October 2014 archive

when the veils grow thin….

This diary was posted on October 29, 2010 by Ria D who passed through the veil too soon. Blessed Be.

when the veils grow thin….

by: RiaD

Fri Oct 29, 2010 at 17:04:50 PM EDT


(all pictures are of carved pumpkins & may be clicked on to see larger)

(a soundtrack while you read…)

Sunday is Hallowe’en, a night for children to dress up & go Trick-or-Treating.

But this holiday has its origins waaaay back, back before the written word, in pagan times.

Woman’s Day shares story of Christian woman who learned to support trans son

In its October 2014 issue, the magazine Woman’s Day strayed outside its usual comfort zone with an article about a Christian mother learning to accept and support her transgender son.  In The Son God Gave Me, Gina Kentopp tells Barry Yeoman about her coming to terms with her son’s identity and the process of its formation and the changes she had to go through herself.

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When my second child, Kyle, was born in 1994, and the nurse told me I had given birth to a daughter, I was thrilled. I already had a son, Alex, and now, I thought, a baby girl. During the first year of Kyle’s life, I dressed him in every frilly outfit I could.

I use the pronoun “he” when talking about Kyle, because I now understand that he has always been male-his inner soul, when he was born, didn’t match his body.

On This Day In History October 31

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

October 31 is the 304th day of the year (305th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 61 days remaining until the end of the year.

This day is internationally known as Halloween, also known as All Hallow’s Eve, Reformation Day, and Day of the Dead for the Philippines

On this day in 1926, Harry Houdini, the most celebrated magician and escape artist of the 20th century, dies of peritonitis in a Detroit hospital.

Houdini was born Erik Weisz in Budapest in 1874, the son of a rabbi. At a young age, he immigrated with his family to Appleton, Wisconsin, and soon demonstrated a natural acrobatic ability and an extraordinary skill at picking locks.

He went on his first international tour in 1900 and performed all over Europe to great acclaim. In executing his escapes, he relied on strength, dexterity, and concentration-not trickery-and was a great showman.

In 1908, Houdini began performing more dangerous and dramatic escapes. In a favorite act, he was bound and then locked in an ironbound chest that was dropped into a water tank or thrown off a boat. In another, he was heavily bound and then suspended upside down in a glass-walled water tank. Other acts featured Houdini being hung from a skyscraper in a straitjacket, or bound and buried-without a coffin-under six feet of dirt.

In his later years, Houdini campaigned against mediums, mind readers, fakirs, and others who claimed supernatural talents but depended on tricks. At the same time, he was deeply interested in spiritualism and made a pact with his wife and friends that the first to die was to try and communicate with the world of reality from the spirit world.

Eyewitnesses to an incident in Montreal gave rise to speculation that Houdini’s death was caused by a McGill University student, J. Gordon Whitehead, who delivered multiple blows to Houdini’s abdomen to test Houdini’s claim that he was able to take any blow to the body above the waist without injury.

The eyewitnesses, students named Jacques Price and Sam Smilovitz (sometimes called Jack Price and Sam Smiley), proferred accounts of the incident that generally corroborated one another. The following is Price’s description of events:

   Houdini was reclining on his couch after his performance, having an art student sketch him. When Whitehead came in and asked if it was true that Houdini could take any blow to the stomach, Houdini replied groggily in the affirmative. In this instance, he was hit three times before Houdini could tighten up his stomach muscles to avoid serious injury. Whitehead reportedly continued hitting Houdini several more times and Houdini acted as though he were in some pain.

Houdini reportedly stated that if he had time to prepare himself properly he would have been in a better position to take the blows. He had apparently been suffering from appendicitis for several days prior and yet refused medical treatment. His appendix would likely have burst on its own without the trauma. Although in serious pain, Houdini continued to travel without seeking medical attention.

When Houdini arrived at the Garrick Theater in Detroit, Michigan on October 24, 1926, for what would be his last performance, he had a fever of 104 F (40 C). Despite a diagnosis of acute appendicitis, Houdini took the stage. He was reported to have passed out during the show, but was revived and continued. Afterwards, he was hospitalized at Detroit’s Grace Hospital.

Houdini died of peritonitis from a ruptured appendix at 1:26 p.m. in Room 401 on October 31, aged 52.

After taking statements from Price and Smilovitz, Houdini’s insurance company concluded that the death was due to the dressing-room incident and paid double indemnity.

Houdini’s funeral was held on November 4, 1926 in New York, with more than 2,000 mourners in attendance. He was interred in the Machpelah Cemetery in Queens, New York, with the crest of the Society of American Magicians inscribed on his gravesite. To this day the Society holds a broken wand ceremony at the grave site in November. Houdini’s widow, Bess, died on February 11, 1943, aged 67, in Needles, California. She had expressed a wish to be buried next to him but instead was interred at the Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Westchester, New York, as her Catholic family refused to allow her to be buried in a Jewish cemetery out of concern for her soul.


The Breakfast Club (Organics)

breakfast beers photo breakfastbeers.jpgAh, yes.  Now that the tumult and hubbub are done and we can wait for April 13th to have the Mets disappoint us again, and the leaves brown and sere crunch beneath the feet of costumed children while the long night is lit by sacrificial gourds, it is time to resume my musical whimseys.

This morning we shall start with one of the oldest instruments in common use, the Organ.

If you watch that purveyor of speculative fiction and conspiracy theories laughably called The History Channel I’m sure you’ve been subjected to many, many hours of Ancient Discoveries where the slack jawed narrators marvel at the fact that our ancestors were more than feral brutes wearing animal skins, stabbing and slashing at each other with crudely made implements with none of the sophistication and subtlety of a Maxim or Thermonuclear warhead.

Hah, the reason they didn’t fix up the Iowa after the turret explosion is we no longer have the tools or skills to do it and that was only WW II.  We can’t build Space Shuttles or iPods anymore either.  We have facebook and Twitter instead and I think it’s a fair trade, even 140 characters seems tl;dr.

So anyway it should come as no surprise the Romans, Greeks, Egyptians, Chinese, etc., ect. were capable of stunning feats of engineering and craftsmanship based on a deep understanding of Math, Physics, and Chemistry.  Curse you Dark Ages.

Such an item is the Organ.  It basically operates according to the principles invented (as far as we know) by Ctesibius of Alexandria for the hydraulis between 285 – 222 BCE (about 2200 years ago).  He was an expert in pneumatics, the science of compressed air, and water had little to do with the mechanism except to provide a motive force to the bellows.  He did make other advances in hydraulics like the the world’s most accurate clock (a water clock) and is said by most to have been the first head of the Museum of Alexandria.

He is also reputed to have been notoriously poor.  So much for genius.

Now believe it or not music was just as important to non-contemporary culture as it is to ours, maybe more.  ‘Oral’ history in non-literate societies (those without a written language) is frequently conveyed by song where the beat and melody remind the performer of the correct wording and sequence of events in the story.  The Iliad and the Odyssey are nothing more than long songs.  We don’t have a record of most of these because musical notation, the written language of music, was not yet invented and ideas about the difference between what is called music and what is called noise change quite frequently (those damn kids).

There is some evidence that even the earliest western instruments used either a chromatic or diatonic scale so most can produce sounds we would recognize as music even if they weren’t actually used that way and the same would be true of the Organs of Ctesibius.  The problem is that they used big old pipes to create the resonant tones and are expensive and not so easily moved.  Thus they were usually installed in Houses of Worship, be they Pagan Temples or Christian Cathedrals and their purpose was to establish the proper awe and respect a major religion deserved.

And so things stood until 1517 (ironically, this very day the 95 theses were posted by Martin Luther) and the Protestant Reformation when the sects that split away from the Catholic Church (and the Orthodox one for that matter) were basically poor and despised (on theological principles anyway) the ritual and ceremony.  If they captured an Organ in battle they were as likely to melt down the pipes for musket balls (most of them were made of lead, or even more valuable brass and bronze which could be re-cast as cannons) as to use it to make music.

In time the Protestants developed their own musical tradition and Organs evolved more secular purposes especially the relatively portable ones that used Reeds or electronics to develop their tones.

However, since a large number of early “Art” composers were employed by the Catholic Church which maintained its tradition of musical accompaniment there is a substantial body of work intended for the Organ of which arguably the most famous is Toccata and Fugue in D Minor attributed (wasn’t published until 1833 and was promoted by Mendelssohn) to Bach.

This particular recording (Columbia Masterworks ML 5032) is E. Power Biggs, one of the most noted organists of the 20th Century, playing the piece on 14 different Organs in Europe.

  1. Stockholm, Sweden
  2. Weingarten, Germany
  3. Lubeck, Germany
  4. Luneburg, Germany
  5. Hamburg, Germany
  6. Steinkirchen, Germany
  7. Neuenfelde, Germany
  8. Heidelberg, Germany
  9. Sor, Denmark
  10. Gouda, Holland
  11. Amsterdam, Holland
  12. Amstelveen, Holland
  13. Westminster Abbey, England
  14. Royal Festival Hall, England

Since Organs were, in the tradition of Ctesibius and the ancient engineers, hand crafted individually, I’d like you to pay attention to the very different acoustics of each individual instrument as the same piece is played by the same artist.

But you’ll be forgiven if you just want it as background music while you answer the door.

Happy Halloween.

Obligatories, News and Blogs below.

Ebola: Feeding the Fear with Misinformation

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Politicians and some state health officials, who should be ashamed, continue to fan public fear about Ebola and how it is spread. In a shockingly factless press conference, Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew threatened to forcefully quarantine all health care workers who don’t voluntarily quarantine themselves at home and submit to monitoring by DHHS.

Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew declined during a news conference to comment specifically on the case of nurse Kaci Hickox, who was confined against her will at a New Jersey hospital before traveling home to Maine. But Mayhew said her department and the attorney general’s office were prepared to take legal steps to enforce a quarantine if someone declines to cooperate.

“We do not want to have to legally enforce in-home quarantine,” she said. “We’re confident that selfless health workers who were brave enough to care for Ebola patients in a foreign country will be willing to take reasonable steps to protect residents of their own country. However we are willing to pursue legal authority if necessary to ensure risk is minimized for Mainers.”

Mechanically reading from a prepared statement, she continued babbling misinformation about Dr. Craig Spenser, who is hospitalized with Ebola in New York City, and how Ebola is spread. A former lobbyist, Ms. Mayhew has no medical background.

The state would need a court order and that might be not so easily obtained, since Ms. Hickox is symptom free and has twice tested negative for the Ebola virus. At an impromptu press conference on her front porch, Ms, Hickox said that she would not be “bullied” by politicians and plans to fight the state’s attempt to confine her to her home until November 10,

Norman Siegel, a prominent civil rights lawyer who is representing Ms. Hickox, said that “in our view she is not restricted to do anything.”

Ms. Hickox’s defiance put the focus for the next few days on one of the most remote reaches of the country, Fort Kent, a town on the Canadian border where she shares a home with her boyfriend. If detained by officials, she will have three days to seek a court order to challenge the quarantine.

Ms. Hickox said that the stigmatization of health workers had “exploded” across the country. She warned that quarantines would ultimately lead to families’ being shuttered in their homes and would deter aid workers from going to West Africa to help treat Ebola at its origin.

The question for the court is how constitutional is it to force quarantine on a healthy person who according to all science, is not contagious for the Ebola virus?

MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell, host of “The Last Word,” spoke with Mr. Seigel about the case

Sophie Delaunay, Executive Director of Doctors Without Borders, joined “All In” host Chris Hayes to explain why these policies are counterproductive

This quarantine is pure political grandstanding. You CANNOT contract Ebola from an asymptomatic person. The only way to become infected is DIRECT contact with the body fluids of a person who is sick.

The people who are putting their lives on the line in West Africa to stem the epidemic there should not be stigmatized by ignorant, ambitious fools.

Samhain: The Thinning Of The Veil

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Samhain is one of the eight festivals of the Wiccan/Pagan Wheel of the Years that is celebrated as the new year with the final harvest of the season. It is considered by most practitioners of the craft to be the most important of the eight Sabats and one of the four fire festivals, Imbolc, Beltane and Lughnasadh. Beginning at sundown on October 31 and continuing through the next day, fires are lit and kept burning to recognize the shortening of days and the coming of winter’s long cold nights.

Many of the traditions practiced in the US have come from Ireland, Scotland and Whales. The carving of gourds and pumpkins used as lanterns, the wearing of costumes and masks, dancing, poetry and songs, as well as some traditional foods and games can be traced back to medieval times and pre-Christian times.

Two Roman festivals became incorporated with Samhain – ‘Feralia’, when the Romans commemorated the passing of the dead, and ‘Pomona’, when the Roman goddess of fruit and trees was honoured. The Halloween tradition of bobbing for apples is thought to derive from the ancient links with the Roman fruit goddess, Pomona, and a Druidical rite associated with water.

It is also the time of the year that we reflect and honor our ancestors and especially those who have departed since last Samhain. According to Celtic lore, Samhain is a time when the boundaries between the world of the living and the world of the dead become thinner, allowing spirits and other supernatural entities to pass between the worlds to socialize with humans. The fires and the candles burning in western windows are believed to help guide the spirits of the departed to the Summerlands. Like all Wiccan festivals, Samhain celebrates Nature’s cycle of death and renewal, a time when the Celts acknowledged the beginning and ending of all things in life and nature. Samhain marked the end of harvest and the beginning of the New Celtic Year. The first month of the Celtic year was Samonios – ‘Seed Fall’.

The Catholic church attempted to replace the Pagan festival with All Saints’ or All Hallows’ day, followed by All Souls’ Day, on November 2nd. The eve became known as: All Saints’ Eve, All Hallows’ Eve, or Hallowe’en. All Saints’ Day is said to be the day when souls walked the Earth. In early Christian tradition souls were released from purgatory on All Hallow’s Eve for 48 hours.

We decorate our homes with candles, gourds and dried leaves. Meals are traditionally lots of veggies, fruit, nuts and breads served with wine, cider and hearty beer. We make a hearty stew that is served with a whole grained bread and deserts made with apples, carrots and pumpkin. One of the sweet breads that is traditionally served is barmbrack, an old Irish tradition. The bread is baked with various objects and was used as a sort of fortune-telling game. In the barmbrack were: a pea, a stick, a piece of cloth, a small coin (originally a silver sixpence) and a ring. Each item, when received in the slice, was supposed to carry a meaning to the person concerned: the pea, the person would not marry that year; the stick, “to beat one’s wife with”, would have an unhappy marriage or continually be in disputes; the cloth or rag, would have bad luck or be poor; the coin, would enjoy good fortune or be rich; and the ring, would be wed within the year. Today, the bread usually contains a ring and a coin.

What ever you believe or not, Samhain has meaning for us all since the Wheel turns for all of us. So light a fire or a candle and dance with us as the Veil Thins.

The Veil Is Getting

As I went out walking this fall afternoon,

I heard a wisper wispering.

I heard a wisper wispering,

Upon this fine fall day…

As I went out walking this fall afternoon,

I heard a laugh a’laughing.

I heard a laugh a’laughing,

Upon this fine fall day…

I heard this wisper and I wondered,

I heard this laugh and then I knew.

The time is getting near my friends,

The time that I hold dear my friends,

The veil is getting thin my friends,

And strange things will pass through.

Blessed be.

Late Night Karaoke

TDS/TCR (Toast)


Go back to the suburb you came from!

Rolling the (Regular Polyhedral) dice

The real news and next week’s guests below.

Pumpkins, Not Just For Carving

Re-posted from October 22, 2011

When most of us think of pumpkins, we think of the orange orbs that get carved up for Halloween and pumpkin pie with gobs of whipped cream for dessert at Thanksgiving but pumpkins come in all shapes, colors, sizes and varieties. Some are good only for decoration, while others are not only decorative but very tasty in pies, soups and stews.

According to Wikipedia pumpkin “is a gourd-like squash of the genus Cucurbita and the family Cucurbitaceae (which also includes gourds). It commonly refers to cultivars of any one of the species Cucurbita pepo, Cucurbita mixta, Cucurbita maxima, and Cucurbita moschata, and is native to North America.” Some of the fun activities besides decorative carving for Halloween are Festivals and competitions with pumpkin chucking being among the most popular. Chucking has become so popular that some competitors grow their own special varieties that will survive being shot from catapults and cannons. The festivals are most dedicated to the competition for recipes and the competition for the largest pumpkin. This year that honor went to a 2058 pound beauty from Northern California will be on display this weekend at the Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival in San Francisco.

The pumpkin is one of the main symbols of Halloween and the Wiccan holiday of Samhain, which is a celebration of the end of the year, the final harvest and the coming of winter. The earliest that a craved pumpkin was associated with Halloween is 1866. Throughout Britain and Ireland the turnip has traditionally been used at Halloween, but immigrants to North America used the native pumpkin, which are both readily available and much larger, making them easier to carve than turnips.

In cooking, the the fleshy shell, seeds, leaves and flowers are all edible. Canned pureed pumpkin is readily available in stores, as are the small, sweet variety of fresh pumpkin for the ambitious cook to make their own puree or for stews. When it comes to pies, the easiest is the canned, my favorite being Libby’s with the recipe on the label, label, label. It’s the only recipe I have ever used for pumpkin pie and I’ve never has a complaint.

Pumpkin and all it parts are also very nutritious, containing many vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidents. There is also an interesting medical study of pumpkin extract on type-1 diabetic rats:

(P)ublished in July 2007, suggests that chemical compounds found in pumpkin promote regeneration of damaged pancreatic cells, resulting in increased bloodstream insulin levels. According to the research team leader, pumpkin extract may be “a very good product for pre-diabetic people, as well as those who already have diabetes,” possibly reducing or eliminating the need for insulin injections for some type-1 diabetics. It is unknown whether pumpkin extract has any effect on diabetes mellitus type 2, as it was not the subject of the study.

One of my favorite recipes is Pumpkin Cheesecake with Bourbon Sour Cream Topping that is more popular than pie with my family.


Recipe and baking tips are below the fold

Just Change the Name Already

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

My suggestion: The Potomacs

Just change the damned name. It ain;t that hard and they’d be able to keep the logo.  


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