Saturday, August 29, 2009

Whole Foods CEO Defended; Critic Hosed

And on CNBC too. Amazing.

Blueberries, Mmmmm!

Once upon a time, a carton of frozen yogurt in the fridge stood by for late evening emergencies. Now it's frozen blueberries, by the half cup. Ellen Kanner writes about about blueberries in the Herald here. She states in part:

Blueberries get their deep bluish-purple hue from anthocyanins, a flavonoid that gives them more antioxidant power than grapes or cranberries. And U.S. Department of Agriculture research suggests that consuming produce at the top of the antioxidant scale may slow down the aging process.

Ms. Kanner encourages freezing your own, when they are cheap and fresh at the store. But Publix also sells them frozen by the 3 lb bag. A one cup serving is 70 calories, 1 gram of (plant) fat, and 4 grams of dietary fiber. A half-cup serving simply can't be beat as a snack, and going back for seconds is no disaster.

(There is a vegetarian blueberry muffin recipe at the Herald link. Although the recipe shows dairy and eggs, the alternative ingredients to make it vegan are also noted. Carol is cooking the vegan version tonight. The lottery I won 39 years ago just keeps on winning.)

Friday, August 28, 2009

James VanderKam

The Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls, by James VanderKam and Peter Flint, came in the mail yesterday via James VanderKam is a Calvin College grad and now a professor in the Theology Department at Notre Dame. Here is ND's bio of Dr. VanderKam. I have started the book, and it already appears to be a comprehensive and well-written overview of the subject. (Here is Amazon's bibliography of Dr. VanderKam's books.)

Are you surprised by the Notre Dame/Calvin College connection? The sister of a friend of mine is on the Calvin College faculty and has done some visiting professor time at Notre Dame. There is a very important Wheaton College connection to ND as well: Mark Noll is on the faculty at ND. I fear that our older brothers in the Roman Church are more open to those kinds of connections than some of the younger of us are.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Undocumented Aliens, Health Care, and Miami-Dade

Earlier I posted on the fact that our county supported hospital system (Jackson Memorial Hospital or "JMH")is a place where uninsured people go for health-care. Here is another article from the Miami Herald on the crushing burden that care for undocumented aliens imposes on that system.

Undocumented aliens are not here to enjoy the sun, they are here because at one time at least there were jobs, in addition to the social support system of which JMH is a part. Now there are no jobs. Some, no doubt, are heading home or have already gone home becuase of it. I doubt that the availability of JMH health care would otherwise keep them here, but I don't know that and I don't know what other social support services there are to which they have access.

But the point is that they are here in the first place because American employers had jobs ready for them, if only they would come. These are American employers who paid no benefits. The rest of us subsidized those employers. That annoys me, not the fact that the undocumented immigrants come here or that they sometimes need help that we can give them once they get here. What annoys me is that the American employers are getting something for nothing.

This is why Wal-Mart is on board with national health care. The fact is, we are not going to let people get sick and die on our streets, regardless of where they come from, if they are willing to get in line. Thus, the people of Miami-Dade tax themselves already to provide support for JMH's free, no-INS-questions-asked, medical services. Why should we have to support the contractors and speculators who over-build Miami-Dade and employ these "cheap" workers? Make 'em pay!

Coffee, Anyone?

Interesting article from the Herald that addresses the question of whether caffeine is "healthy." It should address the question, does it matter whether it's healthy? Fortunately, there is no animal protein in it, unless you add dairy. None of our kids would ever visit if we went off coffee. We won't be.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The President's Supreme Court and Surgeon General Nominations as "Teaching Opportunities"

Justice Sotomayor has a history of type-1 diabetes since age 8.

Regina Benjamin, MD, our 18th Surgeon General, is 50 pounds overweight.

See Dr. McDougall's discussion.

Friday, August 21, 2009

A Dead Sea Scrolls Bibliography

Our tour of the exhibit entitled Dead Sea Scrolls: Words that Changed the World earlier this month at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto moved me to create this list on Amazon. (See my post about the visit here.)

Maternal beef diet and lower sperm count

A mother's high beef consumption while pregnant was associated with lower sperm counts in her son, according to a study led by Shanna H. Swan, Ph.D., professor of obstetrics and gynecology, of environmental medicine, and of community and preventative medicine [of the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry] and reported in March 2007 in the "Journal of Human Reproduction." Researchers sought to examine the relationship between semen quality and long-term risks from growth hormones and other chemicals in beef. While the study results revealed a significant link between the lowest sperm counts and mothers who were the highest beef consumers (seven or more beef meals per weeks), researchers could not pinpoint hormones, pesticides or other environmental chemicals in the animal fat as a direct cause.

-News Release from the UR School of Medicine and Dentistry

New Ford F-150

I taste it, too. Thanks, Glenn.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Stokes & McClintock Fun

A Funny, Funny Site

There, I Fixed It.

Well, Yuk!


My first friend was my little brother, Walter, who died when he was two and a half, and I was five. He was called "Little Walter" to distinguish him from my dad. I don't mean that my dad and mom were not my friends. Of course they were and of course they were first. But Walter was my first buddy. In that special way, he was my first friend.

Brothers since then have always interested me. There were sets of brothers that I played with in each neighborhood where we lived as I grew up. There have been brothers involved in my law practice: there were two who built a wonderful business together, and there were two who hated each other so that they each carried a gun when they knew that they would have to see each other.

So it has been with a special joy and apprehension that I helped (am helping still?) raise two brothers.

I heard this on NPR yesterday about two brothers. It was powerful.

Let Doctors and Patients Make Decisions

Isn't that argument a mainstay of the left's pro-abortion argument? After all, the decision to terminate a pregnancy is really a "health care decision," we are told. It is not one so laden with profound human values that the community at large should be involved.

But the left's national health care argument seems to be that we must concede to the government major "health care decisions" when they deal with the treatment of post-born people.

There is a consistency here, however. The outcome of each approach involves a higher probability of death for the vulnerable subject.

Looking for the Bleeding Edge?

1190 Dove.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Puppies Behind Bars?

I heard this interview on NPR today, about how "service dogs" trained by prison inmates enable Iraqi war combat veterans with Post-Traumatic Syndrome integrate back into society. The interview described an amazing program, and it was quite moving in parts. A podcast is available for download at the link.

"I was in my PJs going to bed, and Dad's out street-fighting."

Let's hear it for slim, seventy year-old men who are in great shape and have brave hearts.


A Jewish friend sent this to me. It makes me want to go to Israel.

Israel is a country where the same drivers who cuss you and flip you
the bird will immediately pull over and offer you all forms of help
if you look like you need it.

Israel is the only country in the world with bus drivers and taxi
drivers who read Spinoza and Maimonides.Israel is the only country in
the world where no one cares what rules say when an important goal
can be achieved by bending them.

Israel is the only country in the world where reservists are bossed
around and commanded by officers, male and female, younger than their
own children.

Israel is the only country in the world where "small talk" consists
of loud, angry debate over politics and religion.

Israel is the only country in the world where the coffee is already
so good that Starbucks went bankrupt trying to break into the local
market.Israel is the only country in the world whose soldiers eat
three sets of salads a day, none of which contain any lettuce (which
is not really a food), and where olives ARE a food and even a main
course in a meal, rather than something one tosses into a martini.

Israel is the only country in the world where one is unlikely to be
able to dig a cellar without hitting ancient archeological artifacts.

Israel is the only country in the world where the leading writers in
the country take buses.

Israel is the only country in the world where the "black folks"
walking around all wear yarmulkes.

Israel is the only country in the world that has a National Book
Week, during which almost everyone attends a book fair and buys books.

Israel is the only country in the world where the ultra-Orthodox Jews
beat up the police and not the other way around.

Israel is the only country in the world where inviting someone "out
for a drink" means drinking cola, coffee or tea.

Israel is the only country in the world where bank robbers kiss the
mezuzah as they leave with their loot.

Israel is one of the few countries in the world that truly likes and
admires the United States .

Israel is the only country in the world that introduces applications
of high-tech gadgets and devices, such as printers in banks that
print out your statement on demand, years ahead of the United States
and decades ahead of Europe .

Israel is the only country in the world where everyone on a flight
gets to know one another before the plane lands. In many cases, they
also get to know the pilot and all about his health or marital problems.

Israel is the only country in the world where no one has a foreign
accent because everyone has a foreign accent.

Israel is the only country in the world where people cuss using dirty
words in Russian or Arabic because Hebrew has never developed them.

Israel is the only country in the world where patients visiting
physicians end up giving the doctor advice.

Israel is the only country in the world where everyone strikes up
conversations while waiting in lines.Israel is the only country in
the world where people call an attache case a "James Bond" and the
"@" sign is called a "strudel".

Israel is the only country in the world where there is the most
mysterious and mystical calm ambience in the streets on Yom Kippur,
which cannot be explained unless you have experienced it.

Where people read English, write Hebrew, and joke in Yiddish

Monday, August 10, 2009

Flu Update

One of the teenagers in our church was down with the flu for a week, we learned yesterday. She is an athlete, and cherished by her family. She is recovering well.

The mother told Carol that the physician did not do any special testing to determine whether this was H1N1, but treated her with a tamiflu regime as if it were. Furthermore, he also gave her younger sister, who had no symptoms, the same course. The younger sister has serious, congenital heart issues, so for her the treatment was prophylactic.

Ron Brummit at Harvard

Ron Brummit is the CEO of the Miami Rescue Mission, and has spoken at our church many times over the past 20 or so years.

He speaks at the Harvard Business School!

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Macon online project update

Unrelated now has five whole pages of unrelated thoughts, and a bibliography. Ideas seem to come in bursts, and so the posting is in bursts.

The new piece is recapitulated. If I ever do any essays, that's where it will be. With a lawyer for a father, an english teacher for a sister, a mother of sweetness and light, and a brother who, despite my best efforts, I can't put one over on, one writes essays with fear and trembling.

But establishing a spot for them removes one more barrier from actually doing it.

"I Asked God for a Preacher, and He Gave Me a Quarterback"

"When I was out in the mountains of Mindanao, back in '86, I was showing a film and preaching that night. I was weeping over the millions of babies being [aborted] in America, and I prayed, 'God, if you give me a son, if you give me Timmy, I'll raise him to be a preacher.'" Not long after, Bob and Pam Tebow conceived their fifth child. It was a very difficult pregnancy. "The placenta was never properly attached, and there was bleeding from the get-go," Bob recalls. "We thought we'd lost him several times,." Early in the pregnancy Pam contracted amoebic dysentery, which briefly put her in a coma. Her doctors, fearful that medications they had given her had damaged the fetus, advised her to abort it. She refused, and on Aug. 14, 1987, Pam delivered a healthy if somewhat scrawny Timothy Richard Tebow.

-From "You Gotta Love Tim Tebow" by Austin Murphy in the July 27 issue of Sports Illustrated.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Remember, everyone.

This one is OK:

This one is NOT OK:

"You Are Terrifying Us!"

Peggy Noonan is right on.

A Flu Pandemic Preparation Warning

Former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Mike Leavitt said Americans need to prepare for a possible serious pandemic by stockpiling food, water and basic first aid. He also said local preparedness is the foundation of overall pandemic readiness.

Considering that the waves of a pandemic are anticipated to last six to eight weeks each, stockpiling a two-month supply of food and critical prescription medications is not a bad idea.

If there is a severe second wave of the pandemic this fall, hoarding and shortages are likely to occur at the first signs. Preparation is best done now.

Doing so sooner rather than later will also leave time for stores to restock and avoid contributing to the system-wide shortages that would accompany a severe flu pandemic.

-From a "guest essayist" column in the [Rochester, NY] Democrat and Chronicle, the August 1, 2009, issue, by Joseph Roscoe, a "research associate professor in the Behavioral Medicine Unit at the University of Rochester Cancer Center."

I must say that I was taken aback by the seriousness of this warning, given by someone obviously not a crank. I suggest that the entire article be read (it's not long). For our part, we are going to begin these preparations.

A Second Look at Matthew 16: 19-22

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

I had been thinking about this scripture as it pertains to financial and economic issues. Another way to look at it, however, is from a healthy living standpoint. "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." It cannot be good for the health of one's heart to submit it to the stress we sometimes feel about our personal financial situation or the national economic and political problems our country confronts. On the other hand, it may well be that laying one's treasure up in heaven is a thoroughly loving and healthy way to treat one's heart.

"The Long Goodbye"

The . . . graph is at least some evidence that the experiment of a Federal Reserve System (created in 1913) with no explicit link to gold, and no effective external check on its activities, has failed the public’s interest.

-Again, from the AIER's research reports. This one here.

Assume that I invest my money in a Certificate of Deposit. During the term of the Certificate of Deposit, the investment earns interest. That interest will be taxed, however, so that the after tax return is reduced by at least one-third (and soon to be, I predict, at least 50%). At the end of the term, when I take my dollars out, those dollars are worth less than they were when I bought the CD, if the trend shown by the draft continues. And that diminution in value may not be made up by what the investment earned on an after-tax basis.

This example assumes that the bank does not fail. If it does fail, I will get my principal back, at least to the extent of the FDIC coverage, if any. And even in the case of FDIC coverage with regard to principal, there is no coverage for the interest. My guess is that if my bank fails, then a lot of other banks may be failing and the government currency printing presses will be working over-time, with the end result that the purchasing power of my investment will be even less when the CD matures.

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

-Matthew 6:19 - 22.

Not Getting it Right on Addressing Financial Failure

Several reforms are needed to reduce or eliminate the cost of financial failure to the taxpayers. Reform should start by increasing a banker’s responsibility for losses. The administration’s proposal does the opposite by making the Federal Reserve responsible for systemic risk.

The administration’s proposal sacrifices much of the remaining independence of the Federal Reserve. Congress, the administration, and failing banks or firms will want to influence decisions about what is to be bailed out. I believe that is a mistake.

If we use our capital to avoid failures instead of promoting growth we sacrifice a socially valuable arrangement—central bank independence. We encourage excessive risk-taking and moral hazard.

I believe there are better alternatives than the administration’s proposal.

First step: End TBTF [Too Big to Fail]. Require all financial institutions to increase capital more than in proportion to their increase in size of assets. TBTF is perverse. It allows banks to profit in good times and shifts the losses to the taxpayers when crises or failures occur.

Recognize that regulation is an ineffective way to change behavior. My first rule of regulation states that lawyers regulate but markets circumvent burdensome regulation.

-From "Allen Meltzer on the Fed," an article by R.D. Morton of the AIER.

Saturday Morning Back Home

Yesterday morning we awakened to another beautiful day in Toronto, but it was time to go home. We packed up our things, had another wonderful breakfast at our B&B, bailed Mary's car out of a nearby parking lot, drove south through the city streets, and then west onto the QEW, backtracking along Lake Ontario. An hour later, we crossed into "the States" downstream of the falls a mile or so at Lewisburg, and turned south toward Buffalo. In about 25 minutes we were at the Buffalo airport, and suddenly there was Mary driving away, leaving us with our bags in front of the doors to the SW Airlines check-in counter: a very sad moment. The flight to Ft. Lauderdale was "direct," meaning there was an intermediate stop (in Tampa) but not long thereafter we reached our destination. Then it was home to Miami Springs by 8PM. So here we are again, thoughts of going into the office this morning warring with fresh memories of a wonderful trip.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Report from Toronto II

We are back in our room at the B&B, after being wide-eyed tourists afoot all day in downtown Toronto. We were well provisioned before we set out this morning by our hostess, Michele. She prepared a delicious breakfast, one centered on a vegan crepe, itself wrapped around baked apples and pears and garnished with fresh strawberries and blueberries. In addition, there were other fruit, granola (of course!), several kinds of breads, yogurt, orange juice and coffee. At table we had a pleasant conversation with three other guests at the breakfast table, two of them dance instructors who are attending an annual, one-week conference at the National Ballet School of Canada.

After breakfast, we walked around the corner and north one block to Bloor Street, one of the major cross town streets of the city and on which the major department stores, the ManuLife main office buildings, the University of Toronto, and the Royal Ontario Museum are located. Our first stop was the Royal Ontario Museum, where the museum was holding a special exhibition on the Dead Sea Scrolls ("Words that Changed the World").

The Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit was very well done. Some of the manuscripts found in the caves at Qumran date from 250 BC and include all the books of the Old Testament except for the Book of Esther. The Israeli Antiquities Authority co-sponsored the event, and permitted a few of the scrolls to come over. Of course, there was an effort to keep the exhibition politically correct, and one exhibit panel explicitly stated that the messianic texts in Isaiah did not point to Jesus. But, really, any one examining the exhibit with half an open mind would have to be impressed with the connection of the scrolls not simply to Judaism or to Christianity because of its connection to Judaism but also with the direct connection between the messianic texts and Jesus Christ: thus the felt need to state outright that none of this had anything to do with the Redeemer.

There was a less than half-hearted effort to include Islam into the mix, but it clearly was a stretch. There was a reference or two to the idea that the scrolls are connected to the three "great Abrahamic religions," but the subtext was the profound link of the Jews to Jerusalem and to Palestine. The Dead Sea Scrolls give strong witness to that link. I certainly would affirm that connection, even as I roll my eyes about the "this-is-not-about-Jesus" statement that the exhibit includes. I imagine that Fatah and Hammas and their ilk would view the exhibit simply as Israeli propaganda. But the exhibit illuminated a part of history about which we knew something but really not enough, and it was a great way to spend the morning.

We had lunch at a Freshii, a natural food fast-food place down the street from the museum. From there, we went to the Bata Shoe Museum, where several people, including Susan Thomas, the B&B host and the two dance instructors at breakfast, insisted we go. But a shoe museum? Well, OK, we went, and it was fun and serious too. Mrs. Bata, she of the family that founded the company, was a shoe collector, and her collection got so big that she created a museum, and this is where we went. We are now among those who would insist that you go if you visit Toronto.

We walked past two Anglican churches, the more impressive of which was St. Paul's. In the front yard of the church is a war memorial to the dead among the Canadian armed forces. Chiseled on its sides were the names of battles in which their regiments fought, and nearly all those battles were those where Canadians bled and died alongside their American cousins. May God continue to bless Canada, for what a blessing it has been to our country. As critical as we can be of Canada from time to time, her benign kinship is, of course, something never to forget. A trip to Toronto and a moment before that monument will aid that memory, I can tell you.

In the intervals between the museums and lunch, Carol and Mary did some shopping, looking for shoes for Mary, and we spent at least an hour in the Canadian version of Barnes & Noble, known as Indigo Books. Mary had learned from Melissa during a visit to her house a month or so ago that a Canadian doughnut chain known as "Tim Horton's" had bought out all the Dunkin' Donuts shops in Manhattan, and we had seen at least one in Rochester. Being a former Dunkin' Donut addict, I wanted to compare the two, and so we went into a Tim Horton's on Bloor Street so I could take a look. I bought a glazed doughnut for an important international taste test. To my utter consternation it was a cake-doughnut! Friendly neighbor or not, Canada has it all wrong on glazed doughnuts. I hope that Dunkin' and Krispy will be able to hold the fort against this invader, even though I don't partake of that sort of food any more, except for the sake of controlling our borders.

For supper, we had another vegan restaurant in mind, and like the one last night it was a little hard to find. Unlike the one last night, it was closed, and so we had to quickly change plans. Not far away was a Whole Foods grocery store. There we found the familiar salad bar and had a good supper as we talked about the day.

Tomorrow, alas, will be our last day with Mary for awhile. She will drop us off in Buffalo in the afternoon for our flight back to Ft. Lauderdale, and then she will continue on to Rochester for the beginning of her next great adventure. I don't like these good-byes a bit.

The photo below is of the Royal Ontario Museum. It does not do credit, however, to the scale and beauty of the building.

Report from Toronto

It's Friday morning, and we are in Toronto being tourists and not working a bit. Yesterday morning we packed up Mary's Corolla and headed north from Rochester to about the lake (Ontario), which is not far, and then turned west, to travel along the Lake Ontario State Parkway, heading for the crossing into Canada at Niagara. At about the halfway point, we stopped to see our friend Susan Thomas, who has a lakeside cottage and happened to be there for a couple of weeks. As we arrived, she was out tending her marvelous flower gardens. She has been telling us about her cottage for as long as we've known her; it was owned by her father and she began coming there as a child. Now we know why she calls it "heaven."

The drive along the lake, sometimes a mile or two inland, sometimes not, was otherwise through well tended vegetable farms and little villages. At one point we stopped at a roadside stand and bought some cherries to go along with the PB&Js, apples and nectarines we had packed for lunch. We kept driving as we ate that lunch.

About 1PM we arrived in Niagara, NY, on the US side of the falls. The town is a rundown version of Gatlinburg, which may be a bit hard on Gatlinburg, it's so run down. But the national park along the gorge is well kept, and the Maid of the Mist boat ride is simply spectacular and very well run. We took the trip up stream, passed the American falls and then straight into the crook of the Canadian or Horseshoe Falls. This is something not to be missed. While we were driving to Niagara, Mary explained the difference between the "beautiful" and the "sublime," according to the best English teacher tradition. The beautiful is something to which one can relate, even the very beautiful, but the sublime has an aspect of transcendence that is apart from you. The falls were sublime.

From Niagara, we crossed into Canada and took the Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW), a respectable interstate-like highway, around the north side of Lake Ontario to Toronto, about an hour's drive. We encountered a good bit of traffic as we approached the city, but finally found our way off the expressway system into a neighborhood near the center city area where we found our home for two nights, Au Petit Paris Bed & Breakfast, a simply delightful place to stay. We arrived with plenty of daylight left, and explored the downtown area with Mary leading the way.

Even with her boot (helping her right leg heal from her stress fracture), Mary is a prodigious city walker, a gift we first discovered years ago when we visited her in Barcelona. No distance is too far to walk, if it is in an interesting and engaging city. Toronto is marvelous and a complete surprise to me. (My expectations were not all that high. Shame on me.) I enjoy just looking at people walking by, and the diversity of the people we saw is greater than any place I have ever been. We found our way to what the owner of our B&B said is the best vegan restaurant in the city, Fressen Vegetarian, and were not, repeat, not disappointed. The food is so good there, that, for some reason, they don't have a sign, and it took us awhile to find the place. Were it not for a kind lady who saw our confused expressions as we looked around and who asked whether she could help us, we would not have found it. Of course the lady knew the restaurant we were looking for and set us on the right path, warning us about there being no sign. (More to report later, and maybe I'll have time to post some photos. But Carol and Mary are insisting that we get going.)

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Mary Sizes the Coat

Monday we paid our first visit to the medical school. As I have mentioned, the University of Rochester Medical Center is across the street from Mary's house, so we have been most aware of its physical presence since we arrived. For one thing, the ER helipad is on top of a building across and just a bit to the north of us, and we hear the copters landing from time to time. For another, there is a little grove of trees on the hospital side of the street across from Mary, and there smokers come from the nearby medical buildings to take a break. We see people smoking who appear to be employees, and even a few patients out there in their hospital gowns. It seems anomalous to see such people at a world famous medical center. On the other hand, there are relatively few when you give the matter some thought, given all the people who occupy the nearby buildings.

In any event, Mary had some registration chores to address, and so all three of us walked the half-mile or so south along Crittendon, until we crossed the street and found our way into the back entrance of a spacious atrium that greets visitors to the school. Mary led us to the admissions office, then to place where people issued her an ID, complete with a nice new photo and bearing her name and the descriptor "Medical Student." She held the ID tightly in her hand until we returned home, shy about attaching it to her shirt, maybe not quite believing it. It was such a proud moment.

And another proud moment came a few moments later, as we made our way to the bookstore, where she was to be fitted with THE WHITE COAT. A pleasant clerk greeted us, and said "Congratulations!" when Mary told him the purpose of her visit. (We are hearing a lot of that from people around here, when they learn Mary is entering the med school.) I snapped a couple of photos, as you can see. Mary pointed out to us privately that it's really not a coat but more of a jacket. You get the full length white coat when you graduate. It was white coat enough for me.

This was not the official ceremony, of course. Once the coat was fitted, she gave it back. She won't see it again until a ceremony that will take place a week from Friday, at the end of orientation week. (How I wish Carol and I could be there, and the entire rest of the family.) The coat will have her name embroidered on it, plus the legend "daughter of Paul and Carol, sister of Macon, Kellsey, Walter, Morgan, aunt of Aidan and Honor, Felicity and Nautica." Congratulations to all of us!


Mary found a Rochester vegetarian blog connected to the UR ("University of Rochester") website, and it had a list of recommended restaurants. We found one of them Saturday night for dinner, an Indian restaurant, the Tandoor. After entering we were greeted by an Indian lady. As she lead us to our table, we walked by two couples enjoying their dinner, both also apparently from India. I heard a snatch of conversation about medical things as I walked by, and guessed they were doctors. I knew we were in the right place.

The owners were proud of their kitchen, because there was a large picture window on the wall that separated the dining area from where the cooks were busy at work. Two of them were Sikhs. As I stood in front of the glass looking in, one of the men made bread, first shaping the dough into what could be taken for the beginnings of a small pizza, and then placing it into an unusual sort of oven set on its end, with the round opening facing up. In fact, it seemed more like a very large bowl, sunk down into the counter surface, so that the cook placed the dough down in it, using two special tools, long rods of metal with hooks on one end. The oven is called a tandoor, thus the name of the restaurant. The kitchen was spotless, and the people working in there seemed to be enjoying themselves.

This was our second dinner at an Indian restaurant on this trip, and I relished the egg-plant based dish I ordered, and, of course, the freshly baked bred, called Naan, believe. I am going to have to learn the names of these dishes and their ingredients, so I can describe them better. But we greatly enjoyed our dinner.

We ate our dinner in an area of Greater Rochester that Mary calls "the sprawl," a suburban area with large and small shopping centers and malls south of the city proper. Here is where Target, Lowe's, Home Depot, BB&B, etc., live, and here is where we make many visits as we help Mary get her apartment in shape for the next four years. The UR Medical Center and the University of Rochester itself, to which the medical center is adjacent, are on the south side of town, so there is quick (about 15 minutes or less) access to the sprawl further south and all its shopping from Mary's apartment.

Sunday morning, however, we drove to the west of the city proper, looking for Parkminster PC, where a friend of Mary's from Davidson is a member. We found it in a pleasant suburb in time for its 9:30AM (summer schedule) service. It reminded us a lot of MSPC. The people were friendly, the size of the congregation maybe two or three times ours, and the architecture familiar. Before the service began, the pastor came over to where we were sitting, and introduced himself, which we appreciated. There was a good mix of generations, a good praise team, and the pastor preached a solid sermon entitled "A Severe Mercy," a grown-up sermon, actually, about the Christian life and its serious challenges. This church looked like it might be fine church home for Mary.

I did mention the familiar architecture of this church, and so I must mention a feature of its interior that was plainly different from home. As one walks through the wide doors of the church from the parking lot, to the right is a very large cloak-room. It has no doors, one simply walks into this large area. It is lined with racks, places to hang one's coat, set one's hat, and doff one's boots. We had none of those things on, of course, but let me tell you, these people are ready for the winter. Poor Mary! From the equator to the North Pole in one year! But the church, as I indicated, had a warm and friendly spirit. That should help.

As we finished our visit to PMPC about 11AM, we decided to drive over to the center city area. Mary had been to a coffee shop called "The Spot" on an earlier visit, and thought she would be able to find it again. We drove around downtown some before we found it, and so I got a pretty good look. It is impressive. Downtown is clearly past its prime, the days when Eastman Kodak, Xerox, and Bausch & Lamb were roaring, but it is just as clearly very far from dead. In fact, it seems to be in a measured state of renovation. The streets were clean, the empty buildings, not in overwhelming number, were not neglected at all but seemed to offer their readiness for another life.

"The Spot" was such a place, in fact. "Coffee shop" does not do the place justice. It is a converted, downtown Chevrolet car dealership, located on a street corner not far from the Eastman School of Music. One walks through the double doors straight into the former, two story high, showroom, in the center of which is set a very large coffee bar, and along the sides of which are tables and counters populated with folks taking advantage of the good coffee, muffins, and free wireless. It is the sort of place thousands of Starbuck's managers across the world dream of as they sleep through the night, most of whom unaware that such a place actually exists . . . in Rochester.

The urban neighborhoods of Rochester through which we drove as we returned to Mary's house seemed friendly, the houses not so big as well kept and unpretentious, with trees everywhere and lawns green with summer's plentiful rainfall. (Mary said that the mansions are elsewhere in the city.) This is a nice place.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Mary's Rochester House

We woke up Saturday morning just outside the Rochester City limit at the Hampton Inn, and did a vegan forage through the Inn's complimentary breakfast buffet. A vegan forage under such circumstances is a challenge, but not impossible. It is remarkable how much food such an attractive spread offers, one full of sugar, bleached flour, and animal protein. No wonder we Americans just can't resist. Even the oatmeal came in packets with heavily sugared flavoring of one sort or another. I settled, on the other hand, for some Cheerios, with a little moo juice, and a banana, plus a slice of whole wheat toast with a thin peanut butter spread. (Get off this; tell us about Rochester.)

Over to Mary's house we repaired, the truck just squeezing into the driveway that runs around back to an old, wooden two car garage, where Mary will keep her car. There were three big items of concern for me, as, for some strange reason, her two young male friends from Bryn Mawr did not follow us up. As I mentioned, Mary's apartment is on the second floor, up a flight of stairs that take an abrupt 90 degree right turn at a tiny landing before continuing up to Mary's level. The stairs are just wide enough to accommodate comfortably people going up single-file, even six-feet and taller people if they watch their heads. But we had a sofa, a chest of drawers with bookcase (from the boys' room at home), and a nice old dresser that Mary had bought at a second-hand furniture store at Bryn Mawr and painted. We saved those items for last, and we got them up with surprising ease. It's helpful to marry and produce strong women.

Mary's apartment is fun. You step off the stairs onto a small hallway. Immediately to the left is the kitchen, which is big for such a small apartment. It's at the SE corner of her house (which faces north). The kitchen has two windows, one on the south side and one on the east, so there is plenty of light during the day. It is large enough that it could handle a very small table, and whoever lived there before must have had one there, as there is a sort of chandilier hanging down from the center of the ceiling. A generous amount of cabinets line the north and east walls above a goodly spread of counter space. The oven is a gas one, which I understand good cooks like. Mary and her mom are great cooks.

Back at the top of the stairs, if we take almost a u-turn to the right, we see a narrow door. This leads to Narnia. No, wait, to somewhere even better: through that door and to the right, up more narrow stars we find an attic, clean and well lighted, having more windows facing west. Here, as we unpack below, we stow empty boxes, suitcases and so forth. In the distant past, the attic must have been another bedroom, for, oddly, there is a second door at the foot of the attic stairs, but this one takes you into the bath room, which makes sense if one occupies the attic bedroom and does not want to enter the the hallway at Mary's level.

You come into the bathroom at Mary's level by taking a quick right at the top of the regular stairs. It's a good size too, and appears to have been renovated some over the last few years: it has one of those plastic bathtub/shower modules, which is fine, although the built-in soap shelves and towel bars are upside down, as Carol noticed. (That one we have not yet figured out, unless somehow the space requirements required the workmen to install the panels that way.) There is an odd sized cabinet at the foot of the tub module, which is very deep and actually pretty functional. The medicine cabinet works well too.

Back in the hallway at the top of the stairs, instead of taking a hard right to the bathroom, a less hard right takes you into the living room. This room is also very well lighted, with three front windows, side by side, that face north toward the hospital complex, and on the west side, a single window. The room is somewhat narrow, but not uncomfortably so, and has at the SW end a narrow door to a serviceable closet that runs behind half of the south wall of the living room. We put the sofa along that wall, and you can sit there, look out those front windows, and see the lush trees on the median of Mary's street and still more trees that line the north side of the street, along the south side of the hospital complex. At the east end of the living room we set up Mary's dining room table, and at the west end by the west window, the chest and book case from the boys' room. Along the north side, will go Mary's Ikea chair, and a stuffed chair that was already in the apartment. The living room works well too.

Back out to the little hall-way, we walk straight to the end (it doesn't take long) and turn to the left, into Mary's bed room. It's on the SW corner of the second floor, and so it is well lighted too. Her new bed, her new chest, and her new desk, just fit, and there is an adequate closet too, adequate because there is an attic and other closets elsewhere.

I think Mary will be very comfortable in her new house in Rochester.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Packing up Bryn Mawr, Traveling to Rochester.

Whew! Here it is already Sunday evening, and the events of the past few days are piled so, one on another, that it seems like a continuous stretch, with now and then a pause for food and naps. Let me see whether I can remember exactly what happened. Or approximately, anyway.

Sometime maybe two or eight months ago or perhaps it was just this past Wednesday, Carol and I drove up to Ft. Lauderdale airport to catch a SW Airlines flight to Philadelphia, arriving in mid-afternoon. Mary was there to pick us up, and around to her Byrn Mawr neighborhood we went. She had dealt with her last exam of her last course (bio-chem) just the previous Monday, dispatching it deftly. (Nothing but A's during her entire of "post-bac" year, with an A minus here and there. Jane Austen would have been proud of her.)

Mary had already had made good progress packing up her apartment, and Carol and I plunged into the fray. We took time out to go out to dinner at a good Chinese restaurant nearby with one of her friends, and then back it was to her apartment where we worked until well after 10.

The next morning, we were up early. (You know how Carol is.) Fortifying ourselves with oatmeal, fruit, and muesli, again it was to work. At lunch time we broke for "The Santa Fe Burrito" and had not exactly Tex-Mex, veggie burritos, which were great, and then over to a nearby gas-station to pick up the U-Haul truck Mary had reserved. The truck looked really big to me, but then I thought that if Mary's apartment in Rochester didn't work out, she could probably sleep in it for a least three or four weeks without a problem.

According to our carefully pre-arranged plans, we went straight to Ikea, I driving the truck through Philly expressway traffic,with Carol in the co-pilot's seat, offering encouragement, and Mary leading in her car. At the Ikea, we dropped off the truck in the parking lot, and Carol and I joined Mary in her car. From there we made our first visit of the trip to a Target at another shopping center about a mile away. I don't remember whether we bought anything at the Target or were simply doing the initial check-in with those folks, because that Targets have turned out to be our home away from home since then.

After the Target check-in, it was back to Ikea where we bought several things for Mary's Rochester apartment (mainly a bed), although the real purpose of the trip was to have a cheap Ikea frozen yogurt cone, notwithstanding our general prohibition of all things dairy. (We do make exceptions, if it's really important.)

By the time we got back to Mary's apartment, parking the truck in the far reaches of the apartment house parking lot, it was time to clean up for another night on the town with some more of Mary's friends, this time to an Indian restaurant in "Center City," which is downtown Philadelphia. We had eaten at this place on our last visit and had enjoyed it. It did not let us down this time either. We capped off dinner with an Italian Ice at a place across the street, hewing to the vegan line this time. After dropping off Mary's friends, it was back to her apartment and we continued packing till nearly mid-night. Bewitching hour was noon the next day, when we were to be out of there.

Promptly at 5AM Friday morning I rolled (literally) off the air mattress, got dressed, and went down to the parking lot and brought the truck up to the basement entrance of the building. Mary had reserved a spot for our loading process, and the facility allowed good access for that task. Then it was up from the truck to Mary's fourth floor apartment, then back down to the truck with the dolly, time after time, as Carol and Mary worked on cleaning up the apartment.

The two young men whom we had taken to dinner the night before had volunteered to help us load, and Mary went to get them at 9AM. By then a lot of the easier stuff was in the truck, and their arrival meant we had some great help with the heavier pieces of furniture. Just about 11:30AM the truck was completely loaded and I was in the shower. The truck turned out to be just the right size to pack comfortably. If it had been much smaller, I would have had to take extra time to squeeze in everything, and we would not have made the noon deadline.

Carol and Mary had done a marvelous job on the apartment in the meanwhile, especially turning the kitchen into "sparkle city." Carol was putting the finishing touches on the bathroom as the management people came up to see how we were doing. They took a quick look around and offered Carol a job on the spot. They were about to leave, when I just had to insist that they look at the oven, to which Carol had devoted great effort. They were amazed. I am sure no one has ever left an apartment as spotless as Carol and Mary did.

We went to Bruegger's for lunch (hummus on whole-wheat with lettuce tomato and onion - not bad) and off we drove to Rochester. Mary leading the way in her Corolla, my driving the truck, and Carol co-piloting with me. It was REALLY a long trip. There was lots of construction on the highway, plenty of one-lane slow-downs, and the weather was rainy. As my dad would say, it was "teed-jus" and that to an extreme.

But there were moments of relief. We drove straight north from Philadelphia, up to Scranton, and then into New York. The drive grew more and more scenic, until, by the time we reached the state line, the hills were rolling and verdant, with prosperous farms in the valleys. After a lifetime of associating "New York" and "urban" as if the two shared the same genetic code, distinguishing the former only by its neon letters, the country through which we drove was a very pleasant surprise.

We neared Syracuse about supper-time. Not far off the by-pass Carol had discovered that there stood an L.L. Bean outlet store. Notwithstanding our single-mindedness about getting Mary to med school, we veered off track suddenly, finding that store in a nice shopping center that even had a Mediterranean restaurant. To shoppers like Carol, an LL Bean store of any sort would be a great visit, and an outlet store is the equivalent of Disney World. As for me, I would have given anything to get out of that truck for awhile, even though I knew we would be getting into Rochester, still 80+ miles away, pretty late.

The final stretch of interstate seemed endless, but some time after 10 we arrived. We had transported a futon bed of one of Mary's friends from her Bryn Mawr program and who is also going to URMS, so our first stop was a giant med-school apartment building on campus. After we unloaded the bed, we went by Mary's new living quarters (to which I will henceforth refer as her "house," even thought she occupies the top floor of a small, formerly single-family residence that has been converted to a duplex) just to check it out. We spent the night in a nearby Hampton Inn, however, thus continuing a tradition of spending the first night of trips north to school at this hotel chain.

The next morning, we drove over to Mary's house and the unloading began. (More later.)