesting movie about a couple who lost their son and the teenager who ran over him with his car. Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart as star-crossed couple."Brothers" (2009) the good brother TobyMaguire vs. the bad one Jake Gyllenhaal. What happens when Tobyis apparently killed in Afghan war and Jake the ex-con cozies up to his widow. Soon good and bad roles switch.
"The French Lieutenant's Woman" (1981) a pleasure to rewatch this Streep & Irons movie. Noticed Mrs. Crawley actress playing Irons' wife. Two endings to the movie: Happy ending to movie in the movie (two sail off in rowboat), sad ending to movie (Actress leaves with her husband).
A DON'T MISS HIT ! ! !
"Proof" (2005) a crazy math professor and a crazy daughter and one magnificent math proof, but how to get proof of which one wrote the proof? Tony Hopkins and Gyneth Paltrow star with Jake Gyllenhaal in proof squared conundrum.
"Into the White" (2012) In wintery Norway, a British and German plane shoot down each other and crash a couple of miles away. After playing "you are my POWs" with each other a couple of times, they resolve to put away the guns and help each other survive, even helping perform an amputation with an axe successfully. A DON'T MISS HIT ! !
"The Gangster Squad" (2013) like the Mod Squad, but acting like gangsters, shoot first and don't answer any questions, with a pre-paid Get-out-of-Jail Free card from the Chief, all in the service of getting rid of Mickey Cohen and keeping the mob out of L. A. for good. "L. A. may not be paradise, but it's the City of Angels."
"Saints and Soldiers" (2003) Yanks, one Brit are stuck behind German lines in WWII winter during final push to Berlin. A Yank meets a pre-war friend from Germany who helps the cadre escape back to US side with crucial information.
"Kill Your Darlings" (2013), your crushes, your juvenile metaphysics, then put your real words down on paper" Columbia professor told Allen Ginsberg, who with William Burroughs, Jack Kerouac etal led the way to the Beat Generation in the 1950s. This is their story."Shadows in the Sun" (2005) inspire two writers, while a lucky guy meets a lucky gal and takes a ride. "The years teach much what the days never knew" and sunsets can shine brighter than noon. A DON'T MISS HIT ! ! !
"Nebraska" (2013) Bruce Dern stars as Woody who has won a big prize and goes to Lincoln to claim it and bring it home in his new truck with a new compressor in its pickup bed. No one believes him, but miracles happen when one son begins to believe him.
"Daltry Calhoun" (2005) forget the lousy trailer, this is a charming and heart-warming movie of a father and daughter re-connecting as his business goes from green to red.
"Gravity" (2013) with a bit of levity Bullock and Clooney, two stars twinkle in outer space and inner space.
"The Language of the Enemy" (2008) we learn why a "good Jew boy would learn arabic" and watch as Romi & Juli, Jew and Arab, play out a star-crossed tragedy.
"Tuesdays with Morrie" (1999) starring Jack Lemmon (Morrie) whom Hank Azaria visits every Tuesday during the last weeks of Morrie's life. His old professor still has many lessons to teach his former pupil."Captain Philips" (2013) with no guns to defend his huge cargo ship against Somali pirates, Rich marshals his crew to defend themselves and offers himself hostage to get the thugs off his ship. Can he survive this courageous sacrifice? By Tom Hanks: ANOTHER DON'T MISS HIT ! ! !
"Act of Valor" (2012) dedicated "to all warriors heading downrange: damn few" A rescue mission reveals a terrorist plot in diverse parts of the world culminating in a tunnel into USA near San Diego.
"Twelve Years a Slave: Solomon Northup's Odyssey" (1984) Avery Brooks (Deep Space 9's Captain Cisco) stars as Pratt the slave. Was interesting to watch a more accurate portrayal after watching the thirty-years-later Hollywood-message-filled 2013 remake. Newer one was better quality film and more gritty and gripping
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.The Place Beyond the Pines (2012) was beyond believable: cop kills robber and each of their sons must deal with each other badly 15 years later.
"The Counselor" (2013) Only moral act in entire movie was gal who returned money when she realized Diaz was going to kill Brad Pitt to get the laptop she got the password for. Movie was bland generic conversation, elephant-shit, which made little sense. Be a gangster, Stomp First and answer no questions! A DVD STOMPER! ! !Parker (2013) a Robin Hood who takes from the rich and keeps it while killing all his so-called friends who shafted him.
"Restoration" (1995) Doctor in the time of Plague is forced to marry King's mistress, but not have sex with her. Caused a plague on both their houses.
Your call on these your taste in movies may differ, but I liked them:"Inside Llewyn Davis" (2013) is pretty empty, just some old folk songs no one wanted to hear from his eponymous album. Hitch hike to Chicago and back to NYC didn't solve anything. Still begging a couch to sleep on from friends each night and carrying a cat back to its owner.
"The Fifth Estate" (2013) has blood on its lawn. WIKILEAKS on everyone they don't like, this movie leaks on the small cadre responsible for these leaks.
"Darwin" (2009) Paul Bettany stars in the personal trials and tribulations of the evolutionist at home.
== == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == ==Le Boudreaux Cajun Cottage, drawn by and Copyright 2011 by Paulette Purser, Used by Permission
== == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == ==
Every year Boudreaux went fishing with some Texas buddies he worked with on an offshore oil rig on a 7-days-on, 7-days-off schedule. This year they were camped near the Toledo Bend Reservoir in a remote area and they had brought a tent and enough supplies for the six-day fishing trip.
At the start of each fishing trip they drew straws to decide who would stay behind in the camp to cook while the others went fishing. On the year he drew the short straw, Boudreaux cooked his famous five meat jambalaya the first day, his redfish courtboullion the next day, his crawfish ιtouffιe the next, and so, regaling the guys with his Cajun cooking.
This time, Tex drew the short straw and he didn't like that one damn bit; he wanted to be fishing. He knew the rule was that if anyone said his food was not good, he would have to take over the cooking for the rest of the trip. Secretly, Tex hoped that might be Boudreaux because he liked his Cajun cooking. So, Tex came up with a plan.
They were camped near a cow pasture, so Tex walked through the pasture and located some dried cow patties about the size of a large hamburger steak, enough for each of the guys. He then prepared all the fixings and fried the cow patties like a hamburger steak.
When the guys sat down to eat, Tex handed out the plates one at a time, watching for a reaction. The first guy frowned a bit, but began eating and eventually cleaned his plate, the next grunted a little displeasure, but said nothing, and so it went with the rest of the Texan roughnecks.
Tex saved his best shot at going fishing tomorrow for last, finally setting the steaming plate down in front of Boudreaux. Tex watched and waited as Boudreaux cut himself a big piece of the "steak" and put it in his mouth. As soon as he tasted it, Boudreaux immediately spit it out, yelling, "This tastes like shit!" Quickly looking over to Tex, Boudreaux, with a big smile on his face, added, "But good!"
== == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == ==
5. Household Hint for April, 2014 from Bobby Jeaux from Bobby Jeaux:
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =Garbage Disposal Care and Repair
Background on Garbage Disposals:
Everyone should know that most garbage disposals have a Reset or Overload pushbutton on the bottom of them under the sink. If the disposal does not make a sound when you turn on the switch, turn the switch to OFF, then find that button, usually it's red, and push it in then turn on disposal again. That will solve problems caused by a temporary overload. If the motor makes no noise at all after the Reset Button is pushed and you turn on Garbage Disposal again, the unit will likely need replacing. If there is even a slight hum or vibration, the Garbage Disposal cutting blades are stuck and when you run it while blades are stuck, the Overload Switch will protect the motor. This Household Hint is designed to help you past the difficult problems with a stuck and humming garbage disposal. (Why does it hum? Not because it doesn't know the words, but because electrical energy is being applied to motor and the blades can't turn, so the motor complains with a hum.)
Things to avoid putting into Garbage Disposal
Artichokes leaves, even after being well-cooked, they will turn to a thick fuzz in your Garbage Disposal and you'll have to remove them before you can use the Garbage Disposal again. Watch out for pop-top tags, rings, spoons, forks, jewelry, and anything metal or an edge of the metal might get caught between the Garbage Disposal's cutting blade and the side of the Garbage Disposal Unit. If you're lucky, the metal will be slightly mutilated and can be removed by a small grabbing device. The next step will help in removing a metal thingie jamming up the cutting blade and keeping the Garbage Disposal from turning.
Freeing a Stuck or Jammed Garbage Disposal:Okay, if you reached this instruction, you now know one thing that should NOT be dropped into a Garbage Disposal, and you want to know what to do to free the unit and get it operating right away. This kind of problem usually happens when a houseful of guests are expected, and there's no time to call a plumber, is there?
This step requires that you will have made advance preparation for a quick fix (one where you step out to the garage instead of driving to a store which made be closed because it's a holiday, right?):
Make sure you have a new or old broom with a wooden handle!
Yes, you can hardly find them anymore, I know, most have metal handles, which will NOT work! Nothing else has the frictional grab of the wooden handle of a broom and is big around enough to hold up during a mighty tussle of Householder versus stuck Garbage Disposal! (Mops are usually thinner, but may work or they may break, so get a broom. Metal ones will bend at first tussle.) Once you acquire a thick wooden handle broom, remove any metal bracket on the end of the wooden handle (meant to hang up the broom). If you need to use a broom already hung on a metal bracket, any pliers can quickly remove the metal hanging bracket and it may be replaced after the broom has freed your Garbage Disposal.
Remove the rubber insert (meant to keep spoons, etc, from dropping into Garbage Disposal). Place the wooden end of the broom into the garbage disposal as shown in photo above. You want to move the broom until you feel it butt up against the raised cutting blade of the Garbage Disposal. See photo at left of a typical cutting blade in a well-used Garbage Disposal. If yours is stuck and you can't see the blade, use the broom handle to feel around through the stuff for it, or remove enough stuff so you can feel it when the handle butts up against it.Now for the muscle part. Grab the broom like you would an axe, very tightly, and move the broom in the direction that will cause the Garbage Disposal's cutting blade to move. Try the other direction if the first direction doesn't work. If you change directions, you will have move and make contact with the next blade (usually two blades in a Garbage Disposal). When you apply strong pressure, the cutting blade will gradually begin to move (or it may pop loose, so brace your lower body against the sink in case it releases immediatly). If it pops free, you're done. Remove broom and turn on Garbage Disposal. If it works, you're a lucky one, this time.
If it doesn't release immediately, you've got some crud between the cutting blades and the sides of the Garbage Disposal. This requires muscle, persistence, and patience. Remember, you wouldn't be here if the motor was broken, right? Test it briefly on occasion while trying to free blades, and if it hums, the motor is just humming because it doesn't know how to sing, "Free my blades, Please". Also push Reset button, which may be necessary if you let it hum too long and the motor overloads and causes the overload protector to trip the safety switch, requiring another push of the Reset Button. This is the persistence and patience portion of the repair. Sometimes it takes as much energy as an hour of jitterbugging. Stay with it! Eventually the broom handle will be able to move the blade. If it moves but it's very sluggish, make a full turn or two. Then remove broom handle and test if the disposal turns when switched on. If yes, you're done. If it moves, but only slowly, like under one turn a minute. Turn switch off and go back to work with broom handle. More jitterbugging.
Care for Garbage Disposal:Doesn't sound like much fun doing the broom handle jitterbugging, does it? "How can I keep from having to do this?" you're probably wondering. The answer is simple, two steps:1. DON'T: Don't put stuff that can jam or clog disposal.Other options
2. DO PUT ICE IN: Put ICE in the disposal and grind it till blades make no sound except a gentle whirring. This process will clean stuff off the cutting blades, i.e. clean away the small invisible stuff that will accumulate and end up clogging the disposal over time. ICE! A MAGIC DISPOSAL CLEANING AGENT! Every time you have ice left over in glasses from drinks or a fishing trip or if you have a handy ice maker near your disposal, remove the rubber insert, dump at least a glass of ice, replace the rubber insert and run the Garbage Disposal till the ice crushing sound stops. Once after an hour of jitterbugging, the disposal just barely could turn around on its own a few times a second. One glassful of ice and soon it was whirring happily away. TRY IT, YOU'LL LIKE IT! Heck, you won't even notice it's working because we ignore appliances that run, don't we?
To freshen the smell of your Garbage Disposal, grind up used lemons or grapefruit halves in it every so often. The citrus acid will dissolve and neutralize any grease that might build up over time and lead to a clogged Garbage Disposal. It will also keep your drain lines from clogging.
To keep grease from building up in your drain lines, never pour hot grease or water containing grease down your sink or garbage disposal drain. If you have a small amount of olive oil or other cooking oil in water, let it cool for a hour or run cold water in it before disposing it. The grease will coagulate and run down the drain without coating the sides of the drain pipes. This will help save your Garbage Disposal and keep the Rotor Rooter Man away.
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6. POETRY by BOBBY from Cosmic New Year by Rudolf Steiner:
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Night and Day
Our night-time knowledge is one of the things we "subtract" from our experience; we cannot call them fact because we are not aware of the experiences, but they nevertheless affect our behavior during the day-time. As a result we can see that only our day-time experiences are capable of reflecting our past to us. This suggests a short poem to me:
Our map of the world, our day-time knowledge,
coats the mirror of life and
reflects the past back to us
While preventing the future
from reaching us.
Our humanness, our day-time knowledge,
is the silver lining which coats the mirror of life
and reflects the past back to us
While it masks the future from us.
Our divinity, our night-time knowledge,
penetrates the uncoated glass
which we look through to forever.
We watch the scrolling film of our life
and get lost in the images as
day-time knowledge fills us up.
Between each day-lit frame of the film
is a night-time frame of darkness
in which we recover our immortal "I".
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7. REVIEWS and ARTICLES for April:
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For our Good Readers, here are the reviews and articles featured this month. The first and second review this month will be ones which were published in early DIGESTWORLD ISSUES but only as short blurbs so they 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.
NOTE: some 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 on the top line of the review page when it opens.
This book is listed in "A Reader's Journal" under the Chapter, "Evolution of Consciousness," but deserves rather to be under the rubric of "Devolution of Consciousness" as befits its theme according to the hero, Ralph. The heroine, Helen, didn't think much about consciousness before she met Ralph Messenger, but apparently she doesn't completely buy the lugubrious messages about consciousness broadcasting from the Messenger. Carrie, his wife, calls Ralph "Messenger." This is an intimate name which only those very close to him use, and one that Helen comes to use eventually. The novel is organized in a curious fashion, which requires a bit of sleuthing by the reader to catch on to: the chapters alternate between journal entries by Ralph into a Pearlcorder cassette recorder, journal entries by Helen into a computer, and narrations of the activities and conversations of the two of them and their companions. You get to hear Ralph's view of what he's planning to do, followed by Helen's view of what she's planning to do, followed by a narration of what happened, followed next by Ralph's and then Helen's view of what happened. Once one gets the hang of the sequencing and learns to watch for the clues in the first paragraph of each chapter, the tempo and unfolding of the novel gets to be rather enjoyable.
Ralph is director of a university research project studying consciousness and is doing an experiment in stream of consciousness journal entries simply saying aloud into his recorder what his thoughts are. Helen comes to the same university to teach creative writing, and is keeping a detailed journal to keep her writing skills active between novels. Ralph is married to Carrie, Helen is a widow, and one expects that Ralph and Helen will soon get together and they do. Filling out the cast of characters is this interesting man, described by Helen:
[page 23] Nicholas Beck, silver-haired Professor of Fine Art, had been invited to make a pair with me, but only in the table-planning sense, because Jasper informed me that he is a celibate homosexual, on what authority I don't know.
Not only would it be impossible to confirm such a statement, but the very concept is rather curious Nicholas would have a sexual preference for those he chooses to abstain from having sex with! If this sounds to you like a phony cover story for something else that is going on, you could be right.
Where Ralph and Helen teach is the University of Gloucester, which was designed on a huge campus with the Science Department on one edge of the campus and the Arts Department on the other edge, two huge buildings with gobs of green space in between with the idea of filling in the space with more buildings as the university grew. Since it didn't grow as planned, the distance between Science and Art on the campus was about as great as the psychic distance between Ralph the scientific researcher and Helen the artistic writer of novels.
In the first narrative chapter (3), Ralph talks about how nobody can know another's thoughts. From this passage we learn the origin of the book's title:
[page 42] 'Imagine what the Richmond's dinner party would have been like, if everyone had had those bubbles over their heads that you get in kids' comics, with "Thinks . . ." inside them.'
Talking about behaviorists, who claim that one can only know about someone else by observing their behavior, Ralph tells an insightful joke to Helen:
[page 42] 'There's an old joke that crops up in nearly every book on consciousness, about two behaviourist psychologists who have sex, and afterwards one says to the other, "It was good for you, how was it for me?" '
When Ralph takes Helen up to the Centre for Cognitive Sciences and shows her the mural, we get a guided tour of some of the most famous conundrums of cognitive science. The first one conjures up an image of Thomas Nagel's famous paper, "What is it Like to be a Bat?" The image shows a vampire bat that got lucky regurgitating nutritious blood into the mouth of another bat back at the cave. This reminded me of the pelican, the state bird of Louisiana which appears on the flag doing something similar for its young. The pelican has an articulated bone in its beak which can break a blood vessel under its tongue to feed its young that are too small to feed directly on fish and such. But why would two mature vampire bats do this?
[page 50] 'It's got something to do with motivation. It looks like altruism at first glance, but a lucky bat will only share its blood with another bat with which it has a reciprocal arrangement should circumstances be reversed, so it's really a form of enlightened self-interest. The same is true of human beings as the Prisoner's Dilemma illustrates.
And with that Ralph shows her the mural image of the two prisoners who are interviewed separately, just like on "Law & Order," and the first one who confesses gets the lighter sentence. The complete structure of the Prisoner's Dilemma was investigated to great effect by Robert Axelrod as documented in his book, "The Evolution of Cooperation."
Then follows John Searle's famous thought experiment, "The Chinese Room", in which a man sits with a manual and converts characters of the Chinese language into English according to the manual. The question arises, "Is he conscious of what's he doing?" "Can he be said to understand Chinese?" All he sees is an unknown character come and converts it into the proper word according to the manual. If he can do this without understanding Chinese or being conscious of what he's doing, then neither can a computer, no matter how smart, be said to be conscious or understand any language that it translates.
The next experiment is Frank Jackson's "Mary the color scientist."
[page 53] 'The idea is that she's been born and raised and educated in a totally monochrome environment. She knows absolutely everything that there to know about colour in scientific terms for example, the various wavelenth combinations that stimulate the retina of the eye in colour recognition but she has never actually seen any colours. Notice there are no mirrors in her room, so she can't see the pigmentation of her own face, eyes, or hair, and the rest of her body is covered. Then one day she's allowed out of the room, and the first thing she sees is, say, a red rose. Does she have a totally new experience?'
The next thought experiments presuppose the existence of hypothetical zombies that are "indistinguishable from human beings in appearance and behaviour." I found this one as intriguing as it was insipid. Actually "insipid" is a rather good description of a zombie since it means, among other things, "lifeless" and "dull". What distinguishes a human being is the look in their eye. You can verify this for yourself if you are old enough to have come upon someone you had not seen in a long time and this person's looks had completely changed. Their hair had turned white, wrinkles had sprouted when none were before, they were slight of built whereas formerly they were stout, and only thing was obvious to you they had the same look in their eyes. To presuppose a zombie which has the same look in the eyes as a live person to create a vacuous fantasy and to reason from a vacuous fantasy is pure pedantic folly.
The last mural painting pictured "Schrödinger's Cat" a famous thought experiment in which the wave equation, of a cat in a box designed to randomly execute the cat, shows the cat to be neither dead nor live until the box is opened and observed by a conscious human being. After explaining this so carefully in the early part of the book, it was amazing to me that it never occurred to Ralph near the end of the book that he had become the "Schrödinger's Cat" when he was diagnosed with a lump on his liver. Would he be alive or dead when Baby Father Time looked into his box on the next New Year's Day? What did Ralph see when he looked into his own box? Ralph never asked these questions because he is not a cat, not a thing, but a human being. And yet he spent a lot of air time trying to convince listeners and viewers and Helen that human beings are nothing but a fancy animal, a thing that could be replicated by a fancy enough computer.
Consciousness, the study of, requires someone, some thing, that has consciousness already. How is a cat or a computer ever going to grow into some thing capable of asking a question about what it means to be conscious? The study of consciousness is the most recursive study there is. When we study consciousness we exhibit and utilize the very process from within that we are attempting to paradoxically study from without. Asking how can consciousness arise in inanimate objects is like asking how lemon trees can grow from the ground. Everyone knows that lemon trees are made of elements contained in the ground, and one essential thing is necessary in addition to fertile ground for the lemon tree to grow there must be a seed of a lemon to be planted into that ground. Does it not make good sense that there must be a seed of consciousness planted in human beings before consciousness can appear in cooperation with the elements in our bodies? Our bodies, after all, just like the lemon tree, come from the elements contained in the ground of the Earth.
Without that seed of consciousness, we would be true zombies, and that spark of recognition that survives the ravages of age and time would be gone from our eyes. Without that seed of consciousness we could only look out of our eyes as a cat or a dog does, with a look that can only appear to be conscious to some other being who already possesses consciousness and would be capable of projecting it onto us. Cats, dogs, and other pets are attracted to humans because of the very thing humans have that they don't, but would like to have, consciousness. When we nurture, help, and share our consciousness with our pets, they return the favor with their love and affection for us. In the grand scale of the cosmos, surely there are beings who nurture, help, and share their consciousness with us and to whom we in turn give up our love and affection. The study of consciousness, if pursued, leads one inevitably to the study of Soul in this age which some call the Consciousness Soul Age for the very good reason that this is the age during which materialistic science will find itself confronted with conundrums that can only be solved by confronting one's own soul experience as a spiritual being in a material body.
Only by confronting one's soul experience can one ever hope to understand the phenomenon of crying in human beings. Animals, without resident souls in their bodies, do not cry. Only humans cry. Darwin said, "Crying is a puzzler." It was a puzzler to Darwin because it presumed the existence of a soul, something Darwin found no need for in his theory. But a series of strange processes began to happen to Darwin as soon as he promulgated his theory:
[page 59] . . . he develops all kinds of symptoms boils, flatulence, vomiting, shivering, fainting . . . piles . . . tinnitus . . . dots before the eyes . . . every damn thing you can think of . . . none of his doctors could explain or cure any of it . . . one of them said it was suppressed gout, more like suppressed guilt . . . and he tried all kinds of quack remedies that no serious scientist should have contemplated for a moment . . .
Ever try to treat a cat like a dog? It never works. The cat will not fetch, will not heel. Will not walk on a leash. It will fight every attempt you make to treat it as some animal it is not. Darwin tried to treat human beings like dogs, and being a human being himself, his body reacted strenuously to his attempt. Being human is a puzzler, rightly understood. Try to eliminate or minimize that reality and your body will react just as strongly in its own way as Darwin's did in its way. Perhaps you've already noticed something along that line, if you've lived long enough.
The neuroscientist Libet "showed that conscious awareness of a decision to act always lags behind the associated brain activity by about half a second . . . so in a sense every moment of our lives is already in the past when we experience it . . . you might say consciousness is a continual action replay. . ." (Page 72, 73) Or you might say, in the words of Matherne's Rule #8: "It always happens before you know it."
Lodge's prose glows at times when Ralph's pouring out his stream of consciousness to his Pearlcorder, like this piece, his first piece actually, with Martha, a mature woman who seduced him when he was seventeen:
[page 76, 77] . . . I could still scarcely believe my luck, for that matter I can hardly believe it now, imagine, a seventeen-year-old schoolboy whose body was a testosterone power station constantly on edge of melt-down and his mind . . . his mind a pornographic theatre that never closed . . . but whose sexual experiences extended no further than french-kissing girls from our sister grammar school up the road in the lunch hour and maybe squeezing their tits under serge uniform blazers if you were lucky . . . to lose my virginity to an experienced, warm-blooded fully grown woman . . . who laughed and told me not to worry when I came prematurely as inevitably I did . . . but I'm getting ahead of myself . . .
Or when he does the exercise that Helen gives her class: Write about what it is like to be a bat in the style of a well-known author. Lodge writes the students' essays in the style of Martin Amis, Irvine Walsh, Salmon Rushdie, and Samuel Beckett. For fans of these authors will not want to miss this series of cross-cultural writing exercises by Lodge in Chapter 8, pages 90 to 96.
In this next passage, Ralph makes a statement that would be agreed upon by nearly every cognitive scientist and their unanimity would be matched only by their wrongness.
[page 101] Primitive man was like a guy who's been given a state-of-the-art computer and just uses it to do simple arithmetic.
The presupposition is that the human brain did not change in function, capacity, or processing capability since primitive man, that the evolution of consciousness came about due to humans learning over aeons of time how to better use a tool that remains identical today to what it was back then, only we have learned to use it better. To hold to this line belies the evidence of the changes in the shape of skull bones that indicate an ever increasing size of the cranial cavity; it belies the evidence of the Cro-Magnon skulls which rose vertically from the bridge of the nose allowing growth of the prefrontal lobes that could not have been present in the steeply sloped skulls of the Neanderthals. Rather than a tool that we learned how to use which usage increased our abilities for consciousness, human consciousness evolved in locked step with the evolution of the brain. And this evolution can be witnessed in the microcosm of every child as it is conceived, born, and grows to maturity — in the single human being's growth we can observe the evolution of consciousness progress. What took place over hundreds of thousands of years, we can observe take place in the course of a dozen or so years in every human child as it grows to maturity.
When Ralph tells Helen that man is the only animal who knows it will die, Helen rebuts him by saying, "Elephants must know — they have graveyards." Ralph says, "I'm afraid that's a myth." When Rudolf Steiner was asked that question, he said that due to the thick skin of elephants, when death approaches, they want more earth, of which their skin is most akin, around them, so they withdraw into caves.
This is an amazing and interesting book. In Chapters 30 and 32, first Helen and then Ralph speak of the process of recognizing a karmic necessity: Helen calls it superstition and Ralph calls it a strange symmetry. Read the two passages and pay close attention only to the feeling state Lodge evokes for each character it is in the feeling state that one can experience something that evades the day-time consciousness, something that operates below our level of awareness such as karmic necessity does in this day and age, up until now. As Steiner said once, "Feelings live longer than thoughts."
[page 298, Helen] The moment Messenger said, 'I've got a lump on my liver,' I felt a cold qualm of fear, and yet no surprise it was as if I had been unconsciously expecting some such blow, and now it had fallen. There's superstition for you.
[page 327, Ralph] . . . There was a strange symmetry about yesterday evening, the way my reprieve arrived from Halib at the very same moment that catastrophe stared Duggers in the face. It was as if we were balanced on a pair of scales, and Halib's call was the thumb in the pan that brought me safely down to earth and sent Duggers flying up into the air, hanging by his neck . . .
Halib, the London specialist that Carrie hired to care for Ralph, was the observer who opened the "Schrödinger's Cat" box and observed Ralph to be alive in Lodge's words, Halib had his thumb on the scale to tip it towards Ralph. Sgt Agnew had his thumb on the scales to tip it towards Ralph's colleague Professor Douglas Douglass (Duggers) as the suspected pornographic downloader culprit. The phrase "strange symmetry" is the closest that Ralph express in his mode of rational thought what was probably a deep feeling of connection with his karmic destiny. "Superstition" to Helen; "strange symmetry" to Ralph — both of them felt the wheels of karma turning and used scientifically acceptable ways of sloughing off the deeper night-time reality they discounted with their day-time consciousness.
Will Carrie go back to Ralph? With Ralph give up Helen? Will Nicholas Beck always remain known as a celibate homosexual after his affair with Carrie is over? Will Helen let go of her beloved, faithful, and dead husband Martin after one of her students reveals in her writing assignment Martin's penchant for bedding young co-eds? Will the two structures of Arts and Science finally meet one another? Will Helen offer The Last Word for the Con-Con? Yes, she will and when she did, she quoted the two wonderful stanzas from Andrew Marvell's poem, "The Garden" the first for the green thoughts of the Cognitive Scientist and the second for the silver wings of the Artist:
Meanwhile the Mind, from pleasure less,
Withdraws into its happiness:
The Mind, that Ocean where each kind
Does straight its own resemblance find;
Yet it creates, transcending these,
Far other Worlds, and other Seas;
Annihilating all that's made
To a green Thought in a green Shade.
Here at the Fountains sliding foot,
Or at some Fruit-trees mossy root,
Casting the Body's Vest aside
My Soul into the boughs does glide:
There like a Bird it sits, and sings,
Then whets, and combs its silver Wings;
And, till prepar'd for longer flight,
Waves in its Plumes the various Light.
I see that you have enjoyed the review. How was it for me?
The epic scope of this novel reminded me of William Cowper Powys's great novel, A Glastonbury Romance. Both involve a resurrection, but the Glastonbury one takes place in midsummer and the New York City one takes place in midwinter. Actually most of the scenes take place in winter, not just one winter, but many winters. All the action outdoors takes place in the middle of extreme cold - the Hudson River is frozen solid all the way from the ocean to its source. Helprin has written a paean to New York City and a love song to winter. Not the bitter cold, desolate winters when everyone huddles inside for warmth, but a vibrant, active winter full of evocative scenes of festive block parties on ice, ice-boating on large lakes, ice skating on frozen rivers, and midnight silvery sleigh rides bouncing over snowy hillocks or gliding silently over glassy smooth ice surrounded by quaint candle-lit Dutch villages along the fictional Lake of the Coheeries near the headwaters of the Hudson. This novel makes great summer reading as it will keep you in a perpetual chill as you read it.
What Powys did for Glastonbury, Helprin has done for New York City - written a love story of a place - in which the place is the key character and everyone else has bit parts. Peter Lake has the biggest bit part as we follow him from orphan to Bayman, to pickpocket, to burglar, to mechanic, and to savior. We watch enthralled as he falls in love with a true ice queen, Beverly. With a terminal lung disease, consumption, she runs an intermittent fever and is only comfortable sleeping in a tent on the roof of her father's mansion in the city so she can breathe the icy air twenty-four hours a day.
Midway in the novel, the story jumps forward fifty years and we meet a completely new set of characters plus Peter Lake, who also jumped fifty years forward, but without aging due to a time warp he encountered when he entered the white cloud wall which hung around just off the tip of the city from time to time. Instead of going to Italy of the 1920s as he planned, he ended up in New York City of the 1970s - without his knowing it, his ticket was cashed in for a one-way trip to the future.No way was Helprin going to allow Peter to escape the endless winters in the city. How is Peter going to cope, having skipped fifty years of time without having an recollection of his previous life? Like pouring molasses on a frozen lake, Peter's story unfolds and becomes intertwined with the children of the characters he knew from his previous life. But the same bad guys are still around to bug him, Pearly Soames and the Short Tails. Hundreds of short fat guys in tuxedos with the tails cut off who try to do en masse what they lack in brains to do singly.
If the book has a flaw, it's the constant thievery motif. Peter is a criminal, Pearly is a criminal, most of the people Peter meets are criminals or began as one. When he is deported by the Bay men from the Bayonne marshes to Manhattan Island as a young boy of 12, he meets an organ grinder who teaches him what money is.
"What's money?" asks Peter.
"Money is what you give the monkey or the monkey will pee on you," the organ grinder told him. Suddenly he could no longer live off the Bay's oysters and seafood as he did before, he needed to acquire money or get peed on by the monkey.
The author treats criminality as if it adds light to the city, when in truth it adds only darkness, as does every form of immorality. The polishing of the lights that criminals do is with dirty rags that obscure and obstruct the light; the red flashes they create are from burning down other people's property, and the lightning flashes are flashes from the muzzles of their murder weapons. In 1983 Helprin was creating celebrities out of criminals while it seems that the world today is creating criminals out of celebrities. Neither process brightens the world, but only darkens it with its immorality.
[page 20, italics added] Of course, it's bad to be a criminal. Everyone knows that, and can swear that it's true. Criminals mess up the world. But they are, as well, retainers of fluidity. In fact, one might make the case that New York would not have shone without its legions of contrary devils polishing the lights of goodness with their inexplicable opposition and resistance. It might even be said that criminals are a necessary component of the balanced equation which steadily and beautifully eats up all the time that is throw upon its steely back. They are the sugar and alcohol of a city, a red flash in the mosaic, lightning on a hot night. So was Pearly.
The last sentence in the paragraph after this one describes Pearly as "a bomb-thrower, a lunatic, a master criminal, a devil, the golden dog of the street." The use of the metaphor "golden dog" to describe this abject criminal amounts to a lionizing of his nefarious deeds. Perhaps it's necessary for the purposes of the novel, set as it is, in New York City; perhaps it's necessary for the purposes of the novel, set as it is, in Helprin's psyche. Late in the book he goes so far as to sanctify or deify thieves in this passage:
[page 588] When the dross of time had lifted, the pickpockets, confidence men, and thieves sometimes turned out to be the possessors of the gifted and magical faces that painters of the Renaissance used in portraying saints and angels.
Pearly loved silver and gold because "they shone and were pure." He was afflicted with a strange disease called "color gravity" in which the sun shining off a surface creating a golden light would stop him in his tracks. Which must have looked pretty funny when his hundred Short Tails with him were also frozen in their tracks waiting for Pearly to break out of his catatonic state. Sometimes they were kept busy directing traffic away from old frozen Pearly if he was in the middle of a busy street. To me, the funniest aspect was if a painter was painting a room with a golden paint, Pearly would freeze due to his color gravity syndrome. He might tell the painter, "Put more on — I like to see it when it goes on, when it's wet. There's an instant of glory." Then Pearly would pop outside and fight "as no man could, having drawn from the wells of color."
Helprin writes as if he had drawn from the wells of color and metaphor and inspiration. Here's a typical lyrical passage from the book.
[page 135] Mouquin's moved before Beverly's eyes in a vision suggesting nothing less than a new world, a mute and snowy Russian Easter compressed within the translucent chamber of an alabaster viewing egg, a sort of miniature paradise which, if entered, might be the scene of miracles. She thought, recklessly, that dancing at Mouquin's could drive out the disease, flood it with devastating light, and provide a curtain of time and beauty through which she might pass to another side where there was no such thing as fever, and where those who loved one another lived forever.
After Peter meets Beverly, she tells him cryptically, "I'm just like you — I come from another age. But there are many things that we must take care of now."
[ page 173] If she were correct, it would explain why the world sometimes seemed to be a stage behind which was a strangely benevolent, superior, and indifferent power. The suffering of the innocent would be accounted for, if, in ages to come or ages that had been, the reasons for everything were revealed and balances were evened. It, would explain destiny, and coincidence, and his image of the city as if he had been looking from high above at a living creature with a pelt of dusky light. It would explain the things that called to Beverly from a far distance and a far time. It would suggest that Athansor, who could leap high into the air, was leaping toward something he already knew. It would explain the strong feeling Peter Lake had that every action in the world had eventual consequences and would never be forgotten, as if it were entered in a magnificent ledger of unimaginable complexity. He thought that it explain freedom, memory, transfiguration, and justice - though he did not know how.
The subject that Peter is broaching is that of karma, how one's actions from another age, another lifetime flow as strong feelings into this age, this lifetime; how every action has karmic consequences that must be balanced.
Any review of this book would be incomplete without a brief passage about the large white horse, Athansor, who could not only leap high in the air, but he would fly when called upon. When Hardesty and Virginia were about to die in icy water, the white horse pictured on the book cover saved them.
[page 499 - 500] An enormous white horse had come from nowhere, and pulled the mare forward with him as if she were entrapped in a magnetic field. The sleigh hopped onto the ice before Hardesty even knew what was happening, and then they started a wild race. Running in tandem with the stallion, the mare was able to pull the sleigh like a rocket. The Marrattas bent forward into the cold wind as the two horses, almost an illusion of white and black, attained unnatural speed. The steel runners glowed with heat and watered the track underneath. The horses were going so fast that they seemed close to shattering the sleigh, which vibrated and rattled until Abby was frightened out of her wits.Then, without a signal, they turned left into the mountains, roaring past Fteley's and blowing the doors off their hinges as they went by, traveling up the high road as if they were hurtling down it, leaving great rooster tails and washes of loose snow as they rounded the high desolate corners of the mountain track.
They crested the highest divide, and flew down onto the endless plain of the Coheeries. Virginia was overjoyed to see in the distance a lighted string of tiny pearls - the villages along the lake, their fires and lamps burning in the very early morning just before the sun came up.
Their horses took to the plain and bounded ahead on the straight road. Surely, they thought, the white horse was an illusion of the cold and the swirling stars, because, when he parted from the mare, he banked up and to the left in a blaze of white. Even after he was gone, the mare kept up the race until sunrise, when she gently led the Marrattas across the rolling ocean of snowfields that bordered the lakeshore of the Coheeries.
Beautiful metaphors and similes fill Helprin's writing. Here are a few samples:
[page 174] All these things were shaken about within Peter like pots and pans banging about the side of a peddler's swaybacked horse.
The new year was rolling at them as wide and full as a tide racing up the bay, sweeping over old water in an endless coil of ermine cuff.
[page 177] When Beverly joined Peter Lake, it was as if her presence sent darts into Pearly's flesh, pacifying him with antivenom.
But now they were entombed in a nerve dream. A dentist could have worked his wily and expensive arts on them without eliciting the slightest protest.
[page 205] The shelf was filled with books that were hard to read, that could devastate and remake one's soul, and that, when they were finished, had a kick like a mule.
[page 208] A Dutch village arose along the lake. Iceboats raced from west to east and tacked back again, their voluminous sails like a hundred flowers gliding noiselessly across the ice.
[page 215] Skating at full speed, she turned to stop just before the dock, the silver blades of her skates sending up an abrupt shower of fresh-milled crystals that hung in the air and sparkled.
And this metaphor for New York City as God's crucible, one in which on 9/11 the twin towers were recently ground into rubble and dust for further alchemical metamorphosis.
[page 223 - 224] It did not draw people to it the way it did for nothing. It was God's crucible, and she was on her way into it.
Mark Helprin has, in his own words, "been to another world." Listen to him as he tells you his story. Perhaps you'll find, like a friend of mine who recommended this novel to me, that you won't want to get to the end of it either. Like a good movie, a good wine, or a good life, you want it to keep on keeping on.
---------- Reader's Comment on Winter's Tale: ----------From Sandy Sellers, recommending this Novel to me in an Email on January 24, 2003:
My best favorite reading for pleasure fiction book for this past decade is Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin. Life in a fictional, yet strangely familiar New York. Very reminiscent of Ayn Rand, though I can't articulate exactly why: more than just long...., heroic qualities portrayed...and I never wanted to come to the end of it.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
So raise a glass...cheers
3.) ARJ2: Freud's Couch, Scott's Buttocks, Bronte's Grave by Simon Goldhill
If you're an employee and your boss tells you to "Hit the road!" that is usually not a good thing, but when Simon's boss told him that, he suggested Simon go traveling and write a book about his travels. In fiction, there are two main plots, 1) a hero goes on a journey and 2) a stranger comes to town. Simon calls these cultural myths and lays them out for us:
[page 1] The mysterious traveler who blows into town, the life-changing encounter with a stranger, never forgotten, never recovered, the slow climb that reveals the breathtaking view — we all share these cultural myths, as we trudge to work or sit halfheartedly at the desk.
The difference between tourist and traveler, I've heard, is this: a tourist has a lot of money and little time, a traveler has little money and a lot of time. It's hard to say which category Simon fits into because his expenses were picked up by his boss, but his decision to avoid fast modes of transportation, walking whenever possible, suggests him to be of the traveler mode, almost a pilgrim. I say almost because he didn't travel alone, taking along his copy-editor, attorney wife and a couple of friends which morphs his journeys into a Woody-Allen-type film, but with more grist and less laff. One bit of sage wisdom suggests that a pilgrim focus on the journey more than the destination.
[page 1] The trouble is that any really serious pilgrim travels alone. You are meant to make a journey where the very traveling leads you to explore yourself, your relation to God, or your life or your past. The endpoint is somehow only a small part of the process of inward transformation.
The answer to Simon's dilemma was easy: he likes to spend long hours reading, but doesn't like to eat, drink, sleep, walk, or even be silent for long. He interjects on page 2, "I am not necessarily the person you want to sit next to in the library." His wife was reluctant to join Simon on his travels, "You want me to be the straight man to your pilgrim wit." And added, "I'm not taking time off for that." Simon says to one side, "Lawyers do not think of time like you or I do. There is no place for pleasure, let alone a journey of self-discovery. Time is divided simply into billable and nonbillable hours." (Page 3) But she finally gives in to join him on his journey, and they invite two close friends along to provide more conversation during eating, drinking, and walking, which he expected to spend a lot of time doing. All that decided, Simon could focus on the destinations for his journeys, places that would not leave him "gaping or aping". By aping he meant looking like a Westerner in a sari, "sadly mimicking a longed-for mystique." (Page 3) The reasons for Simon's averseness to gaping is spelled out in this passage:
[page 16] For me, books opened a world of the imagination, a world in the mind: why would you want to shut the door on such a greater landscape to fixate on some merely real place or object?
Simon opted for something which befitted his career as a college professor of Greek literature, so he didn't aim for Agra, India where he would have to stand gaping at the Taj Mahal. It might have been an ineffable experience for him, all fine and good, but how does one turn the ineffable into effable for one's readers? See the problem? So, Simon says, "no gaping or aping", and when a command begins with "Simon says", you know you have to do it.
The something Simon chose was a type of traveling, a phenomenon which first appeared in the nineteenth century, "the tour to visit writers' homes".
[page 7, 8] The birthplace, the grave, the house where the writer lives, or even where the writer was now living — all, for the first time, became sites of pilgrimage. The journey was treated like a visit to a saint's shrine.
On trips, I have at times visited a writer's home: there was the garret in the wall in Prague where Franz Kafka wrote, the small home which Anne Frank hid in and wrote, and Campobello Island off the coast of Maine, where Franklin Delano Roosevelt spent his summers and likely placed his buttocks in the rocker and wrote at the desk in his office, and most recently I walked through the apartment of the famous writer, Frances Parkinson Keyes, which is off the patio of the Hermann-Grima House in New Orleans' French Quarter.
Simon added one further fillip to his travel plans, it would be Victorian-style, the way the staff in Downton Abby might travel on a journey.
[page 14] Like so many characters in Victorian stories, we would consult the train timetable, wear stout shoes, and stay in the local inn.
What is a literary lion and how did that phrase come into being? Simon says we owe its existence to a famous lion in the London Zoo, famous because it attracted thousands of visitors to its cage. When authors became so famous as to attract thousands of readers, they were called literary lions and were said to have been lionized thereby.There is another word usage that came into English from the London Zoo. Our ubiquitous American word on everything from cereal boxes to sodas, JUMBO, came from a name P. T. Barnum coined for the large elephant he donated to the London Zoo. Soon the word jumbo was used for everything of a large size. Once during WWII, my mother wrote to her sister-in-law, Nancy, a war-bride still living in England, giving her a recipe for gumbo. Nancy's mother, reading along with her, commented, "Those poor people, they have to eat elephant!" It may have been a jumbo gumbo; Cajun gumbos usually fill a large pot and feed a large family. All of which brings us to Simon and his first literary lion, Sir Walter Scott.
In the early days of the Internet, many people likely thought, "Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to receive" data over the voluminous World-Wide Web, and that would be a close paraphrase of "what a tangled web we weave when first we practise to deceive" from Scott's Marmion. Then the Google Search Engine came along to untangle the web into useful skeins of information in a few milliseconds. Scott's famous line has remained famous, even though his literary lion status may have paled over the decades. While his Rob Roy, The Bride of Lammermoor, Waverly, and The Heart of Midlothian are mostly forgotten and rarely read outside the academy, Ivanhoe made a big splash at the movies and TV in the 20th Century.
Have you heard the joke where the Puritan preacher wagged his finger at a parishioner in a low cut dress, attempting to shame her by saying, "St. Peter is wagging his finger at you!" Alas he gets the words finger and Peter reversed. Read the next passage, quoted verbatim, and imagine Simon wagging his figure at nonbelievers. This has become part of my collection of "creative typos" — those typos which add some humor to the text in which they appear. Perhaps his copy-editor wife was rushing to get back to her billable attorney hours? Or perhaps she laughed so much, she decided to leave it in.
[page 22] . . . Scott is the earliest of the nineteenth-century authors we will be following, and not just because — I found myself almost wagging my figure (sic) at the non-believers — he is so important in the history of the novel and of writers' celebrity. The house itself justifies the trip.
Scott was such a celebrity in his time that a monument was erected of him at the Waverley Railroad Station named after his novel "Waverley". Simon asks us to imagine the equivalent scene in our time, to imagine, perhaps, how ludicrous it would be to have a "What Man Hath Roth" statue for arriving train passengers in New York City. Please no Complaint from any of you. As the man accused of statutory rape explained to the judge, "Honest, Judge! If I had known she was a statue. . ."
[page 26] So, you get into New York, and arrive not at Grand Central but at Portnoy Station, and walk down Forty-second Street into Times Square to see a huge statue and monument to Philip Roth (designed by Andy Warhol). Dream on.
I have walked the streets of Manhattan and seen Greeley's and Washington Irving's modest statues, modest monuments to writers, and there are probably many more such statues to writers, but none to compare with the one to Walter Scott. Ah, yes, one could call Thomas Jefferson a writer and point to his huge statue carved into Mount Rushmore, but there's certainly no Declaration of Independence Railroad Station nearby, is there?
As for the eponymous Scott's Buttocks, here is the passage where Simon refers to the famous derrière, the trousers which enclosed it, and the chair upon which it sat to write. Yes, they displayed the trousers he wore just before his death next to his chair.
[page 32] While the chair on which the Wizard of the North had sat was treated with awe, the trousers were somehow too close to the body of the man himself. The chair was the receptacle of suitably clothed genius, the trousers housed something more fleshy. The desire to feel the intimate presence of the author was amply fulfilled without such distracting immediacy.
Clearly Abbotsford, the house of Walter Scott, is to Scotland what Graceland, the house of Elvis Presley, is to Memphis, Tennessee: both are houses of real persons which attract many pilgrims. But what about imaginary places such as Hogwarts of Harry Potter, or the real house used to film a fictional story? Yes, there's a reconstruction of Hogwarts in Disneyworld. And believe it or not, the house in Cleveland, Ohio used to film the fictional tale "A Christmas Story" (1981) has become a place of pilgrimage in recent years.
Nothing gets off scot-free from notoriety. But that's Dred Scot, not Walter Scott. No good deed goes unpunished, it seems.
William Wordsworth didn't get a piece of the title, but he got a sizeable piece of the book. Unfortunately I found only one suitable quotation which summarizes the two Wordsworth places of pilgrimage for Simon and his three companions.
[page 57] It's as if Dove Cottage is an element in a picturesque scene: the poor but pretty cottage framed by flowers. But Rydal Mount is a stage set for the poet as the spectator of all he surveys.
A curious note: Wordsworth was a pilgrim to Scott's home and scribbled a note there and signed it. Now Wordsworth's two places of residence are being scribbled upon by modern scribes.
The Brontës' home Haworth is the next place of pilgrimage, and Simon, our author, is distressed by its condition, how much its buildings have been changed in rebuilding, making it look as it did in old pictures, but now a brand new, clean, Disneyesque reproduction, not the original buildings. He bemoans this state of affairs, comparing it to his experience of Jerusalem. I have often wondered how authentic such sites of pilgrimage as the Way of the Cross were, and now Simon says what I have always suspected is true.
[page 68, 69] I have spent a lot of time in Jerusalem at sites of religious pilgrimage that are not only back-constructions but back-constructions of things that never happened and certainly didn't happen there. I still find it weird watching pilgrims intently kissing the ground of the route of the Stations of the Cross, when we know that the ground Jesus walked is many feet below the current level, that most of the stations are based on fabricated medieval stories, and that even if Jesus did go from court to crucifixion at the site memorialized by the Church of the Holy Sepulcher this was not the route. But I have also learned that powerful feelings aren't often swayed by academics yelling about fakes and truth. Deriding relics and other people's sacred rites has been good sport for centuries, but it is far more interesting to think about why we all need our pilgrimages. Haworth isn't quite like the Stations of the Cross, but it is worth asking why it continues to have such a pull on the imagination
His wife, copy-editor, and companion on his journeys for this book, rebuffs him, not with lawyerese talk, but from a purely feminine perspective, with the need for every woman to have, as Virginia Woolf wrote in her famous novel, A Room of One's Own.
[page 69] "Darling!" said my wife, with a certain exasperation, "It's girl stuff." That must be true. Charlotte Brontë is the story of the girl who struggled to find a voice, who epitomizes the difficulties of becoming a writer as a woman, then, of course, but still now. Haworth stands for every woman's home, the repression of the inner self in social propriety — and Charlotte's need to use a man's name to publish at first demonstrates the social constraints against which she fights, just as Jane Eyre is the story of a girl's journey into self-assertion, a pilgrimage in itself. Haworth is the symbol of a woman's struggle for self-expression.
Simon says going to Haworth felt to him like joining a cult, a condition much fostered by Winifred Gérin's biography of the four Brontë children and of Mrs. Gaskell, the first Brontë biographer.
[page 71] The fascination with the Brontës bites deep and leads the biographer to walk in every footstep, to collect every discarded tchotchke as a relic (Anne's teapot is a "silent witness" to her true character! I ask you . . .), and to believe that you can get to their inner world by living where they lived. The only other place you see language like this is with religious pilgrims. At this level, going to Haworth feels like joining a cult.
In one light moment, Simon says that in a time when the outdoor privy (outhouse) was normal, Haworth had a two-seater. My grandmother had a two-seater when I was a pre-teen and the idea of using it for applying makeup or long conversations would have never occurred to any user of the facility, alone or not. But perhaps Victorian Britain had a less acute sense of smell. . . .
[page 75] It opened up visions of Anne and Emily taking their makeup and going out together for a gossip and a pee. Haworth lightened up.
Another light moment comes with the curious contiguity of death and laundry — it seems that the washer women of Haworth used the tall headstones of the nearby graves to hang their laundry upon to dry. This seems imminently practical to me, the stones are constantly wet by the rain, why not by damp clothes hanging to dry? Beats hanging the clothes on a line held up by a clothes pole as we did back in the pioneer days of the 1940s before automatic gas and electric dryers became ubiquitous in every home. But Reverend Nichols, later Charlotte's husband, angrily stopped that practice.
[page 76] There is something touchingly fitting to the painful banality of Victorian working life in the earnest curate's anger at the washerwomen's earthy combination of death and laundry.
On page 81 Simon says after leaving Haworth that the Brontë myth "works best when it takes up residence in the imagination". Imagine that! Why? Because the physical residence has been purified and sanitized to suit a museum curator more than earnest pilgrims hoping to find the place the Brontës created in their imagination.
[page 80] In the parsonage, nothing can be touched — and nothing was particularly touching. It was all too clean. The real behind glass. Without any grit, without the feel of such materiality, the house had lost its soul as a lived-in space.
Simon's next trip was to Stratford-on-Avon to visit Shakespeare's House which remained a pub, a public house until the 1950s when it was restored, looking afterward "so smug and so new. . . It had been 'restored,' a word to strike terror into the heart of an antiquary, not to mention a man of taste," by John Mounteney Jephson (1863), as the note under the photo on page 97 remarks. One can compare it newness to its authentic pub facade in 1850 on the facing page 96. The restoration stripped Shakespeare's office bare except for a desk, but the 1850s office was full of stuff, books, and even busts of Shakespeare himself. One can imagine Will telling someone, "I want a bust of myself to put in my office." But clearly these busts were cast long after Will's death and placed there by someone else.
Simon says, rather asks, about the preservation of historic buildings, "Should an old building be allowed to fall away, naturally, as Ruskin demanded? Should it be rebuilt according to an original plan? Preserved as a ruin? Redesigned according to modern taste?" My home city of New Orleans, founded nearly three hundred years ago, has dealt with preserving its French Quarter quite well, I think. One can enter Jean Lafitte's original Blacksmith shop and enjoy a Sazerac at the bar while a Saints NFL game is on TV. Its outside still leans a bit, but the shop retains its original size, facade, colors and shape and will not be allowed fall down. There is a man who specializes in the original colors used during various periods of construction on the exteriors of buildings and one must consult with him before re-painting the outside of your home. Vieux Carre (Old Square) Commission enforces any architectural modifications. Changing an outdoor lean-to patio cover into an indoor office is possible, but must be approved first by the Commission. We have a friend who managed the feat, and was quite proud of his accomplishment.The French Quarter with its narrow streets supports a vibrant community of residents from artists to ordinary people who wish to live in an extraordinary place where every day there's a party or parade going on only a few steps away. And no one needs a car to get around. The Pontabla Apartments are almost nearly 300 years old and still provide a prime place to live and work above the ground-level shops. On foot one can visit homes of Tennessee Williams, Frances Parkinson Keyes, Edgar Degas, and many other authors and artists who called the French Quarter home. Only a few blocks away are located the home of our beloved cornet player and singer Louis Armstrong and the tomb of Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau. The preservation societies begun in Victorian times will find a kindred spirit in the Vieux Carre Commission which ensures that there will always be an authentic French Quarter for people of all kinds to visit and enjoy.
Freud's house on Maresfield Gardens was a familiar spot to Simon Goldhill when he was growing up.
[page 107] When I grew up around Maresfield Gardens, there were plenty of elderly German-speaking men and women around, part of the soundscape of the city. The was a famous café on the corner of the main road where you could get coffee and strudel, and, if you were old and German, sit all day and talk about die Heimat, the home country.
Freud's office, when he moved from Berlin to London, was reconstructed exactly as it was, full of antiquities, mostly small items which might catch the eye of a patient coming into the office or reclining on the couch, which Freud would notice and include in his observation and shaping of the analytical session with the patient. Walter Scott's slogan, an anagram of his name: "Safe behind walls", is emblazoned on a sign at his baronial estate. At Freud's Maresfield Gardens home, where his desk resides in a room full of the artifacts of a "middle child, pushy Jew, overintellectual, North Londoner" as Simon's lawyer wife began her description of Freud, one might slip in a few extra words for Freud's sign, "Safe behind walls in one's orifice."
As the last chapter of this book, it includes a wonderful summary of Simon's peripatetic journey with his wife and friends through the homes and estates of literary lions.
[page 105, 106] Yet Freud's house fulfills the trajectory of this book perfectly, the icon at the end of a thematic journey. Shakespeare's birthplace was invented to give voice to a national identity, a truly English selfhood. The parsonage at Haworth in its moorland setting became a physical expression of the interiority of the self — a new sense of the passions and sensitivities swelling inside a woman in a restrictive and restricted social world. Wordsworth's cottages in the lakeside landscape are treated as a route to rediscover his journey into the self through memory, self-exploration, and friendship — the Romantic psyche. Scott's house was built as an embodiment of his baronial self-projection — as his novels and poems created a fictional world through which readers found themselves through the work of the imagination. All of our writers so far have been important for the Victorian reader precisely because they offered new articulations of the self, new journeys of self-discovery, new ways of finding oneself through words and the imagination. . . . Freud, too, opened pathways into the life of the mind, through which the reader's self-awareness was fundamentally altered.
In Vienna, Austria one can view a stone cenotaph to Sigmund Freud which reads, "Die Stimme des Intellekts ist leise" which I translate as "The voice of the intellect is stilled". But as we can attest, dear Readers, the voice of a writer is never stilled.
4.) ARJ2: The Humbling — A Novel by Philip Roth
If, like me, you only know Roth by his reputation for Portnoy's Complaint and you admired Ali MacGraw's lithe body in the swimming pool during the movie Goodbye, Columbus, based on a Roth novella, you might wish to try his latest and last novel, The Humbling. Based on this admittedly scant knowledge of Roth, I expected this novel to contain some steamy scenes, which it does. Plus, it's short and a quick read.
Here's the introduction to the hero (Plot is hero goes on a journey) in which we discover Axler's Complaint, Simon can no longer act. Surely a frightening thing for a stage actor of long-standing.
[page 1] He'd lost his magic. The impulse was spent. He'd never failed in the theater, everything he had done had been strong and successful, and then the terrible thing happened: he couldn't act. Going onstage became agony. Instead of the certainty that he was going to be wonderful, he knew he was going to fail. It happened three times in a row, and by the last time nobody was interested, nobody came. He couldn't get over to the audience. His talent was dead.
"He was a sane man playing an insane man", Simon thought, and his wife Victoria left after his collapse to be with her son in California. Simon was alone and suicidal. But if suicide was an act, and Simon could no longer act, even in his own life, his own stage play where he was the producer, the director, the playwright, the sole actor, and the audience, all rolled into one. His stage was upstairs and his shotgun his only prop. His long arms could easily reach the trigger with the barrel in his mouth, but like playing Prospero and Macbeth on stage in front of a live audience, he was unable to pull the trigger on the stage of life. He got exercise, treading up and down the stairs to begin the last act of his life, but always came back down unsatisfied, alive and incomplete.
He saw a psychiatrist, a Dr. Farr, but he was far from being helpful. Oh, he came up with a name for Axler's complaint, "a universal nightmare", but it was a nightmare which beset non-actors when they imagined being due to go on stage for a role and found themselves unable to act. To protect himself from suicide, Simon asked to be admitted to a hospital. The staff tried to keep him busy to keep him from suicidal thoughts, but when he found time he was talking to other patients, who turned out to be suicidal themselves, each of which had failed in their attempts. They talked about those who succeeded like a normal person might talk about a sports hero. Axler rarely talked.
[page 15] One evening Axler spoke up — to perform, he realized, before the largest audience since he'd given up acting. "Suicide is the role you write for yourself," he told them. "You inhabit it and you enact it. All carefully staged — where they will find you and how they will find you." Then he added, "But one performance only."
Luckily Axler didn't like one-night stands. He met a gal named Sybil in a therapy group who would eat dinner with him and revealed the sad story of her new husband having sex with her little girl and how she wanted to hire someone to kill him and asked Axler if he would. Axler said he do it for free if he were a killer. Soon Axler was back home and his agent Jerry comes by with an acting offer. Axler turns it down, but has a long conversation with Jerry.
[page 31] "What do you do with the days?" Jerry asked.
"Walk. Sleep. Stare into space. Try to read. Try to forget myself for at least one minute of each hour. I watch the news. I'm up to date on the news."
Later he got a long letter from Sybil, who thanked him for listening to her without treating her as being crazy. Axler realized that listening to Sybil had helped him regain a tad of his own sanity. Then Pegeen showed up in his life, the daughter of a couple he had been friends with when Pegeen was a small girl. Now she was a full-blown woman in her forties with a lesbian past, now behind her she said. Axler liked buying clothes and nice things for her and soon they were having breakfast together the morning after.
[Page 61, 62] Nonetheless, one morning at breakfast, as much to his own surprise as hers, Axler said, "Is this something you really want, Pegeen? Though we've enjoyed each other so far, and the novelty has been strong, and the feeling has been strong, and the pleasure has been strong, I wonder if you know what you're doing."
"Yes, I do. I love this," she said, "and I don't want it to stop."
"But do you understand what I'm referring to?"
"Yes. Matters of age. Matters of sexual history. Your old connection to my parents. Probably twenty other things besides. And none of them bother me. Do any of them bother you?"
Axler tried to break it off before one or both of them got hurt, but Pegeen pointed out that they had both been hurt, him by his wife's leaving, and Pegeen by her previous partner Priscilla's betrayal. Then Pegeen's parents find out and her dad keeps calling and putting pressure on her to leave Axler.
One night Axler and Pegeen pick up Tracy, a gal who was drunk at a bar and take her home with them for a threesome. Suddenly things get very dicey: will Pegeen stay with him or go off with Tracy, a salesgirl at a rural antique shop? If so, how can Axler the actor bear such a humbling, such a humiliation? Will he take his gun back upstairs for another shot at instant immortality? How will he ever manage to pull the trigger? If it were a play he were acting in, he could do it, he thinks. What if the attic were a theater? If he's successful, he will go out with a bang!
5.) ARJ2: Ocular Accommodation Strain by Kaisu Viikari, MD, PhD
If someone has just told you
that so-and-so is saying something bad about you,
do not try to justify yourself in the least
regard to what has been reported to you;
only answer:"He must not be fully informed
about all the other things that
could be said about me; otherwise
he would not have limited himself to that."
From "Virtue and Happiness" — The Manual of Epictetus
Dr. Kaisu Viikari, M.D., Ph. D. in Ophthalmology has been called a "hausfrau" (housewife) or "society lady with a hobby" in various screeds of her critics(1) over the past four decades, but she was more than what her detractors said about her. She was and remains a vibrant force for healing the evils of latent hyperopia and acquired myopia(2) in our time. Her book still sells to people all over the world who are interested is saving the eyesight of themselves, their family, and friends. The eye professionals can remain clueless as to the value of her work, but only to the detriment of the eyes and overall health of their patients.
Even at the age of 92 and in frail health, she has mastered emailing and English in addition to her native Finnish and early exposure to German. In a December 9, 2012 email to me and edited by me for clarity, she wrote:
Here's why I sent you the journal page: they were speaking about the thickening of the lens in the cases of strong myopias without any understanding of why the intra-ocular pressure nowadays is so increased!
Apparently these so-called professionals are unaware of what I have emphasized in my writings, explaining in detail how in cases of strong myopia the anterior chamber angle becomes shallower and makes the filtration of the intra-ocular fluids more difficult.
Even more important is the case in angle closure glaucoma, in hyperopes. These same professionals know about, but do not understand that even stronger plus (+ Diopter) lenses should be prescribed for such patients. This is such a simple solution which only requires that patients wear them. The alternative is glaucoma, which is dangerous to eye health, expensive to treat, but, to the doctor's advantage, keeps patients coming back for treatment.
What's wrong with glaucoma drops to reduce the pressure? She wrote later on December 10, 2012:
There are, in several places in Ocular Accommodation Strain that I mentioned this connection between hyperopia and the intra-ocular pressure. Already on pages 362, 363, again and again and on p.369 it is, underlined, said that it is a real professional bungling not to understand this basic etiology! The worst thing is the eye-doctors who immediately prescribe eye-drops for glaucoma, disdaining the simple correction of plus diopter lenses!
Here is Case History No. 1536 as an example of how Dr. Kaisu has treated patients who came to her after so-called successful operations, but without appropriate adjustment to their lenses.
[page 362] The poor final result of many operations that have otherwise gone well must undoubtedly be attributed, at least in part, to lack of glasses. Case history No. 1536, a married lady, born in 1906 is an example ; During the course of a single day the vision in her left eye became blurred, accompanied by severe pain. This seems to have been an acute glaucoma attack. The following day the patient was admitted to an eye clinic on the instructions of her local doctor and at that time her intraocular pressure was 50. She was treated with pilocarpine, the pressure fell to 20 mmHg and ten days later she was operated on (post-iridectomy conditions in the eye). After the operation, drops were administered for three weeks, but gradually the eye became blind. One year before the operation an optician had prescribed reading glasses +3.5 and +3.75. No change was made in the glasses after the operation. Three years after the operation the patient came to see me because her optician had refused to order her new spectacles. She still had no distant glasses. Examination showed that the refraction in the eye that had not been operated on was at least +4.(5) and that visus, fundus, pressure and visual fields were normal.
There are many more examples from Dr. Viikari's case work in this book. It is literally a treasure trove of information about treating eye patients. Especially important is the cases involving migraine headaches which she was able to relieve by adjusting the patients's eyeglass prescriptions. People came to her from all over Europe for relief from persistent and often un-treatable cases of migraines, and she says that she treated over 2,000 such cases in her surgery (doctor's office) in Turku, Finland.
In a July 22, 2011 email Dr. Viikari wrote me, "Contact lenses are the death of all relaxation of the ciliary cramp. They are a straitjacket!" Do you remember wearing eyeglasses and taking them off for a few minutes to "rest your eyes"? Can't do that with contact lenses, can you? I recall my own reactions to wearing contact lenses prompted me to discard them quickly. When Lasik surgery came around, I was skeptical as to its efficacy, and Dr. Viikari's advice was to avoid it. From reports of several of our children who have had the expensive Lasik surgery and are now unable to see clearly without glasses, I am glad I skipped that surgery. Instead, based on Dr. Viikari's recommendations, I began wearing +D lenses (aka reading glasses) and discarded my -2D lenses. Within 3 months, I could drive and read street signs during daylight hours without any corrective lenses. I use +.5 D lenses while working on my computer screens, +2D for reading, and for night driving, I use -1D lenses.
Albert Einstein once said, "Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth." He was not derogating authority per se, only a respect which disengages one's own thinking ability, a respect which is followed blindly in pursuit of monetary goals, instead of a pursuit of truth in general and the pursuit of patients' well-being in particular, as Dr. Viikari did during her lifetime work in research and patient treatment. Unfortunately, those journal authorities who denied her work's publication(3) have done a great disservice to the thousands upon thousands of patients in the world who are unknowingly mistreated with eye operations, drugs, lasers, contact lenses, etc.
Many people must wonder how the solution to the problem of ocular accommodation, such a complicated problem, could have ever been revealed to an eye practitioner seeing patients in a small surgery in Turku, Finland. To grasp how this is possible, one must study the woman herself, Kaisu Viikari.
To study and understand the dynamic problems of accommodation required a researcher with a Medical Degree in Ophthalmology, a Ph. D. in Ophthalmology, plus these prerequisites:
- an open mind
- a totally focused person, one devoted to this one task
- someone free from providing income for her family
- someone who had mastered the basic knowledge contained in the existing elementary textbooks about accommodation, e.g.. those of Kaisu's father's time [Axenfeld(4), Walsh(5)], the good times of natural eye care, the times before mankind entered the modern age, when children as early as 3, 4, 5 years old are reading small text on the screens of their Smartphones and Pads up close and without plus correction!
People have already for decades since Kaisu's original work been occupied with their own scientific interests, e.g., medicine, astronomy, archaeology, space, air, water, ecology, etc., and experiencing a demand to produce something. This demand can prevent a decades-long dedication to a scientific and medical problem, a dedication which is required for solving the mystery of ocular accommodation. Kaisu Viikari has given this dedication and solved this problem, and yet scientists still claim there is no solution. They continue to look in the dark of their academies, all the while, out in the open, in the light of her books, there is the solution, waiting for the academics to absorb and learn from them, and especially for eye doctors to begin "doing no harm to their patients" as their Hippocratic Oath requires.
In addition Kaisu has been in a favorable position to study the autonomic nervous system during her dissertation work, and appreciated the limitless importance of the autonomic nervous system for the organism and it became clear how important it was to solving the problem of ocular accommodation. For example, understanding how positive accommodation affects the parasympathetic nervous system and de-accommodation (i.e., relaxation of the accommodating muscle m. ciliaris, which can also be voluntary) affects the sympathetic nervous system.
Dr. Kaisu Viikari could have had no idea how much the research she documented in her dissertation and early books (such as this one) would "rock the boat" of academics in her field of ophthalmology in future decades! Only now, retired from her daily work of seeing patients in her small office, can she devote time to correcting the numerous injustices done to her work by academics who rail against her work in the absence of any signs of their having studied, much less having understood, her work. [See her book, The Struggle for details of these injustices.)
At the age of 92, she has mastered the Internet and emails enough to help set the record straight about the ease and simplicity of the corrections needed to save the eyes of people, especially children, from the ravages the technology in the 21st Century can create upon their eyes and overall health.
This is a working review of the large tome whose full name was originally Panacea: The Clinical Significance of Ocular Accommodation. I plan to add to this review as time goes on. To keep up-to-date with any changes, subscribe to my monthly Issues of DIGESTWORLDtm(6).
---------------------------- Footnotes -----------------------------------------Return to text directly before Footnote 1.
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Example of a textbook of ophthalmology from the good times: Lehrbuch der Augenheilkunde von TH Axenfeld (1912)Return to text directly before Footnote 4.
A super book, which also handles clinical accommodation: Clinical Neuro-Ophthalmology, Frank B. Walsh. M.D., F. R. C.S. (Ed.) D.Sc. (W.A.-Hon.), Second Edition 1957, 1294 ppReturn to text directly before Footnote 5.
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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 coverse 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 Walks through the New Orleans French Quarter 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 reads a Women's Shop Sign:
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 Erin Gentry featuring LSU's Tiger Stadium:
I wanted to reach out to you with a suggestion for content on your site:
I am promoting this infographic detailing the ten best college football stadiums in the US and, since Tiger Stadium is number 1 and I saw you had linked to LSUSports.net, I thought your readers might enjoy this post.
If you decide to share, all I ask is that you credit the source.
- EMAIL from Gary Lipham:
Greetings, Just a note to let our friends and associates know we recently partnered with a distributor to market fine Louisiana Opal Gemstones and Jewelry. Attached are a few photos of the fine examples available for purchase. Please feel free to forward this message to any of your friends and relatives as applicable.
Gary and Jennifer Lipham Owners of Gems and Jewels.
(225) 261-0271 B (225) 571-2835 C
EMAIL from Vesa Loikas in Turku, Finland:
Greetings from Helsinki, I am photographing dancers from Finnish National Ballet on the streets tomorrow. -vesa
3. Poem from Freedom on the Half Shell:"In Memoriam"
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:
4. Easy Removal of Phantom Leg Pain
In a dream I visited
the Washington, De-Commissioned Museum.
The museum contained the dinosauric remains
of our pre-government days:
1200 page budget bills,
Encyclopedic income tax codes,
Non-profit incorporation papers,
The legislative halls of the Supreme Court,
The executive halls of the Congress,
The White House, home of
constitutional law interpretation
and extemporaneous modification,
And, in the front of the statue of Neil Armstrong setting foot on the moon,
Was a square foot of ground dedicated to the memory
of public property,
in the days
began.One of the common problems suffered by amputees is phantom leg pain. As Principal Researcher in the science of doyletics, I have had long conversations with Doyle Henderson on this subject and we have hypothesized that phantom leg pain must have a similar etiology to other doylicly-based pains and discomforts. One problem was how to explain amputations which occurred after the age of five, as doyletics theory formerly postulated five as the Memory Transition Age and stated that post-MTA all events are stored as cognitive memory (plain memory) and not as doylic memory (bodily memory). With the recent revelation that, under intense pain, the hippocampus is flooded with glutocorticoids which effectively stop memory storage, our modified hypothesis is that under those conditions, the amgydaline limbic structures open up temporarily to their pre-MTA state and are able to store doylic or bodily memories. Plainly put: when our brain is unable to store a cognitive memory, it stores a doylic memory!
Previous I wrote about this in reference to PTSD or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders in general. Certainly an amputation, whether under battlefield conditions or in a city hospital, can be considered a traumatic stress situation, and a temporary condition arises in the limbic system where bodily states are stored permanently as a doylic memory. When that happens during an amputation, one would expect that any pain felt in the leg before amputation would arise as real felt pain after the amputation. or until removed by later being converted into a plain memory by a Speed Trace. One should note the theory of doyletics predicts that a person would experience that the leg was still there after an amputation due to the stored doylic memory of the leg pre-MTA, pre-five years old.
In this 1974 book, Disorders of the Autonomic Nervous System, the authors R. J. Johnson and J. M. K. Spalding write on Phantom Leg Pain. They begin by saying that amputation "is not a satisfactory means of relieving pain (in a limb) because the pre-amputation pain persists in the phantom limb and it may then be more difficult to treat than before the amputation." (Page 282)[page 282] It is often implied that a phantom limb is necessarily painful. After an amputation it is normal for the patient to feel that the amputated part is still there but only a few complain of pain. In amputees who were previously healthy, such as wounded soldiers, the feeling is not uncomfortable and disappears gradually, the phantom shortening as it becomes less distinct. (Henderson & Smyth 1948; Sunderland 1968). In some patients, however, and in particular those whose limb was painful before amputation, pain may be felt in the phantom or in the stump. The pain is difficult to treat, and the many treatments which have been tried include chemical and surgical sympathetic disruption. In a few cases the response is dramatic (Livingston 1944), but in most it is disappointing (Kallio 1950; Noordenbos 1959; Bonica 1968).With the advent of the science of doyletics in the 21st Century, there is a new treatment available, a memory technique that converts a doylic memory into a cognitive memory, a bodily state into a memory, the Speed Trace. Within minutes it can be used by a sufferer to eliminate phantom leg pain. No chemicals, no surgery, no electrical stimulation, no disappointments, no doctors, no surgeons, just a simple memory trace which is available on the doyletics website without charge. Here's the link: http://www.doyletics.com/introduc.htm. Remember: When in Doubt, Trace it Out!While listening to a Teaching Co. lecture by Professor Gregory S. Aldrete on the History of the Ancient World, I heard him mention that the Sumerians used a number system with a base of 6, which was used by them to keep time. This has come down to us in our time-keeping system, where our seconds, minutes, hours are all multiples of 6: 60 seconds/minute, 60 minutes/hour, and 24 hours/day. If we actually used a base 6 number system for time there would be 406 hours per day, but we currently use a base 10 number system so we call it 24 hours per day.
This curious discrepancy in the number systems of Sumerian Time (base 6) and American Temperature (base 10) shows up on our ceiling at night in the display shown at left. (Note: USA uses Farenheit or degF.) I began to notice how there were some temperatures that could equal times (if one ignores the decimal points and colons), but there were some temperatures that could never equal a time. If we awoke and the temperature were 65.9 F and the time were 6:59 am, there would be a match. But as soon as the temperature went up a tenth of a degree to 66.0, there was no time that corresponded to 6:60 AM! The whole number range from 66.0 to 69.9 F had no equivalent time possible! Thanks to the Sumerians and their base 6 number system which has found its way into our time-keeping measures, thousands of years later!6. Dixie Swim Club — Sure to be a
The reason I took a photo of the ceiling is this: when the two numbers, time and temp, match while we are awake, it is rare. When the two numbers get close, we may wake the other up to join in the wait for the match. Sometimes the time clicks to the next minute and would equal the temp, but the temperature has gone up or down. If the temperature goes up from 65.9 to 66.0 any chance for a match is gone for that morning and that will elicit a collective Aww! Thanks Sumerians for making waking up a bit more fun with your base 6 number system!
SELLOUT!Five women who won a championship while on a high school swim team meet every August on the Outer Banks of North Carolina for some bitch and beach time. There are laughs and fun for all, especially the audience. If you don't walk out feeling like you're leaving behind some new friends, check your pulse.
There's still time for locals in New Orleans area to reserve a table for yourself and friends. We sat with friends from Westwego, Lloyd and Marion, Pete and Maxine, and Millie, and we had a blast even before the food and show began.
The food is excellent, service is great, and lots of parking. So bring a big appetite and be ready for an amazing evening of real entertainment by the Sandy Roads krewe of madcap gals.
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9. CLOSING NOTES:
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Thanks to all of you Good Readers for providing the chemistry which has made this site a glowing endeavor. — Especially those of you who have graciously allowed us to reprint your emails and show photos of you and by you on this website — you're looking good!
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You can read a description of how to do a Speed Trace:
Learn to Do a Speed Trace Here
Or Watch Bobby extemporaneously explain How to Do a Speed Trace on Video:
To make a connection to the Doyletics website from your own website, here's what to do. You may wish to use the first set of code below to link to the site which includes a graphic photo, or to use the second set of code for a text-only link. Immediately below is how the graphic link will look on your website. Just place this .html in an appropriate place on your website.
<CENTER> < with graphics link >
<A HREF="http://www.doyletics.com/index.htm">Learn to Do a Speed Trace Here<BR>
<IMG SRC="http://www.doyletics.com/doylepb.gif" width="309" height="102" border="2" TITLE="Learn to Remove Doyles all those Unwanted Physical Body states of fear, depression, migraine, etc." ALIGN=middle><A/></CENTER>
<CENTER> < text only link >
<A HREF="http://www.doyletics.com/introduc.htm">Learn to Do the Speed Trace at doyletics.com <A/>
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