Total Pageviews

Saturday, December 31, 2011

La Mulți Ani, Earth!

Happy New Year!

Shirl and I are celebrating quietly in warm and sunny West Palm Beach, Florida.  Valer Şuteu has been with us on this trip, but tonight he is the guest of the Romanian family in Boynton Beach who are also hosting my Clujian friend Cristina.  We all had dinner last night in the "happening town of Del Ray."  Atlantic Boulevard was lit brightly for Christmas and the holidays, and The Office restaurant turned out to be both Romanian-owned and a source of excellent cuisine.

So, for Shirl and me it will be another quiet New Year's Eve, probably a good thing, as tomorrow we must begin our return drive to the North.

So, in the interest of philosophical consistency, I shall close with my Facebook Status post of the day:

Wishing the whole world a peaceful 2012! (It may take a miracle, but they do happen.) 
With love and respect for my fellow inhabitants of Earth,  

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

At Sf. Ioan de Suceava In Manchester

On the 18th of December I joined Mihaela (Miki) Fera and her parents from Sibiu (now living in Arad), Romania, at the Christmas pageant at the only Romanian Orthodox church in New Hampshire.
The Fera family includes my "niece" Roxy, who is teaching now in China.  I had met Roxy in Sibiu during my Fulbright year, Miki had come to our home for Alexandru Mican's birthday party last September with her two beautiful children, but this was my first chance to meet their parents.  It was a joyful evening.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Joy, 2011!

Here's wishing a wonderful Christmas and Holiday Season to my readers everywhere!

Here are two of my favorite passages from Handel's Messiah:

(I apologize for ads if YouTube includes them.  Feel free to skip them.)

First, The Annunciation (Buna vestire),

and then, Hallelujah!

With love, gratitude, and respect,


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Pax Americana: Is it ending with the withdrawal from Iraq?

Three hours ago, my beloved Romanian niece, "Roxana Fera de Sibiu," posted the following sad link on her Facebook wall, along with her comment, "OH MY GOD!! WHAT A WORLD WE LIVE IN!!!"

Iraq Marine Throws Medals.

War is Hell.

I am not anti-military.  Quite to the contrary, I credit our men and women in uniform for our freedom.

I was born into a WWII U.S. Navy officer's family.  Two of my three brothers are Vietnam veterans.  I was rejected (due to respiratory allergies) when I volunteered in 1964 for pilot training in U.S. Naval Aviation.  Ever since, though I married young, started my family, and never myself served in the military, I have respected those who serve, and those who have served in the past.

In Budapest, on the evening of 4 October, 2011, I met a Norwegian man, 64 years old.  When he learned I was American, he said, "All the citizens of Europe should get down on their knees and say a prayer of thanks to America."  This man and I had met by chance on a Danube dinner cruise.  He had nothing to gain from me.  He was merely expressing his heartfelt belief.

So, Roxy, I respect you and your right of free speech so much that I will leave your post where it has appeared on my FB home page, and have posted your link again, here.  I am sorry for this young man, and I understand his anguish.  It is, indeed, a cruel world.  But let us not disparage all that America has given to support the security of the Free World since 1945.

Whoever it was that coined the term "Pax Americana" was exactly right.  Caesar Augustus, credited with having overseen the 50 years known as the Pax Romana (during which time the Prince of Peace was born) had his legions fight many skirmishes on the fringes of the Roman Empire.  Still, that half-century under Augustus was spared a major war, as have been the past 66 years, the Pax Americana.  The difference has been that the American Presidents are not emperors.  In defending The Free World, Americans have given freely of their blood and treasure, demanding no land, and extorting no tribute from those whose freedom they have defended, of which our exit from Iraq is present-day proof.

My Norwegian acquaintance in Budapest understood that fact.  I hope that those who view this anguished young man's video will, also.  While War is Hell, sometimes its opposite is not peace, but slavery.  If you do not believe that, you would do well to visit Memorialul Victimelor Comunismului şi al Rezistenţei, "The Memorial to the Victims of Communism and to the Resistance," in Sighetu Marmatiei, Romania.  It is a museum built inside the prison once reserved for the intellectual and artistic elite of that country, imprisoned (and in many cases killed outright, or allowed to die in prison of disease, starvation, or neglect) under the Communist dictators who ruled Romania from 1948 until the Revolution of December 21, 1989.*  

The major military/geopolitical news of this week was the end of the war in Iraq.  The American soldiers are now out.  I am glad for them, and for their families.  But, given the state of the Middle East, and of the World, this change in the status quo begs the question, is the Pax Americana ending with the withdrawal from Iraq?
*How curious that these thoughts should have come to me on December 21, 2011, exactly 22 years after the Romanian Revolution, stimulated in me by a Romanian friend.  Perhaps, it was not coincidence?

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Christmas Sprit

With an Internet message has come a blessing.  Yesterday, I received from Mihai Moroşan and his wife Waltraudi this beautiful Christmas greeting:

As you faithful readers know, Mihai Moroşan is the fresco painter from Suceava, pictures of whom and of whose work I have posted both elsewhere, and earlier in this blog.  I do not think it a stretch to say that Moroşan is a Great Master among living painters.  I am deeply touched by this gift.

Dear Traudi and Mihai, I shall be thinking of you on Christmas Day, and of the wonderful day I spent with you last December.  May God bless you, your lovely home, and all of your family this Christmas Season, and through many years to come. 

The Spirit being upon me tonight, I offer links to two of my most-loved English carols, Good Christian Men Rejoice! and The Holly and the Ivy.

For search purposes: Morosan.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Motorhead Report:1975 R90S, and Fritz.

But right now, my project is Fritz, my 1990 BMW 525i, for which I paid $1,000 .  He is Klaus' emigrant older brother, who was found, friendless, on the street here in Campton, and is responding nicely to some TLC from this old motorhead.  He has 269,000 miles (438.000 Km) on his odometer, but he runs just fine, handles like a 5-series Bimmer, and looks sharp in his new pinstriped suit.
Fritz's new clothes.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Reminiscence: A Week with Our Alex

It was the third week of May back in 2010.  Shirl, Alexander, and I had flown from Boston to Stuttgart via Zurich.  We planned on a six-week adventure in Klaus, so we'd come first to see Dietmar and Sabine in Fellbach, where Klaus stays when we are home in the U.S.A.  After a couple of pleasant days seeing our friends, their sons Max and Ferdi, and after meeting Chico, the canine addition to the family, we took Klaus south.  First we drove to Friedrichshafen, then rode by ferry across Lake Constance to Switzerland, where we shun-piked up through pastoral alpine valleys to Chur.  There, we spent our first night "on the road."  I have just come across pictures from the early part of that six-week trip, so while hardly news, these images will serve as visual memories. 
Shirl and Alex, a bit jet-lagged.
Our view from Hotel Alte Kelter, Fellbach
For this old aviator and model-builder, The Dornier Museum in Friedrichshafen proved a thrilling find.

In the early days of commercial aviation, the 1920s and 1930s,
Lufthansa was in the forefront. (And today, Alex2 (Mican) works
at the Silver Fox Inn in New Hampshire.)

Twelve-engined flying boat of 1929, the DoX.

The Dornier 217.  Thousands served the Luftwaffe in WWII.

Dornier's designs have long been innovative.
This Do31 V-STOL military transport is no exception.

Another example.  Why do it the same way as the other guys?

Swiss meadow, as we climb by GPS (shortest route) toward Chur.

Alex and Shirl in the Alps

Ain't Klaus and Shirl a stylish pair?

And from here, down the southern slopes into Italy.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Ralu Goes to Cluj

Last night I drove Ralu and her masses of luggage to Logan Airport, and saw her off on her journey home.  It was a drizzly night, so when we learned that her British Airways ticket was on a flight operated by American Airlines, we were grateful for the enclosed walkways from Terminal E to Terminal B.  We walked nearly a mile, each of us pushing a full luggage cart.  Ralu got "soaked" not by rain but by AA for a bundle of cash for her extra bags, but the agent was kind enough to ignore the fact that one was 24 pounds (10+ Kg) overweight.  If he hadn't, she'd have returned home $200 poorer.

Shirl was upset last night by the absence of her (fellow night-owl) friend, Raluca.  Our place was too damned quiet.  This must be what an empty nest feels like to an old stork, left behind to winter in Romania.  (Sad image.  I saw one last year.)

This afternoon Ralu reported her safe arrival, bags and all, at home in Cluj.  Farewell, lovely niece.  We love you and we miss you and we wish you great success and happiness.  Keep that gorgeous smile on your face, and in your heart, and you'll do just fine!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

National Day Noncoincidences

December 1, 2011
Valer came with me to Boston today, both to back me up as a driver lest the oral surgery I was scheduled to have left me uncomfortable or impaired, and to meet with Dr. Davis of Bentley University regarding their Ph.D. program.  As I shall explain below, the surgery was postponed.  Our appointment with Prof. Davis was not until 2:00 PM, so the two of us had a late morning and early afternoon free to wander through Boston on a beautiful autumn day.  We left the car at the Dental School, and took a bus into South Station, from which we walked through Downtown Crossing to the Boston Common, across the Common to the State House, and headed down Beacon Street.  

Site of the John Hancock House, Boston
 Adjacent to the State House is an historical marker at the former site of the home of John Hancock, famous as the first man to sign the Declaration of Independence, and thus the first to put his neck in a noose, had the subsequent American War for Independence been lost.

The next building on Beacon Street had a bronze sign on it that read, "Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations."  It turned out to be the national headquarters of that religious group.  The door had a sign saying, "Walk In," so we did.
Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations Building

Well, back in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, I had heard that the very first Unitarian congregation was founded in Cluj during the Reformation.  I told Valer, "This is my chance to see if that was a rumor, or an historical fact."

Inside, we inquired of the receptionist, who called upstairs to the Office of Information and Public Witness, from which a young woman named Rachel appeared, and invited us to sit and ask whatever we had on our minds.  I explained my curiosity, and my history in Cluj.  She then told us of two major strains of theological thought, the Unitarians and the Universalists, and how they had merged into the present-day Association.

Then Rachel said, "The Unitarian movement traces its origins to Transylvania in the 1600s, and to the congregation in Cluj."  So, dear Romanian readers, I think you may consider it to be historical fact that Cluj is the wellspring of Unitarianism.

Now, to be fair to Rachel, I should also report that she briefed us on the theological reason for the schism that caused that Transylvanian congregation to break with established Christianity of the time.  The Unitarians in Cluj believed in One God, and they believed the Bible to be a Holy Book, but nowhere in The Bible did they see belief in The Holy Trinity to be a necessary element of faith in God.  Hence, voicing the Nicene Creed made them feel hypocritical, an intolerable state for them.  And thus, they chose to worship God, a Creator big enough to relate to us all without need of the trappings and formal rituals of the established and emerging churches, be they Roman Catholic, Greek Catholic, Romanian Orthodox, Lutheran, or other Protestant churches.  'Twas Reformist thinking of a fundamental kind.
Gate to Harvard Yard (Normally, open to the public.)
Vali and I then re-boarded the Red Line, and rode the subway to Harvard Square, where we were blocked from entering Harvard Yard, temporarily closed to the public because the Occupy Wall Street enthusiasts had a protest demonstration going on there, and the University had decided to keep it orderly by admitting only people with a Harvard University ID.  I was told by the officer at the gate that as an alumnus, I could secure a temporary ID at Holyoke Center, but we decided time was too short, and we were hungry.  So, we ate a good lunch at a pub on JFK Ave., then rode the "T" back into Kendall Square, where we enjoyed a good meeting with Dr. Davis over coffee at the Royal Sonesta Hotel.

Dental Disappointment

Back home that evening, I wrote the following e-mail to inform three of my doctors of the morning's events at Boston University's Dental School.  It was addressed to my ophthalmologist, a retinal specialist at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, to whom I had written a few days earlier regarding my left eye problems.  I sent copies to my primary physician and my B.U. periodontist, whose work had been postponed that morning.
Dear Dr. C:
In my philosophy, there are no coincidences, so I have a hunch that my dental disappointment of today may prove to be a blessing in disguise for my eyes.

Today I was refused a scheduled oral surgery (three implants) at the Boston University Goldman School of Dental Medicine.  I'd already been fully draped and given Novocaine when the overseeing professor, one Dr. M, asked me, "Have you taken any aspirin in the past 24 hours?"  When I told her, "Yes, my nightly dose of 975 mg," she looked startled, asked me to explain that dosage, then canceled the procedure, citing a risk of excessive bleeding.  My implant surgery has been rescheduled for January 23, 2012.

As my medical record at your office will show, I have been taking three 325 mg Enteric-coated aspirin tablets nightly.  I have done so since about 1984, when my arthritic finger pain (from typing many HBS doctoral program papers) had caused me to ask my family doctor (at the time in Westborough, Massachusetts), what to do about it.  He recommended aspirin in that dosage, which he termed "the minimum anti-inflammatory dose," and it worked.  Hence, I have been taking 975 mg of enteric-coated aspirin nightly, ever since.

Now, it occurs to me that the thin blood induced by this high dose of aspirin may be contributing to the slow healing of my current cloudy vision in my left eye, especially since I have on many occasions seen a reddish cast in the blur, as well as occasional new dark floaters.  It may be that one (or more) of my burst retinal microaneurisms has been bleeding into my eye repeatedly, ever since October 6, when my current vision problem arose.

Action Plan

For the two weeks prior to my December 16 visit to your office at DHMC, I shall reduce my aspirin intake to one 325 mg aspirin tablet per day.  I hope that this reduced intake of aspirin will improve my blood's clotting ability, and thus speed the recovery of full vision in my left eye.

I am not at present planning to go off aspirin entirely, as it may have heart-protective effects, and at my age it makes little sense to risk trading one problem for a potentially more serious one.

I am copying this message to Dr. R., my primary physician in Plymouth, NH, and to Dr. "Tina", my periodontist at BU.  I shall keep you good doctors all posted if I experience any major effects, for good or ill.  Please let me know if any of you has specific advice contrary to my stated plan.

Thank you for your caring, and for your excellent work in treating my diabetic retinopathy over the past several years.

Sincerely yours,

Duncan McDougall
 So, dear readers, please wish me, and my eyes, and my teeth, "Noroc și sănătate!" 

Thus went Romania's National Day, 2011, just another day in the life of your humble blogger.  Da, da, da, da!