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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Book Review: How To Hook and Launch

It's not what it seems....

How to Hook and Launch: Traction Mods for Street & Strip
Dick Miller

There are times when I wonder how I ended up reviewing the books I review.  This book is on a subject I shall never pursue; I have enough trouble remembering to get the oil changed on our cars.....

How To Hook and Launch: Traction Mods for Street & Strip, written by Dick Miller, is a very specialized book for the drag racing enthusiast.  The term ‘hook and launch’ describes the process by which a car starts from a standstill with optimal traction (hook)   translating into maximal forward motion (launch).  The better the car can ‘hook’ into the ground, the faster it will ‘launch’ down the drag strip to victory.

While it sounds rather simple, Mr. Miller explains that the physics behind drag racing is extremely complex, and that it can have a tremendous impact on the end result.  He includes pictures which graphically support his writing.  For example, he shows how not compensating for all the various forces at work in the car - from the engine to the driveshaft and rear axle - can nearly roll a car as it accelerates. He also has some impressive pictures of cars which had enough traction but not enough forward compensation to keep their front ends from rising too high. One Mustang looks as if it were about to flip over!

I like pictures.

The majority of this book addresses modifications necessary to the suspension and tires.  In the latter portion of the book, Mr. Miller discusses other components of the automobile which can be adjusted or augmented in order to increase the chance of victory. Miller is quite outspoken about what he prefers, but he does write with forty years of experience in this field. As he explains in the book, he has basically used the same kind of automobile for all those years, and has tried a lot of different parts in the quest for more speed with control.  Forty years experience is something I would not scoff at. 

This book made me realize just how much there is to an automobile that I don't understand. After a while, I concluded that this book is a lot like any medical textbook, where if one does not understand the terminology, it is very difficult to appreciate what the author is saying. But this book was not written for folks like myself who have enough trouble remembering to get the oil changed on our cars regularly.  I would recommend this book for the serious drag racer who wants to win.   

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Chicken Ranch Update

The chickens are now about five months old, and a lot has happened since we first got that box of baby chicks at our local post office.  I thought I would update everyone on what the chickens are up to......

Chicken Body Count

First a few vital statistics.  I got a grab-bag of chicks to see what would be best for our homestead, and already natural selection has weeded some of them out.  Let's do the numbers, shall we?

1.  We ordered 25 chicks, specifically hens rather than roosters.  The company, Ideal Poultry, has to include a couple of rooster chicks into a large group like that to help keep the chicks warm.  Apparently the roosters are good for something besides fertilizing eggs.  So we expected at least 2 roosters.

2.  One chick did not survive the trip, so we actually started with 24 chicks.

3.  One chick died on day 2 or 3; we could tell right away that it wasn't acting vigorous like the others.  It would just stand alone under the heat lamp, or lie around.  Also, it seemed to be collecting a lot of waste around its rear end.  Now we have 23.

4.  Shortly after transitioning to the outside pen, we lost two chickens.  It happened on a day that I opened the roost before sunrise.  I suspect that a predator may have been around in the waning gloom and may have grabbed them.  More likely is that they got outside of the pen and couldn't get back in, and something got them.  Our neighbor's dog did start to hang around our house for a while, so he may have been the culprit.  Now we have 21.

5.  One morning we found a chicken dead in the roost.  It had blood at its neck.  All the other chickens seemed subdued.  We interrogated all of them separately, buy they all denied seeing anything.  Now we are at 20.

6.  We had one of the chickens, a rooster, get fowl pox.  Here is a video of that rooster in happier times, showing how it can crow like a rooster:

Yes, chicken pox for chickens.  We had started to notice little black lesions on the comb of this rooster.  Over time, more lesions formed on its pox.  One day, while I was near the pen, I suddenly saw this rooster start flopping around.  The other rooster, the black one, immediately set upon it and viciously pecked at its neck.  The poor little rooster looked dead.  I ran in and chased off the black rooster.  I grabbed a shovel and removed the ailing rooster from the rest of the chickens.  I put it in the compost pile, thinking it was dead.  Instead it jumped up and ran off.  It ran for a while, then stopped and keeled over.  Its mouth was gaping open, and it was gasping for breath.  Even worse was its comb.  Usually the comb is a bright red, but as I watched it, it turned to a dusky purple shade.  To me, that indicated hypoxia, or lack of oxygen.  I have seen patients turn that color, and it is because they are starving for oxygen.

There are two types of fowl pox, I have learned.  One consists of lesions on the skin of a chicken, and they are not so bad.  They might cause the chicken to lose part of its comb or claw, but that is all right.  The other kind of fowl pox is far worse.  It affects the lining of the chicken's airway, causing swelling and making it hard for the chicken to breathe.  It is also highly contagious.  It is referred to as a diphtheria type of fowl pox.

I suspected this poor little rooster had the diphtheria type.  There is no cure for it at that point, and I could tell the animal was in extremis.  I don't like to see animals suffering.

The children were all up in arms about my plan.  Some objected to killing the chicken, while a more vocal group were pressing for me to use a shotgun on the poor little bird.  I used one of the large caliber pellet guns.

Now we have 19.

"Dad, the Rooster is Killing the Hens!"

Roosters live a simple life.  They eat, they sleep, and they have two response to anything that moves inside the pen: if it is a hen, they try to mate with it.  If it is not, they try to kill it.

They will even attack hens if they are behaving abnormally.  I already mentioned how the one rooster attacked the dying one.  When the hens have gotten out of the pen, we have had to chase them back inside.  This often results in a hen cornered against the fence, at which time they will flap their wings and 'walk' up the side of the fence.  Usually they run back and forth, clucking like mad before they do this, and it drives the roosters crazy.  On one occasion a hen tried to go under the fence.  She got her head stuck in the fencing, and the rooster on the other side proceeded to peck at her head viciously.  After I shooed him away, I freed the hen and tossed her over the fence.

At this point we were retrieving at least five hens from outside the pen each day.  I did a quick search on YouTube on how to clip the wings of the chickens, and then went out and did it to the flock.  Problem solved - almost.  We still get some over the fence; I suspect they are climbing in the trees and escape that way.

About roosters killing hens:  One day the children told us that the rooster was attacking the hens.  They would squawk and run away, but occasionally the rooster would catch them and sit on them.  We explained to the children that this was the rooster mating with the hens, and that soon we should be getting fertilized eggs.  Nowadays, the hens don't seem to object to this kind of behavior.  We are still waiting for some fertilized eggs, though.


We started getting eggs.  First it was just one small white egg per day.  Then we got a few brown eggs.  Now we collect about 5 or 6 eggs per day.  The children tell me that they can tell when a hen is laying an egg.  The hen will go into the coop, enter one of my ridiculous looking hatching boxes, and then start squawking a lot.  Kaboom!  An egg will appear.  Since I am off this week, I had the opportunity to hear this noise myself.  I swore it sounded like a chicken yelling, "where is my epidural?  I want my epidural!!!!!"  That might be just my imagination....

Carolyn would send me picture of the eggs via her iPhone.  Here is one of the white eggs:

Not much to look at, but for us it is a joy to see these smelly little creatures producing something other that droppings.  Here it is in the frying pan.  It was a double-yolk egg:

 For those of you in my generation, remember this:

Any questions?

Getting More Chicks

Now we have a decision to make about the future of our egg-laying flock.  We would love to raise our own chickens, but we still want to collect eggs.  We also want to have only brown eggs, and so we would like to phase out the white egg-laying hens.  On top of that, we have to do something with the roosters.  Yes, roosters.  Right after I euthanized the one rooster, another one, this one is white, started crowing.  So now we have a white and a black rooster.  I suspect there is at least one more rooster who has not matured.

What I see is the need to determine which chickens lay brown eggs.  Next we have to determine if any of our eggs are fertilized.  That is pretty easy to do with the flashlight app on an iPhone; we use that to 'candle' the eggs.  The other issue is to determine which hens are better brooders.  This can only be done by watching them, and today I think I found a good candidate.

I had just collected an egg from the hatching box when I noticed a chicken outside of it clucking like mad.  As I watched, it hopped into the box and started walking around in a circle inside of it.  I eventually stopped and sat down, sitting on top of one of the plastic Easter eggs we had left in the box.  A friend told us that hens like to lay where there are other eggs, they don't seem to recognize the plastic ones as fake eggs.  Anyway, as I watched, this hen pulled the fake egg under her with her beak.  I set the egg I had back into the box, and she proceeded to pull that one under her as well.   

 I think I found our brooding hen.

I shall write more in the future.  Here is another video of our chickens wandering around me while I film them:

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Book Review: Just Add Water: Making the City of Chicago

Just Add Water: Making the City of Chicago
Renee Kreczmer

Lake Claremont Press

Can anything good come from Chicago?

This variation on a passage in St. John's Gospel is what I first thought when I received Just Add Water: Making the City of Chicago, written by Renee Kreczmer. Ms. Kreczmer is described as a "superstar Chicago history teacher with the Chicago Public Schools" on the back cover of her book, and she proves it with this easy to read book which was designed for grade school children.  Even though grade school for me was during the previous century, I still found the book informative and entertaining.

The book consists of fifteen chapters called 'Investigations,' which Kreczmer starts by proposing a series of questions.  The answers to all these questions are found in that chapter.  This format is similar to that of a textbook; one could see this book used by home schoolers as well as institutionalized students.  She begins with the founding of Chicago as a military and trading post back in the 1600's.  After reading this book, I understand why Chicago is where it is, as Kreczmer discusses the role it played in the fur industry, the French and Indian War, and the Revolutionary War.

Later chapters discuss the growth of Chicago.  The Chicago Fire and the Chicago World's Fair are presented.  All of the chapters include small biographies of important men and women in the history of Chicago. The challenges of the immigrants groups who settled in the city are also mentioned.  Ms. Kreczmer wrote this book for the third grade level, so there are a lot of pictures to accompany the captivating narrative.  It only took me a few hours to breeze through the book. 

Every chapter ends with Internet links or the addresses of actual places to visit in Chicago. This book would be an excellent guide for someone interested in making a tour of the city. 

The only objection I had to this book was how Ms. Kreczmer described an incident which happened in 1812.  In that year, a group of Potowatomi Indians attacked a detachment of soldiers, women, and children who were evacuating Fort Dearborn, located in what is now downtown Chicago.  The Indians outnumbered the group by a ratio of five to one.  In the fight, two-thirds of the Americans were killed, including more than half of the women and children. The survivors were held as prisoners and eventually ransomed for supplies.  In a footnote, Ms. Kreczmer defines the word massacre and then includes this sentence: "The term massacre is offensive to some, so the Fort Dearborn Massacre is sometimes referred to as the Battle of Fort Dearborn."

I wondered who would consider the term massacre offensive. Certainly the dead would think that, but who else would object to the way history would remember this event?  While she doesn't say it, I think Ms. Kreczmer is referring to the Potowatomi Indian tribe.  I know that many Indian tribes have lately taken offense to how they are portrayed in modern society.  My own Alma mater, Eastern Michigan University, changed the name of its mascot from the ‘Hurons’ to the ‘Eagles’ in deference to a complaint.  But that is a story for another time.  It is sad that Ms. Kreczmer felt the urge to soften the description of one of the less memorable moments in the history of the Potowatomi tribe. 

Every nation, every religion, every tribe on this planet has committed atrocities at some point in their history.  It is part of human nature that we tend to beat up on our fellow man.  In Ireland, surely there were ancestors of mine who fought with Protestants and even the British, but I do not feel any kind of shame for what they did in the past.  I would rather spend my efforts on making sure that my actions and those of my descendants are for the good, the true, and the beautiful.

I would not let this one little objection discourage the reader from buying this book.  Ms. Kreczmer has written a wonderful book which describes the history of one of the most important cities in the United States.  I could see where this book could help instill pride for this city in the hearts of the children of Chicago, while also piquing the interest of the tourist or historian making a visit to this city.

More Kipling Food for Thought

A few days after my last post on Kipling I came across this poem on facebook.  Paul Mitchell, who blogs at Thoughts of a Regular Guy, posted this on his page, and so a hat tip to him for bringing this poem to my attention.

After I read it, I got to thinking that there are a lot of writers who are dead - and in most cases forgotten - who anticipated what is happening to us in the present.  Three come to mind: Rudyard Kipling, G.K. Chesterton, and Robert Hugh Benson.  Benson wrote a book called Lord of the World back in the early 1900's (I think 1906) which described the appearance of the AntiChrist on Earth.  The similarity between our current president and the AntiChrist in his book was striking.  Chesterton has written a lot on just about every subject, including issues with government.  Just this last weekend I gave a copy of one of his short stories (Queer Feet) to someone who had left the Church years ago.  The short story is about a crime, a death, a conversion, and some peculiar steak knives.  Here is the famous quote from it, which ended up in Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited:

"I caught him with an unseen hook and an invisible line which is long enough to let him wander to the ends of the world and still to bring him back with a twitch upon the thread."

Speaking of steak knives, did anyone see the set of knives Pope Benedict XVI got in Lebanon?

 When my oldest brother got married back in 1985, I gave him a set of steak knives I got for free when I opened a J.C. Penney credit account.  I suspect that these knives are a lot nicer.....

....But I digress.  Here is a poem which should give us all food for thought:

The Gods of the Copybook Headings

Rudyard Kipling

As I pass through my incarnations in every age and race,
I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place.
Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.

We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn
That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,
So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.

We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market Place,
But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.

With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch,
They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch;
They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings;
So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.

When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "Stick to the Devil you know."

On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
(Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "The Wages of Sin is Death."

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "If you don't work you die."

Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

America Needs to Listen to Rudyard Kipling

Another 'Empty Sky' Note

Today is September 11, 2012.  Eleven years ago today our country was hurt terribly by the death of so many people who had lived their lives in relative peace and prosperity.

I hope everyone spent some time in prayer for the repose of their souls.

Today, we had embassies in Egypt and Libya attacked by folks who treated us with the utmost disrespect.  Israel continues to worry about Iran's development of nuclear weapons, and they are not getting much help from one of their closest allies.  That ally, by the way, is us.  U.S.A.  America.  Our president said he did not have enough time to meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu, but he does have enough time to appear on the David Letterman show.

I am so happy our President has his priorities straight.

While swimming in our pool this evening, we heard the deep thwup-thwup of military helicopters off to the south of us.  We saw the lights of three separate aircraft traveling together and low on the horizon.  Nothing else flies like that and sounds like that.

All of this turmoil in the world reminded me of something our current president said four years ago.  He said he would sit down and talk to our enemies, and things would get better after they just got along with one another.  Well, it appears as if his 'conversations' have not worked very well.  I get the feeling that our president is perceived as the geek with the 'KICK ME'  sign taped on his backside, and all of the kids in school are busy connecting their shoes with his rear end.

It is time for a change of leadership.  One can only hope. 

All these little facts running around in my head got to remind me about a story by Rudyard Kipling.  This is a story about what happens when the wrong man is assigned to lead a country.  In this case, this is just part of the country.  I invite you to read it in full; I shall cut and paste as I see fit to make this story fit my argument. 

The Head of the District - find it in its entirety here.

As with most of his stories, Kipling starts with a poem; note the first two lines:

For we must bear our leader's blame,
On us the shame will fall,
If we lift our hand from a fettered land
And the Queen's Peace over all,
Dear boys,
The Queen's Peace over all!

 The story begins with a man named Orde dying by the side of a flooded river.  He is accompanied by his assistant, a man named Tallantire.  Since he is the Head of the District he holds one more meeting with the native tribesmen before dying:

"Men, I'm dying," said Orde quickly, in the vernacular; "and soon there will be no more Orde Sahib to twist your tails and prevent you from raiding cattle."

"God forbid this thing!" broke out the deep bass chorus. "The Sahib is not going to die."

"Yes, he is; and then he will know whether Mahomed speaks truth, or Moses. But you must be good men, when I am not here. Such of you as live in our borders must pay your taxes quietly as before. I have spoken of the villages to be gently treated this year. Such of you as live in the hills must refrain from cattle-lifting, and burn no more thatch, and turn a deaf ear to the voice of the priests, who, not knowing the strength of the Government, would lead you into foolish wars, wherein you will surely die and your crops be eaten by strangers. And you must not sack any caravans, and must leave your arms at the police-post when you come in; as has been your custom, and my order. And Tallantire Sahib will be with you, but I do not know who takes my place. I speak now true talk, for I am as it were already dead, my children,--for though ye be strong men, ye are children."

 Unfortunately Tallantire is not chosen to replace Orde.  Instead a man who appears to have all the qualifications for the job is selected:

The very simplicity of the notion was its charm. What more easy to win a reputation for far-seeing statesmanship, originality, and, above all, deference to the desires of the people, than by appointing a child of the country to the rule of that country?

The man chosen to be the Head of the District was inappropriate for many reasons; the main one was that the people he would oversee had absolutely no respect for him.  Here Tallantire complains about having to deal with this new guy:

"How on earth am I to explain to the district that they are going to be governed by a Bengali? Do you--does the Government, I mean--suppose that the Khusru Kheyl will sit quiet when they once know? What will the Mahomedan heads of villages say? How will the police--Muzbi Sikhs and Pathans--how will THEY work under him? We couldn't say anything if the Government appointed a sweeper; but my people will say a good deal, you know that. It's a piece of cruel folly!"

One of his colleagues advises him to do his best to support the new leader:

"It's grievous enough, God knows, and the Government will know later on; but that's no reason for your sulking. YOU must try to run the district, YOU must stand between him and as much insult as possible; YOU must show him the ropes; YOU must pacify the Khusru Kheyl, and just warn Curbar of the Police to look out for trouble by the way. I'm always at the end of a telegraph-wire, and willing to peril my reputation to hold the district together. You'll lose yours, of course, If you keep things straight, and he isn't actually beaten with a stick when he's on tour, he'll get all the credit. If anything goes wrong, you'll be told that you didn't support him loyally."

Almost immediately the troubles start, and the Head of the District wants to know what the situation is:

"I--I--I insist upon knowing what this means," said the voice of the Deputy Commissioner, who had followed the speakers.

"Oh!" said Curbar, who being in the Police could not understand that fifteen years of education must, on principle, change the Bengali into a Briton. "There has been a fight on the Border, and heaps of men are killed. There's going to be another fight, and heaps more will be killed."

"What for?"

"Because the teeming millions of this district don't exactly approve of you, and think that under your benign rule they are going to have a good time. It strikes me that you had better make arrangements. I act, as you know, by your orders. What do you advise?"
The native tribes had seen that a weak and inappropriate leader had been put in charge, and they took full advantage of it.  In the end, a lot of people lose their lives as the tribesmen started looting and killing in the District.  Eventually they are suppressed, but it comes with the loss of many lives on both sides.  The leader of the tribesmen comes to make peace with Tallantire, who ends up temporarily in charge of the District again:

"Who art thou, seller of dog's flesh," thundered Tallantire, "to speak of terms and treaties? Get hence to the hills--go, and wait there starving, till it shall please the Government to call thy people out for punishment--children and fools that ye be! Count your dead, and be still. Best assured that the Government will send you a MAN!"

"Ay," returned Khoda Dad Khan, "for we also be men."

As he looked Tallantire between the eyes, he added, "And by God, Sahib, may thou be that man!"

While I am not advocating a return of British Imperialism, I am trying to stress that our president has not impressed anyone in the Middle East as being a strong leader.  As a result, we have experienced nothing but diminished power and influence in the area.  I hope that the next president of this country will reverse our course in this area; I fear that the price will be paid by our young men and women in the Armed Forces.  As it says in the poem at the beginning of this story, we must bear our leader's blame.  In this case, probably with our own lives.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Book Review: The Bells of Nagasaki

The Bells of Nagasaki

Takashi Nagai

Translated by William Johnston

August 9, 2012 marks the sixty-seventh anniversary of our dropping the atomic bomb which destroyed Nagasaki, Japan. 

The Bells of Nagasaki was written by a physician who was a survivor of that explosion.  Takashi Nagai was a professor of Radiology at the University of Nagasaki, and was approximately seven hundred yards from the epicenter of the blast.  Despite his own injuries, he and other staff at the University began to help the wounded.  His account of the struggle to care for the wounded after the explosion is sobering.  He tells of going into a storeroom to gather emergency supplies, but instead found nothing but destruction:

"Was it not for today that we assembled all this material?  Was it not for today that we practiced with those stretchers and gave all those lectures on relief work?  And now we were confronted with total failure....It was really primitive medicine that we were now reduced to.  Our knowledge, our love, our hands - we had only these with which to save the people."

And that is what they did.  The doctors, nurses, technicians, and medical students did what they could with what they had.  Dr. Nagai had to stop working because he had been bleeding from a laceration on the side of his face.  It was not until he passed out that his colleagues realized the seriousness of his injuries.

Nagai's wife, Midori, died in the explosion.  When he recovered her body, her Rosary was still in her right hand.  This woman and her family had a tremendous influence on Dr. Nagai's conversion to the Catholic Faith.  Her family had been members of the Kakure Kirishitan, or 'Hidden Christians' who continued to follow the Catholic Faith after it was suppressed in the 1600's.

I have written before about the nuns of Compiegne praying and offering themselves up as a holocaust to end the Reign of Terror in France.  It appears as if the Catholic community of Nagasaki had been offering themselves as a sacrifice as well during World War II.  It makes sense that Nagasaki would have a kind of martyrs' vocation, as it was the site where St. Paul Miki and companions were crucified on a hill overlooking the city.

When he was baptized, Takashi Nagai took the Christian name 'Paul' in honor of St. Paul Miki.  He meditated on the significance of men and women lifting their prayers up to God - offering themselves as a holocaust to the war - when he gave this speech at the funeral for the 8,000 Catholics who died in the bombing of Nagasaki:

Is there not a profound relationship between the destruction of Nagasaki and the end of the war? Nagasaki, the only holy place in all Japan—was it not chosen as a victim, a pure lamb, to be slaughtered and burned on the altar of sacrifice to expiate the sins committed by humanity in the Second World War?
The human family has inherited the sin of Adam who ate the fruit of the forbidden tree; we have inherited the sin of Cain who killed his younger brother; we have forgotten that we are children of God; we have believed in idols; we have disobeyed the law of love. Joyfully we have hated one another; joyfully we have killed one another. And now at last we have brought this great and evil war to an end. But in order to restore peace to the world it was not sufficient to repent. We had to obtain God’s pardon through the offering of a great sacrifice.
Before this moment there were many opportunities to end the war. Not a few cities were totally destroyed. But these were not suitable sacrifices; nor did God accept them. Only when Nagasaki was destroyed did God accept the sacrifice. Hearing the cry of the human family, He inspired the emperor to issue the sacred decree by which the war was brought to an end.
Our church of Nagasaki kept the faith during four hundred years of persecution when religion was proscribed and the blood of martyrs flowed freely. During the war this same church never ceased to pray day and night for a lasting peace. Was it not, then, the one unblemished lamb that had to be offered on the altar of God? Thanks to the sacrifice of this lamb many millions who would otherwise have fallen victim to the ravages of war have been saved.
How noble, how splendid was that holocaust of August 9, when flames soared up from the cathedral, dispelling the darkness of war and bringing the light of peace! In the very depth of our grief we reverently saw here something beautiful, something pure, something sublime. Eight thousand people, together with their priests, burning with pure smoke, entered into eternal life. All without exception were good people whom we deeply mourn.
How happy are those people who left this world without knowing the defeat of their country! How happy are the pure lambs who rest in the bosom of God! Compared with them how miserable is the fate of us who have survived! Japan is conquered. Urakami is totally destroyed. A waste of ash and rubble lies before our eyes. We have no houses, no food, no clothes. Our fields are devastated. Only a remnant has survived. In the midst of the ruins we stand in groups of two or three looking blankly at the sky.
Why did we not die with them on that day, at that time, in this house of God? Why must we alone continue this miserable existence?
It is because we are sinners. Ah! Now indeed we are forced to see the enormity of our sins! It is because I have not made expiation for my sins that I am left behind. Those are left who were so deeply rooted in sin that they were not worthy to be offered to God.
We Japanese, a vanquished people, must now walk along a path that is full of pain and suffering. The reparations imposed by the Potsdam Declaration are a heavy burden. But this painful path along which we walk carrying our burden, is it not also the path of hope, which gives to us sinners an opportunity to expiate our sins?
“Blessed are those that mourn for they shall be comforted.” We must walk this way of expiation faithfully and sincerely. And as we walk in hunger and thirst, ridiculed, penalized, scourged, pouring with sweat and covered with blood, let us remember how Jesus Christ carried His cross to the hill of Calvary. He will give us courage
“The Lord has given: the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord!”
Let us give thanks that Nagasaki was chosen for the sacrifice. Let us give thanks that through this sacrifice peace was given to the world and freedom of religion to Japan.
May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

This book gives one much to think about.  Along with John Hersey's Hiroshima and some other books, Takashi Nagai gives a brutally frank description of the massive destruction that followed the use of an atomic bomb on a city.  But I wonder if this destruction is any worse than, say, the saturation bombing of Dresden, or London, or whatever city one may care to name.  Even one grenade or bullet could have just as serious an outcome, only to fewer people.  

This book did not change my thoughts on war.  I recall that I when served in the Air Force, we were advised to remember that even though we were doctors, we still were part of the government which specialized in killing people and blowing things up.  We were advised to think about this seriously and leave if this mission were not compatible with our beliefs.  I stuck around.

I strongly recommend this book for several reasons.  One is for those who are considering a military career.  The other is that Takashi Nagai's book is inspirational, as it shows how people can overcome tremendous obstacles that are put in their way.  I could only hope to continue on as Dr. Nagai and his comrades did.

Stephen M. Donahue 

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Book Review: Hiroshima


John Hersey

Easton Press
1946, 1985, 2007

Yesterday marks the sixty-seventh anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan.  It seemed to pass unnoticed in the media.

I first read John Hersey's Hiroshima in 1976, and at the time I was not really impressed with the destruction caused by the bomb.  I recall writing a book report about it, and that was the end of it.  I was disappointed to find that it was not a book about the glories of war, but rather a narrative about civilians coping with the aftermath of an explosion which destroyed most of the city's infrastructure.  It was boring.

In 2008, I got a copy of this book from Easton Press.  Below the title was the phrase "With a final chapter written forty years after the explosion."  In the extra chapter, Hersey reports on what happened to the men and women afterwards.  The book was a far more interesting read the second time around.

A few things struck me while reading this book.  One was that the people of Hiroshima had a feeling that their city was due for a bombing.  It turns out this was correct, as the American forces had decided to spare it so that they could see the effects of the bomb on an undisturbed city.  While cities all around them were getting bombed, Hiroshima was left alone.  It was near a staging area for bombers heading to other cities in Japan, so the people were used to hearing air raid sirens.  Hersey seems to imply that the populace had grown complacent, and were not prepared for a bombing.  On the morning of August 6, the alarms had gone off twice; once for a B-29 which was performing weather reconnaissance, and then later when the Enola Gay and the two bombers which accompanied it flew over the city.

I can't recall if it was in this book, but there is a story that some people saw the bombers turn away violently after dropping the bomb, and they thought that the aircraft had been shot out of the sky.  Actually, the Enola Gay was turning away to escape from the anticipated blast.  The other two aircraft were along to take recordings and photographs of the explosion and its aftermath.

The other thing which impressed me was how all of the people in the book kept on despite the effects of the atomic bomb on their bodies and souls.  While I would not agree with how all of them lived after the war, they still are examples of how one can overcome setbacks as large as a nuclear explosion.  I recommend this book for anyone who is considering military service; I encourage readers to get the version of the book with the follow-up chapter.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

The Aftermath

The tires squeal,
the windshield pop,
with crunching metal,
the traffic cop

Said no one is
at fault, you see.
So now you are
back home with me.

When first I heard
about the crash,
I saw your life
pass in a flash.

In every scene
where you were there
a floral fragrance
filled the air.


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Making a Sundial

Marc walked into our bedroom this morning and mentioned how the sunlight plays on the bathroom wall.  He noted how the light gradually slides down the wall as the morning progresses, with it eventually disappearing as the sun rises toward midday.  He thought he could make marks on the wall to indicate the time of day.

We told him that it would be better if he not mark up the bathroom wall; if he really wanted to do this little experiment, we told him to tape paper to the wall and mark the paper instead.  Then we told Marc about sundials, and how they told people the time before the age of watches.  This  piqued his curiosity, and so in a few minutes we were searching the internet for instructions on making a sundial. 

We needed just a few tools to make this temporary sundial:  A ruler, a protractor, a pen, a marker, and a knife.  We decided to make our first sundial out of cardboard.

Here Marc is cutting out the base piece from some leftover cardboard.

 Notice how Marc is always safety conscious....
 Here is the protractor and a sheet of paper we downloaded from the internet with lines already drawn for the hours.
 Here is one of the vital steps to the process.  One must know your location in latitude and longitude.  I always get the two confused, so I have to look it up.  Latitude are the horizontal lines which tell how far you are (in degrees) from the equator.  For our home, we are at 32 degrees North.  This number is used to make the 'gnomon,' or the part of the sundial which casts the shadow.

We traced the protractor onto another piece of cardboard, and then determined a 32 degree angle.  i cut the gnomon out of the cardboard.

 Longitude, by the way, is the distance (in degrees) from a vertical line running through the planet.  By convention, the reference point goes through, Greenwich, near London.

The next step was to mark the hours on the base of the sundial.  We traced them on this piece of cardboard, and Marc labeled the hours from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

 Using some strong packing tape, we secured the gnomon onto the base.  We were ready to tell time.
 We place the sundial in the back yard and lined the '12' line up with North on my iPhone compass.  The picture below was taken at about 10:30 a.m.


What did we do wrong?  After moving the base around, making sure there were no large metal deposits below us, and switching from the 'True North' and 'Magnetic North' settings, I figured it was the Sun's fault.  Maybe it was the Earth's fault.  Global warming certainly had something to do with it.

After a while, I started thinking that the sheet we used to trace the hour lines was from a website based in England.  I suspect I shall have to go online and figure out how to calculate the 'hour' lines for our home in North Texas.  I shall put on an update about this after I investigate it further. 

Still, this was a cool thing to do with the children when I should have been sleeping after a night on call.

The rocks are on it to keep the wind from blowing it away.

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Holocaust to End the Terror

Tomorrow we remember the Holy Martyrs of Compiegne, France.  I reviewed a great book by William Bush at this site back in 2007.

On July 17, 1794, sixteen members of the Carmel of Compiegne were executed by the Committee of Public Safety of the National Convention of Revolutionary France.  The group consisted of 11 discalced Carmelite nuns, three lay sisters, and two externs.  The role of an extern was to interact with the world outside of the monastery, and to accompany any sisters who had to leave the cloister.

At the time of their deaths, all of the sisters were out in the world.  Their convent had been closed, and they had just been convicted of treason and sentenced to death.  But there was something more.  One hundred years before the Reign of Terror, a sister in the convent at Compiegne had a vision of a group of nuns called to 'follow the Lamb.'  The Lamb of God is Christ (John 1:29), and so the sister thought it meant that the nuns were to literally offer their lives to Christ.  That was what the small community had started praying for: that they would be an offering or holocaust for ending the Reign of Terror.

After tens of thousands of deaths, the Reign of Terror did end on July 28, 1794, eleven days after the execution of the Sisters of Compiegne.

Here is the list of names of the sisters of Compiegne:

  • Madeleine-Claudine Ledoine (Mother Teresa of St. Augustine), prioress, b. in Paris, 22 Sept., 1752, professed 16 or 17 May, 1775;
  • Marie-Anne (or Antoinette) Brideau (Mother St. Louis), sub-prioress, b. at Belfort, 7 Dec., 1752, professed 3 Sept, 1771;
  • Marie-Anne Piedcourt (Sister of Jesus Crucified), choir-nun, b. 1715, professed 1737; on mounting the scaffold she said "I forgive you as heartily as I wish God to forgive me";
  • Anne-Marie-Madeleine Thouret (Sister Charlotte of the Resurrection), sacristan, b. at Mouy, 16 Sept., 1715, professed 19 Aug., 1740, twice sub-prioress in 1764 and 1778. Her portrait is reproduced opposite p. 2 of Miss Willson's work cited below;
  • Marie-Antoniette or Anne Hanisset (Sister Teresa of the Holy Heart of Mary), b. at Rheims in 1740 or 1742, professed in 1764;
  • Marie-Françoise Gabrielle de Croissy (Mother Henriette of Jesus), b. in Paris, 18 June, 1745, professed 22 Feb., 1764, prioress from 1779 to 1785;
  • Marie-Gabrielle Trézel (Sister Teresa of St. Ignatius), choir-nun, b. at Compiègne, 4 April, 1743, professed 12 Dec., 1771;
  • Rose-Chrétien de la Neuville, widow, choir-nun (Sister Julia Louisa of Jesus), b. at Loreau (or Evreux), in 1741, professed probably in 1777;
  • Anne Petras (Sister Mary Henrietta of Providence), choir-nun, b. at Cajarc (Lot), 17 June, 1760, professed 22 Oct., 1786.
  • Concerning Sister Euphrasia of the Immaculate Conception accounts vary. Miss Willson says that her name was Marie Claude Cyprienne Brard, and that she was born 12 May, 1736; Pierre, that her name was Catherine Charlotte Brard, and that she was born 7 Sept., 1736. She was born at Bourth, and professed in 1757;
  • Marie-Geneviève Meunier (Sister Constance), novice, b. 28 May, 1765, or 1766, at St. Denis, received the habit 16 Dec., 1788. She mounted the scaffold singing "Laudate Dominum". In addition to the above, three lay sisters suffered and two tourières. The lay sisters are:
  • Angélique Roussel (Sister Mary of the Holy Ghost), lay sister, b. at Fresnes, 4 August, 1742, professed 14 May, 1769;
  • Marie Dufour (Sister St. Martha), lay sister, b. at Beaune, 1 or 2 Oct., 1742, entered the community in 1772;
  • Julie or Juliette Vérolot (Sister St. Francis Xavier), lay sister, b. at Laignes or Lignières, 11 Jan., 1764, professed 12 Jan., 1789. 

   It struck me that the American Revolution and the French Revolution had some things in common. One is that France was still reeling from the financial assistance it had given to our country, and that this was one of many problems which precipitated the revolution.  The other similarity is that both France and the United States declared that there were certain rights which were guaranteed for all men, and that these were to be protected.  It is here that the two countries differed, however.  In our Declaration of Independence, those rights come from a higher power than Man:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. (colors, underlining, and italics mine)

This point, the acknowledgement of a Creator, is absent from the French documents.  Thousands of people were executed by the government in France under the name of freedom.  It makes me wonder what will happen to our own country as we slowly see the importance of God being removed from our government.

I do not recommend Gertrude Le Fort's book The Song of the Scaffold; it is mainly a work of fiction, as were the works by George Bernanos and Francis Poulenc on this subject.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Book Review: Lethal Warriors: When the New Band of Brothers Came Home

Lethal Warriors: When the New Band of Brothers Came Home

David Philipps

Soldiers returning home from war have always had it rough.  When I did my psychiatry rotation in medical school, I was assigned to the Veteran’s Administration(VA) hospital.  The psychiatric ward took up almost one entire floor of the main building, and was divided into two wings.  One was for patients suffering from PTSD, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, while the other treated just about every other psychiatric malady.  With the typical cynicism which comes with being a medical student, we referred to the floors more by their nicknames than by their proper titles.  The section which dealt with a variety of psychopathology was called either the ‘Smorgasbord’ or the ‘Salad Bar,’ while the PTSD wing was more commonly called the ‘FTVA’ wing.  I shall leave it to the reader to decipher the meaning of the letters preceding Veteran’s Administration.  I was assigned to the Smorgasbord, and so had very little contact with the patients - most of them Vietnam Veterans - that filled the other wing of the hospital. 

Over the past twenty-three years, the military and the VA have continued to struggle with those who have experienced the horror of war.  Judging from David Philipps’ book, Lethal Warriors: When the New Band of Brothers Came Home, it appears as if the challenge is even greater today.  This book left me wondering if the ‘War is Hell’ which General Sherman spoke about has gotten worse, or perhaps the American soldier is entering combat unprepared for the tremendous moral, spiritual, and psychological upheaval which comes with it.

Philipps reports on the events that followed the return of an Army unit to their home base in Colorado Springs, Colorado from combat in Iraq.  Within a short time, the rate of violent crimes in the city increased, with most of them involving soldiers who had just returned from some of the most dangerous areas in Iraq.  Philipps interviewed soldiers who were in prison, as well as their family and friends, commanding officers, and a few of the people who were treating soldiers with PTSD.  He describes the plight of young men who went off to serve our country, and how the traumatic experience of serving in Iraq had changed so many of them for the worse.  He also relates how the medical and psychological support for them was overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of personnel who exhibited signs of PTSD.  In addition, he poignantly describes how the military culture made it difficult for soldiers to seek help from the medical community.

This book was very sobering to read, from the recollection of encounters with an elusive enemy in Iraq to the descent of various characters in the book into depression and violence.  There was also a lot of strong language as well.  I would recommend this book to anyone who is considering a military career, as it shows how ordinary men could be affected by the stress of combat.  I spoke to some folks I know who had been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, and they all agreed that no one leaves there without being changed in some way.  All of them talked of survivor’s guilt, and the strange desire to return despite knowing the danger.

I think this book will increase awareness for the need for more mental health care in the military, the Veteran’s Administration hospitals, and in the private sector.  Some of the changes made by General Graham while he was in command at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs sounded great, but programs like that may be eliminated by those who follow him. 

There were two things about the book which I found troubling.  One is that very few medical personnel were included in the narrative.  Throughout the book, physician or psychologist encounters were described as brief, usually after waiting a long time for an appointment.  Invariably, the soldiers were prescribed medications as a first means of treatment, with little counseling added to the therapy.  It was disturbing to read that a lot of the soldiers were taking prescription drugs while out on patrol.  I think that it is possible that the military medical community did not want to discuss this issue, and so their perspective was not included in the book.  Perhaps, like my initial encounter with PTSD in medical school, it is still considered a difficult area for discussion. 

The other thing which I found quite remarkable is that Philipps seems to totally ignore the importance of faith - any faith - in the life of these men.  He did not comment on the religious background of any of the soldiers; I would think that he would have at least mentioned if they had no faith at all.  This is an important issue for this book, because the type of fighting in Iraq after President Bush’s infamous ‘Mission Accomplished’ declaration was not clearly defined.  The enemy blended in with the people, and made identifying friend from foe difficult.  The soldiers even comment that it was often safer to  shoot first in an encounter, which sometimes resulted in the death of innocent civilians.  Fighting under conditions which forced the soldier to make morally unpleasant decisions must have caused some amount of spiritual anguish among even the most hardened men, and yet this aspect is ignored by the author. 

I can think of several explanations for this.  One is that serving in Iraq limited our freedom of Religion; I recall that when I was in the Air Force we were told that certain religious items were not permitted in the Middle East.  Another is that there is a shortage of chaplains in the military; for some of these soldiers in remote locations, a visit from the Padre is a rare event.  But far more important is the way our government is gradually downplaying the importance of religion in our society as a whole.  In 2009, the military published an epidemiological study trying to determine factors which influenced the sudden increase of homicides at Fort Carson.  I looked over the report - all 126 pages of it - and found no mention of faith, or religion, or God in it anywhere.  The only reference to religion is the inclusion of a Chaplain in the epidemiology team.  Perhaps the faith of the soldiers was not investigated because, like other variables in psychology, it is difficult to quantify or analyze statistically.  Whatever the case, no discussion of religion, or God in both the Army’s report and Philipp’s book was very disappointing.

It seems to me that the de-emphasis of faith in our society and in the military in particular is to blame for a lot of the troubles which followed the return of these soldiers to the United States.  War has always been Hell, but the way that man faced it certainly has changed.  During the Civil War, mothers would make sure to include a Bible in their son’s belongings.  One of the books we have in our library is the ‘Catholic Prayer Book for the Marine Corps’ originally published during World War II.  Even in my own time, in the late 1980’s, faith was seen as important in the military.  I recall a Sergeant telling me about ‘GI Parties’ which were held on Sunday mornings for those who were not going to services.  A GI party consisted of thoroughly cleaning the inside and outside of the barracks.  It didn’t take long for those who wanted to sleep in on Sunday to ‘get religion,’ as it was called.  I don’t know about the current situation in the military, but if David Philipps’ book is any indication, religion, faith, and God have been pushed aside.  The events described in Lethal Warriors suggest what happens when the ‘Army of One’ has no One to fall back on.

I would recommend this book to only mature readers because of content and language.  I think it would be a good read for anyone considering serving in the military because it depicts the reality of war.  The subject of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is something every man contemplating the military should think about before making such a serious commitment.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Meditation on a Roadkill Squirrel

I ran over a squirrel today

It took me totally by surprise
all I saw was a brief movement
of my right eye

I think I saw the tail of
the squirrel as it ran headlong
and the path of my car

The sensation of the right tire
rolling over something was
that I experienced.

I was still so taken aback by this
squirrel's behavior that I slowed down
the rear view mirror

I wanted to see if there were any
little brown bodies on the road behind me
squirrel was on drugs


Blueberry Picking

July, 2011

Every Summer for the last seven years our family has trekked off to East Texas in search of fresh blueberries for picking.  We have found the best blueberries at Echo Springs Blueberry Farm in Brownsboro.  Located between Athens and Tyler, it is about a 2 hour drive from the Dallas/Fort Worth area.  Here is a picture of the pickings from 2011:
2011 was the first time I went with the rest of the family.  I had never been blueberry picking before, so I really was looking forward to the day.  It was a lot of fun, only we went in July, in the midst of the 100+ days of no rain in our part of the state.  Unfortunately most of the berries had been picked, and the heat made it a bit less comfortable than we wanted it to be.  The picture below of Bernard summarizes the day: hot and sweaty, with an empty bucket.

The folks at Echo Springs recommended that we come back the following year in June when the berries are at their biggest and juiciest.
Carolyn took some of the smaller children into the store when they got too hot.  Here she is with our youngest daughter ZelieLouisa.  Two of the beautiful women in my life. 
In this picture, Maximilian gets into the frame along with Bernard's forehead.  I just love to take pictures of Carolyn; she is so gorgeous!
We can't recall how many pounds of blueberries we picked last year.  Regardless, the ones we brought home were used for muffins and other delights from the Donahue kitchen.  We froze them in small plastic bags so we could pull out as much as we needed. 

June, 2012 

This year we took their advice and came in June.  We arrived around 2 p.m. rather than early in the morning as I had hoped we would.  I was on vacation, and so I was enjoying the rare day when I could just wake up whenever I wanted.  Our late arrival actually was providential, because a torrential rainstorm hit the farm that morning.  So when we arrived, the temperature was in the 70's and the clouds remained overhead for the whole time we were there.  Occasionally raindrops fell on us, and our clothes also got wet from reaching in to pick berries off of the wet bushes.  A cool breeze made it even more comfortable.  I don't think we could have had better weather for picking blueberries.

Here is Augustine, busy picking berries.  I have to say that it would be easier to get a picture of Sasquatch or the Yeti than to get some of my children to pose for a picture.  So if you get to wondering where the other children are, trust me.  All but Dominick(the oldest) were with us, and if they don't appear below it is because I could not get a good picture of them.
Thankfully Marcellinus, or 'Marc' as we commonly call him, was not camera shy.  Here he demonstrates his award-winning technique for picking berries. 
"Any questions?"
Benedict was diligently picking away and could not look up from his work. 

Jacinta not only looked at the camera; here she actually smiled for me. 

Bernadette showed her technique for picking as well.  With so many berries on the trees, we found the best way to pick them was to grab a cluster; the ripe fruit would separate easily and either fall into the hand or the bucket underneath.  The unripe fruit would resist the slight pressure needed, and would remain behind for someone else to pick at a later date.

Here I catch Cornelius and Maximilian at work.  Max is closer to me; Cornelius is on the other side of the line of bushes.  That black thing in the foreground is the dripline which runs along the bottom of each row.  I don't think I could have hidden my children's faces any better if I tried to.

Bernard is too young to be camera shy.  He actually did some picking this year, and then knocked over his bucket for reasons best known only to him.  He had a great time, especially when he took on a supervisory role and toured the grounds to check on his siblings and parents.  That is Carolyn's foot and dress.

ZeleiLouisa is not camera shy either.  Here she poses before getting back to picking blueberries. 

It may not be obvious from the picture from 2011, but the whole farm was greener and more lush than it was the year before.  That made for really good blueberry picking.
Here is a picture of either Maximilian, or Sasquatch, or a chupacabra.  You decide.  Something tells me that I doubt any of those mythical beasts would be collecting berries in a bucket.  More likely they would be storing them internally.

We didn't realize that the farm closed at 4:30 p.m., so we had to rush at the end.  Part of the experience of blueberry picking is to sample all of the jellies, soups, salsa, dips, and baked goods which are available in the gift shop/store.

So, in a little over two hours, we collected 70 pounds of blueberries!  That is 10 buckets full by 13 people - where the two youngest were 6 and 3 years old.  There were a lot of reasons why we were able to pick so much.  One is that there were a lot more berries on the bushes, and they were arranged together in clumps rather than individually, so each time we reached into the tree we got more than one berry.  Another reason is that the weather cooperated.  I know I would not have just stood there picking berries for as long as I did if it were hotter and more humid.  Most of all, though, is that our children are growing up, and have learned how to pick berries efficiently.  Carolyn pointed this out to me as we worked until 3 in the morning to put all the berries in the freezer.  The berries we picked had a lot fewer stems, leaves, unripe berries, and other waste which usually accompanies the picking of berries. 

I was very proud of the work the children did, and I look forward to a year full of muffins, pancakes, and whatever else can be complemented by the addition of blueberries.

By the way, this is almost what 70 pounds of blueberries look like.  They were still packing them when I took this picture.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

"Ten Commandments for How to be a Writer"

by John C. Wright

I used to have a link to this article on my iPhone. 

One day, the link went ‘cold,’ with only an apology from the folks at the ‘Dappled Things’ website in its place.  I searched in vain for the article.  This evening, while talking to one of our children, I realized that most of the points I was trying to make were modeled after this talk.  It seemed that I should really try once again to find this article for my children’s sake as well as for my own edification.  It didn't take long to find when I used my desktop Apple rather than my iPhone. 

I once read that the best thing one could do for a budding writer is to buy him a thesaurus, and then shoot him in the head, because that would be the last time he would ever be happy.  I suffer with delusions that I could be a good writer if I only put in enough time and practice.  Thanks be to God, I have a large family and a good job which keeps me too busy to pursue this full time.  So when I do get a chance to write - like now - it is late at night and I am more inclined to sleep.  Still, I submit this article for those who aspire to write, or for those who are finding it difficult to find a job and need a little encouragement. 

I also am putting it on my blog so I don’t lose it again.....
First, the credits.  The author is described as 

“a retired attorney, newspaperman and newspaper editor, who was only once on the lam and forced to hide from the police who did not admire his newspaper. He presently works (successfully) as a writer in Virginia, where he lives in fairy-talelike happiness with his wife, the authoress L. Jagi Lamplighter, and their three children: Orville, Wilbur, and Just Wright.”

“Only once on the lam.”  Why only once?  Should there have been other times?  Hmmmmm.

The link to this article can be found at this link.

So here goes......

John C. Wright's patented and guaranteed Ten Commandments for How to be a Writer.
1. In order to be a writer, you must write.

2. In order to write, you must use proper spelling, punctuation, grammar; or, if you violate these rules, the violation must be deliberate, to create an artistic effect. Avoid politically correct jargon at all costs. Do not use ugly constructions like "he or she"; it will date your work, and the cool people will laugh at you.

3. In order to be a writer, you must sell what you write. No manuscript should spend a single night on your desk; the same day you get a rejection, put the manuscript in the mail to the next editor. Let the manuscripts spend their nights on the editor's desk.

4. In order to sell what you write, read the editor's guidelines for his magazine or publishing house and follow them. These guidelines are available in a reference book called Writer's Market. Get the reference book for the current year. If the guidelines say double-spaced white paper single sided, and no samurai vampire stories, do not send him "Lightning Swords of the Nosferatu of Kyoto" printed on blood-red paper, single-spaced, double sided. Failure to follow the guidelines shows you are a dude, a tenderfoot, a punk, a novice, not someone meant to be treated with professional courtesy. Your story is your child: no mother would send her child out to look for a job without fixing his tie and shining his shoes.

5. Include a self-addressed stamped envelope with proper postage affixed, if you want the manuscript back.

6. You will receive on average ONE HUNDRED rejection slips before you make your first sale. This is an average. This means that if someone, say, Lester del Rey, makes his first sale on his first attempt without getting a rejection, that someone else, say, Ray Bradbury, will get two hundred rejection slips.

7. If your manuscript is good or bad, send out your manuscript again. Genius does not count. Only persistence counts. The world will not recognize your genius until after you are dead. But the world can recognize your persistence now.

8. If the manuscript is good, send out your manuscript again. The editor who rejected it last month or last year may have different needs or a different budget this month or this year.

9. If the manuscript is bad, send out your manuscript again. The worst thing you ever wrote will someday, somehow, be some schoolboy's favorite story ever. Your readers are your employers. Respect and fear them. Do not approach this work with pride or selfishness or any of the other emotions to which men of fragile artistic spirits are inclined. It is a profession. Act professionally.

10. Selling writing means your manuscripts go out, and money comes back in. Money always goes toward the writer. Money never goes away from the writer. This means you do not hire a manuscript doctor, you do not pay a reading fee, you do not enter a contest which charges an entry fee. Those are scams. Agents are paid on commission, paid when and only when they sell your wares, whereupon the money comes from the publisher and goes toward you; You do not pay the agent a retainer.
To sum up: To be a writer, you write. You write by writing grammatically correct English, not Politically Correct Newspeak. You sell what you write. You sell what you write by following the editor's submission guidelines. You include a self-addressed stamped envelope. You continue to submit stories whether they are good, bad or mediocre. You treat it like a job.
Do not wait to be inspired. So-called inspiration consists of sitting down at scheduled times for scheduled amounts of time and actually doing the work of writing. It is the same inspiration used by a cobbler to make a shoe, or a carpenter to make a chair.
Writing is not accomplished by inspiration. It is accomplished by not making excuses to not accomplish it.
Let me add one more rule to my list of ten rules. This is the Eleventh Commandment, the unwritten rule:

11. When you get a rejection slip, be thankful.

Yes, you heard me. Not only are you NOT to take it personally, you are to have thanks and gratitude in your heart for getting rejected.

Rejection slips come in three grades: (1) impersonal form letters (2) form letters with specific reasons for rejection (3) personal notes from the editor explaining the rejection.

You are to be thankful for getting an impersonal form letter because it means one more rejection slip of the one hundred or two hundred you must collect before you make your first sale has been checked off. This means that your manuscript, which has been sitting on his desk for seven months, is now free to be submitted to another editor, perhaps even to that one special editor which God or Fate or Blind Chance or the Seldon Plan of History (take your pick) had intended from the first to be the place where your manuscript would find its home. It means a fresh chance, another turn of the Wheel of Fortune.

You are to be thankful for getting form letters with specific rejection reasons because you can use this information to improve the story or improve your sales pitch, and because there is no other place in the universe you can get this information.

You are to be thankful for personal notes from the editor explaining the rejection, because this means you have graduated to the rank of being a real writer, even if you have yet to sell a single word of your art, because editors do not take the time to explain themselves to rank amateurs. It means you are good enough to make the sale, and you just so happen not to have made it this time. It is encouragement.

The main reason why you are to be thankful and grateful for rejection slips rather than bitter and insulted is that professionals are thankful. Above all, you are thankful Fate has allowed you even a slender chance at entering a profession made of wonder. You get to write down daydreams and people pay you money for it. A few blows to the ego are a small price to pay, and are probably good for improving your character anyway.

Does anyone know what the Seldon Plan of History is?  Has anyone else out there read the book which describes it?  All you geeks out there are nodding your heads.

Our Lady of the Mysterious Decapitation

Our Lady of the Mysterious Decapitation
Now restored with the help of some cement!

Prayer to Our Lady of the Mysterious Decapitation

Mary my mother, take my hand today, and all days.
Lead me away from all occasions of sin.
Guide me in fulfilling your last words in the Gospel,
"Do whatever He tells you."

I am An Amateur Catholic Blogger!

Amateur Catholic B-Team Member