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WELCOME TO DIGESTWORLD ISSUE#128 August, 2012== == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == ==Quote for the Steamy Month of August:
A hug is a heart to heart talk.
— Bobby Matherne
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DIGESTWORLDArchived DIGESTWORLD Issues
GOOD MOUNTAIN PRESS Presents ISSUE#128 for August 2012
Table of Contents
1. August's Violet-n-Joey Cartoon
2. Honored Readers for August
3. On a Personal Note
Flowers of Shanidar Poems
4. Cajun Story
5. Recipe of the Month from Bobby Jeaux’s Kitchen: Grama Del's Grilled Cheese Sandwich
6. Poem from Power of the Word: "Paint a Song"
7. Reviews and Articles Added for August:
8. Commentary on the World
- ARJ2: Prophet — Life of Kahlil Gibran by Waterfield, Robin
- ARJ2: The Elephants of Style by Bill Walsh
- ARJ2: Tesla — Man Out of Time by Margaret Cheney
1. Padre Filius Cartoon
2. Comments from Readers
3. Freedom on the Half Shell Poem
4. OLD SPICE
9. Closing Notes — our mailing list, locating books, subscribing/unsubscribing to DIGESTWORLD
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1. August Violet-n-Joey CARTOON:
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For newcomers to DIGESTWORLD, we have created a webpage of all the Violet-n-Joey cartoons! Check it out at: http://www.doyletics.com/vjtoons.htm Also note the rotating calendar and clock that follows just to the right of your mouse pointer as you scroll down the page. You'll also see the clock on the 404 Error page if you make a mistake typing a URL while on the doyletics.com website.
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This month Violet and Joey learn about Wonderful Things.
#1 "Wonderful Things" at http://www.doyletics.com/images/072012jv.gif
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2. HONORED READERS FOR August:
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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 August, 2012:
Gary Smith in Washington state
Becky Matherne in Luling, LA
Congratulations, Gary and Becky!
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3. ON A PERSONAL NOTE:
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Out Our Way:
TO THE BEACH IN SUB-ZERO WEATHER
Okay, I exaggerated a bit, the Sub-Zero part hit the morning we got up at 6 AM to pack for our week in Orange Beach and when I opened our Sub-Zero Fridge, it was warm inside. Seems the prop I had placed to hold up the light diffusion panel at the top of the compartment had slipped when I closed the door the previous night and the panel had propped the door open enough to keep the top lights on, which are very hot when lit, but give great illumination all over the compartment. Our packing the car got interrupted by a rush to discard the now-warped panel, get the stuff off the top shelf, and close the door. The back side of the fridge was still cold, so the open door was the main problem.
For those of you who have Sub-Zero refrigerators, this may be helpful for you. Each of the two doors, Fridge & Freezer, has a "door closing cam" at the bottom door pivot. This is a fancy name for a couple of $8 heavy molded washers which are designed to lift the heavy doors slightly as you open it, prop it open at halfway, and then as you move it to close, the weight comes down on the angled washers pushing the door closed tightly. Test your doors by holding them open a few inches and notice if they begin to close. If they don't you may need new cams. The closing cams are essential to the sealing of the door gasket. If you close your freezer or fridge door and try to open it within a few seconds and the gasket is not tightly sealed, those door closing cams need to be replaced. If the gasket is tightly sealed, you will have difficulty pulling the door open. If the gasket is not tightly sealed, you will be wasting a lot of electricity due to an in-leakage of warm moist air which you will notice condensing on the top of the compartment near where the door touches.I had noticed this problem for two years and finally asked my appliance wizard AAA Wayne to help fix it. He showed me the worn cams which needed to be replaced, and offered to help me replace them if I would order them. He also used a heat gun to warm the gasket all around to allow it to make better contact. Immediately, the door sealed tightly like it had never done before in the two years we've lived here. Apparently, the previous owner ignored the problem and the door gaskets stopped sealing. The sealing tight causes the gaskets to expand when you re-open the door. No tight seals and the door gasket no longer does its job all the way around the door. To check if you need new door closing cams, simply kneel down, look at the door's pivot point, then slowly open the door. Does it ride up about a 1/4 inch as the door opens and then let it close slowly and see if the door rides down bringing the cams together. If so, the cams are okay. If the door does not ride up a bit, the cams need to be replaced. These can be ordered from Sub-Zero. Record your model number and Serial Number before calling.
After our beach trip I ordered a set of new door closing cams and a new light diffusion panel and AAA Wayne came over to help me install them. After watching him, I could have installed the new cams myself, simply by propping up the door and keeping it from opening while removing the base of the pivot, putting in new top and bottom cam, screwing the base back in place. He had told me how to do it, but that door is very heavy and I needed someone else there to help.Wayne is always fun to talk to, and this time he mentioned a "funeral boat" and I asked him, what's that? Wayne told me the neatest story about the Funeral Boat, with emphasis on the Fun.
His friend Pete died and being a scuba diver had asked for his ashes to be spread in the Gulf of Mexico. One has to go beyond the two-mile limit in order to do that legally, and Wayne and a couple of friends are planning a fishing trip on Bimbo's Laissez Bon Temps Roulez, a fishing boat owned by a mutual friend of him and Pete whose actual first name is Bimbo. Affectionately known as Bimbo the Cat due to an episode on Grand Isle where the guys were all going fishing, but Wayne and Pete had offered to fix a stove at a nearby camp for a lady in distress. They left Bimbo at the pier with fishing gear and provisions which included 4 dozen doughnuts. When they returned the 4 boxes were empty and they asked Bimbo what happened to the doughnuts. Bimbo said, "The cat ate them." Thereafter they called him Bimbo the Cat. On the upcoming fishing trip out the mouth of the Mississippi River Bimbo, Wayne and a few other buddies are going to take Pete's ashes with them on the fishing trip and dump his ashes when they get out beyond the 2 mile limit in the Gulf. This is the rule for fishermen in Louisiana: No matter how solemn the occasion, if you can work it into a fishing trip, do it.
We made the trip to Orange Beach and got there early, so we drove down to the Crab Trap just over the Florida border and ate lunch there. Had a delicious Grouper Sandwich there and decided to take our Matherne gang there for our last night. Our four Matherne offspring were arriving from Indiana, Houston, Beaumont, and New Orleans and with most of their spouses and kids. Our two large beach units were situated next to the pool on the walkway to the beach. The water was beautiful, the weather was clear, but with a shower or two and enough cloudiness to break the heat of midday. The surf was great for surfing on a boogie board (body surfing) and no stinging jellyfish anywhere around. Our daughters brought two canopies for the beach, so we didn't have to pack one this year.
COURTBOULLION, KLONDIKE PIES and PAINTED SHOES
The day before we left, I made a large redfish courtboullion to take to the beach with us. Since Patrick is a veggie guy, I kept the redfish filets frozen to be added later after I divided the sauce into two pots and put the redfish in one of them.
There were thunderstorm early on the first morning, and after it was over, I went for walk with Kathryn & Maureen along beach. A friendly heron was talking to them when I walked up. They had stopped near the Gulf State Park pavilion, and I pointed out to them the place where the fireworks will be shot off on Wednesday night for the Fourth of July Celebration. I said that I would take everybody out to dinner on Thursday night as Rob & Greg were leaving with their crews to Indiana (Rob's home) and Michigan (Greg's mom's home) on Friday morning early.
Skies cleared up about 7 am and soon we were all out on the beach under the canopies. I began reading "The Prophet" a biography of Kahlil Gibran by Robin Waterfield. Didn't like the author too much, and didn't know why at first. His quasi-lover description of Mary Haskell early in the book seemed gratuitous to me. Read the review if you want to know what else bothered me about Waterfield — it's rare I read a book whose author bothers as much as Waterfield. He seemed to bother me as much as Gibran bothered him. He did not understand or appreciate Gibran's mystical qualities, and criticized him for his lack of literary merit, which would be like criticizing Yogi Berra for his use of English instead of his hitting and catching of baseballs.
Got photos of just about everyone on the beach and a photo of a remora that had died and washed up on the beach. Picked some shells. Waves were high enough for some light boogie boarding, and I went in for a while after Mo finished with our board. Del and I went to grocery for needed supplies and I couldn't find any Autumn Wheat on the shelves. The idiots! Kashi has varietied itself out of business so far as I'm concerned.
Took a nap in the early afternoon, then got up and started the two pots of courtboullion warming up. I had to cut the redfish filets into chunks and I found bones in the fish due to bad fileting technique. Took me almost as long to remove bones as it would have taken me to correctly filet the fish in the first place. But I carefully went over every filet and removed any possibility of bones. Sauteed the redfish chunks then added the sauce. Came out great. The girls made a large bowl of spaghetti to go with it plus a big salad. The gang nearly wiped out the entire pot in the kid's unit where we dined with them. Patrick loved it as usual.Carla complimented me on it, and even our grand-daughter Sierra told me that she enjoyed it. Kathryn pulled out a stash of frozen Klondike Ice Cream Pies and we noshed on them for dessert.
Beautiful Full Moon that night, so when Sierra came by, I asked her if she could see the Man in the Moon and she said yes, but then couldn't tell me which way his head was tilted, a sure sign she didn't see it. Took me till I was 35 to see the Man in the Moon, but I always thought I had seen him before — then one night he resolved into my view. So I went into our unit to pick up a pack of Squeezers playing cards, and showed her the Man in the Moon graphic on the back of each card in the deck while she was also looking at the real Moon and in a few seconds she got it! First time I've had a chance to do that experiment, using the deck with a Full Moon out in the sky, and someone who has never seen the Man in the Moon. Sometimes they will see it just by a verbal description, but it's much easier to do with the cards handy.
Inspired by Sierra, our grand-daughter, all the aunts, nieces, and Grama brought some plain white sneakers to paint. Maureen and Kathryn are both accomplished artists and brought appropriate colored pens, brushes, and paints. The results can be seen in the banner photo across the top of this Issue. Del's EAT-O-TWIST shoes are shown in one of the poems, and if you Click on the shoe, you can what it means to be walking in EAT-O-TWIST shoes.
PIRATE FROM THE SEA, 4th of JULY, and in THE CRAB TRAP
One morning Del and I went walking by the sea's edge and we picked up some shells. I came back and arranged them to look like a pirate, inspired by a black shell which resembled an eye patch. The Pirate thanked me for putting him back together again, saying:
"I was a pirate in the sea
Scattered where no one could see,
Then Beachcomber Bobby picked me up
And rendered the me that all can see."
The Fourth of July was a day filled with on-and-off showers and our two canopies stayed down. Day was cloudy and cool compared to previous ones and everyone enjoyed that. I didn't cook and we went to the kids' unit for dinner, Yvette prepared a large beef brisket and heated up the courtboullion for me and Patrick. Oreos for dessert. We then all went out to the beach and enjoyed watching the kids throw Frisbee and play tag. Carla took photos of Greg & Yvette's family. We moved closer to the water's edge for the 9 pm show which was spectacular. Afterwards we went back to our unit and watched the tail end of the NYC, Boston, and Chicago firework shows, before hitting the sack. The next day Yvette took photos of Carla's family on the beach.
That night we drove to the Crab Trap, and asked for a table for 16. The parking lot seemed already filled and there were people sitting waiting for a table, but miraculously, within 5 minutes, they had figured out how to seat us by pulling three tables together outside. Our teenage grandsons gobbled up a couple of orders of snowcrab legs, and everyone had their fill and had a great time. A few days earlier, I had discovered that Kathryn had worked at Dairy Queen as a teenager as I had also done, so we decided to go to the local Dairy Queen after dinner for her chocolate-coated cone and my strawberry milkshake. Everyone enjoyed the tables under umbrellas in the dusk and had their favorite DQ treat before we said goodbye for the night.
I got photos of Rob's family on Friday morning outside their unit as they were preparing to leave. Rob had to leave for New Zealand on a business trip the next day and they had to get back to Bloomington, Indiana. Yvette left with her family at the same time to drive along with Rob until parting in Indiana to head north to Greg's folks in Michigan.
While two of our four headed north Maureen and Carla remained behind with us. Friday evening two of Maureen's four children joined us, Chris and Gabe, driving in from New Orleans. Sarah came along with Chris — we had met her briefly on Mardi Gras day, but we got to know her better in the next two days. Saturday we all went out to beach. Saturday was a cool day all day even though the sun was out under a light haze. Sea breezes blowing made being outside very nice all day. I cooked some Red Beans Eggplant Etouffee and rice for supper. Everyone enjoyed it. Del reprised the great dessert of a couple of nights earlier by buying Klondike Chocolate-covered Ice Creams Bars for our dessert.
Our drive home on Sunday morning went smoothly without a single slow down all the way home. When we arrived, I picked cherry tomatoes and eggplants from garden. Also okra, but the pods were either too big or too small. The pods are too tough to cook if they get longer than 9 inches and some of these were. But the okra plants are dark green and as healthy as can be! We got a short shower in early evening. Nice summer weather. Last July we had only a drop of rain by the middle of the month, now we've had almost 6 inches. We're also cooler than the rest of the country by several degrees. Many 100+ temps all around the USA, Deep South and Far North, 42 states having a drought, and we in New Orleans haven't broken triple digits once.
SOLO TO D. C.
Our daughter told us about her son, 19-year-old grandson Weslee, flying alone on an airliner for the first time. He was heading to job for a week as a summer intern in a D. C. corporation. Some SNAFU caused him to miss his connecting flight in Dallas and he had to re-book another flight. Tough thing to deal with on one's first solo flight. The man due to pick him up couldn't because Weslee was so late arriving. Plus the airlines misplaced his bags! Double tough! He decided to wait at the airport for his bags to arrive. Weslee didn't get to hotel till late, paying out of his own pocket for a long taxi ride, and he didn't hit the sack till 2 am. Then he had to awake and get to work for 8 am. The next day his boss told Weslee to go to observe the filming of a commercial outside of D. C. and he ended up spending the night there, at the company's expense this time, but the hotel room he was paying for stayed empty in D. C. He was using his own money for his first-time business trip, and he had to make wise decisions at each step of the way. A definite maturing experience for our grandson Weslee, and we're proud of the way he handled himself.
TWICE SOAKED DATE WITH MISS TILLY
One morning we decided it was time to get started on veggie garden tilling. The weather was overcast masking the heat of the Sun. I was hopeful Tilly, my Echo Tiller, would start up with just a bit of titillation and she did. First I finished the eastern edge of the original veggie garden, from the okra row towards the street. Our okra plants have never looked so dark green and lush, ever! The year-long mulching of the previously too sandy bed has done marvels to the soil. I had left the mulch to each end of the veggie bed and planted the okra across the short middle of the bed. Before we left for the beach week, about 8 okra plants had started growing, but no pods when we left. When we returned from Orange Beach, we had huge 10 inch okra pods which were only good for seeds. I check every day, but okra is a stealth plant, and every other day or so, I will find too large okra which seem to disappear in the green mass of stems and leaves. If they reach 10 inches or so, they are uncookable, having too much cellulose in the pods, which you can easily verify by squeezing the middle of the pod. If you hear a noise, it's best to discard them or save for seeds for next year.
Del helped immensely by pulling away the bermuda grass, as I got Tillie cranked up and working. The first start of the year is always problematic, but I had learned to use an additive during storage which keeps the fuel fresh over the winter. Several stops and she started up one pull each time. Then I switched to the other side after we took a break for some ice cold watermelon. I went to get the salt shaker because I had obviously lost a lot of fluids and needed the electrolyte (marketing bafflegab for table salt). Then we began on the western side of okra. Del filled a garbage can with bermuda grass and roots and that made my tilling much easier. After that we took a post-watermelon repose (nap), Del offered to fill some hot water for me in our jacuzzi. Such a wonderful treat. She even put in the Epsom Salts. Twice I pulled off sweat-soaked clothes today, but it was worth it.
After a few days we had enough okra for a Cajun Stir Fry, and it was delicious. Whatever we don't eat one night we'll save and be easily microwaved for a lunch or supper the next day.
CLOGS AND BLANK SCREEN
When we moved to this larger house two years ago, Del said that I was no longer to be the Maintenance Man, fixing everything which breaks. That has worked well, we have a Home Warranty and we hire a handy man Marcelo who fixes minor problems that I used to do. But one morning when my bathroom lavatory would not drain, I knew it was time for me to become the Maintenance Man of first resort and do my best to fix it. I had never had success with getting a drain unclogged with Liquid Drano before, but there was a leftover bottle from the previous owners in the garage so I waited for water to drain slowly below the surface of the bowl and poured in a big slug of liquid Drano. Then I waited for an hour and ran hot water and it drained a little better. That was encouraging, so I gave it another big slug and waited a couple of hours and the hot water finished the job and cleared up the drain. Yippee! !
But I didn't get much time to celebrate because no sooner than I had seated myself at my computer workstation to do my real work, did Del say that her workstation's Lap Top computer was broken, the screen only stayed dark so matter what she did. Reluctantly and with great trepidation, I walked over to Del's Toshiba LT, thinking about my own Toshiba LT which acted similarly for me on our Istanbul cruise a few months ago. Del has a newer model than mine that failed, but the new LT I bought to replace it is identical to Del's which is now non compos mentis.Slowly I sat down at Del's LT and sure enough all the things she reported were happening, or better said: not happening. Nothing. Nichts. Nada. Zip. De rein. So I looked around and appraised the situation. Her side monitor is connected by an HDMI cable, so I removed it. After powering the LT off and on and using the F2 and I saw flashes of the CMOS screen, so tried it again and up came the LT like Lazarus, still wrapped in a shroud, but walking. The LT said it did a System Restore, problem likely caused by some partial disconnection of the HDMI cable in the side of the LT, but as I have learned over fifty years of computer work, If It Happens Once, Forget It. The second time is a pattern and you can fix it. Soon everything on Del's LT was working okay. I ran outside to ask Del if there's anything else she needed to be fixed, because I was feeling like I could fix anything! She said to run my Magic Fingers on hers, and I did, as part of a celebratory High Five!
DINNER WITH THE QUEEN AT WINDSOR COURT
Okay, it was Del, the Glommer Queen of "Where's My Tiara?" fame, and it was our Anniversary Dinner on my birthday at the Windsor Court Hotel near the French Quarter downtown New Orleans. Their elegant dining room is called the Grill Room, but it more resembles an elegant restaurant in Europe than any grill that I've ever been in.
But first a word about the flooding on that date.The weather was so wet, raining all morning, that at 2 pm, I had to check the weather forecast. Noon rebroadcast showed a series of heavy storms trailing each other from Slidell down into New Orleans downtown, and streets were flooded in many locations. 9" at one spot in uptown. But by 3 pm, I had found the live radar showing that this current rain would likely be the last heavy rain and we were good to go. The valet took our car at the canopied entrance as a light rain was still falling and took care of the parking. Jasmine greeted us at the Grill Room upstairs and helped us find a table we liked, a table for two for a perfect evening. We ordered the Chef's Tasting for the two of us. Billy and Alan were our servers and did a great job. It felt like the floor should be gently waving like we were back on the Crystal Symphony or Serenity again, because of the elegant surroundings and great service and food. We had about a seven course meal with each course a delightful taste treat while not being too filling. First a crabmeat appetizer, then a tuna elegantly presented. Following that we had an Ivory Salmon dish, then a softshell crab, then a small filet, then a seared cheese and blueberries plate, then a dessert with two long narrow plates with chocolate truffles and chocolate-covered strawberry. One said HAPPY BIRTHDAY and the other HAPPY ANNIVERSARY. Two hours passed by in what seemed like minutes and we were on our way home, arriving in about ten minutes after a short hop over the river.
LAST MINUTE ITEMS
It has been a marvelous month without a large number of activities, but fun ones, like our daughter Carla visiting with Patrick and Garret one weekend to attend her cousin's wedding nearby. Getting the garden ready and picking and cooking with veggies from our garden, like the seafood okra gumbo I made using only okra from our garden, some of which is still in the fridge waiting for me to heat up for lunch in a few minutes. We haven't watched as many movies this month because of being at the beach for a week and also we've been watching NCIS and TREME dvd's from NetFlix. Last month I reviewed four books and this month I've reviewed three books, all of which means that things are settling down to a more normal routine around here. Upcoming month, SAINTS football begins in earnest, then LSU football, followed by the newly refurbished HORNET basketball team. Should be a great fall for sports in the region.
EVERY GOOD THING MUST COME TO A NEW BEGINNING, SO UNTIL NEXT MONTHIMPORTANT MESSAGE:
For the past 31 days July has been a month of partly sunny and rainy days, all of which kept our lawn and veggie garden well-watered and our citrus and fruit trees look to have a great year. New Orleans has been out of the plus-100 degF furnace and drought which is affecting some 42 other of these United States. We spent a week at the beach on the Gulf Coast with its pristine white sands, emerald water, and all our Matherne offspring. Water was great, enough waves for some body-surfing and enough clouds to provide a couple of cool days and nights at the beach, especially nice for the 4th and its fireworks. July is the month of okra harvest and I'm preparing a seafood gumbo today using them. Our Bird of Paradise plants are preparing to bloom for the first time. For the rest of the summer in New Orleans, we expect some steamy days together with the cool mornings and twilight times. God Willing and the winds stay breezy and the showers occasional, we will see you next month in DIGESTWORLD. Till then, whatever you do, wherever in the world you and yours reside, Remember our slogan:
Take Care of Yourself in Twenty-Twelve ! ! !
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Quotes Selected from quotes.htm this month:Five Flowers of Shanidar Poems, One from each Chapter:
The wise man in the storm prays to God not for safety from danger, but for deliverance from fear.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 - 1882)NOTE: The following quote appeared on a birthday card to me from Kathryn Yost. The next day a motivational speaker, Les Brown, used the same quote and attributed it to Henry David Thoreau. This will set the record straight. While Thoreau clearly followed this dictum of his mentor, Emerson, for his entire life (See his Journals), he did not originate it.Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 - 1882)
These poems are from Bobby Matherne’s 1990 book of poetry, Flowers of Shanidar. and have never been published on the Internet before. Each month this section will have five poems, one from each Chapter of the book. (Flowers drawn by Artist Maureen Grace Matherne)
1. Chapter: Hollyhocks
CaesuraIn the play of religions
Heresy is the hero of the hour.
Dogma is the enemy of choice,
And the heroine is in his power.
The stage is set with stained glasses
Costumes from the Middle Ages
Worn by powdered pompous asses
Pampered by the poor man's wages.
We watch in bloody amazement
As they throw Barbie's on the stake
Without so much as a Howdy Do?
Or even a G'Day Mate!...The groundhog pops up from his winter home
And spies his shadow on the ground,
Hears the Nero fiddler from Rome,
And moves a little further underground.
One day groundhog strolls out his hole
And falls into a river channel.
"I will help to make you whole,"
He tells a man of medium build....Here come Ramtha and Lazaris,
Channels are the New Age rage
Speaking of an inner gnosis
From the mouths of sleeping babes.
Glasnost is a dirty word
For the shepherd cannot have his flock
Scattering to greener pastures
Through the gates without a lock.
The curtain falls, the old act ends,
The Christians are on their knees
Begging forgiveness for their sins
And ships of state set out on New Age seas.
2. Chapter: Hyacinths
Click on Sneakers to read about EAT-O-TWIST!
There are no detours
we don't understand,
Up until now.
3. Chapter: Rose Mallow
Great SprinklerWater while the roots are shallow:
Seedlings, saplings, sprouts so callow
Drink thirstily at the surface
In order that they grow up fast.
But unless the sprinkler relents
In time each growing plant repents
And enters dessicated sleep
Because its roots were not so deep.
Nearby lush emerald coats of green —
Wildflowers' irridescent sheen —
Frame each color of the rainbow
And, flowering, send deep roots below.
When seldom does the cool rain fall
These blossoms suffer not at all.
Deep in the earth's interior
These plants feel not inferior.
Their roots are deep beneath the sod —
They wait upon their sprinkler: God
4. Chapter: Shamrocks
Mutually Assured Love
A new law is written in our hearts
As natural as can be
Without any coercive parts
Between us and liberty.
The essence of natural law
Requires no armed enforcement —
It rules without a single flaw —
And monetary inducement.
The laws of nature we obey
Are creations of our mind
And if we find another way
The old is left behind.
Then comes man-made law's ascent,
Those maps of maps entwined,
Outfitted with its armament
Like a keyway fits its spline.
Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD)
May be the law of the nation,
But Mutually Assured Love (MAL) will be
Our future destination.
5. Chapter: Violets
Dream of GodSome people think it is a plus
When we say "In God We Trust."
But it would be miraculous
If only God would trust in us.
Some say the world is marvelous
But others wonder "What's the fuss?"
We only do the things we must
Then ash to ash and dust to dust.
But hop aboard the cosmic bus
Come to where the world is just
Where we can dream of God, we trust,
And in the dream God's dreaming us.
New Stuff on the Internet:
- [add here]
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 ignore.):
P. S. Ask for Blu-Ray DVD movies from NetFlix.“The Double” (2011) Gere plays a retired CIA agent to track down Cassius, a Russian assassin who has been gone for 20 years, but seems to have reappeared. He is partnered with a young FBI agent who specialized in Cassius and stuff happens. Lots of stuff happens. Figuring this movie out is like deciphering a Crossword Puzzle code. A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! !
“The Genesis Code” (20101) is a powerful and moving film which will be neglected by Hollywood because it is about aligning the Big Bang abstract logical construction of creation and the Bible’s story of Genesis. Like wrestling with a pig is not a good idea, you both get dirty and the pig loves it, neither is this attempt. The scientists will love it and Genesis will get smeared. Yet the love story of a boy for his mother and a girl for a guy helps move this to A DON’T MISS HIT!
“Jeff, Who Lives at Home” (2011) Jason Segel plays Jeff, who has an adventure on the way to Home Depot for some glue to fix a shutter for his mom and gets into several sticky situations then goes for a swim in the lake with his friend Kevin. Starts slow, but amazing things happen to all the characters. A DON’T MISS HIT !
“Treme: Season 2: Disc 1” (2010) good to see old friends back. Each episode is like improvisational New Orleans jazz, as each character gets a solo or two or three as we follow about six different stories in parallel with the city’s story.
“Treme: Season 2: Disc 2, 3 4” (2010) In this episode we see the oyster boat becoming a wagon for lonely guitar druggie, we go behind the scenes of Zulu and Guardians of the Flame, and into outdoor scenes of a Cajun Mardi Gras Day in southwestern bayou country, and a Jazz Fest day.
“Moonrise Kingdom” (2012) with Bruce Willis, Bill Murray, Ed Norton, Frances McDormand, Harvey Keitel as adults with a passel of kids as scouts and disgruntled teens on a small island, all wanting to become gruntled. A DON’T MISS HIT !
“Act of Valor” (2012) an amazing movie made with active duty seals showing a series of downrange trips where they prevented a terrorist attack on the US and rescued a brave undercover spy who was savaged tortured by the very enemies the US is not allowed to torture. A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! ! !
“A Dangerous Method” (2011) based on “A Secret Symmetry” book about Sabrina Spielrein who was Jung patient, lover, and colleague and liaison with Freud. Like watching sausage being made at the therapy factory.
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.“Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” (2011) Turkey, Trash, Sappy, Sop is more like it. Started so slow we thought our playback was on Slo-Mo, when we found out it was regular speed, we ejected it.
“The Grey” (2012) in shades of black, no redeeming qualities to this dark study of men in frozen wilderness after plane crash, even the last man freezing, Liam Neeson, dies. Wish the DVD had crashed on the way here and saved us the trouble of watching. But it’s never too late for a DVD STOMPER!
“Side Effects” (2005) of dizziness, disorientation, and malaise will haunt you if you watch this malcreation masquerading as a movie. Best thing is STOMP IT RIGHT AWAY. A DVD STOMPER! ! !
Your call on these — your taste in movies may differ, but I liked them:
"The Closer" (2012) The Final Six Episodes are building up to Captain Rader replacing Brenda Leigh and stealing away her crew in a new series called "Major Crimes", which would be a major crime. Haven't seen Brenda smile in a single episode, though Provenza and Flynn had a comic episode the previous week. Say goodbye soon to The Closer which sold all the other series following it on Monday nights with obnoxious ads and is now doing product placement for some peanut butter cups leading into each cut back to the show and even during the show. TNT is blowing its own self up!
== == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == ==Le Boudreaux Cajun Cottage, drawn by and Copyright 2011 by Paulette Purser, Used by Permission
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Adapted from a story sent to me by Max Green. Thanks, Max!
The Archangel Gabriel came to the Lord and said, "I have to talk to you. I have some Cajuns up here in Heaven who are causing some problems. They are swinging on the Pearly Gates, sliding down the Stairway to Heaven, and someone is using my trumpet and I can't find it. They are playing Cajun music and dancing all night. If I hear another JOLIE BLONDE I'll scream. They seem to think Heaven is just one big Fais Do Do! The garbage cans are filled with boiled crawfish shells and empty Dixie Beer bottles, and they're making andouille sausage, boudin, and cracklins everywhere. They're wearing cooking aprons instead of robes and some won't wear a halo without an LSU Tiger on it.
The Lord said, "I made the Cajuns special just as I made all peoples special. Heaven is home to all my children. Why don't I call Satan and see how he's dealing with his Cajuns."
Satan answered on his cell phone immediately, saying, "Hello? Oh, hell, hold on a minute!" Finally Satan said, "Hello, God, what can I do for you?"
"Tell me, are you having any problems with Cajuns down there?"
The phone went silent for a few seconds, and God heard Satan saying, "Man, I don't believe this . . . hold on, God."
Fifteen minutes later Satan returned to the phone, saying, "I'm sorry, God. I can't talk right now. These infernal Cajun done put out my fire, and they're holding a big Jambalaya Dinner to raise money for air conditioning!"
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5. RECIPE of the MONTH for August, 2012 from Bobby Jeaux’s Kitchen:
(click links to see photo of ingredients, preparation steps)
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =Grama Del's Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Background on Grama Del's Grilled Cheese Sandwich: Whenever a gang of grandkids fills Bobby Jeaux's Kitchen, he turns over his spatula and apron to Grama Del to produce her marvelous grill cheese sandwich. She starts with our favorite bread, Pepperidge Farm's Stone-Ground Whole Wheat Bread. Stone-grinding flour holds onto more nutrition and is better for you. (See explanation here.) Pepperidge Farm's is the only stone-grown bread available in local supermarkets so far as I know, and it took me several years to spot it on the shelves. (Click on photo here and look for the blue label with Stone-Ground on it.) This well-made bread has a lusty texture, a wide format slice, and toasts up a marvelous brown on the grill. "Anybody can make a grilled cheese sandwich, but to make one really great, start with this bread and some real butter," Grama Del says.
4 Pepperidge Farm's Stone-Ground Whole Wheat Bread (wide format slices)
3 cheddar or American cheese slices (1 1/2 per sandwich on wide bread)
1/2 Stick of BUTTER (even lactose-intolerant folks can eat butter)
Butter one side of each slice of bread as shown HERE. Cut one of the cheese slices in half to fit on wide format bread slices. Heat up a large fry pan or grill to MEDIUM.
Put two buttered sides down on grill. Heat until golden brown as shown in right side of this photo. When bread is browned on the bottom (lift to check it), add 1 1/2 cheese slices on each of the two unbrowned sides as shown here. Take second set of two buttered slices and place them on top of the two browned and cheesed slices, buttered side up. Flip both sandwiches over with buttered sides down and brown them on this side. As this side becomes brown, take spatula and compress each sandwich slightly. When completely browned, remove two sandwiches from grill.
Each sandwich is ready to serve and eat at this point.
Makes two sandwiches. For adults, divide and serve while still warm on plate with pickles, tomatoes, or other fresh veggies. Makes a great impromptu lunch.
We always keep an opened package of Kraft Singles cheese slices in the fridge to be handy for quick lunches. Cheddar slices also work great but do not last as long in the fridge.
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6. POETRY by BOBBY from Power of the Word
Click on review at above for interpretation of poem:
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Paint a SongPaint a song of sculpture
Sketch an azure sound
Listen to the velvet moor —
Those tinkling apples all around.
Fly on wings of reason
Inside a mason jar,
Buzz your yellow season
Pollinating yonder Star.
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7. REVIEWS and ARTICLES for August:
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And for my Good Readers, here’s the new reviews and articles for this month. The ARJ2 ones are new additions to the top of A Reader’s Journal, Volume 2, Chronological List, and the ART ones to A Reader’s Treasury. NOTE: these Blurbs are condensations of the Full Reviews sans footnotes and many quoted passages.
1.) ARJ2: Prophet — The Life and Times of Kahlil Gibran by Waterfield, Robin
What constitutes a literary heavyweight? The thought was raised in my mind by Robin Waterfield who deigns in this biography to call Kahlil Gibran a "literary lightweight" by presupposition in his Preface.
[page xiii] Gibran's life also presents peculiar problems of interpretation, which turn the biographer, beyond being a writer, into a detective. On the one hand, since he was generally considered a literary lightweight . . .
Since he provides no scholarly references to support this statement, one wonders if Waterfield might also fit the condescending epithet he hurls at Gibran. For myself, I have never read Gibran for literary content and have never been disappointed by anything he wrote, so I cannot fathom why Waterfield would even broach the subject of literary merit. One clue I found was this: there was scant evidence of the use of clichés by Gibran in his writing, while there are ample examples of clichés utilized by Waterfield, as in this next passage:
[page xv] This book is not meant to be an exposé of certain more or less titillating aspects of Gibran's life. There is a deplorable side to many modern biographies: they revel in their subject's feet of clay. There may be skeletons in his cupboard — but whose cupboard is bare?
Clichés aside, note carefully what Waterfield says he is decrying: "exposés of titillating aspects". Whatever one protests is usually what one is doing out of one's own awareness. Most of this biography is filled with soap-opera fodder: what he said, what she said, and what someone else said about what they said. A little more titillation would have at least broken the tedium between the commercial breaks of his soap opera drama.
Waterfield shows early on that he is uncomfortable with Gibran's multifaceted personality and life, striving ever in his biography to produce a coherent portrait of Gibran and faulting him ever and again for his lack of consistency. The author tries to construct a coherent body of thought about a man who had no such coherency to his thought and faulted the man for that lack, something which could be justified, except that the fault-finding fills so much of the book which could else be devoted to the spiritual underpinnings of Gibran's work, if the author had glimpsed their importance directly. Instead he gives sketchy reports of others' praise for Gibran's mystical side, usually with some qualification to dilute the praise, as we shall see.
While reading on page xvi of the Preface of this book, I encountered a sentence which resonated with me: ". . . he was a poet rather than a philosopher, which is to say that he had little or no desire to construct a coherent body of thought." It prompted me to write:
Ah, to be a poet rather than a philosopher!
To enjoy the incoherencies of life,
instead of pretending, via words,
to be able to explain them all away.
Gibran, like Emerson, understood that "a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by philosophers and divines." And by divines, Emerson meant churched people, not spiritual people. Gibran clearly showed he respected Christ Jesus, while having little respect for churched people.
Any reader of the first paragraph of this book may be forgiven if they are blasted by the land mine which Waterfield has planted at the end of the paragraph. Without setting the stage of where the event is taking place, he writes, " . . . the whole trip had started on a few hired mules, which had carried him and his family from his home village of Bsharri down to the town of Beirut, 5,000 miles to the east." It is clearly impossible that Bsharri could be 5,000 miles west of Beirut and still be in Lebanon, much less that such a journey could have taken place on mules! But one has to wait till deep in the next paragraph to figure out for oneself that the 5,000 miles referred to the distance between Bsharri and New York City. Quite a speed bump for an opening paragraph.
Turns out Bsharri is high in the mountains, forty air miles from Beirut (as author informs us finally on page 56 writing "as the crow flies"), in the white mountains which gave Lebanon its name, from the Semitic word lubnan for white (Page 13).
Here's an example of the author's blatant and consistent fault-finding, typical of what he does most every time someone praises Gibran's work. Josephine Peabody shares her admiration of Gibran's sketches.
[page 57] Josephine's comment was: 'You have eyes to see and ears to hear. After you have pointed out the beautiful inwardness of things, other people less fortunate may be able to see too, and to be cheered on by that vision.'
Her "comment" was the type of comment I had wished to see written often by Waterfield, but which seldom came. What he wrote instead were some gratuitous derogatory remarks. In the sentence following the above comment, the author minimizes Josephine's comment and emphasizes Gibran's ego, neither of which is justified, in my opinion, as a criticism of her comment; instead it seems to be another blatant projection of the author's own foibles. Josephine was not entitled, he seems to be saying, to a valid opinion, only to her sincere belief. Opinions can be valid, but beliefs can be mistaken is one of the many presuppositions the author uses to skewer Josephine's praise while simultaneously blasting Gibran as an overweening ego-maniac(1). Of course, I may be mistaken about Waterfield's intent, having only his written words as my guide. Read what he wrote for yourself.
[page 57 continued from above passage] This undoubtedly represented her sincere belief, but it can only have fed Gibran's ego.
The author of this book reveals a curiously negative attitude again and again, and not for a gain. Josephine continues in her letter of December 12, 1898:
[page 57 continued from above passage] 'You know what Maeterlinck says of silence in The Treasure of the Humble. Well, I think you listen to silences: and I hope that you will come back some day and tell us what you have heard.' She ends by inviting him to write back to her.
Josephine is acting as Gibran's muse, encouraging his precocious talents and ignoring his tender age, something which the author criticizes instead of praising her for. One may be spiritually insightful, even though unschooled as a literary heavyweight, isn't that so? Josephine was already a published poet and instead of crediting her good sense in furthering Gibran's career and ambitions, the author attacks her, calling her cruel, and launches another by-the-way attack on Gibran's ego. What does a young artist of fourteen like Gibran in 1898 need more than a boost to his ego and ambitions from a seasoned artist who treats him as an equal? This one letter may have tipped the balance in Gibran's choice of a career, and nowhere does the author of this so-called biography acknowledge that as a possibility.
[page 57, 58 continued from above passage] Throughout their relationship, Josephine is incredibly naïve. She surely can have had no idea that the teenager she was writing to was already half-infatuated with her; otherwise it would have been cruel teasing to tell him how she kept his picture of her close by her side and expected great things of him. What is more, she was a published poet, and she treated Gibran as a fellow artist. . . . What a boost to his ego and to his ambitions, this letter must have been!
The author seems to attack Gibran for his daring to suggest that all man-made laws are tyrannical, saying, "So in these early works of Gibran the oppression of peasants in Lebanon is generalized until all man-made laws are seen as tyrannical." (Page 67) If Gibran arrived at this insight by generalization, perhaps with the help of Nietzsche, he is to be commended not derided. Rightly understood, man-made laws necessarily lead to coercion which is a necessary step to tyranny. This is a scientific fact, not a mere generalization, as proven by Andrew Joseph Galambos, Ph. D., in his Volitional Science(2).
Given his slant on Gibran's life and work, I was not surprised to see the author quote Gibran's saying "he was fed up with being Boston high society's performing monkey". (Page 92) The author, whichever London high society he may be from, seems to devote this biography to portraying Gibran as a pretentious performing monkey rather than an honest seeker of spiritual realities.
After Gibran acknowledged Josephine for her inspirational role in his life, the author can only call his sincere thanks unusual and immediately take a potshot at his relationship with Mary Haskell. As we uncouth Americans might say, "Go figure."
[page 94] . . . Gibran's acknowledgement (sic) of her influence is a touching and unusual piece of modesty, very different in tone from the prophetic arrogance that would characterize a great deal of his relationship with Mary Haskell.
Here's a bit of the soap-opera fluff, this time about Gertrude Barrie, which the author insists on peppering this biography with, striving to shoot down Gibran's "high-flown pieces" because he had an affair with Gertrude. "Big deal."
[page 102, italics added] The affair was not without its cost, however: while writing high-flown pieces on the value of spiritual love, he was engaged in an earthly affair. It increased the tension between the myth and the man. The persona Gibran was beginning to present to the world at large was that of a delicate, otherworldly figure, not the type to conduct such an affair. And indeed the public was taken in: his secret affair with Gertrude was not disclosed for some seventy years.
So, the author thinks Gibran was not "the type to conduct such an affair" — how quaint a concept. What type does it take to conduct such an affair while creating wonderful spiritual texts and drawings as Gibran did, his book The Prophet selling over ten million copies as of 2012, about ninety years later(3). Certainly his affair did not make a dent in the popularity and acceptance of his spiritual writing, any more than did Picasso's affairs reduce the price of his paintings(4). Clearly Gibran did not have a lot of affairs and the two women closest to him, Josephine and Mary, were not sexual objects at all.
[page 108] Gibran idealized Josephine Peabody, and never slept with her. He never consummated his affair with Mary Haskell either. These are the two women who were most important to him — who inspired him in his work.
Whatever type Gibran was, he was not the lascivious type, sleeping with any available woman. Gibran idealized every woman, even the models who posed for him, which caused him a problem in the atelier of Jean-Paul Laurens, as Gibran complained to Mary Haskell.
[page 114] But already by early November a sour note has crept in: he complains that his teachers tell him off for making the model more beautiful than she really is, whereas he thinks he has never captured her essential beauty.
If Josephine Peabody was instrumental in inspiring Gibran to bring his art and writing to fruition, it was Mary Haskell who was instrumental in bringing Gibran's works to the attention of the public.
[page 131] This was an important moment: without New York, Gibran would never have come to the attention of the wider world, and his move to New York would have been impossible without Mary. Therefore, Gibran — and any of his readers who appreciate his work — are utterly indebted to Mary Haskell.
This seems to me a bit of big city hyperbole — the idea that real ideas and good writing will never get to the public if they are not written in New York City or London. Yes, it may take longer, but work as beautiful and insightful as Gibran's would have found its way to the hearts of the majority of the people who still buy his books, most of whom live outside of big cities. His very ideas are anathema to the hustle-bustle culture of metropolitan areas anyway.
This book offered me one laugh-out-loud moment when the author explained Don Marquis' Hermione episodes.
[page 135] Hermione and her group use a lot of muddled Freudian terminology; they are opposed to materialism, and non-artistic people are called 'Earth People'. They are pacifists, and in favour (sic) of Russia because it is so soulful; they read Nietzsche, the Bhagavad Gita and some appalling free verse written by Fothergil Finch. Hermione herself frequently gets confused between the Exotic, the Erotic, and the Esoteric, though she somehow feels they are all important. The Best People, she is sure, have astral bodies, and she attempts to read auras and discern the sensitivity of plants. They cover each of these and numerous other topics — sex education, Bergson, evolution and so on — in an evening, and yet decry superficiality.
Hmmm, isn't it interesting that the very people who display superficiality would decry it? Seems like people who do X out of their awareness, spend a lot of time deriding other people who do X. If a writer does a lot of X, and they are writing a biography, they will spend a lot of time writing about X, will they not? Why? Because they understand it so well. I call this process the Mirror Whammy, because when the truth of it first hit me, I was completely paralyzed with amazement. Let's see how this might work for the author vis-à-vis Gibran.
Recall what Waterfield wrote early on about Gibran: ". . . he was a poet rather than a philosopher, which is to say that he had little or no desire to construct a coherent body of thought." In the passage below he compares Gibran to the philosopher Kant and then calls Gibran a "moralizing preacher". Doing so displays the same kind of incoherence of thought Waterfield decries in Gibran, does it not?
[page 148] We don't expect most categories of writer to live the philosophy or implicit philosophy they promulgate in their books: a thriller writer with a string of macho heroes may be a wimp, for all we care. Things start to get more difficult, however, with philosophers: it is disappointing to find Immanuel Kant arguing for the sanctity and dignity of human life, and yet in his private life supporting the death penalty. The border has definitely been crossed in the case of moralizing preachers such as Gibran.
More examples of the Mirror Whammy at work:
[page 148] Gibran wrote as if he knew more than others, and certainly presented himself to others as just such a gifted person, even a messiah of some kind. There is indeed, in my opinion, considerable value in his work — and yet it cannot be said that he had risen above the very flaws he counsels others to avoid.
Below it shows in Waterfield's misunderstanding of the essence of spiritual work when he claims that "actual experience is essential in spiritual work".
[page 148, italics added] He even undervalues the importance of personal experience: 'I don't depend on experience for understanding, as you know. . . I can get the life of an experience without actually going through it.' This, to me, explains the hit-and-miss nature of his insights: sometimes he is spot on, sometimes he is too vague. Actual experience is essential in spiritual work of all kinds, because without it speculation is just guesswork.
First, I do not see the difference between actual experience and just experience; probably it's a London thing. Second, it seems to me that while Gibran was developing spiritual insights, he was undergoing an experience in spiritual work. Third, spiritual work is difficult to share with others, sometimes they get it, sometimes they don't. Fourth, to those who haven't had the same spiritual experience, any description of it will seem to be speculation and guesswork. As I see the above passage, Gibran was not undervaluing the importance of personal experience, rather he was describing his own process of personal experience.
Gibran did his best to please himself with his work, continuing his work often in the presence of rejection, and certainly he hurt Mary Haskell and others in his life, all of which argues against a narcissistic personality, in my opinion. But Waterfield focuses on Gibran's narcissism, calling it pathological. (Page 148)
[page 149] Such a person wants to please people, not to hurt them, and to be appreciated by them. Anyone who shows signs of not appreciating a narcissistic person is rejected, often harshly. Narcissistic people feel vulnerable, and are easily slighted. In consequence, then, they are invariably charming, since they do their best to please people. They are hungry for the acknowledgement (sic) from others which feeds their sense of being special. . . . A feeling of high personal value may result from an identification with the prestige inherent in a collective role.
Like the feeling a high personal value resulting from writing a biography of Kahlil Gibran might give Waterfield, perhaps? I will focus the remainder of my review on insights Waterfield gives us on Kahlil Gibran, which was my primary purpose for reading this book.
Here he discusses the close connection between Kahlil Gibran and Mary Haskell which continued after she married.
[page 159] Moreover, in the early years of their relationship she was a constant presence in his mind, advising him, helping him, inspiring his work, even when she was not actually there in person. Gibran claimed that they were in constant telepathic communication. When they were together, they drew thoughts and ideas out of each other's minds. She also performed the incredibly useful service of improving his English, and in later years this role developed until she was effectively his English-language editor. He would not submit books until they had been checked by her, and when they met he would often dictate to her, or they would copy pieces out together. She used to carry his work back home with her to check, and send him her comments by post if she was not due to make a visit in person. Even after her marriage to Florance Minis, she continued to edit his work — but behind Florance's back, because he disapproved of her relationship with Gibran.
What I didn't find in this book(5) were any quotes between Kahlil and Mary which came close to being as touching as those which my wife and I used in our marriage ceremony 35 years ago. These quotes were selected by Susan Politz and published in a small booklet called, "I Care About Your Happiness" (Blue Mountain Arts 1975) consisting solely of short quotations from the love letters of Kahlil and Mary. Somehow Waterfield seemed to lose sight of the love in the soap drama he spent so much writing space on. One would hardly know the depth of affection of these two by reading this biography, but the following passages will help define their love.
[Words of Kahlil Gibran from Mary Haskell's Journal May 12, 1922]
That deepest thing, that recognition, that knowledge, that sense of kinship began the first time I saw you, and it is the same now — only a thousand times deeper and tenderer. I shall love you to eternity. I loved you long before we met in this flesh. I knew that when I first saw you. It was destiny. We are together like this and nothing can shake us apart.
[Words of Kahlil Gibran from Mary Haskell's Journal, October 22, 1912]
The most wonderful thing is that we are always walking together, hand in hand, in a strangely beautiful world, unknown to other people. We both stretch one hand to receive from Life — and Life is generous indeed.
[Words of Mary Haskell from her journal September 10, 1920]
When two people meet, they ought to be like two water lilies opening side by side, each showing its golden heart, not closed up tight, and reflecting the pond, the trees, and the sky. And there is too much of the closed heart. When I come to you, we talk for four or six hours. If I'm going to take six hours of your time, I ought to unfold for you, and to be sure that it is myself I give.
[Words of Kahlil Gibran from Mary Haskell's journal May 27, 1923]
Marriage doesn't give one any rights in another person except such rights as that person gives — nor any freedom except the freedom which that person gives.
[Words of Kahlil Gibran from Mary Haskell's journal May 26, 1923]
Among intelligent people the surest basis for marriage is friendship — the sharing of real interests — the ability to fight out ideas together and understand each other's thoughts and dreams.
Here's what the readers of this biography get instead, just one example, but it's typical of the author's approach, a focus on a power struggle in which Gibran comes out looking like he's a selfish prick.
[page 160] One way or another, then, there was plenty for Gibran in his relationship with Mary Haskell. In keeping with the fact that the power dynamics were imbalanced in his favour (sic), there was rather more in it, in material and psychological terms, for Kahlil than for Mary. We know that he was selfish and manipulative; we can guess that he was insecure. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that he knew he was on to a good thing, and made sure that it remained in place.
In the passage below explaining Gibran’s understanding of how God evolves, the author seems to get lost, but gives it his best effort. Waterfield seems to get all his information from what he reads about the issue of evolution, and while Gibran may understand what he writes about, this biographer is unable to explain what only Gibran knows. There are spiritual hierarchies of which the tenth hierarchy is humankind; all of these hierarchies evolve, with humans eventually evolving to the spiritual level currently occupied by what we call angels. When one adopts the current fad to ignore spiritual hierarchies, one can become tongue-tied and mind-boggled when saying such things as "God evolves" and "God himself moves to further inconceivable levels" when it is only the spiritual hierarchies which evolve and the nominalization "God" is simply a shorthand for saying "all the spiritual hierarchies".
[page 192] The ultimate desirer, as in Sufism, is God. God wants the Earth to become like him, and so the Earth — and we creatures of the Earth — grow towards God by the power of that desire.
This means that God too evolves. We will never achieve God-consciousness, because by the time we get to what is now God-consciousness, God himself will have moved onto further inconceivable levels.
As for Waterfield’s next passage, we have no terrifying responsibility for God, only for ourselves, each one of us, rightly understood. What we do in this lifetime, in each and every lifetime on Earth, can further our progress and speed us on our way to evolving to the next spiritual level. Lucky for the world that Gibran did not attempt to get into the geopolitical environmental concerns that Waterfield suggests below he should have had.
[page 192] The idea that God uses us humans as his means of development is extraordinary. It gives us a certain terrifying responsibility for God. Gibran could have used this to develop a whole ethics, in the sense that God's future development requires us to behave in certain ways (such as an environmental concern for the Earth), but there is no sign that he did so. However, he does grasp the nettle firmly in one respect: the implication of an evolving God is that God is not perfect, and Gibran is very firm about this. He describes perfection as a limitation, and therefore as something alien to God.
My supposition is that Kahlil Gibran understood the spiritual hierarchies — how they evolved — and used his knowledge to say that these hierarchies are always evolving, therefore the one word we use to refer to the sum of these hierarchies, God, cannot be perfect. Why not? Because the abstract-logical construct perfection is meaningless when talking about the spiritual hierarchies which are constantly evolving living realities, not abstract logical constructs. On page 194, Gibran is reported to have said, "The idea that God evolves is going to change human thinking. . ." which is a useful way of thinking if one understands God as comprising all the spiritual hierarchies. It is a great way to begin to understand how the evolution of the human being and the evolution of our cosmos goes together in complete synchrony, the microcosm and the macrocosm in locked step. This is the truth which is resonating with those people called New Agers who are getting the message at a deeper level than their ability to express it consciously, up until now.
Gibran clearly stated that he wished for the reader to read his words and to let them resonate within, unimpeded and unaided by another's interpretation, but that doesn't stop Waterfield from raining on Gibran's parade field of text as in this next passage. For myself, I prefer the un-interpreted version as they are more meaningful and fill me with unanswered questions which are the seeds of spiritual growth. Read for yourself and you decide which you prefer: Gibran's original metaphor or Waterfield's excavated phrase of Mary Haskell's which may not have been meant as an interpretation of Gibran's metaphor, so far as we are told, but only an attribution designed in Waterfield's mind(6).
[page 230] 'There lies a green field between the scholar and the poet; should the scholar cross it, he becomes a wise man; should the poet cross it, he becomes a prophet.' Like much of Sand and Foam, this is rather opaque, but a saying quoted in Mary's journals illuminates it: ' The difference between a prophet and a poet is that the prophet lives what he teaches, and the poet does not.'
Instead of understanding the deep meaning of Gibran when he has the Prophet say, "I only speak to you in words of that which you yourselves know in thought. And what is word knowledge but a shadow of wordless knowledge", Waterfield accuses Gibran of echoing Shelley's claim that "the poet can articulate the platonic realms which the rest of us perceive only dimly". For someone for whom word knowledge is his métier, as Waterfield portrays himself, a poet may indeed "articulate platonic realms" but to a poet steeped in spiritual realities like Gibran, the world we know in thought is not perceived only dimly, but instead in full living reality, whereas word knowledge gives us flattened abstract logical constructs which are but dead tenebrous shadows. (quotes from Page 230)
This is not easy to describe or understand, but the above paragraph speaks to a difference between what Gibran said and what Shelley said, which Waterfield had apparently not comprehended during the writing of this biography and this difference led, I suspect, to much of his faulting of Gibran's writing.
All of which leads us up to another great metaphor by Gibran which Waterfield relates to us, calling it unusual, perhaps indicating his own lack of understanding of its meaning.
[page 230] With an unusual choice of metaphor he once told Mary that the difference between an ordinary poet, a great poet, and a very great poet is that the first coming into a room full of ashes, would mould (sic) them into form, while the second would bring ashes from other rooms to contribute to the form he makes, but the third would dig beneath the ashes to find the fire which had caused the ashes in the first place, so that his images would be burning with the underlying fire.
When we read Gibran's Prophet, if our hearts are not warmed by it, if we are not singed by the fire burning there, we have misread and misused a great work. Truly one needs asbestos gloves to handle much of Gibran's writings. Only someone whose heart was not set ablaze by Emerson's words could write the following words using the adjective common, "Echoing Emerson's claim that the poet has access to something common and universal, Gibran has the Prophet say, 'I teach you your larger self, which contains all men'." (Page 230) Surely the poet has access to something extraordinary and universal, not common and universal, because common and universal have the same meaning, unless one is trying to tar both Emerson and Gibran with one presuppositious brush stroke. If Gibran wrote of something common, it's hard to explain the over ten million uncommon people who have bought a copy of The Prophet by now.
To my mind, readers of Gibran do indeed perceive the deep realities he points us to, realities which transcend word knowledge, and this is what has allowed his Prophet to speak to the hearts of millions of deep feelers and thinkers in the past nine decades. The words he uses, rightly understood, are only the vehicle which transports his meaning to our hearts(7). There is much more carried by words than can be found in their dictionary meanings, and, absent this understanding, exegetes of Gibran's work are digging in barren soil, up until now. Truly Gibran speaks to our hearts on the wings of love.
---------------------------- Footnotes -----------------------------------------
Footnote 1. One of the tricks of using presuppositions I learned from Bandler & Grinder's Structure of Magic was that doubling-up on presuppositions makes them harder to ignore and refute. Waterfield is a master at this.Return to text directly before Footnote 1.
Footnote 2. The tenets of Volitional Science are best laid out in Galambos' book, Sic Itur Ad Astra, which shows that the only way Man can reach the stars is to build freedom from the ground up so that coercion will become unnecessary and quickly quashed if any attempt at coercion dare arise.Return to text directly before Footnote 2.
Footnote 3. My fiftieth anniversary slip-case copy of The Prophet was given to me on my thirtieth birthday with the inscription, "Our love will last until the stars grow cold" and makes me think now that The Prophet will last that long as well.Return to text directly before Footnote 3.
Return to text directly before Footnote 4.
Footnote 4. The Telegraph writes, "Of the seven most important women in Picasso's life, two killed themselves and two went mad." None of this soap-opera drama affected Picasso's legacy of art, and neither should it affect Gibran's legacy.
Footnote 5. Waterfield also missed one book I have on my library shelf, Mirrors of the Soul (not in his book list on pages 294, 295 in Notes), which contains the original quote upon which President John F. Kennedy's famous imperative in his Inauguration Speech was based, "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country." See Here.Return to text directly before Footnote 5.
Footnote 6. The September 30, 1992 entry of Mary Haskell's journal does not mention the metaphor at all, but rather she writes on about Michelangelo and Leonardo.Return to text directly before Footnote 6.
Footnote 7. My poem, On the Wings of Words, sings of this theme, this process of transporting meaning, where words are only the vehicle, not the meaning carried by the words. The words we speak through our mouths are like a carrier wave of the feelings in our soul which are there independent of the meanings of the words we express (From Hazrat Inayat Khan review here.).
Return to text directly before Footnote 7.
2.) ARJ2: The Elephants of Style A Trunkload of Tips on the Big Issues and Gray Areas of Contemporary American English by Bill Walsh
Almost lapsed into a coma reading this book, I did, which ironically is almost the title of Walsh's previous book, Lapsing into a Comma. Walsh has taken his Strunk & White's Elements of Style and washed it down with a trunkful of river water to come up with his droll title. Perhaps I was expecting a Mad Magazine satirical treatment of the classic style book, but instead I found only rules for various usages and conventions for writing, including differences between rules for newspapers, magazines, and other writing media, most of which I could care less about writing for, and thus my ennui by the time I finished the book. Usually the only question I ask about style is, "What's my style for . . .?" But if you spend time writing for others, the question becomes, "What's our style for . . .?" and the need to ask that question reminds me of a lugubrious time long ago when I used to write for others instead of myself. Coming up to date, let’s see, what's my style for quoting from an Introduction to a book?
[page xi, Introduction] “What’s our style for . . .?” Spend time in a newsroom, a magazine office or anywhere else that publishing takes place and you'll hear that question. Strictly speaking, style refers to a choice of one correct alternative over another for the sake of consistency (canceled over cancelled, nine over 9, OK over O.K. or okay) and an appropriate level of formality (what gets abbreviated, what gets capitalized and which typographical niceties are used). Often, however the word style is used loosely to refer to correctness in spelling, grammar, syntax, usage or even matters of fact.
I must admit that I like Walsh's pugilistic approach to writing about style — he even admits to "misappropriating" the title from his Strunk & White, perhaps inspired by the name Strunk. Who died and put Walsh in charge of the English language? Cute, right, but fun if it's the author himself who wrote the question about himself on page xiii. And if he or I were in charge — and I am in charge when I write — "I would dispense with this he or she, him or her, his or her nonsense and bless they, them, their, theirs as acceptable singular pronouns." (Pages xiii, xiv) Yet I differ with Walsh by not allowing my dashes to abut the words they separate — as you can see — because so often in my reading, I encounter two words which seem to be hyphenated, but which are meant to be separated by an em-dash — like these — but the combination of using en-dashes (which resemble hyphens) to separate both words and phrases can be dreadfully confusing. Why place an unnecessary speed bump into one's writing? Eschewing the use of tight dashes avoids this problem — thus my usage.
Walsh and I disagree a bit on style, but we seem to agree that this quotation from the UPI Stylebook is definitely funny.
[page 11] A burro is an ass. A burrow is a hole in the ground. As a journalist you are expected to know the difference.
His short chapter on Titles vs. Job Descriptions could be summarized like this: I thought I saw the President go by, but Walsh told me that it was just the president — President Kennedy.
Under the title "Lies Your English Teacher Told You" Walsh lists "Never split an infinitive", "Never end a sentence with a preposition", "Never begin a sentence with a conjunction", "Never use contractions", "Always write in complete sentences", "Never use the passive voice", "Never write in the first person", and "Never address the read directly". Now, dear Reader, here's what Walsh says about these injunctions: "Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong." Categorically and undeniably he avers that all eight of these are wrong.
Recently I received an EditPros News issue from Jeff March about "Empty boxcar words" which "needlessly prolong and bog down sentences." I often recall that time in my eight grade English class when our assignment was to write sentences using seventeen words, so I carefully constructed one sentence which contained all of the words. Don't remember how my teacher reacted, but I enjoyed that challenge, and with the "Empty boxcar words" I saw a chance for a repeat performance. I wrote this sentence to Jeff, hooking together all his empty boxcar words, including a bold split infinite.
Personally, I think that, going forward, it should be noted that you have actually made this particular case quite well, but, I would urge you to basically reconsider the position you are taking currently because, frankly, I believe that fully half of your readers will be just put out, while definitely reading the piece with interest.
I suppose I might compose one sentence which hooks together examples which violate all eight of the English teacher rules, but anyone who reads my writing long enough will find examples enough. Even sentence fragments. So what?
Here's how Walsh addresses two issues that I have no issue with:
[page 69] THE FIRST PERSON: It's often inappropriate to write I this and I that, but once you decide to be the center of attention, I would rather read I than this writer or other such silliness.
ADDRESSING THE READER: In a corollary to the I think, one is supposed to avoid referring to one's audience as anything other than one. You know that's ridiculous, right?
Walsh says that the plural of person is people, and those who differ are silly pedants. Only a dummkopf would have a person say aloud, "How many persons do you think are in this room?" No one talks that way, so why write that way?
As for cliches, Walsh seems of two minds, which itself is likely to be a cliche, referring to a person who takes two positions on a subject. I like the position that Steve Coll takes: use cliches as place holders for first drafts. There is no better way to dispatch a cliche to oblivion than by replacing it with a carefully handcrafted expression of what you really mean.
[page 141] Steve Coll, managing editor of the Washington Post, has described cliches as first-draft placeholders. You know the point you're tying to make, so you reach for the handiest way of making that point. Later, you go back substitute a better way of saying what you want to say.
"Every word was once a metaphor," Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, and if we forget that, we can be confused on what is a word and what is a cliche. The word cliche is itself a metaphor referring to a stereotyped expression. Over time and long usage metaphors evolve into words and words cannot rightly be called cliches. Phrases are different and Walsh analyzes "misery loves company" as a cliche, but in trying to write without using it, he shows us how the piece can lose its vibrancy, its punch, if you will allow me a cliched boxing expression. The best thing to do, if you must use a cliche, is to let the reader know you know it's a cliche, perhaps by doing a twist on it like his example on page 142, "Misery loves company, and it appears to be especially fond of PluggComm Inc."
For me, the problem with using a cliched expression like "my love is like a red, red, rose" is that you are using someone else's words to describe a unique experience that only you know intimately, and it behooves you to create a unique expression out of yourself that will surprise and delight both you and the world. This process involves hard work, but its results can be gratifying. If you call yourself a writer, you must be able to answer "YES" to Annie Dillard's famous question to an inspiring writer, "Do you like sentences?" Since encountering that question, I have come to call my final-proofing of my work, "Playing with sentences". It is the process which I am doing right now as I add these sentences of reference to Dillard in this review.
If you write as part of an organization, you will have to deal with some kind of style book which describes how you should write, and Walsh's Elephants of Style book will help you understand some of the big issues you will have to deal with. For example, you will learn to avoid making everything generic or you might be subject to this kind of rebuff, "A pottery barn look? Hold everything! Did the editors fall into the gap? They should be tied up with linens and things and sent to bed, bath and beyond!" To see if the lack of required capitals led you astray, go back and identify four retail companies hidden in the above quotation from page 27. This is the kind of fun you can have in this book; so remember, while elephants may be workhorses hauling logs for a lumber company in Myanmar, they can also be a lot of fun to watch in a Ringling Brothers circus in your hometown.
3.) ARJ2: Tesla — Man Out of Time by Margaret Cheney
In my only review of a Tesla book to date: Tesla, A novel by Tad Wise, I said about this book, "After reading Margaret Cheney's Tesla — Man Out of Time I thought the definitive biography of Tesla had finally been written — until I read Tad Wise's biographical fiction, which is a tad wiser and more insightful." At the time I read Wise's book, I had some dozen years earlier read Cheney's book and could be forgiven for what I see now as my glib underestimation of her book, except for the phrase definitive biography which certainly applies. She has given us a detailed and accurate biography of the man, of his amazing inventions, and of the life he lived, from his designing a blade-less turbine at six years old in a stream in Croatia to his feeding pigeons with his last dollar on his death bed. Fasten your seat belts to learn a bit about the one man who made possible the technology which powered the twentieth century and whose legacy of forgotten and hidden inventions lies like a large seam of precious ore waiting to be uncovered and mined for the twenty-first century.
This is a book that I first read thirty years ago, about six years before I began writing a review after reading every book, and I have lost or given away the original volume from that reading. This necessitated a completely new reading and this review is the result of that reading.
Over the years, my study of Tesla's life has led me to suspect that he was a high-functioning autistic person. His near-photographic memory, his ability to create intricate drawings of original inventions in his head, to create a 3-D versions of the inventions in his imagination and to watch them in operation far exceeds the abilities of most humans today. The only other person I know who could come close to this is Temple Grandin(1) — she is autistic and displays many of the abilities and limitations of Nikola Tesla. He could implement visionary inventions and yet his personal relationships were severely hampered by his various idiosyncracies. For example, he could not eat without calculating the volume of each item of food, a compulsion which made him a poor dinner companion.
[page xiii, Introduction by Leland Anderson] Despite the flashy, dramatic, and often limelight attention that Nikola Tesla was given in the heyday of his reign in the fields of research and engineering, he maintained a very private personal life. Being a loner — a perennial bachelor, working apart, not entering into corporate associations, and mixing friends — his personal life was obscure to outsiders.
This poses problems for any biographer, as the Introduction notes above. John J. O'Neill's biography(2) appeared shortly after Tesla's death in 1943, and Prodigal Genius stood for a long time as the only one available. This was the challenge Cheney faced as she approached writing a new biography of Tesla, in many ways a greater challenge than Tad Wise faced as he wrote a fictional novel about Tesla's life, he had the license of fiction plus the benefit of Cheney's biography as resource material.
Those who have seen the movie "Rain Man" are aware of the special compulsions which autistic people have, and the first few paragraphs of Cheney's book covers several of them, his multiples of 3, fear of germs, polishing silverware before using it, telephoning his dinner order ahead of time and having the maitre d' serve it to him. The Waldorf-Astoria Hotel was demolished to build the Empire State Building on its site late in Tesla's life, but he had certainly graced its building site on many occasions before then.
[page 1] Promptly at eight o'clock a patrician figure in his thirties was shown to his regular table in the Palm Room of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. Tall and slender, elegantly attired, he was the cynosure of all eyes, though most diners, mindful of the celebrated inventor's need for privacy, pretended not to stare.
Eighteen clean linen napkins were stacked as usual at his place. Nikola Tesla could no more have said why he favored numbers divisible by three than why he had a morbid fear of germs or, for that matter, why he was beset by any of the multitude of other strange obsessions that plagued his life.
Abstractedly he began to polish the already sparkling silver and crystal, taking up and discarding one square of linen after another until a small starched mountain had risen on the serving table. Then, as each dish arrived, he compulsively calculated its cubic contents before lifting a bite to his lips. Otherwise there could be no joy in eating.
Those who came to the Palm Room for the express purpose of observing the inventor might have noted that he did not order his meal from the menu. As usual, it had been specially prepared beforehand according to his telephoned instructions and now was being served at his request not by a waiter but by the maitre d'hotel himself.
Eccentricity and inventor are two words often tied together, but nowhere so often as in the life and habits of Nikola Tesla. We will leave the discovery of his other eccentricities to you, dear Reader, as we focus on the amazing list of inventions for most of the remainder of this review. If you feel a bit staggered by them, remember this is only a partial list of what Tesla could have done, had his primary property been given due consideration, the kind of consideration given any movie out of Hollywood, in which every person working on the movie has their name listed in the credits and receives a royalty check for proceeds from every copy of the movie made, distributed, shown, and sold to end users. That Tesla produced so many original inventions without such revenue is amazing. True, he had an agreement to be paid for every watt of power generation created using his invention, but bankers put pressure on George Westinghouse to get Tesla to sell this agreement for a one-time fee, which Tesla did for his good friend. That one-time sale for a reported million dollars would be worth billions of dollars every year to Tesla's estate today, I estimate. What difference would that make? you ask. Let me ask you a question in return: Do you ever read all the credits for a movie after watching it? Probably not, so why bother with the man whose ideas, his precious primary property, went into making your life better today? Who cares, right? Okay, how about if those billions of dollars were being used by the Tesla estate each year to bring to fruition the many inventions and discoveries of Tesla? Could you enjoy turning on a switch and having your home filled with a cool light without using any tubes or bulbs? Who knows what a boon it would be to the world if the estatee found a way of generating ball lightning and tapping electricity from it? How about delivering electricity completely without wires to the entire world? These are only a few examples.
[page 3] "Fancy yourself seated in a large, well-lighted room, with mountains of curious-looking machinery on all sides. A tall, thin young man walks up to you, and merely snapping his fingers creates instantaneously a ball of leaping red flame, and holds it calmly in his hands As you gaze you are surprised to see it does not burn his fingers. He lets it fall upon his clothing, on his hair, into your lap, and, finally, puts the ball of flame into a wooden box."
No one could explain how Tesla created the ball lightning, just one of many of his original ideas and discoveries that had been already stolen from him, so many that he did not care to explain how he created ball lightning. But he undoubtedly wrote it down somewhere, perhaps in those papers stashed away in obscurity at the Smithsonian. A similar thing happened to the roomful of cool light, no one today knows how Tesla did it. This is the result when a person’s primary property is taken away without permission, the thieves do not know how to value it or use it fully. This can happen either by a sneak thief or a voter-authorized thief, the result is still thievery, except in the latter case the voter who authorizes the primary theft suffers most from its loss. Usually primary thieves know little of the value of the ideas they are stealing, especially if the thieves are voter-authorized bureaucrats such as the FBI agents who confiscated Tesla's lifework from his apartment after his death.
Tesla's method differs from most designers in that he would build the prototype in his mind and observe it run, noting even where it might vibrate and or prematurely wear out its bearings.A note about how different Tesla was from Edison and many others inventors:
[page 12, Tesla] "My method is different," he wrote. "I do not rush into actual work. When I get an idea I start at once building it up in my imagination. I change the construction, make improvements and operate the device in my mind. It is absolutely immaterial to me whether I run my turbine in my thought or test it in my shop. I even note if it is out of balance."
[page 13] He (Tesla) claimed that his method of visual invention had one defect that kept him poor in a monetary sense, though rich in the raptures of the mind: Potentially valuable inventions were often put aside without the final time-consuming perfection required for commercial success. Edison would never have allowed this to happen and hired many assistants to make sure it did not. In fact Edison was said to have a knack for picking up other inventors' ideas and rushing them to the Patent Office. With Tesla it was just the opposite. Ideas chased each other through his mind faster than he could nail them down. Once he understood exactly how an invention worked (in his mind), he tended to lose interest, for there were always exciting new challenges just over the horizon.
For the enlightenment of readers who are unaware that Tesla existed, much less of what he accomplished and of the legacy of future inventions he demonstrated to be possible, I will devote much of the rest of this review to describing each of these inventions in brief. Some of these were patented; many were tested in his mind, spoken about, or demonstrated and some of these no other inventors have been able to duplicate them, up until now.
1. Laugh Therapy: at one point in school, Tesla came down with a mysterious illness which incapacitated him. The doctors gave up on him recovering, but young Tesla found Mark Twain's writings and laughed continuously, recovering in the process. Norman Cousins made a similar discovery with Marx Brothers films in his own life during the 1980s. (Page 16)
2. Transatlantic Mail: Tesla conceived of a tube underwater through which mail could be transmitted quickly, but the viscosity of the water made his idea impractical as he tested it out in his mind. (Page 17)
3. Trans-global Ring: Tesla imagined this ring, which would later find a semblance of reality in the geosynchronous satellites circling Earth today providing communication and GPS location.(Page 17)
4. Alternating Current: Tesla observed a Direct Current machine sparking continuously at its commutator and suggested to his professor "that the design might be improved by dispensing with the commutator and by switching to alternating current." (Page 18) He went on to design and build such a system, damming up Niagara Falls for his hydroelectric project, something that, when he was only six years old, he had told his uncle he would do.
5. AC Motors: Tesla invented poly-phase induction, split-phase induction, and single-phase AC motors. All our electricity today is "generated, transmitted, distributed, and turned into mechanical power by means of the Tesla Polyphase System." (Page 24)
6. ARC Lighting: the Tesla arc lamp "was more simple, reliable, safe, and economical than those in current use. The system was patented and first put to work on the streets of Rahway." (Page 36)
7. Cyclotron, Point Electron Microscope, Cosmic Rays, Radio Vacuum Tube, X-Ray, and Plasma streams: these are listed together as Tesla demonstrated all of these effects long before they were ever named and put into practical use by other researchers and inventors. "Surely it would be an act of simple justice were the scientific community at least to acknowledge Tesla's pioneer discoveries in each of their fields." (Page 52 to 59, Quote on 59)
8. Fluorescent Lighting: "I am sure that [Tesla's] demonstration of these light sources at the Chicago World's Fair  stimulated D. McFarlan Moore to develop and announce commercial realization of the fluorescent lamp. . . ." Roland J. Morin, Sylvania/GTE Chief Engineer. (Page 53)
9. The Sun as Charged Body: Tesla figured the Sun to be "an incandescent body carrying a high electrical charge and emitting showers of tiny particles." Although the Sun's source of energy is thought now to be nuclear fusion of hydrogen into helium, no one can explain why the temperature of the atmosphere of the Sun is so much greater than its interior. A charged object moving in an electric field as Tesla postulated would have exactly such a higher temperature in its outer surroundings. (Page 55 to 56)
10. Aurora Borealis Explanation: Tesla saw that the charged body of the Sun would emit rays which when impinging on the upper atmosphere of Earth would cause it to glow. (Page 56)
11. The Electric Clock: the very clock which, before quartz-tuned ones appeared, were ubiquitous on the kitchen walls and bedside tables for most of twentieth century. "[Tesla] developed a new kind of reciprocating dynamo adapted to his special needs in high-frequency currents — an ingenious single-cylinder engine without valves, that could be operated by compressed air or steam. The speed it attained was so remarkably constant that he proposed adapting it to his 60-cycle polyphase system, using synchronous motors, properly geared down, as a means of providing the correct time wherever in the world alternating current was available. This was the inspiration for the modern electric clock. Tesla, in his rush of discovery, took no time to patent a timekeeper either." (Page 61)
12. Diathermy: "In 1890 he announced the therapeutic deep-heating value of high-frequency currents on the human body." When my mother-in-law suffered from pain after several surgeries on her back, diathermy was applied to provide her relief. Tesla received some income from this invention which was widely copied illegally and immorally. (Page 61)
13. Lightning: Ben Franklin discovered that lightning was electricity. Tesla postulated that the electricity of lightning was built up during the falling of rain. From plans in Scientific American, several decades ago, I built an electrostatic generator which was powered by falling drops of water which created sparks of 10,000 volts. This device demonstrates the same electrostatic charge accumulation phenomenon which leads up to lightning. (Page 67)
14. Radio Broadcasting: ". . . in the spring of 1893 he described in detail the principles of radio broadcasting." He did this at the National Electric Light Association in St. Louis when he also made the first public demonstration of radio communication, two years before Marconi. Later Tesla said when asked about Marconi, "Sure, he did radio; he used 17 of my patents to do it." (Page 68)
15. Melting Metals: [In Chicago, 1892] Tesla also described heating bars of iron and melting lead and tin in the electromagnetic field of specially designed high-frequency coils. This was to have important commercial consequences many years later. (Page 74)
16. Robotic Sub and Wireless Torpedoes: "In 1898 Tesla made a celebrated demonstration in Madison Square Garden of a remotely controlled robot boat and torpedoes." When a student called it a wireless torpedo, Tesla snapped back, "You do not see there a wireless torpedo. You see there the first of a race of robots, mechanical men which do the laborious work of the human race." We are only today beginning to see the fruits of Tesla's vision implemented in the workplace and in combat situations. (Page 81)
17. Aluminum Aircraft: Around 1900, years before the Wrights’ first flight, Tesla predicted that economic refining of aluminum using electricity would lead to aluminum being used to build aircraft. That year, the Pittsburgh Reduction Company received electricity from Niagara and soon became ALCOA, the Aluminum Company of America. (Page 88)
18. Microwave Transmission: ". . . metal pipes filled with gas — the metal being the insulator and the gas the conductor — supplying" electrical power to various devices. He was describing what is now called a "wave guide" for high-frequency transmission of electricity. (Page 91)
19. Secondary Radiation: Tesla reported in the Electrical Review of 1896 that he had already discovered secondary radiation months before Pupin announced his discovery, even tested various kinds of metals to find which kind made the best reflection of Roentgen rays. (Page 102)
20 X-RAY Protection: Tesla was aware of the danger to personnel of X-Rays and experimented to find that lead was the most effective shield. After his lecture to that effect to the NY Academy of Science in 1897, "lead shields came into general use." (Page 105)
21. Liquid Oxygen: Linde preceded Tesla in making liquid oxygen commercially, but, earlier than Linde, Tesla had designed and built an apparatus for liquefying oxygen in his laboratory. If his lab had not been destroyed, Tesla would have gotten the credit he deserved for both the idea and the implementation. (Page 107)
22. Nitrogen Fertilizer: With the tools of electrical resonance and circuits in exact synchronism, [Tesla] said, nitrogen could be extracted from the air and valuable fertilizer manufactured. My father worked in a nitrogen fertilizer plant using that process in the 1960s. (Page 114)
23. Artificial Earthquake: ". . . in 1898 while testing a tiny electromechanical oscillator, he attached it with innocent intent to an iron pillar that went down through the center of his loft building at 46 East Houston Street, to the sandy floor of the basement. . . . What Tesla was unaware of on this occasion was that vibrations from the oscillator, traveling down the iron pillar with escalating force, were being carried through the substructure of Manhattan in all directions. . . Buildings began to shake, windows shattered, and citizens poured onto the streets in nearby Italian and Chinese neighborhoods." (Page 115)
24. Ore and Oil Exploration: "By using mechanical vibrations with the known constant of the Earth, [Tesla] also hoped to learn how to locate ore deposits and oil fields. Modern subsurface exploratory techniques were thus presaged." Ships in the sea today trail long lines of explosives which, when fired, send out the kind of vibrations that Tesla was talking about, and the recordings made of the reflected vibrations are used to explore below the seabed for oil and minerals. (Page 117)
25. Light for Photography: Tesla wrote to his good friend, Robert Johnson, "I feel confident I have a light which for photography will be better than sunlight, but I have no spare time to bring it to perfection." The New York Times took note of the important development of phosphorescent light by Tesla. (Page 120)
26. High-Speed Rail Travel: "[Tesla] was convinced, and so announced, that with properly built railroad tracks, trains running on AC/DC could safely travel up to two hundred miles per hour." Perhaps someday this will happen in Tesla's adopted country, but it is already available in other countries such as France's TGV and Japan's high-speed rail system. (Page 120)
27. Airborne Drones: The twenty-first century technology of the battlefield was anticipated by Tesla in 1919. (Page 129)
28. ICBMs, Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles: About 1919, Tesla described futuristic aircraft to be guided remotely, "By installing proper plants it will be practicable to project a missile of this kind into the air and drop it almost on the very spot designated, which may be thousands of miles away." (Page 129)
29. Computer Technology: Leland Anderson writes, "I am puzzled by the reluctance of some in the computer technology field to acknowledge Tesla's priority in this regard. . . ." (Page 130) Computer systems contain billions of logic design elements such as Tesla holds patents on. He embodied them in electrical devices; today they are embodied in electronic devices. RJM NOTE: Tesla used AC signals and today we use DC signals, which makes Tesla's version imminently less susceptible to EMP (electro-magnetic pulse) from nuclear blasts which can fry low-voltage DC circuits of modern computers. Tesla used these signals to prevent enemy interference with his remote-operated boats and submarines. The US Army decided not to build Tesla's remote-operated boats because of their concern about safety from enemy interference. The Army brass were apparently not savvy enough to understand Tesla when he explained to them that he had already made his equipment interference proof. (Page 131)
30. Fluidics: The modern field of fluidics and fluid logic owes its origin to Tesla. "With the turbine he had invented a valvular conduit that enabled it to be used with combustible fuel. This unique conduit, with no moving parts, has recently been used in fluid logic elements, in which context it is referred to as a fluid diode. Tesla's 1916 patent . . ." (Page 200)
31. VTOL, Vertical Take-Off and Landing Aircraft: Also known as Tesla's Flying Stove, it was patented in 1928 and because of lack of funds, no prototype was built. Tesla was 72 when the patent was finally issued. Tesla's first concept of VTOL was in drawings destroyed in his laboratory fire of 1895! (Page 203)
32. Electricity from Waste Gases: [Tesla] "wrote proposals for manufacturers demonstrating that his turbine could be operated on the waste gases from steel mills and factories." Tesla was Green decades before Green was popular! (Page 203)
33. RADAR: 1916 was a financial low point for Tesla . . . "Yet somehow in this time of turmoil and heartsickness he polished and published the basic principles of what would be known — almost three decades later — as radar. (Page 207)
34. ELF Extra Low Frequency Waves: Given the disruption caused by thermonuclear war, Tesla's ELF method came into use by the U. S. Navy using 10 Hz signals to circle the globe and penetrate deepest waters. (Page 287)
35. Geothermal Energy: In 1931 Tesla created detailed designs of plans "for extracting electricity from seawater and another for a geothermal steam plant." (Page 241)
36. Tesla Coil: On Tesla's 75th birthday, "Robert Millikan wrote of attending a Tesla lecture at the age of twenty-five, one of the first demonstrations of the Tesla coil. 'Since then,' he wrote, 'I have done no small fraction of my research work with the aid of the principles I learned that night so that is not merely my congratulations that I am sending you but with them also my gratitude and my respect in overflowing measure.' " (Page 238)
These are not all the ideas and inventions of Tesla as there were many more in his laboratory notebooks which were burnt in the fire and many more in the notebooks confiscated by the forces of coercion after his death, but even this truncated list should speak to the value of this man's life, which would cause any thinking and moral person to ponder long and hard how we might give Tesla and his achievements their proper credit, both in gratitude and royalties.
For all his genius, Tesla was disliked and reviled by many people who tried to portray his Alternating Current inventions as something fearful and devilish. Rudolf Steiner notably defined evil as a good out of its time, and as Leland Johnson noted in his Introduction, "Tesla was indeed out of his time," likely inspiring the title of Cheney's fine biography.Like a Modern Prometheus (Chapter 1 Title) Tesla brought things from the future into our daily lives, like the electricity powering this computer I'm typing on. This connection to evil things, each being a good out of its time, may help explain the dislike many had for Tesla. This tendency has carried into the twenty-first century and shows up in the lack of recognition afforded Tesla's myriad of inventions, up until now. This tendency led some physics majors, as I once did, to regard him as someone who invented only the Tesla coil.
One man strove to get Tesla recognized, B. A. Behrend, who was in line to receive the prestigious Edison Medal. He persuaded the AIEE to award the medal instead to Tesla. Getting Tesla to accept it was not so easy. In his reply to Behrend, Tesla didn't bother to mention the shabby and immoral way Thomas Edison had treated him, both as his employee and as his competitor.(3)
[page 216] "You propose," said Tesla, "to honor me with a medal which I could pin upon my coat and strut for a vain hour before the members and guests of your Institute. You would bestow an outward semblance of honoring me but you would decorate my body and continue to let starve, for failure to supply recognition, my mind and its creative products which have supplied the foundation upon which the major portion of your Institute exists."
Yes, in recent years, physics has awarded him a physics unit, the tesla, which is the unit of magnetic flux density or B and is equal to one weber per square meter, but where is the Nobel Prize, where is the respect for Tesla's intellectual property? Nowhere to be found! Inventions such as those we have listed above are inspired by, based on, manufactured using, and sold for huge profits without a penny of royalty being paid to the Tesla estate. Tesla himself was nearly penniless in his own waning days. The huge stack of laboratory notes, designs for inventions, diagrams, etc., were confiscated, rightly understood, stolen, by federal agents, and they were filed away in the Smithsonian archives, not for future use, but to be forgotten, lest anyone take notice of Tesla's manifold contributions to the immense benefit of humankind across this entire planet!
---------------------------- Footnotes -----------------------------------------
Footnote 1.Return to text directly before Footnote 1.
See my reviews of two of her books: Emergence: Labeled Autistic and Thinking in Pictures. There are two movies about Temple Grandin and her life and work. The first is an Icelandic filmmaker's work, "A Mother's Courage" (2009), and the second is a 2010 release, 110-minute HBO documentary called "Temple Grandin". Both available on NetFlix in 2012.
Footnote 2.Return to text directly before Footnote 2.
Anderson writes in the Introduction, page xiv, ". . . Tesla kept O'Neill at a distance, and O'Neill gleaned only what he was able to pry out of Tesla with great difficulty — certainly not the most ideal liaison for a biographer."
Footnote 3.Return to text directly before Footnote 3.
Edison had his men build and sell to a state penitentiary an AC electric chair in order to cause fear of Tesla's Alternating Current products and promote his own DC current ones. Previously Edison had done a similar thing to discredit gas companies.
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I hear often from my Good Readers that they have bought books after reading my book reviews. Keep reading, folks! As I like to remind you, to obtain more information on what's in these books, buy and read the books — for less information, read the reviews.
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= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =In this section I like to comment on events in the world, in my life, and in my readings which have come up during the month. These are things I might have shared with you in person, if we had had the opportunity to converse during the month. If we did, then you may recognize my words. If I say some things here which upset you, rest assured that you may skip over these for the very reason that I would likely have not brought up the subject to spoil our time together in person.
1. Padre Filius Reads a Billboard this Month:
Padre Filius, the cartoon character created by your intrepid editor and would-be cartoonist, will appear from time to time in this Section of the Digest to share with us some amusing or enlightening aspect of the world he observes during his peregrinations.
This month the good Padre reads a LAMAR Billboard on way to Orange Beach.
2. Comments from Readers:
- EMAILs from son, Rob, in New Zealand, Orange Beach, and Indiana:
Two emails: One with a photo he took of a sunrise in Aukland, New Zealand and another with a YouTube video he took of Orange Beach on the Gulf Coast during our week's vacation there with him, his family and his three sisters, Maureen, Carla, Yvette and their families. The other was a video was taken from one of Rob's remote airplanes with a HD video camera attached, his son Walden acted as co-pilot. Shows Orange Beach's beach, highway, inland waters, and the waters with offshore reef. Palm Beach where our condos are is visible in the east as first high-rise, white, but only 5 stories high.
Next email showed maiden flight of Walden's biplane, followed by a simulated dogfight between two biplanes (Rob and gson Walden) with gson Emerson as photographer. Check these two videos out:
maiden flight http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=--RS3lGZDJQ
dueling biplanes http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T7dp0ps5eu4
- EMAIL from Max Green in Gretna:
This takes a few minutes, but is mind boggling.
This is a miniature model setup, world renown ....
you'll have to see it to believe it...
- EMAIL from 2nd Cousin, Suzanne Potier, of Baton Rouge:
This is a picture of Octavia Marie Matherne, Sister to Adolphe Napoleon Matherne and Clairville Pierre Matherne (Bobby's grandfather). She was the 1st born to "Paul" and Palmire. She married Robert Emile Martin. This picture was sent to me from her Granddaughter Eva Belle Porche Ledet. Her Mother was the 8th child of Octavia. Her name was Odette Marie Martin. She married Abbie J. Porche. I don't know when this picture was taken, but am so happy to have it. I now have 2 of the 10 children, and wanted to share it with you !!!!
By the way,
Belle is our 2nd cousin, she lives in Bourg and is getting ready to celebrate her 60th Anniversary. She is a real sweetheart.
See Attached Photo (at right)
- EMAIL from Hugh Conners somewhere in the world:
Barbara and I are cruising along the Main River in Germany. We will be in Frankfort tomorrow.
I loved your report on NCL cruise line and your trip in the Med.
Hugh and Barbara Conners
3. Poem from Freedom on the Half Shell:"Root of the Matter"
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:
Root of the Matter
A tree cannot grow from a central plan
Each twig must bend and branch so carefully
In search of sunlight as best it can
To spread its limbs in joyous liberty.
How sadly stunted it would be to boot
If it had to get orders from its root.
Look at these three containers of Old Spice Aftershave Lotion. First the fronts of the bottles: which one do you like best? The one on the far right where the ship has been turned into a red smudge? Yachtsmen might prefer the one on the left which appears to me to me a single-masted sailboat, perhaps a cutter. Men who have used Old Spice all their lives, like me, will clearly prefer the middle one with the classic three-masted ocean-going ship, a ketch I think. Now turn your attention to the bottom and the back of the bottles. Raise your hands if you think that after shave lotion needs a complete list of ingredients and a warning label? Okay, perhaps some new techie lotion, but not one that's been around most of the twentieth century. Such products, unchanged in composition should excused such foolishness. One FINAL NOTE: the new bottle is made out of cheap, likely non-biodegradable plastic, while the original bottle with its new heft and feel is good old-fashioned glass which will eventually be pulverized back into the sand it's made of.
What's one to do when one's favorite containers of metal and glass are replaced by cheap plastic and trashy containers? Old Spice turned into New Trash? What I do is save the old valuable containers and refill them from the trashy new containers which I immediately dispose of. Now, if you haven't tried refilling an Old Spice bottle, let me warn you, it's not for the faint-of-heart or guys with unsteady hands. The stuff spurts out and can't be simply poured into the old bottle. But there's a way. Get a thin, stiff wire — clothes hanger too thick around — behd it slightly and place one end in the opening of the Old Spice bottle and hold the other end. With your free hand slowly decant the new trashy bottle so that the lotion flows out against the wire and follows the wire down into the depths of the bottle. The steady left hand has to hold the wire in the middle of the opening while you are pouring with the right hand (or vice versa for you 9% of the population who are lefthanded). Be aware that occasionally it will seem that the bottle is full and if so, remove wire and tap the bottle, and air space will again appear. That was due to surface effects making the bottle seem full when it's not. Best to check the fluid ounces of the new and old bottle to gauge if you have filled the new bottle. Now one final step: Save a Prayer of thanks that Old Spice was not forced by the Nanny State to place a Child-Proof top on its bottle! Repeat this process every year or so and you'll never have to use the trashy new Old Spice bottle. If you have not had the foresight to save the old Old Spice bottles, look around at Swap Meets, Garage Sales, and Antique Malls and you'll soon find your favorite.
Once you have mastered this technique, try extending it to other products. I saved the last Scope bottle made of glass about 30 years ago and that's very easy to refill. The other benefit is the lack of the now-obligatory Child-Proof top, coerced upon us consumers by the Nanny State. If I wake up in the middle of the night and want to refresh my mouth, I simply SPIN the top off of my glass Scope bottle in seconds, even groggy it's no problem. Other products: Newman's Own went to plastic bottle, so I refill the glas one I use for my Artichoke Flowers recipe, the one with a small hole in the bottle top for easy application. No Child-Proof top on Salad Dressing: why isn't the Nanny State concerned about idiotic kids over-dosing on Newman's Own? Coffemate we use daily for our coffee and I saved the last large size glass Coffeemate container and a set of three small canisters which I refill from the trashy plastic container they now sell. Zatarain's Liquid Crab and Shrimp Boil now comes in trashy plastic bottles, and if you've ever accidentally tasted that stuff full-strength, you would wonder how the thin plastic could hold the stuff in for very long. I have several of the glass bottles saved to refill as needed. I asked an exec at Zatarain's once why the change to plastic and he said it was due to weight, plastic reduces shipping costs. I would have felt better if he had said, "It improves the quality, the shelf-life, and the taste." But clearly it does none of those things, perhaps even the opposite is true.
For some products, it's too difficult to transfer the contents. I have saved a couple of Blue Plate Mayonnaise glass jars, but it's much more difficult to refill a Mayo jar, so forget that, besides that, around here Mayo doesn't last very long, what with Audrey Avocadoes, Macaroni Tuna Casserole, and many other kinds of sandwiches and dishes. Heinz Vinegar is still made in glass, and some Olive Oil producers are still using glass. Now's your chance to grab and save one of those.
My saved metal containers are Charles Chips cans (I keep my parboiled long-rice rice in one), Mavis Talcum Powder (its red can was ubiquitous in twentieth Barbershops), Caldescence powder, Band-Aid tins, a Quaker Oats tin, and even an old Chesterfield cigarette tin from the 1940s. Look around, the glass or metal container you using now may disappear from the shelves tomorrow, looking as cheap, trashy, and shoddy as the new Old Spice bottles. The authentic container you save may be your own. I had my hands on a Babe Ruth baseball card and the original Superman Comic Book back in the 1940s and never thought to save them. Think of the future, some products will be as valuable tomorrow as those two things are today.
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