Memorial Day

Today is Memorial  day, Of course I am young enough to remember when it was called Decoration Day.

You have to give a lot of credit to those who did military service in  the many wars we have been in and sadly too many lost their lives.   My personal experience was a year of so in Army ROTC at MIT.  When I went there it was required for freshmen and sophomores to take ROTC  - since MIT was a land-grant univesity. Classes included military history and learning about weapons.  I did learn how to clean an M1 rifle and got to fire one once at the MIT rifle range. We had to dress properly and make sure our shoes were shined and the brass buttons were clean and shiny.

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Sometime in my sophomore year I heard that you get excused if you had flat feet.  So I went to the MIT infirmary but the doctor said I didn't have flat feet,  but my eyesight which required glasses would get me my deferment. When I left grad school in 1962 and got a real job I had to worry about being drafted and this was Vietnam war days.  The company I went to work for, Honeywell Computers, was considered a critical industry I got a deferment.

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Incarceration in the US

The US has the highest incarceration rate of any country. 639 per 100,000 people or a bit more than 2 million people. For comparison Canada's rate is 107.

It is interesting to think about why people are incarcerated.

- In simple terms: it is punishment for the crime that was committed

- Make the victims feel better - the victims suffer from the crime, make the criminal suffer. an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. Surveys of victims show that a majority of them would prefer if the money were spent on rehabilitation of the prisoners.

- Prevention from committing another crime while incarcerated

- Setting an example of what happens when you commit a crime to deter other people from committing similar crimes

- In some states prisons are called Houses of Correction. The idea is to retrain and motivate prisoners to not commit crimes after they are let out. Well, that really works well: prisoners are in crowded conditions among many other people who have committed crimes - that is a bad environment. Not enough - if any - properly trained staff to help rehabiltate them by dealing with health problems and skill improvements is another problem.

The US crime rate is in the middle but some statistics are that about 2/3 get arrested within three years of being let out so it doesn't look there is much correction.

I think in some cases instead of treating the people as criminals where they won't talk because what they say can be used against them time should be spent with them to understand the background of why they did it and create a constructive plan for rehabilitation and working with organizations to change policies and procedures that can help avoid similar crimes.
with camera

Guana Island 2022

We returned from our trip to Guana Island, a private island resort in the British Virgin Islands. Our first trip there was in 1983 - we think this was our 25th. There are at most 35 guests - it is a large island with many beaches, hills, and small mountains. All the rooms are different - usually in a building with one or two others - and extra hill walking.

We usually go at the same time and encounter other people who have been there at the same time before. It is quite social - dining is at tables with 6-8 people although you can eat privately if you want - we didn't. And there is cocktail hour - no charges for liquor and you mix your own. The food is excellent - I gained a few pounds in 7 days....We did lots of walking. The dining facilities and rooms are up a hill and we walk up and down to the beach and other several places a few time a day. (they will drive you, but we choose to walk).

The owner is very supportive of preservation. There is a salt pond near the main beach and a flock of flamingos lives there. We always count them when we get a good view - there were 21. In the fall they have scientists' month and a bunch of them come down and study things and do work.

Many years ago they introduced a few Rock Iguanas (an almost extinct species) and they are thriving - we saw quite a few of them at various times.

There is a croquet field - it wasn't in good shape - missing stakes and some wickets when we got there. We found some stakes, but no wickets so I fashioned some out of colored straws which worked pretty well. I beat Robert each time - once he was ahead and then suddenly it started to rain and there was wind so we ran for cover. When we reutrned to the field the wind and blown the balls around we had to start over. When I was a kid we had croquet in our yard in our summer house on the Jersey Shore and I played a lot.

There used to be lots of pelicans - we saw one.


Martin Luther King Day

Today is Martin Luther King day.

A very incredible person who was a constructive activist in the civil rights movement in the
50s and '60s until he was assassinated in 1968.

Wikipedia article

He was in prison a number of times as a result of his work.

This picture was taken shortly after King, Ira Blalock (on the left), Gordon Gibson (on the right), and some others were released from the Salem jail in 1965. As it turns out I knew Ira Blalock because he was the minister in a UU church in Wellesley that I went to for a while with a bunch of friends. And Gordon Gibson was a minister in another Boston area church who performed my first marriage in 1966 (in the MIT chapel). -- and yes, I have posted this before.

Where we slept and danced in 2021

We slept:
—  at home in Gloucester and Cambridge
— 2 nights in Springhill Suites hotel in Columbus attending Dean and Tim's wedding
— 3 nights in Robert's brother's house in Philadelphia

We danced:
— at several virtual Contra dances in the kitchen in Gloucester and the living room in Cambridge
— at a English Country Dance in Harvard Square
— at a Contra Dance in Worcester

2020 was better — we were on a Road Scholar's trip to southern Africa  in January and Guana Island in the BVI in Feb/March. 12 Contra dances, 5 English Country dances. Last live dance was on March 5th.

Hopefully 2022 will be better.


Listening to music on Christmas day

Our new tradition is to listen to some of our records and CDs instead of WQXR or WCRB — classical music stations - that play too much Christmas stuff. The first 4 in this list were CDs, the rest were records.  A couple of them are not in good shape  even after cleaning.

     A pretty wide range of music types

Boston Cecilia: Brahms   (Robert was a member of this group)
Frost and Fire: Midwinter Spring  (Contra dance music with friends on the group)
William Byrd:  Cantions Sacrae
Mozart: Viola quintets  - Guarneri Quartet
Blanco y Negro: Hispanic songs of the Renaissance
Josquin des Pres: Missa L'homme Arme
The Scholars: Golden Age of English Sacred Music
Beatles: Rubber Soul
Bob Dylan: John Wesley Harding
Robert Shaw Chorale: Festival of Carols -incl. Ceremony of Carols
Crosby, Stills, and Nash: 4way Street
Trio Live Oak: Don Alfonso the Wise (music of mediaeval Spain)
Early American Christmas Music
Wonderful Town
Johannes Ockeghem: Missa Prolatenum
Schubert: String Quintet in C major
Voice of the Turtle: A Coat of Many Colors (Sephardic music)
The Legendary Son House
The Quadrivium: Long Time Ago (I was a member of this group)

Voice of the Turtle and Trio Live Oak performers were all in the Quadrivium_



When I was a kid I was a Yankees fan - I lived in NYC. My father was a NY Giants fan. We occasionally listened to games on the radio and I went with my father to several games at the Polo Grounds, Ebbets Field and the original Yankee Stadium. And to several more at Yankees games with a school friend. Then I lost interest.

One summer at camp I became a Milwaukee Braves fan (was Boston Braves, now Atlanta Braves) and listened to a few games. Then I lost interest and ignored the sport.

In 1986 I remarked to Robert (rsc) "Oh the RedSox are in the World Series - let's watch some games" and we did. Little did we know what this was going to do to us. We started paying a bit of attention to games. In 1989 we went to some games in Fenway Park and continued doing this for a few years. And in 1994 we got Season's tickets (weekday games) and shared with several other people and started going to 10-15 games each year.

We watch most games on TV - and part-time on the radio during dinner or in the car.

While travelling we have gone to games in both the completely redone old Yankee Stadium and then the new Yankee Stadiums, Giant's games in Candlestick and then Oracle park, Twins in Metropolitan Park in Minneapolis, old Tiger stadium in Detroit, Mariners at Safeco field in Seattle, Phillies at Veteran's and Citizen's Park in Philadelphia, Cubs at Wrigley field in Chicago, Mets at Shea statium (me only), Athletics at Oakland Coliseum. And the RedSox triple A team in Pawtucket. I've been in Rogers Centre in Toronto (Blue Jays) not for a game but a computer conference.

So I've seen games in 17 stadiums and been in one other.

The UserPic is for the Canterbury RedSox (New Zealand - softball) - they weren't playing when we were there.

ROTC - 1957

Yesterday was National Armed Forces Day.

The closest I ever came to being a member of the Armed Forces was freshman year at MIT where taking ROTC was a requirement. We marched in uniform on Briggs Field or in the Armory. We had classes in military history and learned how to clean M1 rifles. I got to shoot an M1 once.

In my sophomore year I heard that you could get excused for flat feet so I went to the MIT infirmary. They said I didn't have flat feet, but my eyesight which required glasses would get me excused so I filled out a form and that was it.

Operas we've watched since January 9

Since January 9th we have watched 31 MetOpera streams. Coupled with 52 earlier in the series we've watched 82. One of the few good features of the pandemic. They do one every night and into the next day.

Mozart Le Nozze di Figaro
Strauss Capriccio
Bizet Carmen
Puccini Tosca
Wagner Die Walküre
Mozart Don Giovanni
Gounod Faust
Wagner Die Fliegende Holländer
Verdi Rogoletto
Verdi La Forza del Destino
Mozasrt Le Nozze di Figaro
Wagner Das Reingold
Poulenc Dialogues des Carmélites
Verdi Un Ballo in Maschera
Verdi Falstaff
Mozart Don Giovanni
Bizet Carmen
Pucdcini Turandot
Tchaikovski The Queen of Spades
Verdi Il Trovatore
Mozart Die Zauberflöte
Britten Peter Grimes
Dvorák Rusalka
Puccini Manon Lescaut
Giordano Fedora
Puccini Tosca
Tchaikivsky Eugene Onegin
Handel Agrippina
Mozart Idameneo
Mozart Don Giovanni
Wagner Die Fliegende Holländer

Of course we are about to have time conflicts with the modern opera: RougeSauxania - tedious plot, uninteresting music, lots of prima donnas, at least 9 acts, can't read synopsis ahead of time....

My mother's knitting

My mother was a serious knitter. A significant portion of her clothes were things she knitted - sweaters, blouses, skirts. This picture is of three sweaters she made for me that I still have and wear. The yellow one on the left was made in ~1960 and is still in good shape. The two others are a bit later.

She often knitted while doing something else: watching TV, reading a book,... Once I saw her watching TV and reading a book and knitting all at the same time. When she died I donated all her clothes that were in good shape to a charity shop. I hope some people got to enjoy wearing some of them. She had a large supply of wool, knitting needles, and knitting books. I sent them to one of her friends because I remembered they had been knitting companions and she was pleased to get them.

I tried knitting myself, but was never good at it. I did have my own collection of wool and made an inkle loom and made some sashes and mini scarves on it. I also tried crocheting some granny squares with the intent of making a blanket but never did. I gave away all my wool. Considering all the stuff from ancient days that I still have it is amazing that I actually got rid of that stuff.