Thursday, February 28, 2013

Frogs, Hearts and Eggs

    Old English for Frog was 'Frogga.'  The English for 'egg'  comes from the Old Norse word 'egg.'  And the word heart comes from the Old English word 'heorte.' 

     All the same I am really happy we who speak English almost daily don't have to use the words "Frogga" or "Heorte" in order to be understood.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Blood Transfusion

    I am certain there is something I can learn from Jehovah's Witnesses, or Jay-Dubs as these courageous men and women and children are sometimes called. In 1945, their guiding body, which has its headquarters in Broklyn Heights and Dumbo, in New York City, developed the view that blood transfusion is unforgivable sin that most certainly sends a soul to Heaven's much warmer alternative.  The doctrine defines blood as - red cells, white cells, platelets and plasma. Transplant of organs, however, is permitted so long as there is no blood transfusion during the operation.  Which generally places the medical profession in a most unholy dilemma when negotiating earthly matters with Jay Dubs, tort law and their own nine principles of medical ethics.  The ninth reads: "A physician shall support access to medical care for all people."  Which in my view runs just a little bit contrary to principle six:  "A physician shall, in the provision of appropriate patient care, except in emergencies, be free to choose whom to serve, with whom to associate, and the environment in which to provide medical care."

    Acts chapter 15 verse 20 is the passage sometimes quoted for the Jay-Dub prohibition against donating or being the beneficiary of other peoples blood. The King James Bible verse 20 of Acts 15 reads: "But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood." Acts chapter 15 begins with the following insight:  "And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved."  Jay-Dub I am told is the short form of Jay-Dubla, or JW and the somewhat pejorative expression may have originated with Mormon Missionaries, who also have the habit of bravely knocking on the front doors of complete strangers in their search for personal salvation.   The prohibition against "things strangled" is a reference to the distinction made between blood and flesh.  In the course of strangulation, I am told,  "blood is made flesh."  Which is why "a beast of the field," must be correctly butchered.  "Fornication," I am told is some sort of sexual misconduct, or impurity outside of the boundaries of marriage.  "Pollutions of idols," remains something of a mystery to me, but currently I believe it has something to do with eating meat sacrificed to the wrong god.  I am so looking forward to Spring.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Year 259,013

    The above picture is what the world looked like to Greeks before Alexander the Great set off to put an end to the last vestiges of Persian power, around 320 BC. A half generation later Greek cartographers had a better grasp of  how Asia was shaped, they knew about the Persian Gulf, they had a suspicion that India stretched further to the south, and there was an argument that suggested that to the South of India there was an Island which was rumored to be very much larger than Ceylon actually is. Not until two hundred and sixty odd years ago, the 1750's, did cartographers begin to draw the world as many of us think of it today.  The second picture is a portion of a map claimed to be a copy of a Roman Road Map that shows parts of Britain, parts of Spain and parts of North Africa.  And you can look at the entire map for otherwise useful hours, wondering.

    What I have a problem with is conceiving of history as somehow revolving around the event of Jesus' birth.  The years Before Christ, or the years Before the Common Era run downhill.  They start sometime with the  Egyptian cuneiform,  two or three thousand years BC, or four or five thousand years ago, which would make this the year, four or five thousand and thirteen AW, or After Writing.  And I think for serious contemplation of our being, a person has to really go to somewhere like ALIT, or After Living In Trees.  And until we can conceptually manage that feat our understanding of "Now" will be somewhat cretinous, and I mean cretinous in the congenital sense.  No doubt there might well be controversy and confusion, but I'm going to go out on a limb and  call today Tuesday February the 26th, 259,013.  Which would give us about a quarter million more years of thinking than Walking Stewart thought we might have had.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Reed Instruments

    An aulos was a reed instrument, and it sounded kind of like bagpipes without the bag.  A Satyr, a pan person, wicked from nature, untroubled by the niceties, Goat-like, and always devious in an irritating if impish way, might have invented the aulos.  Or the Satyr might have happened upon the aulos that Athena threw away because playing it made her cheeks puffy, and she was the Virgin Patroness of Athens, so necessary to always appear beautiful and calm, no matter the circumstance. 

    I might once have liked to think I was named after Timotheus of Thebes. He was an aulos player that inspired Alexander the Great to raise his sword, gather his shield, go forth and conquer.  But I have seen what it takes to play the launeddas, a Sardinian instrument, which also sounds like bagpipes without the bag, and I have come slowly to the realization that Plato was correct in his desire to ban the aulos from his dream of a perfect Republic. And how the world might have changed had he succeeded.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Vampire or Cathar

    Ritual binding of the corpse to discourage any sort of loitering,  falls short of the standard I look for in the days between now and the departure of my own 'breath of life' or 'soul' when presumably it will find its own answer.  No doubt there is a distinction, or perhaps wall, or maybe a time clock, between this side of living and the other side of living, but I think it a little extreme to develop  a practice which in my view at least, appears to toss the departed over that wall.  The opposite approach, which is to return again until Sainthood is achieved, also has a commanding or competitive insistence that in my world is not in the least ameliorated by inserting a 'maybe' or 'syad' before embarking upon any proposition.

    And while I can completely understand ritual binding of corpses as a product of minds made irritable by the inconveniences of winter, and while I can see it in terms of a cold weather conviction that death is good for you whether you welcome it or not, I can't find the necessary enthusiasm to pursue the idea of ritual binding with a view to adopting it as my own.  Fridays of course not a good day for such contemplations, because on Fridays I am wholly engrossed by the penalties of any and all dualistic understandings of being, so on Fridays I tend to lean toward a stake through the heart as the proper solution because by Sunday around four thirty, when the stake is removed, I am both renewed and worthy of Sainthood. Which I guess makes me more like a Vampire than a Cathar Novitiate.

Thursday, February 21, 2013


    Karmic Bondage is a concept from Jainism that might be expressed this way.  Through the course of life a person's soul is subject to over a hundred fifty different kinds of invisible rays capable of passing through the visible and attaching to the soul.  Karma is considered real and it is physical and it is of this earth.  Jain's do not have gods.  Instead they have Saints, who are souls liberated from the  bondage of karma, because when they were alive as a person, they managed to behaved in such a way as to achieve a balance that released their soul from having to relive life as a person, on endlessly.  Worth noting, that as a person, a Jain avoids adopting a dogmatic position by commencing all propositions with a "perhaps" or a "maybe" or at least some suggestion of alternative possibility that's found in the Sanskrit word 'syad.' Only when Sainthood is achieved does a soul possesses an infinity of knowledge, purity, bliss and energy.
    Which is kind of interesting in my view, especially when you put it beside the traditions of Goths and Germanic tribes from more northern and much colder places, who when burying someone they'd bind him or her, so that after the burial he or she would not become a ghost, and hang out scarily, or in anyway be able to return to the earthly plane.  I'm inclined to think the idea of a soul, or the departed, having to go somewhere else, whether it wants to or not, sounds like an abdication.  A washing of the hands. Quite what that abdication is I am not certain, but I suspect it has something to do with the effect winter has on state of mind, and on understandings of eternity. And I say this because if I had to relive winter on endlessly until I achieved Sainthood, go ahead bind me in chains before burying me. The swastika, also a Jain symbol, before coming into such disrepute in the middle of the last century, was considered a good luck charm by aviators.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Early Maple Bloom

    Early Maple Day might not be a recognized Feast Day.  However in the tapestry that leads to Springtime, there begins a digression that attempts to make sense of February, which for some of us appears in the form of an obsession with defining that has an origin sometime before January, and then one morning the Early Maple puts on bloom and a seasonal sneeze begins which offers the suggestion of yet one more year on earth.  You'd think Snowdrop, or Daffodil, or Dandelion would do it, but such plants express the romance of Gypsies, wanderers traveling, grubbing hoe and Mole, their struggle is more like ours and too they have a life span comprehensible to those of us who might also have wandered.  We are more like comrades, because they too must foster cheerfulness. There is the give and take between us.

     But not Trees, some of whom have been rooted for centuries.  There is a Cypress in Tibet that is seriously estimated to be two thousand six hundred years old.  There's a Sugar Maple in Ontario that's reckoned to be over five hundred years old.  There's a Yew in a Church Yard in Scotland that could be over two thousand years old, maybe even five thousand years old.  It's called the Fortingall Yew.  It once had a girth of fifty two feet before eighteenth century hoodlums made cups and trinkets out of it to sell to those who travelled good distance to see it.   And I have seen the Gingko in the Cemetery in Louisville. They get hit by storms round here, it breaks them, so they re-branch and branch again.  There is something of the word in trees, they are constitution, written by the ages and by our own generations.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

    Many years ago, long before you could read or acquire old books on the internet, a person had to wander though the second hand book shop with his half crown and empty cigarette packet.  A risky business for those of us prone to adverse reaction once in the presence of dustiness, damp, the spores of mushroom and other encumbrances. 

    All the same I do try hard to recreate the ambience of such happy places here in the room where I sleep.  It's a tumble, but fortunately there is always a tissue lying around, some of them in better shape than others. Then you read of a Fulfillment Center going bankrupt and the smiles are free at last.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Defining a Saint

      Apr├Ęs yesterday's interlude of gainful employment, old age and physical exhaustion prevented the mind from doing very much more than staring at a wall, occasionally at a ceiling and sometimes at its own remarkably unattractive feet.  Not necessarily a bad thing, because such a torpor does grant a haphazardness, or senility, to mental process that permits doting upon strands of thought that otherwise might be rounded up, put in boxes and then shipped off to the knackers yard, or consumer of last resort.  And thank goodness the subject matter was an heroic figure, not some encrusted barnacle of ignoble motive, stuck to a rock, a Limpet, hands on his hips, waiting for his mail order crystallized ginger, wrinkle remover, and assorted scented candles.  Otherwise today might have deteriorated toward rampage and ennui.

    The distinction made by the category material and idea, is wholly fabricated. It begins at the cocktail party, wanders into the university quarrel, carries through to the pages of books, or bibles, and then you see the man in the short pants and bow tie contemplating the question of reward.  In short, feed him a peanut and he'll tell you what you want to hear.  Then to go all high and mighty, refuse the peanut, so the invisible might benefit, becomes the beginning of any definition of Saint.  And I have to say that something like a Nobel Prize, or a Pulitzer, or an Emmy, or second place for Marmalade at the County Fair or poetry recital, just doesn't substitute for Saint.  Pictures today are from E. Shand, who has been hiking in Paris.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Armenian Tunic

    Walking Stewart was not a religious man.  And he was not one to hide behind the word 'agnostic.'  He was a lunatic of course, everyone he met and who wrote about him, said so.  A wonderful madness.  "Philofophy muft bow down to the microfcope." Why he wore a tunic of an Armenian Private Soldier, is probably for me a more useful obsession than wondering on about qualifications for Sainthood.  Clearly more often than not a political matter, most particularly the event sometime in the 1970's when forty Saints of British origin were suddenly created, including a man called David Lewis, who was from the Welsh Marches.  He'd been hung for being stubborn, more than anything else.  
    Either way, Armenia is the oldest state to Establish Christianity, it did so around 300 AD.  For well over  fifteen hundred years Armenian traders had been doing good business with Bengal, where Calcutta is and where Mother Teresa in buried with all her parts.   And it was in Bengal that Walking Stewart probably came into contact with Armenians.  The East India Company, who briefly employed Walking Stewart, had made an arrangement with the Armenian community in Bengal the essentials of which where that East India Company would finance the building of a church in any community in Bengal where the population of Armenians exceeding forty. Oddly enough one of the Armenian Apostolic Churches that was probably built by Armenian Christians, long before either the Dutch or the English set foot in India, contains a relic.  It's the Left hand of John the Baptist.  I know John the Baptist's head is in Rome.  His right hand is either in Serbia or Romania or Istanbul.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Cathars and Baptism

    Before becoming sidetracked by the Armenian Apostolic Church, the East India Company and how Walking Stewart might have acquired his Armenian Private Soldier's tunic,  I had briefly decided that my current preoccupation with Popes, Saints, understandings of the Christian God and God in general, could be drawn to a constructive conclusion  through a study of Forms of Baptism.  I went so far as to consider listing them, assigning them to particular congregations, or is it denominations. And I thought a place to start might be with the Jewish word "mickveh."  Which I thought would have an equivalence to Christian practice and which suits the ancientness of our relationship with water.  And here I took John The Baptist as the provisional driver along the road toward some sort of end place, or lay by, or rest area, that might enable me to concentrate better upon the more fruitful tree of springtime that will soon be upon us, with its shovel and weeding.  A big mistake on my part, because in matters of the spirit, for those drawn to define it, pretty much everything becomes an exhausting controversy that makes the existentialist appear as a confluence of  good humor and fair dealing.  Interesting to me is the possibility that because theology deals with a belief in the unknowable, and once that belief is stated as fact a certain irrational temper sets in, which then oozes across the boundaries in order for thinking to retain a semblance of cohesion.  One result of this ooze is to make some of us sound a little foolish sometimes, or stubborn perhaps, or maybe a touch deranged, or persuades us to carry banners and utter phrases on the street corner, or feature in unsanctioned videos sounding like a mental patient.

     All the same, if I think of the Cathar attempting to emulate the infinite, and if I place him upon the seat beside me instead of somewhere in the distant past, or another county, I have also to know that within his community of Cathars, it is their opinion of him that he relishes, not mine.  So I guess 'Baptism' should be seen primarily as a moment within a community, and whether it is a moment of purification or of joining, is almost irrelevant.  In other words, it doesn't really matter what form baptism might take, so long as it does service to idea, or provides a physiotherapy of mind as some argue.  The Establishment of a Church within a wider society, sets the rule for how everyone exercises.   The disgruntled can then define themselves by changing the form of something like 'Baptism.'  Which causes rift, founding of colonies and the panoply, or nightmare, depending upon perspective.  I have no memory of it, but I believe I was politely 'sprinkled while an infant.'  Not 'fully immersed' or 'dunked three times.'  Nor did I have to wait until I could 'think for myself,' which of course is something that never really happens, unless you are completely beyond this earth.  Meanwhile, there is John the Baptist.  He'd arrived at a conclusion that an end time was nigh, and to prepare for the big day he started baptizing volunteers in the River Jordan.  It was preparation by a cleansing or repentance of sin or evil deeds, it was a mickveh. There are some who will tell you that one of the volunteers was Jesus. And there are others who will tell you that at the River Jordan on that busy day, there was a debate between Jesus and John as to which one of them should baptize the other.  Me, I'm going out on a bit of a limb, because I've decided John baptized Jesus. I say this, because once upon this earth, whether you are the Son of God or not, you are guilty of something and always will be.  Which makes me a Cathar Novitiate, I'd guess.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Cathars and Separatists

     Cathars, who in Southern France were known as Albigensians, held the view that the universe comprised a duality.  But unlike Pythagoreans, Cathars thought the earth, or material things, were the creation of Satan, or an Evil One, rather than moments of harmony within the infinite that were possibly open to manipulation, improvement or some form of better understanding.  For Cathars, God was pure spirit.  He was unspoiled by matter, or earthliness, passion, lust and so on.  Nor did he eat meat, or procreate.  Cathars claimed that we people, being comprised of matter, where essentially all bad, rotten and pointless and so was everything else upon our planet.  Our object, therefore, was to become perfect, or as much like God as possible.  Believing as they did that matter was the creation of Evil, the Cathar view of the Eucharist, the bread and wine of communion with God, quickly put them at odds with the Established Church.  No way for a Cathar, could either wine or bread be conceived of as spirit, and such was the Cathar concept of dualism they felt  Jesus himself had to have been more like an Angel than a Son of God.  During crusades against Cathars, it was possible to avoid being burnt at the stake if you could prove to your inquisitor that you were married.  But so far as I can tell, the diet of a suspected Cathar, was not taken into consideration, so I guess things like platefuls of Pork Sausage and a mustard pot never entered the interrogation chamber. 

    In Southern France Cathars became extinct not as a result of a strict adherence to their peculiar beliefs, but because they became associated with a nationalistic fervor that sought independence from the French Crown. The crusade against the Albigensian Cathars, became a political matter that suited both the Established Church and French Kings and Profiteers.  Worth  recalling that before the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United Sates (around 1791) former colonies had their own Established Churches.  All except the colony dominated by Quakers and the colony of Rhode Island, which was founded by a preacher called Roger Williams who had been exiled by the Congregationalist colony of Massachusetts after being tried and convicted of sedition and heresy.  Kind of like Socrates, he'd been broadcasting 'diverse, new and dangerous opinions.'  The Meeting House where Roger Williams preached, which was his own home in Providence Rhode Island, became what is most likely the  first 'Six Principle Baptist Church' in the American Colonies.  The year was 1652 and Roger Williams would have been considered a Liberal, an Abolitionist and a Free Thinker.  He was also a "Separatist" in matters of spirit, which means that he wanted a "wall of separation" between "the garden of Christ" and the "Wilderness of the World."  And worth wondering whether something like a Bible in a bank would have earned a rebuke from him.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Immutable Aquarians, Pisces and Scorpio.

      A  mind I enjoy is approaching the age of thirty seven.  And I would tend to agree that thirty seven is something like a no-mans land, or in the case of a person born under the water sign that happens the end of February into March, it's more like a deep ocean without the Sargasso or coral reef or rocky island.  The Earth signs and the Fire signs produce practical people, the Major Generals, the wistful corporals and the blue badges of commerce. Those of us who are Air and Water tend toward rootless-ness, obstruction and dreaming, and random tirade. Which means we are prone to ennui and the vicissitudes of the question why.  A part of mind which  Earth and Fire subdue through what the polite call  'faith,'  an iron discipline primarily centered around patterns of usefulness, sometimes referred to as  'the mystery of ambition,'  or 'hope.'  Oddly enough, while Pisces are Water People, and Scorpio or the Desert Dwelling Arachnids are Water people, the Aquarian, or Water Carrier, is an Air person.  The 265th Pope, Pope Benedict sixteenth is a Fire person, possibly an anomaly with in the system, or perhaps a rearranging  of his birthday to better suit biology.  But you have to go back nineteen Popes, to the 246th Pope, a time when the City of Boston Massachusetts had a population of 12000, to find the last certified Aquarian Pope. 

    He was Benedict the Thirteenth, and quite wrong to think him the victim of physical palsy, or arthritis, or frailty of mind. It was he who abolished the lottery in Rome, unsuccessfully rallied the faithful against corruption and he repealed the worldwide rule that excommunicated anyone found smoking or chewing tobacco in or near churches. Indeed, we who are Water Carriers, are emotional, sensitive, empathetic, conceptualizing and really very special.  All of them nice words with which to replace the Old English expression 'pantie-wastie.'  However, it would be easier to fall prey to this seduction of the astrologers sign if it were not for the suggestion that Air people are also assumed to possess 'sociable-ness .'  A quality so completely absent in me that it has to cast doubt on the validity of any exercise that attributes character of a person to the moment of his birth.   We Air people, I am told,  tend to be positive, or self expressing balloons, which sounds well enough, but sadly for Air people who are also Aquarians, we are immutable, or doomed.  Water people, out there in the ocean blue, tend to be negative, or self containing.  But,  if born to the Water signs of Pisces and Scorpio, you happen also to be mutable, lucky bastard, because it means you know what it is to be flexible, especially during electrical interruption.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Popes and Saints

    I read recently, in a reputable handbook of Japanese origin, that a wireless device, one of those hand held things that communicate with others through invisible waves, should be switched off when in the presence of a fellow creature who is clinging to existence following a surgical procedure that implants what is casually referred to as a 'pacemaker.'  The master control or motherboard of this contraption is stitched into the chest some inches from the heart, and it has wires that run  through the major veins into the aorta, or ventricle or one or other or both of these often emotional muscles.  And I guess, if as a person you achieve grandiosity of position, possession of such an implanted device necessarily should be kept secret, otherwise its a little like being born with a clubbed foot or twelve toes, and there's legacy to consider. Maybe I'm wrong, but that face in the mirror staring back will one day be a Saint or a President, otherwise why 'f' with grandiosity. And in my mind there is absolutely no way a person can be considered for the status of  Servant of God if during his life time he succumbs to some kind of venal ancillary contrivance through which to defy the Will of God.  A worship of idols, I'd call it.

     There is no reason to suppose the Vatican is any  more or less rife with intrigue and ambition than other bodies that rule our world.  As well I am given to understand that 'pacemakers' can be hacked by the diabolical, who might share my view that possession of a 'pacemaker' is an expression of vanity, which in its old fashioned sense meant 'futile' or something like 'obvious boasting.'  And although Manufacturers of 'pacemakers' will insist that so long as any of a billion and one hand held wireless devices are at least six inches from the heart, all should be well.  Either way, it's very apparent to me that Pope Benedict the sixteenth shares my opinion that the worthiness of the next Pope, whoever it might be, and the credibility of any and all manufacturers should be viewed with deep suspicion.  However I have to believe that Pope Saint Gregory the first, the one who was always accompanied by a Dove, and who wrote endlessly, including the Chant, and who removed Vainglory from the list of Cardinal Sins so that there would just be the seven of such flaws to contend with, is now turning in his grave, or perhaps weeping from his cloud.  But at least I better understand the practice of 'exhumation of relics unless you are a Mother Teresa,' in the path toward Sainthood.  Suffice to say all pictures of Pope Benedict have copyrights so today's pictures are of what Saint Gregory the first might have looked like.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Cabbage Month

    The first, and in my view quite unnecessary 'r' in February, comes from the Latin word for February, which was Februarius. And this word Februarius has in it a Latin word containing the idea of 'purification.' Which given how endless the shorter month of February can be, does make some sort of sense.
    Two other names for this month of the year which speakers of Old English might have used before our language was so bruised by the Latin and the Greek and the French, include  "Solmonath" which means "mud-month" and "Kale-monath" which means something like "Cabbage-month."

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Privet Berries Gone

    The Alatus, or Invasive Burning Bush, or The Winged Euonymus, all depending upon perspective, is now without fruit.   And the Privet is bare, all except a few stubborn leaves and one or two shriveled berries.   Gaunt at last, they look.  But the Close Mockingbirds, both appear fit enough when I saw them earlier this evening.  They were sitting in their empty larder watching each other, waiting for the rain and wind and maybe a thunderstorm, perhaps hail, and possibly a little snow in time for Asteroid DA14.  A duller name one cannot conceive of.
    I don't believe Privet Berries are  favorite food for a Mockingbird.  On through the first deep frosts of December and into the cold the Close Mockingbird guarded his shrubbery.  He was fierce about it, and I can forgive myself for thinking  it's just his way. The Berries will go to waste, I say to him. They'll dry up or something like a Mouse, or a Waxwing will eat them, and no one really wants that..  Then all of a sudden, you'll see the Close Mockingbird and his gentler collaborator, together in the branches of the Privet feeding in a sort of pain filled manner.  Neither of them in the least happy. Or maybe they just feel guilty.  Or perhaps Privet Berry causes indigestion. This year it was the last weekend of January, ice in the sky, the Privet was still full of food.  Fifteen days later, it's pretty much all gone.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Unicorns and Screen Protectors

     It's a long haul if you randomly sit on your personal computer in such a way as to splinter it's screen.  There's a great white cloud in the northeast corner, that daily gets larger, and sometimes it looks a little like pink lightning issuing from it, and sometimes for no apparent reason it suddenly turns black. I keep expecting it to ooze something green that might have once slithered around in the mud of the Yangzi.  And finally I understand the words "screen protector."  So many of them in the Fulfillment Center, some of us had permitted ourselves to become really very cynical.
    I can imagine the truly addicted with their mobile devices, the sort of thing that has a minute screen so it'll fit in the pocket, or hat band, most certainly requiring some sort of protective device that is ornamental and groovy, and colorful and self expressive, and aren't I cool, and the list is so long it becomes majorly tiresome.  I saw one the other day that had a Unicorn theme. Which was interesting because Unicorns always were treacherous creatures, not in the least sweet, which is why they were kept chained up until quite recently. But sadly that's how the world turns.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Snowdrop 2013

     This Winter feels colder than last year's winter.  I know this because this year's Winter always feels considerably colder than last year's Winter.  However, today is the eighth of February, and today Snowdrops are well on their way to peak bloom.   Last Year, peak bloom for Snowdrops was February eighteenth.  So we are a few days off.   More interesting perhaps, is the condition of Snowdrop in February of 2010.  In that year Peak Bloom for Snowdrop was achieved around the twenty-fifth of February.  And in the years before 2010, I could generally say peak bloom for  these particular Snowdrop was somewhere around the last ten days of February.  This year, if it stays mild in the daytime, we could see peak bloom for Snowdrop even earlier than 2012, which in the view of many was a warmer year.
    These are far from scientific observations.  Rather, they belong to a quasi-rational approach that indulges  emotion by allowing it full range.  No Vernier Caliper, no Slide Rule or measuring device of any sort.  For example, I firmly believe the Mole beneath the Vegetable Garden has grown to about the size of small Elephant, and I'm inclined to the idea that there's an Elf, or a small boy, whose pleasure in life is hiding things form me. So I am not a reliable source for information deemed empirical, or worthy of trust. All the same, I'm not yet completely round the bend because while about my business at the urinal at my place of employment, I don't suddenly and for no good reason inform the fidgeting throng, that "fifteen years ago we used to get big snows in Kentucky." Another ten years or so and I'm confident there'll be Hippo in the Green River.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Popes and Bones

     There have been twelve Popes named Pius, and if you wanted to, you can obtain a clock that features all twelve of them.  The clock would cost around $46 Australian, around $40 US, or around £30 Sterling.  But even more nerve-wracking than being ticked at by twelve Popes Pius, is the prospect of achieving the condition of Servant of God, because unless you are Teresa of Kolkata, your bones have to be dug up.  And here, this practice does seem to me an extraordinarily virile approach to what would be the earthly remains of very unusual people. 

     Then when I put this into a conjunction with the concept of  'Communion' as the moment where the faithful accept bread and wine as representing the literal, or at least the substance of, the blood and body of Jesus, I become really quite creeped out.  But at the same time, it seems to me, that those Protestant communities who have no Saints, and who adhere to the notion of the Eucharist as no more than a 'memorial' to the blood and body of Jesus, are more like Pansies than they are like the gallant Sunflower, or an Amaryllis in February.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Kenneth Catania And Moles

    I too thought  "the moles’ nostrils were too close together to effectively detect odor gradients." To make absolutely certain that they were not too close together, a great mind used a plastic tube to block one of the Moles' nostrils.  If the right nostril was blocked, the Mole "veered" to the left as it followed scent.  And if the left nostril was blocked the mole "veered" to the right. The study by Kenneth Catania was called, "Stereo and Serial  Sniffing Guide Navigation to an Odor Source in Mammals."

    Even more surprising than actually getting a Mole to cooperate in a laboratory setting, hold still while plastic tubes were stuffed in his nostrils, is the idea of deciding upon a Mole as a test representative for Mammals that sniff.  I can only imagine that when not underground Moles become perfectly polite, caring and friendly.  Say things like "Have a nice Day," wear top hats, carry a cane, are good conversationalists, probably enjoy the odd cocktail.  And well worth reading Kenneth Catania's engrossing study, "Worm Grunting, Fiddling, and Charming - Humans Unknowingly Mimic a Predator to Harvest Bait."  Which oddly enough is also about Moles.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013


    When I was thirty something, on the 7th of February 1983, The Congregation for the Causes of Saints, amongst other idiocies, did away with the office of "Defender of the Faith" or "Devil's Advocate." One consequence of this was a burgeoning in the number of Saints and Blesseds and Venerables and Servants of God.  From 1983 to 2005 Pope Paul the Second's pandering regime named five hundred saints, well over a thousand Blesseds, and who knows how many Venerables and Servants of God might have been named.  From 1900 until 1983 only  around eighty souls survived the previous and more rigorous procedures for canonization.  Which is why I am one of those who thinks we should at least reintroduce the office of "Defender of the Faith," instead of the current farce of casting around for any Tom, Dick or Hutchinson to take on the role. I also think a person has to be dead for at least fifty years before he or she can even be considered, rather than the current  five years decreed by the 1983 Congregation. A very paltry five years which the Pope himself may grant an exception from, which for reasons completely incomprehensible to me he did for Mother Teresa.  Easy enough, I suppose, to blame the Eurovision Song Contest for such a ludicrous rationalization.

    But despite the temptation to maybe wonder whether the Congregation of the Causes of Saints was in the early part of 1983 just one long drawn out cocktail party left over from the 1970's,  they did produce what I guess can be called  stream-lined interview standards to guide the procedure by which a person might become a Saint.  The first step in that path is to be considered for the position of Servant of God. This usually begins with a petition by the faithful, but it has to be more than a whimsical moment in the flow of  community politicking or some other cult-like weirdness, because once the Roman Curia agree that someone might be a Servant of God, that person's body is exhumed and what's called "relics" are supposed to be taken.  Bones, I guess.  Unless you are Mother Teresa, who despite demands from across the world and particularly from the Albanian faithful, has not yet been exhumed even though she has survived the condition of Venerable and has achieved the stature of Blessed.  Which means she can have a feast day only observed by the faithful in Calcutta. However,  if one more miracle can be ascribed to her, she'll become a Saint and then the entire globe will be able to eat something for her on September 5th.  And I would have a picture of Blessed Teresa of Kolkata, but they all seem to have copyrights, so instead I have pictures of two, Second Century Popes called Pius to contemplate while I weep for the world.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Year Four

     I know it's Monday, the first of three Saturdays for me,  but I believe I'd be more interesting to both myself and to others if I didn't obsess on what could be called causality, which in my world is reduced to "The Question Why?"  Usually somewhere around Thursday. Not that bleak stare into the firmament, accompanied by wonder and awe.  Or the pomp and ceremony, and 'Oh look there's a meteor.'  My question why? rests proudly within the context of pointlessness, because pointlessness makes more sense to me. And here, the  'Because' in 'Causality' I will insist, is an entirely chemical reaction, which occurs in various parts of mind that elevates 'thinking' to preposterous, not to say spurious levels in my species.  Listening to others, which I do far too much, I am convinced plants 'think' and I can sometimes persuade myself that rocks and the universe itself  'think.'  But between the rock and us there is a distance.  We are, if you like, speeded up and, therefore I think I am, only sometimes.

     Pretty much true that such an analysis will fall foul of each and every particle that cruises the Milky Way.  Each about its business, moved by solace and sometimes by anger, anxious for harmony and occasionally, for the hell of it, it'll throw itself at the grenade so that others might continue to suffer delusional impulse produced by I am.  Then if I was to say that pointlessness is beautiful, there would be a rampage of words in opposition, and I could list these words by shuffling through the histories of people, or open a newspaper.  And anyway, how dare I stare into the abyss and come away happy!  The answer I guess is pure, unadulterated arrogance, which might also be that same chemical that can produce an imbecile.  As well, it's an anniversary today.  John Speed of Durham was executed on February 4th 1594, for rejecting inducements to bring him to conformity with the Church of England.  Pope Pius the Eleventh beatified him in 1929.  The distinction between beatification and canonization, or Blessed and Saint, is something I'll worry about tomorrow and it might even be more interesting to both of us.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Groundhog, Groundhog.

    Some excitement with Ground Hog Day.  Who can remember what the shadow means, certainly not me.  As well there are eleven Saints who have February the Second as their Feast Day.   February the First has over seventy Feast Days.

     More important perhaps, February Seventh of this year I will be sharing a Big Day with nineteen Saints, one of whom is Pope Pius the Ninth, who in 1854 finally got the church elders to formally proclaim the Dogma of Immaculate Conception.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Cigarettes and Pork Sausage as Purpose

    A good day to work on a theoretical framework of purpose.  And here I'll begin with an idea that will confine the universal condition of pointlessness to within the word "Shallow."   Pointlessness can be considered an ennui, a frailty of character, a chemical imbalance, and ordinarily can be resolved with the words 'pull yourself together' or something equally catty that can make a mind feel suddenly foolish, or uncomfortably self righteous, unless it's minus twelve centigrade  outside and you're out of cigarettes and yearn for a Pork Sausage.   "Shallowness" on the other hand is almost an insult.  It suggests an early phase in the path toward complete idiot. "I am a shallow being" not because I am  "a pointless being," rather because my  idea of purpose is "shallow" and consequently any contribution it might make to purpose is so unsubstantial it verges on the "pointless."  

    The argument then, is what to do about "shallowness of purpose"  if by chance "shallowness of purpose"  becomes unbearable and angst ridden, and you're seriously considering going to town. One option is to search out a "good."   Which of course has first to be perceived as a "good."  And generally the nature of a "good" is gleaned by contrasting it with a "bad."  Otherwise everything is "good/bad"  or acceptance.  And here of course begins the miasma of human endeavor, as we desperately seek to understand ourselves as beings driven toward an end.  "Shallowness" becomes "I will not surrender."  It becomes the chest thumping dialectic with heroes and villains.  So you put on your wooly hat, your fifteen tee shirts and you hunt around for sundries like one last cup of coffee and something with which to defrost the door of the vehicle and you wonder when you last urinated. Which all sounds well enough, until you listen to a senate confirmation hearing on C-span where a mind might avoid physics altogether as it contemplates the futility of hair styles.