Saturday, December 23, 2006

Simply Radishing
By Michelle HeimburgerFri, December 22, 2006, 12:01 am PST
Radish sculpture at the2005 Noche de Rábanos(Photo by
Laine Towey)Most of us carve our holiday vegetables in late October, when we sculpt pumpkins (or turnips) into fearsome Halloween forms. In one Mexican town, though, veggies get festive on Christmas. For more than a century, Oaxaca's Noche de Rábanos, or Radish Night, has been a tantalizing appetizer before the Christmas feast. Each December 23, the zocalo -- the town square -- overflows with elaborate displays made of dried flowers, corn husks, and the stars of the show, radishes. Local artists spend days whittling huge radishes into human figures, animals, and buildings. Detailed nativity scenes and dioramas of Oaxacan culture often take center stage. The striking colors and bumpy, twisted shapes of the root vegetables influence the subject matter and composition, like wood or stone in traditional sculpture. But radish art is fleeting. For just a few hours, the zocalo is transformed into a magical world of tiny radish people in a crunchy red and white landscape. At the end of the night, the winning carver is announced, and the radishes of Oaxaca can rest easy for another year.Suggested Sites...
Radish Night (Noche de Rábanos) - an illustrated history of the Oaxacan festival.
Radish Night - a Flickr slideshow of impressive radish carvings.
Noche de Rábanos - many images of the festival, with text in Spanish.
Radish Recipes - if the carvings don't work out, you can always eat the rejects.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Jack’s Winning Words 12/22/06
“I feel like a tiny bird with a big song to sing.”
(Jerry Van Amerongen) Jerry is the cartoonist who creates Ballard Street. A clever cartoon is one way to sing a big song. Do you have a song that you’d like to sing? Think about it! One of my favorite songs: I Heard the Bells. I especially like the story that goes with it. ;-) Jack

Robert Joseph, The Christmas Book:
In some American Christmas carols, we encounter an optimistic spirit of freedom and democracy, ironically contrasted with the painful facts of history which surround the origins of the song. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote the words to this carol while America was in the midst of its bloody Civil War, on Christmas Eve, 1863. This was only six months after the Battle of Gettysberg where over 40,000 soldiers lost their lives. One of our country’s most influential writers, he taught literature for seventeen years at Harvard University. His faith in the power of God and man to join and transcend the horrors of war gave birth to this song, inspired by his hearing the ringing out of the Christmas bells. Nine years after it appeared as a poem, the tune was written by John Baptiste Calkin, an English organist and composer.
In 1956, the American lyricist and composer Johnny Marks wrote another score for this poem.
William L. Simon, ed., Reader’s Digest Merry Christmas Songbook (1981)
A mood of intense melancholy overtook poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in the years after his wife’s tragic death in a fire in 1861. The Civil War had broken out that same year, and it seemed to him that this was an additional punishment. Sitting down at his desk one day, he penned the poem "Christmas Bells. " As the bells continue to peal and peal, Longfellow recognizes that God is not dead after all, that right shall prevail, bringing peace and goodwill, as long as there is Christmas and its promise of new life. The poem has been sung to a tune written in the 1870s by an English organist, John Baptiste Calkin.

I heard the bells on Christmas day Their old familiar carols play, And wild and sweet the words repeat Of peace on earth, good will to men.
And thought how, as the day had come, The belfries of all Christendom Had rolled along the unbroken song Of peace on earth, good will to men.
Till ringing, singing on its way The world revolved from night to day, A voice, a chime, a chant sublime Of peace on earth, good will to men.
And in despair I bowed my head “There is no peace on earth,” I said, “For hate is strong and mocks the song Of peace on earth, good will to men.”
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep: “God is not dead, nor doth He sleep; The wrong shall fail, the right prevail With peace on earth, good will to men.”
Historical Note: This hymn was writ­ten dur­ing the Amer­i­can civil war, as re­flect­ed by the sense of des­pair in the next to last stan­za. Stan­zas 4-5 speak of the bat­tle, and are usual­ly omit­ted from hymn­als:
Then from each black, accursed mouth The cannon thundered in the South, It was as if an earthquake rent The hearth-stones of a continent, And made forlorn, the households born Of peace on earth, good will to men.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

“Tradition is a guide and not a jailer.”
(W. Somerset Maugham) In this season when neighbors express their traditions, which may be different from ours, it can be a time for learning. For me, it’s been the 7 principles of Kwanzaa and the meaning of the 8 lights of the menorah. My own tradition is the celebration of the Messiah’s birth. ;-) Jack

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

“Remember, credit is money.”
(Ben Franklin) I’m so old, I can remember when there were no credit cards. How about you? No credit cards in Ben’s day, either, but he knew that it was important not to overspend. Maybe these WWs should be posted somewhere in every home. ;-) Jack

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

“Who will bell the cat?”
(Aesop’s Fables) Many a plan has just one flaw. No one has the courage to try it. I think I’ll blog the fable so that you can read about the little mice and the cat. Maybe it will give you courage to do what needs to be done. ;-) Jack

Aesop's Fables BELLING THE CAT The Little Mice Plan to Bell the CatBelieve me, said a youthful mouse,That cat makes too much fuss,The silly thing just sits and waitsto capture one of us.You're right, a peer said, looking grim,I find the cat disgusting,You never know just where she is!No wonder we're mistrusting.Quickly a committee formedAnd came up with an answer!A bell around the kitty's neckWould neutralize the cancer!The crowd rejoiced: OUR PROBLEM'S SOLVED!But Grandma Mouse looked leery,She sighed a tired sigh and said:I've just one simple query.Who'll be the one to volunteerTo go and bell the kitty?And all kept perfect silence then,Especially the committee.MORAL: Many a plan has just one flaw: No onehas the courage to try it.

Monday, December 18, 2006

“Can one who is warm understand one who is freezing?”
(Solzhenitsyn) This one has a lot of different applications. Which one comes to mind for you? A.S., the author, had his personal “freezing” experience as a Russian political prisoner. ;-) Jack

FROM P.O. IN D., M.: A variation on the Native American "walk in another man's mocassins"?

Friday, December 15, 2006

“Roader, there is no road. You make your road by eroding it.”
(An old Spanish saying) A free translation: “Pilgrim, there is no path. You make your way by going.”
This was given to me yesterday by a friend to share with you as Winning Words. We all walk our paths. My prayer list grows longer. The name of a young mother has been added today. There’s a verse in the Bible: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, the Lord is with me.” Remember, we don’t walk alone. ;-) Jack

ANOTHER FROM J.S.: But, we can walk alone if we so choose. Kind of a sad way to go.
“Roader, there is no road. You make your road by eroding it.”
(An old Spanish saying) A free translation: “Pilgrim, there is no path. You make your way by going.”
This was given to me yesterday by a friend to share with you as Winning Words. We all walk our paths. My prayer list grows longer. The name of a young mother has been added today. There’s a verse in the Bible: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, the Lord is with me.” Remember, we don’t walk alone. ;-) Jack

Thursday, December 14, 2006

“I’ve always wanted a happy ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme. Life is taking the moment and making the best of it without knowing what’s going to happen next.”
(Gilda Radner) I read this yesterday and want to share it with you.. Are there things that don’t rhyme in your life? Gilda had a way to handle it in her’s. What do you suggest? ;-) Jack

PHILOSOPHER JOHN RESPONDS: I very much believe in happy endings. Good Friday may be on the next page for you but it is never the last word. The last word belongs to the Lord and it is Easter....

FROM HONG KONG J.C.: Celebrity meets reality.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

“Youth cannot know how age thinks and feels. But old people are guilty if they forget what it was to be young.”
(J. K. Rowling) Do you have a favorite memory of a time when you were younger? Ask a young person what they think it will be like when they grow older, and see what kind of an answer you get. You might want to share the results. ;-) Jack


>> 1. Throw out nonessential numbers. This includes age, weight and
>> height. Let the doctors worry about them. That is why you pay
>> "them!"
>> 2. Keep only cheerful friends. The grouches pull you down.
>> 3. Keep learning. Learn more about the computer, crafts, gardening,
>> whatever. Never let the brain idle. "An idle mind is the devil's
>> workshop." And the devil's name is Alzheimer's.
>> 4. Enjoy the simple things.
>> 5. Laugh often, long and loud. Laugh until you gasp for breath.
>> 6. The tears happen. Endure, grieve, and move on. The only
>> person, who is with us our entire life, is ourselves.
>> Be ALIVE while you are alive.
>> 7. Surround yourself with what you love, whether it's family,
>> pets, keepsakes, music, plants, hobbies, whatever.
>> Your home is your refuge.
>> 8. Cherish your health: If it is good, preserve it. If it is
>> unstable, improve it. If it is beyond what you can improve, get
>> help.
>> 9 Don't take guilt trips. Take a trip to the mall, even to the next
>> county; to a foreign country but NOT to where the guilt is.
>> 10. Tell the people you love that you love them, at every
>> opportunity.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

“Nothing exists except atoms and empty space. Everything else is opinion.”
(Democritus) I agree with this one, but that’s just a matter of opinion. Democritus was called “the laughing philosopher,” because he was always laughing. Some said that he was mad, but others said he just had a happy disposition. Do some laughing today, but watch out for those who might call you, mad! Democritus was a pre-Socratic thinker, born in 460 BC. ;-) Jack

FRIEND L. P. WRITES: This seems like a pretty advanced thought for 400BC! It reminds me of my undergrad days in chemistry and physics. Though I must say that thinking on the level of atoms and empty space makes my skin crawl a bit. I start to wonder how I stay disjoint from the furniture on which I'm sitting. Though in the context of biochemistry and multicellular organisms it puts an added layer of "awe" to the miracle of life. Speaking of miracles, faith, and science... have you seen the recent book by Francis Collins? I saw a short interview he gave on it the other day but have not looked at the book myself.

Evolution of the Atomic Concept and the Beginnings of Modern Chemistry
Michael Fowler
University of Virginia Physics 252 Home PageLink to Previous Lecture
Early Greek Ideas
The first "atomic theorists" we have any record of were two fifth-century BC Greeks, Leucippus of Miletus (a town now in Turkey) and Democritus of Abdera. Their theories were naturally more philosophical than experimental in origin. The basic idea was that if you could look at matter on smaller and smaller scales (which they of course couldn't) ultimately you would see individual atoms - objects that could not be divided further (that was the definition of atom). Everything was made up of these atoms, which moved around in a void (a vacuum). The different physical properties -- color, taste, and so on -- of materials came about because atoms in them had different shapes and/or arrangements and orientations with respect to each other.
This was all pure conjecture, but the physical pictures they described sometimes seem uncannily accurate. For example, here is a quote from Lucretius, a contemporary of Julius Caesar, on the ideas of Epicurus, who was a follower of Democritus:
…look closely, whenever rays are let in and pour the sun's light through the dark places in houses … you will see many particles there stirred by unseen blows change their course and turn back, driven backwards on their path, now this way, now that, in every direction everywhere. You may know that this shifting movement comes to them all from the atoms*. For first the atoms of things move of themselves; then those bodies which are formed of a tiny union, and are, as it were, nearest to the powers of the atoms, are smitten and stirred by their unseen blows, and they, in their turn, rouse up bodies a little larger. And so the movement passes upwards from the atoms, and little by little comes forth to our senses, so that those bodies move too, which we can descry in the sun's light; yet it is not clearly seen by what blows they do it.
(*called "first-beginnings" by Lucretius - we'll put "atoms", he meant the same thing.)
Is it possible some young Greeks had acute enough eyesight to see Brownian motion?
These Greek philosophers believed that atoms were in constant motion, and always had been, at least in gases and liquids. Sometimes, however, as a result of their close-locking shapes, they joined in close-packed unions, forming materials such as rock or iron. Basically, Democritus and his followers had a very mechanical picture of the universe. They thought all natural phenomena could in principle be understood in terms of interacting, usually moving, atoms. This left no room for gods to intervene. Their atomic picture included the mind and even the soul, which therefore did not survive death. This was in fact a cheerful alternative to the popular religions of the day, in which the gods constantly intervened, often in unpleasant ways, and death was to be dreaded because punishments would surely follow.
Little conceptual progress in atomic theory was made over the next two thousand years, in large part because Aristotle discredited it, and his views held sway through the Middle Ages

FROM DAZ: That may all be true, but as I recall my introduction to atomic and molecular theory, Neils Bohr came up with the modern concept and the word atom was an old old word he and others adopted because it had been used to describe the smallest things, building blocks of matter, or something like that. When I saw atom in your thing I was going to question it, but then I remembered the preceding. Not as elegant as what the professor came up with, but---

Monday, December 11, 2006

Life is shaped by the people you meet every day.”
(Ikkaku, Hosaka & Kawabata) This quote is from three persons I never met or heard of. Be on the lookout for persons of influence who will come into your life unexpectedly. If you get a chance, let me know who they might be, and how they have impacted you. ;-) Jack

G.S. WRITES: This is one of the things I work hard to guard against - wrong influences from wrong people.

Friday, December 08, 2006

“My mechanic couldn’t fix my brakes, so he made my horn louder.”
(Steven Wight) During this holiday season there seems to be a lot of honking going on in the stores and on the road. Have you checked your horn lately? And how about your brakes? ;-) Jack

Thursday, December 07, 2006

“Time will explain it all.”
(Euripides) Are things happening in your life that cause you to wonder, WHY? Euripides says to have patience. Having a faith helps, too. BTW, do you know what the word, infamy, means? ;-) Jack

FDR's "Day of Infamy" Speech
President Roosevelt delivered his "Day of Infamy" speech to a joint session of Congress on December 8, 1941. Listen to and view FDR's "Day of Infamy Speech" below.
Listen to FDR's "Day of Infamy" Speech

FROM GOOD DEBT JON IN OHIO: INFAMY...Of course December 7th, is Pearl Harbor day. Roosevelt made the word infamy famous. "A day that will live in infamy..."
In this use Roosevelt meant an extreme public crime.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

“Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly. Leave the rest to God.”
(Apache Lessons On Life) These are good lessons, aren’t they? There’s more, but I will blog the rest, if you’re interested. What else can we learn from the Native Americans? -) Jack

Happiness keeps you Sweet.
Trials keep you Strong.
Sorrows keep you Human.
Failures keep you Humble.
Success keeps you Glowing.
But only God keeps you Going.

A PASTOR WRITES: That last part..."Leave the rest to God" is something that the Church desperately needs to learn. We so often try to insert ourselves in the place of the Almighty because we are not sure God or His Word are really up to it as we are!
“Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly. Leave the rest to God.”
(Apache Lessons On Life) These are good lessons, aren’t they? There’s more, but I will blog the rest, if you’re interested. What else can we learn from the Native Americans? -) Jack

Happiness keeps you Sweet.
Trials keep you Strong.
Sorrows keep you Human.
Failures keep you Humble.
Success keeps you Glowing.
But only God keeps you Going.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

“But all endings are also beginnings. We just don’t know it at the time.”
(Mitch Albom) We are fortunate to have Mitch living and writing in our Detroit community. He does more than sports stuff. Today’s quote is an example of his philosophical side.
It causes me to muse. How about you? ;-) Jack

P.O. WRITES FROM DETROIT: Why is this so hard? It makes so much sense, but I so rarely see us able to actually do it in any setting or context!

FROM L.K. IN OH: This helps me to be more "a-mused" about life and not to take it so deadly seriously all the time.....

FROM R & F UP NORTH: Yes, "charitableness" is a good word. It is also a good attitude. thanks for bringing it to our attention.

Monday, December 04, 2006

If people would consider not so much where they differ, as wherein they agree, there would be far less uncharitableness and angry feeling.” (Joseph Addison) Addison and his friends would hang out at the 18th century English coffeehouses and discuss common thoughts such as in today’s quote. Some people do the same thing today at Starbucks. I like the word, charitableness. ;-) Jack

Friday, December 01, 2006

“In disagreements with loved ones, deal only with the current situation. Don’t bring up the past.”
(Dalai Lama—Instructions for Life) I guess that this holds true in a variety of situations. Test it out and see if it works. The Dalai Lama calls it Good Karma, ie: We get back what we give. Maybe it’s just common sense. ;-) Jack

P.O. HAS THIS TO SAY: "This is most certainly true" --- unfortunately, not often practiced.

SOMEONE SUGGESTS: Could you e-mail my mother-in-law?

FROM AN ELCA PASTOR: I am coming to appreciate the common sense wisdom of Buddhism. Perhaps we Christians could learn a lesson or two from the Dalai Lama. And, remember that Jesus taught the same stuff.