Dave's Journal, Oct2014
via Cellphone from Alabama
From Italy Magazine (Picture is our front yard)
In the five centuries since Christopher Columbus, a son of Genoa, Italy, first set sail across the Atlantic Ocean, countless individuals have followed the course he charted to seek a new life in America. Since that time, generations of Italian Americans have helped shape our society and steer the course of our history. During Italian American Heritage and Culture Month, we recognize the rich heritage of Americans of Italian descent and celebrate their immeasurable contributions to our Nation." (Presidential Proclamation, The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, October 14, 2010)
"First held 15 years ago, National Italian American Heritage Month has become an annual event to celebrate the rich heritage of Americans of Italian descent and their immeasurable contributions to the country.
A wide variety of activities and events are planned throughout the United States to celebrate the Italian American Heritage Month - October - designated by United States Presidential Proclamation and coinciding with the celebrations honoring Christopher Columbus's first voyage to the Americas in 1492, Columbus Day, this year celebrated on Monday, October 13 in the U.S."
So . . . do something Italian this month !! (eating a pizza does not count . . . making a pizza does count).
Doctors, treatments, medical intervention
What if . . .
You are in generally excellent health. Your wake up one morning and a few of your toes on one foot are numb. After a day or so, you call your doctor. He orders a CAT-scan of your brain the next day. You go in and while they are doing the CAT-scan the technician looks and says "We need to do an MRI", and they schedule an MRI in the next few days. The doctor looks at the MRI and says "We need to go into your head and do a biopsy. It's a 'needle biopsy', very little damage, you'll be in the hospital 2 days, go home and be just fine, while we wait for the pathologists report."
You agree, and go into the operating room.
You wake up paralyzed on the right side of your body.
They tell you to be patient and wait for the pathology report, which comes back and says that you have a very serious form of tumor in your brain. (You are still paralyzed on the right side.) They recommend radiation and chemo right away and you agree.
After two months of treatment, you are still paralyzed (at home now), your speech is slurred, your short term memory is 95% destroyed. You need constant watching-over.
You meet with the neurologlist and he tells you that your paralysis will not be going away (it may even get worse), your speech will get worse, your memory will get worse. The doctors agree that it was their biopsy operation, not the tumor, that caused these conditions.
AND ..... The doctors don't know if the tumor will progress or become dormant.
Your wife recalls that you drove yourself to the biopsy operation; your only symptions at that point were a few numb toes.
So my question to you would be . . . .
If you could go back and do it all again, what would you do ? Would you leave the tumor alone and let nature take its course?
(I don't know what the "right answer" is. I wonder about that . . . what will I decide when the time comes?)
Commonwealth Avenue, Boston
CommAve is one of the peaceful streets in Boston. It's unique. It's very wide, two way traffic, wide strolling path down the center, bordered by tree'd lawns on both sides. It starts at the beautiful Boston Public Garden. It should be "Commonwealth Boulevard". It is embedded in a neighborhood of busy busy busy streets bursting with rushing people and cafes and shops. CommAve has none of that.
I went there today just to walk about 1/2 mile along and make some pictures. It was worth the trip.
You shouldn't rush along this street. I didn't.
If you can't get there anytime soon, here are some snapshots you should let yourself "get into" and imagine being ever so lucky as to live here.
India (the country) Actually Has a A Spacecraft Orbiting Mars (the planet)
This is not a joke.
Launched on November 5, 2013, the MOM spacecraft reached Mars and fired its rocket engines for a little over 23 minutes to enter orbit beginning at 10:17 pm EDT on Tuesday (7:17 a.m. Indian Standard Time on Wednesday). There it joins NASA's $671 million MAVEN orbiter, which itself just arrived.
"The spacecraft is now circling Mars," announced the Indian Space Research Organization in a statement on Wednesday. MOM will travel on an elongated, 72-hour orbit that swings as low as 261 miles (421 kilometers) and out to 47,841 miles (76,994 kilometers) above the red planet.
In fact, it cost India less money to put that orbiter around Mars than it cost to make the recent sci-fi movie "Gravity" !!!
Particle Fever, or "How Science Works"
Watched this documentary about the Large Hadron Collider and the Higgs boson (no acting, real scientist, real-time filming, no re-enactments). The movie is Particle Fever, and it is excellent, even though I have no real understanding at all as to what the Higgs boson is. In fact, I don't even understand the physics that needs the Higgs boson to explain how things work.
But, really this is a real live-action movie about the process of exploration at the very sharpest cutting edge in science - looking for something that may or may not exist, and how people go about that and about their skepticism, their hope, their disappointments, their disagreements play out against each other.
If you feel that scientists "think they know it all", you really need to watch this documentary - they don't think that at all !
A very interesting comment one of them made: "Why do humans spend so much time, effort and money to study art and science - the two things that are the least important to survival ? Because that is what makes us human beings. If all we cared about was survival, we would simply be animals."
Things are slow around here
Waiting for Debbie so we can get some breakfast at the diner.
Okay, let me kick the excitement level up a bit . . . here is Deb uploading a picture of breakfast to her facebook page !!
Let's call this a mis-adventure. A quick trip (15 minutes) to part of (now closed) Ft. Devens Army Base, that is called The Bolton Wildlife Area. Has a river running through it. Path along the river.
I walked for a while. Very un-scenic. I could hear rifle shots over and over again, so a shooting range must be nearby. No one was on the path but me, and I can understand why - just not pretty.
On the way out, I saw this bridge, and banged one picture for the record.
Came home. Fed the cat. Took a nap.
It's unusual that I do this. One of the guys on our photo forum is an excellent documentary type photographer. He gets right down there and in with the local people of the South (USA) and Cuba. His pictures are nitty-gritty.
Here is a very interesting write-up he did on a visit to Cuba. It's kind of long, but I think worth your time.
Deb is driving Elise back to college, it's raining, Mike is solving plumbing problems. I just siphoned a batch of wine into its glass "carboy".
This is the first batch I ever did that came with a mesh bag full of grape skins. It's an Australian blend (Grenache + Sangiovese + Mouldoverde?). You soak the bag in with the first fermentation (which was last week). Next week I bottle the Chilean Merlot, this batch (the Australian blend) will get bottle in December - January.
Now I am renovating my CafePhotos gallery of Italy pictures. It needs an overhaul badly. I get lots of compliments on it (although I tell everyone that scenic pictures are not my favorite thing - people like pretty picture of pretty places, so what can I do?). Probably take me 'til Wednesday to update it.
1. I did a major update to the Italy gallery of the CafePhotos website. Cleaned up the format, made the copyright signs less obvious and added a bunch of pictures from 2012.
2. I saw Dracula Untold at a movie theater. Couldn't hear the dialog (there was no closed caption), but it was still exciting. It's the story between the time he was a miltary leader and the time he became a vampire. Very dramatic of course. This is not another rehash of the basic Dracula / ForbiddenLoveSex storyline taking place in London or wherever.
3. News from cousin Pete has shocked me again. Not many people will appreciate the impact of what you are about to see, but here it is, nonetheless. My Fazio Grandparents house at 36 Strong Place, Brooklyn was renovated (incredibly!!) and rented out for . . . for . . . $12,000/month. My brain is in overload. Cannot believe what the place looks like now. I spent endless weekends and summers running up and down this yard. The basement was nothing more than a coal bin, the ground floor was a 3-car garage.
Here's what it looked like back in the 1960's - 70's . . .
4. This comes 2 days after Pete showed me that Aunt Mac's Brooklyn browsntone sold for $2.7M a short while back. When we were kids, these places were where the poor people lived !!
Portrait of Louise Pomeroy by John Singer Sargent (1887)
One of my personal favorite paintings. It's in the Boston MFA, and I took its picture today (that's it up there).
In the "art world" this is a "not bad / not great" painting, but I disagree. I think it is outstanding. I'm not talking about technical BS like brush strokes or pigments or geometry. I'm talking about how that face draws you in and you wonder "What was on her mind?". Not unlike daVinci's Mona Lisa or Vermeer's Girl with the Pearl Earing.
I don't care what the stupid experts think. This is a really really really great painting.
Postscript: I went to the MFA to see the extensive exhibit of sketches and paintings by F. Goya. Here is yet another topic where I diverge with the "experts". I think Goya was a reasonably talented sketcher, but was a pretty poor painter. Maybe he did knock out a few "great" paintings, but they sure as sh#t weren't in the exhibit that I saw today. Happily, no one asked my opinion today or I would have been burned at the stake.
But . . . I did enjoy a wicked good double espresso and apple tart in the cafe, before trekking (you don't find a lot of words with 2 K's, do you?) homeward.
I am drafting a 2015 calendar of Italy photos (the ones that I updated a few days back for the CafePhotos website). I do this every year, but have never actually ordered one in print. This year I am promising myself that I will actually have one printed up. I promise !
Old Tyme Scary Movies
I'm working into the Halloween mood by watching some old classics from the 30's and 40's (Dracula, Frankenstein, etc etc). I will interlace a few newer ones (Bram Stoker's Dracula, etc) and a few from the Hammer collection (Horror of Dracula, Curse of Frankenstein, etc). But I can't get into the Freddie Kruger, or Jason or the other slasher ghouls. There's a line somewhere between spooky and disgusting, you know.
I'd like to watch The Exorcist, but back in 197x when I first saw it, I had headaches for weeks after. It was a phenomenal movie but . . . sh#t !
Out in the (Natick) Woods Today
"Sharecroppers" I saw working on the drive down there . . .
Getting there was pretty awful, for traffic and construction, but the weather was really nice!
One more ("abstract art") . . .
What if that Last Fish was God ??
My basement fish tank (20 gallons) has been running continuously for about 10 years. I bought the last batch of fish 5 years ago. I figured they'd be long dead by now, but not so. For the last 6 months, there have been two little survivor fish and I could not come around to killing them. About a month ago, one of them died, and left just one fish in a 20G tank with a pump/filter, aerator, heater and light. (Last week the electric company told us their billing was going up 30%.)
I really wanted to shut the tank down, and thought often about killing the last little guy. But my conscience got the best of me. I thought . . . "what if . . . what if that last little fish is God, or maybe not actually God, but God's very favorite little fish, and what if this is some kind of test to see how much I respect life . . what if that was me in the tank - what would I want the tank keeper (let's say, it was God) to do about me? .... kill me because I'm the last of my kind? . . . . what if . . what if . . .? "
I weighed my options and pondered a broad spectrum of possible outcomes.
Then I netted the little guy and put him in the freezer - I figured that, being "cold blooded" and so small, that his temperature would drop him into a coma in about 30 seconds and he'd been dead in 60 seconds. Much nicer than choking to death for 3 days in a drain pipe after being flushed down the toilet.
So, now we wait and see. How mad is God going to be when She hears about this?
Things Are Slow Up Here
Not much going on. Puttering about the basement, breezeway and picking up leaves. Have been prepping my childhood horse for a repaint - to make it more . . . um . . . decorative?. Below is the "before" picture. Will post an "after picture when it's done.
So really, slow slow relaxing (if boring) time for me at the moment.
Happily the New Yorker has given me some funny to post, and here they are ......
Well, today, I did slip away after homechores, hoping to get some glorious woodland foliage. It was a really nice day, but unfortunately the autumn colors are almost over. Depending on exactly where you are, some trees are totally bare, but other trees haven't even changed color yet. But it as nice out there, and "Thank You up there"..
A good Halloween movie . . . The Crow (with Brandon Lee). I also watched The Blob (the newer version, not the one with Steve McQueen) - it was a good replica of the 1950's style sci-fi movies.
I also watch The Day the Earth Stood Still (with, I think, Tom Cruise or . . . no . . . Keanu Reeves) - it sucked enormously and they should hide their heads in shame !!