Archive for the ‘Personal History’ Category

Commie Pinko Fag

January 22nd, 2012 Comments off

Commy Pinko Fag

This is how describe my political leanings on facebook:  “commypinkofag”.  Accurate, and I am not going to change it for the sake of not hurting anyone’s feelings.

Commy  (commie):

I left Wabash College after my sophomore year in a state of total confusion.  Didn’t know who I was ( hadn’t yet realised my own homosexuality), was totally unsure of my future (I had entered college as pre-theo, that is, pre-theological seminary), and under attack (there were rumors about me being a ‘faggot’ flying about the campus, most of which I was unaware of until the Dean took me aside and asked  me, “is it true”? )

I took a year off from college (I planned it to be only a year), and started working in a nearby publishing company’s art department.  But I knew I didn’t want to do that for the rest of my life:  I wanted to finish college.

Then I heard about a program of the US Navy appealed to me:  NAVCAD, or Naval Cadet, which took guys with two years of college, trained them to be Navy pilots (as officers), and would also pay for them to complete college.  Sounded like a good deal to me.  Note:  this is 20 years before “The Right Stuff” came out.

I applied; passed all the test with flying colors; then waited to hear of my acceptance into the program.

I waited and waited and waited.  Several months later, I got a visit from the FBI.

FBI wanted to know:  Why did you subscribe to “The Weekly People”?  Why did you have a subscription to “The Nation”?

Hey, when I was a senior in high school, I wanted to learn about a lot of thing, among them politics and society.  So I found ads in the back of Saturday Review of Literature, to which my parents subscribed, that i thought would be interesting.

We’re talking about a 16-year-old boy, here.

The two FBI agents wanted to know how long I had been suscribed to these publications, what my political affiliations were (I was still 19, at that time unable to vote), who recommended these publications to me, and did I have anyfurther connection t them?

What they did not ask me about was my subscription to the newsletter of the John Birch Society.  And to the National Review.

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Young Roman Men

January 22nd, 2012 Comments off

Young men of rome

There are so many of them, the young men of Rome, and they are so beautiful!

They know how to wear their clothes, and they have the bodies on which to wear them.

You’d cry, if you compared the youths of Greenville, SC, with the youths of Rome.

Roman young men are thin, yet well muscled, they are proud and aware of their bodies; young roman men show off what they’ve got, because what they’be got is attactive.

Young roman men don’t wear “relaxed-fit” jeans, because they don’t have to; tight jeans fit them just fine.

Young roman men are as aware as young roman women, who are also svelte, with bursting  bosoms and swaying, slim hips.  Roman girls know they wiill grow up to be classical roman women, matuing into handsome ladies.

Roman men will grow into handsome men, knowing– no, owning their good looks.

Categories: Italy, Personal History, Uncategorized Tags:

Maria’s Mother’s Pizza

January 22nd, 2012 2 comments

Maria’s Mother’s Pizza

We’re in Maria’s mother’s kitchen.  Maria’s mother is kneeling on the tile floor.  Before her she has spread out a cloth, and on the cloth she has a plastic bucket, a bag of white flour and a bag of semssmolina flour, dry yeast, a bottle of olive oil, salt, and water.

Maria’s mother is making pizza dough.  She’s showing us how it’s done.

We are seven guests from the locanda, the guest house, where Maria works.  We’ve walked down to Maria’s mother’s house, about half a kilometer along a dirt road, through the rolling hills of Tuscany, the sunfllowers in bloom across the vallley.  It’s a brilliant spring day; here in Maria’s mother’s kitchen, however, it’s quite dark.  Most Italian kitchens are quite dark.  And tiny.  Mama would never complain.

Maria’s mother — none of us learned her name — lifts the bag of white flour, and pours an amount into the plastic bucket.  She then scoops some semolina flour from the other bag and adds it to the white flour.  She adds several pinches of yeast, a small palm of salt, several glugs from the olive oil bottle, and several glugs of water.

“You’ll notice,” I comment, “The scientific precision of measurement.”  We all chuckle.  Maria’s mother smiles.  She speaks no english; neither does Maria.

Maria’s mother starts mixing these ingredients in the plastic pail, putting her weight into the task.

I’m in my own kitchen in Carolina, starting my pizza dough.  I measure out three cups of white flour, one of semolina, four teaspoons dry yeast, two teaspoons salt, three tablespoons of olive oil, and 1-5/8 cups warm water.  These all I dump into the bread making machine, set the control to “dough”, and press the start button.

Maria’s mother, after about five minutes, has created a lovely, spongy, pliable dough.  We can see what a great mixing container is the plastic bucket–not like a ceramic bowl, which is unmaliable, but somthing you can bend and twist to make it easier for you to knead the dough.

Now the dough will need to rise.  But we don’t have to wait for that–Maria’s mother has already made a recipe of dough, which she has already let rise, kneaded again, let rise, kneaded, then divided and set out to rest under damp cloths.

My breakmaker’s alarm goes off;  I remove the dough onto a floured wooden board, knead it a few times, divide it in two, then wrap each half in plastic wrap.  these will sit for one-half hour.

We all troop out of the kitchen, into the back yard of the house.  It’s a three-story old farm house.  Three generations are living here, three sons and families, the mother, her grandchildren. The men are working in town, and will be home later.  The grandchildren, not yet in school, are busy in a room upstairs.   We are on the piazzetta, or veranda, where there are set up several tables,.

Toward the bottom of the grassy yard is a brick oven.  We understand that Maria’s mother bakes bread in this oven evry week.  Maria is taking a part, stoking the oven with the knarled logs of olive wood.
Now the preparatio really starts.  The alrady divided dough is brought out.  Maria’s mother rolls out the dough, exquisitely thin, and starts putting on the toppings.

In my kitchen, I roll out the dough with a wine battle roller, then pile on the toppings: garlic, olives, red pepper, salt/pepper, oregano, a bit of tomato sause, basil, arugula, mozzarella, gorgonzola.

She makes really simple pizzas:  oil-salt-and-rosemary;  garlic and oil and tomato; usually just two or three ingredients.

The pizzas go zipping into the brick oven on the long-handled wooden peel, and come zipping back out seemingly at onec, the oven is so hot, making crispy, puffy crusts.

My pizza takes at least ten minutes in my electric oven, whose temperature cannot get above 500 degrees Fahrenheit; I don’t take it out til all the cheese is bubbling.I’

A treat at the end: a pizza of honey and pear slices;  the children join us for this one, and some get a dollop of ice cream .

It’s been a great treat.  We thank our hostess, Maria’s mother.

As wWe e are about to leave, we’re asked to stay a moment.  Gathered on the drive, we see the men coming home in their cars; they get out and stand looking back at us fro the house.  We regard each other as we would aliens from outer space.

The children, it turns out, have been weaving for us friend bracelets.  We are touched.

We can’t speak the same language; but we are grateful, and try to make our appreciation known.

Here are some more details:   Read more…

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Explosions Around Us

December 29th, 2011 Comments off

We were in CostCo the other day before the New Year, buying supplies, when a terrifically loud noise happened right by us.  An employee was removing the items from our cart, one of which was a bottle of Prosecco (Italian version of champaign); the bottle exploded in his hands.

My first reaction, was to shout “Jesus Christ!”  Obiously, as a swear word, not as an invocation.  I take it that this was a response prompted by what Kahneman would call my System 1 mind; an automatic response.

My second reaction, almost immediately thereafter, was to ask the emplyee “Are you all right?”

I’m so pleased that that reaction was not, “Take cover!”, or “IED! IED!”, or even “I may have been hit!”

If a gunman with a high-power rifle had been standing near the tire section, taking random shots toward the check-out counters, one of the latter might have been appropriate.  I’m glad not one of those was my response.

My Commie Pinko Past

December 5th, 2011 Comments off

When I was a senior in high school (1959), as a good little politico (I was raised  a Republican) I wanted to know more about the political action of the day.  So I subscribed, through free offers found in the back of  The Saturday Review of Literature ( the “New York Review of Books of its day), to four publications, two ultra-liberal, and two ultra-conservative.

The two conservative were the newsletter of the John Birch Society, American Opinion, and the National Review, just started up by William F. Buckley.

The two liberal were I.F. Stone’s Weekly, and The Weekly People, an organ of the Socialist Workers Party.

After my sophomore year in college, I applied for the U.S. Navy’s “NavCad” program–I wanted to be a fly-boy (years before Top Gun–no, I didn’t just want to get into a cockpit with Tom Cruise). Despite a morbid fear of heights, I wanted to serve my country.

I went through all the aptitude tests, and intelligence tests, and was waiting for the results of the physical, when I had a visit at my home from two FBI agents.

The blue-suited, white-shirted agents came into my parents’ living room, and started questioning me.  Why was I getting all this commie socialist literature?

They were very insistent.  I explained about how I was curious about the political extremes. I pointed out that I had subscribed to right-wing, as well as liberal, publications; but that fazed them not at all.  They hadn’t even known about the John Birch Society connection, or Buckley’s rag–they were just out to get us commies!

I’d re-enrolled in college before the Navy accepted me, so in the end I declined to sign up. But I’ll not forget my FBI caper.

Read more…

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Coming Out

December 4th, 2011 Comments off

I’ve heard a number of coming-out stories at the Non-Theists meetings; here is my story:

More than coming out atheist, but coming out gay.

I entered college, (long ago in the Dark Ages) as a pre-theology student.  It took me almost two years to realize that the “calling” I had felt was really just a warm and fuzzy feeling, with no real belief.

At the same time, I was growing up, maturing, and discovering myself.  After I left my sophomore year of college in complete confusion, my parents sent me to a psychiatrist;  I guess they thought he would “cure” me; he ended up confirming me in rejecting the opinions of the world, and relying upon myself.

Over a year later, I came out as a gay man, at least to myself.  I could never talk about it with my folks, but I knew myself.  After graduating from college, I moved to New York City, where I opted out of the draft and got a job writing advertising copy, and led a life of freedom.

Nine years later, I was living in an ashram (ever the seeker) in Denver, but restless.  One evening I was going with my friends down to a gay bar, and with us came Avis, with whom I fell in love, and then married.

Coming out as a gay man, in my youth, was a difficult thing; coming out as a married man to my gay friends was not so hard; there’s a certain understanding and acceptance of ‘differentness’.

Now, I am apalled at the difficulties my brothers and sisters here, in Greenville, have with coming out with their own non-belief in a god.  It’s almost as bad as coming out gay was back in the 1960’s.

In 1962, I commuted to college from my parents’ home, and drove every day past a gay bar; that bar was raided by the police, and every patron was arrested, finger-printed, and their names, addresses, and employers were printed in the Chicago papers; several of my professors were among them.

My senior year in college, it was discovered that there was a special “dean’s list” of ‘suspected homosexuals’, and I know I was on that list. Kind of intimidating.

So, I sympathize with my brothers and sisters here in Greenville, who are struggling to come out as non-believers.  For many, just admitting to a non-belief in religion is a struggle within their own minds; and to have to deal with disapprobation of society adds tremdously to the pain.

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Hive Mentality

November 6th, 2011 Comments off

Avis and I went to see the HD showing of the Met’s production of Sigfried yesterday at a movie theater here in South Carolina.  It was a small theater, with a posted capacity of 159.  We arrived 10 minutes early, and were alone in the room, so we got to choose good seats, row high enough and in the center.  A total of 9 people, including us, eventually attended.  But what gets me is that four of those other seven decided to sit directly in front of us!  Choosing from 157 other seats, they needed to clump up right by us.

This was not the first time–at the previous showing of Don Giovanni, we were also alone until five people arrived, who decided to sit right next to us, and then decided they didn’t like those seats, so they got up and moved–directly behind us!  All this in an otherwise empty theater.


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Slow progress

August 19th, 2011 Comments off

Yikes–everything is a new version, and each has significant differences from the former version.  So what used to work doesn’t now, and you’ve got to figure out just what it is that needs doing.

Time to go to dinner.

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New Server Drive

August 18th, 2011 Comments off

Sheesh!  Been down two days , almost three, to install a new hard drive in the server.  This involves installing the new hard drive, installing new server software, and restoring former data and connections.

Wanted to try going to Ubuntu server, but that install hung up at the first install screen. (later found someone who said he has waited 7 hours before ubuntu would respond at that point).  So decided to go with CentOS 6 — had been running CentOS 4, but that didn’t support PHP 5, which I needed to upgrade my WordPress installation.  Turned out I’d bittorrented down the wrong Centos file, and had to go back and get the right .iso file.  After burning the DVD (Oh, had to put a DVD drive into the server rather than CD), the install went fine…after a couple of hangups, and unclear install screens, but that’s par for the course with RedHat (CentOS is public distribution of RedHat Enterprise).

About 4 hours to get internet going—went to bed after that one.

Spent all day on mail, only to discover a stupid firewall error.  Oh, well.

Still have to get a few web sites working;  same config file, but each of four web sites have completely different problems!

I don’t need to do the Times Crossword, so long as these things come along.

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Daddy Dearest

July 29th, 2011 2 comments

Just got finished reading “Shit My Father Says,” by Justin Halpern.  Very funny.

Here’s a query:  Do you remember your father ever saying to you, “I love you.”?

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