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~~~~~~~~ In Memoriam: Dorothy Duet Duhe (1943 - 2016) ~~~~
~~~~~~~~ Bobby's Friend of Sixty Years ~~~~~
WELCOME TO DIGESTWORLD DOUBLE-ISSUE#163 February-March, 2016== == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == ==
Quote for the Blustery Month of March:
Many people will walk in and out of your life,
But only true friends will leave footprints in your heart.
— Eleanor Roosevelt, American First Lady
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DIGESTWORLDArchived DIGESTWORLD Issues
GOOD MOUNTAIN PRESS Presents DOUBLE-ISSUE#163 for February-March, 2016
Table of Contents
1. March's Violet-n-Joey Cartoon
2. Honored Readers for March
3. On a Personal Note
Rainbows & Shadows Poems
4. Cajun Story
5. Recipe or Household Hint for February-March, 2016 from Bobby Jeaux: Secure Attachment of Lanyard to Carabiner
6. A Found Poem from Rudolf Steiner's The Riddles of Philosophy: "Nature!"
7. Reviews and Articles featured for March:
8. Commentary on the World
- ARJ2: Gratitude by Oliver Sacks
- ARJ2: Billy Cannon by A Long, Long Run by Charles N. deGravelles
- ARJ2: The Rover, A Novel by Joseph Conrad
- ARJ2: The Mind's Eye by Oliver Sacks
- ARJ2: From Elephants to Einstein by Rudolf Steiner
1. Padre Filius Cartoon
2. Comments from Readers
3. Freedom on the Half Shell Poem
4. Mick Foilan Boy
5. Paul MacFarland, Cruise Director Extraordinaire
6. 6. LASH LARUE, CAJUN COWBOY
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. March Violet-n-Joey CARTOON:
== == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == ==This month Violet and Joey learn about Good Stuff.
For newcomers to DIGESTWORLD, we have created a webpage of all the Violet-n-Joey cartoons!
"Good Stuff" at http://www.doyletics.com/images/021616vj.jpg
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2. HONORED READERS FOR March:
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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 March, 2016:
Jessica Rareshide in New Orleans
Jeanne Lex in Massachusetts
Congratulations, Jessica and Jeanne!
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3. ON A PERSONAL NOTE:
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Out Our Way:
A QUIET NEW YEAR'S EVE AND A PACKING NEW YEAR'S DAY
For New Year's Eve, we went to Ruth and Ted's early party and brought the great cornbread that Del makes from Papa Frank's mix. Actually we only brought half of it because we usually have it on New Year's Day, but we're flying down to Rio the next day, so no chance for leftovers. The cornbread was a big hit and it quickly disappeared as Ruth and Ted's guests enjoyed it. We met a lovely gal, a 311 Help Line operator for the city. Her name is Lisbet and she's originally from Cuba. With her native land opening up to the USA again, she's planning a trip there, and we hope to be able to accompany her. When I was in college, one of my dreams was to fly down to Cuba for a romantic weekend, but before I graduated, Castro had taken over and Cuba was off-limits. Now commercial traffic with the country has resumed, but normal relations with the USA will remained strained until the huge displacement of private property has been restored to its original owners or some compensation made.My main interest is seeing the 1950s model automobiles which remain on the streets because of the poverty of the communistic way of life under a dictator had made new cars out of financial reach for Cubans.
Del and I spent all New Year's day packing, but took time to boil cabbage and cook blackeye peas and rice for our traditional New Orleans meal. With a month long Crystal Cruise, actually two cruise segments back-to-back, we had four formal nights, which meant bringing my black-tie tuxedo and Del bringing several long dresses. As a result, Del packed two large bags to check, but I stayed with one, and, when I ran over the 45 lb limit, she had some space left for me to share.
FLYING DOWN TO RIO DE JANEIRO
We flew Delta, and the flight from Atlanta to Rio was 9:05 minutes. Supper was great, as airline meals go: a 3-cheese tortellini, etal. I slept for an hour or so, then Del had a bit of cabin fever, so I helped her get settled down. We then switched on the Delta entertainment with a small screen in front of each of us. She concentrated on a meditation tape and I focused on the blind pianist George Shearing, his life and works. I played the piano along with him on Del's legs till she found it too distracting, and I did it on my own legs. Turns out he composed "Lullaby of Birdland" in about ten minutes right after the idea came into his head. George Shearing said his father carried coal to people's homes, making him a Coal Porter.
At 19 George played in a group of fifteen blind guys and as the curtain began to rise, one guy said, 'I lost my eye!' The audience saw 15 blind guys crawling on the floor searching for a glass eye. Once they found it, the musician put it back in his eye socket and they began playing their theme song, "I'll See You in My Dreams". Later I listened to Shearing doing improvisations with Mel Torme, two incredible musicians and composers vamping, and their efforts were beautiful and incredible. Flying down to Rio with Shearing and Torme, what could be better?
Later into the night Del and I watched two movies "The Intern" and "Black Mass" with DeNiro and Depp. Sometime during those movies, we flew over the Equator, but in contrast to the kinds of ceremony passengers on ship take part in, passengers on airlines simply slip past the Equator with no folderol.
A SORRY DAY IN RIO
We got into Rio airport about 9 am and made it through customs easily. Del's smaller checked bag was hard to find because it had been wrapped in plastic by baggage handlers after its front zipper had come loose. Took me some time to strip the bottom of the plastic so I could roll it. We found the Crystal reps right away, but had to wait for another flight to arrive and join us. Then we boarded a bus and drove 20 minutes through the slums of Rio. Along the way I noticed a bum sleeping on the ground in front of a garage door and the sign over his head said, "Governo do Rio de Janeiro." We finally stopped next to a jaded old hotel, the Rio Othon Palace, on the Copacabana Beach. It looked okay till you walked into it. Restrooms, e.g., I've seen better in dives on Bourbon Street. Service terrible: no one there spoke English, so far as I could tell. How do you say rest room in Portuguese? I walked across the busy five-laned street to walk on the beach and took a couple of photos. Nothing much impressive about the beach other than the height of the waves which seemed to keep most people away from the water.The view of Sugarloaf had its lower half blocked by a hill. Never saw the Girl from Ipanema or anyone resembling her. Well, one gal who was short and tan and young and lovely. Ipanema Beach was a bus ride to the south, and we chose to avoid that excursion. Cloudy and blustery does not a good day at the beach make, northern or southern hemisphere.
One Crystal gal told us to go to Floor 1, one flight up, and we waited forever for an elevator. Then a Crystal guy from the bus came by and told us Floor 3. So when the elevator arrived we went to floor 3. Food area for a breakfast, but no one could tell us if this was the right place for us to be. They spoke little English and clearly didn't expect us. We waited for a Crystal somebody to show up, but none did. So we took the elevator down to Floor 1, the right place and were greeted by the sorriest food line I ever saw. I tried to take a small cheese square and it was stuck to the heating tray it was on. When I bit into it I discovered it had a thin slice of ham in it. Threw it away and ate a dry, tasteless foccacio bread thingie.
There was coffee, but I passed on it. We finally found a staircase which was just past the elevator where we stood in line twice for about ten minutes each time. Floor 1 was a quick walk up the stairs, no waiting, but we could have waited forever to be told that. My exploring saved us a ten minute wait for the elevator when we left. Then we waited outside for the transfer bus to arrive. Then we waited for the bus to back up, parallel park. Do you know how long it takes to parallel park a huge tour bus? I do. They had to get a taxi to move away so the bus could park, and guy only backed the taxi ten feet. Then we waited to board the bus. Then we waited for it to leave.
Finally we drove past the beach and were told that 2 million people flooded the beach for New Year's Eve. Glad we missed it. Imagine how much waiting that involved! On a Crystal Cruise ship the waiting would have been fun, no so at this hotel.
Old joke from the early days of small computers. Gal marries a computer salesman, goes on honeymoon, after a week, her mother calls and asks her how the sex was. She told her mom, "It's like this, every night he sits on the bed and tells me how good it's going to be."
In the bus we drove through the slums again while the guide, like the computer salesman, told us how good it was going to be for the Summer Olympics, but from what I heard from other sources, it seem likely that Brazil would lose the Olympics to Canada (who came in second) because Rio is very unlikely to meet the required completions in time. The deadline was only a couple of weeks, and visibly we could see months and months of construction work just to complete the docking area. Rio reminded me of Tijuana, Mexico with its hills filled with hovels stacked one upon another. One hill looked like it had a crew cut with all the TV antennae rising from it. A 20-story skyscraper was rectangular except for a cross-shaped hole in the top-10 floors.
Then we drove for 20 minutes through more slums. The bus stopped at a few areas for the guide to describe. One was a big soccer stadium, which after we passed it I was able to see that the field was covered with tents for some kind of Christmas markets, perhaps. Then we waited to get off the bus.Then we walked across rubble and uneven concrete (which must be completed before the Olympics) and after a half mile of walking, we got to Crystal check-in spot where we got our photos taken, all disheveled after 12 hours or so of flying, could barely get my hair combed. Then we walked across more rubble to get to the ship. One more wait: for our stateroom to be ready. (On the trip, I discovered why they are called staterooms. The first rooms aboard ships were usually only a dozen or so and were given names of the various states. The question "Which stateroom are you in?" might be answered by "Kentucky".
Once we got on the Crystal Symphony the waiting became much easier for us. We went first to the Bistro and I had my first custard tart since Tortola January, 2015 in the Virgin Isles on the Crystal Serenity. Noticed they make them higher than the Serenity ones, with a crust extending above the custard. We got refreshed as the rest of the passengers were checking in and we were beginning to relax.At the appointed time, we went to our stateroom and we unpacked, showered, dressed in fresh clothes, and went to Dining Room for the 6 PM seating. I wore my blue sports coat and my Rosetta Stone tie. We met Rich and Nancy, Ginger Judge and a couple of stragglers sans spouses at our table. For dinner I had shrimp cocktail, soup, filet of sole, and for dessert, the Cherry Garcia ice cream. Later I discovered that all the unique Ben & Jerry's flavors were available at the Ice Cream Bar on Deck 11.
We left about 7:30 for the Rio Carnival Show to see some local dancers do their thing in the Galaxy Lounge. We had decided not to leave the ship the next day, opting not to see more slums during a bus trip up to see the Christ Statue in the fog, but we did want to get a flavor of Rio's Carnival. Cruise Director Paul MacFarland welcomed us newcomers to the show in the large plush Galaxy Lounge. He told us how disappointed he was when he went to the Canary Islands and didn't find any canaries there, and added, "When I went to the Virgin Islands, I didn't see any canaries there either." I got the message, and noted that when we went to the EcoCenter in Uruguay and we didn't hear any echoes there, either.
When the Rio show started, boy, did we get an earful! Then an eyeful! The first group banged on various drums for an hour, singing constantly in Portugese; an intense tempo without a second's pause. We got a short reprieve when a colorful dancer came out. A gal in a brightly-colored, neon-lit dress, which spread out to an 8-foot circle, was led onto the stage, dancing and swirling around. Then the intense rhythm began again, and a scantily-clad brigade of nearly naked Brazilian gals with their butts covered by nothing but, Gee! a skinny string. They gave us their samba school best, providing extended views of their front and rear-ends. Another hour of non-stop up-tempo frantic dancing proceeded, with the gals enticing some six or seven guys up onto the stage to shake their naked butts at them. The stage was so full at one point that surely some erotic close encounters took place, signaled by the flushed looks on the guys' faces when they returned to their seats. When the show was over, I was wondered how people could watch this kind of performance for three straight days as the Rio Carnival Samba Clubs paraded through three block-long stadiums lining both sides of the route.We wondered, but not enough to ever want to return to Brazil. Del went to our Stateroom after the show to get some sleep. I stayed for the 10 PM show, watching the Chorus Line dance numbers and before heading for my first flat-on-the-bed sleep in two days.
CAPTAIN'S TABLE IN RIO HARBOR
This was a better day. We went up to Lido Café for breakfast and met Michel, Allan, and Tirso, three waiters we knew from earlier cruises. I had my usual English Muffin, orange marmalade and butter. On days we do excursion I order myself an omelette but we were staying on the ship before it cruised out of Rio harbor on this day. I ordered a latte later from a table in the Bistro and it came in a wide, flat china cup, not the tall, skinny china mugs of the Serenity that I like. After talking to Herbert the Hotel Director and finding out that this was the standard cup of the Symphony, I switched to the plastic go-cups from then on. The wide china cups simply do not hold in the heat like the tall skinny ones. I assume the same is true for the custard tarts in the opposite direction: shorter latte cups but taller custard tarts. Whenever I go on a trip, the first day or two, I mostly notice the kinks in the system, by that I mean the things that I don't like. Then things smooth over nicely.
I went up to the top deck to take photos of Sugarloaf Mountain and the Christ statue atop another mountain, but we didn't get a clear view of Sugarloaf till we left the harbor later in the day, and the fog was mostly covering the Statue all morning. Del took a long nap on the Sun Deck as I took photos of Rio harbor, the airport, and the mountains. By the time we were leaving port about 5 pm, the Christ statue's head appeared from the fog and I also got a photo of the famous Sugarloaf Mountain. We talked to people who took the excursion to the base of the Christ statue and confirmed they were unable to see much of the statue. From the top deck I could follow large jetliners coming into land at the Rio airport.There was a lime green building with crenelated rooflines, looking like a cross between a church, a bell tower, or a fortress. The planes landed directly behind that curious building jutting out into the water. As we cleared the port area, we passed a modern building looking like a long white dock or park area. It was the only building I saw that might seem welcoming to the huge influx of Olympic athletes and guests coming in a few months.
In the afternoon, we went to the Hollywood Theater to see a new film "The Kingsmen" starring Colin Firth and Samuel Jackson. It was a biting satire with Firth fighting the bad man Jackson who had come up with a unique way to stop so-called global warming: kill 80% of the world's population by giving free smartphone to gullible people and then using those phones to turn them into homicidal maniacs. Firth stopped Jackson and sanity won out, proving no one is going to die from global warming unless people go crazy.Jonathan Swift centuries ago wrote of a way to stop the Irish from starving: have them eat their orphan children. An early biting satire from a Swift pen.
Our stateroom was on Deck 8 forward which made it very easy to go up to the Palm Court on Deck 11 and down to the Galaxy Lounge on Deck 6 which is where we can easily walk to the middle of the ship past the Casino and Hollywood Theater. We avoid walking down a long corridor with maids and guests clogging our way. Deck 6 midship is where the Bistro and Starlite Lounge are, and an elegant walk down the curved staircase brings us to the Crystal Dining Room and Crystal Cove Atrium. For the Serenity we have discovered on these two cruises that a forward cabin near the elevator works best for us.
Here's two fun bits which happened. I'm sure the guy in the first story is still wondering how he saw me on Deck 7 and Deck 8 in quick succession and why his elevator opened on Deck 8 anyway.
Here's what happened. Coming back to our Deck 8 stateroom from lunch, Del complained that she was cold, so I suggested, as we waited in front of the elevator on Deck 6, that she walk up two floors to Deck 8 to warm herself up. She began walking, and I suddenly had the idea that if the elevator came quickly enough, I would take it to Deck 8 before Del had walked up to Deck 8, then I would get out, open my book, and pretend that I had been there reading for a long time.
So when the door opened , I quickly exited to begin my pretense. I noticed this guy in a fancy, colorful outfit enter the elevator as I went out, and no doubt he noticed my cowboy hat. I turned back to the door and noticed as he went up that I had mistakenly gotten out on Deck 7 not 8! I quickly jogged up the stairs to Deck 8 and as I reach Deck 8, the elevator door opened and the guy in the fancy outfit was staring at me, probably wondering why did the door open and why was I was looking at him! The door had opened, of course, because I had selected Deck 8 but got out on Deck 7 by mistake.
The other fun bit was when I entered an elevator full of short women and turned to the door to push the button for my floor. One of the women asked "Cowboy?" and another said, "Sing country song." I turned to see five mature Japanese ladies and I began singing, "Oh, say can you see by ..." and to my great surprise these Japanese ladies joined in singing with me! They were probably naturalized Americans!
FIRST FORMAL NIGHT
We dressed up for the Formal Night at the Captain's Table. The Crystal Cove atrium was filled with people in formal wear. Someone volunteered to take a photo of me and Del as we descended the staircase into the Crystal Cove.We walked into the Crystal Dining Room and we got to meet all of our tablemates for the cruise. The Vice-Captain, Drazen Drugovic, was there with his fiancee Irina. The rest of our table consisted of Judy & Larry Franklin, Nancy & Rich Phillips , Ginger Judge, Marilyn & Bill Humphreys. Del and I both had the caviar and the Oysters Rockefeller appetizers. The oysters had not been scrapped from the shell and the knife slipped the oyster and sauce skidded onto my napkin, almost ruining my tux! No restaurant in New Orleans would ever serve grilled oysters of any kind and leave the oysters attached to the shell. Then the Forest Mushroom soup was both hot and delicious. The Maine Lobster was definitely not from Maine, but was delicious and tender. For dessert, I had the New York cheese cake with ice cream. After dinner, we went to the Starlite Lounge for the Captain's reception. Del and I danced to an ABBA song, "A Man After Midnight" and then left for the show in the Galaxy Lounge. It feature Elio Pace doing Elton John songs with the Galaxy Orchestra, singers and dancers. A rocking good show. I recognized many of the songs, and didn't know they were done by Elton John. Elio got a rousing standing ovation.
Hit the bed about 11 pm to be ready for our tender trip in the morning to Ilha-Grande.
We chose to walk through the small town lining the beautiful beach area. Del and I followed the map and I took photos of the tropical paradise as we walked. What you cannot experience from the photos is the smell of the garbage bags stacked up for collection. Apparently this was garbage day and there was no place where you got far enough from a smelly pile of garbage to escape the smell. We walked past a forklift truck lifting plastic garbage bags into its dump truck, an open bed truck. Humidity and garbage go great with each other. Luckily we couldn't walk up on garbage unsuspectingly — we could smell it a block away and we were never more than a block away from a bag of garbage during our entire stay on the island. Tall peaks of a thousand-feet high loomed over the village; tropical plants were blooming; it was summertime in January here. The Sun was rising in the North. In the Southern Hemisphere a Northern exposure gives more light than a Southern exposure.
There were beautiful flowers and a tiny church with a large statue of San Sebastian on the left side of altar showing the arrows he was martyred by, sticking out of his body. On the right side of the altar was an equal size statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary.There is a long passage known as San Sebastian Channel, so he must be a popular saint in this region. We found a curious long red flower that hung down from a tree almost 3 feet long. A local lady told us "macac" which I recognized as being "monkey" and indeed it looked like a bright red monkey tail. Got a photo of a cute two-tone sparrow-sized bird, its top half black and bottom half, from beak on down was white. One second floor balcony had two foot-high statues of a boy and girl in brightly colored clothes and sombreros. On the way back on the tender, I got a photo of the captain of the tender giving me a big smile and a thumb's up before he set his course back to the Symphony. He sits in an upper deck which is reserved for crew and excursion leaders.
Because the mountains were so close and so high, the best view of them came when I was back on the Lido deck aft and you could see some clouds covering the top 20% of one of the mountains during this otherwise clear, blue sky day.
We returned via tender to the Symphony and I got my book, The Rover by Joseph Conrad and went down to the Starlite Lounge area where I could read in peace. Del was out on the balcony of our room drying her hair. Tried to cancel our excursion on the schooner for the next day and the gal at the front desk wouldn't do, said it could only be canceled if someone were wait-listed for it. (Note: the next morning, the day of the excursion I found the guy running the excursion and he said simply, "Okay, we'll cancel it.")
In the afternoon, I tried to get some writing done, but the curved back chair provided in my stateroom made it impossible to type comfortably. I stacked four smaller pillows and they still weren't high enough. I ask Dihana our stewardess to get me a metal folding chair with a soft seat and that worked great. We had the curved back chair removed for the rest of the cruise. Generally anything you ask of a Crystal employee, they will find a way to provide it to you. You want grits, they'll make a special batch just for you. When we arrived, I realized that the ten-year tetanus shot I had after Hurricane Katrina had expired a month or so earlier, so I went to the Medical section and got a new shot in just a few minutes. Katrina anniversary is a good way to remember when to renew it. I had stuck a rusty wire under one of my fingers during post-Katrina clean-up and went to hospital and my shot was administered at no cost by a doctor from Boston who had volunteered. He sang in the opera there, he told me. Hard to forget that.
That night Del was supposed to meet me down in the Galaxy Lounge for Mark Merchant the ventriloquist's show followed by Steve Stevens the singer/comedian. I was there early and waited for Del. Texted her, no answer. I got us a nice middle section seat for two in second row and tried to text her, then left to go to house phone to call her in the stateroom, and still nothing. Just as MacFarland came down to introduce the first show, Del popped up in the first row and called me to come down. I wanted her to move to my seats, but it was too late, so I joined her and the seats were right in the path of bright spots lights during the comedian Stevens' routine. But I'd rather sit with her than have good seats alone
With my schooner excursion canceled for the day, we had a small breakfast up in the Lido café and then tendered ashore for our own self-guided excursion. This was a much nicer island that the "Grande" one we spent the previous day on. The minute we stepped out of the Tender, we noticed the difference. A beautiful blue mosaic wall on the side of the welcome gate greeted us. Later I had Del take a photo of me with the Welcome Gate behind me and some amazon in a loose black dress had thrown her hands into the air, almost having a "wardrobe malfunction" at the time Del was taking the photo. Ilha Bela seems to mean Beautiful Island and it certainly was. Smelled a lot better than the previous beautiful island, too. We saw a huge Banyan tree, a tree with bright red flowers, got a great view of the Symphony moored in the San Sebastian channel. There was a water park with water shooting up from the pavement that kids of all ages could run through, especially on hot days. One young boy in colorful blue tee and shorts had asked Del for her water bottle when we arrived. Later as we were leaving he found Del again and said something like "Baba agua" and Del gave him one of our water bottles which delighted him. We passed Bartatas Restaurante which featured a five-foot high Mr. Potato Head with a moustache, a statue sitting on its upstairs balcony.
We walked up the steps of the white church with blue trim. Inside there was a side altar with a large statue of Our Lady of Fatima, something I'd never seen before. On a side wall there was a statue of "Santo Expedito" which must be the patron saint of FedEx or UPS. Another wall had St. Francis of Assisi next to a statue of Santa Barbara. I've been to Santa Barbara many times, but never before saw a statue of her in a church. The flowers on the small island were beautiful and so were the mountains towering over the village. Got a great photo of the Crystal Symphony as we tendered back to the ship.
This night featured the Jazz Combo in the Crystal Cove atrium, and I found out it featured a trumpet player from Baton Rouge, our capitol city of Louisiana. Our dessert that night was a Peanut Butter Trifle and it was nothing to trifle over. It was delicious from top to bottom and looked as good as it tasted.
We left Ilha Bela the Beautiful Island and headed south for an overnight cruise to Santos, Brazil. Until visiting Santos, I had never before hear the city's name in the song "They've got an lot of Coffee in Brazil" — it must be that a lot of that coffee leaves Brazil from its large port city of Santos.
A shuttle to downtown and a long taxi ride to Sao Paolo was available. Talked to couple who had done the taxi ride and were sorely disappointed. Even the write-up on the excursions tried to talk people out of taking them. Most everyone I talked to on this cruise were disappointed with Brazil. It seems to have very few highlights and few great places to admire. In Santos, we chose to stay aboard the ship and have ourselves a day of rest. We were saving ourselves for the Antarctica portion of the cruise.
Took a few photos of the city from the top deck and then I my donned trunks to go into the jacuzzi, followed by a quick dip in the cold pool. The custard tarts had been readily available in the Bistro and if I ask for latte, extra foam, in a go cup, it's acceptable substitute for PJ's.
Didn't go to the movie in the afternoon, and our dining table was down to three regulars with two ladies added, Dorothy and Beverly, in addition to me, Del, and Ginger Judge. I finally got a chance to talk with Ginger and found out she was CEO of a company which provided parts to Lockheed's military aircraft before she retired.
Night show was Gary Williams, the star of West End's "Rat Pack" who entertained us with Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin songs. He sang them with a verve, and the longer he was on, the more he resembled the older, nearly hairless Frank, but he sang like a younger version of him.
BLUMENAU, ITAJAI, BRAZIL
The port city of Itajai is the gateway to a large German Settlement named after Hermann Blumenau who founded it in 1850. We've been through many German villages in Germany, but never one in Brazil, so we reserved our place on the bus, but almost overslept! We woke up at 8:00 AM and I realized that we needed to be ready to leave on an all-day excursion to Blumenau in 30 minutes. Panic time! We rushed through the Lido Café with already scrambled eggs and grilled tomatoes, and headed to the Starlite Lounge to get on our excursion bus. We got on one of the three buses for a hour-plus drive to Blumenau. For the first thirty minutes we passed dozens of bikini manufacturers and their shops. If a strip mall had 8 stores, 7 sold bikinis. I kept wondering if we might see the String Factory, you know, the place which specializes in making the backs of the bikinis like the ones we saw in the Galaxy Theater dancing on the stage in their string bikinis.
It was a full day: we saw a Beer Museum, a Rainforest with 400-year-old bamboos, a Cat Cemetery, downtown Blumenau, half-timbered houses of mediaeval Bavarian architecture, two ten foot stone tablets containing the Ten Commandments in Portuguese, a German Oktoberfest Village with an Ompah Band playing, a windmill, a Mannikin Pis fountain, and a home imported from Germany and re-assembled in Blumenau.
For lunch we went to a typical Argentina BBQ buffet. A starving 350-lb NFL Lineman could have eaten his full as the waiters, about 10 of them came by, each waiter holding two 4-ft long skewers of hot off the fire grilled meat which each person could choose however many pieces or slices for their plate. One brought beef, one brought pork, one brought chicken, goat, and some meats whose name I didn't recognize. There was also a nice buffet of salads and hot vegetables to choose from. I'm sure our bus weighed about 50 lbs heavier when we left.
One of the educational bits I picked up was the origin of our word "clodhoppers". I can now safely say that I had never seen clodhoppers before, even though I heard the name used many times growing up to refer to heavy shoes of any style. There was a display of some actual clodhoppers and they were definitely heavy shoes. The display said: "They were used by employees of the brewery cellars to protect their feet from the cold and water. The temperature in the cellars was 32 degF." In other words, it was freezing in there.The clodhoppers seemed to have thick wooden heels with one inch of wood extending under a one inch rubber sole. A very thick leather upper designed more for warmth than style or comfort made the shoes practical for brewery work and probably not much else. The leather was thick enough to qualify the shoe as having toe protection equivalent to the steel-toed work shoes of today.
Then we drove to the Oktoberfest village, a real portmanteau of German, Portugese, and Brazilian cultures agglutinated to each other. Its name offered more than it delivered, an ersatz German village which was rather sad-looking during our off-season walk through. Did get a couple of droll photos, and a couple of souvenirs. Del bought two fridge magnets, and I asked for change in Brazilian Reals, in coins, especially. (Exchange rate 4 R to 1 $.) I also found a truck which delivered a local beer named "Saint". That beer should sell big-time in New Orleans to all the big Saints fans who invariably imbibe a lot beer during their weekly tailgate parties around the Superdome in the Fall. Click Here or on the photo of Saint Bier Van above to see its website. For the little kids under five there was the smallest and slowest carousel I've ever seen especially designed for them. Not a tot could get hurt getting on or off this snail-pace merry-go-round, and the tots loved it.
Our tour guide was a Brazilian named "Gilson" and reminded me of our grandson, Kirt Rennick. When we passed the rice fields, I heard him talk about the "rice fields and the Calypsos" and had no idea what he meant. Turned out he was eliding the "EU" of eucalyptus and it sounded like calypsos. The Australian trees which have been thriving in the region due to the heavy flow of water through the Acu (ah-soo) River of Itajai (eet-uh-high), which runs very high during floods. I told Gilson of my confusion and said I got an image of dancing trees doing the Calypso. He laughed.
We had a celebration at our table in the Crystal Dining Room and Elvis came over and entertained us with a couple of songs. It was Virginia Judge's birthday and she brought and animated singing Elvis doll to sing while we enjoyed her special Birthday Cake compliments of the Crystal Symphony. I have to say the Elvis doll in black and white resembled a penguin more than a Rock and Roll Singer.
The head waiter at Table 60 was Juan Andia from Concepcion, Chile, but he resembled Telly Savalas so much that we called him, Kojak. He liked the name and we enjoyed talking to him. He's considering a job in New York City and wants to open up his own restaurant. I suggested that Kojak might be a good name for his place, as everyone in the city will immediately recognize him as Kojak.
During this part of our cruise, I was reading "A Long, Long Run" about the life of Billy Cannon, Heisman Trophy winner from LSU. After dinner in the Crystal Dining Room, Del and I went to the Galaxy Lounge to hear Kuba who played with four mallets at once on his electronic vibraphone, which can be set to simulate many different instruments. He then brought out a Theremin and played on it. Asked the audience who had heard it played live before, and of course Del and I applauded along with a handful of others who had. After the show I told him about the New Leviathon Oriental Foxtrot Orchestra in New Orleans which includes a Theremin musician in its crew.
CRUISING DOWN TO PUNTA DEL ESTE, URUGUAY
Exploring the world has a way of bringing geography to life. Before this cruise, I had always thought of Uruguay as a tiny country nestled between Brazil and Argentina. And while I had heard of Montevideo, and even knew how to pronounce MON TAY' VID DAY OH, couldn't have said what country it was part of. Now I know it's the capitol city and main city of Uruguay, a country well-know for its amethyst mines, furs, and the wonderful beaches of Punta del Este. Now I can tell you where the name Montevideo comes from and it's definitely not from our modern word "video" as the city pre-dates the video technology of our 20th Century. The video in its name does come from the same root of video which means to see. A quick Google reveals this etymology for video: "1930s: from Latin videre 'to see'."
Montevideo means the sixth hill to the west. Sailors spotted the city in its earliest days and identified it that way. In shorthand form, they used VI, the Roman numeral for 6 and to the west in Spanish was de Oeste and it was abbreviated as "deo". Bringing all these parts together then: Monte= hill, VI=sixth, and Deo= to the West, therefore, Montevideo. A city named after how early sailors on old sailing vessels actually identified the city from the sea.
The curious thing to me was that Buenos Aires and Montevideo are on opposite sides of a river, but are about 150 miles apart. It's a huge river which drains the Andes Mountains to the west and opens to a very wide gulf as it enters the South Atlantic. We cruised over night from Montevideo to Buenos Aires. Punta del Este has wonderful beaches and many of the vacationers come to these beaches from Buenos Aires, and southern parts of neighboring Brazil.
These were some unanswered questions I was holding in my mind as we cruised down the long reach from Itajai, Brazil to Punta del Este, Uruguay. Where did Montevideo's name come from? What was special about Punta del Este? How could two large cities be so close together? They were answered along the way without use of Google, which brought geography to life for me.
TICKETS APPEARED BY MAGIC
In our previous cruise, we were lucky enough to meet Shawn the Magic Castle magician during a pre-cruise breakfast at the Miami Sofitel. (Compared to the Rio Othon's Motel 6 quality, the Sofitel was like the Ritz Carlton.) He told us to go to the Library aboard ship to register for his show. The show is in a small room so seating is limited to about 30. It's a great close-up magic with many people in the audience involved at times. We forgot to sign up for the Magic Act till we watched the Magician on stage as part of the Liar's Club. I went to library next chance I had and they said it was sold out, but we could do standby. On this cruise down south, we came back for breakfast in the Lido Café to find two tickets to the Magic Show had magically appeared in our stateroom. Wow! How did he do that?
We were planning to hear Jay Wolff's lecture on Evita at 1 PM and the Magic Show began at 2 PM, so we decided to do the Evita lecture and leave a bit early for the Magic Show.
I learned from the lecture that Evita was a role that Eva Peron played, a role that when her husband Juan Peron was imprisoned, she used to get him freed. She took to the radio and fired up the inhabitants of Buenos Aires so much that 2 million of them surrounded the Rose Palace and the generals who had been afraid of what Juan might do, were suddenly more afraid of what Evita had done, afraid for their very lives, so they spirited Juan Peron back from the garrison and he walked out on the balconey of the Rose Palace to declare, "I am a candidate for President of Argentina". He became president and he and Eva ruled the country. Juan immediately doubled the wages of the "unshirted ones", the workers, the proletariat, the equivalent of the sans culottes of the French Revolution. Evita made a trip to Germany a year or so after WWII and made a deal with former Nazi leaders. They could have unlimited visas to enter Argentina and in exchange two U-Boats still at sea carrying millions in gold and currency would secretly dock in Buenos Aires harbor and the money would be deposited in the Peron's bank account. This money was used to keep their promise to the unshirted ones, but when it ran out, the Perons were kicked out of office. Eva's transition to Evita was amazing: she dyed her dark hair blonde and never used the name Eva again.Del and I look forward to visiting the Duarte mausoleum in Buenos Aires, where Evita nee Eva Duarte was buried. We left the lecture as it was almost over and headed to the Magic Show.
As we approached the Magic Show, I was carrying my book, "Billy Cannon", which I had planned to read after the lecture instead we went to the Magic Show. The magician came up to me and looked at the book "Billy Cannon" in my hands, and riffled through the pages. I noticed that he made a mental note of something. He did a few tricks then introduced his daughter to a do a trick. Her tricks utilized various books which were given to people to look up something. When we came to the last of her book tricks, she turned the stage over to her dad who came up with a number 22 and counted me as the 22nd person in the room and asked me to look at the first word on page 192. It was WHOLE the very word he had already written on the slate he then showed the audience. That was the word that he had noted in my book before the show began. Great work.He guessed I wouldn't give him away, and to the audience there, I didn't. And I won't mention his name here, so his secret's safe with me. All I saw was how he knew which word to write on his slate, not how he set up the 22 and the 192 to appear during his trick. We left the Magic Show for Mozart Tea in the Palm Court on Deck 11. Mozart music with Himalayan Tea, scones, cucumber sandwiches, etal, delivered to your table by elegant waiters in old Viennese costumes. Plus a view of the sea ahead from the top indoor deck of the Symphony. We stayed there for awhile and I almost finished the Cannon book there.
Sea Days are wonderful on the Crystal cruise ships. They provide a break from the sometimes exhausting shore excursions when the ships are in port. Even if we don't do an extended excursion like the all-day Blumenau one, we may have a Tender ride back and forth to the dock, or a long walk from the dock to the center of town.
This night we had a full table and I sat next to Irina, the fiance of Drazen Drugovic the Assistant Captain of the Symphony. Since she hailed from Croatia, I told her about my Grandma Babin and how I discovered Babinkuk in Dubrovnik, Croatia. Babin means old grandma which the peninsula resembled and thus it was named Babinkuk. She explained that "kuk" means hip, which is a synonym for peninsula in English (a hip of land sticking into the sea). She laughed when I said my grandmother could be called, Babin Babin or Grandma Grandma. I told her that her English was perfect, and she objected saying that her grammar was so bad. I explained that her pronunciation was excellent and that she should forget about grammar. That's something you can pick up just by listening, adding "You already speak better English than 60% of people on the streets of NYC." She laughed. She said that she learned her English in school in Croatia. I told her that she spoke with none of the curious mispronunciations of English vowels so common in most countries of Europe that I've been in.
I told her "You're named after the Greek goddess of peace (serenity) Irene." Then I sang a bit of "Goodnight Irene" to her, which she recalled it as an old pop song. (She's a 20-something, dark-eyed beauty and a veggie eater who also eats seafood, like I do.) I gave her Del's recipe for Portobello Burger and she said she would try it.
After dinner I watched a bit of NFL wild card to see Kansas City shut-out Houston by 34-0. This was about the only playoff game that went the way I hoped it would. Houston's big bad defense was humbled by the Chiefs.
PUNTA DEL ESTE, URUGUAY
Del and I had quick breakfast in Lido Café on Deck 11, which is a great place to sit outdoors if the weather is nice and also a great place to shoot photos. After breakfast I went down to Bistro for my circadian latte and custard tart. I began reading Shaw's play, Joan of Arc, and I am really enjoying Shaw's writing. A great wit with an encyclopedic knowledge. He says his Fashion is Victorian and his Family Habit is Protestant. I'm not sure what he means by that, but if I were forced to say my equivalent, I suppose I'd say my Fashion is Cajun and my Family Habit is Catholic.
As we approached Punta del Este, it resembled Miami Beach with its high-rise buildings along a long stretch of sandy beach. It is a resort town, a summer destination for vacationers for hundreds of miles around. We tendered in to shore and then walked the Green Road. In several ports of large South American cities, the wharf areas are congested with cargo traffic and hard to navigate by foot, even with a map, so they have painted a path in Green to make it easy for newcomers to the port. At the end of the Green Road we got on a shuttle bus which dropped us off at Artigues Plaza in the commercial district. As we walked through the city, we could see the streets on either side of us sloped down to the water. We chose the side heading toward the Hand. It was a lovely warm and sunny day, a great day for a walk. Along the way we bought souvenirs. We stopped in a shop full of Uruguayan amethysts, and bought a polished amethyst cluster to bring home. I bought a Tee Shirt for our neighbor Connie who watches our house and gardens when we're gone. The shirt says, "Not all who wander are lost". It sounds like something she'd enjoy wearing. I sent her a photo by text of the shirt, so when I gave it to her later, she recognized it.
We had brought along a small map which showed us how to get to the beach areas and back again to the bus pickup spot to return to the ship. We followed it and after a stroll along the edge of the beach, we reached the Hand, a large concrete sculpture of a man's hand reaching up through the sand so that only the five fingers of his right hand shows above the sand. I wondered when they will finish excavating the rest of the man's body. Beach goers would look like Lilliputians beside the full-size man. Del stood resting her body against his thumb and the top of his fingernail was above the crown of her head.
Uruguay is getting very close to legalizing weed, and I asked Del to get a shot of me next to a cutout of a man who reminded me a bit of an old friend, Lanny Goldfinch. Turns out the old guy was a supporter of legalization in Uruguay, as best I could gather. Of all the places we had stopped so far on this cruise, Uruguay was the most beautiful: its architecture, its people, its beaches, its sculptures, its gardens, and its weather, all sunny with a few white clouds. Even the seagulls were beautiful; they seemed to plump and content.
That night we were treated to a local group who did a Tango show in the Galaxy Lounge, and a later show by Elio Pace which was a rocking good time.
The next day we spent in the capitol, Montevideo. Prominent in its skyline is a sail-like skyscraper by the same architect who did a similar structure in Dubai. We took an excursion around the city, visiting the beach, a wonderful beachfront park called the Plaza de la Armada with a circular bronze sculpture, another monumental bronze of an oxcart with a pioneer family, another of a stagecoach which seemed to be stuck in the mud, and the hero Artigues on his horse, and a tall pointy obelisk in the center of the city. Montevideo, by virtue of winning the first World Cup, has a Futbol Stadium World Monument, futbol being the way most of the world says and spells our American word, soccer. It is a busy port and we saw a fully loaded Maersk container ship leaving port as we arrived.
We visited the large Palace building with Frederica as our tour guide, a charming blonde who admitted to being newly pregnant. It was from her that I learned about the origin of Montevideo's name as the Sixth Hill to the West: MONTE-VIth-DE-O(este). She kept saying "limit" for boundary, so at the first chance we had to be alone, I explained how boundary and border would be better words. She asked the difference, and I said usually some natural barrier like a river would be called a boundary, but an artificial line would be a border. She was grateful for my explanation, so later I clued her in that exportation is rarely used, export is better, that revitalization means to bring some life back into while renovation was better for making a building like new again. That art deco was the style of the Prado area with its buildings from the Twenties. That ancestor was shorter and better than antecestor. She listened and immediately used some of the new words she had just learned. A real sweetheart. I suggested that she could omit her eye makeup now because, being pregnant, her eyes shine naturally, actually supernaturally. She was delighted.
That night we enjoyed the Route 66 Show in the Galaxy Theater, one of the best shows I've seen on a Crystal Cruise. Del came away singing "like a natural woman." I stopped by the Hollywood Theater to catch the College Championship game before heading to bed.
BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA
The Symphony docked in port overnight, and we had an early breakfast before our excursion. I avoid coffee whenever I'll be over two hours away from a rest room and in Argentina, there are no rest rooms on buses, or if there is one, it is kept locked. On this first excursion, we made an early stop at an elegant coffee shop, the Café Tortoni, where we enjoyed some delicious croissants. Del packed away two or three in bag in her purse for later, which came in handy as the Highlights of Buenos Aires Bus Excursion was scheduled for 3.5 hours. Well, we left on time, 8:45, and got back to the ship at 2:10 pm, nearly 5.5 hours, thanks to the guide's lack of planning and execution. She had a loud, strident voice and I wore my Bose noise-canceling earphones to drown out her voice for the final hour. She also made us very late getting back to the ship. No tip for her.
Café Tortoni, founded 1858, had a sculpture outside on the sidewalk, a life-size man's figure, who seemed to be singing an aria. I tried my hat on him, gave it a tilt, and it added a bit of panache to the curb-side kitsch while I took his photograph. He kept very still during my snapshot. There was a nameplate on its base describing the statue, but I didn't record it. Quite debonair he was, with a red flower in the lapel of his black leather sports coat. I say leather because Argentina is famous for its leather products, and I saw many leather sports coats for sale in shops we visited. The Tortoni resembled Tujaque's Restaurant in New Orleans, and is of the same vintage. In the far corner of the long main room is a roped-off table with statues of a couple seated ordering from a menu while a waiter stands ready. The men's room had a high water tank which fed water through two 1858 urinals through a line with a porcelain nameplate with Cliffe Vale of Stoke-on-Trent on top of the brass fixture.The copper tube coming down from the original water tank is new copper tubing, but the rest seemed to be original equipment. The dining area was surrounded by wood with about a dozen round wooden columns with white Corinthian capitals and the ceiling had multiple stained-glass skylights. One of the many artworks on the walls showed a pool table that was in the back section at one time. Del and I both took a selfie using a mirror. The one with her cellphone came out better because we were in focus and the one with my camera had the croissants in better focus than we were.
Our bus took us around the large city, showing us various sights. St. Martin's Church has a huge golden altar and an ornate pulpit on either side of main aisle. These matched pulpits blue trimmed in gold are raised about 15 feet above the floor and accessed by a hidden stairway. Why the two pulpits I wondered, was it for architectural symmetry? For whatever reason, I saw the same two pulpit pattern in another large church during this cruise. This church contained the tomb of a war hero named after Saint Martin in an attached high-domed room guarded by two soldiers in dress uniform with high hats trimmed in gold and bright red fringe from their epaulets. Two other side altars were large enough for a small cathedral in their own right. One side altar had a life-sized statue of Christ Jesus in a bright red robe riding a donkey. This Church is the one where Pope Francis said Mass for many years before becoming the current Pope of the Roman Catholic Church.
We made a rest stop at the Yellow House (Casa Amarilla) which houses a dozen or so vendors of various goods. The leather sports coats I mentioned were available here in all sizes and colors you might wish. I enjoyed the life-sized statue of a Gaucho riding a bucking bronco just inside the door. There was are a large variety of Maté tea cups and strainers. The tea is made from local plants and drunk from a leather cup using a metal straw with a strainer on its tip. Very convenient: pour hot water in the cup, add the leaves, and drink it at your leisure. When done, dump out the contents or just add fresh leaves and hot water. We were told that the locals drink this on and off most of the day. Across the street was a blue and yellow building with three life-size statues standing on the small iron balcony waving down to people in the street. The middle figure clearly represented their beloved Evita. A colorful bas relief sculpture honoring firemen fills the outside wall of the Yellow House facing a children's play ground.
Back in the downtown area, we passed a larger than life bronze sculpture of Don Quixote astride his braying donkey quixotically coming out of a piece of white painted rock or concrete. There were large sycamore trees lining the streets and their multicolored trunks with peeling bark were a marvel to behold. Truly an abstract art work by Mother Nature which will never appear on the walls of some cold, impersonal museum.
We drove slowly pass the great Obelisk of the city. We saw the Rose House (their White House), where on the balcony, Eva Peron spoke to a huge crowd pleading for the release of her husband-to-be from the fortress where the army generals had hidden him. Below the shot I took were the bright yellow signs of protestors. It seems there are yet today "unshirted ones" who have one quarrel or another with those in power.A large group of former soldiers have a permanent protest now since the Falklands War. These are the ones who were called up to do battle with Britain, but the British forces won so quickly, these latecomers were never sent into battle. Those who did serve, those who got injured, and the family of those who died were given a lifetime pension, but these men who stayed safely behind got nothing. Now these almost soldiers who never saw a day of battle want to get an equivalent lifetime pension. There was also a long protest by women with white scarves who want an accounting for all of the soldiers lost in battle. The women are no longer marching, but white outlines of bodies are painted with names in them next to white scarves on the street of the traffic circle near the Rose House to represent these forgotten soldiers. This is not a fun area to walk by. One cannot miss the large outline of Evita speaking into a radio microphone which fills the top ten floors of the facade of a skyscraper downtown.
Then we made a long trip to an elegant cemetery where Evita was buried. The walk through the cemetery itself took as long as the bus ride did, a tortuous path going through and around huge granite monuments and white marble statues, each of which begged us to take photos of them. How do they speak in marble? please, could you take my picture? Especially this one life-size white marble sculpture of a woman looking a bit reluctant to open the door to her tomb. Evita, aka Eva Peron, nee Eva Duarte, disappeared after her death, and decades later her body was found in a cemetery in Italy. It was brought back to Buenos Aires and buried in her family's tomb. Then years later it was stolen, finally retrieved, and this time her body was buried under 20 feet of concrete below the vault to protect it forever. The Duarte tomb is a shiny black marble with plaques along the side about its most famous resident, Evita. Later We saw a bronze sculpture of Evita somewhere else in the cemetery; in the full-body bronze she is portrayed barefoot in a long nightgown clinging to her thin body as she leaned forward, perhaps in the middle of a dance.
This was a great excursion which could only have been improved by the tour guide keeping to our schedule. A quick breakfast at 7:30 and no food until 2 PM after walking all over the city was a punishing ordeal. It certainly made Del's croissants a valuable nutritional supplement on the bus.
Note that, being on two cruises, we cruised twice into Montevideo and Buenos Aires. Our first cruise ended in Buenos Aires after stopping in Punta del Este and Montevideo. Our second cruise stopped in Montevideo before ending in Buenos Aires.This was the first time we've taken two Crystal cruises back to back, and I really enjoyed watching the old passengers leaving and the new passengers arriving at the beginning of the second cruise. We said goodbye to all our Table 60 friends and welcomed the new arrivals for dinner that night. Our new tablemates were Joette, Verne & Judy Rainey, Joy LeRoy, Martha & Art Danielian, Lindsay Starr & Blaine Hendrickson. Martha didn't make it the first night, and with Irina gone, we had a spot open, so Verne invited Joan Bergy, who was sitting alone in a nearby table for two, to fill out our table. These are the people we cruised to Antarctica with. We were all multiple Crystal cruisers, Joan led off with 17 cruises, Del and I had seven, and the others had cruised before on Crystal. This was our first time at the Captain's Table, probably due to our repeat cruises. It is a large round table in the center of the dining room, and we seemed to have had the best Head Waiter, Juan Andia, that we have ever had assigned to us.
THREE SEA DAYS EN ROUTE TO USHUAIA, ARGENTINA
On the last day in Buenos Aires, I went up to the Lido Café for breakfast and found Nancy. She said that Rich was outside on deck and we sat together and talked till it was time for them to leave. Said goodbye to the Phillips and I went up my Stateroom to get ready for my massage at 1:30 pm. Vinca from Croatia was her name, a tall, slender, Masseue who used her forearm a lot on my back. I took a sauna afterwards and then went to Sun Deck and took a jacuzzi while Del read. Then we dressed for our first dinner with new Table 60 members: from my left were Blaine and Lindsay from Palm Springs (and Utah), Verne and Judy from Charlotte, N.C., then Joette from California, Art from Irvine, California, and one single, Joy from Ft. Lauderdale. Art's wife Martha didn't make the first dinner. They had a 28 hour flight from Los Angeles to Buenos Aires and she was probably sleeping in their Stateroom.
After supper we went to see the Welcome show. After Paul MacFarland welcomed the newbies, telling them also about his adventures on the Canary and Virgin Islands, before introducing Anna & Paul who danced for us after which came the Vee Gees (Virginia Gentlemen, A College a capella choir) who sang for us, then a very appropriate piece from Grand Hotel, "People come, People go". Luckily this time we had not just come on, nor had to go. It felt great to be old-timers.
We dropped into a new movie by Woody Allen, an irrational man in many ways, called "Irrational Man", which seemed to be Woody's tribute to the vacancy of existential philosophy. He shows how it creates moral idiots. Too painful to laugh about at times.
FIRST SEA DAY, CRUISING TO USHUAIA, ARGENTINA
Called my daughter Maureen on her birthday after earlier having texted her. Got her about seven AM her time, right before she left for work. She said her kids got her a new coffee pot.
After a casual breakfast we went to see a guy talk about something interesting, but got stuck with a reprise of Wolff's talk about Evita. Seems the other guy due to speak wasn't aboard the ship yet. Wolff repeats his lectures from memory with nary a word's difference so far as I can tell. Then we went to the Avenue Saloon for the 3 PM Magic Show, but the room was empty except for the pianist practicing.So we decided to see the first part of Irrational Man which we had missed and re-watched a bit that we had seen. Re-watching a movie, you can pick up things you missed before because they didn't seem important. Three very important bits we missed a guy in background was talking about killing someone using cyanide, Joaquin Phoenix the protagonist shares that he worked on elevator maintenance when he was young, and he won a small flashlight for his girl friend at an amusement park. Then we showered and got ready for our Black-tie night with Vice-Captain Drazen Drugovic without Irina who had gone home. The next night Judy and I invited Jane Bergy from a nearby table to fill in the vacant spot left by Irina.
SECOND SEA DAY, CRUISING TO USHUAIA, ARGENTINA
Breakfast in Lido Café followed by Wolff lecture on "Terra Incognito" which filled us in about a time when no one knew if there was an Antarctica continent or not. He explained that Magellan was sent to find a route through South America not around its tip, because no one thought there was a tip!Magellan followed a passage and discovered it went into a large ocean. He arrived there on a very calm day, so named it the Pacific Ocean. I seem to remember being told that Balboa did a similar thing when he crossed Panama, but that was in grade school, and who knows what they tell kids in grade schools. I wondered how Magellan could have selected exactly the right path to the Pacific, and then someone mentioned he simply followed the salt water. If he tried to enter a passage with fresh water, it was a dead end.
I knew we were going to cross Drake's Passage to get to Antarctica, but Wolff explained that Drake never went through the passage given his name! What Drake did was to take the Magellan Strait and found the entrance into the Pacific anything but pacific; it was very stormy with high headwinds. So high his other two boats turned around and headed back to England after two months.Drake stayed and at one point the winds drove him so far south that he realized he had entered a passage that most certainly must go around the tip of South America because of the very strong eastward sea currents and winds. Eventually Drake, after three months in high seas, was able break free and sail northward where a ship with "cannons of gold" awaited him, completely defenseless, off the western coast of Panama. The Spaniards had so much gold to load home for Spain, they threw the cannons overboard in order to load an equal weight of gold. That left them defenseless, but there were no pirates on this side of the continent of South America. Not until Francis Drake, and so when he arrived with his cannons, it would have only take one cannon shot across the bow for the Spaniards to raise a flag of surrender, which they did.Drake did not want to hazard another passage around South America, so he sailed westward toward England carrying the gold with him for Queen Elizabeth I, making her the richest monarch in the world for a few years. This is how a thief becomes knighted: steal something big enough. Drake became Sir Francis Drake and made many trips to raid the Spanish gold and silver caravans which came down the east coast of Panama. Because Drake mentioned the treacherous passage he got out of as quickly as he could, it was named after him and is still called the Drake Passage.
Today was the right day for the Magic Show by a guy named Peter from New York City. I had heard that he was a physicist like I am, but turns out he just said he liked physics. Peter did some clever money changing tricks. At one point he gave me a ring and asked me it was okay. I said, "No, there's a big hole in it." Didn't faze him a bit; he's heard it all before and had a ready quip. When he took Del's wedding ring, I took my identical one off but it didn't faze him either. He knew it was a duplicate because he hadn't lost Del's ring but had it in his pockets somewhere.
At five Del and I went to hear Gordon Porth (pianist) and Candace Keach (flute) play Mozart, Debussy, and Krieg pieces for piano and flute in the Galaxy Lounge. Then we went to dinner for a full Captain's Table with Drazen Drugovic. Sat next to Joette, an elementary school teacher, widow of a Jewish Army Chaplin. Tall blonde Joy LeRoy joined our table. Talked to Joette and Lindsay most of dinner.
After dinner we stopped to listen to the Vee Gees do their a capella stint in Crystal Cove before heading to the Galaxy Theater to hear Kristen Hertzenberg sing mostly operatic songs. Opera, if no one's being brutally killed, puts me to sleep. I dozed during some of her songs, then we went to bed about 10:30.
THIRD SEA DAY, CRUISING TO USHUAIA, ARGENTINA
I had my usual light breakfast in the Lido Café again, plus a custard tart and café latte in the Bistro. I had by this time moved on to reading Oliver Sacks' "The Mind's Eye." As we headed farther south, the outside temperature was getting colder. Temperature of the air was 54 degF this morning, sea about 51 degF and getting colder, so back in my Stateroom, I unpacked my down jacket and Winter Silks for later.We went to see "Barista" a fun movie about extreme coffee makers. Then we dressed for Captain's Penthouse for cocktails. I was in Black Tie and Del was all dolled up. When we arrived at Table 60 most of our tablemates had already been seated. After dinner, I watched the Patriots beat Kansas City, the Jazz in the Cove didn't happen, and Imagine, a show in a completely dark theater with lights on the dancers had to be canceled because of the rough seas. I skipped the second Packers and Cardinals playoff game, and heard later about the Hail Mary that tied the score by the Packers, but they still lost in over time. We were sailing into the South Atlantic and the closer we got to Drake's Passage, the more heavy seas we could expect. Our previous cruise in the Baltic had seas as rough as what we experienced so far. I learned that if the ship is rocking the worse thing you can do is to stand still because your entire body will move. But if you walk even if it's a slow walk, when the ship moves under you, your ankles will adjust to keep you erect. It's this strategy that leads long-time sailors to walk strangely. After a few weeks aboard ship, the ground will seem to move for awhile when you get ashore, and you'll do the sea walk as if you were aboard ship.
Ushuaia is a small village on the shore of the Beagle Channel where our Symphony moored. We tendered into the dock there and got on our excursion bus to take us to Tierra del Fuego (See below). On our return from the excursion Del and I walked to the small nature center which had lovely photos of the native flowers and a life-size statue of a prehistoric Yaghan native of the region. Seems the early natives had no clothes and survived the harsh winters covered in seal fat. This native in the statue was shown in the more modest fashion of a fur robe and hat. The Yaghan were the earliest known humans to settle in Tierra del Fuego around 8,000 B.C., some 10,000 years ago.
Ushuaia was founded as a prison colony and that was its first industry. The prison is now gone and people are finding their way to the new manufacturing jobs being created by electronics firms in the tax-free zone of Ushuaia. Our guide Marcia came here for a job. She was a fun guide. After we left the port area in our bus, she got a call on her cell which told her to go back to pick up some extra folks. She put down her phone and told us over the PA system, "Thanks for coming along, folks. Your excursion is now over!" and quickly added, "Just kidding." Turns out our bus wasn't needed after all, and we did another U-turn and continued on our tour down to the End of the World, Tierra del Fuego, (Land of Fire).
TIERRA DEL FUEGO, ARGENTINA
We stopped at a scenic spot along the Beagle Channel. A wild, rocky shore with a path along the shore. Great spot for photos of the snow-capped mountains in the distance. I assume they are the southmost part of the Andes mountains. We met Roddy and Anne from the Symphony there. They hail from Yorkshire, England. Roddy took some great photos of me and Del standing in the gravel a few feet from the water with the snowy peaks behind us.
Route 3 (Ruta 3) is the local name of the road which extends 11,090 miles (17,848 km) from Alaska down through Canada, USA, Central America, the Amazon, down to here where it comes to an end. Marcia reports that motorcyclists who have completed this gigantic trek are often seen on their knees kissing the ground in thanks to finally have reached the end of the road at the end of the world.The tip of South America is farther south than any other continent, closer to Antarctica than any other land mass, so this is definitely the end of world.
Del and I walked to the end of the road, and over a boardwalk that took us even further south, about a half mile from our bus. See Banner Photo directly above. Beautiful scenery and not a sound except the wind. We did see some life. A sailboat with 3 people on its deck was moored in an inlet along our walk. A couple of unique swans, all white with a black neck and head and a bright red beak, were swimming in the inlet. We saw some Upland Geese with the male standing guard over some juvenile offspring. Very sparse vegetation and a few sturdy but small wildflowers.
Even with the slight delay at the dock getting the bus going, our bus was consistently the first of the four buses getting away to next spot on the tour, and we got back to ship at 12:30 pm as scheduled. I complimented Marcia on doing that and tipped her for her good work.Del and I bought a couple of souvenirs: a penguin wooden puzzle for Del which has a baby penguin inside of a large penguin. Also bought a china ashtray with Striped Uniformed Prisoners on it labeled "End of the World" to put into the Smoking Room upstairs at my club.
We had gone to the End of the World, but as we tendered back to our ship, we realized that we were soon going to cross the water that separated us from the Continent at the End of the World, Antarctica, and sail along its long peninsula and dock in sight of Palmer Station, a USA experimental station. That water was the treacherous Drake Passage, and it was with a sigh of relief that we heard Captain Zander tell us that due to heavy winds and seas, we would skip the trip around Cape Horn and go directly across Drake Passage to Antarctica. Zander has sailed over 56 times to Antarctica, and will have an ice breaker captain on the bridge as an advisor during the next phase of our sea journey.
The Crystal Symphony must use an expensive purified fuel for its engines to protect the environment of Antarctica. That revelation made me glad because few cruise lines could afford the fuel and meet all the other regulations that Crystal does, and so we will not have any neighboring ships obstructing our passage or our view during our upcoming journey.
THE DRAKE PASSAGE TO ANTARCTICA
What can I write about the Drake Passage? The Crystal Symphony handles heavy seas with ease, and if you learn to walk slowly and let your ankles take the swaying motions of the boat, you'll get along fine, as we did. Since we were going almost perpendicular to the sea currents, we didn't feel any repetitive "lift and thump" motions which can be unpleasant. We encountered that in the Virgin Islands tour of the Caribbean the previous January. Some of the Galaxy Shows were canceled to protect the dancers from falling off stage, and those that continued, especially the ventriloquist and comedy shows utilized the motions of the ship to comment on them as they were happening, to the amusement of the audience.
Del was a bit under the weather today. Her head was slightly warm, but no fever, and she was throwing up clear liquid. I called Dihana and she brought us some ice in our ice bucket. She sked if I would like it refilled each day and I said, "Yes, thanks." On the first day she had brought various fruit for the Stateroom, so I had asked her if I might have a banana each morning, and sure enough every morning, there was a plate with a banana under some Saran wrap. They usually have bananas in the Lido Café, but the quality is not dependable, not as dependable as the ones she brought me. Del chewed on the ice to keep herself hydrated and went back to sleep. I monitored her regularly to ensure she didn't get worse and she didn't. I went to the Bistro for a latte and custard tart. Afterward sitting in the Starlite sofa area reading my book, Marilyn Groat came up to me and said her husband heard me say I was from LSU, she thought we might have known each other when she was there in the 1960s.
Turns out she came there the year after I graduated. She asked me if I knew Billy Cannon and I said no, but told her I have a book about him with me and I offered to loan to her.She had a lecture in the Galaxy to go to, and I went up to get my book and gave it to her in the Galaxy Theater before the lecture began. Couldn't see the lecturer's tiny pointer but I enjoyed his talk about the Amundsen and Scott expeditions racing for the South Pole. In short: Amundsen got there first and got back okay. Scott focused on scientific studies and died with 37 pounds of rocks and frozen penguin eggs to show for his work.
When I got back to our Stateroom, Del was feeling better. The chewing ice helped. Her head was no longer hot and she was feeling more cheerful. The ship's constant rocking and rolling in the Drake Passage was getting to her. "Feels like being pregnant," she said. Turns out she was having an intense migraine headache. She sleep most of the day, but stayed awake in bed most of the night. Thank God it was nothing contagious, or we would have been quarantined and had to stay in our cabin and missed Antarctica except what we could see from our balcony. On a previous cruise Rich and Nancy Phillips were quarantined, and they described it to us. No fun having all your food brought into your Stateroom by a server in sterilized gloves, mask, and uniform.
I went alone to dinner. It was Captain's Night and Drazen Drugovic was there. Kojak (Juan) was back at our table after being away for a couple of nights, so it was delightful to see his smiling face again. I ordered the BBQ shrimp and grits and then ordered a side of grits to go over my veggie entree. They don't serve grits for breakfast unless you special order it which takes a long time and doesn't taste good enough to be worth the effort. But since it was on the menu this night, I decided to get some extra for dinner. This was Art Danielian's birthday and we had a big strawberry cream cake with a scoop of vanilla on top of each person's slice.
I also went alone to the comedian's show at 8:30 pm in the Galaxy. T.J. was funny in a Branson sorta way. (I heard he plays in shows there a lot.) Have never been there myself, but I know it by reputation and am not interested in a Las Vegas Mid-South Lite venue. Didn't appreciate his New Orleans reference when he began making fun of "Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?" — which he obviously doesn't. We saw his show one time later and he had one joke about a guy who doing landscape work for him and suddenly began doing a jig and jumping around like crazy. TJ thought, hey, that's the kind of energy I could use in my upcoming TV show. He talked to the guy's boss, and the boss turned and yelled to this worker, "Hey! Diego! This guy says he'll pay you $500 if you'll cut off another finger on TV for him!"
Went back to the Stateroom, checked that Del was still okay, and hit the sack with plans to get up at daybreak as we near the Antarctica Peninsula.
SAILING PAST THE ANTARCTICA PENINSULA
I walked across Deck 11 to the Lido Café about sunrise at 4 am and no one was there. I did find some coffee around the corner. Took a go cup of coffee and walked around the ship on the upper deck. Began taking photos as we neared the coast. Seas were moderate and winds were still high. The air of 28 degF and 30 mph winds made for frrrrigid conditions. My cold weather gear worked well. Two pairs of socks in my black Finn shoes, tank top, winter silks top and bottom, blue silk Territory Ahead long-sleeve shirt, my new traveler's vest, my blue down jacket and my double-breasted jacket did the trick, plus my Duluth gloves and Russian scarf. I still had to come in several times to run warm water over my hands so that I could squeeze the trigger on my SONY HX50 camera which operated great in the cold weather.
About 9 or 10 am, I met up with Del and we walked up to the Lido Café where I ordered my custom-made omelet (the cook recognizes me and if not too busy carries it to my table), toasted English Muffin with butter and marmalade, Orange Juice and coffee. Later we had a light lunch in Palm Court where all the action took place because of the great view it gives of the prow of the ship from Deck 11. You can see everything that's coming up. I have never seen it so crowded on our previous six cruises on Crystal.To take photos without the glass in the way, I had to run up a flight of stairs and I must have run up and down stairs on many occasions. I found places fore and aft where I could stay out of the frigid 10 degree wind chill behind a glass partition. That allowed me unobstructed views of icebergs and sea life and I could quickly pop out and shoot photographs without any glass between my camera and the images I wanted to capture.
The salt spray had dried on the outside of our balcony's sliding glass doors and Dihana came by with a bucket and a squeegee and cleaned the glass for us. In the photo I took you can see the tall Antarctic snow-covered peaks behind her as she worked.
In the aft area, the best spot for photos was down one deck from aft of the Lido Café where few people went. On the Lido deck's patio behind the café a young Filipino waiter in his white tee with blue stripes was so excited over the whales that he apparently didn't feel the cold. He was jumping up and down yelling for somebody to take his photo with the whale surfacing behind him. He symbolized the excitement that was rife on the entire ship. It was palpable. You could feel it everywhere you went. I have never been anywhere with such sustained excitement that last the entire day! And this day was about 20 or more hours long. It was light as noon at 4 AM when I got up.
The views were spectacular. I took over 233 photos and the day was not over yet. It's late afternoon and feels like midday. At one point, I went back to my cabin to get something or maybe just to warm up, and I walked out on our balcony to have a look and saw an ice floe with sea lions flowing towards me. As they passed I took photos of them as I looked down on them. My favorite shot caught a large penguin in mid-air diving off the edge of an ice floe into the sea about 20 feet below, while his fellow penguin was shrugging his shoulders as if to say, "Are you sure you want to do that?"
Several of these floes passed below me and the sea lions were sunbathing or sleeping after some strenuous swimming to fetch their meals of fish and penguins. Some sea lions were called crabeaters who really ate krill, and didn't eat penguins. This was obvious from seeing penguins on the same ice floe with sea lions. When they passed, I tried to get the sea lions' attention by clapping my hands. Nothing. No response. Finally I tried whistling. I am not a strong whistler, but the sea lions popped their heads up and looked around when I whistled. So the photos you see with sea lions with their heads up were of the ones that heard and responded to my whistling.
The ship was getting ready to leave its Palmer Station mooring point once the few Symphony crew members who went to Palmer Station on a zodiac boat were back on board.
Earlier in the afternoon a Zodiac with 9 members of the Palmer Station team had come aboard and entertained and enlightened us, about 500 passengers in the Galaxy Theater, with words and photos of their work. As gratitude for their trouble, the Chef prepared some special dishes for them to take back to their home away from home on Palmer Station. Hot meals, fresh fruit and veggies, and bottles of champagne.
I used up about 4 batteries on this day with taking and showing photos. I had to take out of my suitcase my backup SONY HX50 Camera to use. I replaced its battery with a newly charged one and repacked it. I stored its battery which was still charged in camera case to serve as my own backup, since the other two batteries needed charging. One was completely discharged and the other was being re-charged. I have only one charging station unless I press my Lenovo Laptop into service via the USB port. That's an emergency option which it turned out that I didn't need to use.
My camera slipped out of my frozen hands and fell about 3 feet to the wooden deck at one point. Camera was okay except that the lens cover didn't close all the way at first, but it slowly recovered. What did seem to break completely broken was the pushbutton in the middle of the Select mechanism on the back of the camera. No way to change settings and the display brightness seems to have gone dimmer on me. (Note: sometime in February when I got back home, I noticed the pushbutton was working again. Without that button, I couldn't select earlier photos in the back display, so I was thrilled when it began working again. )
On the way to dinner I saw Joan Bergy in the Crystal Cove in one of her strikingly beautiful outfits, black top and zebra stripes pants with an Op Art effect. I had her pose in front of the gold statuary next to the Cove's fountain. This was a festive evening in the Dining Room, particularly at Table 60. Art who had a special birthday cake the previous night was celebrating his and Martha's anniversary on this night and our table was festooned with colorful ribbons. After dinner they brought out a Happy Anniversary cake with a single lit candle, which the Head Waiter sliced into pieces for everyone and added ice cream.
On this night I had the Butternut Squash Bisque with Toasted Sunflower Seeds and Pumpkin Seed Oil. I noticed that Lindsay had the Roasted Beet Root Salad with Oak Leaf Lettuce, Herbed Cream Cheese Truffles, and Dried Blueberries. For my main course I had the Grilled Portobello and Eggplant Tower on Truffled Cauliflower Purée, with Polenta Croutons and Tomato Confit. If one could eat words, this would be a banquet. Just wanted you to get an idea that reading the Menu in a Crystal Dining Room can be a culinary education even before the meal you ordered arrives.Frankly I could never identify all the ingredients from these frou-frou descriptions when my food arrived. I didn't care, if it tasted good, and invariably it did. Well, okay, on an earlier night somebody in the kitchen, some novice sous chef, apparently thought you made gumbo by dumping a gallon of dark pre-cooked roux in a pot and adding seafood. It was so brown and thick that you cut almost cut with a knife. Eat it with a fork even. I tasted it and it even tasted awful.
[NOTE: our Waiters Kojak and Ferenc saved all the days' menus and gave them to us in an envelope on the last dinner of the cruise. Thanks to them, I could simply copy all the words on the menu for this one night and let you read them. They changed the Menu every night, but non-readers could opt for the Traditional Fare which stayed the same each night, such as Broiled Atlantic Salmon Fillet or Grilled Free Range Chicken Breast. Makes you wonder: Were not the Atlantic Salmon also Free Range?]
After dinner we enjoyed New Orleans jazz by the Galaxy Combo in the Crystal Cover. After it was over I finally went with Del to the Imagine light show, against my better judgment, and it was worst than I could have Imagine'd. In a completely darkened theater, ugly creatures with Bright Neon Lights on their bodies danced to raucous music with execrable lyrics, most of which were luckily indecipherable. I did not find one part of the show that I liked except this: it was over in 30 minutes and we could leave. It had been an exciting, memorable day and we needed to get sleep.
SAILING PAST DECEPTION ISLAND AND ELEPHANT ISLAND
After leaving the Antarctica Peninsula we sailed close by Deception Island and Elephant Island on our way to the Falkland Islands. First, let me say that we went to Elephant Island and didn't see any elephants. Well, we did see some a large gold and a large silver elephant in the on board shop. Second, I figured out why it's called Deception Island. Cruise Director Paul MacFarland said we would get to see thousands of penguins, but neglected to mention that we would be so far away from the penguins they would be barely visible with a 30X Zoom lens! Look at the banner photo above, see those white blurs? That's best view we had of penguins. They were so hard to see with the naked eye that I had to ask a guy with a 100X Zoom binoculars where the hell were the penguins. Then I knew where to point my camera and could record them. What a deception! Paul prepared us for something big and we got something invisible to the naked eye. Yes, there were thousands of penguins: the pathway of penguins down the side of Deception Island resembled the Santa Monica freeway at rush hour in Los Angeles with its 12 lanes of auto traffic going in each direction at the awesome speed of 5 miles an hour. But to get the effect of our how we saw the penguin freeway on Deception Island, we'd have to pass 3,000 feet above the Santa Monica freeway and try to spot cars on the jam-packed roadway.
For me it was a real disappointment to be so far away that even with high-powered binoculars and zoom lens, penguins were barely visible. Temperature was below freezing and some light snow fell while I was outside, but mostly large flakes and the snow shower lasted about ten minutes. The day was overcast with low clouds and nothing much that pretty enough to photograph.When Elephant Island was due up ahead on our right in about an hour, we stayed warm in our stateroom till then. So I wouldn't have to fight my way to the railing for a photo, I went to the aft Deck 10 below the Lido Café. There's a spot on the railing leeward of the wind where one can stay out of the wind and still get great shots. Few people came outside down there in the frigid weather, so there was no competition for the railing.
What we saw were two large islands mostly covered with packed snow, and only Deception Island had a swath of green where the penguins made their nests on the slopes above the sea.Even getting into zodiac boats, there was little chance of getting to see the penguins up close, much less close enough to smell them — something a friend from Australia warned me against. I did get some shots of penguins on the edge of large ice floes and could see them swimming in the sea, coming up and down above the water at times, but the penguins in the water were difficult to photograph as they happened so suddenly and by the time I saw them they were back under the water.
We came down for the Shackleton Lecture by Wolff at 10 AM and then I went up to our Stateroom to process more photos. By processing, I mean cropping them as needed, adjusting the light values to bring out detail from any darker areas, and most importantly describe what in the photograph and the date on which it was taken. Without the description, it would be difficult to distinguish Deception Island from Elephant Island later when I got home.
I took a trip to Rome in 2001 and never processed my photos. I learned a lot from that mistake. With a good description on a photo, I can quickly find every photo I took of a certain place. But if I search Coliseum, none of the photos I took of Rome in 2001 come up because they're mostly unlabeled. Those photos are like prints in a shoebox. I have search by hand through them to find a photo I know that I took. Plus I now put a code at the front of every photo of YYMMDD so that today February 26, 2016 would be coded 160226 and that code will bring up every photo I took on that day through the File Explore function. It can scan 60,000 photographs in about two seconds on my PC. The other important thing is file space. In processing I always compress the photographs slightly and save them as .jpg files. Even with large terabit disks available, the reduction from 5 megabytes a photo to about 1. 3 Mb is important. By the time I use a photo in my DIGESTWORLD issues nowadays, the photo image will vary from .1 to .2 Mb, giving sharp resolution at normal display size, providing a very quick display of a lot of images on various computers, pads, and smartphones.
This was a more relaxing day, almost a relief after the intense excitement from the previous day along the peninsula. We watched the island scenery mostly from the Palm Court, had a relaxing tea there in the afternoon and an elegant meal in the Crystal Dining room later. On the way to dinner we stopped at the Cove to listen to the Vee Gees singing "My Gal". A fine group of about a dozen college students from the University of Virginia who added some youthful energy and verge to the cruise as well as some great singing. For dessert Verne and I special ordered a banana split and Kojak and Ferenc came through with a spectacular one. Kojak quickly learned to create my dinner drink, Cranberry Sunrise, and soon other table members were ordering it. I mentioned Irina earlier who actually asked me how to make it herself. Art and the other guys took to telling Kojak, "Bring me of Bobby's drink." It's simple to make, but difficult to order without careful instruction: "Large wine glass filled to top with ice, pour Cranberry Juice Cocktail to top of ice, Pour a tiny amount of Orange Juice across the top of the ice floating on top. Do not stir.The OJ will slowly diffuse into the upper portion of the drink and the color will go from the deep red at bottom to a wonderful sunrise blend of red and orange. If they pour too much OJ or stir it, the colors will be a muddy color. In a bar I usually ask if I can pour the OJ myself and that helps the bartender know what I'm after. If this drink gets popular, I'll just be able to order by name, and that's my hope. I get asked questions like, "No alcohol?" and I might say, "Just zero proof please." The best response is to just look insulted. I like this drink because you can drink it all night and it doesn't get old. The Orange tartness offsets the sweetness of the Cranberry. Main thing is it looks like a mixed drink or cocktail, so no one will ask you to drive them home, but you can offer to if you like.
After the dinner Del and I went to see "Bridge of Spies" movie. I recall when Francis Gary Power's U-2 Spy Plane was shot down, but did not remember that we traded one spy for two accused spies. A powerful bit of negotiation by the lawyer played by Tom Hanks. I recall Powers from 1970 when he was the "Eye in the Sky" traffic reporter for KGIL AM radio station in the San Fernando Valley. I listened to Sweet Dick's morning radio show and heard Dick talking to Gary almost every morning. One day Dick decided it would be fun to have Powers do an overflight of the KGIL parking lot and shoot a photo of the back of the neck of Giuseppe their radio engineer as he laid face-down on the pavement. His neck, Dick said, looked like the prominent neck of "El Duce", Benito Mussolini, the former dictator of Italy. Dick, Gary, and Giuseppe arranged the overflight, and you could write in and get a copy of the photo. Sorry to hear that Gary died about 9 years later in a helicopter crash.Dick had another schtick where he decided that America needed a hero and launched a campaign to find Lash LaRue, the old Western movie hero, who was an ace with a whip. I did send for that Wanted Poster with Lash's photo which pleaded, "Lash Larue, Where Are You?" Recently I discovered that Lash was a Cajun and was known as the Cajun Cowboy before he went Hollywood, plus he was originally from Gretna, Louisiana where I've lived since 1989, probably growing up just a few miles from where I did in Westwego. See more background on Lash by Clicking Here.
After the movie, we went to the 10:30 PM Show in the Galaxy Theater to hear Michael Bacala give a virtuoso violin performance. Wow! What a great Polish violinist and entertainer. Crystal does an amazing job with lining up unique performers so that every show is a delight.
CRUISING TO FALKLANDS
The next day we spent clearing the Drake Passage as we went sailing on to Port Stanley in the Falkland islands. Another sea day and in rough seas, but we enjoyed ourselves. When I awoke to rough seas, rocking and rolling, I imagined myself as a small baby being rocked to sleep in my mother's arms in her rocker in our Westwego kitchen as she sang the lullaby, "Bye, Bye, Baby Bunting, Daddy's gone a hunting, to fetch a baby rabbit skin to wrap my Baby Bunting in." I can still remember looking at the book with colored drawings of a rabbit next to the words of the song, one of my earliest memories of those halcyon days when I had alone time with my mother before my brothers came along.
We got up late and went to the Crystal Dining Room for breakfast. I ordered the Salmon Benedict and Del and I each ate one of the two topped English Muffins. Then we walked to the Galaxy to listen to an astronaut, Dr. Jeffrey Hoffman, talk about his experiences in space and particularly his assignment on the repair of the Hubble Space Telescope. He was an astrophysicist who fit the bill exactly for this important and hazardous space mission. Through some mishap, the lens of the Hubble was a millimeter or so too thick and a special small lens was created to correct the problem with the main lens. He was part of the team who had to install this in outer space. He said that working in space absent gravity human lacked any up or down signals. The effect is like those optical illusions where a stack of cubes can turn in the blink of an eye from a convex shape into a concave shape of blocks. Hanging down from the Hubble looking up to work can suddenly change to feeling like you're working upside down! And just as suddenly you can feel like you're holding on for dear life a hundred miles above the Earth.
After that we heard Wolff lecture about Maggie Thatcher and how she changed Britain for the better by invading the Falklands to oust the Argentina takeover once and for all. She was a newly elected Prime Minister when the Argentina invasion took place. There were hundreds of British subjects living on the island for over a hundred years, and opinions varied among citizens and those in office as to what to do. Someone send me a list of droll headlines a few months before our cruise and one of them was about the uncertainty about what to so: BRITISH LEFT WAFFLES ON THE FALKLAND ISLANDS.I told Del, look at this headline! We'll get to go see if we can find those waffles the British left on the Falkland Islands. But Maggie never waffled, but rather she took control and send British warships and soldiers to oust the invaders, which they did in short order. Seems that Argentina had overplayed their hand, hoping the British would allow the takeover, and besides that Chile was threatening some Argentina territory, so Argentina held back a lot of their forces on the mainland to keep Chile at bay. Well, Maggie's initiative quickly recovered the Falklands. I had a chance to talk to our 67-year-old guide when we were in Port Stanley and asked him what the invasion was like for him. He said he was under house arrest for several weeks, but was otherwise unharmed during the war and was very delighted to remain a British subject on a British island.Maggie's action came to Ronald Reagan's attention and led to the good friendship between our President and Britain's Prime Minister. Both of these leaders faced a challenge from an upstart country attempting to wrest away territory from them. For Reagan it was his definitive action to send Marines to Grenada which threw out the Cuban invaders almost overnight.
In the afternoon we went to the Mozart Tea in the Palm Court followed by the Gem and Fashion Show in the Cove. The head of the jewelry store on ship had placed several jewelry pieces, necklaces, earrings, and bracelets on elegantly dressed ladies who walked among us showing us their jewels. After that affair, we had dinner with Joy, Art, Blaine, Lindsay, Judy and Verne. Then a bit of Vee Gee's on our way to the Galaxy to hear the star of the earlier, Rocket Man show, take off his rocket pack and show us his own rocking singing and piano playing.
PORT STANLEY, FALKLAND ISLANDS
Docking in Port Stanley overnight we had an early breakfast in the Lido Café and while waiting for our separate excursions to begin; we remembered what Paul MacFarland had said about Port Stanley, 'It's like Ushuaia without all the glitz." Which is very funny if you've ever been to the small town of Ushuaia, the entrance to Tierra del Fuego National Park. Argentina claims to own the Falkland Islands and call them and Port Stanley by Spanish names, but that's just another fantasy by Argentina like Juan Peron's view that his shirtless ones, the common workers, could be paid twice as much as their work was worth by dipping into Argentina's treasury without the country going broke, which it did. Port Stanley has a stable currency and economy, and with the advent of oil-drilling contractors coming to do directional drilling around the Falklands, their economy is doing well.
Del did a bus tour of the Falklands, and I chose the 3.5 hour nature walk across the area outside of Port Stanley, a 5K trek up and down hillsides overlooking the channel. Sally and Brian were the guides and he was 67 so he didn't walk too fast. They were both natives of the island, born there, and knew most of the flora and fauna. The heebee elliptica was a native flower that was in bloom, white with a blue inner flash of color.
We saw flightless Steamer Ducks who are called steamers because when excited they begin paddling very fast with their wings and kick up a lot of spray which looks like steam coming out of them, thus their name. I saw a couple of the Steamers coming ashore the rocky beach and noted one of them looked ever so much like a penguin as it was walking nearly erect. The evolution from the flightless steamer duck to the penguin was a small step apparently.We saw the red-billed oyster catcher, with its long bright red beak. Also a night heron. We walked up close to several Magellan Penguins in or near their nests when we got close to Gypsy Cove. Even got a photograph of two very young penguins peeking out of their nest dug out of the peaty hillside. Brian looked closely into each hole and called our attention to these babies. As we climbed to an overlook of Gypsy Cove, Brian pointed out one beached King Penguin on the beach. He said that she apparently needed to molt so she could swim north to Rio where she will spend the summer before returning south for the winter. The Magellan penguins will also leave the Falklands soon as their babies, like the two I saw in their nest, have lost their winter coats.
Saw a red-breasted robin and a goldfinch couple, plus a Turkey Buzzard, several cormorants, and sea gulls, in addition to several Upland Geese families.
Whenever I'd ask Brian or Sally how much farther to our van, they'd say "Just around the corner" then an hour would pass, so finally I asked, "Sally, how many minutes" and she said, "Five minutes" and later amended it to "Ten minutes" and she was right. Saw Blaine and Lindsay walking towards us as when we got in sight of our van, they were arriving from a different excursion.
I saw the plane likely carrying Joy LeRoy flying over the hills. Turns out it wasn't. It was too foggy for her planned flight as she explained at dinner.
We arrived at dock and I asked why we were waiting because I saw an empty Tender at the quay-side and he said, "Another boat is coming". Rats! I was upset, right up until I saw Del walking towards me. She had just walked down from town and because I missed the empty Tender, I got to enjoy a very tender experience with Del. We talked, and we shared our photos of the day with each other, as we tendered our way back to the Symphony.
This was the day the seafood gumbo in the Dining Room was awful: thicker than oatmeal, and utterly tasteless. I tried adding water to it, to no avail. It was a roux gone wild, with ingredients dumped into it but never thinned, cooked, or seasoned properly. I had eaten seafood gumbo on the ship earlier and it was reasonable, but there was no excuse for this mess. I left Del at the dining table and headed to our Stateroom to remove my wintery gear and get into bed to take a well-deserved nap.
When I got up about 3 PM, I belched some of that awful gumbo, so I dressed and went to get myself some ice cream on Lido Deck. Met Micah, the leader of the Vee Gees at the ice cream place. He thought I was from Texas, so I told him the "Country Song" story where I sang the Star Spangled Banner when the Japanese ladies on the elevator said "Cowboy" and then "Sing country song." He laughed.
Then I went to Palm Court for tea time. Joette was entering as I got there and we joined each other for tea. She was in great spirits, having just come from a long bus trip on a later excursion than ours. I showed her my photos and we talked. The guitar player seemed to know me so I walked over and recognized him as the Crystal escort on my morning excursion. His name was Alex and we talked for awhile. Then as I left the Palm Court, I told several servers how special the Palm Court and its tea time was for me. No other cruise ship has anything like it. Joette agreed. Outside the door was a sweet gal named Ericka, from Slovakia, who had greeted me when I came in. So I told her how special this tea time and place was for me this way, "No matter how mundane or plain it may seem to you, remember how special what you do is." She smiled and said, "You made my day!" I had to walk over and give her a big hug after that. I noted she was from Slovakia and she said, "I am the only person aboard ship from Slovakia." I replied, "You have to be good, Ericka, your entire country is depending on you!" Another big smile and another friend.
Had a great time at dinner talking to Joan Bergy and Art Danielian, both of whom wanted to know about my DIGESTWORLD issues. Took their photos and added them to my contacts. Joan is interested in eye research (having eye issues herself) and belongs to some eye institute. Told her a little about Kaisu's work on eyes. Promised to send her my nomyopia review even we get home. Also got Blaine & Lindsay's photos and a card with their contact details. We topped off the evening watching Julie and Dennis star in "Curtain Call," a tribute to Broadway.
From Port Stanley we had a sea day cruising to Puerto Madryn, Argentina, and the seas were quite rough until we got closer to the coastline that evening. I spent a lot of time processing photos and was getting closer to my goal of finishing them all before I got home. (Had only 100 or so left out of the 1200 I took, plus Del took about 150, and I will use some of those.) We skipped dinner on this night, but we did go to Jimmy Travis' comedy act later. He had a fistful of jokes about rough seas. Luckily we went to the early show because Jimmy hurt his hand during his performance for us and had to cancel the later performance. We must have been laughing so hard that we didn't notice when he hurt his hand.
PUERTO MADRYN, ARGENTINA
During our Sea Day en route to Puerto Madryn, the Chefs cooked up a huge buffet in the Crystal Cove whic was a delight to see and to eat.
We ate up in Lido Café then took the shuttle to land across the long dock and got in a taxi to go to the Ecocenter. Later back on board at the Ice Cream bar, Captain Ralf Zander came up next to me and asked how my day was, "Not good, we went to the Ecocenter and didn't hear any echoes." He chuckled and vamped on Paul's joke, "We went to Virgin Islands and didn't hear any echoes there either."
As Del and I walked past the Hollywood Theater, I stopped in and caught Father Liam Kidney right after Sunday Mass. Fr. Liam is a real kidder. His joke during Liar's Club led me to recall this joke which I shared with him. Ms. Harris was a spinster and the organ player and choir director of his new church, and when a new priest took over, he was directed to meet her. When he arrived for tea, he noticed that she had a glass bowl on her pedal organ in her parlor which was half-filled with water and had a condom floating on top the water.After tea, he gently inquired about the strange object on top on the organ, and she explained how she found it on the ground coming home from choir practice and read the instructions on it, "Open package, keep contents moist, place on organ to prevent disease." She exclaimed "And you know what, Father, I haven't had a cold all winter!" The good Father laughed and said, "I can use that one, next Liar's Club." For those of you who don't know what a Liar's Club is, the Cruise Director Paul arranged for four performers or lecturers to sit on the Galaxy stage and they were presented with a strange word and had to explain what the word meant. Their explanations were far-fetched and very funny, and ended up giving a definition of the strange word. One of the performers was instructed to give the right definition and the other three to give a wrong definition. The audience members have remote devices and have to choose the right definition, no Google allowed. It's always a fun night for the performers and the audience.
Our ship moored to the dock and after a quick shuttle ride to shore, we found a taxi driver, Francisco, who drove us to the Ecocenter for $10 with tip. It saved us a mile or so walk along the shore which was nicely paved and the day was beautiful for a walk, but my 5 Km trek over the environs of Port Stanley was fresh in my memory. A Crystal Symphony excursion bus was just leaving when we arrived at the Ecocenter, so Del and I had the place to ourselves. We enjoyed a leisurely walk through the exhibits and walked up to the tower to get a panoramic view of Valdez Bay and Puerto Madryn. We discovered there were Right Whales. This was the name given to a whale by the whalers because if you harpooned a Right Whale, it didn't sink, making their job a lot easier. The Center had a life-size model of a Right Whale, which made our job of identifying a Right Whale easier. It seemed to have a bigger belly than most other whales and that must keep it afloat after it dies. Next to the whale was a large sea lion model.There was a model of a dolphin with its front completely finished, but its rear half was all bony skeleton. Outside was an actual skeleton of a large Right Whale. The only live animals were in a tank which contained three pastel-colored starfish, one pink and the other two, shades lavender. Del took a photo of me with a whale model made of red painted plastic gallon jars after I placed my hat on the whale's head. When I took her photo, she was tickling the whale's belly. In my date glyph in the Visitor's Log, I did my best imitation of two Right Whales kissing. From the seaside deck outside the Center, we saw some square rafts with metal railings off shore, and these were apparently the snorkeling rafts for one of our excursion choices. We bought a few small souvenirs in the gift shop before we taxied back to the docking area.On the taxi ride back I took photos of the sea side vendors, the Symphony in the distance, and views of the city. As we walked the long pier to the ship coming back, I got some photos of a nice sailboat, a cormorant, and a duck in the water.
When we stepped back into the ship, I was startled to find that we had walked directly into the Bistro on the port side of the Symphony. First time we ever did that. The Bistro is on Deck Six and we usually exit Deck Five to shore and Deck Four to the Tender. Judy and Verne were in the Bistro and we got ourselves some coffee and custard tarts, and sat and talked to them.
About noon, through the windows of the Bistro, I spotted a stuffed penguin in front of a souvenir shop. I thought it was a stuffed penguin, and sure enough it was: stuffed with a young man, who stood still until someone came up to him, then he turned and followed them. I decided to film a movie clip of him doing that, and this time after the lady he followed a few steps ignored him, he stopped at the entrance to the shop and looking at me waved a flipper at me. Then the gal inside the shop came and took off his penguin head. You can see this clip which is on You Tube and accessible in the Movie Blurbs section of this Issue.
RETURN TO MONTEVIDEO, URUGUAY
By virtue of our being on two cruises back-to-back, we return now to Montevideo and end up in Buenos Aires for our flight home. Since we took the Panoramic Montevideo excursion last cruise, we chose this time to walk into the old city from our ship. Following the Green Road past a beautiful entrance area with purple and gold anchors and a statue of a bulked up Longshoreman hauling a large sack, we soon found a marvelous old city area. How old I'm not sure. What impressed me most was all the World War II vintage Coca-Cola signs. There are original signs which have decades since disappeared from the United States, here they are, preserved in their original form. A woman is carrying a six-pack of Cokes from the store to welcome her husband home from the war. A gal in a white Navy uniform is toasting with a Coke in a fountain glass next to a working woman in a suit carrying a six-pack of Coke with the WWII price of 25 cents on its cardboard top. The mathematics we all learned in the Forties was a Coke was a nickel, but if you multiply the nickel Coke's price by six, it came to 25 cents. These Coca-Cola signs were nearly five feet tall and directly in the windows where they had been placed 70 years ago. Amazing.On the streets of the business district nearly every other small shop had a round Coca-cola sign projecting out over the sidewalk and some had full-length red banners hung out draping down from across the front of the buildings.
Before we left the Symphony, I got a photo of Judy and Verne with their heads sticking out over their Stateroom's balcony taking photos as I was. Later as we walked into the old city we met up with them and together we walked to a park we had visited on our earlier excursion. This time we went into an underground mausoleum and I was impressed by the deep stillness and sacred feeling of the place. It felt like no one could talk in this place. It was dark with illumination only across the far walls and two uniformed guards on either side of a large brass urn which seemed to contain the remains of a great hero of Montevideo.
The city contains a marvelous variety of old and new architecture blended together and nice shady parks which were filled with kiosks of locals selling their wares. One local Gustavo was selling winter hats made of nutria fur. I got a photo of him as he watched Del try on one of his Nutria fur hats. It was a natural fur, the same kind worn by the nutria which inhabit the bayou across the street, who occasionally stroll across our lawn wearing it.I wanted to get the natural colored fur for Del, but she opted for a dark brown fur. Shame she didn't have it when we sailed past the Antarctica peninsula about a week ago. But she'll find some uses for it before this year's over as we have a Northern cruise planned for the winter. We bought it and when we converted the local currency into dollars, it came to $12. This fur hat, if you could find one in the US would probably go for a hundred or so dollars. Its inside was lined with local wool, as well. Gustavo had a nice business going with his wares on a cart and a chair to sit on. Enjoyed talking to him. Montevideo was probably our favorite city to visit on this cruise and walking through the old city gave us a chance to see it up close and personal.
We sat in a table in front of a McDonald's McCafe under a red umbrella with a McD logo on it, right across the street from the store. Del, when she worked in Health Care, had driven through most of Louisiana on sales calls, and whenever we are driving the state, she always knows where the next McDonald's is. Seems they have the most dependably clean restrooms. Here was a McD's she hadn't visited yet, and she took care of that today. As I sat waiting for her, a ten-year-old kid with a black cape on at the next table saw me and put on his Zorro mask to pose for a photo. When Del came back, she sang me a 1980s McDonald advertising ditty as it had been mangled by the teenagers at East Jefferson where our sons went to high school. Here's how it went:
"McDonald's is your kind of place,
Hamburgers in your face,
French Fries between your toes,
Dill pickles up your nose.
Don't forget those chocolate shakes,
Made from polluted lakes.
McDonald's is your kind of place."
I laughed and asked her to repeat that for a movie clip, but to change "polluted" to "our natural" and then I would post that to my next issue if it passes YouTube muster, and so far it has. You can hear her sing the unpolluted version by Clicking Here . There was a local man in a green tee shirt reading his newspaper at a nearby table who heard Del singing and told her she sings good. We struck up a conversation with him. I rested from our long walk, eating a McD's ice cream cone while Del walked down the rows of vendors right across the fence from our table area. It looked like a typical US flea market set up in the shady park.
This may have been where Verne and Judy walked up to meet us, because I recall walking with them down to the park with mausoleum and tall palm trees afterwards. We visited the Church of St. John on the corner of the park this time. Beautiful stained glass, magnificent golden altar, and a baptistry with an amazing white marble statue of John the Baptist pouring water from his hands over the head of Jesus in the Jordan. Even the water pouring down was rendered in marble.
One day Del had asked me what those heavy iron things along the dock's edge were called, the ones which hold the ship's anchor lines. I happened to see Drazen Drugovic in his civvies walking our way, so I asked him and found out they were called bollards. On the way back to the ship I saw a purple anchor next to a gold bollard and took a photo of it. We saw a man sitting in an automobile older than the vintage WWII Coke signs, a four-door Model A with right-hand drive that looked fully restored as if brand new.
We were exhausted when we got back. We had a great time, but we had been walking for almost four hours. We ate a quick lunch in Crystal Dining Room, then took a long nap. In the afternoon Del had almost finished her packing and I began my packing right after I had backed up all my photos and journal notes of the trip. The next day in Buenos Aires will be devoted to leaving the ship in the morning so that the new passengers for the next cruise can get into their Staterooms by four in the afternoon. We went to the performance in the Galaxy Theater of an opera star Jonathan Ansell who sang a variety of arias and popular songs. As we slept, the Symphony moved across the large bay to Buenos Aires.
RETURN TO BUENOS AIRES AND DISEMBARKATION
We left our bags outside our stateroom the previous night, so we donned our traveling clothes and headed to our last breakfast in the Lido Café. On mornings of excursions, I would order my special omelet, but when I started to eat it, I would realize there was no salt or pepper in it. On busy mornings of excursions, there's so much else to think about, I would remember the seasoning when I took the first bite of my omelet.I'd vow to remember to ask the chef to add it the next morning, but he'd start making it when he saw me and I'd sit down to discover I had to add salt and pepper. If you add the seasoning when you're cooking it, you can eat the omelet one bite at a time and the uneaten part stays warm. But if you have to cut it all up to season it, it gets cold. On this last morning, Del reminded me to ask him to season it and I did. Our flight from Buenos Aires airport will be leaving about 9 PM, so we will be bussed to a Sheraton Hotel downtown and no telling what food if any they will have, so we ate a hardy breakfast.
After we fetched our carrying stuff from our room, we went to the Starlite Lounge to wait to be called for our bus to the hotel. We sat with Verne and Judy who were headed to the same hotel even though they had a different flight.
After a long bus ride, we found the our place right away this time. A large convention room which was filled with displaced passengers passing the time till their bus to the airport. It seemed like we were refugees exiled from our home on the Symphony and stuck it a large camp with minimal food till we could leave for home. I managed a cat nap or two. The food was Danish rolls, coffee, and orange juice. No Bistro with lattes and custard tarts, no ice cream bar, no Crystal Dining Room, just refugee fare till we get to the airport about 6 PM when we can eat some real food. We met a couple from Charlotte and the woman liked playing cards, so we showed her how to play PAY ME! and that helped the time pass a bit quicker. She made me promise to send the score sheet to her when we got home and I did.
The bus came on time and got us to the EZE airport of Buenos Aires. Sounds like EASY airport, and it almost was. We got through the TSA-type checkpoint easily, and found a place to eat some hot food in sight of our gate. Refreshed, we walked over to our assigned gate. We could see the check-in area from where we sat and we waited. I noticed a long queue of people, and wondered what they were in line for. Soon enough, when after a hour the line never got smaller, I discovered that we needed to undergo another inspection of our carry-on luggage, this time a hands-on inspection with our all of our bags opened. Never have I undergone an open bag inspection within twenty feet of an airline gate before! So we hauled our carry-bags and stood in line.The gal at the gate kept paging for "Malfallen Boy" over the PA system, over and over again. I had no idea who that was. As we cleared the hands-on, being closer to the gal talking over the microphone, I recognized finally she was trying to page Paul MacFarland, our Cruise Director, and she putting his first name last and then mispronouncing it completely. I walked over to her and quickly explained how to pronounce his name, and that must have helped because Paul made it on the plane. She said they had some equipment for him which had been taken away earlier. As we were getting ready to sit down, Paul came walking by. I tried to tell to him how they were mis-paging him, but he merely said, "No one could believe I was flying coach." or some cover story quip like that, and walked by.
On the flight home, Del watched the movie "Burnt" and didn't like it. I slept mostly, then got my laptop onto my tray table and processed a few photos. With about 4 hours left till we land in Atlanta, we decided to watch the latest MI movie together: "Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation." It was one of the best MI movies, keeping true to the original TV series plot line and ended with them capturing the bad guy in a glass box in a turn-around at the end of the movie. Del and I slept at various places in movie, so we'll need to watch it again in the comfort of our Timberlane Screening Room.
HOME AGAIN, HOME AGAIN
We got home the next morning and we were jet-lagged and sleepy. Del and I both took a shower and used up all the hot water. I need some hot water to shave so I filled the 8-cup measuring cup with water and started the old microwave I keep in my dressing closet. But Del's dressing area lights were on and that tripped the circuit breaker across the house in the garage. Had to dress just to reset the breaker. We called our masseuse and arranged for us to have back-to-back massages to get out the kinks from the 12 hours of flying. As I gassed up my Maxima I noticed the gas prices had fallen to $1.42 regular and $1.82 premium. After that I took my car through the new car wash to knock off all the road dust. I walked the West Lawn feeding the anthills, re-ordered the Advocate newspaper and cleared away some 500 emails from my read-only file. The important emails come to my phone when I'm away, so these were mostly ad and information I can wait to read later or skip entirely.
One of my first chores was to plant the Spring crop of red potatoes. I used a couple of large potatoes I saved from the Fall harvest in the Babe Garden. This is the most visible garden from the street and got its name from being hidden by my 1990 F-150 Half-ton Pickup for several years after we moved in. I called it Babe as it was a Blue Heavy Hauler like Paul Bunyan's Blue Ox. This was a story everyone read or was read to in grade school in youth. The youth of today are texting in class instead of listening, so far as I can tell by their complete lack of attention span until they have to work to support a family.
Finally located a male Barber, Mike Johnson, who was recommended to me by Tim Petersen. Did a great job on my hair. I was a bit disappointed that he cuts hair in a Styling Salon with several women stylists and keeps his radio on, but so far I'm pleased with his hair-cutting. Interesting that I would find another Mike to cut my hair after my thirty year barber, Mike Nuccio, died several years ago. Also a coincidence that Mike cuts in a place called Sierra Salon and I have a grand-daughter named Sierra.
GLITCHES AND FIXES
During the cruise I took over 1200 photos and Del took about 160. Lots of work to do in February to get my double issue ready for March 1. All the attempts I had made to secure camera strap where it attaches to the carabiner had failed. It kept slipping around the metal snap-on clasp, and I finally conjured up a solution: drill a hole in the small flat side of the carabiner and loop the strap through it and it will stay fixed. The first day of February I went to my shop, anchored the carabiner in the vise, drilled the hole, and in fifteen or so minutes it was done. This became my Household Hint of the month. It might not help your household, but it sure helped mine.That camera goes everywhere with me in a case in which I carry spare battery and memory stick, a case which is my equivalent of a gun shooter holster: the camera must come out quickly and only when I want it to. The strap is essential to protect the delicate camera and the strap needs to be anchored to a belt loop and easily attached and removed from it. One fix for the month
A glitch resolves itself: during the cruise the Select button on the back of the camera stopped working. It's necessary for displaying old photos in the camera and changing various internal settings. The day I got home, the Select button began working again and is still good a month plus later. This was apparently solved by prayer which works much faster than sending the camera off for warranty repair.
A MONTH OF WORK
When the entire staff of a monthly publication takes a month off on an assignment, clearly there will be no publication at the end of that month. People have asked me casually, "How long does it take you to do your Digestworld?" and my answer is "A month". I'm working on it every minute that I'm not doing work around the house, running errands, visiting with friends and family. When we returned from a month's cruise along the southeastern coast of South America to Antarctica and back, I spent almost the entire month of February preparing this double issue. I had about 200 photos left to identify, crop, clean up, and compress. I had four books which I read during the cruise which had to be reviewed and copy-edited. I had a travelogue of our journey to prepare for the Out Our Way section which many Readers look forward to.Then I had to select the best photos for the 200 plus which will fit into the March 1 Double Issue covering January and February. Here I am on March 1, writing up the events of February before putting the Issue to bed.
FOOTBALL, BASEBALL, BASKETBALL, AND MARDI GRAS
February was not all work, never fear. LSU's basketball team led the SEC most of the month and are still in the running for an NCAA tournament bid. Ben Simmons, our freshman star, is reputedly the best college basketball player. Last fall, when Leonard Fournette, our Heisman favorite again in 2016, was asked, "How does it feel to be the Big Man on campus?" He replied, "That's not me, that's Ben Simmons." That was the first time I'd heard Ben Simmons name. I thought Leonard was referring to Ben's being taller than him, but Ben has also become better known since he donned his LSU uniform. His string of double-doubles are incredible.
Football in February, you ask? Yes, Coach Les Miles has solidified his place as head coach by bringing several top quality coaches from places like Wisconsin and Auburn. The football recruiting has been top notch, near No. 1. Things are looking bright for 2016 season.
Baseball, well, it's a rebuilding year. Only two starters remain from last year. But the pitching staff is flush with new talent, and two stars from last year Poche and Lange have returned. A senior pitcher Valek from Akron has transferred and can play immediately since their program was dissolved, and he's already won two of two games he pitched. Antoine Duplantis is a speedster in Right Field and hitting about .400 currently, and rarely strikes out. I mention this because I grew up in Westwego with his grandparents Bobby and Carolyn Duplantis. This is a team of potential new stars for LSU and it's joy to have them playing again.
Lest I forget, our New Orleans NBA Pelicans are finally coming together under new head Alvin Gentry and playing with the fire and intensity that can lead a team to the playoffs. Injuries have slowed them down, but not stopped them from beating playoff teams like the Thunder recently. Anthony Davis is showing that he is our franchise player and can go up against any other big men in basketball, block them and out-jump them when necessary.
And, of course, there's Mardi Gras. How did we find time for all the Carnival Parades? We didn't. Had planned to do the day-long Thoth parade, but our kids from Texas couldn't make it this year, so I used Sunday as an extra day free for writing. Since Del and I had missed the past three Mardi Gras day celebrations due to cold and rainy weather, we were ready for this one. It was a bit cold, but with clear skies most of the day, so we took the ferry to the foot of Canal Street and spent the day walking through the French Quarter and ending up near the end of the Rex Parade on Canal Street with our nephew Mark Matherne, his wife Becky, and their two girls Ella and Abby. They welcomed us to their spread out section next to the curbside fence and we caught doubloons and beads and had a great time. I was able to get photos of all the floats of Rex this year.
For the first time, our walk on Mardi Gras went from PJ's to PJ's. We walked first down Canal Street and stopped in the PJ's there to warm up a bit with their lattes. Then after walking down an almost empty Bourbon Street on this cold morning, we walked to St. Ann where the large costume contest was announcing its imminent start, and turned right to Jackson Square where there's always early morning activity.This year we caught the KOE in Wonderland parade, with hundreds of great costumes Alice would have recognized, including my favorite the Red Queen's Playing Cards in the suit of Fleur de Lis replacing in lavender the more stark black Spades suit. Met a guy with a Riding Banana and he allowed me to sit on it and take a ride. Told me it was made of papier mache and was severely damaged by Hurricane Katrina and the insurance company wouldn't reimburse him for the $37 claim he filed for damages to his banana. The nerve!
Asked somebody what the KOE stood for, and he said, "The Krewe of Elvis", but Elvis sued us, so we simply kept the initials but can't display his name. So for the KOE parade Elvis has left the Carnival Krewe and has left behind his initial E.
Our second PJ's stop was at the new one on Chartres across from Dickie Brennan's Tableau Restaurant. Another warm up with a latte as we sat and watched the various costumes of the customers. Then we walked down to the corner of where Zulu parade turns left from St. Charles onto Canal Street to head for its Mid City den. Too crowded to catch anything, but I was looking for a tall Jester, and finally spotted one. Sure enough, it was our good friend Burke Fountain with his lady friend Candy Reed, both in costume and enjoying the Zulu parade. We told them we were headed for some oysters at Felix's Oyster Bar on Iberville and they said they'd join us there later. When we got to Felix's I was surprised that Felix's had a long line and Acme Oyster House had none. Usually it's the other way around, Felix's has the shorter line. We got in line, figuring it would be awhile before Burke and Candy would join us anyway. In line, we discovered the cause of the queue displacement: Acme's was closed for a private party, so all the public wanting oysters were waiting for Felix's.We were offered two seats inside and took them, figuring if our two friends came, we'd find a way to get them a seat. As we walked past the oyster bar, I saw our buddy MJ, Michael Jackson, and said I wanted some large oysters today. When our waiter came, I told to ask Michael to open our oysters. She did and he did and we got great oysters. I walked over to give Michael his tip and thank him personally, then told the waiter the tip on the bill for our oyster po-boys and half-shell was all hers that MJ had been taken care of already.
From there we walked to see Pete Fountain's Half-Fast Walking Club where they end up at the Monteleone Hotel. They had already disbanded, but the krewe were dressed in orange this year and easy to spot. I got several doubloons from a member before we left for our next stop, which was Mark and Becky on Canal Street.
I stood next to Ella and Abby was over to my left. Becky still has a boot on her right foot from the disastrous auto crash she is recovering from. She's able to stand for the parade, but needs a wheel chair to go long distances. Asked her how her foot was and she said, "Lousy, but I'm thankful to be alive and well otherwise." Mark was really happy as usual, surrounded by his family and Becky's sisters and friends. I stood against the curbside fence and met Melissa who was a cute 5' gal in a rabbit suit. She promised to give me any Rex doubloons she caught. I scrambled on the ground to catch the ones I got. One was thrown to me and dropped a foot or so away and I was able to move my foot far enough through the barricade's bars to retrieve it.
Once the parade was over, we said our goodbyes, walked back to catch the next ferry and drove home. Unpacked our beads and doubloons, and took a 20 minute nap. Then we warmed up the remaining broccoli soup, after which I typed up the notes I'm using right now. Then processed the photos from the day which will fill these notes.
THE CROWNS MEET AT CROWN POINT
The Crowns are a bunch of guys my age mostly from Westwego who met this month at Crown Point, at the Restaurant des Familles. Those that were there: Floyd Robin, Mike Favre,
Dave Duplantis, Butch, and a bunch of other guys, some of which knew me from Westwego, and whose names I will remember after a few meetings. This was my time.My cousins, Gaton and Leonard Clement were there with LJ Poimboeuf. Gaton and LJ's wives, Helen and Judy (my cousin), sat next to Del and they got to know each other a lot better. Barbara Duplantis, Dave's wife, is the daughter of Edith Lawson, my favorite librarian in Westwego, and it was Barbara who fought the long, hard fight to get her mom's name on the new Westwego Library, a half-block from our home at 566 Avenue F. Several of the guys remembered our across the street neighbor, Dale Boudreaux, and agreed with my view of him as a "rich kid".
I had long talks with Floyd, Dave, Mike, and then with Gaton. He told me his dad built their home in Westwego in a meadow off the end of Fifth Street which later became the middle of the 600 block of Avenue F. Without water or electricity, they ran a hose to Uncle Dennis's house for water and an extension cord which gave them enough electricity to power one light bulb. This was the time in the early 1940s when Louisiana Power & Light provided mainly power for light bulbs in family homes, replacing kerosene lamps like my mom used for late night study in Donner, where the sawmill's generator which supplied light to their home only ran until 9 pm at night. When I learned this fact about my mother's early life, it brought alive to me the metaphor of "burning the midnight oil".
Barbara told me that she is currently going over the extensive reports that her mom Edith Lawson made each month, detailing who was reading which books. She said that she wouldn't be surprised to find little Bobby's name on some of her reports. I read about 25 or so books every month, taking out 5 books each time I returned 5. I told her about my reading and reviews, with more than a thousand web-pages, one page per review. She said her mom would be proud.
Gaton said he was still working at his and Helen's store which Michelle runs, but he no longer does the maintenance chores. He still cuts grass on his home's large lot, takes him a day to cut it and a day to do the trimming. Similar to how I cut down my own maintenance work when I sold the 4-plex on Hagan and then even more when we moved into to our current home with its .8 acre of land whose grass I no longer cut, giving me two extra days a week to work on my writing.
Watching SECN+ on WATCHESPN Website On-line. (Caution: Acronym Zone Ahead)
With all the SEC games now available on-line, I was glad not to have to deal with the problematic GEAUX Zone any more. But I hit a few stumbling blocks which I mention for those of you who may encounter similar problems.
For the first upcoming LSU baseball game, I turned on my new Lenovo LT to get it ready to watch it on SECN+ in our Timberlane Screening Room. It wouldn't receive WiFi, Drats! So I troubleshot, reset router, no dice, rebooted LT and it finally came up automatically. Since the LT was out of battery power and was re-charging, maybe that caused the WiFi glitch. Who knows. But now I'm typing this while watching LSU play A&M in basketball on one of my five monitors at my PC workstation. But further testing in TSR showed me that my LT couldn't pick up the Wi-Fi from the router so far away, so another trip to Best Buy and I acquired a USB to LAN connector.
Next step was for me to hook up the video/audio signals from my Lenovo LT to the KURO and other TVs with HDMI inputs. I went to Best Buy and bought a connector which the salesman showed me fit into a Lenovo laptop like mine, but it was a slightly newer model, and, when I got home I found it did not fit into my LT. I went back and got a two piece plug which converted my Lenovo into a Mini HDMI plug and cord which went Mini to Full HDMI. It works, but I now need a female to female HDMI connector to facilitate carrying the LT cable with me without having to unplug it from behind the KURO TV (a bitch). Later I found a female HDMI connector in my stash bag. Tested the Watch ESPN app and it worked. No sound, and I kept trying figure out why the sound didn't work on my LT or the TV and Del said, "Unmute the TV". From the mouth of babes! I did it and it worked! When a HDMI cable is plugged into the LT, its sound is routed solely through the HDMI port to the TV and so it was not audible in the LT Speakers or the TV if the TV was muted. DUH! All ready for first LSU baseball game next Friday!
This was the same problem as my VIZIO Smart TV. Luckily I have an Ethernet cable which runs the 60 feet from my PC to TSR.
All these trips to Best Buy and the first game with the new setup had a fatal flaw! The right hand of the image on the KURO plasma TV was cut off so I could see a Left-Handed Batter but not the plate nor a Right-Handed Batter. Plus the bottom of the screen was cut off so the box score was gone. Rats! I quickly emailed the support line of ESPN and explained my problem. I watched the rest of this series back on PC monitor. A week later I tried it in the TSR on the KURO and the problem had been fixed! Hooray for ESPN! At last it was finally worth all the expense and effort to get this installed. Every generation of new electronics and computer gear leads to new challenges. Often you do not even know the right question to ask to get a solution. Google and Best Buy are two valuable resources to me to find solutions. I complimented the boss of the salesman at Best Buy for competently helping me converge on a solution.
Easy as a Sunday morning all day. Del and I were sitting at breakfast table together and I remembered it was Valentine's Day, the usual way: the Comic Strips reminded me. [Yesterday was Leap Year Day, and most of them dealt with the long month of February.] So I walked to my hiding place for the Valentine's card I got for Del and quietly glyphed it for her. I heard her leave the table to go to the bedroom.Apparently she had read my mind (as usual), got an image of a Valentine's Card, and went to bedroom to get her card and a piece of heart-shaped candy for me. She loved her card and I loved mine! Then I took her on a romantic grapefruit-picking date. We drove to our friend Jim Webb's home in Luling and we picked and filled about ten bags of very large grapefruit. Then we went to lunch together at Zydeco's Restaurant where we reprised our Mardi Gras day lunch at Felix's: a dozen oysters and half of an oyster poor boy each. Z's was a bit better than F's. Oysters were great, but not as big as F's.
We said goodbye as Jim went do his groceries, and Del and I stopped by to see my high school friend, Shelby. His grand-daughter was there doing something in the kitchen. We talked to Shelby for a long time, the longest time Del had been in a conversation with Shelby. He gave us a big bag of navel oranges from his tree and refused our offer of a bag of grapefruits as the grapefruit tree across the street is full. Both Jim and Shelby had lost their wives during the past two years, and it was great to share some time with them both.
The Saturday after Valentine's Day Del and I both got a present when Stoney, Sue, and their son Sam visited us at Timberlane. Stoney treated us to poorboys and Muffalettas (moo fah lottos) from Di Martino's Deli for lunch. Great to see Sam growing up and learning to take care of himself.
BROKEN EQUIPMENT: PRINTERS AND WATER HEATER
Our Hewlett-Packard LaserJet 4+Duplex broke this month. One of the rollers had some black, greasy substance on it which kept a page from printing. Called my nephew Randy at Bell Office Machines and he sent Mike out to repair it. Mike was able to show me how to set the IP address for my printers and got our HP LASERJET COLOR Printer working again. So we have printer capability again. He had to replace a mechanism so he took the non-duplex upper portion with him to the shop. Del had just received her new US Passport, now good for 10 years, so we scanned printed copies in color of both our passports to carry with us and place them in our safe at home. Mike just called and he has the printer ready to deliver to me. While talking to Randy, I found out he's going to be a grandfather around May, Mindy's is pregnant. Think it's going to be a boy, but not sure. My brother Paul sent me a photo of Mindy that she prepared for her mother, Barbara Matherne's upcoming 71st Birthday. My brother David would be proud to have become a great-grandfather finally. I wish he had lived to enjoy this new offspring as much as he enjoyed Mindy when she was a baby.
Wayne at AAA Repair will be delighted that I am no longer saying "Hot Water Heater". His logic was impeccable: "It does not heat hot water; it heats cold water." Okay, Wayne, but everybody I know but you says, "Hot Water Heater". Now I've joined Wayne's bandwagon. Sorry he retired. Always had interesting conversations when he came out to fix stuff.IMPORTANT MESSAGE:
We have two water heaters, and the one supplying our Master Bath is no longer heating and the Warranty folks will send over a plumber in a few days. Hopefully it's only a broken thermocouple or maybe even a pilot light that's out. No longer in my job description to even check a pilot light. I did check that no water was leaking. Meanwhile we're enjoying showers in the upstairs bathroom.
COPY-EDITOR TAKES VACATION AT END OF THE MONTH
Kim and Del have been planning a trip to see our son and Kim's brother Jim in his new home in Memphis, and they chose the February 24 to 29 for their trip. Just when I doing some heavy duty writing of the Out Our Way section of this Issue. I threatened to withhold Del's copy-editor salary and she reminded me that she didn't get any. Without leverage, my pleas went unheeded, but Del did do some copy-editing over her cell phone with me while she was traveling. Then when she came home there was still a lot to do. In a few minutes she will go over these words I'm typing and might even obliterate my comments saying so. It's March 1, 2016 so there will be no last minute events to comment on except these words.
LAST MINUTE EVENTS
EVERY GOOD THING MUST COME TO A NEW BEGINNING
The past two months of this New Year has been a time of cold, then warm, then cold weather while we were cruising in the South Atlantic down to Antarctica. We made it home for the final week of Carnival, but we rested mostly at home from the month-long cruise, not seeing a street parade until Mardi Gras day itself when we took the ferry to the foot of Canal Street. We did our walking tour of the sights of the French Quarter, returning to view all of the Rex Parade with Mark and his family. Our Japanese Magnolia tree is finished with its colorful blooms, and our azaleas is showing color already. The weather has remained cold, but warmed up to the 70s just in time for LSU baseball. While we were in Antarctica, the Mississippi River Did Rise, but opening the Bonnet Carre spillway to allow it to bypass the New Orleans area sparing us from any flood danger. Since the water is cold during this time of year, the impact on the ecosystem of Lake Pontchartrain and the marshes will be minimal. Till we meet again in the dry, glorious Spring days of April in New Orleans, whatever you do, wherever in the world you and yours reside, be it waxing Spring or waning Autumn,
Remember our earnest wish for this new year of 2016:
MAY THE WORLD BECOME PEACEFUL AND SERENE IN TWENTY-SIXTEEN
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Quotes Selected from quotes.htm this month:
Notwithstanding all that has been said about the beauty of a ship under full sail, there are very few who have ever seen a ship, literally, under all her sail. A ship coming in or going out of port, with her ordinary sails, and perhaps two or three studding sails, is commonly said to be under full sail; but a ship never has all her sail upon her, except when she has a light, steady breeze, very nearly, but not quite, dead aft, and so regular that it can be trusted, and is likely to last for some time.Then, with all her sails, light and heavy, and studding sails, on each side, alow and aloft, she is the most glorious moving object in the world. Such a sight very few, even some who have been at sea a good deal, have ever beheld; for from the deck of your own vessel you cannot see her, as you would a separate object.
— Richard Dana, Jr, American writer (1812-1882) in Two Years Before the Mast, 1840
This is generally true: inner qualities grow out of the past, but beauty is created by the present.
— Rudolf Steiner, Austrian Philosopher
Critics are of two sorts: those who merely relieve themselves against the flower of beauty, and those, less continent, who afterwards scratch it up.
— William Empson, Critic and Author
To force a virtue upon anyone is pride; to let him see the beauty of good manners is an education.
— Hazrat Inayat Khan Sufi Author
To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 - 1882)
A liberal's paradise would be a place where everybody has guaranteed employment, free comprehensive healthcare, free education, free food, free housing, free clothing, free utilities, and only law enforcement has guns.
And believe it or not, such a place does indeed already exist: It's called Prison.
Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Maricopa County, Arizona
New Stuff on Website:From Rainbows & Shadows, A 1995 Book of Poetry by Bobby Matherne
My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky.
What is your substance, whereof are you made,
That millions of strange shadows on you tend?
William Shakespeare, Sonnet 53
Why rainbows and shadows? One reminds us of joyful occasions and the other of things that go bump in the night. First, rainbows.
In 1995 I stood in the open doorway of my garage before driving to work on my last day before retirement from the Waterford 3 Nuclear Power Plant, and I saw a beautiful double rainbow in the morning sky before me. My heart lept up like Wordsworth's when I saw that omen. I remembered that the source of the rainbow is in my heart, and was in the heart of everyone who took the time to observe a rainbow that morning. We each saw a different rainbow, and each one we saw was truly our own rainbow.
In 2015 a double rainbow appeared as I looked out my garage door in the morning of the same day I celebrated twenty years of working full-time as a writer, publisher, photographer, cartoonist, and poet. The beat goes on . . .
Likewise, each shadow we encounter is truly our own shadow, created by the materialistic stuff of our world blocking the light of the Sun. Shadows are the dark colors of the artist's pallette of our lives, without which there would be no texture, no structure, no light. As I reviewed my poems for this volume, I found some were naturally rainbows and some naturally shadows, and I separated them into one section called Rainbows and one called Shadows. My wife Del likes me to read to her one Rainbow followed by one Shadow — they seem to complement each other, she says. I have put the section titles in the header to facilitate such a manner of reading.
In addition to the poem, I have included a short note (where available), which notes altogether contain a panoply of information about my poems: when they were written, what I was doing at the time, what I was reading that inspired them, and on what scrap of paper I wrote them. Poems do not "form in their own water" (as my friend Calvin said of volcanoes), but they may form in the water of ideas suggested by others and completed in some fashion by me. In gratitude, I include in many of the Notes the authors' names and sometimes a brief reference or quote of the source of the inspiration. By reading the Notes, one may readily discern my favorite authors and assorted sources of inspiration during the five-year period of writing this book.
There is an ambiguity in the phrase driving to work that leaves unspecified whether I was alone in the car at the time. Believe me, I could never think these thoughts if I were not alone in the car. Sometimes I listened to jazz on WWOZ, sometimes to classical on WWNO, and sometimes only to the thoughts of the writer of the book I was reading and my own thoughts, but always moving on. Like rainbows and shadows are always moving, so was I.
You may have a moving experience also as you join me in my carpool of one on the highway of life. Welcome Aboard! What would you like on the radio, classical or jazz?
These poems are from Bobby Matherne's 1995 book of poetry, Rainbows & Shadows, most of which have never been published on the Internet before. Here near the beginning of the new millennium, we are publishing five poems until all poems have been published on-line.
1. Rainbow Poem
There is a substratum, L,
which is perfectly indistinguishable
and thus impervious to our
and yet which
Connects all distinguishable features
of our world.
Some call it ESP, some call it telepathy
Some call it synchronicity
I call it L-tricity,
for the L of it,
It ties together
you and me
2. Shadow Poem
Morning DreamsNOTE: "Morning Dreams":
This poem was written October 3, 1995 on page 45 of Rudolf Steiner’s Evolution of Consciousness while I was reading it for the first time. Here is a quotation of the relevant material:[Page 45] We still have the power to think even when with our souls we are not there at all, for what we leave behind in the bed carries the waves of thinking on and on. And when we wake in the morning, we sink down into what has thus continued to think while lying there in the bed. We meet our own thoughts again. . . . The ego and the astral body, which have been weaving all night in light and warmth dive back into the thoughts, but by not at once understanding them, get them confused, and this blockage is experienced as a morning dream.It’s like we (our ego and astral body) have been on a long trip overseas and out of touch with our family (our etheric and physical body left in the bed). While we were gone, things have changed. New houses, new jobs, new hairdo’s, new grandchildren, many changes have taken place in our family. This leads to some confusion when we meet them at the dock, which confusion is dissipated once we have completed our re-union with our family. The confusion and hubbub at the dock, we experience each morning as a morning dream. I.e., dreams result when our ego and astral body re-enter our etheric and physical body upon awakening.
3. Rainbow Poem4. Shadow Poem
I carry all my yesterdays
inside of me
In memories of the way I was
and the way that I will be.
NOTE: "Carry On":
This poem was written on April 18, 1995. It was inspired by reading another poem from elsewhere in this book, “Yes, Today.”
You cannot be unfairly treated —
the belief you are being
Is but another form
of the idea that
you can be deprived
Other than yourself.
NOTE: "Fair Enough":
This poem was written on the back of a Secor Bank deposit envelope while driving to work about July 1992. It was inspired by a section of the Course in Miracles Textbook, page 523. It is not a direct quote, but very close to the same words and it was a close call whether to call it a found poem or not.
5. Rainbow Poem
Every word was once a poem.
— Ralph Waldo EmersonOnce a poem a time
Once a rhyme a poem
Time for all of this
You know it’s Eat-O-Twist.
Try some more of this
Try gumbo with this
This is all you need,
You know, to eat of this
Or some o’ this or that
Or some o’ that or this
Feel good either way
You’ll love it either twist.
NOTE: "Either Twist":
This poem was written on February 17, 1984. It is on page 12L of The Center Book (unpublished) together with its Artwork. You can see the Artwork and read about EAT-O-TWIST here: Matherne's Rule #10 .
New Stuff on the Internet:
- New Neurons Appear in the Brain.
Exercising Your Brain Keeps Them Around.
Excerpt from a Scientific American article by Tracy J. Shors."Fresh neurons arise in the brain every day. . . . Recent work, albeit mostly in rats, indicates that learning enhances the survival of new neurons in the adult brain. And the more engaging and challenging the problem, the greater the number of neurons that stick around. These neurons are then presumably available to aid in situations that tax the mind. It seems, then, that a mental workout can buff up the brain, much as physical exercise builds up the body.
. . .
"In the 1990s scientists rocked the field of neurobiology with the startling news that the mature mammalian brain is capable of sprouting new neurons. Biologists had long believed that this talent for neurogenesis was reserved for young, developing minds and was lost with age. But in the early part of the decade Elizabeth Gould, then at the Rockefeller University demonstrated that new cells arise in the adult brain-particularly in a region called the hippocampus, which is involved in learning and memory."
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."The Intern" (2015) DeNiro as retired man becomes intern to successful internet business woman who spent so much time on social media her life was falling apart.
"Black Mass" (2015) Johnny Depp as Whitey, crime boss of South Boston. Gritty rendition of true story.
"Irrational Man" (2015) Woody Allen’s tribute to the vacancy of existential philosophy which creates moral idiots.
"Bridge of Spies" (2015) Spielberg-Hanks movie about the Russian Spy swapped for Powers and an American student. Amazing negotiating skills to arrange a two-for-one spy exchange. A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! ! !
"Everest" (2015) a three tissue movie, true story of 13 hikers trapped on Everest in which about five died and one was reported dead who later walked into camp and was airlifted home. A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! !
"Ricki & the Flash" (2015) Streep, with 6 Oscars in 6 decades, plays an ageing Rock Guitarist and Singer whose home ties snatch her back East. Great music accompanies heart-tugging story for single parents with their kids taken away by estranged spouse.
"The Enemy Below" (1957) Curt Jurgens and Robert Mitchum in a battle of wits, each battling an enemy below the surface. The German U-Boat captain lost his country to a dictator and the American sub-hunter captain his wife to a torpedo.A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! !
"The Kingsmen" (2015) a Colin Firth Bond spoof with Samuel Jackson executing 80% of world’s population to stop Global Warming! At least Jonathan Swift suggested a more nutritious way of reducing the Irish population (eat the orphans). Nice to see sanity win out for a change.
"Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation" (2015) one of the best MI movies, keeping true to the original TV series plot line and capturing the bad guy in a glass box in a turn-around at the end of the movie. A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! !
"The 44th Child" (2015 ) WWII Russian war hero who raised the Red flag over the Reichstag gets involved with trying to stay alive under Stalin’s iron fist and solving a series of murders of young boys from Moscow to Rostok.
"The Gift" (2015) of truth is priceless.
"Unbranded" (2015) mustangs sally from Mexico to Canada in modern day cowboy movie.
"For A Woman" (2013) Anne digs into her dead mother’s photos and letters and uncovers hidden secret of an affair.
"The Art of the Steal" (2013) Kirt Russell plays the dumbass brother, but he learns something in prison. A DON’T MISS HIT !
"Bridge of Spies" (2015) Hanks stars in this movie about securing the release of Francis Gary Powers, downed U2 Spy Plane pilot, in exchange for a captured Russian spy. Negotiating skills of a master displayed. A DON’T MISS HIT !!!!
"The Girl in the Book" (2015) is not the girl in the book anymore. Michael Nyqvist of "Dragon Tattoo" in English-speaking role is a presence in this movie, he helps a young girl grow up to be a writer, or did he?
"Xingu (2012)" Along the Rio Xingu the Villas bros forged a land for the Brazilian Indians to live together in peace. Great story.
"A Walk in the Woods" (2015) Nick Nolte and Robert Redford trek the Appalachian Trail from its beginning to their ending with great sights, great fun, some trouble, and make a great movie along the way. Have wanted to hike this trail, pop in the Blu-Ray and start walking with two interesting companions. A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! !
"The Wipers Times" (2012) A laugh-a-minute WWI movie, better than M.A.S.H. Brits in the trenches find a printing press and begin a satirical newspaper to provide some comic relief for the men in the mud. A DON'T MISS HIT ! ! ! ! !
"Pawn Sacrifice" (2015) The Cold War was fought on a Chess board between Boris Spassky and Bobby Fisher while the world watched, waited, and cheered for the Brooklyn kid when he won. Mostly a boring movie, like watching a chess match.
"Who is Clark Rockefeller?" (2010) We found out a lot of who's that he seemed to be, but no one was sure who he was, until Sandra Boss divorced her husband of 11 years. Now Wikipedia has all the answers, but do watch the movie first."Now, Voyager" (1942) title from Whitman poem, amazing story of modern Cinderella who tells her Prince Charming at the end, "Don't speak of the Moon; we have the Stars." A DON'T MISS HIT ! ! !
"The Great Escape" (1963) Allied officers staged a large-scale breakout, but encountered some unexpected problems on the way to freedom. Steve McQueen, Charles Brodson, and a host great Hollywood and British actors filled the cast of the true story brought to life. A DON'T MISS HIT ! ! !
"Burnt" (2015) high tech chef does penance of shucking one million oysters in New Orleans before returning to his work as a chef, completely sober but still arrogant. Would he crash and burn again or make a success of himself? The Michelin visit was a disaster with cayenne pepper sabotage by a disgruntled friend or was it a disaster? A DON'T MISS HIT ! ! !
"Mistress America" (2015) takes a clueless blond to a new level. "I'm gonna be worse off now than I than I was before I started trying to achieve things" "I'm the same - I'm just the same in another direction" are two examples of the droll conversation which punctuates the movie.
"Father's Day" (1997) for three fathers and one son. Robin Williams begins movie attempting suicide. Billy Crystal teams up for a comedy of errors and delights.
"Love, the Coopers" (2015) you can't help it. Quirky Christmas movie leads to a wondeful life. A DON'T MISS HIT ! ! !
"Jimmy P." (2013) a Plains Indian WWII Vet undergoes extended psychotherapy to rid himself of schizophrenic symptoms by a Romanian posing as a Frenchmen who travels to Topeka, Kansas to help this one patient for Dr. Menninger.
"90 Minutes in Heaven" (2015) A crucifixion and resurrection scene in reverse order with the survivor becoming a preacher. True story of a man who came back to life singing, "what a friend we have in Jesus" and holding onto his friend's hand. A DON'T MISS HIT ! ! !
Misses (Avoid At All Costs): We attempted to watch these this month, but didn't make it all the way through on most of them. Awhile back when three AAAC horrors hit us in one night, I decided to add a sub-category to "Avoid at All Costs", namely, A DVD STOMPER. These are movies so bad, you don't want anyone else to get stuck watching them, so you want to stomp on the disks. That way, if everyone else who gets burnt by the movie does the same, soon no copies of the awful movie will be extant and the world will be better off.
"The Purge" (2013)Reduce the world's population by allowing anyone to kill anyone one day a year. Sow global warming and this is its harvest: movies like this and "The Kingsmen". YUCK.
"Experimenter" (2015) Stanley Milgram's Mind-Fucking 101, claiming to prove that the average American would have acted like Nazi war criminals. Slow, disconnected script, poor acting, and never made any point other than how silly the psychological experiments were.
"Mr. Robot" (2015) Dreadful movie with ominous sound track obliterating the voices who don't have anything good to say anyway! Barely watched the first episode and sent it packing back to NetFlix. Someone needs to hack this movie and cause it to self-destruct to save others from even starting to watch it.
Your call on these — your taste in movies may differ, but I liked them:
Movie went nowhere, slow, like the eponymous musical piece by 12 -year-old composer and cellist who meets a 20-something cornetist, who ends up blowing his horn.
"Like Sunday, Like Rain" (2014)"Grandma" (2015)is a loud, obstreperous bitch, and those are only her best qualities. Even Sam Elliot can't handle her. You want proof? Watch the movie.
"Kramer vs. Kramer" (1979) some lessons are more expensive than others as Mr. and Mrs. Kramer discover the hard way.
"The Transporter Refueled" (2015) high-speed car chases with half-dozen totaled autos at high speed, crashing into each other or completely rolling over, including an Evel Knieval stunt of flying an auto into the jetway and running it through a major airport lobby filled with people. Plot, oh, yeah, some girls stole 320 million dollars from a Russian mobster to give it to their favorite people. High tech Robin Hoodettes. Enough said about a nothing movie.
"99 Homes" (2015) was story of greed and fraud, making money by evicting people brutally to save banks the hassle, and the taxpayers pay for the abuses. No good ending to this one except the movie's ending.
== == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == ==Le Boudreaux Cajun Cottage, drawn by and Copyright 2011 by Paulette Purser, Used by Permission
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Adapted from story sent in by Jo Anne Montz on Dec 9, 2015.Boudreaux raised Black Angus cattle on his ranch south of Lafayette and his prize bull died, so he had to buy another one. Later he saw his friend Broussard at Mulate's.
"Hey, Boudreaux, Ah heard yo' bull done up and died."
"Mais, oui, Broussard, it was awful. Ah had to spend $25,000 on a new bull to fertilize my cows."
"Dat's a lot of money, Boo."
"An' dat's not all, de dam' bull wouldn't touch one of the cows!"
"Don't tole me dat! Wat yah done?"
"Ah called me one of dem how-yo-call Vet-getarians to see wat's wrong with de dum' bull."
"Wat he found?"
"Wahl, not much," Boudreaux said, "He said he was a young bull and gave me some pills to give the bull."
"Hmm, did dey work?"
"Ah'll say dey worked! Dat bull done jumped every one of my cows in t'ree days, an' den broke down the fence an' jumped every one of Tee-Claude's cows in de next door ranch!"
"Hoo-eee! Dat's amazing. Ah wonder wat dat Vet put in dem pills, me."
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5.Recipe or Household Hint for March, 2016 from Bobby Jeaux:
(click links to see photo of ingredients, preparation steps)
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =Secure Attachment of Lanyard to Carabiner
Background on Modification to Carabiner: As a photograher, I need my camera to come everywhere with me. I bought a large Canon with a 35X zoom lens, but it was heavy and had to hang on my shoulder, so it couldn't go everywhere I went. I bought smaller cameras which I could place in my front pocket. They could be pulled out quickly and easily when a photo opportunity unexpected popped up. But they could fall out of my pocket, so I needed an easy way to secure the camera when it was in my pocket.
I got a camera case which could hold a replacement battery and a second memory stick so that I never ran out of battery or memory while away from home or from a cruise ship. The case could also hold the camera when it was in my pocket, but the camera could fall out unexpectedly when I was on my knees perhaps shooting a tiny wildflower or insect. My recent cameras all came with a small lanyard which was looped into a recess in the side of the camera. This lanyard was useful for placing around my wrist when leaning off the side of ship or out the window of a car for a quick photo because if the camera slipped out of my hands, it would hang down from the lanyard and I could pull it back to safety.The problem I had was how to secure the lanyard to my body while it's in its case in my pocket. A small metal Carabiner was the obvious solution. Simply pass the lanyard through the body of the Carabiner and loop the end of the lanyard over the carbiner and pull tight. Easily done. With the camera in its case, it was easy to secure the Carabiner to a convenient belt loop in my pants, whether casual, dress, or formal. But soon a problem appeared: no matter how tightly I secured the loop securing the lanyard to the Carabiner, it would come loose and slid around the Carabiner. When loose and moved around, I could no longer easily remove the Carabiner from my belt loop without stopping to check at which part of the Carabiner the lanyard was attached. I needed a solution. First I tried gluing the lanyard loop to the carbiner. Lasted about a week. Then I tried double-stick Scotch Tape and that lasted a bit longer, but the loop always came loose at unexpected times and I held an unanswered question for a while, "How Can I Permanently Secure the Lanyard to the Carabiner. This Household Hint explains how I did it. I hope you find it useful.
Parts and Tools
A good quality metal Carabiner
A set of drill bits
A drill press with a vise to hold the part being drilled
A small metal file for cleaning away the metal scrap from the drilled hole and smoothing the surface of both sides of the hole.
Select a drill bit that is about 1/2 the diameter of the metal side of the Carabiner. Choose a flat side. For me the smaller side of the shorter ends of the rectangular Carabiner. The longer end will need to fit through various size belt loops.
Drilling the Hole
Place the Carabiner into the drill press's vise with the side to be drilled facing up. Line up the drill bit so that it will go through the middle of the Carabiner's shaft. May help to tap a starting mark on the shaft to help the drill get started and slide to the side. This will be the trickiest part of the operation. If you don't get the hole center or the drill bit goes to one side, you will need to buy another Carabiner. I managed this trick on the first try, but plan to spend time to ensure this step goes well for you. When all's aligned, slowly bring down the drill bit and ensure that it is starting in the center of the shaft. Retighten the vise if the Carabiner moves the least little bit. Once started, apply gentle even pressure to the drill bit, going slowly to allow the cutting area to cool as you drill. Safest way is to stop a couple of time to allow cooling.
Once the drill is all the way through, move the drill up and down a couple of times while it's still turning to smooth the hole. Then take Carabiner out of the vise and brush any metal curls away with a file. If the file is a small round file, run it through the hole, and around the outer edges of the hole, top and bottom, to smooth the edges. Smooth round edges to the hole are necessary to keep the lanyard from becoming fragged on the sharp edges left after the drilling.
Now simply run the end of the loop of your lanyard through the new hole. If it's tight, remember the lanyard is made of compressible material (if textile based) and you might want to straighten a fish hook, put it through the hole, hook the barb on the lanyard loop and pull it through. Again plan to spend some time on this part. I didn't want a Carabiner was big and heavy, and the lanyard from your camera should tell you how big the smallest hole would be that could pass the doubled lanyard loop through. Once it's through, pull the end of the lanyard around the end of the lanyard and pull it tight. Even if this loop were to loosen, the lanyard will never move to a different place because it will be held in place by the hole it had looped through.
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6. A Found Poem, Nature!
Edited by BOBBY, appearing in a book by Rudolf Steiner, The Riddles of Philosophy:
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We are surrounded and enveloped by her,
incapable of leaving her domain,
incapable of penetrating deeper into her.
She draws us into the rounds of her dance,
neither asking nor warning,
and whirls away with us
until we fall exhausted from her arms. . . .
All humans are in her and she is in them. . . .
Even the most unnatural is Nature;
even the clumsiest pedantry has something of her genius.
We obey her laws even when we resist them;
we are working with her
even when we mean to work against her. . . .
Nature is everything. . . .
She rewards and punishes,
delights and tortures herself. . . .
She has placed me into life,
she will also lead me out of it.
I trust myself into her care.
She may hold sway over me.
She will not hate her work.
It was not I who spoke of her.
Nay, it was Nature who spoke it all,
true and false.
Nature is the blame for all things;
hers is the merit for all things.
Rudolf Steiner waxes lyrical in this paragraph of his book, The Riddles of Philosophy, as he sings Nature alive once more, calling it to arise from the ashes of Kant's desiccated ideas. One is reminded of Walt Whitman or Kahlil Gibran in Steiner's lush prose.
It truly deserves to be formatted and read as a poem, especially in March, as a paean to "ever-returning Spring."
It deserves especially to be read by global-warming activists and clumsy pedants who would have us eschew the robustness of our dear planet Earth and its living Nature.
Thank God for Nature who nurtures herself and us in both our folly and wisdom about her true Being.
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7. REVIEWS and ARTICLES for March:
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For our Good Readers, here are the reviews and articles featured this month. The fifth review this month was never published in early DIGESTWORLD ISSUES and will be of interest to our DIGESTWORLD Readers. The other four reviews will be new additions to the top of A Reader's Journal, Volume 2, Chronological List.
NOTE: some Review Blurbs may be condensations of long Reviews, possibly lacking footnotes and some quoted passages. For your convenience, if you wish to read the full review or to print it out, simply CLICK on the Book Cover or choose Printer Ready option on the top line of a review page when it opens.
1.) ARJ2: Gratitude by Oliver Sacks
On the Move was the title of a book in which Sacks gave a recap of his early life. As his life was constantly on the move, no title could have been better. He led a mercurial life, constantly moving around and through obstacles as he sought to help people to survive the various neurological and physical disorders life had thrown at them. In his 80th year, life threw a curve at him, threatening to bring his quicksilver career to an abrupt stop. He reveals to us how in a dream, some rising and falling globules of Mercury, Atomic No. 80, appeared to him, a few days short of his 80th birthday in 2013. He wrote the first essay in this book, "Mercury," celebrating old age. He would die shortly after his 82nd birthday, but he had completed the remaining three essays knowing that his end was near. Here is how he begins the book which contains these four short essays, with a truly poignant declaration:I am now face to face with dying,
but I am not finished with living.
If you live long enough all your friends will die. I heard that expressed many years ago, and it induced a goal in me to be making new friends in each decade of my life. This is a sensible goal, like creating more oxygen when your space suit on Mars is running out of oxygen. Sacks says about being 80:
[page 9] A third of one's contemporaries are dead, and many more, with profound mental or physical damage, are trapped in a tragic and minimal existence.
This is Sacks' view as a medical scientist, for whom all suffering is tragic. To a spiritual scientist, all suffering is not tragic, even if it is unwelcome. Rightly understood, so-called tragic circumstances are concomitant with a personal working out of karma. When people left New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina to escape hurricanes, they found themselves beset by firestorms, tornadoes, ice storms, floods, earthquakes, and mudslides, among other things. They could have used their experience to discover that wherever you go, your karma follows you. You can change the exact situations of its working out, but you cannot forestall its working out. Someone once told me that life is like being on a sea journey and knowing the ship will sink. What makes life tragic is the popular illusion that we each get only this one journey. (This seems to have been Oliver Sacks' illusion as a materialist, one he hinted in some of his books.)
Francis Crick was a friend of Sacks and when he was told his colon cancer had returned, he went right back to work. Sacks says on page 10, "When he died, at eighty-eight, he was still engaged in his most creative work." This is the glory of the 80's, which I look forward to. When I decided to retire at age 55 to write full-time, I was told I would receive a pension for 40 years, and my immediate thought was, "Darn! At 95, I will have to go back to work!" The presupposition of that thought was a deep-seated belief that I will work well past 95 years old, and I have already passed the halfway mark to 95. What are your presuppositions about living, life, and longevity? Check them out as they will forestall any attempts you make to live a long life, as presuppositions are always silently at work in the background of your mind, out of your consciousness, but shaping the course of your life."EAT-O-TWIST never breaks," my wife said one time when I made some all-too-human comment of despair. The acronym stands for "Everything Allways Turns Out The Way It's Supposed To." Change "Supposed to" to "Presupposed To," and it's equally true. Bandler and Grinder recognized the power of presuppositions to shape people's lives and collected a list of them for their classic book, The Structure of Magic, Volume 1. You can find this list in Footnote 2. If you suppose that presuppositions are useless, you will be right; they will be useless to you. If you change your presuppositions about life, you can create miracles. "A miracle", the Course in Miracles tells us, "is a change in attitude." One's attitudes are shaped by one's presuppositions, are they not?
As Sacks was musing over old age, he shared in Essay One:
[page 10] One has had a long experience of life, not only one's own life, but others' too. One has seen triumphs and tragedies, booms and busts, revolutions and wars, great achievements and deep ambiguities. One has seen grand theories rise, only to be toppled by stubborn facts. One is more conscious of transience and, perhaps, of beauty.
I have seen grand theories arise, one back in the 1970s when Newsweek Magazine proclaimed on its cover, "New Ice Age is Coming", only the stubborn facts showed the Earth continued to get warmer. The next grand theory was "Global Warming", and once again the stubborn facts show the Earth is not getting warmer, especially not due to any man-made influences like carbon emissions. The jury is still out on this one, but I'm making the call that this grand theory is headed for the dustbin of science along with phlogiston, etal, but not before thousands of scientists have sucked the tax coffers dry in their attempt to prove that the ever-varying temperature of the Earth is rising and will wipe out humanity. Posterity, if there is one, will certainly prove them wrong.
In the last sentence of the page 10 quote above, I was reminded of a quote from Rudolf Steiner about beauty: "This is generally true: inner qualities grow out of the past, but beauty is created by the present."(1) Materialistic scientists, like Oliver Sacks, work with the inner qualities accumulated from past experiments and experience which have been formed into theories, but beauty is transient: it appears in the present moment, often arriving unbidden and unexpected. To become aware of beauty one must move from accreted substance of scientific theories into the direct awareness of the here and now, from a mental construct into a feeling of awe in the presence of beauty. Even the phrase "in the presence of beauty" points to an experience in the present, which is the only place where presence makes sense.
After Sacks received notice of the metastases of his liver, he reported a change in his world.
[page 18, 19] I feel a sudden clear focus and perspective. The is no time for anything inessential. I must focus on myself, my work, and my friends. I shall no longer look at NewsHour every night. I shall no longer pay attention to politics or arguments about global warming.
Amen! This reminds me of an elderly friend of mine who told me he no longer buys green bananas. I move away from friends who begin talking about politics. I read the morning newspaper and that saves me over an hour of watching evening news programs. My study of volitional science helps me to understand the folly of the coercive bureaucracy which passes for government in every country in the world. It is most insidious in the USA where I live because people insist on calling this the "freest country in the world" without having a definitive idea of what freedom entails. I live in freedom by avoiding conflict with or support of any coercive organization, that is, any group which enforces its rules or laws at the point of a gun. Since they insist I pay taxes, I pay them. Since they insist I wear a silly seat belt, I wear it. (Over 60 years of driving, I have never needed a seat belt. It is an obtrusion into my freedom. If I were a race driver, I would wear one willingly. As a safe defensive driver, I dislike being forced to wear one.)
At age 75 I have lost friends, most recently one aged 61 and one aged 72. I have lost my mom and dad and my brother David whom I dearly loved. I accept their passing into the spiritual world to begin a new journey for themselves. David carved duck decoys and carved these words on the bottom of an unfinished decoy when he knew his time was short, "Something's we never get to finish." Yes, David, that is true in this one life we live currently, but those things we leave unfinished return with us in our next incarnation on Earth so that we may finish them. Only if one presupposes we have only one life on this Earth, can one feel the loss of loved ones as an abruption, which means "the sudden breaking away of a portion of a mass." Sacks clearly felt that way.
[page 19] I have been increasingly conscious, for the last ten years or so, of deaths among my contemporaries. My generation is on the way out, and each death I have felt as an abruption, a tearing away of a part of myself. There will be no one like us when we are gone, but the then there is no one like anyone else, ever.
If you feel the loss of a loved one as something torn away from yourself, then it presupposes that you feel you will be torn away from the loved ones who remain behind when you die, does it not? This presupposition makes it difficult to impossible to understand that you remain connected with your departed loved ones when they die and remain connected with your still living loved ones when you die.Only if you comprehend how deeply you are immersed in the spiritual world while still alive, will you be able comprehend how you remain connected with those still alive when you are dead. A big problem arises with our use of the word die. Substitute the words transit into the spiritual world for die, then you will presuppose that you will still be alive after you die, but living in a new circumstance until you are ready to return to a new life with a new personality in a human body on Earth.
Sacks unfortunately thought of himself as a "thinking animal" instead of a full human being in body, soul, and spirit. By now he will have been delighted to have discovered that he was wrong, that his adventures will go on and on and on, and the beautiful planet Earth will be waiting for his return.
[page 20] Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure.
The "hard problem" of understanding how consciousness develops is hard because of the very presupposition in the way it is described and thought about. Here's how Sacks thought of the problem. See if you can discern the presupposition in the definition of "hard problem."
[page 24] Francis Crick was convinced that "the hard problem" — understanding how the brain gives rise to consciousness — would be solved by 2030.
How, indeed, can a physical object, no matter how complex, give rise to an immaterial object? The brain simply cannot give rise to consciousness. What happens is that consciousness descends into the brain via the liquid-filled ventricles, in my humble opinion. This may be understood by 2030, but not likely ever by materialistic scientists, as they search for materialistic origins for everything, assuming everything, even consciousness, is physical. They put the cart before the horse and call it hard to understand. Consciousness descends as living thoughts into the ventricles of the brain, and the brain processes and takes credit for having created the thoughts it received. Remove the materialistic presuppositions and the hard problem of consciousness becomes an easy problem.
Many scientist have a Periodic Table on their wall so they can quickly refer to the Atomic Number and Atomic Weight of the various elements. In the far left column above one can easily view the volatile elements from Hydrogen, Lithium, Potassium, etal, and in the far right column one can see the inert elements from Helium, Neon, Argon on up to Radon. Oliver Sacks had a Periodic Table of his own, but it was not a chart on the wall; it was an actual table on which the important elements in his life were physically present. In the center of his Periodic Table is a small statue of Mercury, the quicksilver messenger of the gods. The rest of the table was scattered with elements of Gold (79), Silver (47), Thallium (81), Lead (82), Bismuth (83), and of course a small bottle of liquid Mercury (80).
[page 30] Bismuth is element 83. I do not think I will see my eighty-third birthday, but I feel there is something hopeful, something encouraging, about having "83" around. Moreover, I have a soft spot for bismuth, a modest grey metal, often unregarded, ignored, even by metal lovers. My feeling as a doctor for the mistreated or marginalized extends into the inorganic world and finds a parallel in my feeling for bismuth.
From the first book I read by Sacks, I have had a soft spot for him. He writes with clarity of even the most recondite conditions and problems and seems to illuminate the world of neurological problems with his sparkling prose. It was out of the immense gratitude I felt for Oliver Sacks that when I heard of his passing I quickly began to collect the rest of his books with a goal of studying and reviewing them. I created an easy way for Readers to know of all of his books and access my reviews of them and this appears at the bottom of this and every other one of my Sacks reviews.
Thank you, Oliver Sacks, for your amazing work and for allowing us to look over your shoulder as you helped people to get better, or to better understand their condition, or to learn to live with it, or even to die with it. God Bless You.~^~
BOOKS by OLIVER SACKS
Click to Read Review
1. The Island of the Colorblind
2. Uncle Tungsten — Memories of a Chemical Boyhood
3. Musicophilia — Tales of Music and the Brain
4. An Anthropologist on Mars — Seven Paradoxical Tales
5. On the Move — A Life
6. A Leg To Stand On — A Neurography
8. The Mind's Eye
To Be Reviewed
9. Seeing Voices — A Journey into the World of the Deaf
10. Awakenings — A newly revised edition of the medical Classic
11. The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat — A Collection of Neurographies
14. Oaxaca Journal
---------------------------- Footnotes -----------------------------------------Return to text directly before Footnote 1.
2.) ARJ2: Billy Cannon — A Long, Long Run by Charles N. deGravelles
The year before I went to college at Louisiana State University, I listened to my first ever football game on radio and I heard raves about LSU's sophomore halfback Billy Cannon who was in the same backfield as the outstanding senior halfback Jimmy Taylor. I felt the excitement of the announcer about Cannon's prospects and decided that I would go to LSU. I was not disappointed: LSU won every game in 1958 and ended as National Champion. The following year Billy Cannon won the Heisman Trophy and I thought that LSU would win every football game while I was there. I was hooked on LSU football for life.
This book tells the story of the amazing halfback who carried LSU to so many incredible victories in 1958 and 1959. Even though I was at LSU through Cannon's junior and senior years, I only knew of him through what he did on the track and football fields, and through rumors and speculation about what he did off the athletic fields. I knew he was a champion 100-yd dash runner and a champion shot-putter, a combination of speed and strength which powered him into being a champion football player. I knew he got married in college and drove a new Chevrolet convertible, with everyone speculating on how he got the car. In this book, deGravelles reveals the untold story of Billy Cannon, a man as amazing off the field as on the field.
The story of his football career began in December of 1955 when Cannon, arguably the best football player in the country, sat down with Paul Dietzel the coach of LSU, who was there to recruit Billy to join the Fighting Tigers football team. The Coach laid out for Mr. and Mrs. Cannon what LSU had to offer their son.
[page 2] Dietzel assured the Cannons that Billy would be surrounded by excellent athletes. He ticked off a list of those he had already signed. Billy's Istrouma teammate, Duane Leopard, an excellent center, had been among the first to say yes to LSU. Billy had played against many on the list: Emile Fournet from Bogalusa, Carroll Bergeron from Terrebonne High in Houma, and three standouts from Istrouma's rival, Baton Rouge High School — Warren Rabb, Don Norwood, and Gus Kinchen. Johnny Robinson of University High of Baton Rouge, Billy knew only by reputation. But the name that stood out was Max Fugler, an astute and relentless linebacker from Ferriday, the only other high-school All-American from the state. In Billy's only game against him, the North-South High School All Star Game, Fugler had dogged Billy all four quarters, stopping or slowing him down on nearly every run. [RJM Note: Max Fugler went on to be All American Center at LSU.]
Florida wanted Cannon, but a recruiting flight in an airplane to Gainesville was aborted due to bad weather. Ole Miss wanted Cannon, but Johnny Vaught couldn't meet Cannon's requirement to run sprints and do the shot put as they had no track program. Billy would have liked to take a recruiting trip to see Bear Bryant at Texas A&M, but Dietzel had warned his former coach that he'd turn him in if he continued to use that private airplane to haul Louisiana athletes over to College Station. As a result Billy never had a chance at Texas A&M.
Billy was born to a very poor family. His father had several jobs which took him away from home often. When his mother had labor pains for Billy, she sent for the doctor, but the midwife had birthed Billy three days before the doctor could arrive. Once they lived near a Campbell's soup factory in the Birmingham, Alabama area. Bill would stand in line with his mom at the factory and carry home buckets of leftover chicken broth which his mom would cook with. Eventually his father got a permanent job on Scenic Highway in Baton Rouge, and Billy entered high school at Istrouma.
Billy tried making money as a kid selling soft drinks in high school stadiums, but quickly discovered an easier way of making money: buy discounted tickets at a gas station and sell them full price on the night of the game. This buying and selling tickets lasted into his college years. The Athletic Director Jim Corbett found out about his ticket selling and made him promise not to do it again. Before the 1958 season, Cannon went to Corbett with a list of 100 seats in the north end of the stadium that he wanted to buy and resell. He pleaded for permission, citing his pregnant wife and one small child.Corbett went to Coach Rabenhorst to ask about the sale and the Coach said, "Jim, you got anybody else to sell them to?" When Jim said, no, he said then sell them to Cannon. (Page 110) Cannon was an entrepreneur with a desperation born of necessity. He had invested almost all of his money on speculation that this was going to be a great season for LSU and it was. The third or fourth game was a sell-out and most of the games after that were sold out. Billy's tickets were a hot commodity. You can successfully predict something will happen, if you can help make it happen.
During the summer of 1958, Billy was working at a natural gas cycling plant in Krotz Springs and when the guys askd him how the Tigers were going to do in the fall, he told them, we are "going to win them all." They thought he was crazy, but he turned out to be right. They did win them all. One of his jobs was to manually add the foul-smelling mercaptan additive which gives odorless natural gas its distinctive smell. Billy discovered that smell drew buzzards, so on one slow day, he left a can of additive out to evaporate and attract the buzzards, picking them off one by one as they approached with a shotgun. He was having a grand time, when his boss called to say the sheriff called about some shooting going on. Billy said, "Oh, that. I heard those shots too. Must be some crazy fool out there somewhere shooting buzzards." (Page 94)
An article about the 1956 game against Texas Tech appeared in the sports pages in 2015 when LSU was due to play them again, this time in a post-season bowl game. One sports writer interviewed two men who were on the field during Cannon's 97-yard kickoff return. Before the kick the two had decided that one was going to hit Cannon high and the other low, but they ended up colliding into each other as Cannon roared between them untouched! "That damn Cannon!", they were quoted as saying, as if the game had happened the day before instead of 60 years earlier.Scooter Purvis said he watched the stadium clock during Cannon's run and only ten seconds had elapsed during the hundred yard dash Cannon made with full pads on, dodging opponent tacklers. (Page 103) Cannon commented in this book, "Poor Jimmy [Taylor] took the brunt of the beating from the defense, while I sailed along and had a fun time." LSU beat Texas Tech 56-27 in the Texas Bowl in 2015 with its halfback Leonard Fournette scoring five touchdowns. From the first time I saw Fournette run with the ball, he reminded me of Billy Cannon. No doubt he will join Cannon in the memory of Texas Tech supporters.
In 1958 LSU met Ole Miss in Tiger Stadium for first official sellout in its history. Johnny Robinson and Billy talked as they warmed up catching punts before the game.
[page 123] "How are you feeling," Johnny asked. "Are you nervous?" "Nervous?" Billy said. He pointed to the north end zone. "I'm feeling great. My whole section is sold out!"
With the score of the final game in 1958 at 55-0, Dietzel sent Cannon in to tell the Quarterback Durel Matherne to run out the clock with simple up-the-middle runs. Cannon decided to defy his military-minded coach and went into the huddle and said, "Durel, Coach Dietzel said to run that toss play to me. Don't wait. Right now!" Final score was 62-0, which was followed by two other games of the same score against Tulane in succeeding years. These games led, in part, Tulane to drop out of the SEC and to stop playing LSU every year as their final game. Dietzel was accused of running up the score, which he denied.
[page 129] Years later, at an event where Billy and Paul Dietzel were featured speakers, Billy told the audience the story of that last touchdown against Tulane. "Afterwards," Billy said, "Coach Dietzel came up and told me that a Tulane fan claimed to have watched through a pair of binoculars Dietzel calling that toss play. 'Well, Coach,' I said, 'next time you see him, tell him I did it. I've been accused of a lot of stuff, but that one I did!"
When Billy received the Heisman Trophy, he accepted it on behalf of his team, calling it "Our trophy". But during the presentation, Billy had to make an assist and joked later about the event.
[page 140] The presentation ceremonies lasted several days and including gatherings with former trophy winners, press events, and national television appearances. The trophy itself was presented to Billy by Vice-President Richard Nixon. "It was an awkward position to hold the trophy and it's heavy," Billy recalled, "so I had to help him lift it and keep it up." He laughed, "I presented myself the Heisman Trophy."
Billy was the first superstar to sign with the new AFL, and after he signed, many other star players decided to sign, so Billy helped the AFL get its start. He played with the Oakland Raiders in the game now known as Super Bowl II and dropped a perfectly thrown pass because he was looking ahead to where he would run. Later when he retired from the Raiders, he continued his studies and became a dentist.
He recalls a prank he was involved in during an anatomy class almost got him and his cohorts kicked out of school.
[page 171] It was a stifling day in the lab with no air-conditioning. "We were so tired we were starting to get goofy," Billy remembered. "In this class was the first woman dental student in the history of the school. Some of the male students came up with an idea to run a string around the penis of one of the cadavers. I had some string in my locker and offered it. Somebody else rigged it so that when she came by, the string was pulled, and the penis went erect. Everybody got a big laugh out of this — until we saw this hand come across and jerk the string away. It was Dr. Fitzgerald. He stormed out, totally upset."
When Billy got into financial straits in the summer of 1980, a guy with a printing shop began joking with him about printing money. Over time it became more serious and Billy saw it as a way to get out of his serious financial trouble. Well, he got into serious legal trouble and after he pleaded guilty to counterfeiting was sentenced to five years in prison. When he got out, the lawyer he had left in charge of his financial affairs had spent all his remaining money, and Billy had trouble getting a license to do dentistry again. The warden of Angola, Burl Cain, hired him as a consultant to work improving the prison's dentistry and bring it into constitutional compliance. Eventually Billy was hired to work full-time at the prison, and, in four years, the suit against the prison was dismissed, indicating that Cannon's work had been a huge success. Cain said that Cannon was like Brubaker, the prison reformer in the Redford movie; Cannon changed the attitude of the prisoners and improved the way things were done at the prison.
[page 208] "Sometimes I catch flak from people," Billy said. "They hear about what I do, and they think I'm soft on convicts. They're misunderstanding the difference between sympathy and empathy. I'm not soft on criminals. I treat them like human beings. I've been where they've been. I can empathize."
Billy stayed out of public sight for many years, living on a twelve acre ranch in West Feliciana Parish, a short drive from his job in Angola prison. One day his good friend Boots Garland called him and convinced him to go to a Gridiron Club meeting of Tiger boosters. Billy finally agreed to go, but said he wouldn't talk. Boots rebutted him, "We're going, and you're going to talk. Billy, it's time!"
[page 209] Billy was not prepared for the reception he received — nor was Garland. "Word got out that Billy was going to speak. When we drove up to the restaurant, there wasn't a parking place within two block. It was packed with fans and old friends — even some guys from Ole Miss whom Billy had played against. When I introduced him, all I said was, 'I know two things about this man. One, he made friends with my three-year-old grandson faster than any person I've known, and two [as an orthodontist] he gave my daughter a beautiful smile. Ladies and gentlemen, Dr. Billy Cannon.' I'm telling you, they jumped to their feet roaring. The hair on my arms stood up. They nearly tore the place down."
Billy may not have been prepared for the warmth of his reception, but as always, he was quick with a one-liner. He stepped to the microphone with a grin. "Thank you, Boots, for that kind introduction. You said it just the way I wrote it."
Halloween night, 1959, I was in Tiger Stadium with the girl who later became my first wife. We were in the North Stadium standing up for the punt which went all the way across the field to Billy near the South end zone. When he began breaking tackles and running towards us, I got so excited I believe I knocked her down to her seat. It was the most exciting play I had ever seen in my lifetime and the drama had just begun because Ole Miss got the ball back and drove to the Tigers two-yard line and it took a monumental effort on the last play of the game by Warren Rabb and Billy Cannon to stop Doug Elmore from crossing the goal line and keep the score 7 to 3. Billy Cannon is the No. 1 on the list of the Top 150 Most Influential People in LSU Athletics History and is high on my list the Most Influential People in Louisiana history. He changed LSU football forever; he changed Professional football forever; he changed Angola Prison forever; and we will never forget him.
3.) ARJ2: The Rover, A Novel by Joseph Conrad
In Oliver Sacks's book, A Leg to Stand On, he mentions on page 89 that his favorite relative, a maiden aunt of 82 years old, visited him in the hospital when he was recovering from a serious accident in which he lost complete control over his legs. It was her birthday and Sacks gave her a book, The Maiden Aunt in Fact and Fiction. She loved it and said she loved being a maiden aunt with 230 grand nieces and nephews. Then she reached in her bag and pulled out a book for her favorite nephew Oliver saying, "And I've got a birthday-book for you. You were away on your birthday, up in the Arctic. I know you love Conrad. Have you read this?" Sacks said, "No, but I like the title."
[page 89, A Leg to Stand On ] "Yes," she said, "It suits you. You've always been a rover. There are rovers, and there are settlers, but you're definitely a rover. You seem to have one strange adventure after another. I wonder if you will ever find your destination."
After reading that page I ordered a copy of The Rover, and to complete the symmetry, I read it while on an adventure down to Antarctica. We roved from Rio de Janeiro down through Uruguay, Buenos Aires, down to Ushuaia which is the end of world, the southmost point of any landmass on the Earth. Then we cruised into Palmer Station, a USA Experimental Station on the Antarctic Peninsula and returned to Buenos Aires. It's the kind of long sea journey that marks so many of Joseph Conrad's stories.
Inside the front cover of this hardback book is a wonderful diagram which illustrates where Conrad's various novels are set in the world. It is a rough world map covering the book's paste down and free endpapers. A dotted line draws the long voyages between India and England for Lord Jim, between South America and Australia in A Set of Six, along the Congo River in The Heart of Darkness, e.g., and for The Rover, the title simply fills the Mediterranean Sea. Even though he was mostly ashore during this novel, he spent a lot of time looking out on the sea from the hills near his residence outside of Toulon, France.
Conrad gives away the ending of the novel on the dedication page:
G. Jean Aubry
This Tale of the Last Days of a
French Brother of the Coast
Now that we know all about it, we can proceed to read it with interest. Our hero is Master-Gunner Peyrol who lets down his anchor for the final time near the Toulon harbor on the coast of France. Peyrol gives us a description of the dock area, and, already on page 2, Conrad bombards us with recondite words of Peyrol's time which was during the aftermath of the French Revolution. Although the revolution happened while he was at sea, he had to justify his dislike for the over turned royalty.
[page 2] Peyrol took a survey of the quay. Groups were forming along its whole stretch to gaze at the new arrival. Peyrol noted particularly a good many men in red caps and said to himself: "Here they are." Amongst the crews of ships that had brought the tricolour into the seas of the East, there were hundreds professing sans-culotte principles; boastful and declamatory beggars he had thought them. But now he was beholding the shore breed. Those who made the Revolution safe. The real thing.
Not familiar with the term sans-culottes, which seems to indicate people not wearing pants, I looked it up, and what I found wasn't very helpful. Typically that's the case with an idiomatic expression in a foreign language. Then it hit me that culottes must mean "fancy pants" and that would make sans-culottes a perfect term for the common people who could not afford bread, much less fancy pants. The revolutionaries apparently adopted the term sans-culottes for themselves to indicate their disdain for those who did wear fancy pants — the loyal royals who deserved their turn under the guillotine.
The post-captain in charge of admitting arrivals to France in the harbor attacks Peyrol, apparently as a way of acquiring his credentials.
[page 4] "You must have been a deserter from the Navy at one time, whatever you may call yourself now."
Peyrol is nonplussed and turns the tables on the shabbily dressed post-captain.
[page 4] "If there was anything of the sort it was in the time of kings and aristocrats," he said steadily. . . . I knocked about the Eastern Seas for forty-five years — that's true. But let me observe that it was seamen who stayed at home that let the English into the Port of Toulon." He paused a moment and then added: "When one thinks of that, citoyen Commandant, any little slips I and fellows of my kind may have made five thousand leagues from here and twenty years ago cannot have much importance in these times of equality and fraternity."
The post-captain resumes his vague attack on the Gunner Peyrol, knowing that he is a custom official with the ability to chop the head off anyone he doesn't like or anyone he believes is lying to him. It is the landlubbers versus the brothers of the coast and the post-captain controls the domain of the land, and he wants Peyrol to know it. What ensues is a volley of wits and Peyrol refuses to take a defensive posture — he merely states the facts.
[page 4] "As to fraternity," remarked the post-captain in the shabby coat, "the only one you are familiar with is the Brotherhood of the Coast, I should say."
"Everybody in the Indian Ocean except milksops and youngsters had to be," said the untroubled Citizen Peyrol. "And we practised republican principles long before a republic was thought of; for the Brothers of the Coast were all equal and elected their own chiefs."
"There were an abominable lot of lawless ruffians," remarked the officer venomously, leaning back in his chair. "You will not dare to deny that."
Citizen Peyrol refused to take up a defensive attitude. He merely mentioned in a neutral tone that he had delivered this trust to the Port Office all right, and as to his character he had a certificate of civism from his section.
Peyrol was a patriot and entitled to his discharge, which he duly received, and he ignored the whispers of the pencil-pushers (quill-drivers) as he walked to the door. He hires a farmer to haul him to the coast, giving the excuse of a grievous wound for his awkward entry into the cart. When he recognizes an area where he lived as a youth some fifty years earlier, he gets out the cart near an inn and asks a woman who resembled his mother for a man to help him move his luggage into the inn. She provides him a laborer to move his baggage. But Peyrol stands at the gate until the carters left with their cart filled with empty wine-casks. After he had eaten his supper in silence, he obtains a candle and walks slowly up the staircase which creaked as if he were carrying a heavy load.
[page 11, 12] The first thing he did was to close the shutters most carefully as though he had been afraid of a breath of night air. Next, he bolted the door of the room. Then sitting on the floor, with the candlestick before him between his widely straddled legs, he began to undress, flinging off his coat and dragging his shirt over his head. The secret of his heavy movements was disclosed then in the fact that he had been wearing next his bare skin — like a pious penitent his hair-shirt — a sort of waistcoat made of two thickness of sail-cloth and stitched all over in the manner of a quilt with tarred twine.
Peyrol was carrying about 65,000 francs in coins of various foreign currencies, and he wanted a safe place to dig a hole to bury out of sight the loot he had laboriously carried from the locker of the ship. It consisted of gold coins, Dutch ducats, Spanish pieces, and English guineas, and he was careful no one knew about his treasure. He knew no customs-guard would dare to attempt to search a prize-master headed to the port offices to make his report. It worked and now he needed a place to stay and found one at a nearby farm. While waiting for the master of the Escampobar Farm to arrive and give him permission to stay, Peyrol knew he was ready. He thought, "I have seen everything", and thus was ready to face anything without showing a sign of surprise.
[page 25] By the time he had heard of a Revolution in France and of certain Immortal Principles causing the death of many people, from the mouths of seamen and travelers and year-old gazettes coming out of Europe, he was ready to appreciate contemporary history in his own particular way. Mutiny and throwing officers overboard. He had seen that twice and he was on a different side each time. As to this upset, he took no side. It was too far — too big — also not distinct enough. But he acquired revolutionary jargon quickly enough and used it on occasion, with secret contempt. What he had gone through, from a spell of crazy love for a yellow girl to the experience of treachery from a bosom friend and shipmate (both those things Peyrol confessed to himself he could never hope to understand), with all the graduations of varied experience of men an passions between, had put a drop of universal scorn, a wonderful sedative, into the strange mixture which might have been called the soul of the returned Peyrol.
We have seen the secret treasure and gotten a view into the soul of Peyrol, so different from the innocent lad of eleven who first went to sea as a stowaway on a ship. As for the things he professed he could never hope to understand, rightly understood, only karma can explain some things which can only be balanced by working out over multiple lifetimes.
Joseph Conrad writes strong prose and delicate prose equally well. Take this example; "The sky rested lightly on the distant and vaporous outline of the hills; and the immobility of all things seemed poised in the air like a gay mirage." (Page 31) He has shown us the rover's soul of Peyrol, and now undergoes to explain how this soul has come to find its rest here along the remote shoreline of Toulon.
[page 31] Whatever enchantment Peyrol had known in his wanderings it had never been so remote from all thoughts of strife and death, so full of smiling security, making all his past appear to him like a chain of lurid days and sultry nights. He thought he would never want to get away from it, as though he had obscurely felt that his old rover's soul had been always rooted there. Yes, this was the place for him; not because expediency dictated, but simply because his instinct of rest had found its home at last.
Even though his soul had found rest, Peyrol became concerned about the curious movements of the English ship. A shot fired one night seemed to be a signal to someone on shore. Peyrol began to look out of his second-floor windows at the night sky and particularly at the sea, and he began to form a plan. He had already salvaged a tartane, a small fishing boat, which he kept ready for sea transport if he needed it, and a friend Michel to go with him.
[page 100] Often waking up at night he would get up to look at the starry sky out of all his three windows in succession, and think: "Now there is nothing in the world to prevent me from getting out to sea in less than an hour." As a matter of fact it was possible for two men to manage the tartane. Thus Peyrol's thought was comfortingly true in every way, for he loved to feel himself free, and Michel of the lagoon, after the death of his depressed dog, had no tie on earth. It was a fine thought which somehow made it quite easy for Peyrol to go back to his four-poster bed and resume his slumbers.
A plan begins to unfold in Peyrol and the French Lieutenant Real's minds: a way to get a dispatch into the British hands which will deceive Admiral Nelson into a false move which would be costly to his fleet.
[page 143] This scheme of false dispatches was but a detail in a plan for a great, a destructive victory. Just a detail, but not a trifle all the same. Nothing connected with the deception of an admiral could be called trifling. And such an admiral too. It was, as Peyrol felt vaguely, a scheme that only a confounded landsman would invent. It behooved the sailors, however, to make a workable thing of it.
The main problem was to get the false dispatch into Admiral Nelson's hands without arousing suspicions that it was intended for him or else its effect will be nil. Peyrol knew the deception could not be maneuvered by mere words, but rather by deeds.
[page 143] The old rover had enough genius in him to have arrived at a general conclusion that if they were to be deceived at all it could not be done very well by words but rather by deeds; not by mere wriggling, but by deep craft conceal under some sort of straight-forward action.
It soon becomes clear that the rover Peyrol is headed back to sea in his little tartane as part of that deed which will steer the Admiral into harm's way. In a beautiful metaphor Peyrol comments on the seaworthy nature of his fishing boat.
[page 254] The tartane, obeying the helm, fell off before the wind, with her head to the eastward.
Peyrol murmured: "She has not forgotten how to walk the seas." His subdued heart, heavy for so many days, had a moment of buoyance — the illusion of immense freedom.
Was Peyrol going to freedom on the seas or to freedom from the bounds of earth and sea? Clearly, he was no longer to be a landsman, stuck on a spit of land overlooking the sea, but on the sea, in battle again, if only through a battle of wits with a worthy opponent, the great British Admiral Nelson. We have walked the land with Peyrol from his cottage down to the sea and back up. We have stood beside him as he observed the surreptitious movements of the British corvette from his upstairs windows. We have listened to his thoughts as he planned carefully what to do, and how carrying out this plan would affect the rest of his life. In the end it was the feeling of freedom, of walking the seas again, that shaped his actions and the rest of his life.
4.) ARJ2: The Mind's Eye by Oliver Sacks
In this book, Sacks presents a series of essays about interactions between our minds and our eyes. How do we see? How do we read? How do we see things in 3-D? He gives us examples and explanations of what happens when either or both the mind and the eyes operate abnormally and when the connection between the mind and eye gets somehow disturbed.
The first patient he introduces us to is Lilian, who can read individual letters in an eye chart, but can no longer read words or music. Tests showed some low activity in her visual cortex, possibly a degenerative condition, as her problems began slowly. Sacks did a novel thing for a neurologist, he visited her in her home to see how she coped at home. Her kitchen had everything sorted color, size, shape, position, context, and association and thus she rarely made any errors in cooking. She served tea and biscotti to Sacks and her husband, and when Sacks got up to leave, she suggested he take the remainder of the biscotti with him, but because the plate had been moved, she could not find the clearly visible biscotti on the table. Before leaving Sacks knew she played the piano and asked if she'd play a piece for him, which she did, first a Bach fugue, then two Chopin mazurkas. She played using "muscle memory" and her finely tuned ear. (Page 14, 15) Sacks compared Lilian's agnosia to that of Mr. P, of The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat fame. When she visited Sacks' apartment, she recognized his grandfather clock, while Mr. P had tried to shake hands with a grandfather clock. (Page 23) Her musical skills remained even though she had to play with a score. She took a Hayden quartet and arranged it for piano. On a later visit, Sacks asked if she'd play it again for him.
[page 31] At the piano, she first blundered, hitting wrong notes, and seemed anxious and confused. "Where am I?" she cried, and my heart sank. But then she found her place and began to play beautifully, the sound soaring up, melting, twisting into itself. Claude was amazed and moved by this. "She hasn't played at all for two or three weeks," he whispered to me. As she played, Lilian stared upward, singing the melody softly to herself. She played with consummate artistry, with all the power and feeling she had shown before, as Haydn's music swelled into a furious turbulence, a musical altercation. Then, as the quartet drew to its final, resolving chords, she said, simply, "All is forgiven."
The next patient was Pat who went from an energetic and successful artist and mother to almost dead and in a coma at age 60. After an operation to remove a large blood clot, she remained a vegetative state. Then one day she eyed a soda her daughter was drinking and when asked if she wanted a sip, she nodded, "yes." She began to recover but remained "aphasic" meaning lacking any speech. Sacks first met Pat in Beth Abraham Hospital and found her to be angry, tormented, and frustrated, especially about having to communicate for the first time in her life only using gestures. Nurses reported that on occasion, she would yell, Hell! or "Go Away!" A year later, Sacks found Pat to be less angry and more sociable. She had made a book of various words that she could quickly flip to and point to, and thus direct a conversation in a direction of her choice. She had a tape recorder with various songs and could use them to trigger a short expression from her voice, e.g., "Oh, What a Beautiful Morning"could trigger her into being able to say, "Good morning, Dr. Sacks." She was a happy person, thankful to be alive, and found a way to communicate and interact socially with people again. (Pages 32 to 52)
The next case Sacks shares it is that of Howard a writer of novels, who suddenly one day found that he could write, but could no longer read. All the words on his newspaper looked as if they were written in the Cyrillic alphabet and were meaningless to him. But when admitted to the hospital and the nurse suggested that he write his name, he wrote it perfectly and added on several sentences which were also legible. After he had written these sentences, he was unable to read them. He could talk, walk, write, but was unable to read. He had alexia sine agraphia, no reading ability, but he could still write.
Howard persevered with attempting to read until one day he discovered that if he traced the letters of a word he saw on a page using his tongue on the back of his teeth, he could understand the word. Using this laborious method he became very proficient at, he could once again read. Then one day, he bit the end of his tongue by accident and with his tongue swollen, he could not use it to read. Biting his tongue had made him temporarily illiterate. With his new found ability to read, he began writing again on his computer, and had to depend on his editor to read the entire book to him, so he could reorganize it as necessary in his mind.
[page 80, 81] His new novel (which he called Memory Book) was published in 2005, and this was followed in fairly rapid succession by another Benny Cooperman novel and, in 2007, a memoir, The Man Who Forgot How to Read. Howard Engel is still alexic, but he has found a way to remain a man of letters. That he was able to do so is a testament to many things: the dedication and skill of his therapists in rehab, his own determination to read again, and the adaptability of the human brain.
"The problems never went away," Howard writes, "but I became cleverer at solving them."
The next problem Sacks describes is that of being "face blind". It was a problem that beset him all his lifetime, so he becomes his own patient in this essay. Early in his school years, he could only recognize two of his closest friends, Eric by his thick glasses, and Jonathan by his tall and lanky physique. Ten years later, his friends could recognize hundreds of their schoolmates from the yearbooks, but he couldn't recognize any.
[page 83] It was not just faces. When I went for a walk or a bicycle ride, I would have to follow exactly the same route, knowing that if I deviated from it even slightly,
I would be instantly and hopelessly lost. I wanted to be adventurous, to go to exotic places — but I could do this only if I bicycled with a friend.
At the age of seventy-six, despite a lifetime of trying to compensate, I have no less trouble with faces and places. I am thrown particularly when I see people out of context, even if I have just seen them five minutes before.
Sacks tells stories about his problem as glibly and accurately as if he were relating what a patient had told him.
[page 85] My problem with recognizing faces extends not only to my nearest and dearest, but also to myself. Thus on several occasions I have apologized for almost bumping into a large bearded man, only to realize that the large bearded man was myself in a mirror. The opposite situation once occurred at a restaurant with tables outside. Sitting at one of these sidewalk tables, I turned to the restaurant window and began grooming my beard, as I often do. I then realized that what I had taken to be my reflection was not grooming himself but looking at me oddly. There was in fact a gray-bearded man on the other side of the window, who must have been wondering why I was preening myself in front of him.
Sacks even chose a photo of the wrong uncle for the cover of his memoir called Uncle Tungsten. I checked my library to see if I had the hardback edition in which the error was made, but unfortunately I had the paperback edition which, by its publication, Sacks had suffered his family's bewilderment, "How could you have made such a mistake" and replaced the photograph with the correct uncle. (Page 86)
In his study of prosopagnosia, Sacks found that, while people with this syndrome have face-blindness, they often have problems recognizing other objects, mistaking an apple for a pear, or even in some cases being unable to recognize a particular handwriting style. Sacks had congenital prosopagnosia, but there are cases of acquired versions of the syndrome.
In his essay on "Stereo Sue" , Sacks reveals his love for stereo images, which he's had since childhood. I remember seeing old black and white photos appearing in 3-D in an old stereoscope. The ViewMaster 3-D gadget came out when I was a teenager and the colorful 3-D images that came from the cardboard disks with tiny slides were spectacular. Also 3-D comic books came out during my early teens, and I was curious as to how they worked. I began to draw 3-D images, one image in red and an almost identical one in green and view them through the 3-D glasses. The result was a monochromatic 3-D image, which excited me as I discovered how they worked.
Sue had crossed-eyes and had surgery on her eyes to correct the condition, but lacked binocular or stereo vision, and no one had ever told her that was so. Taking a course in neurophysiology as a junior in college, she discovered she lacked binocular vision. She took every stereo test she could locate and she failed all of them. She went to an eye doctor who discovered her eyes were misaligned and prescribed a prism to shift one eye to align with the other vertically. Suddenly 3-D objects began to pop out of the flat space in her visual field. She was slowly creating her binocular vision and soon began seeing the whole world in 3-D. She was enthralled by her new way of seeing the world.
[page 142, 143] One winter day, I was racing from the classroom to the deli for a quick lunch. After taking only a few steps from the classroom building, I stopped short. The snow was falling lazily around me in large, wet flakes. I could see the space between each flake, and all the flakes together produced a beautiful three-dimensional dance. In the past, the snow would have appeared to fall in a flat sheet in one plane slightly in front of me. I would have felt like I was looking in on the snowfall. But now, I felt myself within the snowfall, among the snowflakes. Lunch forgotten, I watched the snow fall for several minutes, and, as I watched, I was overcome with a deep sense of joy. A snowfall can be quite beautiful — especially when you see it for the first time."
In his essay "Persistence of Vision" Sacks becomes a patient again, this time with serious eye problems in the form of a tumor in his eye which costs him his own binocular vision and then his own life. From this chapter he segues into the eponymous essay, "The Mind's Eye". He discusses John Hull's book, Touching the Rock: An Experience of Blindness, in which he describes how he progressively lost all of his life, entering a state he called, "deep blindness".
[page 204] Being a "whole-body seer," for Hull, meant shifting his attention, his center of gravity, to the other sensed and these senses assumed a new richness and power. Thus he wrote of how the sound of rain, never before accorded much attention, could delineate a whole landscape for him, for its sound on the garden path was different from its sound as it drummed on the lawn, or on the bushes in his garden, or on the fence dividing the garden from the road:
Rain has a way of bringing out the contours of everything it throws a colored blanket over previously invisible things; instead of an intermittent and thus fragmented world, the steadily falling rain creates continuity of acoustic experience . . . presents the fullness of an entire situation all at once . . . gives a sense of perspective and of the actual relationships of one part of the world to another.
With his wonderful prose and in-depth research as well as personal experience with his own problems and those of others, Sacks allow each of us to become a full-body seer of what it means to be a human being. He takes us inside people who can no longer read, people who can write but cannot read, people who cannot recognize familiar faces, people who acquire stereoscopic vision at age fifty, people who lose their full sight and discover how to experience the world with all their remaining senses. Sacks has gone now, but like a true friend, he has left tracks on our heart.
5.) ARJ2: From Elephants to Einstein by Rudolf Steiner
"Where do elephants go to die?" Everyone's heard about elephant graveyards, those places where elephants mysteriously go to die, but who has ever seen one? In answer to a question from one of the workers at the Goetheanum, Steiner responds. He says 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 similar to my supposition that the reasons dolphins beach themselves is that they are near death and want to die in contact with the earth. [See my dolphin novel, The Spizznet File.] Those who attempt to help dolphins back into the sea are often disappointed to see the same dolphin coming back to the shore again and again. Their efforts may be likened to some well-meaning conservationist going to Africa to pull elephants out of their chosen burial caves before they die in an attempt to help them. Animals know what they are doing, and humans, with all our freedom can do them great harm if we attempt to anthropomorphize them, projecting our human desires upon their lives.
[page 5] You see, with human beings the situation is that they pay for their freedom by having really very little intuition. Animals do not have freedom, everything about them is unfree. But they have great intuitive powers. As you know, when danger threatens, an earthquake, for instance animals move away, while human begins are caught completely unprepared by such events.
"An elephant never forgets!" Everyone's heard that and thinks perhaps that elephants have a long memory. Steiner clears this up in an interesting way. Suppose a mosquito landed on your arm and you immediately swatted it - would that be considered an act of memory? No, because it happened so fast. Same with a cow's tails shooing away flies from its body. Now take a sample story that proves the elephant's memory. (from page 6) A young boy throws something at an elephant who was on its way to a drink in the river. Much later when the elephant returned, he kept a large amount of water in his trunk and sprayed it all over the boy. The elephant's thought processes are so slow that spraying the boy with water was the equivalent of brushing a fly away for a human or a cow.
Next Steiner talks about our human bodies, in particular, the human skeleton, how it is enclosed in a tightly fitting sack (the periosteum). The skeleton is pure earth stuff, calcium phosphate and calcium carbonate, all covered by a dense membrane. If you get a simple splinter of wood or metal in your finger, it will hurt and fester until it comes out. But here in the depths of your body, the skeleton, there is pure earth stuff that is perfectly content to be there. Why?
[page 14] Because there where you are dead inside yourself, where the bone appears dead inside its periosteum, spirit is present everywhere. You see, that was the wonderful instinct that made ordinary people, who often knew more than the academics, to see death as a skeleton. For they knew that the spirit was present in the skeleton. And if they thought of a spirit walking about, then it, too, had to be a skeleton. That was exactly the right image. For as long as a human being lives, he makes room in himself for the spirit through his bones.
This is reminiscent of a popular jazz song that goes, "Ain't no sin to take off your skin and dance around in your bones." The people in Mexico to this day celebrate the Day of the Dead during which they fashion and display all sorts of skeletons. To complete the story on the elephant: the thick skin of the elephant is like a skeleton on the outside of its body, and because of the spirit in that thick skin, the elephant is able to sense when its death is near. (page 14)
Next Steiner tells us about poisons, how mineral poisons are different from plant poisons, and both from animal poisons. First he tells us about naturally occurring arsenic in the Alpine regions, how children grow up eating traces of arsenic and instead of becoming sick, they become robust and rotund with a rosy complexion. (See page 112 for his description of how huge fat children were raised this way in the Hungarian mountains by feeding them arsenic while they were between seven and fifteen.) This is exactly the opposite of the effects of arsenic poisoning which causes the victim to become pale and grow thin. He says that animals and humans can produce arsenic because they have astral bodies; plants cannot because they have only an ether body. The presence of arsenic keeps us awake while the etheric body makes us sleepy.
[page 19] The ether body gives life, the astral body gives sentience. There can be no sentience unless life is suppressed. . . . There you have the astral body, there the ether body. They are always fighting each other. If the ether body wins we get a bit sleepy; if the astral body wins we come wide awake. This alternates all the time in daytime life, but so briefly and quickly that we do not notice it and think we are always awake.
As an example of plant poisons, he talks about Belladonna, the deadly nightshade, among others. And he tells us how to distinguish the effects of mineral and plant poisons: minerals poisons cause retching or vomiting and plant poisons diarrhea. The effects of mineral poisons occur in the stomach and the body tries to get rid of it. With plant poisons, the effect is not noticed in the stomach but far down the alimentary canal in the intestines. Whenever we eat a meal, we ingest small amounts of plant poisons that occur naturally in food. For myself, I have noticed some diarrhea shortly after restaurant meals and wondered about it. It was always short lasting and occurred soon after a meal at a restaurant that I frequented because of its fresh produce and good-tasting food. This information from Steiner helps answer a long unanswered question I had about those simple bouts of intestinal disorder that always disappeared as quickly as they began.
Let's summarize the situation so far (see page 33): mineral poisons cause the physical body to enter the etheric; plant poisons cause the ether body to enter the astral body; and animal poisons cause the astral body to enter the "I". (It actually enters the blood, the system most associated with our human "I" body.) He tells us that in trees, which are plants that do not die between seasons, we find the astral influences concentrated in outside of the tree, its bark. Thus the bark of oaks with its tannic acid is medicinal, as well the popular headache remedy, aspirin, which was first obtained from the bark of willow trees. Concoctions from these astrally influenced portions of the trees will help to counteract or remove the effects perpetrated on the human astral body by a plant poison. In passing he tells us something about coffee. Ever noticed how popular the ritual of taking a cup of coffee after a meal is?
[page 27-28] When we take black coffee, the situation is — because plants always have a little bit of poison in them — that with black coffee we throw out of the astral body something that consumes the body because the ether body has penetrated the astral body.
With animal poisons, it's no longer possible to remove it by vomiting, it must be removed directly from the blood stream or by an antidote created in the blood stream itself. Thus the typical first aid for snake bite is to remove the blood from the region of the bite. Or to create some immunity in advance by introducing small amounts of the snake poison into the blood. One animal poison that we all have in us is ptomaine, which the dictionary says is an amine that comes from decaying animal or vegetable matter. In our bodies while we live are some small amounts of ptomaine and our etheric and astral bodies consume this ptomaine as it appears. We live because we are dying all the time, our body is being consumed in the process of living, just as our automobiles are propelled by the consumption of the contents of its gasoline tank. When our ether and astral bodies, that consume ptomaine like a BMW does gas, depart, the ptomaine continues to increase until the entire body decays. It is as though our bodies are BMWs that dissolve into gasoline when the drivers abandon them!
If one's "I" body is not working properly, people develop gout or rheumatism. To strengthen their "I" one can give them insect venom, which works the astral body into the "I", strengthening it. Thus simple bee stings have been known to cure people of gout or rheumatism.
In this one lecture that Steiner gave on January 19, 1924, I learned more about poisons than I ever learned going through school and college and sixty years of life. In the next lecture I was going to get an equivalent lesson in nutrition. Protein is the chief constituent of eggs, and Steiner says that to eat too much protein is like having rotting eggs in one's gut. Besides making one susceptible to arteriosclerosis, it also makes one more likely to catch all sorts of infectious diseases. He was saying this almost 75 years ago, and still today folks are going on dangerous high-protein diets all over this country. The ether body converts the protein, the astral body the fats, and the "I" body the sugars and starches. (summary on page 50) The current fad, outside of pushing people to eat more protein, is the eating of fat-free foods. Fats are the easiest food to be converted into energy, Steiner said in some earlier book, which means if someone is eating fat-free foods, they are forcing their body to work harder to obtain energy from other sources.Note below how his acumen on the matter of proper nutrition flies in the face of the best advice of materialist doctors of our time who consider fatty substances anathema to a healthy heart.
[page 37] For the middle body, the chest region, for proper nutrition of the heart, chest, and so on, it is therefore absolutely necessary to take in fatty substances.
Protein, like eggs that have rotted, produce a stink unless digested, and that protein is consumed by the ether body which prevents the rotting of protein similar to the way it prevents the rotting of the human body which proceeds as soon as the ether body leaves upon death. Fats do not rot, they become rancid. Rotting confronts our senses with a smell, and rancidness more with a taste. Taste is more of an inward condition than smell, it doesn't happen unless we bring the substance into direct contact with our body for ingestion. That is the function of our middle body, everything that has to do with awareness, and that is the function of the astral body. The astral body takes in the air through the middle of our body, the chest, and with that air it counteracts the rancid tendency of the fats, and if that is not done, we would continually have "rancid eructations" of our own fats. (page 39) If one is not able to digest all the fats, they go rancid, leave an unpleasant taste in one's mouth, and one develops diseases of the stomach and intestines. Arsenic, which, as a mineral poison, taken in small amounts, is able to strengthen the astral body which then keeps the fats from going rancid.
The third food he mentioned above was carbohydrates, sugars and starches. Another fad diet that has made its rounds in recent years involves carbohydrates. What happens when we eat sugars or starches? They turn into alcohol in the body, they ferment basically speaking. Potatoes are mostly starch, but quickly turn into sugar in the process of digestion. (One type of beets is made directly into refined sugar.) The eating of too many potatoes, Steiner tells us, is bad for the head because of the effort required by their "I" to combat the fermentation of the sugar the body creates from the starch of the potatoes.
[page 44] People who eat too many potatoes and have to make a terrible effort in their heads to cope with potato fermentation therefore tend to be weak in the head. It is mainly the middle parts of the brain that grow weak, leaving only the front parts which make little effort to prevent potato fermentation. It is actually due to the fact that potatoes have come to be widely eaten in recent times that materialism has developed, for this is produced in the front part of the brain.
A popular name for people who spent their time in brain-numbing viewing of popular TV show is "couch potatoes." Add to the effects of the weak-brained TV programs the weakening effects on the brain of the french fries and potato chips that are de rigeur for the inveterate couch potato, and you have a recipe for creating a mass feeble-mindedness in society.A harbinger of this evolution of consciousness appeared some fifty years ago when the children's game called Mr. Potato Head was created. Once more the common folk illustrated a deep knowledge of which scientists seem completely unaware. Mr. Potato Head was a set of lips, eyes, teeth, glasses, ears, nose, and moustaches with which one could create a full human being out of a potato! Exactly what we had begun to do with our dietary habits back in the 1950s, turn human beings into potatoes! And materialists, also, as Steiner astutely points out.
[page 45] One thing you can see from this is that the science of the spirit we work with here recognizes the true nature of materialism. Materialism does not know anything about the world of matter; the science of the spirit recognizes the potato in particular as the real creator of materialism. . . . And people must clearly understand that if they eat too many potatoes their midbrain will wither away and it is even possible that their senses also suffer from eating too many potatoes.
Undoubtedly Steiner's warnings about potato consumption seemed quaint at the time and went largely unheeded. But we have the wisdom that only time can bring, seventy-five years of experience, and his predictions as to the effects of excessive potato consumption are still blithely ignored, even though we can verify that the effects he predicted have all come about. Particularly noticeable is that it is fat people, or overweight people, that line up for large french fries at the fast food outlets and always order diet soft drinks.
[page 46] Let us assume someone eats too many potatoes even as a child. Later in life you will very often find that such a person never knows when he has had enough, because his sense of taste has been ruined by potato consumption, while someone who has not eaten too many potatoes will know instinctively when he has had enough. This instinct, which is largely connected with the midbrain, is thus ruined by excessive potato consumption.
In the next lecture, Steiner answers questions about the color of eyes and those who make diagnoses from inspecting people's eyes. In it he tells us how the colors of eyes, blue, black, and brown arise from the differential processing of iron and sulphur, how the eye's job is to excrete the light it receives into the brain, much as the colon excretes waste products from our body, how our eyes are the organ of our "I" body, and thus much can be read from examining one's eyes. But he cautions that one must relate what is found in someone's eyes to their previous life history to make sense of it properly; thus using a book of iridology to make eye diagnoses of others would be ill-advised.
[page 62] Most people tend to think: if I see little black dots in the iris then one thing or another must be the case in the body. It is, however, important to know not only about the person's present life. Particularly if one wants to look at such things in order to discover the causes of illness one must go through such a person's whole life with him; one must make him remember what he did on one occasion or another in his childhood. What we see in the iris may thus point to a number of things. And it requires extremely complex knowledge to draw any conclusions from this.
But, being too complex for a simple presentation is not sufficient cause to deter an entrepreneur seeking to profit from others' gullibility by publishing a pamphlet or book on how to do iridology or eye diagnosis, like "Eye Diagnosis for Dummies" or "Iridology for Idiots."
[page 64 But when it comes to those eye diagnosis pamphlets, we cannot speak of good will, only of a desire to make money. So you always have to say to yourself with such things: a good truth may be at the heart of some endeavour, but it is exactly the best truths, gentlemen, that are most abused by the world.
In the next lecture we get a short course in the water cycle of the Earth. He tells us that water makes up the Earth's circulation, just as blood makes up our body's circulation. There is a closed flow of water from the source of rivers to the sea and back. The rivers are like our arteries and the equivalent of our veins is the salt beds that flow back under the river beds. Our human bodies are filled with salt water primarily, some 85% by weight, and the oceans of the world contain most of the salt water of the Earth.
[page 71] The springs that flow with fresh water are open to the cosmos and are like our eyes . . . whereas the body of the earth, or rather the innards of the earth, are the salty oceans.
As a trained physicist who knows a little about geology, I can tell you, dear Reader, that I cannot for the life of me figure out how a stream of salt returns under the bed of a large river from its mouth to the head of the river, but I must also admit that I know of salt water filled strata that underlie the surface of the Earth. In drilling for oil, one must learn to distinguish on well logs the difference between oil bearing formations and saltwater bearing formations. When wells have depleted the oil and gas from a formation, that fact is invariably signaled by the arrival of salt water to replace the extracted petroleum deposits. There's a lot of saltwater down there in the Earth, and I'm willing to take Steiner's word on what it's doing down there where nobody's looking.
He tells us that the migration of salmon occurs because the salmon go into salt water to fatten up and into the fresh water to reproduce. They alternate between taking in the earthly influences in salt water to taking in the astral influences in fresh water. Plus there's a correlation, he says, between bird migrations and salmon migrations. For birds, they get the astral influences for reproduction in the northern climes and the earthly influences to develop muscle tissue in the warmer climes.
[page 76] The migration of salmon in water is just like the migration of birds in the air, except that salmon move to and fro between salt water and fresh water, and the birds in the air move to and fro between the colder and warmer regions.
Later in this lecture he talks about sleeping on one's left side as being aligned with the Earth while sleeping on one's right side as aligned with the heavens. (page 78)
In the next lecture, Steiner gives us a dissertation on our clothing, how it was designed, where the idea of a belt came from, where various headdresses came from, how medals first came to be used, and why we use different colors in our clothing designs. One example is the use of the garter and the reason for the curious "Order of the Garter."
[page 100] And you see if the nature of the human being is truly recognized, one will know, for instance, that a special power actually relating to thinking lies in the crook of the knee. And the crook of the knee was therefore adorned - we can no longer decorate it specially today because it is covered by the trouser tube. This later became the Order of the Garter in the way I have described.
In describing flags he mentions how the heraldic animal on the flag was chosen to represent the group soul of the people. This brought to mind for me how colleges and universities today use animals as mascots to represent, in effect, the group soul of the institution with its extended family of alumi and friends. Why do we hang pictures on a wall? He asks and answers his own question, saying that we used to paint on the walls behind altars pictures of what people should think of when they stood before the altar. Now we buy pictures and hang them to achieve a similar effect today. With tattooing, however, the pictures tattooed on one's body affect one's life most strongly while one is asleep. Formerly clothes were indigenous to a region and suited the climate, but due to the migrations of peoples all over the world, this is no longer the case. And finally he describes how wine must be grown in regions where the sun shines a lot and cautions us about wine-drinking.
[page 116] Wine is therefore produced not by something earthly, but exactly by something from beyond the earth, the sun principle, something that is beyond the earth. People need to be altogether very cautious about taking things that come from beyond the earth.
We have all seen the following in some movie or another. A man who is guilty of a crime has a person look fixedly into his eyes and he suddenly begin to confess. Here Steiner explains how that happens after he tells us such a story in which a man looked fixed into a woman's eyes without saying anything and she eventually confessed all.
[page 136] The thing is like this. The man had quite a piercing look. When people have the usual kind of eyes, they talk to people but do not really impinge on them that much. When someone's gaze grows fixed and penetrating, then this magnetizes the ether body of a person, as we might put it. And in the ether body is our conscience. When the ether body is properly integrated in the physical body, well, you know, a person will immediately suppress any such things as soon as it rears its head. But if the ether body is magnetized by such a look, it becomes loosened. And when someone has something on his conscience, this also comes loose, rises up and worries the astral body and the I. The result is that people make confessions they would not otherwise make if their ether body has been loosened.
In this new century when cant and spin prevail over content, it seems that the fast-talking pitchmen on television are making money hand-over-fist selling some product or the other. It is as though their very talk is intoxicating to hear and watch. Here's Steiner sober prose in praise of sober prose over intoxicating cant. One can see immediately the wisdom of the three day contract cancellation clause - it allows one's I to inspect the story and the deal that the astral body has bought hook, line, and sinker, and to make a reasoned decision in freedom to keep or cancel the contract.
[page 138] And, you see, this intoxicated style is to be found everywhere today. People are no longer concerned to make an effect with what they say, but use words that will overwhelm others. Here we see the beginnings of the wrong kind of influence. For when someone writes the way I am endeavouring to write, this influences the I, which has its own free will. When one writes in an intoxicated style this influences the astral body, which does not have such freedom but is unfree. It is possible to influence the astral body especially by saying things one knows people want to hear.
If we were amazed to hear that the eye is an organ of excretion, then it should not come as too much of a shock to hear that the brain is also an organ of excretion. Materialist scientists claim that thinking comes from the brain, but to Steiner's view the situation is quite the opposite: thinking goes to the brain in the form of excretion.
[page 147] For thinking activity is not a function of the brain but consists in the brain being excreted, secreted out of our thinking. The higher up you go in the human being, the more is the human being secretion.
In the vernacular, someone who has done something dumb is sometimes accused of having "Shit for brains." Rightly understood, our brains are the manure resulting from the thinking process. If you examine the initial fetal tube of the human, the brain appears as accumulation at the top of the spinal cord and continues to grow like toothpaste being pushed out the top of its tube into the convolutions we see in the adult brain which resemble so much pushed-up toothpaste filling our skull. A skull, which is, in effect, the top vertebra of our spinal column expanded to hold the pushed-up manure resulting from our thinking.
In answer to a question about looking at urine samples to determine if a person is sick, Steiner tells us about the disease process known as diabetes. He talks once more about how potatoes are converted into sugar and how the sugar is converted into energy which warms the body.
[page 152] Again the astral body must function properly if this is to happen If it does not function properly . . . the vegetable sugar will not be transformed properly into human sugar but go directly to the kidney. There the sugar is eliminated and the person develops diabetes. The sugar content of the urine will tell you that the person is sick.
One thing struck me in the above passage, "the astral body must function properly". What does a person act like whose astral body does not "function properly"? I believe that they would not raise their voices, hardly get angry, and thus be all sweetness and light most of the time. And, they would likely contract diabetes. This seems to apply to the several people I know who have diabetes, they all have sweet-sounding voices and pleasant dispositions. Of course, I may be wrong about this, having such limited data to draw on.
This book is full of information on such a variety of issues that a review can scarely give but a hint at the scope of the answers that Steiner provided to the workers during February of 1924. Answers that would be well worth the study of those today living over seventy-five years later.
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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 Offers Horse a Carrot in San Francisco Airport 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 DIGESTWORLD to share with us some amusing or enlightening aspect of the world he observes during his peregrinations.
This month the good Padre Gets an Answer from the Horse's Mouth:
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 Michael Izquierdo, a New Doyletics User, after doing his first Confirmed Speed Trace on a Food Dislike:
Thank you so much for taking your time and sharing your most valuable information with me, Bobby.
Your knowledge will not be used in vain.
I can't thank you enough for helping me to be able to eat peanuts and peanut butter. I always thought that I could never eat that food.
More importantly this gives me incredible incentive that if I could break through such a deep-seated pattern like peanuts so quickly, then I can break through just about any limitation in life. For that I thank you from the bottom my heart.
- EMAIL from Donna:
I would like to subscribe to monthly Digestworld. I am so happy I found you. Thanks for your wonderfully insightful reviews!
- EMAIL from Magnus:
I wanted to share that I really love doyletics!
I mentioned it in my website newsletter about 7 years ago and many people thanked me for introducing them to it.
I still use it myself and with clients and friends.
- EMAIL, etc., Title
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3. Poem from Freedom on the Half Shell:"Curtains for the Wall"
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.This poem was written around the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall.4. Mick Foilan Boy
Curtains for the Wall
From Budapest to Bucharest
Democracy's in from the West —
Communism's on its knees —
Heedless of its dictators' pleas,
Economies of running free
Dog the heels of history.
In the Eighties' East Germany
It took half-a-year's salary
To buy a color VCR,
And a BMW car
Required the riches of a czar.The Wall fell downIt wasn't hammers and chisels
And broke its crown
And all the King's horses
and all the King's men
Couldn't put it together again.
Or rockets or guided missiles
That transformed the Wall into dust
And turned the Iron Curtain to rust,
But the seeds of democracy nourished
By flowing tears of the vanquished.
And when the Wall at last disappears
We'll remember over the years —
As the Wall recedes, brick by brick —
Communication did the trick.
English is a versatile language. You can butcher the vowel sounds and still be able to speak recognizable English. This came home to me during a cruise from New Orleans to Istanbul a few years ago. Each country we visited had a tour guide which spoke good English, but their vowel sounds were shaped by their native languages. In the Azores we heard English spoken with Portugese vowel sounds, in Barcelona, with Spanish vowel sounds, in Toulon French sounds, in Florence Italian sounds, in Mykonos Greek sounds, and in Istanbul with Turkish vowel sounds, and only rarely did the different vowel sound lead to some a confusing ambiguity. I was amazed by English. I am not a polyglot, but make mistakes in French or German vowel sounds and you will get a blank stare of incomprehension.
All of which leads me to this story about our waiting to board our plane in Buenos Aires airport, during which vowels sounds mispronounced played a key role in miscommunication. Delta clerk at the Departure Gate kept paging over and over again for some strange foreign person named "Mick Foilan Boy". I couldn't imagine who or what this person was. What country could he or she be from? I never heard the name "Boy" or "Boi" as a last name before. Maybe it was a boy named Mick Foilan? I held this as an unanswered question as we had this hour long wait to board the plane, a wait generated by some improvised Hand-Inspection of our carry-on bags at the Departure Gate, something I'd never experienced before. We had already gone a complete X-ray inspection when we entered the terminal or our carry-on baggage, and now they were calling for Pre-Boarding passengers and many of them were in this long line at Gate 3 in sight of the ramp to the plane waiting for inspection of their carry-ons. And there was "Mick Foilen Boy" being paged every minute or so. Must be an important person, I thought. Or a lost boy, perhaps. Turned out to be a bit of both.
As they finished the hand inspection and I was only about 12 feet from the person paging. I could heard the words a bit more clearly, and it suddenly occurred to me that they were paging Paul MacFarland! Putting the last name first and using the foreign vowels sounds, his name was being rendered incomprehensible. I walked over and asked the attendants if they were trying to page Paul MacFarland, the Cruise Director for Crystal Cruise lines. "Yes, do you know him?" When I said I did, they wanted his cell phone number to contact him, which I didn't know. I carefully intoned Paul's name for them again and they then paged him correctly. Later Paul walked by our seat in the plane, so apparently they found him or he just showed up. I heard two different explanations about why they were paging him. The attendant at the gate said something about some oxygen equipment they needed to return to him. Another person suggested he had been on Stand-By. I'll ask Paul when I see him again, but I suspect I'll get a funny story instead of a straight answer.
This was a lesson to me: as versatile as English is when you speak it with foreign vowel sounds in the context of a sentence, a person's name can be hard to discern if you garble the vowel sounds in their name, and if you reverse their first and last name, their name can become completely unrecognizable.The Crystal Symphony's Cruise Director Paul MacFarland is from Las Vegas and he is always coming up with funny lines, as he introduces the evening shows, broadcasts the Morning Show on Channel 27, emcees various gatherings during the cruise. One of his favorite lines was, "When we cruised to the Canary Islands, I was disappointed, we saw no canaries. Later when we cruise to Virgin Islands, I was disappointed again, we saw no canaries there either." Always gets a laugh. Taking Paul's lead, I told several people, "In Puerto Madryn, we went to the Ecocenter and we heard no echoes there." That afternoon, I was at the ice cream bar on the Lido Deck, and Captain Ralf Zander came up next to me and asked how my day was. "Not good," I said, "we went to Ecocenter and didn't find any echoes." He chuckled and added, "We went to Virgin Islands and didn't find any echoes there either."
Most of Paul's stories seemed to be jokes he had heard elsewhere and converted into his patter, but on the last night he told a story that seemed so personal, it must have been true. He explained that he worked three months on the ship and was home with his family for three months. His toddlers would sleep in bed with their mother while he was gone, and when he arrived home, it took him several days to move the kids back into their own beds.Finally before leaving he sat down with his kids and explained that it was time for them to sleep in their own beds while he was away at work. He made them promise him that they would do that. When he returned from sea, he saw his wife and kids waiting excitedly for him at the McCarran Airport terminal, and his eight-year-old daughter yelled out animatedly to him across the crowd of people, "Daddy, Daddy, nobody slept with Mommy while you were gone!"This came in from Warren Perrin in Lafayette. I must write him back once I locate my Lash LaRue, Where Are You? poster. This converges nicely with my mention of Lash Larue during my discussion on the Gary Francis Powers movie near the end of my Antarctica travelogue.Kathy Tarver donated to the Acadian Museum a beautiful movie poster, which was signed by the cowboy actor "Lash" LaRue. The poster was owned by Louis Richard and she donated it to the museum in his memory. Lash LaRue (1921-1996) was a Western movie star of Cajun ancestry who was known as the "Cajun Cowboy". He had exceptional skills with the bull whip and taught actor Harrison Ford how to use the whip for the movie Indiana Jones.
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9. CLOSING NOTES:
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The cost of keeping this website on-line with its 300 Gbytes of bandwidth a month is about $50 a month. Thank you, our Good Readers, for continuing to patronize our advertisers when they provide products and services you are seeking as you visit any of our web pages. Remember the ads are dynamically displayed and every time you read even the same page a second time, you may find new products and services displayed for your review. Our reviews, digests, tidbits, etc, all our webpages act as Google magnets to bring folks to the website to learn about doyletics and frequent our advertisers, so they support one another in effect.We wish to thank all Good Readers who have made a contribution to the doyletics.com website! A special thanks to Chris and Carla Bryant of Corpus Christi!
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You can read a description of how to do a Speed Trace (either in English or Spanish):
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To make a connection to the Doyletics website from your own website, here's what to do. You may wish to use the first set of code below to link to the site which includes a graphic photo, or to use the second set of code for a text-only link. Immediately below is how the graphic link will look on your website. Just place this .html in an appropriate place on your website.
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Check out the new additions to the Famous and Interesting Quotations at:
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My reviews are not intended to replace the purchasing and reading of the reviewed books, but rather to supplant a previous reading or to spur a new reading of your own copy. What I endeavor to do in most of my reviews is to impart a sufficient amount of information to get the reader comfortable with the book so that they will want to read it for themselves. My Rudolf Steiner Reviews are more detailed and my intention is to bring his work to a new century of readers by converting his amazing insights into modern language and concepts.
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Maintaining a website requires time and money, and apart from sending a donation to the Doyletics Foundation, there are several ways you can show your gratitude and support our efforts to keep doyletics.com on-line.
One would be for you to buy a copy of my Dolphin Novel, The SPIZZNET File. Books May be ordered in hardback or paperback form from Xlbiris the Publisher here:
The best source at the best price is to order your copies on-line is from the publisher Random House/Xlibris's website above.
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Any questions about this DIGESTWORLD ISSUE, Contact: Bobby Matherne
Look at George Burns, Bob Hope, both lived to 100. Doesn't that prove that "He who Laughs, Lasts"? Do you find nothing humorous in your life? Are your personal notes blue notes? Are you unhappy with your life? Fearful? Angry? Anxious? Feel down or upset by everyday occurrences? Plagued by chronic discomforts like migraines or tension-type headaches? At Last! An Innovative 21st Century Approach to Removing Unwanted Physical Body States without Drugs or Psychotherapy, e-mediatelytm !
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