Neil Peart’s books

Skipping all the books I read and didn’t blog about…

Last week I finished two of Neil Peart’s books: Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road and Traveling Music: Playing Back the Soundtrack to My Life and Times.  Read ’em one after the other, and they’re good.  He’s an entertaining prose writer and one of the best travel writers I’ve read.  You can read about his more recent travels at his “slow blog” News, Weather and Sports (I hope that’s a permanent url).

Aside from the travel writing, he’s developed a language to describe the inner workings of the human soul. I need to go back through these books sometime to copy those parts, since I have great trouble translating all that internal stuff into words.  He and I share some internal weirdnesses, too, and it was a bit of a relief to read someone who can identify and describe them.  He does it in an easy offhand way with the ideal words and insights to capture their feel and taste.

One caveat for us Catlickers: he’s a devout and militant atheist.  You’ll roll your eyes once in a while.

Moonwalking with Einstein

Maybe I’ll post something about each book I’ve read.  First up: Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer.  A journalist covers a memory competition, gets talked into competing in the next year’s competition, and becomes the reigning American memory champion.  This is an entertaining introduction to the ancients’ memory techniques, centered on the concept of the “memory palace”.

The great modern books on ancient and medieval memory are:

The three ancient sources are:

Piety, ritual, and divine incarnation: then and now

Learning how to behave toward the gods, in daily piety and ritual, and how to negotiate the incursions of the divine into the human—from interpreting oracles and portents to facing the presence of a god in disguise or in epiphany—all of this tests and defines what it is to be human. –Ralph J. Hexter, A Guide to the Odyssey: A Commentary on the English Translation of Robert Fitzgerald.

How to make palm crosses

Nowadays you kids have websites and videos, but back in the olden days the ancient ways were handed on via email. From the archives of a mailing list I was on back in the ’90s:

“As far as I can tell, the palm should be “fresh,” meaning that you probably should do this when you get home from church on Palm Sunday. Pat and I debated whether crosses could be made with palms a few days old (and drying) and soaked in water to limber them up. Anyway …

Split the palm lengthway. Typically the palm is “hinged.” Split it at the hinge. You should have two long slender palms. Take one.

About one fifth up from the broad end (the bottom), fold down. Take the longer of the halves and fold up and to the right about a third from the first fold (now the top). With this second fold, you are forming part of the crossbeam.

You are now going to make the third fold, and thus the length of the crossbeam to the right. Find a point on the palm facing away from the cross (from that second fold) that is about the same distance from the center of the cross as is the top part of it. Fold to bring the palm back toward the cross and forming the crossbeam.

For the fourth fold, again, find a point on the left half of the crossbeam equal in distance from the center of the cross as the right side. Fold to bring the palm back to the body of the cross, completing the crossbeam. The cross itself is finished, but it won’t hold without completing the finishing work.

Take the remaining palm and fold up and to the right, folding over that corner. What you are going to do is wrap the remaining palm around from the top corner, over the front and to the bottom opposite corner. Bring it up the back, to the upper right corner again and repeat. As you bring the remaining palm back around, bring it horizontally across the back. As you bring the palm back toward the front again, bring it across the front to the opposite corner and around to the back. The front should almost like draped cloths criss-crossing the cross.

Should should have a couple inches of very thining palm remaining. Take the remaining palm and thread it in and around the layers in the back (much like taking thread and weaving it in and out of itself when sewing, to finish it off.). Flatten it out, take any kiltering out of the cross and you should have the finished product.

I hope these instructions made sense. I’m a communicator by trade, but I am very accustomed to having visual aids present!

Filia mea

Ego sum Sarah White, secunda librorum (prima filiarum) Carli et Lisae. Ego habeo XIV anna.

Benny cattus parvus est, niger et albus. Casey magna catta est, sed non mater Benni. Harry quoque cattus magnus est, sed non maritus Casiae et non pater Benni.

Catti neque maritus neque uxor, non pater, non mater, non filius – sunt neutrum.


filia tua Sarah

Discovering Dorothy Day

I’m reading through her writings for the Catholic Worker in chronological order from January 1, 1933.  I last turned my attention to her when I was a college Republican in the 1980s and I’d filed her under “crazy radical”.  Turns out she wasn’t crazy at all.  It’s exciting to see her Catholic orthodoxy mix with and ferment her social radicalism.