Monday, December 30, 2013

Rome - Montreal

December 30, 2013 Peace and Good, I flew back to Rome on the 23rd and celebrated Christmas Day and Boxing Day in Rome. One of the big ways to celebrate Christmas is to have a game of Tombola in the evening (Italian Bingo). I usually don't win anything, but this time I walked away with one of the big prizes. (It was a boom box, and I was able to give it away to one of the brothers who did not have one in his room - if I don't give away things like this, I will be packed down with way too many things). The 27th I flew out to Montreal. The trip was uneventful. It is quite cold up here, but Montreal escaped the terrible ice storm that hit Toronto. There is quite a bit of snow on the ground, so I am doing my daily walk (40 minutes each day) downstairs in the Church hall. What I like most about the walk is listening to books on tape as I am going around the room over and over. I have a meeting with the friars from the Polish custody of Canada this afternoon. There are around 15 of them, and they serve in four parishes up here. There are some changes coming in where they are serving, and my role is to support the Custos in his decisions (which are for the future of this jurisdiction). Most of us don't like change all that much, and the friars sometimes resist it when they have become comfortable where they are. Yet, if we don't move a bit up here, then there is not much of a future for the presence of the friars in Montreal. I managed to survive another case of food poisoning. It hits me every year or so, and is usually from sometime I eat along the way. I probably ate something bad at the airport or on the plane. Thankfully, I always carry a supply of Cipro, a powerful antibiotic, and two or three pills usually does the trick. It is just one of the prices of travelling as extensively as I do. I finished some books: Armadeggon: The Battle for Germany 1944-1945 by Max Hastings Hastings is a rather famous author about the history of war, especially the Second World War. This book deals with the closing months of the war. It covers the war on the Western as well as the Eastern front (many books all but ignore the Eastern Front). It deals with the larger movements and also with the stories of individuals (generals, soldiers, civilians, politicians, etc.). It does not sugar coat the violence, especially of the Soviet troops once they reached German territory. It freely admits that Stalin killed as many of his own and other citizens as Hitler did (if not more). It speaks of the inability of many Germans to realize that they had done anything wrong in the war, even though the evidence of the atrocities was overwhelming. But it also mentions the moral ambiguity of the air war in which tens of thousands of civilians in Germany and occupied territory were killed with no clear military advantage. It is a good, honest history of this period. The Vanished Man: A Lincoln Rhyme Novel by Jeffrey Deever The premise of the Lincoln Rhyme novels is that he is a brilliant investigator who has been paralyzed in an accident. Yet, he assembles a brilliant team around himself and solves what are considered to be unsolvable crimes. This is especially true in this volume where the murderer is an illusionist (magician) who can dress to look like almost anyone. He misleads the investigators over and over again. There are more twists and turns in the action than one would ever expect. Yet, the book is written in a way that it is almost always clear what is going on (at least to the reader). It is quite entertaining. Munich, 1938: Appeasement and World War II by David Faber This is a very disturbing book because it points out the duplicity and the gullibility of the politicians who sought peace during the crisis that led to the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia right before the beginning of World War II. Hitler lied and twisted the truth and played to ego flaws in his opponents. Chamberland, the Prime Minister of Great Britain, dealt with him as if he were a man of honor, which he certainly was not. The Czechs were left out of much of the discussion, being told that they had to give in or be destroyed by the Germans without any help from the outside. At times you just want to stop and shout, “Wake up and see what is going on.” If the allies had intervened at this point, there is every possibility that the army in Germany would have overthrown Hitler. After this diplomatic victory, he was untouchable. Longitude: The True Story of a Long Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time by Dava Sobel It is relatively easy for mariners to determine how far north or south they are by observing the sun and the stars and determining how high they are in the sky. It is much more difficult to determine longitude, how far east or west they are. There were two main techniques used throughout history. The first was astronomical – doing a series of technical observations to determine where the moon was in relation to various stars. This technique was very complicated and could take hours to determine. The other was chronological – simply see at what time certain events occur. The difficulty of the second technique is that medieval and late medieval clocks were very delicate and could lose or gain time in the turbulent seas or when humidity changed or temperature changed. There was a clockmaker (who had no technical training) named Harrison who discovered the first clock that could be taken to sea and still work almost perfectly for months on end. The Parliament in England had established a prize of 20,000 pounds for the person who devised a way to measure longitude at sea. Unfortunately, one of the key members of the committee to determine the success of an effort was a proponent of the astronomic method, and he conspired to withhold the prize from Harrison. Yet, in the long run it was the clock (and watch) method that was used until the time of radio and later satellite navigation. Happy New Year. Shalom fr. Jude


Post a Comment