Tuesday, September 30, 2014


And as Dave Barry famously said, I am not making this up:
Cyranoids are "people who do not speak thoughts originating in their own central nervous system: Rather, the words they speak originate in the mind of another person who transmits these words to the cyranoid by radio transmission.".[1] The 'cyranoid' concept was created by psychologist Stanley Milgram, who during the late 1970s experimented with various social authority/obedience phenomena involving cyranoids. He showed the 'cyranic illusion', namely, that people are very reluctant to believe that someone they are face-to-face with is being told what to say by an in-the-ear radio.
There are many possible cyranoid configurations.[2] Given that the cyranoid is controlled by a source and interacts with a target the possible configurations are: the cyranoid is known/unknown to the target or source; the target is known/unknown to the source or cyranoid; and the source is known/unknown to the target or cyranoid.

The term Cyranoid itself refers to the Edmond Rostand play Cyrano de Bergerac, where Cyrano coaches Christian from hiding, as Christian attempts to woo Roxane.
For more information, follow this link.

I suppose this struck me as particularly interesting because we are nearing elections. It often seems that much political speech is from "people who do not speak thoughts originating in their own nervous system: Rather the words they speak originates in the mind of another person who transmits these words to the [politician] via [huge donations.]"

Don't forget to vote in November! And think about what you are hearing ...

The never-ending mousetail ... I mean, mouse tale

Back in July I posted about Tom finding a mouse in the sink.

This evening after dinner, I loaded the dishwasher but did not immediately turn it on. I usually wait for a while to see if anything else will appear that needs to be tucked in before we run the machine. I went down to my office and piddled around for almost an hour. Then I went back up and, seeing no new items in need of a wash, decided to run the load already there. When I opened the door to put soap in the dispenser, a small mouse started running around the edge of the door on the inside. I was able to scoop it up and return it unharmed to the wild.

Apparently it is not unusual for mice to find their way into dishwashers. Some people resort to leaving traps in the bottom of the machine and checking them before running a load. (I assume they remove the traps first.) This is the first time I have seen evidence of a mouse inside ours, and I may start putting in cotton balls soaked with peppermint oil to keep them away. This seems to work for most other places in the house and a minty smell is better that traps with dead mice.

As bad as it was to discover a mouse when getting ready to wash dishes, imagine the greater horror if, after unloading clean dishes, I had looked down and seen a drowned mouse at the bottom of the machine.


Shortly after dark on the evening of September 30, 1972, I arrived with my parents and my best friend, Steve Yarbrough, at the Discalced Carmelite Monastery of Marylake, south of Little Rock. My postulancy -- the first step in my training as a friar and for the life I would live for over thirty years -- began there the next day. At the time there were ten in the community -- six solemnly professed priests and the four of us who were to be postulants.

Maylake itself is a beautiful spot, having originally been built as a country club in the 1920s by the Shriners. The Carmelites obtained it in 1952 through the generosity of good friends. It was a perfect setting for my postulancy and novitiate, as it has been for men for more than half a century. The life was challenging but rewarding, and I am grateful for what I learned, for the people I met and came to love and for the privileged time to spend in reflection and personal growth.

International Translation Day

International Translation Day is celebrated every year on September 30 -- the feast of St. Jerome, the Bible translator who is considered the patron saint of translators. The celebrations have been promoted by FIT (the International Federation of Translators) ever since it was set up in 1953. In 1991 FIT launched the idea of an officially recognized International Translation Day to show solidarity of the worldwide translation community in an effort to promote the translation profession in different countries (not necessarily only in Christian ones). This is an opportunity to display pride in a profession that is becoming increasingly essential in the era of progressing globalization.

Since I have had several translations published over the years -- check out, for example, Jerome Gratian: Treatise on Melancholy --  and worked as an editor for other translators, I am happy to encourage appreciation of this important work.

I am grateful that I had the opportunity to learn Spanish fairly well and also to learn to read, sometimes with effort, Latin, French, Greek and German as well. I know a smidgen of Kiswahili, but not enough to count. 

We shortchange children and our culture when we do not encourage study of other languages. Not everyone needs to have the skills to be a translator, but everyone would profit by knowing how to be polite to a foreigner in his or her own language.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Travel complications:, UPDATE

I am trying to work out a good time to visit my family in Texas next month. It seemed like a simple plan. I would drive to Whitehouse (two-day trip), rest a day, then drive my mother to Borger on Friday (eight-hour drive) for a weekend visit with my brother's family -- wife, adult children, their spouses and kids, have Saturday to visit everyone and then drive back eight hours on Sunday to Whitehouse. Recuperate for a couple of days, then head back to Wisconsin (two-day trip) before the weather gets iffy.

Lots of driving, but since I don't have to work, should be easy peasy, lemon squeezy. Right?

This weekend not going to happen because we have a house guest. I need to do the meals each night because Tom and John will be putting in a hard day working on track at the little railroad. And I am waiting for a package to arrive that I plan to take to my mother, anyway.

That leaves three perfectly good weekends in October : 10-11-12, 17-18-19, 24-25-26.

My brother has medical appointments on two of those Saturdays and his son et famille will be out of town one of them. We agreed that the weekend of October 11 would work best. I would leave on October 7, arrive at Whitehouse on the 8th, rest a day and then start the Texas phase of the journey.

Until Tom reminded me that he has a medical procedure in Baraboo on October 10 and I need to be here to provide rides to and fro.

And because I work the polls for November, going in November gets pushed back a bit and suddenly a trip I had planned to take in early October is turning into mid-November.

We are working on it. It is not impossible to take care of all this, but I should have known that something was amiss when the first plan came together so easily. [There actually is a simple solution.]

UPDATE: And we got that resolved. Hurrah! I will leave for Texas October 13 or so, have a chance to see my family and then return to the Dells around October 23 or 24.

Ask a Stupid Question Day

Ask a Stupid Question Day is a holiday that is sometimes celebrated in the United States, usually by school students and teachers. Although Ask a Stupid Question Day's default date is September 28, in practice it is usually observed on the last school day of September.

This holiday was created by teachers in the 1980s to encourage students to ask more questions in the classroom.According to HolidayInsights.com, "[a]t the time, there was a movement by teachers to try to get kids to ask more questions in the classroom. Kids sometimes hold back, fearing their question is stupid, and asking it will result in ridicule."

In 2009 The Daily Telegraph reported that the day was being celebrated in Britain.It has been reported as far afield as India, in The Hindu.  

So, do you have a stupid question?

A stitch in time saves nine what?
After eating, do amphibians have to wait one hour before getting out of the water?

Are female moths called myths?
Are part-time band leaders semi-conductors?

Are there any unguided missiles?
Are you breaking the law if you drive past those road signs that say "Do Not Pass"?
Are you telling the truth if you lie in bed?
Before they invented drawing boards, what did they go back to?

Can you buy an entire chess set in a pawnshop?

Could crop-circles be the work of a cereal killer?

Day light savings time - why are they saving it and where do they keep it?
Did Noah keep his bees in archives?
Do boxer shorts box?
Do cemetery workers prefer the graveyard shift?
Do clowns wear really big socks?

Do files get embarrassed when they get unzipped?
Do fish get thirsty?
Do hummingbirds hum because they don't know the words?
Do hungry crows have ravenous appetites?

Okay, so maybe there are some stupid questions.

Saturday, September 27, 2014


And yet hate often carries with it such addictive self-satisfaction...

Friday, September 26, 2014


My Dictionary.com app's word-for-the-day is bibliophobe: a person who hates, fears, or distrusts books.

I suppose this word popped up because this is Banned Books Week.

The idea that certain books should be banned is interesting and (almost?) universal. The list of books that have been banned ranges from the Bible (yes, the Bible -- in part and in its entirety) to Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time  and To Kill a Mockingbird to James and the Giant Peach. You will find books of traditional Christian spirituality banned alongside sex manuals, popular children's books (even Dr. Seuss!) as well as horror stories and the inevitable Mark Twain classics, Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winners.

As a librarian, as I have mentioned elsewhere, I have been tempted to hide some books that came into the library, books that I thought were misleading and divisive and destructive, books that were outright lies posing as truth. Yet over time I came to realize that the best way to oppose bad books is to expose them to the light and trust that the vast majority of readers will be able to see the foolishness for what it is.

This is a pretty optimistic view of the reading public's ability to discern truth, I will grant you. The ability of the mass media -- especially televised "news" programs -- to manipulate even our political process gives one pause.

Yet the alternative is letting me -- or some other ME -- decide what is safe. And as therapists across this great nation are asking their clients at this very moment, "How has that worked for you?"

Few bibliophobes -- book-fearers -- are afraid of all books. They/we tend to fear a particular kind of book, books that contain ideas that make us uncomfortable or angry. They/we worry about the power of such books to harm the young and the vulnerable. Our fears may have warrant. But banning books, burning books, hiding books away has never worked and never will.

It seems preferable to expose people to as many books, as many ideas, as many points of view as possible. Problems arise when people are exposed to only one point of view. That seems to be the problem with the above-mentioned "news" programs. When I watch only one network, I do not see that other people see things differently. I begin to think that there is only one reasonable perspective, only one truth -- the one that I know or have heard. And I begin to self-censor, I watch and read only programs and books that tell me what I want to hear, what I already believe. I allow nothing in to challenge me. If I think about other points of view, it is only to judge them negatively and think that those who hold such ideas are intentionally obstinate and even intrinsically evil. This can lead me to think, as it has led many people over the centuries to think, that is not the books that should be banned and burned, but that we should ban and burn the people who wrote those books or read those books. Sadly this has often happened in the name of God. In those cases, I suspect, in the name of the God-of-my-misunderstanding, as my friend Steve used to say.

Had the world always taken this path, what would have happened when Moses came back from the desert after his experience at the Burning Bush? What would have happened after Siddhartha got up from under the Bodhi tree? What would have happened when Jesus got up, soaking wet, from the River Jordan? Or when that group of American colonists gathered in Philadelphia to ponder their collective future? Or ... or ... or ...

It is better to light one little candle than to curse the darkness, as they say. 

I read that in a book somewhere. 

 Click on image to enlarge.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

And now back to ...

I'm not so sure about the "Everyone But You" part, and I certainly am not sure that the "Waterpark Capital of the World"® qualifies as the real world in the usual sense.  Today was certainly back to the real world, though not in a bad way.

It was a nice day here in The Real World. We had a spot of rain in the night, but the morning turned sunny, temperature was up to about 76 (24.4 C) by mid-afternoon, there are more colors in the trees. Tom did some mowing. I had bills to pay, a bank deposit to make, a flu shot scheduled and a bit of grocery shopping. I called my former bookmobile colleague to arrange to take her out for lunch on her birthday next week. It is easy to remember because it is the same day as my younger brother's birthday. She was born the same year I was but on the same day and month as my brother.

Since I was out of town on Wednesday morning, I had re-scheduled my tutoring for Friday. So I have to prepare my lessons for that. I need to do laundry and yada yada yada.

The weird thing of the day -- perhaps the Unreal World bit -- was that when I turned on my tablet this morning, there was an unfamiliar icon. When I clicked on it, it opened up a photo book entitled "Trip to Sister Bay" containing lots of the photos I had posted on the blog. After it ran a little slide show, it disappeared. 

Spooky stuff, boys and girls! Later I was able to locate it on the photo app. What struck me as odd was that it had created itself apparently, chosen from the photos I had posted (not all were included) and put the thing together. It even labelled a group of the photos as being from Peninsula State Park. I am not sure why it called it a trip to Sister Bay, although we did visit Sister Bay. On the blog, at any rate, I usually referred to Ephraim, which was were we were staying. I did not use the tablet to take the photos or do any of the posting on the blog.The app got all that when the laptop and tablet synced.

Or maybe the cats did it?

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

And home again

This morning we had a nice breakfast at the Carroll House Cafe, then went back and packed our stuff and checked out of the inn.

We got to the Sanctuary at The Ridges about the time they opened up at 9:00 a.m. and spent some time in the morning cool and damp walking on the trails. As advertised, the ecosystem is quite diverse. We walked through a normal mix of deciduous trees into a section of quite dense cedar growth which eventually opened up into tall pines. Because the area is maintained in as natural a state as possible, when trees fall, they are left to decay and furnish nutrients to soil, other plants and beasties. So there is quite a bit of tangle. There was a lot of swamp and wetlands, too. This was all in the small section we traversed, a tiny part of the whole preserve. I took photos of trees (naturally) and of reeds and paths. I was most intrigued by the wide variety of lichens, mosses and fungi. So I include a bunch of fungus shots as well.

 Tom leads the way into the sanctuary

Trees and tangle

After crossing the plank walk through the reeds, Tom observes the wetland.

 What Tom observed

 Michael posing and trying not to squint into the sun ... unsuccessfully.

 Fun fungi

 And then the trail heads into the tall pines.

After forty-five minutes of nature, we headed further down the peninsula, passing a wayside marking the 45th parallel -- halfway between the equator and the North Pole. The wayside itself was closed -- one of the many we saw that have been shut down by our governor's cuts to the state budget -- but this is a photo of the marker that I found online.

Click on picture to enlarge.

More driving along the Lake Michigan and Green Bay and then we headed south back toward the Dells. More trees had begun to turn colors in the two days we were in Door County and there were some lovely trees along the way back.

Our final stop before home was at the Experimental Aircraft Association AirVenture Museum in Oshkosh. I had been there with Steve Payne back in 1990 (I think), but this was Tom's first visit. It meant more to him because of his experience as a Green Beret paratrooper during the Vietnam War. There was a large airplane out front when we pulled up, and he said, "I jumped out of one of those." [Yes, this is the same man who did not want to climb a 75-foot tower on Tuesday.] I did have the opportunity to use a flight simulator and fly a small plane into a barn and into the top of some trees. This is why Tom does the driving when we travel.

We are now safely back home, feeding and petting the cats, who were well tended by Peg in our absence. It was a most enjoyable break and I look forward to more!

Shana Tova Umetukah -- 5775

Rosh Hashanah (Hebrew: ראש השנה‎, literally "head [of] the year") is the Jewish New Year. The Biblical name for this holiday Yom Teruah (Hebrew: יום תרועה‎, literally "day [of] shouting/raising a noise") or the Feast of Trumpets. It is the first of the High Holy Days or ימים נוראים Yamim Nora'im ("Days of Awe") which usually occur in the early autumn of the Northern Hemisphere. Rosh Hashanah is a two-day celebration, which begins on the first day of Tishrei. The day is believed to be the anniversary of the creation of Adam and Eve, the first man and woman, and their first actions toward the realization of humanity's role in God's world. Rosh Hashanah customs include sounding the shofar (a hollowed-out ram's horn) and eating symbolic foods such as apples dipped in honey to evoke a "sweet new year".

Rosh Hashanah in 2014 will start on Thursday, the 25th of September* and will continue for 2 days until Friday, the 26th of September.

*Note that in the Jewish calendar, a holiday begins on the sunset of the previous day, so observing Jews will celebrate the beginning of Rosh Hashanah on the sunset of Wednesday, the 24th of September.

By the Jewish calendar, this will be the year 5775. May it truly be a sweet and good new year for everyone, whatever and whenever you celebrate!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Galleries and nature

Today we spent visiting art galleries, made a trip up to the end of the peninsula again and then to the Peninsula State Park to drive along a road we had not taken yesterday.

First we visited The Clearing, a folk school for adults founded in 1935 by John Jensen. Tom was familiar with it from the days when Helen and others he knew gave workshops there in the summers.

Here he is at the door of the Visitor's Center.

Right at the entrance was this group of bonsai.
You will see this is only on the the "tree photos" I took today.
From there we went to a town park on a bluff overlooking the bay. Again, mostly photos of trees and of the view.

We retraced our steps and visited Ellison Bay Pottery, where John Dietrich was giving a demonstration of throwing a pot, explaining as he went along. Here is John at work and an example of some of his finished work. Beautiful things!

We visited a few other places, including Linden Gallery, which features Asian art and antiques in a building that was once a Lutheran Church. They have everything from chopstick rests to large sculptures and antique furniture. It felt more like a museum than a gallery.

Then we headed up to Gills Rock at the tip of the peninsula. Yesterday we were on the Lake Michigan side, but this faces into Green Bay. It is the hopping off point for ferries out to Washington Island.

Then we had a nice lunch and returned to Peninsula State Park. Yesterday we had driven along the Shore Drive. Today we drove on Skyline Drive.

This time Tom took a picture of me to prove I had been on this trip, not just him.
That is Nicolet Bay in the photos and one of the Strawberry Islands, I think. 
If you squint, that is Michigan you see on the horizon. Really.

Then we stopped at Fine Line Designs, which is right next to where we are staying. Besides their gallery, they have a sculpture garden that is like a small park filled with whirligigs and things. It was a beautiful day and we sat on a bench and enjoyed the breeze spinning the mobiles around for a while.

Among the other things in the garden was this life-sized hawk, perched on a narrow pillar. The gallery had other works by the same sculptor, and they were tempting.

We head home tomorrow, planning to stop at The Ridges Sanctuary, Wisconsin's first land trust, protecting 1600 acres of the most biologically diverse ecosystem in the state. After wandering around there, we plan to make at least one other stop along the way to the Dells, but we haven't decided when or where that will be. It is about a four hour drive, and it is a good idea to break it up a bit.

John 11:35 -- Jesus wept.

Monday, September 22, 2014

We made it safely.

We made it without much drama to Door County today. We stopped in Fish Creek and had lunch. The village itself, the place we ate and a lot of the restaurant patrons made me think of Cape Cod, and I could see why Door County has been called the Cape Cod of the Midwest.

We wandered down to the harbor and then visited Peninsula State Park, which is on the Green Bay side of the Door County peninsula. It was a clear and pleasant day -- highs around 65 (18.3 C) and a light breeze. We visited a small lighthouse and I climbed an observation tower that Tom declined to ascend, having done so many years ago and feeling satisfied with that one venture.

Tom wanted me to get the boat in the picture, too. 
That's the Strawberry Channel of Green Bay behind him and some islands that you cannot make out on the horizon..

Tom is reading the historical marker in front of the Eagle Bluff Lighthouse,
built in 1868 and still guiding boats through the narrow Strawberry Channel.

This is the Eagle Tower Tom did not want to climb. It is only 76 feet (23 m) high, but it sits right above the 180 foot (55 m) limestone Eagle Bluff, so when you are up there, it seems much higher and not nearly so sturdy as it looks from the ground.

Then we drove on to Ephraim, which we could see from the park, and located the High Point Inn where we are staying.

Before checking in, though, we drove up to the end of the peninsula and made a visit to Newport State Park, which is on the Lake Michigan side. We sat on a bench overlooking the lake for awhile and just relaxed.

 Looking north along the shoreline

Then back to the Inn to check into our very nice unit -- two bedrooms [each with a TV], living room with fireplace and large flat screen TV and DVD/Blu-Ray player, two baths (one with whirlpool), WiFi, fully furnished kitchen, very private balcony. Lovely place. The only thing that would have made it better would have been a big view of the lake or the bay, but as it is our balcony looks out on a lot of apple trees. So no complaints. The staff is nice, the place is quiet. There is a pool and fitness center, although our exercise is mainly going to be walking around parks and looking at art galleries.

Tom relaxing in the living room with his laptop in his lap, of course.

For more photos of Ephraim, the lighthousw and the High Point Inn, see the previous post.

Ephraim, Wisconsin, here we come!