“True peace requires the presence of justice, not just the absence of conflict.”
Jemisin, N. K. The Dreamblood Duology. Orbit.
TODAY FROM AMERICA:
A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:
Today, September 21, It was cool enough for me to wear a long-sleeved shirt. Summer is officially over. I still don a Hawaiian shirt over my long-sleeved T-shirt to maintain a touch of color. In a few more weeks it will be jacket time again.
A few days ago, while walking around the lakes at EDH Town Center, a woman stopped me to comment on my wooden walking stick. I told her I was somewhat obsessed with walking sticks and used to have a fairly large collection before I gave them all away when I retired. She said her husband, who had joined us by then sporting a handsome hand-crafted walking stick, made walking sticks when they lived in Sedona. She said he made the one he was carrying out of Sedona hardwood. We discussed walking sticks and the beauty of Sedona for a while and then went our separate ways.
On My Walk Through Town Center.
We had a small but raucous birthday party for Dick (Uncle Mask) on Thursday night.
After the blowing out of the candles and the opening of presents, the evening ended in a long discussion about SWAC’s murderous brother-in-law who, along with another 6000 convicts, will be released from prison next month due to the Kings clemency in celebration of his ascension to the Throne of Thailand. The brother-in-law, who was also the mayor of the village before his murder conviction, has promised revenge upon SWAC’s family. Among the 8 or so killings for which he was suspected were the murder of his wife (SWAC’s sister) and SWAC’s brother a local cop. He blames her family for his imprisonment. Once, I arrived in that town a day after the Mayor’s opponent in the election was killed in front of the house I was to stay at.
Two days ago, I received my new hearing aids. While I am sure others have had similar experiences, I marvel at mine so far. I hear things I have not heard for 15 or 20 years — the rustle of some small critter in the brush as I walk by; the constant screech of birds unseen in the trees; the annoying clack of my walking stick as it strikes the pavement; the rumble of automobiles off in the distance. The soundscape fills my consciousness just like my visual environment does. As I take my morning walk, I sometimes just stand on the path swinging my head about trying to catch whatever made the most recent sound to capture my attention. I know the novelty will cease as soon as I get comfortable with my new ears, but it is all a pretty cool experience while it lasts.
B. A BRIEF TRIP TO SAN FRANCISCO
On Saturday, I decided for my mental health to split from the golden hills and spend the weekend in SF.
I stopped in Folsom to have breakfast at IHOP. After breakfast, as I was walking back to my car, I was surprised by HRM tapping me on the shoulder. He told me that he, Dick, and HRM’s friend Jake had just arrived for breakfast. So, I returned to the restaurant for some coffee and conversation.
After they finished eating we left and I resumed my trip. It took me four hours of driving to cover the 120 miles from Folsom to Peter’s house in San Francisco.
At Peter’s, I had some more coffee and conversation with him and Barrie. She then left to monitor the Swim to Alcatraz event at her swim club on the Bay. Peter and I drove to a relatively new French restaurant in the overly gentrified Noe Valley for a late lunch and more coffee and conversation.
Peter and I at Lunch
The next day, Peter and I left early and drove to Bernie’s. We met Don there and sat on the Old Men’s Bench in front of Bernie’s for coffee and conversation. Three old men in straw hats sitting on a bench reminiscing and telling stories. Then it was time to go. I left them to walk back home along 24th Street and got into my car for my drive back to EDH. It took only two and a half hours to drive back. That pleased me.
Coffee and Conversation — the glue that holds society together.
C. BACK IN THE GOLDEN HILLS:
I returned and resumed my daily swim in the health club pool, one half of my usual 30 or 40 minutes swimming laps and the other half running back and forth across the pool.
The Blue Bullet-Head at the Pool
I have begun to get used to my hearing aids. The rustling of the bushes, clack of the birds and rumble of traffic now simply background noise. It’s a shame really. But, like traveling to some transcendentally beautiful spot on your bucket list and dreaming about living there, if you did live there, the beauty of the place would disappear from your awareness soon enough. Most likely, you’ll stop to enjoy the view less often than you look at television and certainly much less than you look at your smartphone. Sooner or later, you’d probably start dreaming about being someplace else.
When I take my hour-long morning walk around the lakes in Town Center, I always walk widdershins. Some of the other walkers I meet regularly walk widdershins also, while others walk clockwise. I noticed that, like me, those that walk widdershins always do so as do those walking clockwise. I assume there is a generalization that can be drawn from these observations. I also assume any such generalization would not be significant. Nevertheless, since I do not have earphones pumping loud music or the sound of someone reading a breathlessly suspenseful novel into my ears, I ponder things like this as I walk along. I am sure whatever the generalization is, it is more significant than “people are creatures of habit” and less significant than the fact that the rotation of the earth causes the water to swirl clockwise in the northern hemisphere when you flush your toilet.
MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:
There was a time in my life when my daughter Jessica and I used to fly every year during the autumn to London for the theatrical season. We would also attend the New York theater season as well. Nevertheless, the sheer breadth of the offerings in London and the excellence of the acting were incomparable.
We attended the opening of Le Miserables and were left teary-eyed and at a loss for words. Of course, at the time, a number of Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals were always running. We saw the opening of Starlight Express there.
Cats and the Phantom of the Opera we saw in New York. In New York, we usually got the box over the stage. During the performance of Cats,( Jessica was about eight years old at the time), we were surprised by a panel opening in the wall behind us. An actress dressed as a cat emerged, slinking out and crawling along the rim of the box. The cat meowed and encouraged Jessica to pet her. Jessica was thrilled.
In London, two shows stand out in my memory. One, Pirandello’s Henry IV with that aging Enfant terrible Richard Harris in a stunning performance left us breathless. The other memorable production was the musical Return to the Forbidden Planet. It was a musical spoof on the movie Forbidden Planet that starred Leslie Nielsen during his early years as an action hero before he discovered he could make more money as a goof-ball.
The musical featured a host of 1950 and 1960 Rock and Roll tunes including “Mr. Spaceman,” ”Monster Mash,” “Great Balls of Fire”. “Johnny B. Goode,” “Telstar,” “Good Vibrations,” “A Teenager in Love,” “Who’s Sorry Now?”, “Oh, Pretty Woman,” “Only the Lonely,” “Shake, Rattle and Roll” and many others. By the end, everyone in the theater, including us, were dancing in the aisles and some even had climbed onto the stage to dance with the actors.
100,000 BP (Before Present):
As the last Ice Age impacts the world lowering sea level and leaving vast areas that were submerged now accessible, the diet of Homo sapiens began to include fish and seafood. Some scientists theorize that fish oil was key to the growth of the brain of Homo sapiens. Evidence suggests that no other hominids such as Neanderthals, who had been well established in Europe since at least 500,000 years before present, ate fish. (See Broadhurst, 2001.)
A. Peter on Top:
Peter’s observations on Bill’s comments regarding my tendency to rant when under stress:
Five minutes and a candy bar would take care of the rants — except for the recently arrived young man who, after ten days at the old SCC sadly admitted that although the work and situation and your leadership were exciting, he just couldn’t put up with the Rants, notwithstanding your inevitable rapid return to calm and humor and no recriminations within minutes. Dennis and the rest of us knew better.
The rants were my way of releasing anxiety. To Southern Italian-Americans from NY, this was a fairly normal reaction to stress. It got the fear out of our systems before we did something really foolish.
Eventually, I realized I had to do something about the pain I was causing innocent people like the young man. So, after several profitable, if not especially rewarding years with various law firms, I got my analyst to prescribe happy pills for me. They made me more mellow but absolutely worthless. I was then faced with the choice between stopping the pills and remaining a raving but successful asshole or continuing with them and becoming a benign parasite. I chose the latter. I feel much better for the choice.
B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:
One wonders if pursuant to Quantum Mechanics, the Big Bang is simply consciousness observing The Singularity.
And, if like me, you question the existence of God or a supreme consciousness, then do you wonder if our understanding of consciousness or observation is faulty?
C. Today’s Poem:
In the desert, I saw a creature, naked, bestial, who, squatting upon the ground,
Held his heart in his hands,
And ate of it. I said, “Is it good, friend?” “It is bitter—bitter,” he answered; “But I like it Because it is bitter, And because it is my heart.”
—Stephen Crane, The Black Riders, and Other Line
The following is an email from a friend of the Old Sailor describing life on St. Johns after the hurricane.
the whole island is a Catastrophic mess…
it is really hard to believe…
Just trying to save things for now… there are 5 of us living together…eating well & sharing laughs…
Putting on different meaning on what’s important in life…definitely roughing it…taking one day at a time…will move back to town once they get power…& need a roofing on 2 cottages…
Will stay in touch the best I can..
From my daughter Dr. Jessica E. Petrillo Ph.D.
I am a Ph.D. virologist. I was always interested in why things work; the opportunities I had through school enriched my love of science. I pursued a Ph.D. in Virology not to study one aspect of one virus — but to gain the skills and understanding to help make real what science is: for the people, by the people. I have had the amazing good fortune to do just that. For the past eight years, I have used my scientific knowledge and training in critical thinking, strategic planning, and communication to promote global health security in unique and innovative ways. This is my investment in the future — for all people. My hope is that today folks take a moment to embrace science as one of the many facets (creativity, annoyance, beauty, work) that makes us… us, and that makes life… life. From star wars to soap bubbles, baking to basketball we are scientists at heart.
Sunrise over the Foothills