Wednesday, December 31, 2014


I read this book when I was 16 and it changed my life. I was in a school that allowed me to design my own curriculum, so I did. I moved to Chinatown in NYC and got a job and credit for it.

If the emotions are free the intellect will look after itself.
― A.S. Neill

A child is innately wise and realistic. If left to himself without adult suggestion of any kind, he will develop as far as he is capable of developing.
― A.S. Neill

Hate breeds hate, and love breeds love.
― A.S. Neill

You cannot make children learn music or anything else without to some degree converting them into will-less adults. You fashion them into accepters of the status quo – a good thing for a society that needs obedient sitters at dreary desks, standers in shops, mechanical catchers of the 8:30 suburban train – a society, in short, that is carried on the shabby shoulders of the scared little man – the scared-to-death conformist.
― A.S. Neill

No one has the right to make a boy learn Latin, because learning is a matter for individual choice; but if in a Latin class, a boy fools all the time, the class should throw him out, because he interferes with the freedom of others.
― A.S. Neill

Simple Chocolate Cake

I saw this on-line and realized it was exactly what I had on hand. I used whole wheat flour and my liquidy homemade yogurt in place of buttermilk. I added a bit more salt to compensate for the oiliness in the whole wheat flour. It came out great!!

Recipe: Chocolate Cake

I was reading More Home Cooking by the late, great Laurie Colwin the other day and ran across a recipe for chocolate cake that looked as simple as any one I've seen. Who can resist having at least one super fast chocolate cake recipe in their repertoire? Pas moi.

I made it this afternoon. The mixing and clean-up took no more than 20 minutes, then it baked for 30 and that was it. It is rich and moist and crumby, a very good basic cake that you could whip up at a moment's notice. I had some leftover sauce from a recent bittersweet chocolate bread pudding and I've been wondering what to do with it - I'm genetically programmed never to throw any food away - so once the cake had cooled I cut it in half horizontally, threw a big glob of the chocolate sauce on the bottom layer, smoothed it around and then put the layers back together. The chocolate sauce has a lot of cinnamon and cayenne in it so there's the smallest hint of a bite to the cake now. A scoop of ice cream would be perfect...hmmm, perhaps the leftover Cherry Garcia whose sweet siren song is calling to me from the freezer?

Karen Edward's Version of Buttermilk Cocoa Cake
Yield: 12 slices

Got to give credit where credit is due. Laurie Colwin notes that this recipe originally came from Marion Cunningham's Fanny Farmer Cookbook. I presume that the Karen Edwards she names in the recipe title is a friend of hers. If you stock your cupboard with a few basic ingredients you'll never be at a loss when a sweet craving hits.

1 3/4 cups flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil or melted butter
2 tsp vanilla

1. Preheat the oven to 350 and set rack in middle position. Butter and flour a 9-inch round cake pan.
2. Mix together flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda and salt.
3. Add buttermilk, oil or butter and vanilla to dry ingredients. Stir till mixed.
4. Turn batter into cake pan and bake 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes before turning out of pan.

OPTIONAL chocolate sauce, courtesy of Gourmet magazine
NOTE: Pregnant women, children, the elderly and anyone with a compromised immune system or who should not eat raw eggs should not eat this sauce.

1 TBSP unsalted butter
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 oz. bittersweet chocolate (I use Scharffen Berger)
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp cayenne
1 large egg, lightly beaten

1. Cook butter, cream, chocolate, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, cayenne and a pinch of salt in a heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring nearly constantly, till chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth, 1-2 minutes.
2. Remove from heat and whisk in egg until combined.
3. Let cool to room temperature or refrigerate till needed up to 3 days.
4. Cut cake in half horizontally. Spread 1/4 cup of sauce, or more to taste, on bottom cake layer and fit top layer back on top.

I LOVE Laurie Colwin

No one who cooks, cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, the wisdom of cookbook writers.
― Laurie Colwin

For the socially timid, the kitchen is the place to be. At least, it is a place to start.
― Laurie Colwin, Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen

The old days were slower. People buttered their bread without guilt and sat down to dinner en famille.
― Laurie Colwin, Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen

To feel safe and warm on a cold wet night, all you really need is soup.
― Laurie Colwin

Once my jars were labeled, I felt contentedly thrilled with myself, as if I had pulled off a wonderful trick. People feel this way when they bake bread or have babies, and although they are perfectly entitled to feel that way, in fact, nature does most of the work.

Fulfillment leaves an empty space where longing used to be.
― Laurie Colwin, The Lone Pilgrim

Traditional Japanese Breakfast

This sounds so great to me.
Traditional Japanese Breakfast
By Setsuko Yoshizuka

A traditional Japanese-style breakfast consists of steamed rice, miso soup, and various side dishes. Common side dishes are broiled/grilled fish, tamagoyaki (rolled omelet), tsukemono pickles, nori (dried seaweed), natto, and so on.

Traditional Japanese Breakfast Items:

Steamed Rice - Plain steamed rice is an essential dish. Okayu (rice porridge) is easy to digest and is also good for breakfast.

Miso Soup - Common ingredients are tofu, chopped green onion, wakame seaweed, aburaage (deep-fried tofu), and lots more.

Natto (fermented soy beans) - When eating natto, place it in a bowl and season with some soy sauce. Add various toppings if you would like and stir well. Place the natto on top of steamed rice and eat with rice.

Nori (dried seaweed) - Dip a strip of nori in soy sauce and roll some rice with it. Seasoned nori called ajitsukenori can be purchased in Asian grocery stores.

Tamagoyaki (rolled omelet) - grated daikon radish is often served on the side.

Broiled Fish - Broiled salted salmon or dried horse mackerel (aji) are popular items for breakfast.

Tsukemono (pickles) - Various pickles and umeboshi (pickled ume plums) are often served.

Sun in the Pool

Nothing like having your health go sour to make you re-evaluate your life. Swimming and sax playing build up my asthmatic lungs. Hurray for the pool and the bari sax. Today the sun was in the pool and it was warm. I just kept swimming and I was there for over an hour all alone, swimming like crazy. My personal pool.

Al Giordano's Birthday Today

Al grew up on my street(Cooper Lane)and his sister Ann and I were good friends. We both attended SWAS: School Within a School at Mamaroneck High.
Al Giordano
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Al Giordano (born December 31, 1959) is a journalist who operates the Narco News Bulletin, reporting on the War on Drugs, the political blog The Field, reporting on American politics, and the School of Authentic Journalism. Giordano was born in the Bronx and attended Mamaroneck High School in Mamaroneck, New York.


1 Biography
2 Narco News
3 The Field and Political Reporting
4 Other work
5 References
6 External links


In 1976, when he was sixteen, he went to Albany and testified before a legislative commission in the state senate against nuclear power, felt completely ignored and concluded that the tactic of lobbying the government was futile. He was arrested for what would be the first of twenty-seven times on May 1st, 1977. When he was twenty and living in a cabin in Rowe, Massachusetts, running the Rowe Nuclear Conversion Campaign, which ended in the first-ever shutdown of an operating nuclear power plant in America, he met Abbie Hoffman, who called him "the best political organizer of his generation." The two worked together until Hoffman's death in 1989, opposing U.S. intervention in Nicaragua and fighting to save the Delaware and St. Lawrence rivers. Giordano was for a time a prominent media figure in Western Massachusetts. He sometimes worked on political campaigns, notably for senator John Kerry and for the legalization of marijuana. Al Giordano is a musician who has performed with numerous bands[.][1]

Narco News
Main article: Narco News

On April 18, 2000, Giordano launched Narco News, a nonprofit news organization, to better inform Americans on the actions of the United States and other governments in the War on Drugs in Central and South America. Narco News features both original reporting and English translations of reports from Spanish-language media.
The Field and Political Reporting

On December 13, 2007, Giordano launched The Field, a political blog initially covering the 2008 presidential election, and later expanded to include American politics more generally. On June 14, 2008, Giordano relocated from RuralVotes to Narco News.

His coverage includes analysis and predictions of presidential primaries, for which his predictions have been very accurate, calling the winner in 51 of 55 primary contests. In September 2007, Giordano wrote an article in the Boston Phoenix describing how Barack Obama would overtake then frontrunner Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination.[2] Vanity Fair commented that "[t]he first to grasp the portent of what was taking shape was the prophet of the Obama paradigm shift, the journalist/activist/online editor/blogger Al Giordano, who, as a student of the teachings and tactics of community organizer Saul Alinsky (whose Rules for Radicals is the guerrilla guide for domestic insurgents), divined the advantage that Obama’s small-donor base gave him against old-school juggernauts."[3]
Other work

In 1983, Giordano led an effort to defeat a referendum to divert the Delaware river. The referendum was supported by the Philadelphia Electric Company, and was defeated May 17, 1983, by a margin of 58-42.

From 1993 to 1996, Giordano worked as a reporter for The Boston Phoenix. He has also written articles for The Nation, the Evergreen Review, The Washington Post, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Utne Reader, American Journalism Review, and the New Left Review. He is also a vocalist and dobro player for the band Zapa-Sutra.[4]

Mim Udovitch (August 30, 2001). "Hot Muckraker: Al Giordano". Rolling Stone.
"Damn You, Barack Obama". Boston Phoenix. September 26, 2007.
"The Good, the Bad, and Joe Lieberman". Vanity Fair. February 2009.

External links

The Field - Al Giordano's political reporting.


American newspaper reporters and correspondents
American political writers
1959 births
Living people

Photojournalist Andy Dickerman in Mexico


Enamelware Obsessed

I am obsessed with mismatched salvation army enamelware cups, mugs, spoons, bowls, and ladles. Here's a treasure trove. Colorful!

Dancing is FUN

In general I find health clubs to be unimaginative. I'd love to teach belly dancing or improvisational dance! Dancing is fun!


'If you are irritated by every rub, how will your mirror be polished?'

e.e. cummings

Let it Go

"let it go - the
smashed word broken
open vow or
the oath cracked length
wise - let it go
it was sworn to

let them go - the
truthful liars and
the false fair friends
and the boths and
neithers - you must let them go
they were born to

let all go - the
big small middling
tall bigger really
the biggest and all
things - let all go

so comes love."

by e.e. cummings

Richard Brautigan and Rebecca Solnit

Rereading Richard Brautigan and Rebecca Solnit were the highlights of my year. Getting involved with my city as a concerned and enthusiastic citizen was another. Writing, painting, swimming, playing saxophone, baking bread, making yogurt, and making my own apple cider was another.

Ice Picnic

The sun is out and it is in the teens. I love this weather. I'm having ice picnic at my backyard table. I sit outside with my dog and drink hot black coffee and kibitz with neighbors in the sun. Happy New Year!


I got to meet Odetta when my friends shared the billing with her in PA.
It's the birthday of the woman Martin Luther King Jr. called "The Queen of American Folk Music": Odetta, born Odetta Holmes Felious, in Birmingham, Alabama (1930). She thought at first that she'd be an opera singer, but she heard folk music in San Francisco and decided that was the kind of music that said what she wanted to say. In a 1966 Playboy magazine interview, Bob Dylan said: "The first thing that turned me on to folk singing was Odetta. I heard a record of hers in a record store, back when you could listen to records right there in the store. That was in '58 or something like that. Right then and there, I went out and traded my electric guitar and amplifier for an acoustical guitar, a flat-top Gibson." Odetta's albums include My Eyes Have Seen (1959), Sometimes I Feel Like Crying (1962), and Movin' It On (1987). A reviewer once said: "Odetta can't sing 'folk' at all, because she doesn't really sound like a person singing, let alone like the person next door singing. She sounds more like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir."

-Writers Alamanac

Henri Matisse

It's the birthday of painter Henri Matisse (1869), born in Le Cateau, France. As a child and a young man, he had no interest in art. He went to law school in Paris and never visited a single museum. Had it not been for a case of appendicitis, he might never have become an artist. Bedridden for several weeks during his recovery, he took up painting as a way to pass the time. It was a revelation. He said, "For the first time in my life I felt free, quiet, and alone ... carried along by a power alien to my life as a normal man." At 22, he quit the law to begin work as a full-time artist. He was a revolutionary who dressed like a bourgeois, and he once said, "It has bothered me all my life that I do not paint like everybody else."

-Writers Almanac

Good Luck and Traditions

There's a tradition at Hogmanay known as "first-footing": If the first person to cross your threshold after midnight is a dark-haired man, you will have good luck in the coming year.

Here in the United States, the custom of raising and dropping a giant ball arose out of the time when signals were given to ships at harbor. Starting in 1859, a large ball was dropped at noon every day so sailors could check their ship chronometers.

The Times Square celebration dates back to 1904, when The New York Times opened its headquarters on Longacre Square. The newspaper convinced the city to rename the area "Times Square," and they hosted a big party, complete with fireworks, on New Year's Eve. Some 200,000 people attended, but the paper's owner, Adolph Ochs, wanted the next celebration to be even splashier. In 1907, the paper's head electrician constructed a giant lighted ball that was lowered from the building's flagpole. The first Times Square Ball was made of wood and iron, weighed 700 pounds, and was lit by a hundred 25-watt bulbs. Now, it's made of Waterford crystal, weighs almost six tons, and is lit by more than 32,000 LED lights. The party in Times Square is attended by up to a million people every year.

Other cities have developed their own ball-dropping traditions. Atlanta, Georgia, drops a giant peach. Eastport, Maine, drops a sardine. Ocean City, Maryland, drops a beach ball, and Mobile, Alabama, drops a 600-pound electric Moon Pie. In Tempe, Arizona, a giant tortilla chip descends into a massive bowl of salsa. Brasstown, North Carolina, drops a Plexiglas pyramid containing a live possum; and Key West, Florida, drops an enormous ruby slipper with a drag queen inside it.

-Writers Almanac

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Too Cute

The children say their parents never argued.

“If we were discussing something, we never went to bed until it was over,” she said.

That’s part of their secret. Ray provided the rest:

“I would say, love one another deeply,” Ray said. “Don’t argue, but sit down and discuss matters. Take care of your children. Give your children a lot of love. Make sure they get a good education, and you’ll have a happy life.”

Marie agreed.

The couple has kept fit by eating right — Ray does most of the cooking — and by dancing and, after retirement, golf. In their 80s, they walked with a group at the Warwick Mall, and now they do laps around the house.

They keep mentally sharp with crossword and word-finder puzzles. Marie usually has a jigsaw puzzle in progress. She also crochets. He does woodworking in his basement shop.


Paul Bowles

We get to think of life as an inexhaustible well. Yet everything happens only a certain number of times, and a very small number, really. How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, some afternoon that's so deeply a part of your being that you can't even conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four or five times more. Perhaps not even that. How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps twenty. And yet it all seems limitless.
-Paul Bowles

Monday, December 29, 2014

Circadian Genes, Dopamine, and the Biology of Psychiatric Disorders

Colleen A. McClung PhD

Dr. Colleen McClung, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, will present a seminar on Circadian Genes, Dopamine, and the Biology of Psychiatric Disorders, as part of the Senior Vice Chancellor’s Research Seminar Series.

Dr. McClung’s research focuses on circadian rhythms and their importance in mood and addictive disorders. By studying the mechanisms underlying circadian rhythms and individual circadian genes, the regulation of mood and addictive behaviors can be better understood and successful mood stabilizers for treating mood disorders may ultimately be identified.

Each year, a select group of young investigators in the biomedical sciences are invited to participate in the Senior Vice Chancellor’s Research Seminar Series to highlight the cutting-edge research being conducted in various departments of the health sciences. For more information contact the Senior Vice Chancellor’s Research Seminar series.

Exercise and Asthma

Breath of Fresh Air: Feature Articles
Chapter 4: Exercise and Asthma
It is a well-recognized adage of our modern, mostly sedentary society that exercise is good for you. Regular exercise can reduce your risk of heart disease, lower your cholesterol, help to control your weight, and improve your body image. But what are the effects of exercise if you have asthma? Sometimes, exercise can set off your asthma and cause wheezing, chest tightness, cough, and shortness of breath. Some persons experience their asthma almost exclusively when they exercise and are said to have "exercise-induced asthma." Is it also good for persons with asthma to exercise?

Is it true that exercise is good for you even if you have asthma?

It has been recognized for hundreds of years that exercise can bring out asthmatic symptoms. In the last 20 years scientific research into exercise and asthma has shed light on what it is about exercise that stimulates narrowing of the bronchial tubes in persons with asthma. Much of that research was done at the Brigham and Women's Hospital.

It turns out that exercise triggers bronchial narrowing in asthma by bringing large volumes of air deep into the chest. When breathing quietly, about one gallon of air enters the lungs during each minute. The air that enters the lungs is warmed and has moisture added to it by the nose and mouth and throat. By the time the air reaches the bronchial tubes inside the chest, it has nearly the same temperature and moisture as the walls of the bronchial tubes themselves. On the other hand, if you run to catch the bus or to catch a fly ball in baseball, your level of breathing may double or triple to two or three gallons per minute or more. Then you exceed the ability of the nose and mouth to warm and humidify completely the inspired air.

Exercise causes more air to be brought onto the bronchial tubes, needing to be warmed and humidified.

During vigorous exercise, the bronchial tubes themselves are called upon to give up warmth and moisture to the incoming air. In persons with asthma, cooling and drying of the bronchial tubes causes the bronchial muscles to contract, narrowing the air passageways and making it difficult to breathe. You have probably noticed that if you exercise on cold days, you are more likely to set off your asthma than if you perform the same exercise on a warm day. The colder (and drier) the air that you breathe during exercising, the more warmth and moisture the bronchial tubes give up and the greater the stimulus to contraction of the muscles that surround the bronchial tubes.

It has long been said that swimming is the best exercise for persons with asthma, and with good reason. The air that you breathe while swimming is usually warm and moist and so the effect of exercise on the breathing tubes is less.

In asthma, loss of heat and moisture from the walls of the bronchial tubes makes them contract.
Wheezing, chest tightness, and cough often come on just after you stop exercising. If you simply rest, the symptoms usually go on their own after about 30-60 minutes. If you use your inhaled bronchodilator, the asthmatic symptoms go away immediately. Unlike other triggers that set off asthma, especially allergic triggers like dust and cat dander, exercise has no lingering effect on the bronchial tubes. After you have recovered back to normal, there are no late effects that night or the next day.

The effect of asthma on your breathing usually goes away after 30-60 minutes.
A variety of strategies work effectively to prevent the symptoms of asthma after exercise. Often on a cold day, you can trap a little bit of warm, moist air in front of your mouth by using a scarf pulled up over your nose and mouth. Face masks are also made for this purpose. For serious athletes, a warm-up period of light exertion helps to reduce symptoms during competition. Medications taken before exercise are effective in blocking asthmatic symptoms. One or two puffs of your beta-agonist bronchodilator (for example, albuterol) inhaled ten minutes before exercise usually prevents exercise-induced asthma. Cromolyn (Intal®) and nedocromil (Tilade®) are also effective when inhaled 15-20 minutes before exercising.

Several strategies can be used to prevent symptoms of asthma after exercise.
Generally, the more active your asthma, the more susceptible you are to developing symptoms after exercise. The goal of good asthma care is to keep your asthma quiet and to allow you to exercise as fully as you wish. As you know, many Olympic athletes have asthma. Their asthma has not inhibited their exercise performance, and your asthma need not limit yours.

Testing the Waters

Lily jumped into the arms of the water man testing the water at headquarters, as we walked by.
"I just lost my Lab," he said.
"I'm sorry. I hope you will adopt again," I said
"I will, eventually," he said.
"Lily's a great girl she's so good it hurts! She loves to swim at Harris Pond," I said.
"I didn't hear that!" he said smiling.
Oopsy. A watershed area.

Clear Liquid Diet for Tests

Healthy Lifestyle
Nutrition and healthy eating

Clear liquid diet

A clear liquid diet consists of clear liquids — such as water, broth and plain gelatin — that are easily digested and leave no undigested residue in your intestinal tract. Your doctor may prescribe a clear liquid diet before certain medical procedures or if you have certain digestive problems. Because a clear liquid diet can't provide you with adequate calories and nutrients, it shouldn't be continued for more than a few days.

Clear liquids and foods may be colored so long as you are able to see through them. Foods can be considered liquid if they are even partly liquid at room temperature. You can't eat solid food while on a clear liquid diet.

A clear liquid diet is often used before tests, procedures or surgeries that require no food in your stomach or intestines, such as before colonoscopy. It may also be recommended as a short-term diet if you have certain digestive problems, such as nausea, vomiting or diarrhea, or after certain types of surgery.
Diet details

A clear liquid diet helps maintain adequate hydration, provides some important electrolytes, such as sodium and potassium, and gives some energy at a time when a full diet isn't possible or recommended.

The following foods are allowed in a clear liquid diet:

Water (plain, carbonated or flavored)
Fruit juices without pulp, such as apple or white grape
Fruit-flavored beverages, such as fruit punch or lemonade
Carbonated drinks, including dark sodas (cola and root beer)
Tea or coffee without milk or cream
Strained tomato or vegetable juice
Sports drinks
Clear, fat-free broth (bouillon or consomme)
Honey or sugar
Hard candy, such as lemon drops or peppermint rounds
Ice pops without milk, bits of fruit, seeds or nuts

Any foods not on the above list should be avoided. Also, for certain tests, such as colon exams, your doctor may ask you to avoid liquids or gelatin with red coloring.

A typical menu on the clear liquid diet may look like this.

1 glass pulp-free fruit juice
1 bowl gelatin
1 cup of coffee or tea, without dairy products
Sugar or honey, if desired


1 glass fruit juice (pulp-free)
1 bowl gelatin


1 glass pulp-free fruit juice
1 glass water
1 cup broth
1 bowl gelatin


1 pulp-free ice pop
1 cup coffee or tea, without dairy products, or a soft drink
Sugar or honey if desired


1 cup pulp-free juice or water
1 cup broth
1 bowl gelatin
1 cup coffee or tea, without dairy products
Sugar or honey, if desired


Although the clear liquid diet may not be very exciting, it does fulfill its purpose. It's designed to keep your stomach and intestines clear and to limit strain to your digestive system, while keeping your body hydrated as you prepare for or recover from a medical procedure.

Because a clear liquid diet can't provide you with adequate calories and nutrients, it shouldn't be used for more than a few days. Only use the clear liquid diet as directed by your doctor.

If your doctor prescribes a clear liquid diet before a medical test, be sure to follow the diet instructions exactly. If you don't follow the diet exactly, you risk an inaccurate test and may have to reschedule the procedure for another time.

If you have diabetes, talk with your doctor, dietitian or diabetes educator. A clear liquid diet should consist of clear liquids that provide approximately 200 grams of carbohydrate spread equally throughout the day to help manage blood sugar (blood glucose). Blood sugar levels should be monitored and the transition to solid foods should be done as quickly as possible.

Norm Rosen Fan Club WICN

We've started the NORM ROSEN fan club.

Saturday Night Fish Fry, 7-11pm, Saturday

Norm Rosen grew up in the New York City and Washington, D.C. areas as a kid where he was surrounded by a vibrant blues and rockabilly scene. As a teenager, he would sneak into many of the area clubs to see some of the top musicians perform. One of his earliest concerts was a free show at American University featuring B.B. King. Norm spent some time as a booking agent and music critic in New York where he worked closely with groups like The Johnny Copeland Band, Larry Davis, and Jimmy Dawkins. In 1989 Norm got his first on-air radio experience at an alternative station in Pittsburgh. Since then he has worked his way through the New England radio network with stops at WRIU, WATD, WHOB, WGBH and now WICN where he educates and entertains his listeners with the various styles of the blues.


Marcus Miller on Jaco

Marcus Miller on Jaco

Marcus Miller Playing Fretless BassI was around 15 years old and a drummer friend of mine told me I had to check this record out. It was Jaco’s first album. The first thing I heard was “Donna Lee”. I have to admit, I didn’t quite get it. It just sounded like some cat playing whatever notes he felt like. I was just learning about jazz and hadn’t progressed in my own development to where I could even begin to comprehend what Jaco was doing. But this guy was obviously good so I got the record for myself and began to really listen to it.

It stayed on my turntable for around two years.

I slowly began to appreciate what Jaco was doing. I was studying music pretty intensely then and it seemed like each step I took in my development allowed me to appreciate that Jaco album more. I’ll never forget when, just for kicks, I decided to walk the changes to “Donna Lee” on my bass while Jaco’s version was playing. This was probably a year into listening to Jaco’s album and I had finally learned “Donna Lee” at school. I was still assuming that, once Jaco stated Charlie Parker’s melody, he pretty much was playing any ole’ thing that he wanted and that it had nothing to do with the changes. Well I’m walking the changes under Jaco’s melody and continue the changes under Jaco’s ‘crazy solo’ and of course realize that it’s not crazy at all! I realize that he’s playing the changes — and not just playing them. He was creating harmonies and lines that were so amazing it was sick! My appreciation of him grew so much that afternoon.

It took me a minute to appreciate his tone because I was a Larry Graham, Stanley Clarke freak and Jaco’s tone was a good deal darker than those guys’. I was a young kid and looking for those bright plucks and pops. Jaco’s sound was more about warmth and wood. But, like I said, the more I learned, the more I came to love Jaco’s sound. A couple of times I had to check the album notes to see if he played upright bass too because, when he wanted to, Jaco could make his bass guitar sound like an upright.

I got into him more and more. Although when I first heard Jaco, I was a thump and popper, I began to move away from that. I wanted to grow and develop a depth to my playing like Jaco. I really wanted to know not just HOW he played what he played but WHY. This led me into studying jazz, harmony, and composition. It was pretty intimidating. I would be sitting there listening to Jaco’s solo on “Havona” from the “Heavy Weather” album and I would say to myself, “How am I ever going to improvise over chord changes this perfectly??” I mean, the tone, the phrasing, the ideas…all perfect. But it drove me. And it made me grow. Eventually, I began to reincorporate my funking, thumping and popping back into my playing, realizing that it was a big part of who I was. But I really think studying Jaco as intensely as I did gave my playing a depth that I never would have had otherwise.

I love the “Jaco” album because that was my introduction to him. I also think it is the one album that gives you a complete picture of him. It sounds to me like that album contains Jaco’s dreams from a child all the way up to when he recorded it in his twenties. I love “Heavy Weather” also. The combination of Jaco along with Wayne Shorter and Joe Zawinul is unbelievable. The sound of “Heavy Weather” is so sweet. The reverb on Jaco’s bass, the sound of Zawinul’s keyboards and Wayne’s beautiful,
snaking tone on sax all together – !

Jaco’s composing was as unique as his playing. I think I like “Portrait of Tracy” the best. Once you get over being blown away by the fact that it’s all performed on a bass, you listen to the music and that blows you away again. I’m also really into “Punk Jazz”. People seem to sleep on that one. Listen to Jaco’s intro, it’s really sick. And his tone is a little more stringy than usual. Then listen to the harmonies!!! It’s bananas.

Michal Urbaniak called me once when I was around 19 told me that Jaco and Zawinul had a fall out and that he had recommended me to replace Jaco in Weather Report. Although I was flattered by Michal’s recommendation, there was no way I was ready to jump into Weather Report. My solution was simple. I just didn’t answer the phone! It all worked out because Jaco and Zawinul made up and they invited me to the Weather Report show in NY. I got to meet everybody. Jaco was like, “So you’re the kid! They told me there was this young black kid who could play like me!” I was like, “This dude is pretty wild.”

The next time I ran into Jaco was in LA. I was at the Sunset Marquis Hotel on tour with Roberta Flack. My phone rings and it’s Jaco. He said, “Hey Marcus, it’s Jaco. I’m in room 219, come down and get your lesson!” At this point, I was 21 years old and was feeling like I was a pretty good player in my own right. I thought to myself, “Man, I don’t need no lesson from Jaco!” …..then I got my butt down to room 219. We had a great time that day. Jaco played for me. Then he had me play for him. He showed me a lick that I still use as my warm up today, twenty years later. He was pretty competitive guy but it was cool because, without saying it, he let me know that I was cool with him.

Later on, Jaco would come sit in with my group when I did gigs in NY. One time we jammed all night and played “Continuum” together.

One night he said to me, “Man, you think you’re good ’cause you can improvise on chord changes!” I said, “Man, I was just trying to play on chord changes like you!” Then he said, “Do you know about ‘cutting’ the string?” I wasn’t exactly sure then what he meant then. But when I hear tapes of myself then, now I know exactly what he was talking about. My finger attack was soft and my notes weren’t articulated clearly. I’ve gotten much better with that over the years.

The last time I saw him was at the West 4th street basketball courts. This was towards the end of his life. We walked over to his apartment and talked for awhile. It was very different then. He actually said to me all the things that before he would just hint at. He told me how much he admired my musicianship and that meant a lot to me.

It was really sad when he passed. I wrote Mr. Pastorius for him and played it for Miles. Miles liked it and we began recording it. He asked me what the title was. I wasn’t sure how Miles felt about Jaco at the time. We didn’t discuss him much. I told Miles, “I named it Mr. Pastorius. I can come up with another title if you’re not cool with that.” Miles said, “No, I think that’s really nice to name this for Jaco.” I felt great about that because now I could honestly feel like the tune came from me and from Miles too. Miles’ playing was fantastic on this piece. It’s funny because over the years that I played with Miles, he was never to keen on playing standard, straight-ahead 4/4 time. I guess he didn’t want to play in the old style. When we did Mr. Pastorius, although it was obviously a tune that called for 4/4 time, I avoided playing 4/4. It was just Miles and myself in the studio at the time. He played the melody then began to solo. I was hinting at 4/4 on the bass but not really doing it, not wanted to turn Miles off. Then, in the middle of playing, he held up 4 fingers to me, meaning “Play 4/4 you dumb motherf#@ker!” I was thrilled and jumped into the walking bass style. Miles played chorus after chorus after chorus. It was beautiful. He finished and went home. I called Al Foster on the phone and said, “Man, get your drums and get over here. Wait till you hear what Miles played!” Al came over and laid the drums on the tune. He couldn’t believe how well Miles played.

Mr. Pastorius is one of my favorite Miles performances from when I was with him and I really think that he laid a fantastic gift on Jaco with that piece!

Most musicians that I know absolutely appreciate the contribution Jaco made to music. I feel like every year, his memory gets stronger. It’s up to us to make sure folks don’t forget.

If you want to turn a young person on to Jaco, I think you have to do it to them like he did it to me. Play it for them when they’re young, then keep playing it as they get older. Every time they hear it, they’ll appreciate it more and on a deeper level until, one day, they won’t be able to live without it!


About Marcus Miller
Marcus Miller is an innovative bassist and musician who has appeared on hundreds of records to date, including his work with the legenday Miles Davis. In 2001, Marcus won “Best Contemporary Jazz Album” in the 44th Annual Grammy Awards for his M2 (M-Squared) album. Read Marcus’complete bio or check out his web site at

Peter Erskine on Jaco

Peter Erskine on Jaco

Peter Erskine & Jaco PastoriusOne of the more commonly asked questions I receive during my travels is “What was it like to play with Jaco?” In a word, it was thrilling. A general rule of thumb in music is that the company we keep on the bandstand or in the recording studio can help propel us to ever-higher heights of musical excellence and understanding. And the experience of being lucky enough to work alongside Jaco provided all of that plus more.

Jaco Pastorius was certainly the brightest shining star in the constellation of musical personalities that I’ve encountered, bass or otherwise, and he made certain that our collaboration was always fun and challenging. I joined the group Weather Report in 1978, thanks to his recommendation that they hire me, based on his hearing me play one night in a jazz club a year earlier. He was a good friend. And his innate and studied sense of time, as well as his rhythmic execution, was the clearest and best articulated imaginable. The fact that Jaco started off as a drummer when he was young, and was an avid and astute listener, gave him an understanding of the beat that few bass players will ever match. The reference to “listening” is an important one. Jaco counted Frank Sinatra as well as Bernard Purdie as his influences; Johann Sebastian Bach and Igor Stravinsky were every bit as important to his education as were bassists Jerry Jemmott, Chuck Rainey, Ron Carter and James Jamerson. Jaco was well educated, and he was completely instinctive. He was serious, and he was fun. He could play rock-solid rhythms, and he could lyrically “sing” on the bass. Meanwhile, his 16th-note execution was unparalleled. He could play in the style of many of his heroes, and yet he conceived, created and composed a language on his instrument that was as revolutionary as it was evolutionary. What was it like to play with Jaco? It was, like, one lucky 4-year-plus moment for me. I’m sorry that we cannot enjoy the mighty musical magic that he would have provided had he lived a longer life. Ultimately, the question of “what was it like…?” only makes me miss him all the more.

Of course, Jaco’s influence continues to extend far and wide, and any number of bassists I’ve worked with since those halcyon days of Weather Report bear his musical mark. For a while, it was difficult for me to listen to most anyone else play the electric bass, especially the fretless form of the instrument, without mentally comparing them to him. What was it like to play with Jaco? It was, like, a real groove.


Jaco Pastorius: “Mr. Gone,” “8:30,” “Night Passage” (Weather Report / CBS-Sony), “Word of Mouth,” “Invitation” and “The Birthday Concert” (Jaco Pastorius / Warner Brothers); and, of course, Jaco’s debut album on Epic, plus his collaborations with Joni Mitchell (especially “Hejira” and “Mingus”), and the classic Weather Report recording “Heavy Weather” with Alex Acuña on drums.

Personal recollection #1: Jaco was already planning his “Word of Mouth” album back in 1978 during my first tour with Weather Report. The band ran into the New York Philharmonic in Osaka, Japan, as we were all staying in the same hotel. Having gone to the opening concert of their tour, Jaco invited legendary flutist Julius Baker to his room, along with a couple of the Phil’s esteemed percussionists, to play them some music and specifically to ask Julius Baker if he would consider playing flute on an upcoming album. Joe Zawinul stopped by the room, and while Jaco was preparing to ask Julius the BIG QUESTION, Zawinul was busy getting into a friendly argument with maestro Baker concerning who could get the “better flute sound”: Julius on his flute or Zawinul on his synthesizer! Jaco pulled me out into the hallway, exasperated and saying “I can’t believe Joe is THAT rude!” But, to be honest, Julius Baker thought it was funny. And, of course, he agreed to play on Jaco’s album … the orchestral tracks wound up being done in Los Angeles, and the L.A. Phil’s Jim Walker as well as Hubert Laws did the flute tracks. The accompanying photo is of Jaco and me and NY. Phil percussionist Arnie Lang … and, I remember it VERY CLEARLY: Jaco was playing the opening vamp of “John and Mary” for Arnie. I felt lucky to be there, hearing the piece for the first time (for me). Arnie later remarked to me that it reminded him of Aaron Copland!

About Peter Erskine
Peter Erskine is best known for his versatility and ardent love of working in various musical settings. He began his career at the age of 18 with the Stan Kenton Orchestra, and has since played with such groups as Weather Report and Steps Ahead; the big bands of Maynard Ferguson, Bob Mintzer and Kenny Wheeler; ensembles such as the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Ensemble Modern London Symphony and L.A. Philharmonic; Steely Dan, Joni Mitchell, the Yellowjackets, Diana Krall, plus many other musicians, recording over 400 albums. He leads his own trio which records for ECM and his own record label FUZZY MUSIC; he tours and teaches extensively, and has won numerous awards for his work, including a “Grammy,” the Modern Drummer Reader Poll/Mainstream Jazz Drummer category (6 times), and an Honorary Doctor of Music degree from the Berklee School of Music. His latest book is Vol. 1 of “Drumset Essentials,” a book and CD trilogy being published by Alfred Music. Hudson Music has released his performance video “Peter Erskine Trio, Live at JazzBaltica” and Hal Leonard has published his acclaimed book “The Drum Perspective.” Peter was the soloist along with Evelyn Glennie at the world premiere of a new Double Concerto for Percussion composed by Mark-Anthony Turnage in London at the Proms, 2000 with Sir Andrew Davis conducting. Peter·s website is, and his newest recording is “Badlands” with Alan Pasqua & Dave Carpenter. Check out his web site at

Jaco Pastorious


It's a Lonely Job

Saturday night we stayed home cooking dinner curled up with our dog and radio.
A song came on that was inaudible.
"We should tell him," I said.
I called the radio station. The disc jockey, was so grateful to jump off his horse and chat.
He could've talked all night, I told my husband.
It's a lonely job.

Food: Too Good to Waste

The Issue:

Food: Too Good to Waste

According to the Natural Resource Defense Council, at a time when one in six Americans is food insecure, 40% of the food in the U.S. is lost somewhere from farm to landfill. Food waste is the number one component in our nation’s landfills, and costs American families $165 billion each year.
The Program:

Food: Too Good To Waste (FTGTW) is a program to help residents reduce the amount of food that becomes inedible in their homes, before it can be eaten. We can all make simple changes at home to dramatically reduce the amount of food we have to throw out (or even compost.) The following has been adapted from
Four Smart Strategies to Implement:

1. Smart Shopping: Buy What You Need. By simply making a list with weekly meals in mind, you can save money, time, and eat healthier food. If you buy no more than what you expect to use, you will be more likely to keep it fresh and use it all.


Make your shopping list based on how many meals you’ll eat at home and the timing of your next shopping trip. Will you eat out this week? Be realistic
Shop your fridge and cupboards first to avoid buying food you already have.
Include quantities on your shopping list to avoid overbuying. For fresh items, note how many meals you’ll make with each. For example: salad greens - enough for two lunches.
Buy fresh ingredients in smaller quantities more often so you waste less while enjoying fresher ingredients.
Choose loose fruit and vegetables over pre-packaged produce to better control the quantity you need and to ensure fresher ingredients.
Keep a running list of meals that your household already enjoys. That way, you can easily choose a meal to prepare.
Don’t think you have time for meal planning and lists? Try these free mobile apps and web-based tools to make it easier.

2. Smart Storage: Keep Fruits and Vegetables Fresh. We waste fresh fruits and vegetable most often. We usually overbuy or don’t use them in time. Store fruits and vegetables for maximum freshness; they’ll taste better and last longer, helping you to eat more of them.


Learn which fruits and vegetables stay fresh longer inside or outside the fridge.
Learn the best way to organize things in your fridge:
Use online storage guides for all types of food.
Try using storage bags or containers designed to help extend the life of your produce.
Use your freezer – if you can’t eat a food in time, you can often freeze it for later:
Separate very ripe fruit from fruit that isn’t as ripe. Many fruits give off natural gases as they ripen, making other produce spoil faster.
Store bananas, apples, and tomatoes separately, and store fruits and vegetables in different bins. Wash berries just before eating to prevent mold.
If you like your fruit at room temperature, take what you’ll eat for the day out of the fridge in the morning.
Have produce that’s past its prime? It may still be fine for cooking. Think soups, sauces, pies or smoothies.

3. Smart Prep: Prep now, eat later. Prepare perishable foods soon after shopping. It will be easier to whip up meals later in the week, saving time, effort, and money.

When you get home from the store, take the time to wash, dry, chop, dice, slice, and place your fresh food items in clear storage containers for snacks and easy cooking.
Befriend your freezer and visit it often. Freeze food t be able to eat in time.
Cut your time in the kitchen by preparing and freezing meals ahead of time.
Prepare and cook perishable items, then freeze them for use throughout the month. For example, bake and freeze chicken breasts or fry and freeze taco meat.

4. Smart Saving: Eat what you buy. Be mindful of old ingredients and leftovers you need to use up. You’ll waste less and may even find a new favorite dish.


Move food that’s likely to spoil soon to the front of a shelf or designated “eat now” area.
Casseroles, frittatas, soups, and smoothies are great ways to use leftovers and odds and ends. Search for websites that provide suggestions for using leftover ingredients.
Make a list each week of what needs to be used up and plan upcoming meals around it.
Are you likely to have leftovers from any of your meals? Store them in lunch-sized portions so they are ready to go the following morning and/or plan an "eat the leftovers" or “smorgasbord” night each week.
Share food you won’t get around to eating with friends or neighbors before heading out of town.
Learn the difference between “sell-by,” “use-by,” “best-by,” and expiration dates.

Needles in my Yard

Disposing Hypodermic Needles (Sharps)

Sharps are needles and lancets that you use at home to inject yourself, your child, or your pet with medicine. Needles that are not thrown away properly are dangerous because used needles sometimes injure innocent people.

Safe sharps disposal is important to:

Provide an environmentally safe option for disposing of sharps.
Prevent injury to humans and animals.
Keep sharps out of household trash and recycling bins.
Prevent the spread of infectious diseases.
Remove used needles from circulation and prevent the sharing of needles.

It is important to remember that sharps are only a problem when they are not handled properly.

To help you properly dispose of your needles and lancets, make sure that you are disposing of your sharps the right way. Please follow these simple rules:

DO keep containers in areas that are child and animal proof.
DO use a container that is puncture-resistant and is not see-through.
DO place full, sealed containers in your trash bags with the rest of your household trash.
DON'T put sharps in soda cans, glass containers, or milk cartons.
DON'T put sharps containers in your recycling bin.

DON'T flush needles or lancets down the toilet. (Sharps that are flushed down the toilet may end up on our beaches and riverbanks.)

Home Generated Medical Waste Disposal Guide

The RI Resource Recovery Corporation, RI Department of Environmental Management and the RI Department of Health have created a guide for safely disposing home generated medical waste. Please click the document to the left to view or download the guide.
Disposal at an Eco-Depot event

As of July 1, 2014, sharps may be dropped off at any Eco-Depot collection event. They must be properly prepared and contained in order to be accepted. Please follow this procedure if bringing sharps to the Eco-Depot:

When making your appointment with the Eco-Depot, note on the online form that you will be bringing sharps, or if calling in for the appointment, alert the customer service that you will have sharps with you.
For drop-off, Sharps must be contained in rigid plastic containers.
Upon arrival please notify an attendant that you are in possession of sharps.
Residents will personally place the container in either the supplied bio box or on a staging cart.

Disposal by Mail

You may also dispose your needles by mail. An internet search on the phrase "sharps disposal by mail" will direct you to multiple companies offering this service.
Disposal in MA

Massachusetts also currently has some special drop-off containers available. To find a container that might be convenient for you visit click here.

I've Walked in it All

On shore, Christine Uralowich headed east with her dog, Bert. She walked slowly, a smile on her face. She walks every morning in the winter (the three other seasons, too).

“I walk in everything,” she said. “I’ve walked in rain, I’ve walked in snow. I was here for the hurricane. I was here for the blizzard. I’ve walked in it all.”




Kids and Jails a Toxic Mix


India and Suicide


Lasky's 8,000 Miles


Billy Collins

Taking Off Emily Dickinson's Clothes

by Billy Collins

First, her tippet made of tulle,
easily lifted off her shoulders and laid
on the back of a wooden chair.

And her bonnet,
the bow undone with a light forward pull.

Then the long white dress, a more
complicated matter with mother-of-pearl
buttons down the back,
so tiny and numerous that it takes forever
before my hands can part the fabric,
like a swimmer's dividing water,
and slip inside.

You will want to know
that she was standing
by an open window in an upstairs bedroom,
motionless, a little wide-eyed,
looking out at the orchard below,
the white dress puddled at her feet
on the wide-board, hardwood floor.

The complexity of women's undergarments
in nineteenth-century America
is not to be waved off,
and I proceeded like a polar explorer
through clips, clasps, and moorings,
catches, straps, and whalebone stays,
sailing toward the iceberg of her nakedness.

Later, I wrote in a notebook
it was like riding a swan into the night,
but, of course, I cannot tell you everything -
the way she closed her eyes to the orchard,
how her hair tumbled free of its pins,
how there were sudden dashes
whenever we spoke.

What I can tell you is
it was terribly quiet in Amherst
that Sabbath afternoon,
nothing but a carriage passing the house,
a fly buzzing in a windowpane.

So I could plainly hear her inhale
when I undid the very top
hook-and-eye fastener of her corset

and I could hear her sigh when finally it was unloosed,
the way some readers sigh when they realize
that Hope has feathers,
that reason is a plank,
that life is a loaded gun
that looks right at you with a yellow eye.

-Billy Collins

Emily Yoon


by Emily Yoon

the street drummer
calls out in Korean
no doubt thinking it
a compliment
a pleasant surprise
cinched with red ribbons
for Christmas the day
select theatres will gift us
with The Interview
a comedy in which
two American journalists
ignite Kim Jong-un's face
freedom has prevailed
the film's star Seth Rogen
says about the release
the same was thought
at the time of Korea's release
from the Japanese Empire
though then the Korean War
began and compared to war
what's so bad about a movie
anyway even war can be funny
and now a drummer
in New York says
you got a smile
that could light up
the whole town
though I'm not smiling
thinking about villages
and cities of what became
North Korea set on fire
sending puddles of twilight
into sunless skies
as if flames could stab
but his freedom
of speech prevails
freedom always prevails
which is why we get to see
two Americans
incinerate a Korean face
on Christmas
hold our popcorn
and chocolate bars
and laugh as the dictator
explodes in tune
to a pop song
laugh as American
soldiers would laugh
at Korean children
chanting hello hello
gibu me choco-let
with wartime hunger
laugh as they choose
which face
to light up

-Emily Yoon

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Caffeine + Asthma

The effect of caffeine in people with asthma

This version published: 2012; Review content assessed as up-to-date: August 11, 2011.
Plain language summary

Caffeine is found in coffee, tea, cola drinks and cocoa. Caffeine is a drug that is very similar to theophylline. Theophylline is a bronchodilator drug that is taken to open up the airways in the lungs and therefore relieve the symptoms of asthma, such as wheezing, coughing and breathlessness. Scientists are interested in finding out whether caffeine has the same effect on the lungs as theophylline.

There are two major reasons why it is important to know if caffeine is a bronchodilator. The first is because it may be beneficial for asthmatics to take caffeine in order to relieve the symptoms of asthma. The second is because consuming caffeine may affect the results of important tests that determine how bad someone's asthma is.

If caffeine acts as a bronchodilator and widens the airways, then a patient who has consumed caffeine before taking the test would show a better result in a lung function test than they would have if they had not consumed any caffeine. The potential problem with this is that if the test results are better than expected doctors may prescribe a lower dose or a weaker drug than is really necessary, which can lead to problems with asthma management.

This review carefully examines all the available high‐quality clinical trials on caffeine in asthma. This review was conducted to discover if people should avoid consuming caffeine before taking lung function tests.

This review found that even small amounts of caffeine can improve lung function for up to four hours. Therefore caffeine can affect the result of a lung function test (e.g. spirometry) and so caffeine should be avoided before taking a lung function test if possible, and previous caffeine consumption should be recorded.

It is not known if taking caffeine leads to improvements in symptoms. It may be that in order to improve the symptoms of asthma, caffeine is needed in such large amounts that the drug's adverse effects would become a problem, so more research is needed.

Another clinical trial looked at the effect of caffeine on exhaled nitric oxide levels and found that there is no significant effect, so it appears unlikely that patients would need to avoid caffeine before taking this type of test. However, this is the result of just a single study so more research is needed to clarify this.

Background: Caffeine has a variety of pharmacological effects; it is a weak bronchodilator and it also reduces respiratory muscle fatigue. It is chemically related to the drug theophylline which is used to treat asthma. It has been suggested that caffeine may reduce asthma symptoms and interest has been expressed in its potential role as an asthma treatment. A number of studies have explored the effects of caffeine in asthma; this is the first review to systematically examine and summarise the evidence.

Objectives: To assess the effects of caffeine on lung function and identify whether there is a need to control for caffeine consumption prior to either lung function or exhaled nitric oxide testing.

Search methods: We searched the Cochrane Airways Group trials register and the reference lists of articles (August 2011), an updated search in June 2011 yielded one potentially relevant article which has been added to 'studies awaiting classification'. We also contacted study authors.

Selection criteria: We included randomised trials (RCTs) of oral caffeine compared to placebo or coffee compared to decaffeinated coffee in adults with asthma.

Data collection and analysis: Two review authors independently carried out trial selection, quality assessment and data extraction.

Main results: We included seven trials involving a total of 75 people with mild to moderate asthma. The studies were all of cross‐over design.

Six trials involving 55 people showed that in comparison with placebo, caffeine, even at a 'low dose' (less than 5 mg/kg body weight), appears to improve lung function for up to two hours after consumption. Forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) showed a small improvement up to two hours after caffeine ingestion (standardised mean difference 0.72; 95% confidence interval 0.25 to 1.20), which translates into a 5% mean difference in FEV1. However in two studies the mean differences in FEV1 were 12% and 18% after caffeine. Mid‐expiratory flow rates also showed a small improvement with caffeine and this was sustained up to four hours.

One trial involving 20 people examined the effect of drinking coffee versus a decaffeinated variety on the exhaled nitric oxide levels in patients with asthma and concluded that there was no significant effect on this outcome.

Authors' conclusions: Caffeine appears to improve airways function modestly, for up to four hours, in people with asthma. People may need to avoid caffeine for at least four hours prior to lung function testing, as caffeine ingestion could cause misinterpretation of the results. Drinking caffeinated coffee before taking exhaled nitric oxide measurements does not appear to affect the results of the test, but more studies are needed to confirm this.

Editorial Group: Cochrane Airways Group.

Publication status: Stable (no update expected for reasons given in 'What's new').

Citation: Welsh EJ, Bara A, Barley E, Cates CJ. Caffeine for asthma. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2010, Issue 1. Art. No.: CD001112. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD001112.pub2. Link to Cochrane Library. [PubMed]

Logo of John Wiley & Sons, Ltd
Copyright © 2012 The Cochrane Collaboration. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Sunset Walk

We walked along Edgewater Drive to Harris Pond as the sun was setting. The air was cool and clean and the sky was full of dramatic streaks and the moon was a pink "D".

Isaac Bashevis Singer

Kindness, I’ve discovered, is everything in life.
― Isaac Bashevis Singer

Every creator painfully experiences the chasm between his inner vision and its ultimate expression. The chasm is never completely bridged. We all have the conviction, perhaps illusory, that we have much more to say than appears on the paper.
― Isaac Bashevis Singer

Night is a time of rigor, but also of mercy. There are truths which one can see only when it’s dark.
― Isaac Bashevis Singer, Teibele And Her Demon

Tranqility Swim

Our house is cold especially on a raw day. I snuck out to the pool early this morning and enjoyed the place to myself.

Ernie Mae Miller Bari Sax Player

There's a great photo of her Backstage at the Apollo Theatre, July 1945. Ernie Mae Crafton Miller played baritone sax before trading reeds for the piano. Photo from ‘Take-Off: American All-Girl Bands During WWII’Article

Breathe Easy

This SKINHALER is perfect for carrying on keys and a lovely color. See it here.

Luxuriating in Leftovers

Leftover broccoli and cauliflower stir fry and roast beef sandwiches on my sourdough with red onion and mustard. Life is good. Everything tastes better the next day anyway. That's when the flavors land.

I think we should bring back the Sunday family dinner, don't you?

I LOVE Rebecca Solnit

Admiring houses from the outside is often about imagining entering them, living in them, having a calmer, more harmonious, deeper life. Buildings become theaters and fortresses for private life and inward thought, and buying and decorating is so much easier than living or thinking according to those ideals. Thus the dream of a house can be the eternally postponed preliminary step to taking up the lives we wish we were living. Houses are cluttered with wishes, the invisible furniture on which we keep bruising our shins. Until they become an end in themselves, as a new mansion did for the wealthy woman I watched fret over the right color of the infinity edge tiles of her new pool on the edge of the sea, as though this shade of blue could provide the serenity that would be dashed by that slightly more turquoise version, as though it could all come from the ceramic tile suppliers, as though it all lay in the colors and the getting.
-Rebecca Solnit

Lung Health

I am seeing the relationship between my swimming, sax-playing and lung health. Don't let asthma stop you from getting strong the healthy way.


So next time I am going crazy or in a mood or whatever you want to call it, get me in the pool (or even better, in a lake)! Even when I say I can't or don't want to.

Saxophone will Help Athma


Lung Volume and Proper Breathing

Health benefits of swimming

Swimming gives your body the workout minus the harsh impacts. swimming Another awesome benefit is the living longer factor. You prolong your life and have higher brain activity with a regular swimming program. Control your weight and have a healthier heart plus lower your risk of diabetes, stop asthma symptoms and have a higher quality of life.

Swimming can offer anyone of any age a huge range of health benefits. You might just feel and look younger, have stronger muscles, and (according to a long time swimmer) better hair. Although you might not have awesome, shiny and chlorine enriched hair, you can find at least ten other reasons to swim.

Living Longer

Swimming has been proven to be the fountain of youth. The University of South Carolina surveyed and studied 40,000 men for more that thirty-two years. This study found those men who swam regularly had a fifty percent lower death than their non-swimming peers. Following 40,000 men for over 32 years old is a very impressive study. With those types of numbers, swimming is definitely becoming more attractive.

Exercise Stronger

You can work your body in a swimming pool without high impact to your bones and muscles. As you submerge in water you automatically become pounds lighter. If you are immersed just to the waist your body bears only 50% of your weight. Sink to your neck and let the water bear up to 90% of your body weight. How awesome is this! While you are partially submerged, do aerobic exercises. Take a water aerobics class. If you are stiff and sore in muscles and joints or if you are overweight and suffer from arthritis, water is the perfect place to exercise.

The Arthritis Foundation suggests that stretching and strengthening muscles in a pool brings on quick relief. Try swimming a few laps in the pool, do aerobics and see how great you feel. One young lady with rheumatoid arthritics claimed she was pain free when in the water.
Swim and exercise in a heated pool and the warm water will help arthritis sufferers loosen up tight and stiff joints. Those with rheumatoid arthritis do receive huge benefits to health when they swim and participate in hydrotherapy. Swimming also reduces the pain of osteoarthritis.

Stress Reduction and Brain Building

No one in the world is immune from stress and everyone needs to build brain power. Stress
As you merrily swim laps and do water aerobics you are also gaining the advantage of feel-good chemicals releasing throughout your body. These endorphins are one of swimming’s happiest side effects. You can relax, enjoy a “natural high” and feel good all at the same time. Swimming brings on the relaxation response that is also found in yoga class. The constant stretching and relaxing of muscles combined with rhythmic deep breaths is the key. Mediate as you swim laps with only the sound of your own breathing circling your brain. The splash of the water acts as a chant and drowns out distractions.
Change your brain for the better by hippocampal neurogenesis. If you are stress free or in the process of reducing stress by swimming, the brain is replacing those stressed and dead brain cells. Build stronger brain cells by participating in stress-relieving swimming. “Nothing is better than swimming laps,” states a former high school swimmer. “All the boy problems, the school problems, and the life problems just go away when I am in the pool.”

Control Your Weight

Swimming is one of the most recognized calorie burners around. It is awesome for keeping your weight issues under control. It is difficult to determine the number of calories you burn when swimming; this depends on your own physiology and the intensity you swim. A general rule: for every ten minutes of intense swimming you burn up to 150 calories. Swim the freestyle and burn 100 calories and the backstroke will take away 80 calories. To increase calorie burn utilize interval training in your workout. Work hard for short bursts of time and then rest. Swim fifty yards, rest, swim 100 yards rest, and so on. Keep the pattern going until you can swim up to 300 yards. If you think you will never reach this goal; think again. Swimming tends to come easier than you think.

Muscle Tone Improvements

If you think that swimming is purely recreation, think about the dolphin and competitive swimmers. body toning You have probably never seen a flabby dolphin or a fat competitive swimmer. Swimming is one of the best ways to increase strength plus muscle tone. A physical trainer recommended swimming to an overweight man to improve his stomach line. This man argumentatively said, “I don’t want to change my clothes and get wet.” Oh come on now! When was exercise ever perfectly convenient?

Running might be drier, but when a runner runs around a tract your body is charging through air. A swimmer is propelling through a medium that is ten times denser than air. Every stroke and kick is a resistance exercise. Resistance exercises are the best ways to build up strength and muscle tone. If you are menopausal, swim! It will improve your bone strength.

Yoga-Like Flexibility

Exercise machines only work on one part of your body at a time. Swimming gives you a wide range of motion to keep your joints and ligaments flexible. Your arms move in a wide arch, hips are engaged and legs cut through the water. You also twist your head and spine from side to side as you swim. With every stroke, you are reaching forward and lengthening your body. Body length makes our body more efficient in the water and gives a good stretch from your head down to your toes.
Stretch before and after swimming. The more you swim the more you will be able to balance, be flexible and swim longer. If you want to take a yoga class, your swimming exercises will help you look much more graceful.

Asthma and Swimming

If you have asthma, take up swimming. The moist air gives your lungs a chance to work out in an asthma friendly atmosphere. Lung volume and proper breathing techniques are some of the reasons asthma symptoms disappear with a swimming regimen. If you want you or your child to have a better quality of life without the snoring, mouth breathing and emergency room visits due to the inability to breathe during cold and allergy seasons, take swimming lessons.

Heart Healthy

One of the most important muscles in your body is the heart. Swimming is an aerobic exercise and provides life-giving exercise to the heart. It gives the ability to pump more efficiently which in turn leads to improved blood flow. Aerobic exercises have also been proven to combat the body’s inflammatory responses that lead to heart disease. Healthy heart-swimming

It is advised that you exercise at least thirty minutes a day and you can use swimming. If you only swim for thirty minutes per day your coronary heart disease is cut by almost 40%. Blood pressure, according to the Annals of Internal Medicine, is also improved by swimming aerobically. Swim away high blood pressure, live longer, and avoid coronary heart diseases.

No More Cholesterol

The perfect ratio of good and bad cholesterols in your blood can be provided with swimming. The aerobic power of swimming will raise HDL (good cholesterol levels). In reverse, the bad cholesterols of LDL will be reduced. For every one percent increase in HDL, the risk of heart disease drops by 3.5 percent.
The thin layers of cells that line your arteries (endothelium) have an easier time remaining flexible when you do aerobic exercises and particularly when you swim. Those in their sixties who work out or participate in aerobic exercise have endothelium functions that are similar to those in their thirties. Arteries expand and contract as you swim and keep their hosts healthy and fit.

Lowers Diabetes Risks

Diabetes is rapidly becoming a disease of epidemic proportions. Nothing works better on relieving diabetic symptoms and the actual disease than aerobic exercise. By burning only 500 calories a week, men reduced diabetes risk by 6%. Only thirty minutes of swimming the breaststroke three times a week would burn up to 900 calories. You now have reduced your type 2 diabetes risk by over 10%. Women could reduce their risk by over 15% with the same aerobic swimming program.

If you already are experiencing type 1 or 2 diabetes, swim to increase insulin sensitivity. The American Diabetes Association urges every diabetic to get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate physical activity to augment glycemic control.
With the benefits of swimming in mind, hit the pool, bring your friends and family and make it a friendly competition to see who can swim the farthest and healthiest.

Stanley Wong

How swimming shaped me.

Lovely Day

Since I do not like birthday cake, I made my hearts-desire supper last night and stuck a candle in it. I stir-fried broccoli cauliflower with garlic, hot sauce, red wine, soy sauce, olive oil, and kosher salt. We added quartered brussels sprouts too but they tasted like plastic wrap for some reason so we avoided them. I added chopped turkey butt-ends that we picked up at Market Basket deli section. I threw in some baby spinach, green olives, and sliced raw red onions at the last minute. It was delicious supper after a lovely day.

Stan Lee

It's the birthday of the man who popularized the saying, "With great power there must also come - great responsibility!" That's Stan Lee (books by this author), born Stanley Lieber in New York City (1922). The line comes from the Spider-Man comic, about a teenager who's bitten by a radioactive spider and becomes a crime-fighting superhero. Stan Lee also helped create the Fantastic Four, the Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, and the X-Men. In addition to their capes and tights, Lee's heroes often possess very human fears and insecurities.
-Writer's Almanac

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Women of the Swim

In the ladies locker room this morning we all had an instant rapport. We got talking about breast cancer, prednisone, asthma, our families and more. We all come to the water for different reasons and it heals us. I am so grateful for the pool and the community of devoted and inspiring swimmers.

Stephen Caroll Changing the World


Johannes Kepler: tides are caused by the moon

Saturday December 27th.
It’s the birthday of astronomer Johannes Kepler, born to a poor mercenary in Württemberg, Germany (1571), who tracked the orbital path of Mars and published his three famous laws of planetary motion — which validated Copernicus’s theory of a sun-centered solar system — and later helped Isaac Newton discover the law of gravity. Kepler was nearly blind from a smallpox epidemic when he was three, and he developed the first eyeglass designs for nearsightedness and farsightedness. He was also the first to explain that the tides are caused by the moon, the first to propose that the sun rotates on an axis, and the first to use planetary cycles to calculate the year of the birth of Jesus Christ.
-Writer's Almanac

I LOVE George Bilgere

Beautiful Country

by George Bilgere

When Dave calls from California
to tell me his girlfriend is pregnant,
it was an accident
but she wants to keep it anyway,

although Dave’s not so sure, he has his doubts—
in fact, when he really thinks about it,
not in this lifetime
nor in any foreseeable lifetime
does he see himself actually becoming a dad—

I realize the two of them are about to embark
upon a long and dangerous pilgrimage
through a wilderness called Confusion,
leading to a scorching desert called Pain,
and down into a rocky valley
called Couples Counseling.

They’re x-raying their relationship
like a couple of art collectors
trying to figure out if the Rembrandt
they bought last month is a fake.

They’re giving their love the third-degree
under a hot and blinding light,
and by God they better get some answers.

Meanwhile, every day
that tongueless little sachet of cells
is finding more and more articulate ways
of saying, What about me?

But I’m just strolling in my garden
with a glass of cold white wine,
watching the daisies wave their yellow flags
from that beautiful country
called Not My Problem.

by George Bilgere

Friday, December 26, 2014

Sax Gordon & the Little Town Rockers

MA Cambridge, Dec 27 (Sat) 2014, Sax Gordon & the Little Town Rockers (Swing) Swing City , West Cambridge Youth Center, 680 Huron Ave, Cambridge, MA 02138-4586. Admission $16, 7:45PM, Dance lesson 8:00PM Info: (617) 513-9841.

Headquarters is my Latest Gallery

Next time you are in Woonsocket go up to see Chief Carey. While you're there, have a peek at my painting.

Zachary Petit's Ann Rule on Breaking Into True Crime

Ann Rule on Breaking Into True Crime
By: Zachary Petit | July 13, 2012

Bestseller Ann Rule had a heck of a journey to becoming a writer—something she never really wanted to be in the first place. “All I ever wanted to be was a police officer,” she told the crowd in her ThrillerFest session “How to Stalk a Serial Killer and Tell the Gruesome Tale: All You Need to Know to Write Great True Crime.” “The one thing I knew I didn’t want to be was a writer.” Rule thought it was all too hard—heck, you’d have to rewrite what you already wrote.

As a kid, she would visit her grandpa, who was a sheriff, but to see him she’d have to go to the jail. There, she was given the job of bringing prisoners their meals. From an early age, she was fascinated by crime—not the how, but the why.

“I think that we come to our genre naturally,” she said.

Following her passions over the years, she took any ridealong with law enforcement she could get. Attended classes. Got an associate’s degree in criminal science.

And along the way, she began writing, collected innumerable rejections, and penned pieces for true detective magazines, which she realized could pay the bills.

“You have to write about what you know about,” she said.

Back then, not even her children slowed her down. “Unless the kids were actually fighting on top of the typewriter, I could keep writing.”

And then there’s the famous story that led her to her first book, her breakout The Stranger Beside Me.

Her brother had committed suicide, so she decided to volunteer at the crisis clinic in Seattle. The clinic paired volunteers with work-study students. At night, they’d be locked up in the building all alone together. Her partner was a psychology student getting paid $2 per hour.

His name was Ted Bundy.

After his crimes became apparent, Rule attended Bundy’s trial, and the rest of the story is history, amazingly documented in The Stranger Beside Me.

Her writing passion went on to encompass documenting the suspects and victims involved in crimes, and describing their lives before their paths crossed—along the lines of Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood.

In her presentation, Rule pointed out that pros are always saying that you only have a 1/10 of 1 percent shot at becoming a professional writer. But she decided that she was going to be in that 1/10 of 1 percent.

“You can’t let the naysayers make think you can’t make it, because you can,” she said.

If you want to be a true crime writer, Rule said the best thing you can be is immensely curious. And, you should go to trials—something anyone can do. From a life spent in courtrooms, here are Rule’s tips and etiquette for doing just that.

You can usually get a press pass, but there’s often a deluge of writers trying to obtain one. Rule calls the prosecutor’s assistant.
Study the witnesses, watch the jury, and soak up the entire experience.
Try to obtain the court documents from the court reporter or the prosecutor, or purchase them.
Observe the other reporters in the room, and analyze what they’re doing.
If you’re sitting out in the hall with potential witnesses, don’t ask them about anything. You can comment on the weather or the courtroom benches being hard, but “Keep your eyes and ears open and your mouth pretty shut.”
Don’t take newspapers into the courtroom.
Know what you’re getting yourself into. “You don’t want to start a nonfiction unless you’re really in love with it, and usually you want a go-ahead from an editor.”
Absorb detail. “When I’m writing a true-crime book I want the reader to walk along with me.” Rule describes the temperature, how the air feels—“I think it’s very important to set the scene.” As far as the writing, you can novelize, but keep all of your facts straight.
Don’t use the real name of a rape or sexual crime victim in your writing. (Though Rule has written about a few who have asked to have their names included.) As Rule said of her subjects at large, “I always care about my people. And if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing.”

Olympic Swimmer Discusses Life With Exercise-Induced Asthma

How's this for strange headline of the week? Sweating during intense exercise may protect the body against asthma, suggests a new study. The connection between sweat glands and lungs seems nonexistent at first, but researchers from the Naval Medical Center in San Diego say that athletes who sweat the least and produce the least amount of saliva may have drier airways—a trigger for lung inflammation and asthma attacks.

If you have asthma or have ever experienced symptoms of exercise-related breathing difficulties, this news may be interesting—but not exactly helpful. You can't very well control how much you sweat, after all. But the study results do support what doctors already believe: Keeping airways moist while you're working out may help reduce your risk. Here are a few strategies to try.

Stay hydrated and avoid dehydration during workouts.

Cover your mouth and nose with a loose scarf during cold weather.

Exercise in a warm, humidified environment, if possible.

How an athlete copes with asthma
I recently had the chance to meet Olympic gold medalist Peter Vanderkaay; he swam anchor in this year's 4x200 freestyle relay with Michael Phelps, and won an individual bronze as well. Vanderkaay has been swimming competitively since age 7—but around age 10 he began to experience asthma symptoms (chest tightness, trouble catching his breath, wheezing) when he was in the pool or playing outside at recess.

Vanderkaay sought treatment right away, and today he's one of countless professional athletes living—and thriving—with asthma. He's partnered with, a site dedicated to helping patients get their asthma under control and their lives back to normal. (Asthmyths is sponsored by Merck & Co., maker of the asthma drug Singulair.)

"I remember being a little bit worried, early on, that I wouldn't be able to keep swimming," Vanderkaay tells me. "But once I found the right long-term action plan, I was able to get where I am today. My doctor, parents, and I worked as a team so that I could continue training. And when I got to a higher level of competition in college, I realized that a lot of athletes have asthma, and it's something they deal with on a day-to-day basis. It's not something that has held me back, at all."

Although the air quality in Beijing didn't worry him (since his events were all indoors in the air-conditioned Water Cube), Vanderkaay does have to monitor his asthma on a daily basis. He stresses that each case is different, and anyone with symptoms should talk to their doctor about preventive measures—such as avoiding common triggers and learning how to recognize the signs of an oncoming attack—and emergency treatment options.

More than 20 million Americans have been diagnosed with asthma, according to the National Institutes of Health, and that number is growing each year. Are your workouts affected by asthma? How do you manage your symptoms?

For more tips on managing exercise-induced asthma, visit's A-Z Health Library.

Jackie Joyner-Kersee

This track-and-field star, four-time Olympian, and three-time gold medalist was diagnosed with asthma as a freshman at UCLA. She was playing basketball and running track at the time and couldn’t catch her breath after strenuous workouts. Afraid of losing her scholarship, Joyner-Kersee would duck into the bathroom to hide her condition from her coaches and teammates.

Even after a doctor diagnosed her with asthma, Joyner-Kersee didn’t take her medication consistently—and as a result she suffered a life-threatening asthma attack years later. "I finally learned I had to respect asthma as much as I would an opponent,” Joyner-Kersee told Sports Illustrated for Women, which in 2000 named her the top female athlete of all time.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ciderkin, sometimes referred to as water-cider, is a kind of weak alcoholic cider traditionally drunk by children, and made by steeping the refuse apple pomace in water. Ciderkin is currently listed alongside Cheate bread and Butter on the "Bill of Fare" for the Plimoth Plantation 1627 Harvest Dinner with the Pilgrims. However, according to the Plimoth Plantation Food Historian, this is not true 17th century ciderkin; Plimoth uses the term to differentiate between modern pasteurized sweet cider, which is served to guests, and period hard cider. Stagecoach and Tavern Days, written by Alice Morse Earle, describes a 16th Century New Hampshire settler proudly recounting "he made one barrel of cider, one barrel of water-cider, and one barrel of charming good drink" from his first apple crop of eight bushels. According to Earle: "Water-cider, or ciderkin, was a very weak, slightly cidery beverage, which was made by pouring water over the solid dregs left after the cider had been pressed from the pomace, and pressing it...sometimes a little molasses and ginger was added.” In Berkshire Stories, by Morgan Bulkeley, ciderkin "was deemed especially suitable for children", especially compared to the stronger ciders widely consumed during the American colonial period.


Lust in Translation


Sunday Book Review
New Translations of Tolstoy’s ‘Anna Karenina’


What difference is there between being repelled, being repulsed, being disgusted and being offended? Not much, perhaps, but consider the scene: Anna Karenina has taken a sip of coffee and raised her eyes to look at Vronsky, her lover, who is watching her. After hundreds of pages of love, lust, passion, fear, exhilaration, disappointment, exhaustion, aggression and, probably most important, jealousy, they are having their final fight. Leo Tolstoy is describing Anna ascribing an emotion to a man whose love she needs so desperately that she is convinced he has stopped loving her. Consider also this: When she lifted her coffee cup, she extended her pinkie away from it — a precious gesture that signals just how far this domesticated, miserable Anna has come from the glamorous young woman she was at the beginning of the novel; she made a sound with her lips — and she realized this when she lifted her gaze and saw Vronsky looking at her. She saw the most painful thing a woman can see: a lover who is turned off by her physical being.

In the classic translation by Constance Garnett, “she saw clearly that he was repelled by her hand, and her gesture, and the sound made by her lips.”

In the popular 2000 translation by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, she “clearly understood that he was disgusted by her hand, and her gesture, and the sound her lips made.”

In a new translation by Rosamund Bartlett, she “understood clearly . . . that he was repulsed by her hand, her gesture, and the sound she made with her lips.”

And in another new translation, this one by Marian Schwartz, she “clearly realized that he found offensive her hand, her gesture and the sound she was making with her lips.”

Surprisingly, all the translators ruled that the part of Anna’s anatomy that she believed repelled, repulsed, disgusted or offended Vronsky was her hand and not her arm, though the Russian word ruka can mean either. I happen to think Tolstoy is writing about the arm — one of those two full arms that were so beguilingly set off by the black gown Anna wore to the ball in Part 1, Chapter 22, when she and Vronsky fell in love. Now, in Part 7, Chapter 25, when Anna lifts her coffee cup, the full arm, the pinkie gesture and the noisy lips form a tragic triangle. On the subject of the lips, the two newer translations hew closer to the original Russian on the issue of the intentionality of the sound that Anna thinks annoys her lover: Tolstoy makes it clear that it is Anna making a sound with her lips, not her lips making an involuntary sound. Like the extended little finger, this is a habit that Vronsky may once have found charming — in fact, he may still, for, Anna’s jealousy and fears notwithstanding, he still loves her — but she thinks he no longer does.

What does she think he feels? If he is offended, he is making — or she thinks he is making — a sort of private social commentary on her provincial-aristocracy ways. If Vronsky is repulsed or disgusted, he is — or Anna thinks he is — having a visceral reaction to her very ways of being. If Anna thinks he is repelled, then perhaps she has a fleeting awareness of pushing Vronsky away. To decipher what Tolstoy wanted to say, the translator has to devise an interpretation of Tolstoy’s narrative voice in “Anna Karenina.”

This is an exercise millions of native Russian readers of the novel perform several times in a lifetime. Teenage girls read the novel as melodramatic; adult readers of both genders begin to perceive irony — its amount seems to vary from reading to reading. The author’s sympathies, too, invariably appear to shift between characters with every reading; this, combined with ironic distance that is always contracting and expanding, makes the book endlessly rich — and endlessly difficult for the translator, who can never hope to keep pace with the author. How earnest, ironic, condescending, moralistic and simply funny a Tolstoy should the translator inhabit? Perhaps the only way to render Tolstoy’s variable voice is to continue producing ever-varying translations. The two new translations bring the number of published English-language versions to at least nine — or 10, if one considers the fact that Constance Garnett’s translation was significantly revised by Leonard J. Kent and the great Russian prose stylist Nina Berberova in 1965. Of these, Garnett’s and Pevear and Volokhonsky’s versions have enjoyed the tightest grip on the market, though it can be argued that neither came by its reputation on the basis of literary merit alone: Garnett for decades had a virtual monopoly on translating Russian classics, and Pevear and Volokhonsky sold hundreds of thousands of copies after their translation was chosen by Oprah Winfrey for her television book club. Winfrey, however, had not read the book and chose this particular translation out of consideration of convenience only: It was the most recent and therefore the most widely available at that moment.

The Tolstoy of Garnett (one of the few translators to have met the author in person, and the only one of those whose work is still read as current) is a monocled British gentleman who is simply incapable of taking his characters as seriously as they take themselves. Pevear and Volokhonsky, a Russian-American husband-and-wife team, created a reasonable, calm story­teller who communicated in conversational American English. Rosamund Bartlett, a longtime scholar of Russian literature and culture and a biographer of both Tolstoy and Chekhov, creates an updated ironic-Brit version of Tolstoy. Marian Schwartz, Bartlett’s distinguished American competitor who has translated a great variety of Russian authors, has produced what is probably the least smooth-talking and most contradictory Tolstoy yet.

Schwartz begins by giving the most literal rendition to date of one of the greatest first lines in the history of the novel.

“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way,” wrote Garnett.

“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way,” wrote Pevear and Volokhonsky.

Bartlett made the exact same choice of words.

Here, meanwhile, is Schwartz: “All happy families resemble one another; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

In her introductory note Schwartz explains her decision: “The first half of this now famous saying is often translated using the word ‘alike.’ The sentence thus rendered becomes aphoristic: ‘All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.’ It is a tidy package, but not the package Tolstoy wrote. Tolstoy said not that happy families are ‘alike’ (odinakovye) but rather that they ‘resemble’ one another (pokhozhi drug na druga). By not using the expected word in that first half, Tolstoy makes the reader take a second look and points to a more complicated opinion about those happy families.”

There are two problems with this argument. One, the Russian word odinakovye would not be the expected word at all in this sentence — indeed, it would be jarring there. Two, odinakovye actually means “same,” while the English word “alike” is more often used to mean not identical but precisely very similar — it is indeed the best word to express the Russian phrase “resemble one another.” But Schwartz’s larger point is well taken: Tolstoy’s writing is indeed remarkable for its purposeful roughness, the use of repetition and the obsessive breaking of clichés to force the reader to consider the meaning of each word and phrase. “Beginning with Garnett,” Schwartz writes, “English translators have tended to view Tolstoy’s sometimes radical choices as ‘mistakes’ to be corrected, as if Tolstoy, had he known better, or cared more, would not have broken basic rules of literary language.”

Fourteen years earlier, in their own translators’ note, Pevear and Volokhonsky quoted Vladimir Nabokov, who wrote of a particular case of repetition that it is “characteristic of Tolstoy’s style with its rejection of false elegancies and its readiness to admit any robust awkwardness if that is the shortest way to sense.” Pevear and Volokhonsky conclude: “In previous English translations such passages have generally been toned down if not eliminated. We have preferred to keep them as evidence of the freedom Tolstoy allowed himself in Russian.” The differences between these two translations, in other words, stem not from a difference in goals or attitudes toward Tolstoy’s style but from differences in the ways the translators actually read the text.

Bartlett, for her part, quotes Chekhov, Tolstoy’s contemporary: " ‘Have you ever paid attention to Tolstoy’s language?’ Chekhov once said to a friend; ‘enormous sentences, one clause piled on top of another. Do not think this is accidental, that it is a flaw. It is art, and it is achieved through hard work.’ ” Bartlett writes, “This translation seeks to preserve all the idiosyncrasies of Tolstoy’s inimitable style, as far as that is possible, including the majority of his signature repetitions, so often smoothed over by previous translators, his occasional use of specialized vocabulary . . . and his subtle changes of register, as in those instances where the introduction of an almost imperceptible but unmistakable note of irony is concerned.” But though Bartlett shares Schwartz’s and Pevear and Volokhonsky’s understanding of Tolstoy’s intentions — and their appraisal of previous translation efforts — she proposes that Tolstoy was “often a clumsy and occasionally ungrammatical writer, but there is a majesty and elegance to his prose which needs to be emulated in translation wherever possible. Tolstoy loved the particular properties of the Russian language, but he would not have expected them to be reproduced exactly in translation. . . . The aim here, therefore, is to produce a translation which is idiomatic as well as faithful to the original, and one which ideally reads as if it was written in one’s own language.”

The opposition between the ideal of producing a translation that reads as though the original had been written in the language and one that has an accent, like a Russian character speaking English in a Hollywood movie, is an old one, and convincing arguments have been made on both sides of the debate. In this case, Bartlett, like Pevear and Volokhonsky before her, appears to be on the side of those who aim for idiomatic English, while Schwartz prioritizes formal equivalence. In reality, though, it is Bartlett who sometimes introduces an awkwardness that is absent in the original. In Chapter 25 of Part 7, for example, as Anna and Vronsky initiate their final fight, Vronsky reads from a telegram: “Few hopes.” In Russian, just as in English, hope can be used as either a count or a noncount noun, and Tolstoy in this case opts for the more common noncount option, which would have sounded more idiomatic in translation as well: “Little hope,” just as Schwartz has it. A few lines later, when Vronsky tells Anna she needs a divorce from her estranged husband, she responds, in Schwartz’s version, “Clarity is not in the form but in the love.” Bartlett has her say, “Clarity is not a matter of form but of love,” introducing an error of syntax that is absent in the original. And neither of the new translations compares to Pevear and Volokhonsky’s in its ability to match the pitch and intonation of one of the novel’s most important scenes.

But while Schwartz seems to have a better ear for the Russian, her translation is often in the end less readable than Bartlett’s. At the very beginning of the book, in the second paragraph, where Tolstoy describes his first unhappy family, that of Anna’s brother, Bartlett gets tripped up by the use of tenses in Russian and writes, “The wife had found out that the husband was having an affair with the French governess formerly in their house.” Schwartz has “The wife had found out about her husband’s affair with the French governess formerly in their home” — this is an accurate reflection of the ambiguity of the sequence of verb tenses that makes Russian very different from English, as well as the ambiguity characteristic of all such discoveries: Neither the wife nor the reader can possibly know whether the affair is over.

But in her drive to convey the full and complete meaning of every word, Schwartz weighs the paragraph down with detail: She has the children “racing through” the house “like lost souls” while for Bartlett they are “running about the house as if lost.” The Russian word poteryanniye indeed suggests that the children are spiritually rather than physically lost, but this exactitude creates the distracting image of souls rushing at breakneck speed, in no way implied by Tolstoy. Schwartz indicates that the cook quit the day before, “during the midday meal,” while Bartlett translates the meal simply as “dinner.” Technically, Schwartz is right because Russians consume the meal in question later than Americans would have lunch and earlier than they would have dinner — around the time, in fact, when British people would have tea. But the Russian obed is the most important meal of the day, which is why Bartlett’s “dinner” accurately conveys the meaning of the cook’s insult, if not the timing of the walkout.

But let us consider the first line again. Did Tolstoy actually mean that all happy families are alike while each unhappy family enjoys its own form of misery? The structure of the book seems to affirm this view: It tells the stories of many unhappy families and only one happy one, as though the one happy family could represent all the families that are just like it. On second look, however, it turns out that all unhappy families are very much alike — decimated by unfaithfulness, jealousy and lack of trust that work in predictable ways — while the one happy family develops in unpredictable, fascinating detail. Did Tolstoy mean to start the reader off with a false assertion to make his moral point all that much more clearly, or is this reader reading too much into the apparent paradox? The answer colors the reading of much of the text that follows.

Take Part 7, Chapter 15, in which Kitty, the wife in the book’s sole happy family, gives birth to a son — an event the anticipation of which is described in excruciating detail: Kitty even goes weeks past her due date. In Bartlett’s version, her husband’s first encounter with the baby goes as follows: “As he gazed at this tiny, pathetic creature, Levin tried vainly to find some signs of paternal feeling in his heart. He felt only disgust for it.”

Schwartz’s image of Levin is essentially the same as Bartlett’s: “Levin gazed at this tiny, pitiful being and made vain efforts to find in his heart some signs of fatherly feeling toward it. All he felt for it was revulsion.”

In both of these translations, Levin’s fears, described over hundreds of preceding pages, have been realized: For all his efforts at building the perfect family, he cannot rise to the challenge of fatherhood — he is undeserving of happiness, just as he suspected. The ending of the chapter therefore cannot redeem him. Bartlett: " ‘Look now,’ said Kitty, turning the baby towards him so that he could see it. The wizened little face suddenly wrinkled up even more, and the baby sneezed.

“Smiling and barely able to hold back tears of tenderness, Levin kissed his wife and went out of the dark room.

“What he felt for this little creature was not at all what he had expected. There was nothing jubilant or happy about this feeling; on the contrary, it was an agonizing new fear. It was the consciousness of a new area of vulnerability. And this consciousness was indeed so agonizing at first, and the fear that this helpless creature might suffer so intense, that he failed to notice the strange feeling of absurd joy and even pride he experienced when the baby sneezed.”

Russian uses the same pronouns for both animate and inanimate objects, so Bartlett’s choice of “it” for the baby serves to underscore Levin’s failure to relate to the baby in a way that is absent in the original. Schwartz uses “him.” She also uses the word “emotion” where Bartlett has “tenderness”; “anticipated” rather than “expected”; “cheer” and “joy” over “jubilant” and “happy”; “terror” rather than “fear”; and “senseless” rather than “absurd.” None of these distinctions, however, change the narrative: Levin appears to be failing, and the birth of the baby is likely the point at which this family, too, starts on its path to failure.

Pevear and Volokhonsky, in their 14-year-old translation, rendered Levin’s initial reaction to the baby not as disgust or revulsion but as squeamishness. And that changes everything.


By Leo Tolstoy

Translated by Rosamund Bartlett

847 pp. Oxford University Press. $29.95.


By Leo Tolstoy

Translated by Marian Schwartz

754 pp. Yale University Press. $35.

Masha Gessen’s seventh book, “The Brothers: The Road to an American Tragedy,” will be published in April.