Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Cherso (Croatia) - Rome - Alfreton (Great Britain)

September 6, 2017 Peace and Good, A couple of weeks ago I returned from the definitory's vacation on Cherso, an island off the coast of Croatia. It was a wonderful trip, very quiet and nowhere near as hot as Rome had been in August. This past week we had a definitory. That is usually quite a long one because there is all the business that piled up during the summer. Fortunately, it was not all that bad this year. On Sunday I flew into London for the custodial chapter here in Great Britain. I will be here until Saturday when I will fly to Buffalo. Originally, I was going to stay here for the coming week, but my family received very bad news that my niece Jillian passed away. I would ask you to please keep her in your prayers. This week I am in Alfreton. It is a beautiful conference center in central southern England. The weather, though, is definitely British. It has rained every day so far. The chapter has been going very well so far, even if there were a couple of glitches to iron out (there always are at chapters). I finished some reading: The Drive on Moscow 1941 by Niklas Zetterling and Anders Frankson This is an outline of the German attempt to take Moscow from the moment that Hitler made the decision to make a final push on the Soviet capital in the fall of 1941 until the moment that this push stalled and was reversed due to a powerful Soviet counter-offensive. The author sticks to the facts on both sides of the story, and presents the reasons why certain moves by either party either succeeded or failed. He premises that the failure of the offensive was due both to horrible weather (mud, and then a great freeze) and the husbanding of resources by the Soviets so that they could make a big push against the invading army. The Black Death: The World’s Most Devastating Plague by Dorsey Armstrong This is a 24 lecture series from the Teaching Company on the Black Death (or the great mortality as it was called during the Middle Ages). This was actually one of three great plagues of Bubonic/Pneumonic/Septicemic Plague over the centuries: during the reign of the Emperor Justinian, in the Middle Ages, and at the end of the 19th century in China and India. The author examines the scientific explanations, the various theories for the cause of its great mortality figure, the political and social consequences of the plague, its representation in painting and literature, etc. Critical Conditions by Stephen White A young girl is found with bloody clothes hidden in her room and a bloody gun in her bathroom. Shortly afterwards, the head of a health insurance company who has denied coverage for a treatment of the girl’s sister is found shot dead. The book is from the point of view of the psychiatrist who has to unravel the mystery of what happened in spirte of the fact that the girl refuses to talk. There are a number of twists and spins in the story which turns out to be more gruesome that one first suspected. It is well written. The Guillotine: the History of the World’s Most Notorious Methods of Execution by Charles River Editors This is one of those short accounts of the invention and the use of the guillotine. Ironically, this machine for execution was invented due to the efforts of Dr. Guillotine toward the end of the reign of King Louis XVI as a means of executing prisoners in a more humane manner (thus doing away with hanging, torture, etc.). It was eventually used throughout France and Germany, but did not spread to too many other countries. The Road to Jerusalem by Jan Buillou This is the story of a boy in Sweden who is sent to a monastery when he is miraculously saved from death after an accident. There he learns many useful skills in agriculture, cooking, building, and warfare that he eventually brings back to his homeland. There he is treated as a bit of a sissy and freak until he masterfully shows his skills at fighting. He is eventually exiled to the Holy Land to serve as a Knight as a penalty for having broken some scritural laws. Periodic Tales by Hugh Aldersey-Williams This is not a scientific study, but more of an overview of the discovery of various elements of the periodic table and their use in our daily world. The author provides some interesting information about the process of doing scientific analysis which lead to the finding of many of these elements. He is filled with a sense of wonder at the texture and color of these various minerals. He travels to places where these elements were discovered. He also deals with the invention of the periodic table by Mendeleev. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude


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