EMERGING FROM THE CHAPEL
Sunday, the Sunday before Easter, was celebrated three weeks
ago. But because ancient calendars were based on the phases of
the moon, the official date does move around. Seventy-eight
years ago, Palm Sunday was on April 18th.
this very date in 1943, my future father was 90 miles west of his
Cambridge, Ohio, home, attending a Palm Sunday service at Fort Hayes
in Columbus. (Twenty-six years later, on July 8, 1969, I would
fail my draft physical at that installation.)
was he at a War Department reception center? The day before,
he had been inducted into the Army.
story of his World War II service, a desk job in an exotic location
halfway around the world, is this month's 100 Moons article.
15, 2021 EMPATHY
the small things in life that catch my attention nowadays. I'm
sitting in my parked car. On the pavement nearby is a discarded
food wrapper. A blackbird spots it and comes in for a landing,
though he prudently selects a landing spot several feet away. Szqeet,
he says. Keeping a careful eye on his surroundings, he slowly
walks over to the wrapper. He takes a close look. No
food. Szqeet, he mutters. Just then, one of his
friends comes by at low altitude. Szqeet, he calls, and
the two of them fly off together.
must lead a fairly interesting life: flying around, exploring
their surroundings, sampling things to eat, avoiding the occasional
predatory cat or angry crow, socializing with their neighbors, mating.
the other hand, when I was a boy we had a parakeet
who was happy to live in a cage. If we took her out she was
very anxious to get back home, where she would be safe. There
wasn't much variety, though we did periodically bring in new supplies
of birdseed and gravel and water and a new sheet of paper for the
cage floor. For entertainment, she could observe our household
activities. And the cage was beside a window, so she could look
out at the driveway and, beyond it, the sheep in their barnyard.
we went on vacation, we had to leave the parakeet with relatives who
would keep her fed. That required carrying the cage out to the
car in the driveway. On those brief trips, the bird would jump
up to cling to the bars of her cage, wide-eyed, maybe a little
frightened but fascinated by the fact that the dim view from
her window had now come brilliantly to life and was surrounding her
on all sides.
in her life she never had the opportunity to fly, explore, sample,
avoid, socialize, or mate. Apologies to Maya
Angelou, but I don't think I know why a caged bird would sing.
I own a small portion of my old hometown's bank, I've attended
several annual dinner meetings of Richwood Bancshares stockholders
(in 1990, 1994, 2012, and 2017). The 2020 meeting was scheduled
for April 13 of that year, and I considered again joining my former
neighbors. But when the pandemic came along, the affair had to
be first postponed, then canceled.
months later, I received a two-pound box which had cost $8.70 in
priority-mail postage to send. It was labeled 2020 STOCKHOLDERS MEETING.
What? I thought the meeting never took place. But the
outside of the box quoted Walt Disney: It's kind of fun to do
the lid, I found the colorful 2019 annual report which would have
been distributed at the dinner. And the inside of the lid read,
We wouldn't miss an opportunity to connect with you.
That's why we're bringing the annual meeting to you! Enjoy the
show! There was a smaller folder labeled 2020 STOCKHOLDERS PRESENTATION.
I opened it, and a five-inch screen began playing sounds and pictures!
half-hour video included studio appearances by five bank officials
including a keynote address (shown above) by the president, Chad
Hoffman. I went to school with his parents. He's been
with the bank for 26 years, and Richwood Bancshares has expanded to
include offices in six other Ohio cities.
video was produced by Nick
Marzluf at his firm 30 miles south of Richwood in Dublin,
Ohio. Because the president's theme was Back to the
Future, brief clips from that movie were included, along with
footage of bank operations and improvements and, of course, excellent graphics.
the internal battery lasted for only a couple of plays, elsewhere in
the box I found a USB cable not to mention two custom-labeled
packages of microwave popcorn.
fancy for a business in the little village where I grew up!
next stockholders meeting, the 2021 edition, was scheduled to be
held tonight in the hope that COVID-19 would be under control by
now. But it was not a surprise when this spring we received a
letter from Mr. Hoffman.
pandemic proved that strong communities were more resilient than
many would have imagined, and we were proud to be a part of their
strength, he wrote, but we want to make sure to do our
part to keep everyone safe. ...We have moved the meeting to
Monday, August 9.
the shareholders won't need to gather in a big room in August if
they would prefer otherwise.
Board of Directors has approved a new twist on this year's
meeting. We will be filming the presentation and will make it
available on your investor website. We will also send a copy
via mail to your home if you choose. We want to bring everyone
together in late summer, but also want you to feel safe and enjoy our
presenters. Video once again is going to come to the rescue!
WIDENING THE CANAL PICTURE
mile southwest from my apartment, Wally Sommer used to run a little
two-stall repair shop, Wally's Auto Service, on East 7th Avenue in
block down the hill is East 6th Avenue. Its far curb is
supported by a retaining wall (yellow arrow). Beyond that wall,
on the lower level eight feet below, what do we find? Well, it
used to be the Pennsylvania Main Line Canal! However, that
waterway has long since been replaced by railroad tracks and the
former railroad depot.
2010, Wally began painting a 180-foot mural on the retaining wall to
depict local history.
my 2015 articles about
the canal, I found a photo of a small portion of his artwork hanging
in a nearby mall. Only last year did I discover the entire mural.
dined at the railroad depot many times. It's now JG's Tarentum
Station Grille (left). However, because the entrance I use
faces the tracks instead of 6th Avenue, I never noticed the station's
a few freight trains use the tracks nowadays, but there's a picture
of a train right back there!
view from Google Earth 3D Buildings
other historic details, Wally's mural remembers Samuel Kier from
Saltsburg, who became the Grandfather of the American Oil
Industry. Kier helped found a canal boat operation in
1838 that shipped coal from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia. He had
many other business interests, including salt wells in Tarentum.
1846 Kier's salt wells became fouled with petroleum. At first,
he dumped the useless oil into the canal, but then he discovered he
could sell rock oil for medicinal purposes.
Supposedly it would cure everything from blindness to cholera, and an
eight-ounce bottle could be purchased for 50 cents. A chemist
suggested that portions of the oil could be refined into an
illuminant, so by 1854 Kier had established an oil refinery
America's first in downtown Pittsburgh. It turned crude
oil skimmed from the Tarentum salt wells into clean-burning kerosene
selling for $1.50 a gallon.
Pennsylvania Main Line Canal was an early example of infrastructure
paid for by taxpayers, a public works project. How
many of today's dollars did it cost the Commonwealth? Nearly
three-quarters of a billion. Large-scale public
investment is the American way, writes economist Paul
Krugman. We've relied on government infrastructure
investment to jump-start economic growth ever since the construction
of the Erie Canal by the government of New York State two
hundred years ago.
is a wider view of the part of the mural that depicts Tarentum's
canal in operation. Click it to enlarge.
FOR OPENING DAY
years ago today, I worked from 9:00 to 5:00 at a computer keyboard
inside a 53-foot trailer underneath an empty baseball stadium.
What was I doing there?
case you want to know, I've recorded the minute-by-minute details in
an article called My
A CHOCOLATE RABBIT?
chocolate Easter eggs went on display last December 26. But as Ken
Levine once noted
on his blog, today is the day when all the stores that sell Easter
candy sweep it out and get ready for Halloween.
are enough preservatives in Easter candy to last until the next
century, he tells us. What happens to all those
leftover Peeps and bunnies? Are they just going to be thrown
out? What do you think? I suspect they go back to
the warehouse and wait until next year.
the year after.
the year after that.
3, 2011 AN
make electricity, the fission reaction that powers an atomic
bomb can be controlled (hopefully) in a nuclear reactor.
could generate power even more abundantly and safely if we could
likewise control the fusion reaction that powers a hydrogen
bomb. However, that achievement is still 25 years in the
future. It has remained 25 years in the future for many decades now.
a college student in the 1960s, I read that Soviet scientists were
making progress toward a fusion reactor. They were developing
an electromagnetic containment device called TOKaMaK, which is a
Russian acronym. Of course, most Americans didnt know
about this; they werent involved in science as I was.
I read a prediction by Jeane Dixon, the astrologer and alleged
psychic. She prophesied that in the coming year, the Russians
would announce an invention that would provide the world with
unlimited energy. She added that the name of this machine
sounds something like Tomahawk.
name was the key. I realized that Dixon had needed no
supernatural insight to arrive at her unusually specific
prediction. She had merely read an obscure news story.
prediction turned out to be incorrect anyway. Tokamaks still
have not produced usable power, though construction of a
2,000-megawatt reactor is currently projected to begin in the year
a ten-year progressive ramp-up of a $65 billion
500-megawatt reactor which will not actually generate electricity,
now calls for full operation by 2035.])
the Dixon statement, I had hoped that perhaps psychics could make
better predictions than ordinary folks because they could magically
foresee the future. But this incident, followed by further
research, eventually led me to realize that they cant.
century or two ago, when actors played on a stage in a huge theater,
it was necessary for them to EXAGGERATE their gestures and PROJECT
their voices so that the people in the last row of the top balcony
could tell what was going on.
then technology arrived. It didn't take long for movie actors
to learn to bring it down considerably for the big
screen. Subtlety was much more realistic, and a raised eyebrow
was often enough.
technology reached the live stage. Wireless microphones now
make it possible to amplify a person's voice in real time, and video
cameras can even amplify a person's face.
worked a corporate presentation in 1985 where we
magnified the podium speaker, something like this (except
that Alex Haley didn't have backup dancers). The executives at first
feared that the audience would become confused and wouldn't know
whether to direct their attention to the larger-than-life TV screen
or the real person at the podium, but it worked.
2012, London's 02 Arena hosted 20,000 people for a performance of Jesus
Christ Superstar. The enormous stage was backed by an
equally enormous video screen, displaying images synchronized to the music.
that screen, a performer like Tim Minchin could be magnified ten
times. The audience could even see his eyebrows. (I've
added a gold arrow to point him out among the three tiny figures
downstage: Jesus, Mary Magdalene, and Judas.)
performance contained details I'd never noticed before. For
example, why does the music require Pilate to leave great pauses when
he sings Who? Is? This broken man? Cluttering up? My
hallway? As played by Alexander Hanson, he's apparently
just come from a workout and he's out of breath.
must be exciting to attend an event like this, but last year I saw
the television version of the performance. Although it's $3.99
on Prime Video, composer Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber made it available
free online for 48 hours last Easter, proclaiming that despite the
coronavirus, The Shows Must Go On.
high school math teachers are doing their part to improve the game
of college basketball.
this century, one of them invented a new rule which, if implemented,
would eliminate those tiresome late-game trips to the foul line.
back in 1960, another math teacher began evaluating a team's
performance by dividing its points by its trips down the court.
As I relate in a new article, it was not long afterward that I first
encountered points per possession and even met the
inventor. He called his stat by a different name, OER.
the way, Gonzaga's OER coming into this year's NCAA tournament was
1.22, best in the nation.)
28, 2011 THE
Frulinger writes in his blog,
True story: Up until fairly recently, I thought that a
spinning class involved spinning around in circles, and
couldnt figure out why everyone seemed to think they were so
difficult! Ha ha, isnt that funny? Anyway,
apparently they actually consist of working out really intensely on
my part, up until fairly recently I thought a spinning
class was a session in which women learned how to spin yarn.
update: Here's another composite I've made to show a spinning
class in session.
THE REAL STORY?
1859 outside Bingerbrück, Germany, railroad construction
workers unearthed the tombstones of nine ancient Roman soldiers.
Was this one the true father of Jesus???
inscription memorializes TIB.
IVL. ABDES PANTERA.
The Roman names Tiberius Julius were acquired when he joined the
army, but when he was born at Sidon in Lebanon he had been given the
names Abdes Pantera or Abdiel (servant of God), Panther.
served for forty years. When the First Cohort of Archers was
posted to Judaea and later to Germany, he bore their standard.
He died at the age of 62 (ANN.
LXII), and we can
estimate his dates as 27 BC to 35 AD approximately.
in 4 BC, his cohort had participated in the sack of Sepphoris, near
Nazareth, where the young soldier could have encountered a certain
years later, gossip
was still being circulated about that girl, as well as a soldier with
that name and a baby with that year of birth.
On the streets of Sepphoris around the end of the first century,
Rabbi Eliezer ben Hyrcanus heard a teaching in the name of
Yeshu ben Pantera.
In 248 AD the Christian author Origen denounced the philosopher
Celsus because he had written of Mary, when she was pregnant
she was turned out of doors by the carpenter to whom she had been
betrothed, as having been guilty of adultery, and she bore a child to
a certain soldier named Pantera.
The same allegation appeared in the Jerusalem Talmud and a satirical
Jewish anti-Gospel, Sefer Toledot Yeshu.
what are we to think? Today is the Feast of the Annunciation,
nine months before Christmas, when Christians recall Luke
1:28-51. Does that story refer to a messenger angel or
to an occupying soldier?
came in to Mary and said to her, You're a lucky young woman!
was startled and wondered what he meant.
He explained, You're
going to bear a son. And I promise he will grow up to be a king.
protested, How can these things be? I'm a virgin!
he told her. The
spirit is going to come upon you.
This power, it will overshadow you.
and answered, I'm your servant. Let it be done to me,
according to your word.
her. She left town hurriedly and fled to her older cousin
Elizabeth, who had also been impregnated and was already in her sixth
month. Mary happily told of her own experience: He's
mighty! He did great things to me. I feared him, but he
showed me might in his arms.
CORNER OF FRANKLIN AND OAK
before my father purchased a Chevrolet dealership in the Ohio
village of Richwood and brought Mother and me along, people there
were taking photographs. I've found a wide collection of them
in a Facebook group called Richwood, OH [History and Events].
of those photos relate to the old Chevy garage. Its location
on North Franklin Street, I discover, used to be the freight house of
the Delaware & Magnetic Springs Electric Rail Road. Here
comes a D&MS trolley now. It's bound for Richwood,
Lyn Barry, from Scott Jerew Collection
added a few of those historic images to others that I've previously
posted on this website to make a new article called Tales
of 153 North Franklin.
It includes some of my childhood memories, for example walking up
the ramp to the showroom. Also, circling the Sign Pole.
SPA LADIES, LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION
a gunman attacked three spas in the Atlanta area Tuesday, killing
eight people and wounding one, six of his victims were Asian
women. Most people assumed his motives were misogyny and racism
directed against Asians. While those forms of intolerance
certainly need to be addressed, I suspect the actual motive might
have been Christian guilt directed against sinfulness.
22 UPDATE: A biology professor whose blog I follow says
"of course" the event was an act of racism. "It
was also an act of misogyny. And also of gun fanaticism.
And puritanical religious self-loathing. And ignorance.
And general hatred of unfamiliar cultures. It can be all of
these things at the same time!"
massage spas have long been identified by police as places where sex
work and possible sexual exploitation regularly occur, and the gunman
said he himself was a regular customer at two of the spas he
attacked. He said he considered the people working there to be
temptations, leading him into sinful acts. Had he
been a Catholic, he might have confessed those acts to a priest, but
he was a Baptist and he probably merely prayed on it. Perhaps
he was having a bad day, filled with shame, and the
answer that came to him was that while he had been called to be a
soldier for Jesus, those workers were agents of the devil! He
told the police he needed to eliminate them.
church was shocked. These unthinkable and egregious
murders directly contradict his own confession of faith in Jesus and
the gospel, according to the statement from Crabapple First
Baptist Church, which denounced any and all forms of hatred or
violence against Asian Americans even sinful sex
workers, I suppose because each person is responsible
for his or her own sin.
19, 2011 NIGHT
things are happening. There must be a full moon tonight.
there is. And its a supermoon, brighter than
usual because the moon appears larger than usual. Its orbit has
brought it within 221,565 miles of Earth, the closest approach in 18 years.
In March of 2021, the full moon won't actually occur until the 28th.
contrary to popular belief, the full moon doesnt cause people
to go temporarily insane. Recent studies have shown no
statistical connection between full moons and crimes, suicides,
epileptic seizures, or other unusual human events.
legend is not without foundation, however. Those were recent
studies. If they had been conducted during the Dark Ages, I
suspect the results might have been different.
gaslights illuminated streets in the 19th century, our nocturnal
activities used to be constrained by the phases of the moon.
And before electricity reached farms in the 20th century, nocturnal
activities in rural areas were still constrained.
remember printed calendars with four little symbols for each month,
helpfully pointing out the dates of the new moon, first quarter, full
moon, and third quarter. People couldnt do much on dark
nights, so they simply planned on staying indoors.
on other nights the moon on the breast of the new-fallen
snow/Gave the luster of midday to objects below. When the
moon was full, people who were so inclined could stay out all night
long, doing goodness knows what. It was lunacy.
day in elementary school, maybe around 1956, I learned something
from one of my classmates. Kelly Drake couldn't wait to tell us
that he'd discovered a delicious new kind of food. Pizza
pie! he said, beaming.
rest of us were unfamiliar with that term. However, Kelly's
favorable review might be useful at a later date in case I was ever
offered this novel item, so I filed the moment away in my
memory. It's still there.
wasn't until a couple of years later that the Pizza Hut chain was launched.
I ever encountered an actual pizza pie back then, I'm sure I
wouldn't have known the correct way to eat it.
recently, I was watching a TV show on which a character was making a
special dinner. For a side dish, she prepared some exotic
little vegetarian dumplings called niyoki. I had never
heard of that Japanese delicacy, either.
checked the closed captioning. She was actually saying gnocchi,
which I guess derives from the Italian for knuckles.
My bad. I deserve a rap on my niyoki.
14, 2011 HERR
a child, I had this toy, first marketed in 1952. There was a
plastic base a headless body with a pointed spike
where the neck should be. Youd borrow a potato from the
family supply and impale it on the spike. Then youd
complete the head by sticking other plastic pieces into
it. There were various eyes, mouths, ears, and noses to choose
from, as well as black-felt eyelashes and mustaches and accessories
like pipes and hats. Youd try to create an amusing
character so you could giggle at it.
didnt know it then, but apparently this toy was
dangerous. I could have swallowed one of the little ears and
choked on it! Or I could have stabbed myself with its sharp point!
more than 50 years. According to reports, last month
Hasbro unveiled a new, noticeably thinner Mr. Potato Head
during the 2011 International Toy Fair convention in New York
City. The tinier tater, named the Active Adventures Mr. Potato
Head, has a slimmer body.
raised my black-felt eyebrows at that. If you wanted a
skinnier Mr. Potato Head, why wouldnt you simply go back to the
pantry and choose a longer, thinner potato?
turns out that federal child safety regulations have changed since I
was a kid. Real vegetables havent been used since 1964,
when a plastic potato was added to the kit so that the
attachments could be less sharp. In 1975, Hasbro doubled the
size of all the parts to reduce the choking hazard. And now Mr.
Potato Head is getting a healthier body shape.
suppose I shouldnt expect a 59-year-old product to remain
After another decade, there's going to be another change.
Earlier this month, Hasbro announced that the brand is going to
become simply "Potato Head" so that the accessories for Mr.
and Mrs. Potato Head can be included in the same box. There are
certain people who aren't concerned about issues such as preserving
voting rights but are horrified that "Mr." is being
dropped, because men must always remain men.
current pandemic has forced the National Hockey League to contract
its usual 82-game continent-wide season by almost a third. Each
team has been scheduled for only 56 games this year, all within its
own division, starting in the middle of January and ending on May
8. Today should mark the midpoint, or 28 games played.
as Robert Burns wrote, The best laid schemes o' mice an' men /
Gang aft a-gley. Due to various pandemic-related
postponements, only seven of the teams have managed to play 28
games. The average East Division team has played 25, and Dallas
has completed only 22.
illustrate the progress of an NHL season, I invented the Ice Cube
Road a decade ago. As explained here,
each team starts a season with zero points in the standings.
Every time it plays a game, it moves up a row on my chart.
can also move laterally by a column: to the left for a win
(worth two points) or to the right for a regulation loss (zero points).
if the game was settled by overtime or shootout, the losing team
gets one loser point (for having at least achieved a tie
within regulation time) and moves neither left nor right on the
chart, only straight up towards the finish line.
what the 2021 Ice Cube Road looks like for the East Division so far,
with a dashed line at 28.
The standings are still rather jumbled, but the Division appears to
have five strong teams (NY Islanders leading Washington and early
pacesetter Boston, while Pittsburgh's Penguins are ahead of
Philadelphia's Flyers). Then there are three also-rans (NY
Rangers, NJ Devils, and Buffalo).
PARITY: Notice the yellow line after eight games
played. For some reason, 44% of the Division games below that
line were tied at the end of regulation, but since then only 18% have
been. Half of Pittsburgh's first dozen games were in this
category, including five of their first six wins.
As of Tuesday, the Penguins had a record of 29 points in 24 games, or
60.4% of the available 48 points. Points Percentage is a line
at an angle of PP x
90° from northeast on my chart. (The PP might determine
the final standings if some teams play less than a full
schedule.) I provisionally painted the 29/24 square yellow.
Flyers, with twice as many postponed games pending, have two
games in hand on the Penguins. It wasn't until last
night that the Flyers reached the aforementioned 29/24 square and
recolored it orange, as shown here.
the Penguins have continued moving on, and after last night's action
they have two additional wins to improve their PP to 63.5% with 33
points in 26 games. They're currently in third place with one
more point than Boston, or maybe fourth place considering Boston's
SYNC ME UP!
the announcers in Pennsylvania while the basketball players are in
South Carolina? I don't care. I still sometimes enjoy
listening to the announcers on my radio, as I have for decades, and
muting my TV.
explain in an article about Billy
Peppard starred in a 90-minute NBC detective drama called Banacek
on many Wednesdays beginning in 1972.
years later, a young English immigrant came to a much smaller TV
studio my little cable operation where he divined
hidden numbers and bent spoons and forks. His classmates at the
nearby high school knew him as Steve Shaw, but he needed a more
memorable stage name.
seen the NBC show, he became the exotic-sounding Banachek (adding an h
so Americans would know how to pronounce it) and went on to work with
the late James Amazing Randi.
story is this month's 100 Moons article.
HIGHMARK SWAG (STUFF
WE ALL GET)
worked my last sports telecast one year ago tonight. The
following week, most events were canceled due to the worsening
pandemic. I took the hint that it was time for me to become
completely retired. I scrounged up some plain white face masks
and went into hiding.
couple of months later, a more attractive mask arrived unsolicited
in the mail. I glanced at the label, put aside my other masks,
and started wearing this one. It had been sent by my
Pittsburgh-based Medicare Advantage Plan provider, Highmark Blue
Cross Blue Shield, which might explain the prominence of blue in the
obviously doesn't want me to run up big medical bills. They
want me to stay healthy. Therefore, a few months after the face
mask, a big five-pound package arrived. It was filled with all
sorts of things: 50 disposable masks, 15 wet wipes, a bottle of
hand sanitizer, two bottles of sanitizing mist (one for hands, the
other for surfaces), a thermometer, a pulse oximeter, an electric
toothbrush, a tube of lip balm, aloe vera lotion, 100 bandages, and a
separate 213-piece first aid kit. Then, as a reward for
prioritizing your health and using your Highmark insurance in
2020, they mailed me a $100 gift card!
then, on most days I've been using the disposable masks.
Because one can't be too careful, sometimes I double-mask by adding
the colorful one on top.
I looked more closely at its label. Tomlin?
That's not a common surname, but it is the name of the Pittsburgh
Steelers head coach. And then I noticed the four-pointed
hypocycloids, part of the Steelers logo. There had to be a connection.
quick online search revealed that Mike Tomlin's wife Kiya is a fashion
designer. Her products include many stylish $15 face masks.
5, 2011 NOT
week, Brigham Young Universitys #3-ranked basketball team
suspended its top rebounder, Brandon Davies, for the rest of the
season after he admitted violating the Mormon schools honor
code by having sex with his girlfriend.
he played for almost any other school, Davies would have been
congratulated for his conquest, not kicked off the team. Why
are these Mormons so strict and humorless?
they arent, not all of them anyway. At least a couple of
them are funny. I mentioned
in 2008 that I follow two BYU graduates blogs.
D. Snider will soon be reviving his weekly Snide
Remarks column for our amusement, thanks to the financial
viewers like you readers including me. He
also wants us to remind everyone about his podcast.
Jeopardy champion Ken
Jennings, who was much in the news last month, recently held a
Q&A session on Reddit. Excerpts:
have this idea that Mormons are monolithically boring and/or
creepily Stepford-y. But in my experience, that's bull, and
Mormons are as diverse in most ways as anybody else. I think it
would be cool if people figured that out.
Mormons are not biblical literalists. So you can choose to
keep all the crazy stuff you like (Moses just turned his rod into a
snake! badass!) and choose to ignore the crazy stuff you don't like
(wait, God just sent bears to kill those kids because they made fun
of Elisha's male pattern baldness?)
not saying no Mormons are young-earthers ... but let's just say
you're not likely to see those ones on Jeopardy.
Christina Aguilera was born Mormon. Not our finest effort.
The original proposed name for Utah, Deseret, isn't
related to desert. It's a Book of Mormon word (and
therefore etymologically iffy to nonbelievers) meaning honeybee.
Mormon congregations are called wards, and dioceses are
called stakes. Some of our houses of worship used
to therefore be called stake houses, but this turned out
to be too confusing. (Especially because there was no salad bar.)
Mormon scripture strongly implies that the apostle John, as well as
three Book of Mormon disciples, never actually died but are still
kicking around someplace. Awesomely, this leads some Mormons to
repeat urban legends about the three Nephites
miraculously appearing to help little old ladies, repair the cars of
stranded travelers, etc.
My Sunday school teacher, when I was a Mormon teen, once memorably
advised us that There's nothing more overrated than sex, and
nothing more underrated than a good bowel movement. It
totally worked. I don't remember a single other sermon from
when I was a kid, but I think about this guy exactly once a day, and
then again once a week.
Mormons no longer want to be Mormons. They now prefer
to be known as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day
Saints, the official name that God supposedly revealed to Joseph
Smith in 1838. And the name should no longer be abbreviated to
the initials LDS, because that would exclude Jesus.
Eric D. Snider is actually now employed
by TCOJCOLDS in downtown Salt Lake City, working remotely for the
most part, writing content for a Church youth magazine. He no
longer podcasts about movies and rarely posts Snide Remarks.
thanks mostly to the virtual Sundance festival, he still managed to
watch 87 films in the first seven weeks of 2021. And he still
tweets. Yesterday he remarked, I know that bad
officiating is a real thing, but as a non-sportsman, my first impulse
whenever people complain about it (i.e., during seemingly every
basketball game) is always: Are you sure you're not just a big
baby and a sore loser? And I'm sure the answer is always,
No! NOOO! Did you SEE that?!
Ken Jennings, as you
may have heard, recently guest-hosted Jeopardy! for several
weeks. I don't often watch that show, but I do listen twice a
week to the miscellaneous odd topics he and fellow Seattleite John
Roderick discuss on their Omnibus podcast. One
episode in particular, recorded early last autumn and based on a book
by Ted Widmer, recalls the Presidential election of 1860 and the
subsequent efforts to prevent Abraham Lincoln from taking office.
the 46-minute mark you'll hear about racist militias and angry
ruffians who refused to accept the election results. They
threatened to blow up the Capitol on February 13, 1861, to prevent
John Breckenridge from certifying the Electoral College vote.
But as Mike Pence would do in 2021, Vice-President Breckenridge
honorably performed his duty.
2, 2021 VENTILATE!
should be our first step in fighting a viral outbreak? Open
by Sarah Zhang of The Atlantic recalls the early days of
Covid-19 when everyone was searching frantically for N95 masks.
In our quest for perfect solutions, we'd forgotten an extremely
obvious and simple one: fresh air. A colleague joked, at
one point, that things would have gone better in the pandemic if we
still believed in miasma theory.
air, or miasma, was identified as the source of pestilence by
the Greek physician Hippocrates in the fifth century BC. Much
later, Florence Nightingale insisted that hospital windows remain
open in all seasons so a cross breeze could blow between the beds.
course, we've learned that not all pathogens are transmitted through
the atmosphere. Cholera is spread by water; yellow fever, by
mosquitoes. However, disease-causing viruses do ride on the
air. Most have been conquered by vaccinations, but when a novel
virus enters our lives, we should open a window to encourage it to go
saloon doors were a thing of the past by 1918, when the flu struck
Marysville, Ohio, but dim and secluded bars still existed. I've
already noted that when
the mayor set a limit of ten customers in each local saloon, he also
ordered that the doors and windows had to be kept open, allowing the
viruses to disperse along with the tobacco smoke. That seems
odd nowadays when so many buildings are air-conditioned and windows
are tightly sealed.
the 1960s, I sketched a layout for a pie-shaped house.
My parents looked at my drawing and pointed out a drawback:
the rooms had windows only on the circumference, so there was no cross-ventilation.
more attention was paid to cross-ventilation in those days, for
example by the use of transoms above doors (left). I recall
being in more than one old high-ceilinged office or hotel room in
which one could open not only an exterior window but also a transom
window, enabling air to pass out into the hallway while the door
Hall, my college dorm built in 1932, had an alternative to
transoms: louvered vents in the doors themselves.
the other end of my room, beyond the head of the bed and the
radiator and the desk, there was a window that could be raised.
I left it open a few inches all winter long.
I freeze to death? No, steam pipes ran through all the rooms
of that dormitory, from the foundation to the fourth floor.
Those hot pipes kept me warm even though the valve on my particular
radiator remained closed.
Zhang knows what I mean. She writes, I'm writing this
now at my desk, which is in front of a radiator, which is in front of
apartment buildings like mine, built in the early 20th century, this
is by design. The radiator runs too hot, so that residents can
keep the window open for ventilation. (I am indeed too
hot. The window is open.) This is a building designed in
a time of airborne pathogens.
quirk of old building design went viral months ago in a collective
Aha! moment. This thing that never made sense
actually makes sense! The air is good.
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