Thursday, January 14, 2021

Rome - Castro Valley, CA

January 14, 2021 Peace and Good, I left Rome this past Monday to begin my canonical visitation in the province of California. Most of the visitation will probably be done by phone and skype, but at least I will be in the right time zone. The regulations concerning covid were not all that bad. I had had myself tested a few days before the flight even though it was not yet required. Now the rules have changed and flight to the US will require testing. The flight from Rome to Frankfurt was fairly full, but that from Frankfurt to San Francisco was only about 1/4 full. We hit some awful air turbunlence at the Canadian/US border, the worst I have every experienced (for intensity and length of time). I am at our friary in Castro Valley. I am quarantined to the friary for ten days, but the first five days I will even avoid contact with the other friars. I just don't want to get anyone sick. I finished some reading: Caffeine: How Caffeine created the Modern World by Michael Pollan This is an audible books presentation. It is one of their original productions, and in two hours the author is able to present his relationship with caffeine, as well as a scientific and social study of the substance. I was able to obtain it for free (they allow two free audible presentations per month as part of their purchase package). The presentation is quite well done. The Sun Dog by Stephen King I always like King’s books, for he is a master of language and symbolism. In this case, a young man receives a polaroid camera as a present, but the camera only produces a picture of a scene in which a wild dog slowly becomes aware of the picture taker and prepares to attack him. This story takes place in New England, and there is an elderly store owner who has an emporia where he sells just about everything (and also is involved in other not so favorable activities such as loan sharking). Splendid Solution by Jeffrey Kluger This is an account of how Dr. Jonas Salk and his team were able to develop a vaccine against polio in the 1950’s. Salk comes across as quite a favorable figure, while his opponent, Dr. Lou Sabin, comes across as a petty, vindictive person. The account gives quite a bit of detail without getting lost in the minutia of scientific topics. I quite enjoyed the book. 36 Revolutionary Figures by The Teaching Company This is a collection of quick biographies of important figures who changed history throughout the ages. Some of the presentations are better than others (for they are taken from different courses and at times are really not intended to be a presentation of a person’s life). Yet, it was worthwhile listening to this course. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens This is a book I had written in high school, but I had not touched since. It was a joy to listen to it. I had not remembered much of it at all. Dickens has his style which is a bit flowery, but pleasant. Rome: A History is Seven Sackings by Matthew Kneale This is a fine book which speaks about the history of the city of Rome throughout its history from its founding until the present day. It includes the attacks by various groups of barbarians and by medieval and renaissance invaders. Sometimes the defenders of Rome were more successful than others. Sometimes the defeat of the Roman forces led to a terrible sacking, other times it led only to a change of very often arrogant leaders. The author is rather good in his portraiture. Genghis Khan by Walter J. Scott This is a short account of the life of this great Mongol invader. It presents the history just before his arrival, what he did, and what followed his reign. Rather than creating an actual empire, he created more of a movement that only loosely ruled the domains which he conquered (at a horrible cost for those who resisted him). The Battle of Bunker Hill by Hourly History This a short account of the Battle of Bunker Hill when the British attacked the top of a hill outside of Boston. While it was technically a victory for the British, it was what is called a Pyrrhic victory – that it cost the British so much that they realized that it would be difficult if not impossible to defeat the Patriots. Keep safe, fr. Jude


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