Thursday, October 13, 2016

Rome - Montreal

October 13, 2016 Peace and Good, The last few days of last week were spent in Rome. There I had the joy of showing my niece from Chicago, Christine, and her husband, Reid, around Rome. They arrived on the 4th and left on Saturday morning. Even though I have theoretically lived in Rome for the past six years, I get very few opportunities to see the city. It is sort of like what happened growing up in Buffalo which is just down the road from Niagara Falls. The only time that we really got to see it was when relatives were in Buffalo to visit us. Likewise, when I am in Rome, I am usually there for meetings and don't get to see the sights. So it was great to see my relatives, and it was great to see the city as well. One of the things that we did was go to an audience with the Holy Father. It is funny that until recently I have not gotten to see him up close, and just in the past two months I have seen him three times: in Cracow, in Assisi and at St. Peter's Basilica. He looked tired this past Wednesday, as he did in Assisi. I have to keep remembering that he is around 80 years old, and that is really a lot to ask of someone at that age. On Sunday I flew out to Montreal where we have been having meetings for the past few days with the provincials of our federation. This is a beautiful city, and the friars here have been incredibly hospitable. They are Polish friars, and the Poles show hospitality with food. That has been the case, and I think we all put on 10 pounds in the past few days. Tomorrow I head on to the next city: Seoul. I will be there to give my report on the visitation that I did there to the friars present at their provincial chapter. I will arrive on Saturday and leave on Thursday. I have finished some books: A Certain Recollection by John Buentello This is the story of a police officer who responds to being awakened in the night by passing police cruisers by getting up and going to the scene of the crime. The only problem is that he is not an acting officer. He is retired and is suffering from dimentia. Yet, his natural instincts are powerful and he is able to solve the crime before the other officers sufle him off the scene. Hitler’s Scientists by John Cornwall This is an overview of science in medicine from the end of World War I up to the end of World War II. The author speaks of how many of the scientists did terrible things, some because they wanted to but others because they were afraid of losing their privilege or status. He contrasts the many failed research projects in Germany because of lack of organization (with various offices fighting for projects and refusing to share their findings with others) with the more centralized research projects in Great Britain. He sounds a warning at the end concerning scientists (e.g. geneticists, virologists) who feel that they can do whatever they want because they are only trying to learn (without examining the possible terrible consequences of their choices). Tales of the Trash by Peter Hessler This is a really fine short story of an ex-patriot living in Cairo and his trash collector. Although those who collect trash seem to be at the bottom of society, it is actually a very developed system of work and bribes and rights which regulates trash collection better than most modern companies could ever devise. The trash collector becomes a type of friend with this man, sharing beers in the evening and the trash collector even asking the man’s advice with medical matters. Rival Rails: the race to build America’s Greatest Transcontinental Railroad by Walter Borneman This is the story of the quest to build transcontinental railroads (not just the first one) and all the machinations what various rail barons went through to get their rails down and to try to keep others from doing the same. One get the sense that most of those building up their railroad chains (either through construction or through purchase of pre-existing railroads) didn’t really consider the cost and profit question, nor did most of them have as their first priority the service that they were going to offer to their customers. There is an interesting aside about a Fred Harvey who set up the first decent railroad restaurants and then also the best dining cars available. Serial Killer by Jon Breen A couple of police detectives go to a creative writing class to share their experiences of policing with those who want to write detective novels. One of the students asks whether they have ever dealt with a serial killer. They recount how a man feeding the birds in a park became so upset with another man who tried to stop him because of the harm he was doing to the birds that he eventually killed him. There is a clever twist when they are asked why the detectives would consider him to be a serial killer when he only killed one man. I hope you have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude


Post a Comment