Saturday, May 19, 2018

Chicago - Ellicott City, MD

May 19, 2018 Peace and Good, I finished up the chapter in Chicago and flew into Baltimore. Monday, a week and a half ago, I had a little medical procedure - an umbilical hernia repair. It was no biggie - just a one hour operation on an out patient basis. Yet, I have been laying low to recover. I can't say that I have suffered much pain from it. It was much more discomfort and I described myself as being a bit tender. I visited the doctor on Thursday and everything is on the mend. I wanted to have this done here in the States, because a danger of this type of problem is that the intestines could become strangulated and part of them could die. That is the last thing I wanted to happen when I am visiting some distant site where medical care could be a bit dicey. The surgeon and his staff were incredibly friendly and helpful. It was a very good experience. A good side benefit of this was that I have been staying in one site for a couple of weeks running. The friars at Ellicott City are always most hospitable to me. It feels like home. Also, for the first time in a few months, my sleeping patterns are beginning to return to normal. With all the jet lag from which I am always suffering, this is a real benefit. I finished some reading: Extra Virginity by Tom Mueller This is a very well researched and written book on the market for extra virgin olive oil. It speaks of the history of its use in diet, religion, medicine, etc. Yet, a great percentage of what is marketed as extra virgin (the highest quality of olive oil) is really doctored and of a much lesser quality. The author speaks of the value of extra virgin as an anti-oxidant, but how that value is lost when the oil is not extra virgin. Extra virgin has to be cold pressed, not treated with chemicals, carefully stored. There is even the scandal of some olive oil that is not even olive oil, but is some lesser form of oil (seeds, nuts, etc.). Begin Cutting by Gauray Raj Telhan Part of the training of physicians is the disection of a cadavar. The author speaks of his experience and how he tried to find out the identity of the person whom he disected. It was a difficult, nervous experience. Yet, he is trying to treat that person with the dignity that she deserved. It is really quite a good essay on the competing sensations in a situation of this type. Blasphemy by Douglas Preston I have read a number of books in which Douglas Preston collaborated with Lincoln Child. This was a book he wrote on his own. It is really quite good. It speaks of a scientific team that is running a super-collider in New Mexico in order to approximate conditions at the time of the big bang. The project is opposed by some Native Americans from the reservation on which the project is taking place, as well as by a teleevangelist and his minions because they accuse the team of trying to disprove the word of God (creation). The project runs into serious glitches on its own, and the turns and twists of the action take surprising and tragic directions. Hiding from Animals by Helen MacDonald This is a short essay on the practice of hiding in animal blinds either to observe their activity or to hunt for them. It deals with the almost voyeauristic tendency of those involved in this activity. Jerusalem by Simon Sebag Montefiore This is a long treatment of the history of the city of Jerusalem from its earliest days up to the time of the Six Day War. Montefiore comes from a famous English family which has sponsored a number of charitible activities in Jerusalem. The author tries not to take sides in the various disputes throughout history. Nevertheless, the author being Jewish, there was a slight tendency to pay more attention to that group than to others. What was a bit disappointing is the occasional inaccuracies in the accounts of what was going on (either from an archaeological point of view or from the point of view of the description of religious activities). 1968: the Year that Rocked the World by Mark Kurlansky 1968 was a year of riots and rebellions all throughout the world. Mark Kurlansky deals with many of the activities of that year (the Tet Offensive in Vietnam, the campus occupations in the US, the Chicago Democratic Convention, the French student rebellions, the invasion of Czechoslovakia by the troops of the Warsaw Pact, the student demonstrations in Poland, etc.). He does a creditable job of describing the origins and activities of the various movements, as well as their eventual successes or failures. Kurlansky has written a series of books on individual topics (salt, cod, paper, etc.). This book uses the talent to focus in on a singular topic to deal with a particular year instead of a particular topic. The Blessing Way by Tony Hillerman Like all of Hillerman’s books, this one takes place on the Navaho reservation in the Southwest. It involves the tribal police, but its main focus is on a couple of unexplained murders and some unusual activities that have native Americans thinking that there is an outbreak of witchcraft. The blessing way is a ceremony to protect those involved from those evil forces. All of Hillerman’s books are well done and interesting. The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory This is the story of the mother of King Henry VII of England. She always pictured herself as a holy woman of God, but she comes across in the story as self-righteous. She places in the mouth of God whatever she wants to see, especially the furtherance of her own families rights. Above all, she wanted her son to be king, or one might say, she wanted herself to become the queen mother. I am not sure that Margaret Beaufort was really that selfish and self-righteous, but that is the way she comes across in this account. Liberty by Stephen Coonts This is a story about Islamic terrorists who buy four nuclear bombs from a Russian general and who intend to attack major targets in the US. A band of investigators appointed by the President manages to sort out where the bombs are, one of which is hidden in the Statue of Liberty. The story is action packed, and is actually quite good. Rising Sun by Michael Crichton This is the story of an investigation of the murder of a woman (prostitute) during rought sex in a skyscraper owned by a major Japanese company. The two investigators assigned are one man who is new on the intercultural unit and one who has long worked with the Japanese. There are twists upon twists in the story. I have read a number of more scientific or medical books by Crichton, and I didn’t feel that this was his best work. It got a bit too preachy concerning the relationship between Japanese businesses and the US government. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude