Monday, May 27, 2013

Dr. Paul Farmer

Another great American -- I am collecting them -- is Dr. Paul Farmer, founder of Partners in Health. He does a lot of good work helping the sick in Haiti, Africa and elsewhere. His work is the continuation of, and in a similar spirit to, that of trailblazers such as Albert Schweitzer and Larry Melon. It is difficult not to admire such altruistic lives.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

USA Today

Al Neuharth, the founder of USA Today, recently passed away. In my humble opinion, he was a visionary whose national newspaper is a true contribution to American culture. May it continue to live on.

Friday, March 22, 2013


According to Google, "Tal-gach" seems to mean "palm tree" in Bengali, and "Gach" alone seems to mean "tree". This pleases me enormously.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


Sometimes it takes half a century to learn the French word for swordfish.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

film highlights of 2012

Of the films I saw in 2012, if you forced me to name three favorites, I would probably say:

Life of Pi
Salmon Fishing in Yemen
The Way

...and the "respectable runners up" would be:

Beasts of the Southern Wild
The Master
The Descendants
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
A Dangerous Method

...and although not new or recent, I would add that the following were especially interesting or enjoyable to watch or re-watch:

Sullivan's Travels ('41)
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre ('48)
When Fools Rush In ('97)
Synecdoche New York ('08)

Thursday, September 29, 2011


Yesterday I learned that the word "alcatraz" is the word not only for a famous island prison near San Francisco, but for "Calla lily" in Spanish. It turns out that the Calla lily is an important symbol in Mexican culture, that they are used when someone passes away, for funerals and whatnot. I had no idea how often these lilies are featured in Mexican arts and crafts, but a quick review of the paintings of Diego Rivera and Frieda Khalo reveals LOTS of them... The same day that I learned this, I had lunch at a favorite Mexican restaurant, and everywhere I looked there were Calla lilies or "alcatraz".

Saturday, March 19, 2011

tiny but notable coincidences

In his book The Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire, Deepak Chopra proposes four sizes of coincidences: tiny, medium, whoppers and double-whoppers. Today was a day of tiny, but notable coincidences, or synchronicities. As I was making my morning coffee, I realized that it was time to buy another five pound bag, something that only occurs once or twice a year. Not long after that realization, I learned from Kate that coffee prices are expected to go up. I took that as a sign to buy that bag, which I did, at the old price. Later, as I was driving into a parking lot, someone on the radio spoke the words "flea market" just as my eyes met with a sign that read "flea market" in a store window. Still later in the day, I struggled to identify familiar leaves in a photograph, and when I reached for my tree guide, it happened to be bookmarked to the page for Sweet Gum, and sure enough those were the leaves in question. On another level, the subject of magnolia trees resurfaced throughout the day. Not only had they been on my mind, but mention of them by others occurred several times. There were other equally small but impressive coincidences, possibly more than I remember. I take them as positive signs that the universe is busy at work.