Saturday, February 28, 2015

Happiness Is Playing Saxophone

Happiness is playing my saxophone along with my favorite players playing on the cd player.
Doug James & Sax Gordon
by Sax Gordon & Doug James

Column McCan, Acknowledge the Despair

I am of the opinion, and even more so the older I get, that it is more difficult to have hope than it is to despair. And I mean this in the sense that in order to have hope you must acknowledge the despair and then you have to get beyond it.

Taken from a radio interview given on BBC Radio 4's Open Book.
― Colum McCann

Light Beam in Stairwell at 3:30 AM

I wake at 3:30AM to pee. I get out of bed and walk down the hallway to the toilet. An unusual light beam is bouncing in the stairwell from the parking lot. I peek over the hallway curtain. A black Ford sedan is trying to back up a hill, revving with blueish headlights on, stuck in the ice. A man with low slung jeans red boxers showing is trying to push the car backwards. Then one man gets out of the car and the two men are pushing the car. It moves backwards just enough to turn and drive away. The woman driver jumps out and one of the men jump in and drive it away leaving the woman and the man.

Nidaa Badwan

FOR the first two months, she said, she contemplated suicide, struggled to sip soup her sister brought, popped anxiety pills, slept on the floor and cried. Eventually, she picked up her camera, a Canon EOS 600D, and started following the light.

“Slowly, slowly, I started to love isolation,” she explained. “It’s not a disease. It healed me.”


Colum McCann

It's the birthday of novelist Colum McCann (books by this author), born in Dublin, Ireland (1965). He's the author of Let the Great World Spin (2009), which won the 2009 National Book Award. His fiction has been translated into 30 languages.

He grew up in suburban middle-class Dublin in a house full of books and majored in journalism. At age 21, he moved to the United States, intent on writing the great American novel that summer. He didn't get very far. He decided he needed to go see America, so he hopped on a 15-speed Schwinn and bicycled around the country. He cycled 12,000 miles, winding through 40 states, collecting stories all along the way - stories that still make their way into his fiction a couple of decades later.

He has had a happy life, he says, the kind that doesn't make for an interesting story. He said, "For me, the logical conclusion is that I have to write outside my life." He said that it feels like going to college every time he writes a book: "I take a brand-new three-year crash course in that which I want to know." To research one novel, he lived with homeless people in subway tunnels. For another, he went to Russia and hung around "hospitals and dancehalls and Stalin-era apartments."

For a different novel, he spent a year looking at maps at the New York Public Library, and then headed off to of Eastern Europe to wander through Gypsy camps, "carting [his] ignorance," he said, "to Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Austria, and Italy." That research was for his novel Zoli, based loosely on the life of a Polish poet from the 1950s.

Every novel is a failure, he says, in that "you can never achieve what you truly want to achieve. That thing you dreamt on the riverbank is never the thing you achieve when you are back at the writing table, or when the paper is coming out of the printer." He wanted to "bounce back fast" from Zoli. He set out to write an epic.

That epic: Let the Great World Spin. It's set in the 1970s and weaves together the stories of a dozen New York protagonists, including prostitutes, a young radical Irish monk, and a Park Avenue mother in mourning for her son killed in Vietnam. He once said, "If I had a gun to my head, and somebody asked me what this book was about, I would say it's about achieving grace in the face of trauma and not making a grief-fest out of 9-11." Though the story famously begins with the image of the tightrope walker high in the air between the twin towers, McCann said that for him, that's not really what it's about. For him, "the core image of the novel" is "when two little girls emerge from a Bronx housing complex and get rescued by strangers."

He said, "I wanted it to be a Whitmanesque song of the city, with everything in there - high and low, rich and poor, black, white, and Hispanic. Hungry, exhausted, filthy, vivacious, everything this lovely city is. I wanted to catch some of that music and slap it down on the page so that even those who have never been to New York can be temporarily transported there."

To get the voice of protagonist Tillie, the 38-year-old grandmother and longtime prostitute, McCann did a lot of research. He went to the New York Public Library and looked through records, trying to track down 1970s Bronx prostitutes. He tried talking with women on the stroll. He shadowed police detectives around the Bronx. He rummaged through piles of rap sheets, trying to figure out which crimes his Tillie might have committed. He read the memoir of a pimp.

He said that it took him a really long time to get Tillie's voice - about four or five months. He was on the verge of giving up. He told his wife he just didn't think he could do it. Then one night this line came floating to him, which went: "The skinniest dog I ever seen is the one on the side of the Greyhound buses." It was a simple line, he said, but he recognized it as the voice he was trying to channel. He wrote all night, he said, "and wound up with six pages." He said: "Tillie started whispering all this stuff to me: 'I'm Rosa Parks. I'm black and on the pavement. I'm a chewing gum spot.'" He had some of his cop friends read a section of it and they told him: "This is perfect. This is a woman we know."

The Tillie monologue, which is set in her jail cell and spans almost 40 pages, begins:

They didn't let me go to Corrigan's funeral. I woulda walked the bakery line to get there. They put me back in the pen instead. I weren't crying. I laid straight out on the bench with my hand over my eyes.

I saw my rap sheet, it's yellow with fifty-four entries. Typed up not so neat. You see your life with carbon copies. Kept in a file. Hunts Point, Lex and Forty-ninth, West Side Highway, all the way back to Cleveland. Loitering. Prostitution offense. Class A misdemeanor. Criminal possesion controlled substance 7th degree. Criminel trespass 2nd degree. Criminal posession narcotic drug, Class E felony. Prostitution solicitation, Class A, Misdemeaner Degree o.
The cops musta got a D in spelling.
The ones in the Bronx write worse than anyone. They get and F in everything except pulling us up on our prop'rties.

Colum McCann said: "I think a good novel can be a doorstop to despair. I also think the real bravery comes with those who prepared to go through that door and look at the world in all its grime and torment, and still find something of value, no matter how small."

-Writer's Almanac

Friday, February 27, 2015

I Try to Love it All

The light is changing. February is my favorite month of the year because starting in mid February the light starts shifting and I feel it. And if we're going to have snow this is the month. I LOVE SNOW and SHOVELING but I don't like Spring never have. I love SNOW and WINTER and Apples of Autumn. But I try to love it all. I try to love everyone because life is precious and fleeting.

All of This

I look out the window after hearing skidding an 11 year old gets out of the car. He was driving in this parking lot.

An hour later I see a woman pass out next to a blue van. In this parking lot. I call an ambulance. All of this on a February Friday.

I lookout and see a BMW station wagon a guy sipping from a flask while driving in this parking lot. It never ends.

Pull the shades. Wet the reed. I play my saxophone with Doug James and Gordon Beadle playing on the CD. Great music great guys!

I want to play until I am 103 and Good looking for my age!

How to Shovel Snow Like a Man


Jenise Harmon Therapist

5 Tips for Helping a Depressed Friend or Loved One

February 23, 2015 • By Jenise Harmon, LISW-S, Depression Topic Expert Contributor

When someone is depressed, he or she may struggle to communicate with those closest to him or her. It can be confusing and at times frustrating, too, to love someone with depression. It’s not always easy to help and give what is needed.

Sadly, the reaction of many people is to say simplistic and dismissive things like, “Just pray more,” or, “You just need to think yourself into a better place.” Suggestions and statements such as these undermine the experience of people who are struggling with depression.

Another thing people often do but shouldn’t: compare pain. A person I worked with in therapy once told me her nurse (in a psychiatric hospital) said she should feel happy her problems aren’t more severe. The nurse proceeded to talk about her husband dying and leaving her a widow with two young children to support.

No doubt, there’s good intention lurking beneath some of the things people say to those experiencing depression. Good intention, though, does little to ease pain.

If you’re in a position to help or support a person with depression, here are some positive things you can do:

Ask what you can do to help. The person with depression might say that your quiet company would be helpful, or perhaps the person wants a compassionate ear, someone to just listen. Be open and generous. Maybe the person needs a ride to an appointment or someone to pick up a prescription.
If the person is unable to communicate his or her needs, offer some specific ideas. Ask if the person would like to get out of the house, or if you can come and keep him/her company. Offer to take the person’s kids for a couple of hours. See if he or she needs something picked up from the store. When people are depressed, sometimes the most basic activities (such as grocery shopping or meal planning) can seem like huge, insurmountable tasks.
Listen without judgment. Don’t mention that your aunt Gladys has cancer and is worse off than he or she is. Don’t use the phrase, “Well, at least …” Allow your friend to voice any hurt or despair. If you don’t know what to say, simply say, “I love you and I’m sorry you’re in pain.”
Ask if the person has suicidal thoughts or feelings. This can be extremely hard to do, as it might feel like you’re being invasive. But many people’s lives have been saved because someone had the courage to ask. If the person acknowledges being suicidal, offer to take him or her to the hospital and/or let the person’s family/therapist/doctor know. Feeling suicidal and being alone is a dangerous combination. Just sitting and being with the person, even if it’s just reading a book or the newspaper while he or she rests, could mean the world. For more information on helping a person with suicidal ideation, see this recent article.
Love the person. Love the person with words, with touch, with your presence. When people are depressed, it can feel as if no one truly cares about them. Let the person know that he or she matters to you. If appropriate, be specific as to why.

If you have loved ones, family, or friends who seem stumped by how to interact with a depressed person—perhaps even you—consider sharing this article with them. Let them know you understand it’s difficult to know how to handle a person experiencing depression, and that these ideas might be helpful.

Relationships are tricky. Some people are more natural than others at helping people with depression, but everyone is capable of compassion and empathy. If you’re present and available, you’re going a long way toward lending support.

© Copyright 2015 by Jenise Harmon, LISW-S, therapist in Columbus, Ohio. All Rights Reserved.

Ice Dams

Water is dripping inside my house in funny places. Ice dams on the roof.

Frigid Accordion?

If you are cold, your accordion is cold. If you are comfortable, your accordion is comfortable. From time to time we need to take our accordions out to play away from home but freezing temperatures are not recommended for lengthy periods of time. If an accordion is allowed to get so cold that it is uncomfortable to touch, do not play it! Let it warm to room temperature first. You can hurry this process a bit by holding down the air button while operating the bellows in and out. This brings warm air inside the instrument where it counts the most. The main concern is for the reeds, leather and wax. These materials can be damaged by playing an accordion that is very cold.

from the Accordion Connection LLC | 603-267-8600 | |
136 Route 106 Unit 1
Gilmanton, NH 03237-4924

White Hot

Let the world burn through you.
Throw the prism light, white hot, on paper.

- Ray Bradbury

Tragedy: Private Lives


Mother's Letter to her Son


Investigating Patient Abuse

CRANSTON, R.I. — The apparent physical abuse of three patients with profound disabilities last year at the state-run Eleanor Slater Hospital triggered investigations by federal and state health officials and has prompted an investigation by state police.

One of the three unidentified patients apparently was abused by the insertion of a foreign object into his rectum, according to documents obtained by The Providence Journal in response to a request made under Rhode Island’s Access to Public Records Act.

All three of the patients are unable to speak, and at least one has severely limited movement, placing them among the ranks of the most fragile people for whom the state is responsible.




Domestic Abuse Punished

Law Wan-tung, 44, was found guilty earlier this month of assaulting Erwiana Sulistyaningsih, 24, who cleaned her house and lived in a closet in her apartment for eight months. During the trial, Ms. Erwiana recounted the various ways she said Ms. Law abused her, including shoving a vacuum cleaner tube into her mouth, fracturing two of her teeth with a blow to the face, putting her on a diet of bread and rice and forcing her to urinate into a plastic bag or bucket to avoid dirtying the toilet.


Building American Slave Museum

“Like everyone else,” John Cummings said a few days earlier, “you’re probably wondering what the rich white boy has been up to out here.”

He was driving around the Whitney in his Ford S.U.V., making sure the museum would be ready for the public. Born and raised in New Orleans, Cummings is as rife with contrasts as the land that surrounds his plantation. He is 77 but projects the unrelenting angst of a teenager. His disposition is exceedingly proper — the portly carriage, the trimmed white beard, the florid drawl — but he dresses in a rumpled manner that suggests a morning habit of mistaking the laundry hamper for the dresser. As someone who had to hitchhike to high school and remains bitter about not being able to afford his class ring, he embodies the scrappiness of the Irish Catholics who flooded New Orleans in the 19th century. But as a trial lawyer who has helped win more than $5 billion in class-action settlements and a real estate magnate whose holdings have multiplied his wealth many times over, Cummings personifies the affluence and power held by an elite and mostly white sliver of a city with a majority black population.


Emily Nagoski

Apparently we still haven’t learned our lesson about what happens when we pathologize normal sexual functioning.Article

Gardner Museum Art Heist

A colleague of mine Geoff Rockwell was a security guard at the Isabella Stewart Gardener museum during that era. Article

Steinbeck said it Best

A writer out of loneliness is trying to communicate like a distant star sending signals. He isn't telling or teaching or ordering. Rather he seeks to establish a relationship of meaning, of feeling, of observing. We are lonesome animals. We spend all life trying to be less lonesome.

I Dreamed

I dreamed my friend Steve wanted an old car an Edsel. Jackie Gleason was alive and selling it, next door. I didn't want Steve to know ahead of time that Mr. Gleason was the seller. He said "I'll look in an hour." I told him I was sick of waiting in everyone's leftover space.
I was in a loft elevator that didn't go up it was like a roller coaster spinning in a circle. I flew against the doors. Luckily they were closed.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Psychotic Pot by Julie Fast


Public Safety

Law enforcement busts 35 men, seizes 15 firearms in Providence drug probe
The Violent Crime Initiative was conceived 18 months ago in reaction to an uptick in violence in Providence, according to Providence Public Safety Commissioner Steven M. Pare. Neronha said the agencies involved, including the FBI, DEA, the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Rhode Island attorney general's office, have been meeting every five or six weeks since last summer in order to coordinate the campaign.

"We have to identify those who are creating havoc in our neighborhoods," Neronha said.

Said Ferguson, "This is not the end. This is just the beginning."


Finding another place to hide.

The Dying Art of Conversation

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
This article is about human communication. For other uses, see Conversation (disambiguation).

Conversation is a form of interactive, spontaneous communication between two or more people. Typically it occurs in spoken communication, but some written exchanges may also be referred to as conversations. The development of conversational skills and etiquette is an important part of socialization. The development of conversational skills in a new language is a frequent focus of language teaching and learning.

Conversation analysis is a branch of sociology which studies the structure and organization of human interaction, with a more specific focus on conversational interaction.

No generally accepted definition of conversation exists, beyond the fact that a conversation involves at least two people talking together.[1] Consequently, the term is often defined by what it is not. A ritualized exchange such a mutual greeting is not a conversation, and an interaction that includes a marked status differential (such as a boss giving orders) is also not a conversation.[2] An interaction with a tightly focused topic or purpose is also generally not considered a conversation.[3] Summarizing these properties, one authority writes that "Conversation is the kind of speech that happens informally, symmetrically, and for the purposes of establishing and maintaining social ties."[4]

From a less technical perspective, a writer on etiquette in the early 20th century defined conversation as the polite give and take of subjects thought of by people talking with each other for company.[5]

Conversations follow rules of etiquette because conversations are social interactions, and therefore depend on social convention. Specific rules for conversation arise from the cooperative principle. Failure to adhere to these rules causes the conversation to deteriorate or eventually to end. Contributions to a conversation are responses to what has previously been said.

Conversations may be the optimal form of communication, depending on the participants' intended ends. Conversations may be ideal when, for example, each party desires a relatively equal exchange of information, or when the parties desire to build social ties. On the other hand, if permanency or the ability to review such information is important, written communication may be ideal. Or if time-efficient communication is most important, a speech may be preferable.

Conversation can also be referred to as banter. Banter is more of a youth, slang word for a joke and can be used to say "it was only banter" if someone is having a joke.

One element of conversation is discussion: sharing opinions on subjects that are thought of during the conversation. In polite society the subject changes before discussion becomes dispute. For example, if theology is being discussed, no one is insisting a particular view be accepted.[6]

Many conversations can be divided into four categories according to their major subject content:

Conversations about subjective ideas, which often serve to extend understanding and awareness.
Conversations about objective facts, which may serve to consolidate a widely held view.
Conversations about other people (usually absent), which may be either critical, competitive, or supportive. This includes gossip.
Conversations about oneself, which sometimes indicate attention-seeking behavior or can provide relevant information about oneself to participants in the conversation.

Practically, few conversations fall exclusively into one category. Nevertheless, the proportional distribution of any given conversation between the categories can offer useful psychological insights into the mind set of the participants. This is the reason that the majority of conversations are difficult to categorize.

Most conversations may be classified by their goal. Conversational ends may, however, shift over the life of the conversation.

Functional conversation is designed to convey information in order to help achieve an individual or group goal.
Small talk is a type of conversation where the topic is less important than the social purpose of achieving bonding between people or managing personal distance.

Aspects of conversation
Differences between men and women

A study completed in July 2007 by Matthias Mehl of the University of Arizona shows that contrary to popular belief, there is little difference in the number of words used by men and women in conversation.[7] The study showed that on average each of the sexes uses about 16,000 words per day.
Conversation between strangers

There are certain situations, typically encountered while traveling, which result in strangers sharing what would ordinarily be an intimate social space such as sitting together on a bus or airplane. In such situations strangers are likely to share intimate personal information they would not ordinarily share with strangers. A special case emerges when one of the travelers is a mental health professional and the other party shares details of their personal life in the apparent hope of receiving help or advice.[8]
Conversational narcissism

Conversational narcissism is a term used by sociologist Charles Derber in his book, The Pursuit of Attention: Power and Ego in Everyday Life.

Derber observed that the social support system in America is relatively weak, and this leads people to compete mightily for attention. In social situations, they tend to steer the conversation away from others and toward themselves. "Conversational narcissism is the key manifestation of the dominant attention-getting psychology in America," he wrote. "It occurs in informal conversations among friends, family and coworkers. The profusion of popular literature about listening and the etiquette of managing those who talk constantly about themselves suggests its pervasiveness in everyday life."

What Derber describes as "conversational narcissism" often occurs subtly rather than overtly because it is prudent to avoid being judged an egotist.

Derber distinguishes the "shift-response" from the "support-response". A shift response takes the focus of attention away from the last speaker and refocuses on the new speaker, as in: "John: I'm feeling really starved. Mary: Oh, I just ate. Whereas a support response maintains the focus on the last speaker, as in: John: I'm feeling really starved. Mary: When was the last time you ate?
Conversation with artificial intelligence

The ability to generate conversation that cannot be distinguished from a human participant has been one test of a successful artificial intelligence (The Turing Test). A human judge engages in a natural language conversation with one human and one machine, each of which tries to appear human. If the judge cannot tell the machine from the human, the machine is said to have passed the test. One limitation is that the conversation is limited to a text, not allowing tone to be shown.
Conversing with one's self

Also called intrapersonal communication, conversing with one's self is sometimes able to help solve problems, or serve therapeutic purposes, such as the avoidance of silence.
In the media

As a prominent and useful figure in most human lives, conversation is often used in the media, e.g. talk shows such as William F. Buckley's Firing Line or the Dick Cavett Show.
Arnold Lakhovsky, The Conversation (circa 1935)

Authors who have written extensively on conversation and attempted to analyze its nature include:

Milton Wright wrote The Art of Conversation, a comprehensive treatment of the subject, in 1936. The book deals with conversation both for its own sake, and for political, sales, or religious ends. Milton portrays conversation as an art or creation that people can play with and give life to.
Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Al Switzler, and Ron McMillan have written two New York Times bestselling books on conversation. The first one, Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High, McGraw-Hill, 2002, teaches skills for handling disagreement and high-stakes issues at work and at home. The second book, Crucial Confrontations: Tools for Resolving Broken Promises, Violated Expectations, and Bad Behavior, McGraw-Hill, 2005, teaches important skills for dealing with accountability issues.
Charles Blattberg has written two books defending an approach to politics that emphasizes conversation, in contrast to negotiation, as the preferred means o resolving conflict. His From Pluralist to Patriotic Politics: Putting Practice First, Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2000, ISBN 0-19-829688-6, is a work of political philosophy; and his Shall We Dance? A Patriotic Politics for Canada, Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2003, ISBN 0-7735-2596-3, applies that philosophy to the Canadian case.
Paul Drew & John Heritage - Talk at Work, a study of how conversation changes in social and workplace situations.
Neil Postman - Amusing Ourselves to Death (Conversation is not the book's specific focus, but discourse in general gets good treatment here)
Deborah Tannen
The Argument Culture: Stopping America's War of Words
Conversational Style: Analyzing Talk Among Friends,
Gender and Discourse
I Only Say This Because I Love You
Talking from 9 to 5: Women and Men at Work
That's Not What I Meant!
You Just Don't Understand: Women and Men in Conversation
Daniel Menaker - A Good Talk: The Story and Skill of Conversation (published 2010)
Stephen Miller - Conversation: A History of a Declining Art: provides an extensive history of conversation which dates back to the ancient Greeks with Socrates, and moving forward, to coffeehouses around the world, as well as the modern forces of the electronic age, talk shows, etc.

In fiction

Conversation in the Cathedral (1969) is one of the main novels by the Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa.

Works cited

Thornbury, Scott; Slade, Diana (2006). Conversation: From Description to Pedagogy. ISBN 9780521814263.
Warren, Martin (2006). Features of Naturalness in Conversation. ISBN 9789027253958.

Free at Last

LOS ANGELES — William Taylor III, once a lifer in state prison for two robbery convictions and the intent to sell a small packet of heroin, was savoring a moment he had scarcely dared to imagine: his first day alone, in a place of his own.

“I love the apartment,” he said of the subsidized downtown studio, which could barely contain the double bed he insisted on having. “And I love that I’m free after 18 years of being controlled.”

“My window has blinds, and I can open and close them!” he exclaimed to visitors the other day, reveling in an unaccustomed, and sometimes scary, sense of autonomy.

Mr. Taylor, 58, is one of more than 2,000 former inmates who were serving life terms under California’s three-strikes law, but who were freed early after voters scaled it back in 2012. Under the original law, repeat offenders received life sentences, with no possibility of parole for at least 25 years, even if the third felony was as minor as shoplifting.


For his first night in his new home, he said, he would cook oatmeal and have a fruit cup. And then, he said, he was going to soak in a hot bath for the first time in nearly two decades.

Modern Day Alchemists

Modern Day Alchemists Turn Toxic Runoff Into Valuable Pigments

By Kalliopi Monoyios | February 25, 2015 |

It's Snowing Again!

I love the snow it makes me feel happy and COZY. Everything becomes clean and white. I turn on the oven and start baking the house warm.

Noreen Riols

Noreen Riols – wow

Noreen Riols is a hell of a lady. First of all, she is 87, and she spoke with great elegance, grace and clarity for over ten minutes with no notes.

Secondly, this woman used to train spies during the Second World War.

The stories that she told were absolutely incredible. She was originally going to join the Wrens (the Navy) because they had nice hats, but because she was able to speak in four languages to an interviewer (which she mentioned as if it were nothing), she was recruited to the SOE.

She never told anyone her story until 2000, and her own mother never knew that she had worked there.

I can’t sum her story up like I can the others, because she worked there for four years. And because it involves so many people, and was so emotional and intense, I don’t want to pretend that I have done it justice. I will just bring up three stories that touched me.

1. One of the first things that she did was to work in Baker Street on sabotage operations. One evening she was speaking to a man who was about to go out to work in France, and he was a radio operator: the most dangerous job of all. Those men’s life expectancy was four weeks. This man and her were good friends (“nothing more than that – he was so old: over thirty!”), and near the end of the night he pulled out a velvet box and gave it to her.

Inside was a little necklace. As you can imagine, Riols tried to give it back; she felt bad about taking something so valuable from someone that she didn’t know very well.

But the man who gave it to her was a Jew. And he said to her, “my wife is dead, my children is dead: my whole family is dead. If I don’t give it to you, who shall I give it to? I want someone to be able to look at it. I want to know that someone is thinking about me back home.”

And he never came back.

2. After this, she was moved down to the New Forest, where she spent the majority of the War. Her job there, along with three other women, was to ‘work with’ the men at the final stage of training, who were going to the “spy school” in a place called Buley (I don’t know how to spell it). By ‘work with’, I mean that they would track them down in the local towns (Bournemouth or Southampton) and try to get them to break their cover. Most of them, she said, succeeded. One told her that he was a toothpaste salesman (which she pooh-poohed, because no one used toothpaste in the War – but it was enough).

She recalled one Dane who was extremely good looking and with whom she was having tea in a hotel in Bournemouth. In front of us, she sighed, and then she told us that this man broke his cover and told her who he was. And weeks later, back in London, he and their joint boss (whom she nicknamed Willibanks) were sitting in a room, and WB called her in. And as soon as the Dane saw her, his face clouded over with shock, then fear, then anger, and he stood up, spat at her, and said, “you bitch!”

3. Nearer the end of the war, Riols met a man with whom she fell in love, and who fell in love with her. Their romance was like the clicking of two parts together, and within three months they were thinking about marriage. He was an excellent saboteur, and had been on a number of dangerous missions. He was the top spy of the department, and he was being sent on one final mission.

Riols described their last meeting before he went off. Because they weren’t married and didn’t live together, their parting consisted of lunch together in a restaurant, and then she walked him to the bus stop. They didn’t even say goodbye properly, because of course, there were people around. But as she walked into the office, she turned around, and she saw that he was standing there looking straight at her – as if he was trying to fix the image of her in his mind; something to cling onto while he was away.

But he never came back.

At the end of her talk, one or two people clapped, but she quickly interjected, “Oh no! Please, don’t applaud me! Don’t clap for me – clap for those who… who didn’t come back.”

She received a standing ovation.

The Moth Storytellers

O.T. is one of thousands of storytellers who, since the 1990s, have gotten up on stage and shared a story with no notes, no music, and no pyrotechnics, thanks to a nonprofit outfit called The Moth. This year, 15 million people across the world will hear someone like O.T.—or more high-profile cultural figures such as Adam Gopnik, Padma Lakshmi, Ethan Hawke, Malcolm Gladwell, and Jonathan Franzen—participate in a Moth-branded podcast, public radio broadcast, or one of the 168 live performances taking place in four American cities.
For O.T., storytelling began as a way to save himself from himself. Now, it’s his way of giving back.

Sufi Proverbs

Before we can learn, we need to learn how to learn, and before we can learn how to learn we need to unlearn.

If you pick up a bee due to kindness, you will learn the limitations of kindness.

When a pickpocket sees a saint, all he sees are his pockets.

Freedom is the absence of choice.

We cannot steal the fire. We must enter it.

When the heart weeps for what it has lost, the spirit laughs at what is has gained.

He who tastes, knows.

Gazing at Icicles

Yesterday the sun was out and Lily and I walked to the North End and all around the less traveled streets. It felt great to have a real big long walk like we usually do until the deep snow bumped us off our routine. We both got very muddy in the process but it was worth it. I enjoyed gazing at all of the gigantic icicles dangling off roofs like monster teeth. When we got home I washed Lily in the yellow tub after taking out all of the shovels and brooms. She is so tolerant it hurts. She puts up with all of this and a brushing, all for a cookie.

Still on the Trail, Mix

In college when I ran out of money I lived on trail mix because it was healthy and I could charge it at the school bookstore. I still live on trail mix but this time I make it myself. We buy wholesale at bakers supply (many pounds of) raw sunflower seeds, dark raisins and raw almonds.



Eyes and Ears

When you photograph you get a photographer's eyes. When you are being a detective you get detective's eyes. When you play music you get musician's ears. When you write you get writer's ears. When you paint you get painter's eyes.

Craig Spencer Devotion and Bravery

No matter how exhausted I felt when I woke up, an hour of profuse sweating in the suit and the satisfaction I got from treating ill patients washed away my fear and made me feel new again.

Why God is a Woman, Poems by Nin Andrews

Set on a magical island where women rule and men are the second sex, Why God Is a Woman is the story of a boy who, exiled from the island because he could not abide by its sexist laws, looks back with both nostalgia and bitterness and wonders: Why does God have to be a woman? Celebrated prose poet Nin Andrews creates a world both fantastic and familiar in which gender roles are turned upside-down, and where all myths, logic, and institutions support the dominance of women.

"Nin Andrews' Why God Is a Woman explores a female utopia in which Friedan's 'feminine mystique' would never have had to be contemplated. But on this island in which multiple orgasms, childbirth, and multitasking are prized and rewarded, what will happen to the men who 'are designed for domesticity,' spending countless hours 'preening in front of the bathroom mirror' dreaming of their wedding day, only to be stalked and harassed with predatory women trying 'to get into (their) trousers?' A revolutionary, Andrews writes a social satire that is magical, compassionate, and full of flight--with men and boys being judged by their 'wingspan.' Will God show true compassion? Andrews' Why God Is a Woman is a tour de force by one of America's leading poets."

—Denise Duhamel

"On the island in Why God Is a Woman not only does every woman look like Angelina Jolie, but they take her name as their own. Men are winged objects of beauty, and those with the widest span are the most sought after. This is a place--and a story--populated by personages like Dolly Delita, world-famous man-trainer, and Julio Vega, the beauty king who was also the first man to run for president. The rules of our world have been inverted within the mirror Nin Andrews holds up for us, and never have we looked more strange and fabulous."

—Christopher Barzak

"On the island where I grew up--Virginia in the 1960s--mothers told their daughters, 'it's a man's world.' Nin Andrews stands that world on its head, throwing its absurdities into sharp and witty relief. But her poems are for men as well as women, inviting us all to re-imagine love, desire, death, and visions of paradise."

—Anne-Marie Slaughter

About the Author

Nin Andrews’ poems and stories have appeared in many literary journals and anthologies including Ploughshares, The Paris Review, Best American Poetry (1997, 2001, 2003, 2013), The KGB Bar Book of Poems, No Boundaries, Sudden Stories, A Mammoth Anthology of Miniscule Fiction, The House of Your Dreams: an International Collection of Prose Poems, Great American Prose Poems, and the forthcoming anthology Nothing to Declare: A Guide to the Flash Sequence. The recipient of an individual artist grant from the Ohio Arts Council in 1997 and again in 2003, she is the author of six chapbooks and five full-length poetry collections. She is the mother two grown children, and she lives in Poland, Ohio, with her husband, a physics professor and bass player, and her two Boston terriers, Sadie and Froda.

The Best Computer

is between your ears.

Eugenie Clark

Eugenie Clark, whose childhood rapture with fish in a New York City aquarium led to a life of scholarly adventure in the littorals and depths of the Seven Seas and to a global reputation as a marine biologist and expert on sharks, died on Wednesday at her home in Sarasota, Fla. She was 92.

The cause was lung cancer, her son Nikolas Konstantinou said.

Long before “Jaws” scared the wits out of swimmers, Dr. Clark rode a 40-foot whale shark off Baja California, ran into killer great white sharks while scuba diving in Hawaii, studied “sleeping” sharks in undersea caves off the Yucatán, witnessed a shark’s birth and found a rare six-gill shark in a submersible dive off Bermuda.

She also swam into schools of man-eating barracuda and had disconcerting encounters with 500-pound clams and giant squid. Despite close calls, she was never attacked, and she tended to make light of the dangers. Indeed, she told of the privileges of exploring an undersea world of exotic creatures and enchanting beauty.
Over the years, Dr. Clark made more than 70 deep dives in submersibles, once to 12,000 feet. Credit Tak Konstantinou

Dr. Clark was an ichthyologist and oceanographer whose academic credentials, teaching and research posts, scientific activities and honors filled a 20-page curriculum vitae, topped by longtime roles as a professor at the University of Maryland and director of the Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota.

She also wrote three books, 80 scientific treatises and more than 70 articles and professional papers; lectured at 60 American universities and in 19 countries abroad; appeared in 50 television specials and documentaries; was the subject of many biographies and profiles; made intriguing scientific discoveries; and had four species of fish named for her.

For all her scientific achievements, Dr. Clark was also a figure of popular culture who used her books, lectures and expertise to promote the preservation of ecologically fragile shorelines, to oppose commercial exploitation of endangered species and to counteract misconceptions, especially about sharks.

She insisted that “Jaws,” the 1975 Steven Spielberg film based on a Peter Benchley novel, and its sequels inspired unreasonable fears of sharks as ferocious killers. Car accidents are far more numerous and terrible than shark attacks, she said in a 1982 PBS documentary, “The Sharks.”

She said at the time that only about 50 shark attacks on humans were reported annually and that only 10 were fatal, and that the great white shark portrayed in “Jaws” would attack only if provoked, while most of the world’s 350 shark species were not dangerous to people at all.

“When you see a shark underwater,” she said, “you should say, ‘How lucky I am to see this beautiful animal in his environment.’ ”

Community Needs an African Museum

I thought I would talk with Samuel Obeng about the smoky spinach stew the chefs serve at his Bronx restaurant, Papaye, but he steered the conversation toward weightier matters. “I want to set up an African cultural center here in the Bronx,” he told me. “In Manhattan, they have a museum about sex! So why can’t I have an African museum? We can teach our kids how people back in Ghana dress, how they talk. We can teach our kids how to drum.”

Obeng, who is 49, came to New York 22 years ago, settling, like most of the city’s 27,000 Ghanaians, within bunting distance of Yankee Stadium. A serial entrepreneur, he filled the conversation with the words “innovation” and “efficiency,” intoning them like blessings. With the authority of someone who has already made it, he noted the need for his community to commit itself to its American present, not its Ghanaian past. And yet he has a preservationist’s instinct. There is his dream of a museum, of course, as well as the restaurant that he bought for the ways it connects him, and his friends, to Africa.
Continue reading the main story

The day I visited Papaye, the call of the homeland was on display. A TV glowed green with a soccer pitch — Ghana versus Senegal in the Africa Cup of Nations — and before the place was even open, Ghanaians stood outside peering in, waiting for the greatest-hits collection of dishes that they miss: starchy mashes called fufu; peanut-butter soups with rice balls; the spicy, smoky spinach stew, thickened with ground pumpkin seeds, so obsession-inducing that I eventually ended up with three versions of it in my fridge. By midday, the place had the intimacy of your favorite uncle’s rec room, only for the whole neighborhood. Customers slurped funky soups, nodding along to the talk and the music, its chewy rhythms bouncing around the small dining room.

“Music is very important to Ghanaians!” Obeng said. “I want to have a band at the restaurant, so people really experience the culture.” He imagined it as an attraction to draw customers (“I’ve had white people eating here, from Brooklyn!”), but just as much, it seemed, as a means to help hold onto his Ghanaian past.


Truth Wilder than Fiction

The most controversy the factory had attracted before this came several years ago, when local bees began turning red after feasting on the cherry liquid.

I Dreamed

I dreamed I was on an archeological dig in Africa. When we looked at the map we realized it was a tiny highway island. I was squeezing pebbles of dirt and they were turning dark blue in my hands. So this is how they make oil paint pigments, I thought.
A man was telling a story: My wife came home leaving the Toyota radio blaring rock music when she went inside the house. My son was in the yard walking towards the car and the hawk swooped down and attacked him. He was only six at the time.
Does he still have two eyes, two ears? I asked. Yes, he's just traumatized, the man said.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Adult Children of Narcissistic Parents


Reading an old Dream

Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Morning Dream
I dreamt I was meeting a childhood friend's wife for the first time. I was standing on their black asphalt driveway where neighborhood children were playing. The wife turned to me and said my baby doesn't like to be photographed. Then she wheeled a stroller over to me and I saw her baby seated inside. The baby was part elephant, part infant. I immediately squatted down and nonchalantly said hello, introducing the toddler to my dog Lily who was sitting beside me. The baby gripped my hand with her trunk. She had floppy elephant ears too. I wondered if this is what happens when you have children in your forties.

Realization Dream

I dreamed a realization that we really are all connected. We are one body.

Feel Rich

If you want to feel rich, just count the things you have that money can't buy.

Money will buy you a fine dog, but only love can make it wag its tail.
-Richard Friedman

Time is more valuable than money. You can get more money, but you cannot get more time.
-Jim Rohn

You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don't make money your goal. Instead, pursue the things you love doing, and then do them so well that people can't take their eyes off you.
-Maya Angelou

Money never made a man happy yet, nor will it. The more a man has, the more he wants. Instead of filling a vacuum, it makes one.
-Benjamin Franklin

Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune.
-Jim Rohn

It's good to have money and the things that money can buy, but it's good, too, to check up once in a while and make sure that you haven't lost the things that money can't buy.
-George Lorimer

Bernard Glassman: Instructions to the Cook

Our tendency in life is to avoid things that frighten us. But in order to become whole, we need to go deeper and deeper into ourselves by reaching further and further into the things we fear.
-Bernard Glassman, Instructions To The Cook

Determination doesn't have to be extreme or dramatic. But when you apply the heat of determination, things happen. A chemical reaction starts - the water boils or turns to steam, the rice cooks, the bread rises. You get up early in the morning to practice. . .
-Bernard Glassman, Instructions To The Cook

Just because you have a little [time] doesn't mean you should do nothing. You can always do something. And doing something, starting something, making a gesture in some direction always enlarges the amount of time. The more you, do the more time you have.
-Bernard Glassman, Instructions To The Cook

It's very important to remember that we have to take care of our own life. We have to cook for ourselves before we can really invite guests to join us for dinner. We have to nourish ourselves first.
-Bernard Glassman, Instructions To The Cook

When we learn how to cook for ourselves, though, we find that our vision and understanding of the self grows and expands. The smell of the food cooking and the warmth of the kitchen always invites people in. Even though it may seem as if we're cooking for ourselves, we're always cooking for everybody at the same time. This is because we are all interconnected. We are actually one body.
-Bernard Glassman, Instructions To The Cook

Ray Bradbury Reminders

Your intuition knows what to write, so get out of the way.
-Ray Bradbury

You have to know how to accept rejection and reject acceptance.
-Ray Bradbury

. . . FAREWELL SUMMER was embedded in all these memories and recollections. Writing it was a response to my ganglion and my antenna. I do not use my intellect to write my stories and books; I have a gut reaction to the things that my subconscious gives me. These are gifts that arrive early mornings and I get out of bed and hurry to the typewriter to get them down before they vanish.
-Ray Bradbury

If you want to write, if you want to create, you must be the most sublime fool that God ever turned out and sent rambling. You must write every single day of your life. You must read dreadful dumb books and glorious books, and let them wrestle in beautiful fights inside your head, vulgar one moment, brilliant the next. You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads. I wish you a wrestling match with your Creative Muse that will last a lifetime. I wish craziness and foolishness and madness upon you. May you live with hysteria, and out of it make fine stories - science fiction or otherwise. Which finally means, may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.
-Ray Bradbury

I still love books. Nothing a computer can do can compare to a book. You can't really put a book on the Internet. Three companies have offered to put books by me on the Net, and I said, 'If you can make something that has a nice jacket, nice paper with that nice smell, then we'll talk.' All the computer can give you is a manuscript. People don't want to read manuscripts. They want to read books. Books smell good. They look good. You can press it to your bosom. You can carry it in your pocket.
-Ray Bradbury

Neurologist Oliver Sacks

Altered States
Self-experiments in chemistry.
By Oliver Sacks

The Table of Guests

In my fantasies I keep a running list of people I would like to bring to my table to break bread and sip hot soup with me. Oliver Sacks has been on the list for decades. Ever since I read The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Anthropologist on Mars.
NPR has an article here about the man who turned life into magic.

We are a story, each of us. And a story with no listener is the same as silence, as oblivion. Some stories are harder to listen to, or can't be listened to in ordinary ways, and, so, take a very special kind of listener. We are blessed to have Oliver as a listener, at once scribe and bard of the human condition.

Oliver Sacks is a rare soul-reader among us, a golden heart that beats in resonance with an enlightened intellect and a refinement of feeling that finds the humanity cloistered in the deepest recesses of a damaged life. The stories he tells are the stories of his patients, but also his own; he knows and tells us, beautifully, how each experience touches and transforms his own, how each tale he narrates becomes part of his own narrative, his own life story. In this, and in writings such as Uncle Tungsten or Altered States, his New Yorker essay on hallucinatory drugs, we learn that to Oliver life is a grand experiment of the human condition, an experiment that can only bear fruit if we have the courage to engage fully with it. Oliver is the bravest man I know.

I met Oliver in the late 1990s in São Paulo, at the home of our then editor Luiz Schwarcz. He was immediately curious about this Brazilian theoretical physicist who lived in the U.S. and wondered about the origin of the universe, while also writing for the general public about science, philosophy and religion. Being a rare example of a scientist-humanist, he took me under his wing as an equal, deeply honoring me with his humility. "Please come visit me in New York," he invited. And so I did. Since then, we have maintained a steady, if not dense, correspondence the old way. "I don't do email," he told me. So, I'd get these rare envelopes from the great man, full of encouragement and praise, always affectionately signed, "Best Wishes, Ollie."

I'd step into his place at Horatio Street as if into a temple. Books everywhere, piles of papers scattered about, and there was Oliver with his slippers on, sparks in his eyes, hardly able to contain his excitement at the simple pleasure of conversing about fundamental questions of physics, the universe, life, the mind, and his projects and latest ideas. In his op-ed, he writes of himself: "I am a man of vehement disposition, with violent enthusiasm, and extreme immoderation in all passions."

We are all deeply grateful for your immoderate passions, for the honor of sharing time "on this beautiful planet" with such human as yourself. It "has been an enormous privilege and adventure." What you have created will remain, touching the lives of many generations to come, illuminating their lives with your wisdom and humanity.

(Our own Alva Nöe wrote a tribute to Oliver here on the occasion of his 80th birthday.)

Marcelo Gleiser is a theoretical physicist and cosmologist — and professor of natural philosophy, physics and astronomy at Dartmouth College. He is the co-founder of 13.7, a prolific author of papers and essays, and active promoter of science to the general public. His latest book is The Island of Knowledge: The Limits of Science and the Search for Meaning. You can keep up with Marcelo on Facebook and Twitter: @mgleiser.

Jaques Pepin is Mesmerizing

My husband and I have long days and we don't get to see each other except at supper time and then it's early to bed, early to rise. A new ritual we have is catching Jaques Pepin on TV for a few mesmerizing minutes before bed. He is amazing.

When I wrote 'Fast Food My Way' in 2004, I hoped that my friends would prepare my recipes. Now, more people cook from that book than any other I've written in the past 30 years.
―Jacques Pepin

When you are at home, even if the chicken is a little burnt, what's the big deal? Relax.
―Jacques Pepin

I tell a student that the most important class you can take is technique. A great chef is first a great technician. 'If you are a jeweler, or a surgeon or a cook, you have to know the trade in your hand. You have to learn the process. You learn it through endless repetition until it belongs to you.
―Jacques Pepin

Jaques Pepin

Fortunately, I knew the cardinal rule of getting on with one’s fellow cooks. It applies in any kitchen and can be summed up in two short words: bust ass. Restaurant kitchens are the ultimate levelers. When you’re slammed and orders are starting to back up, you could care less about the color of the hands of the cook who is working next to you, as long as they are moving fast and effectively. Personal life, sexual preferences, accent, addictions, criminal record—none of them matter. Conversely, if he isn’t holding up his end, he could be your blood brother and you’d fire him in a second. That I had been chef at the “French White House” didn’t mean anything to these HoJo line chefs.
― Jacques Pépin, The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen

Out for the Day

The teenagers told their families on Feb. 17 that they would be out for the day, but security camera video at Gatwick Airport, near London, showed that the girls had boarded a Turkish Airways flight to Istanbul, and the Metropolitan Police in London said Tuesday that they had arrived in Syria.

Vermont: an Inspiration

In 2014, Gov. Peter Shumlin devoted his State of the State address to what he called a “full-blown heroin crisis” in Vermont. The State Legislature enacted many of his initiatives, including giving one-time grants to addiction clinics to help them reduce the size of their waiting lists. The Central Vermont Addiction Medicine clinic here used its share of the grant to extend the hours of its lone doctor. Counselors reached out to people on the waiting list, moving active needle-users like Mr. Kenney and pregnant women to the top.

Walks on the Margins

I just read this book WALKS ON THE MARGINS by Kathy Brandt and Max Maddox. It's a keeper, a 'must own' book. I will reread it when I need to remind myself what is most important in life. Go out and get a copy you won't be sorry!

Max Maddox Artist

Visit this amazing portfolio the Marcusian Fantasy here.

Look Back

If you don’t look back,

the future never happens.

-Rita Dove

Edgar Allen Poe Hung out Here


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Horrors at Rikers

The Horrors Keep Coming at Rikers


Nearly a year has passed since Mayor Bill de Blasio installed Joseph Ponte as his correction commissioner and charged him with reforming the house-of-horrors city jail system at Rikers Island, where guards have routinely beaten inmates bloody as a matter of course. The mayor has since shaken up the jail system’s management team, committed new resources to the reform project and pledged to make cleaning up the jails a top priority.

It is thus deeply disturbing to learn that savage acts of violence against inmates have continued mostly unchecked since the de Blasio administration took office.

An investigation by Michael Winerip and Michael Schwirtz of The Times, published on Sunday, identified 62 cases in which inmates were seriously injured by corrections officers between August and January, even as city and federal officials focused on reducing violence against inmates at Rikers.

This is clear evidence that the climate at Rikers has not changed and is unlikely to get better until disciplinary practices are radically improved and bad actors among the correction officers are driven out from the system.

What it means to LIVE

I don't think poetry is based just on poetry; it is based on a thoroughly lived life. And so I couldn't just decide I was going to write no matter what; I first had to find out what it means to live.
-Jane Hirshfield

The Fairy Tale

Read the original translations of Grimm's Tales from the German by Ralph Manheim. Also read The Uses of Enchantment by Bruno Bettleheim. Read Iron John by Robert Bly. Folktales are gems of important wisdom. Rapunzel is still with me today.

from Writer's Almanac:
Today is the birthday of Wilhelm Grimm, born in Hanau, Germany (1786), who with his brother Jacob collected and compiled oral folktales from nearby villages. The brothers Grimm published their first volume in 1812, many of them very dark and violent. While their original intent was only to preserve their culture's oral folktales, they soon realized children were reading their book, and began adapting the tales to take out out some of the more disturbing imagery. The old stories, which had previously performed the psychological function of preparing young people to deal with the harsh realities of medieval life, ended up as fairly sanitized cautionary tales about morality.

We can thank Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm for the tales of Snow White, Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, and Sleeping Beauty, among others.

Follow Your Heart

Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.
-Steve Jobs

Where Faces have No Face

I can see the ferry leave the shore
With a load of commuters like refugees from a land
Where faces have no face, and bodies only exist
If you put your arms around them.

They come to the city where I am
Although they do not find me

-from Edward Field's poem In the Morning
Writer's Almanac today

Monday, February 23, 2015

Forensic DNA Phenotyping

Investigators are increasingly able to determine the physical characteristics of crime suspects from the DNA they leave behind, providing what could become a powerful new tool for law enforcement.

Already genetic sleuths can determine a suspect’s eye and hair color fairly accurately. It is also possible, or might soon be, to predict skin color, freckling, baldness, hair curliness, tooth shape and age.


Thom Hartmann's Hunter and Farmer Approach to ADD/ADHD

Thom Hartmann's approach showing the differences between "Hunters" and "Farmers".

Taken from Thom Hartmann's book, "ADD: A Different Perception."
Trait as it appears in the "Disorder" view:
How it appears in the "Hunter" view:
Opposite "Farmer" traits:

Attention spans short, but can become intensely focused for the long periods of time.
Constantly monitoring their environment.
Not easily distracted from the task at hand.

Poor planner: disorganized and impulsive (makes snap decisions).
Able to throw themselves into the chase on a moment's notice.
Able to sustain a steady, dependable effort.

Distorted sense of time: unaware of how long it will take to do something.
Flexible; ready to change strategy quickly.
Organized, purposeful. They have a long term strategy and they stick to it.

Tireless: capable of sustained drives, but only when "Hot on the trail" of some goal.
Conscious of time and timing. They get things done in time, pace themselves, have good "staying power."

Doesn't convert words into concepts adeptly, and vice versa. May or may not have a reading disability.
Visual/Concrete thinker, clearly seeing a tangible goal even if there are no words for it.
Patient. Aware that good thing takes time - willing to wait.

Has difficulty following directions.
Team player.

Bored by mundane tasks; enjoy new ideas, excitement, "the hunt" being hot on the trial.
Focused. Good at follow-through, tending to details, "taking care of business."

Acts without considering consequences.
Willing and able to take risk and face danger.
Careful. "looking before you leap."

Lacking in the social graces.
"No time for niceties when there are decisions to be made!"
Nurturing; creates and supports community values; attuned to whether something will last.

- See more at:

The Table

I know a woman who was a divorced single mom raising her son alone. When he became a teen she began to resent his presence more adamantly. She always fussed about food concerning herself but her son no longer came to the table. She stopped preparing meals for her son blaming him as the reason. Every two weeks she would grocery shop and she'd buy a case of canned soup and told him to help himself. They became intensely bad room mates. One day he killed himself.

Give Freely, from the Right Place

When I was a kid all we ever heard was my mother complaining about money. I started saving my 60 cent allowance in plastic sandwich bags in my closet. I thought that at any minute we'd be out on the street. I wanted to be prepared. I had bags of nickles and pennies stockpiled.

When visiting my grandma Sophie in Brooklyn, she wanted to give me three dollars to spend when we went to Woolworth's. I told her "No Grandma, keep it, you need the money." I was six. I was an emotional sponge soaking up my parents infinite worries. When I was given a gift of money for my birthday from Aunts and Uncles I was not allowed to touch it. I was told to put it in a savings account. Then I was coerced by my mother to spend it on my parents birthday gifts. I was a wreck.

Money and gifts were not freely given. I now know those were not gifts. They were deals. Every meal was a deal. Eventually I stopped eating and collecting frying pans at flea markets, preparing to run away.
A real gift is given without any hooks or daggers or expectations.

I love to give people my freshly baked bread but I cannot do it unless I can completely let go! It has to be coming from an overflowing- abundance-of-love place within me.

I came from an advertising family where my step-father's clients came over on weekends and holidays and every day for them had a NYC midtown business lunch. I am convinced our parents had no idea that we were not their clients.

I ask myself can you give freely or is there a catch? If you have an agenda STOP. It has to be sheer love and joy like letting a red helium balloon float into a blue sky.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Shoveling Slush and Chopping Ice

Today was a day of shoveling slush and chopping ice on the communal parking lot. It felt great to be out in the sunshine seeing the neighbors. The leaks began showing up all over the house. By 4PM we had to get out and drive to Edgewater Drive to walk Lily along the pond and it was lovely. We saw our other neighborhood of friends. Everyone is dealing with snow. The sunset was a glorious magenta and the crescent moon came out.

Vegetable Beef Soup

My beef stew became a vat of vegetable soup. It is fabulous. It ended up being a mix of many things; two pounds washed and chopped kale, six potatoes, three pounds of chopped carrots, one large can of crushed tomato, six medium onions, a head of fresh garlic, a head of celery chopped, then all added to braised beef, star anise, ginger root, salt, soy sauce olive oil, and five spice powder, red wine. The vegetables were added last after the two pounds of stew beef simmered for hours in liquid inside a covered enamel pot in the oven, so they were not mushy. Everything was transferred to my huge vat-sized soup pot.

Chinese Beef Stew from the BBC


3-4 tbsp olive oil
6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
good thumb-size piece fresh root ginger, peeled and shredded
1 bunch spring onions, sliced
1 red chilli, deseeded and thinly sliced
1½ kg braising beef, cut into large pieces (we used ox cheek)
2 tbsp plain flour, well seasoned
1 tsp Chinese five-spice powder
2 star anise (optional)
2 tsp light muscovado sugar (or use whatever you've got)
3 tbsp Chinese cooking wine or dry sherry
3 tbsp dark soy sauce, plus more to serve
500ml beef stock (we used Knorr Touch of Taste)
steamed bok choy and steamed basmati rice, to serve

Braising beef

When stewing, look for meat marbled with good streaks of fat and sinew throughout – these will break down during slow cooking and give you the most tender meat. If you can get it, ox cheek is fantastic value and rich in flavour – perfect for this dish.


Heat 2 tbsp of the oil in a large, shallow casserole. Fry the garlic, ginger, onions and chilli for 3 mins until soft and fragrant. Tip onto a plate. Toss the beef in the flour, add 1 tbsp more oil to the pan, then brown the meat in batches, adding the final tbsp oil if you need to. It should take about 5 mins to brown each batch properly.
Add the five-spice and star anise (if using) to the pan, tip in the gingery mix, then fry for 1 min until the spices are fragrant. Add the sugar, then the beef and stir until combined. Keep the heat high, then splash in the wine or sherry, scraping up any meaty bits. Heat oven to 150C/fan 130C/gas 2.
Pour in the soy and stock (it won’t cover the meat completely), bring to a simmer, then tightly cover, transfer to the oven and cook for 1½-2 hrs, stirring the meat halfway through. The meat should be very soft, and any sinewy bits should have melted away. Season with more soy. This can now be chilled and frozen for up to 1 month.
Nestle the cooked bok choy into the pan, then bring to the table with the basmati rice straight away and tuck in.

Recipe from Good Food magazine, March 2009

Birthplace of Bouncers

There are few places in India where historical periods slam into each other quite so forcefully as they do on the outer edges of Delhi. The musclemen from the village of Fatehpur Beri are the descendants of the original inhabitants of the city, a genetic line that fortified itself over the course of centuries as they defended their village against waves of invaders on their way to the seat of empire.

The sons and grandsons of cow and goat herders, they were born in an outpost surrounded on all sides by croplands. As Fatehpur Beri was swallowed by the expanding city, its spartan strongmen continued to train in the traditional way, stripping down to loincloths and wrestling in a circle of mud. But they were forced to look for a new line of work.

“There is an element of the warrior in the Tanwars,” said Ankur Tanwar, who opened the village’s first gym about a decade ago. “We fought with the Muslim invaders. We fought with the Britishers.”

“Much has changed in the last 20 years,” he added, with a thoughtful pause. “We never thought we would be working in bars.”
Continue reading the main story

The man who says he led the Tanwars into the security business is Vijay Tanwar — known as Vijay Pehalwan, or Vijay the Wrestler — and he has a handshake like a carpenter’s clamp. As a boy, he was put under the tutelage of the village wrestling coach, a barrel-chested Brahmin who communicates largely in parables from the Hindu epics. His students are put on an ultrahigh protein vegetarian diet consisting of dried fruit, clarified butter (during training, a wrestler can eat a pound at a sitting) and gallons of fresh milk.

Mr. Tanwar grew up expecting to raise goats, but in 1996 a restaurateur approached him asking for “strong boys” to stand at the door of his new establishment. The scene was particularly shocking for men from villages like Fatehpur Beri and neighboring Asola, places so conservative that adult women do not leave the house without permission from their husband or mother-in-law.
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Ruth Bader Ginsburg

HER physical fierceness is legend. Scalia, her improbable good friend, once recounted a summer when he and Ginsburg had both snagged a gig teaching on the French Riviera. “She went off parasailing!” he told The Washington Post. “This little skinny thing, you’d think she’d never come down.” She has since given up that sort of recreation, but she still works out twice a week in the Supreme Court gym with her personal trainer. Plus there are the daily stretching exercises at home. At night. After work.

It’s the combination of Ginsburg’s woman-hear-me-roar history, her frail-little-old-lady appearance and her role as the leader of the Supreme Court’s dissident liberals that have rallied her new fan base, particularly young women.


Saturday, February 21, 2015

Two Roofs!

We shoveled two roofs and it was easy this time! But this storm could be 4 inches of ice and that could kill us.

Staring Eyes 'Deter' Thieves

BBC April 2013

Staring eyes 'deter' Newcastle University bike thieves

Ken Nott security at Newcastle University People feel watched and behave better, researchers believe

Bike thefts have been reduced by putting pictures of staring eyes above cycle racks, researchers have found.

A team from Newcastle University decided to test the theory that people behave better when they think they are being watched.

For two years they studied crime rates at campus racks and found a drop of 62% at those which displayed eye posters.

The crime-fighting idea is now being tested at various train stations by British Transport Police (BTP).

For the first year the Newcastle team monitored bike thefts from all racks across campus for a control figure, then placed the eye signs in three locations, leaving the rest of the racks without signs.
'Behave better'

The idea for the research was inspired by a 2010 study which showed diners in a canteen were more likely to clear away their tray when there were eyes watching them.

Academics found that bike racks which had eyes placed above them experienced 62% fewer thefts than the previous year, while those without eyes saw thefts increase by 63%.

Lead researcher Prof Daniel Nettle, said: "We don't know exactly what is happening here but this just adds to the growing evidence that images of eyes can have a big impact on behaviour.

David Holmes: "There are birds, insects, animals out there that use exactly the same principle"

"We think that the presence of eye images can encourage co-operative behaviour. One strong possibility is that the images of eyes work by making people feel watched.

"We care what other people think about us, and as a result we behave better when we feel we are being observed."

Barry Sharp, from BTP's London North Area Crime Team, said: "Research shows that this sign has had some promising results at Newcastle University.

"We are always looking at new ways to tackle cycle theft at rail stations."

The findings have been published in the journal PLoS ONE.

Raoul Fleischmann

It was on this day in 1925 that the first edition of The New Yorker magazine was published. It was founded by journalist and editor Harold Ross, who had a vision for a witty, cosmopolitan magazine. He wrote: "Its general tenor will be one of gaiety, wit and satire, but it will be more than a jester. [.] The New Yorker will be the magazine which is not edited for the old lady in Dubuque. It will not be concerned in what she is thinking about." Ross eventually convinced Raoul Fleischmann, the heir to Fleischmann yeast, to support the magazine as a financial backer. Fleischmann said of Ross: "I wasn't at all impressed with Ross' knowledge of publishing." For his part, Ross complained, "The major owner of The New Yorker is a fool and [.] the venture therefore is built on quicksand." Despite their difficult relationship, Fleischmann continued to back the magazine until his death.

- Writer's Almanac

Nina Teicholz Article

Nina Teicholz is the author of “The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet.”

R.I. Officials Sound Warnings Ahead of Storm

R.I. officials sound warnings ahead of storm
Snow, freezing rain this weekend could lead to street flooding, increase risk of roof collapses

By Donita Naylor

Journal Staff Writer Posted Feb. 20, 2015 at 6:51 pm Updated at 11:40 PM

With snow, rain and freezing rain expected Saturday afternoon through Sunday afternoon, state officials are cautioning Rhode Islanders about the dangers of roofs collapsing and streets flooding.

The National Weather Service in Taunton, Mass., on Friday issued a Winter Weather Advisory from 1 p.m. Saturday to 1 p.m. Sunday for snow and freezing rain for all of Southern New England except Cape Cod and the Islands.

The forecast for Providence calls for a 30 percent chance of snow after 4 p.m. Saturday, amounting to less than half an inch.

Here is our latest thinking for snow this weekend. More details at

— NWS Boston (@NWSBoston) February 20, 2015

On Saturday night, the chance of precipitation is 100 percent, with 1 to 3 inches of snow before it changes to rain after about 1 a.m. Sunday.

With Sunday's high expected near 42, and a 70 percent chance of precipitation, the sequence is likely to be rain or freezing rain before noon, rain between noon and 4 p.m., and rain or freezing rain after 4 p.m.

A Sunday night low around 15 would change the 30 percent possibility of rain, snow and freezing rain to all snow between 10 p.m. and midnight.

By Monday, which is expected to be sunny, the high of 20 will ensure that standing water will freeze.

Watch for signs of roof collapse

State officials and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration Consultation Program urge Rhode Islanders to clear snow from roofs before the storm, and to do it safely.

R.I. Emergency Management Director Peter Gaynor cautioned about the potential for roofs collapsing because of rain falling on accumulated snowfall of more than 50 inches, and the potential of street flooding from clogged storm drains.

Governor Raimondo asked residents to be aware of the signs that a roof is about to collapse.

Those include sagging, severe roof leaks, cracked or split wood, bends or ripples in supports, cracks in walls, sheared-off screws on steel frames, sprinkler heads that have dropped below ceiling tiles, doors that pop open, difficult-to-open doors or windows, bowed pipes or conduits and creaking, cracking or popping sounds.

Anyone who thinks the roof is in danger of collapsing is advised to get out of the house and call a building official or a roof contractor.

Dr. Michael Fine, director of the R.I. Department of Health, urged anyone removing snow from roofs to be aware of the dangers of falling from edges, through skylights or from ladders and lifts. He also urged Rhode Islanders "to take every precaution possible" to prevent injury from hypothermia, heart attack, shoveling and snow blowers.

Other tips include not using a roof rake from a ladder, making certain not to contact electrical wires and not clearing roofs in strong winds.

Mount Hope Bridge, RI

PORTSMOUTH, R.I. -- Ice in Narragansett Bay hampered the search for a person who jumped from the Mount Hope Bridge Friday just before 1:15 p.m., a Portsmouth Fire Department official said.

Several motorists witnessed the jump, Deputy Fire Chief Michael P. O'Brien said in a news release.

Several fire department marine units were unable to respond because of ice in the bay, O'Brien said, but Portsmouth Marine 2, with assistance from New England Boat Works staff, was able to punch through.

Crews spent more than 2 hours searching for the missing man, O'Brien said, but returned to the East Passage Yachting Center as conditions worsened.

The Coast Guard continued to search until sundown, but did not find anything and then suspended their search, said spokesman Ross Ruddell.

Rhode Island State Police and police from Portsmouth and Bristol were part of the response, as were a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter from Otis Air Station and a vessel from Castle Hill, O'Brien said.

David Foster Wallace

"Postmodern irony and cynicism's become an end in itself, a measure of hip sophistication and literary savvy. Few artists dare to try to talk about ways of working toward redeeming what's wrong, because they'll look sentimental and naive to all the weary ironists. Irony's gone from liberating to enslaving. [.] The postmodern founders' patricidal work was great, but patricide produces orphans, and no amount of revelry can make up for the fact that writers my age have been literary orphans throughout our formative years."

-Writer's Almanac

Friday, February 20, 2015

Camden NJ

He tells his officers that he measures their success not in tickets written, but in the number of children riding bicycles on the street.

The increased police presence has pushed drug dealing off the streets, and as a result, pushed a majority of homicides inside — and random gunfire away from children playing on sidewalks.

“When they see you every day, they can pull you aside,” said Officer Jeffries, who worked in Atlantic City before becoming one of Camden’s first newly hired officers. “I’ve had people say, ‘Act like you’re writing me a ticket.’ ”


Andrea Schneider, LCSW

Individuals who have narcissistic tendencies typically lack solid, healthy self-concepts and must extract narcissistic supply from lovers, friends, colleagues, and/or family members to feel affirmed, adored, admired, attended to, nurtured, feared, or despised. Positive or negative, the reaction doesn’t matter, as long as the abusive person can excise a response from a target’s reservoir of emotional sustenance, thus rendering the abusive person “alive” by virtue of having his or her false self acknowledged.
-Andrea Schneider, LCSW

Munroe Dairy Rocks!


Seven Degree Houdini

It's seven degrees out and windy! We'll have to shovel the two flat roofs because more snow and then rain is coming. Like Houdini I am preparing mentally.

Combating New York Tenant Harassment

Combat tenant harassment. Article

Neal Porter Interview

...a young librarian seated beside me at a Newbery–Caldecott banquet a couple of years ago turned to me and said, “I’ve never sat next to an imprint before. I’m so excited!”

From the March/April 2014 issue of The Horn Book Magazine: Special Issue: Illustration.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Why are Detectives + Inspectors Colloquially Referred to as Gumshoes?


It turns out that the original "gumshoes" of the late 1800's were shoes or boots made of gum rubber, the soft-soled precursors of our modern sneakers... At the turn of the century "to gumshoe" meant to sneak around quietly as if wearing gumshoes, either in order to rob or, conversely, to catch thieves. "Gumshoe man" was originally slang for a thief, but by about 1908 "gumshoe" usually meant a police detective, as it has ever since.

The primary modern use of gumshoe is as a noun meaning 'a private detective'. This is a narrow remnant of a group of senses having to do with stealth.

Originally, gumshoe referred to a shoe with a rubber sole, specifically, galoshes or (more relevant to our purposes) sneakers. The senses of gumshoe leading to the 'private detective' sense all have to do with the idea that rubber-soled shoes give the wearer the ability to walk stealthily.

The earliest examples show gumshoe used as an adjective meaning 'being a stealthy or surreptitious thief or tracker', and thus 'being a plainclothes police officer or a private detective'. This adjective is first recorded in 1900 and occurs a number of times before 1910. A secondary sense of the adjective, found at about the same time, is '(of actions or activities) carried out stealthily or surreptitiously' (e.g., "No gumshoe democratic campaign in Nebraska," from a 1904 newspaper).

The noun in the sense 'a plainclothes police officer; (usually) a private detective' is first recorded in 1906, as your source notes. Less frequent noun senses are 'a police officer' and the military use 'an intelligence officer or a spy'.

Some additional uses: the verb gumshoe 'to come or go stealthily; sneak', from 1902; 'to work as a private detective', from 1908; gum, gumfoot, gumboot, and gumheel, all meaning 'a private detective; and gumshoe artist and gumshoer, both also meaning 'a private detective'.

Kim Addonizio Article


Right-Angled Anglos

The right-angled anglos in our neighborhood are detectives.

Please Stay for Lunch

We count ourselves as lucky that when Anne-the-plumber came she was able to replace and reroute the cracked drainpipe and make it safer as it was located very close to our circuit breaker box. I was thrilled that she was fixing a longstanding problem and a safety issue I didn't know about.

I heated up kale soup and roasted potatoes and made sourdough toast and Bill and I invited Anne and Mikey and her plumber nephew to stay for lunch. They accepted and we set the table. It was lovely. We realized we knew each other from the community garden. Her garden was the one that was most bountiful. She grew up here and had two cows and chickens and farmland along the river back when you could. My lifelong fantasy to be in the city with a dairy cow.

Oliver Sacks: My Own Life

The Opinion Pages | Op-Ed Contributor
My Own Life
Oliver Sacks on Learning He Has Terminal Cancer


A MONTH ago, I felt that I was in good health, even robust health. At 81, I still swim a mile a day. But my luck has run out — a few weeks ago I learned that I have multiple metastases in the liver. Nine years ago it was discovered that I had a rare tumor of the eye, an ocular melanoma. Although the radiation and lasering to remove the tumor ultimately left me blind in that eye, only in very rare cases do such tumors metastasize. I am among the unlucky 2 percent.

I feel grateful that I have been granted nine years of good health and productivity since the original diagnosis, but now I am face to face with dying. The cancer occupies a third of my liver, and though its advance may be slowed, this particular sort of cancer cannot be halted.

It is up to me now to choose how to live out the months that remain to me. I have to live in the richest, deepest, most productive way I can. In this I am encouraged by the words of one of my favorite philosophers, David Hume, who, upon learning that he was mortally ill at age 65, wrote a short autobiography in a single day in April of 1776. He titled it “My Own Life.”

“I now reckon upon a speedy dissolution,” he wrote. “I have suffered very little pain from my disorder; and what is more strange, have, notwithstanding the great decline of my person, never suffered a moment’s abatement of my spirits. I possess the same ardour as ever in study, and the same gaiety in company.”

I have been lucky enough to live past 80, and the 15 years allotted to me beyond Hume’s three score and five have been equally rich in work and love. In that time, I have published five books and completed an autobiography (rather longer than Hume’s few pages) to be published this spring; I have several other books nearly finished.

Hume continued, “I am ... a man of mild dispositions, of command of temper, of an open, social, and cheerful humour, capable of attachment, but little susceptible of enmity, and of great moderation in all my passions.”

Here I depart from Hume. While I have enjoyed loving relationships and friendships and have no real enmities, I cannot say (nor would anyone who knows me say) that I am a man of mild dispositions. On the contrary, I am a man of vehement disposition, with violent enthusiasms, and extreme immoderation in all my passions.

And yet, one line from Hume’s essay strikes me as especially true: “It is difficult,” he wrote, “to be more detached from life than I am at present.”

Over the last few days, I have been able to see my life as from a great altitude, as a sort of landscape, and with a deepening sense of the connection of all its parts. This does not mean I am finished with life.

On the contrary, I feel intensely alive, and I want and hope in the time that remains to deepen my friendships, to say farewell to those I love, to write more, to travel if I have the strength, to achieve new levels of understanding and insight.

This will involve audacity, clarity and plain speaking; trying to straighten my accounts with the world. But there will be time, too, for some fun (and even some silliness, as well).

I feel a sudden clear focus and perspective. There is no time for anything inessential. I must focus on myself, my work and my friends. I shall no longer look at “NewsHour” every night. I shall no longer pay any attention to politics or arguments about global warming.

This is not indifference but detachment — I still care deeply about the Middle East, about global warming, about growing inequality, but these are no longer my business; they belong to the future. I rejoice when I meet gifted young people — even the one who biopsied and diagnosed my metastases. I feel the future is in good hands.

I have been increasingly conscious, for the last 10 years or so, of deaths among my contemporaries. My generation is on the way out, and each death I have felt as an abruption, a tearing away of part of myself. There will be no one like us when we are gone, but then there is no one like anyone else, ever. When people die, they cannot be replaced. They leave holes that cannot be filled, for it is the fate — the genetic and neural fate — of every human being to be a unique individual, to find his own path, to live his own life, to die his own death.

I cannot pretend I am without fear. But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved; I have been given much and I have given something in return; I have read and traveled and thought and written. I have had an intercourse with the world, the special intercourse of writers and readers.

Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure.

Oliver Sacks, a professor of neurology at the New York University School of Medicine, is the author of many books, including “Awakenings” and “The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat.”

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Julienne Grey's Fabulous Article


Bake a Chocolate Cake

All of this snow is amazing. All of this whiteness makes me want to bake a chocolate cake! Our plumber Anne is here with her nephew Mike and it might be a nice gesture to feed them cake.

I LOVE this poem by Alberto Rios

Coffee in the Afternoon

by Alberto Rios

It was afternoon tea, with tea foods spread out
Like in the books, except that it was coffee.

She made a tin pot of cowboy coffee, from memory,
That’s what we used to call it, she said, cowboy coffee.

The grounds she pinched up in her hands, not a spoon,
And the fire on the stove she made from a match.

I sat with her and talked, but the talk was like the tea food,
A little of this and something from the other plate as well,

Always with a napkin and a thank-you. We sat and visited
And I watched her smoke cigarettes

Until the afternoon light was funny in the room,
And then we said our good-byes. The visit was liniment,

The way the tea was coffee, a confusion plain and nice,
A balm for the nerves of two people living in the world,

A balm in the tenor of its language, which spoke through
our hands
In the small lifting of our cups and our cakes to our lips.

It was simplicity, and held only what it needed.
It was a gentle visit, and I did not see her again.

"Coffee in the Afternoon" by Alberto Rios from The Theater of Night. © Copper Canyon Press, 2007.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Leslie Gore's: You Don't Own Me

Leslie Gore's You Don't Own Me was a hit when I was in fifth grade. I received my first and most unexpected kiss that year too from a boy in my class. I always smile when I hear Leslie Gore.

You don’t own me, I’m not just one of your many toys
You don’t own me, don’t say I can’t go with other boys
And don’t tell me what to do
And don’t tell me what to say

So just let me be myself
That’s all I ask of you
I’m young and I love to be young
I’m free and I love to be free
To live my life the way I want
To say and do whatever I please

I LOVED this: Curious Case


Lunch: Potstickers in the Snow

Last batch of dumplings eaten with brown rice as the snow was falling.

Three Generations of Threats

When I was a child my mother complained that her father always talked about the possibility of his imminent death. When I was a child my mother did the same. Now I catch myself talking the same way.

Erwin Marquit: Jon's Amazing Uncle Irwin

Neither FBI surveillance nor being blacklisted for jobs ever caused him to deny his principles, even as the party “went underground” during the 1950s, when Sen. Joseph McCarthy famously accused American Communists of ­treason.

Back then, he said, when someone called a party meeting, “there was a knock on the door and a messenger would hold up a piece of paper that told when and where.”

Shrove Tuesday: Pancake Day

Shrove Tuesday
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Shrove Tuesday

Mardi Gras

Shrove Tuesday (known in some countries as Pancake Day) is a day in February or March, preceding Ash Wednesday (the first day of Lent), which is celebrated in some countries by consuming pancakes.

This moveable festival is determined by Easter. The expression "Shrove Tuesday" comes from the word shrive, meaning "confess".[1] Shrove Tuesday is observed by many Christians, including Anglicans, Lutherans, Methodists and Roman Catholics,[2] who "make a special point of self-examination, of considering what wrongs they need to repent, and what amendments of life or areas of spiritual growth they especially need to ask God's help in dealing with."[3]

Being the last day before the penitential season of Lent, related popular practices, such as indulging in food that one sacrifices for the upcoming forty days, are associated with Shrove Tuesday celebrations, before commencing the fasting and religious obligations associated with Lent. The term Mardi Gras is French for "Fat Tuesday", referring to the practice of the last night of eating richer, fatty foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season, which begins on Ash Wednesday.


Like many other European holidays, the pancake day was originally a pagan holiday.[4] Before the Christian era, the Slavs believed that the change of seasons was a struggle between Jarilo, the god of vegetation, fertility and springtime, and the evil spirits of cold and darkness. People believed that they had to help Jarilo fight against winter and bring in the spring. The most important part of Shrovetide week (the whole celebration of the arrival of spring lasted one week) was making and eating pancakes. The hot, round pancakes symbolized the sun. The Slavs believed that by eating pancakes, they got the power, light and warmth of the sun. The first pancake was usually put on a window for the spirits of the ancestors.[5] On the last day of Shrovetide week some pancakes and other food were burnt in a bonfire as a sacrifice to the pagan gods.[6]
Russian artist Boris Kustodiev's Maslenitsa (1916)

The word shrove is a form of the English word shrive, which means to obtain absolution for one's sins by way of Confession and doing penance. Thus Shrove Tuesday gets its name from the custom for Christians to be "shriven" before the start of Lent.[7] Shrove Tuesday is the last day of "shrovetide", somewhat analogous to the Carnival tradition that developed separately in countries of Latin Europe.

In the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia and Canada, Shrove Tuesday is known as "Pancake Day" or "Pancake Tuesday" due to the tradition of eating pancakes on the day.
Catholic and Protestant countries (outside those mentioned above) traditionally call the day before Ash Wednesday "Fat Tuesday" or "Mardi Gras". The name predated the Reformation and referred to the common Christian tradition of eating special rich foods before the fasting season of Lent.
For German American populations, such as Pennsylvania Dutch Country, it is known as Fastnacht Day (also spelled Fasnacht, Fausnacht, Fauschnaut, or Fosnacht).
In the Netherlands it is known as "vastenavond", or in Limburgish dialect: "vastelaovond", though the word "vastelaovond" usually refers to the entire period of carnival in the Netherlands.
In Portuguese-, Spanish- and Italian-speaking countries, among others, it is known as Carnival (to use the English spelling). This derives from the Latin carnivale ("farewell to the flesh")[8] and thus to another aspect of the Lenten fast. It is often celebrated with street processions or fancy dress. The most famous of these events is the Brazilian Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, while the Venetians celebrate carnival with a masquerade. The use of the term "carnival" in other contexts derives from here.
On the Portuguese island of Madeira they eat malasadas on Terça-feira Gorda (Fat Tuesday in English) which is also the last day of the Carnival of Madeira. The reason for making malasadas was to use up all the lard and sugar in the house, in preparation for Lent (much in the same way the tradition of Pancake Day in the UK originated on Shrove Tuesday). malasadas are sold alongside the Carnival of Madeira. This tradition was taken to Hawaii, where Shrove Tuesday is known as Malasada Day, which dates back to the days of the sugar plantations of the 1800s, the resident Catholic Portuguese (mostly from Madeira and the Azores) workers used up butter and sugar prior to Lent by making large batches of malasadas.
In Denmark and Norway the day is known as Fastelavn and is marked by eating fastelavnsboller. Fastelavn is the name for Carnival in Denmark which is either the Sunday or Monday before Ash Wednesday. Fastelavn developed from the Roman Catholic tradition of celebrating in the days before Lent, but after Denmark became a Protestant nation, the holiday became less specifically religious. This holiday occurs seven weeks before Easter Sunday, with children dressing up in costumes and gathering treats for the Fastelavn feast. The holiday is generally considered to be a time for children's fun and family games. (see Carnival in Denmark)

Shrove Tuesday, Bear guiding (pl) in Poland (1950).

In Iceland the day is known as Sprengidagur (Bursting Day) and is marked by eating salted meat and peas.
In Lithuania the day is called Užgavėnės. People eat pancakes (blynai) and Lithuanian-style doughnuts called spurdos.
In Sweden the day is called Fettisdagen (Fat Tuesday) and is generally celebrated by eating a type of pastry called semla.
In Finland the day is called laskiainen and is generally celebrated by eating green pea soup and a pastry called laskiaispulla (sweet bread filled with whipped cream and jam or almond paste). The celebration often includes sledging.
In Estonia the day is called Vastlapäev and is generally celebrated by eating pea soup and whipped-cream or whipped-cream and jam filled sweet-buns called vastlakukkel. Children also typically go sledding on this day.
In Poland, a related celebration falls on the Thursday before Ash Wednesday and is called tłusty czwartek (Fat Thursday).
In Slovenia Kurentovanje is also the biggest and best known carnival in Slovenia. There are several more local carnivals: for example in west Slovenia, a very well known carnival takes place in Cerkno. This carnival is usually referred to as Laufarija.
In some parts of Switzerland (e.g. Lucerne) the day is called Güdisdienstag, preceded by Güdismontag. According to the Duden (semi-official dictionary of the German language), the term derives from "Güdel", which means a fat stomach full of food.
In some areas of the United States with large Polish communities, such as Chicago, Buffalo and Michigan, Paczki Day is celebrated with pączki-eating contests, music and other Polish food. It may be held on Shrove Tuesday or in the days immediately preceding it.[9]


Pancakes are associated with the day preceding Lent because they were a way to use up rich foods such as eggs, milk, and sugar, before the fasting season of the 40 days of Lent. The liturgical fasting emphasized eating plainer food and refraining from food that would give pleasure: in many cultures, this means no meat, dairy products, or eggs.

In Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom and Ireland the day is also known as "Pancake Day" as it is a common custom to eat pancakes as a meal.[10][11][12]

In Newfoundland and Cape Breton Island small tokens are frequently cooked in the pancakes. Children take delight in discovering the objects, which are intended to be divinatory. For example, the person who receives a coin will be wealthy; a nail indicates that they will become or marry a carpenter.[13][14]
A pancake race in England

In England, as part of community celebration, many towns held traditional Shrove Tuesday "mob football" games, some dating as far back as the 12th century. The practice mostly died out in the 19th century after the passing of the Highway Act 1835 which banned playing football on public highways. A number of towns have maintained the tradition, including Alnwick in Northumberland, Ashbourne in Derbyshire (called the Royal Shrovetide Football), Atherstone in Warwickshire (called simply the Atherstone Ball Game), St Columb Major in Cornwall (called Hurling the Silver Ball), and Sedgefield in County Durham.

Shrove Tuesday was once known as a "half-holiday" in Britain. It started at 11:00am with the ringing of a church bell.[15] On Pancake Day, "pancake races" are held in villages and towns across the United Kingdom. The tradition is said to have originated in 1445 when a housewife from Olney, Buckinghamshire, was so busy making pancakes that she forgot the time until she heard the church bells ringing for the service. She raced out of the house to church while still carrying her frying pan and pancake, tossing it to prevent it from burning.[16][17] The pancake race remains a relatively common festive tradition in the UK, especially England, even today. Participants with frying pans race through the streets tossing pancakes into the air and catching them in the pan while running.

The most famous pancake race,[18] at Olney in Buckinghamshire, has been held since 1445. The contestants, traditionally women, carry a frying pan and race over a 415 yard course to the finishing line. The rules are strict: contestants have to toss their pancake at both the start and the finish, as well as wear an apron and a scarf. Traditionally, when men want to participate, they must dress up as a housewife (usually an apron and a bandanna). The race is followed by a church service.[16]

Since 1950 the people of Liberal, Kansas, and Olney have held the "International Pancake Day" race between the two towns. The two towns' competitors race along an agreed-upon measured course. The times of the two towns' competitors are compared to determine a winner overall. After the 2009 race, Liberal was leading with 34 wins to Olney's 25.[19] A similar race is held in North Somercotes in Lincolnshire, England.

Scarborough celebrates by closing the foreshore to all traffic, closing schools early, and inviting all to skip. Traditionally, long ropes were used from the nearby harbour. The town crier rings the pancake bell, situated on the corner of Westborough (main street) and Huntress Row.

The children of the hamlet of Whitechapel, Lancashire keep alive a local tradition by visiting local households and asking "please a pancake", to be rewarded with oranges or sweets. It is thought the tradition arose when farm workers visited the wealthier farm and manor owners to ask for pancakes or pancake fillings.[20]

In Finland and Sweden the day is associated with the almond paste-filled semla pastry.

Pancakes are traditional in Christian festivals in Ukraine and Russia also at this time of year (Maslenitsa).

In London, the Rehab Parliamentary Pancake Race takes place every Shrove Tuesday, with teams from the British lower house (the House of Commons), the upper house (the House of Lords), and the Fourth Estate, contending for the title of Parliamentary Pancake Race Champions. The fun relay race is to raise awareness of Rehab, which provides a range of health and social care, training, education, and employment services in the UK for disabled people and others who are marginalised. In 2009 the Upper House won. The race was then won by the Lower House in 2010 with the Upper House reclaiming their winning title in 2011. In 2012, the Lower House were crowned the pancake flipping champions and they reclaimed their title for the second year running in 2013.