Monthly Archives: May 2008

Newton was a bit of an arse

The Scientists: A History of Science Told Through the Lives of Its Greatest Inventors The Scientists: A History of Science Told Through the Lives of Its Greatest Inventors by John Gribbin

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
I started out loving this book, it gave glimpses into the men who helped form science. When we approached the modern era, a time when some of the scientists discussed are still alive possibly, the tone changed… the book stopped being about the people and more only about the science. It was this change that threw me off… I suppose there is a valid reason to not continue the quirks to include something like Richard Dawkins has had a propensity to wear short shorts in public places (which I have witnessed), but it was precisely that the insights into scientists like Newton and Linnaeus were so fascinating to me.

Plus the soap box on the end about how sociologists and historians malign science by not giving it its merited status and instead “consider” it as not quite theory and merely subject to the whims of people… I thought that was unnecessary.

View all my reviews.

Austria – Day 4 : We start the Austrian Mafia: AKA the Godfathers. part 1

So, I am getting back into the blogging of things trip related. Since my goal was to try to do this in some semblance of chronological fashion.. we end up with my having only 2 or so hours of sleep and a trip to Traiskirchen, the Austrian village where Schatz grew up (he also grew up in Germany). It started out an an uneventful trip, until the last few minutes when Squink got car sick for the second time in his life. all over his baptism “suit”.

Thankfully, I was able to get him cleaned up a bit.

So, I decided I was not going to try and make him sit through mass. He lasted a few minutes, but wanted to go outside. The church we were at had a moat. A lovely empty moat that had loads of dandelions. So, we worked out way down and I taught him about blowing them. He loved it, he loved going over as well as under the bridge for the moat.

After the mass, we met Father Gregor, who spoke Russian or German. And provided me with the instruction on what I was supposed to say… sadly, I still have no clue what it was, or what it meant.

We had a cup of coffee at the church and walked across the street to Schatz’s sisters home to get ready for the baptism and wedding mass. Here we are with the most fabulous Godfathers ever.

the absence of original sin

Squink is trying to squirm out of my arms repeatedly saying he wants to go home.


Folks were nervous as to how he would handle the Holy water and oil, he was actually serious for this part of the ceremony.

the holy water

And here he is with the oil, see, he was serious.


Then Oma und Opa had their wedding vows renewed for their 50th anniversary.

very serious

It was lovely.


But Squink was not ready to sit still. So we walked to a special area where you can light candles and we used his baptismal candle to light candles for Aunt Anne. repeatedly.


Here are the “Godfathers”, they are mighty handsome! They are brothers too!

The godfathers

This is Lisa, the French girlfriend to the dark haired nephew. She is one of the loveliest women. She was funny, kind, gentle, and gracious. What a pleasure it was to meet her.

Isn't she beautiful?

SO, they presented Oma and Opa to the congregation…

the happy couple

And since Squink is never one to shirk center stage, ran up and joined them.

Squink gets in on the fun.

He then told Father Gregor he loved him and held his hand as they walked out the church.

Coming soon; Austria – Day 4, the feast (part 2)

Procession for the Feast of Corpus Christi

Well, it was quite a day. Here is a quick glimpse into the procession. It was exhausting… physically and mentally or possibly emotionally. I am still trying to process the experience.

Near the end I spoke with a woman who was from France and she spoke of how well the Squink was doing, and that this was more common back there… Schatz and I said it was part of our experience too, and how wonderful to have it here. She grabbed my arm and said, yes, it is finally here, and walked away.

Again, I am not catholic, nor do I feel any close affinity to most other religions. What I do have is a deep appreciation for ritual, and yes I do like the ones that are a bit more “over the top” like processions such as this. It brings back memories of gentle times, when I admired others faith. It fosters a sense of community.

It is interesting to note that most cars we very respectful, and stopping and waiting as the very long procession passed, the only exception being a adolescent male in a “souped up car” with the bass blaring a thunderous beat as he speed by, clearly thinking he was impressing the girl in the passenger seat next to him.

I was also lucky in that I had a friend join us for the experience. It was nice to have someone there, to make silly jokes, catch up and chat as we both fumbled our way through the liturgy the procession called for.

The most miraculous part; Squink walked the whole thing (about 1 mile). He even got down (mostly) on his knees when called for… which impressed Schatz.

Corpus Christi Procession on Roosevelt II



Feast of Corpus Christi

While I am not inherently a typical religious person, I love ritual and therefore have a deep appreciation for ritual of all kinds. Well, rituals in the presence of a moral good.
I think that there are many reasons for this. Among those reasons I would include one that I consider the main reason. That is;

It is an ethnographic experience: As someone who has looked at culture in detail, I see religion as the practice of any particular culture. It can even give insight into a sub culture, it provides a historical glimpse into a psyche of a country or people. Which is why I often am bewildered by people who claim to be ethnographers or ethnographer-like who show disdain for religion.

When I was younger there was plenty of evidence of this burgeoning “ethnographer” in me. I would often seek out experiences to try to understand the culture around me. I enjoyed the stories my parents told me of Native American creation stories, I loved going to the old cathedrals in Europe and South America, I even enjoyed watching pilgrims and the various sites of pilgrimages, I liked descansos, I took various religious courses, I joined in pilgrimages (even if I knew nothing about it) I enjoyed ritual foods and meals. All these things helped me identify and understand the cultures I was living in.

Once, when I was about 6 or 7 (possibly 8, but I don’t think so) my family was visiting friends in a village in South America. My guess is that my father was going to bullfight and there was an associated religious holiday. We took a stroll outside the home we were staying at to watch the pilgrims or possibly penitents. The people were moving on their knees (not crawling) toward some place that I believe was the local church. I knew not where they were going, I had never seen the town. I became separated from my family, and instead of crying like a lost child is wont to do… I joined the procession. I walked, what I recall as being, a short distance on my knees (though walking is not the right word, I am not sure what is appropriate). There was an indigenous gentleman “walking” next to me, who was very worried about my participation. I thought, at the time, that he perhaps did not consider me holy enough to be there… but now that I am older… and understand the world and things a bit better… I think perhaps, that he thought he might be accused of kidnapping a white girl. After we arrived at the church he helped me figure out where my family was and walked me there. I could tell he was worried, but I honestly thought it was because I was a non catholic and had participated in a catholic ritual… I think he was worried he would get in trouble. When we arrived at the house we were staying, he stayed across the street and got a woman to walk me to the door while he watched and made sure I made it inside. When I crossed the gate that was the entrance to house I looked back, he was walking away.

I loved this experience, I was never afraid, I felt safe the whole time in part because of the ritual and in part because I knew the man was kind.

I have no idea which religious holiday it was, but I knew it was something special. So when my husbands church proclaimed that they would be having a procession for the Feast of Corpus Christi… I recalled that event from my past. Apparently, this will be the first such procession for the parish and I can’t wait to walk in it.

Four Foods On Friday #30

Four Foods On Friday #30 questions

#1. What’s your favorite white beverage? If you don’t have one, what’s your favorite beverage with something white in it?

A white russian

#2. What’s your favorite white gravy, sauce, condiment, dressing or topping?

The gravy on biscuits and sausage gravy

#3. What’s your favorite white item from the refrigerated section?


#4. Share a recipe for something white.

White Gazpacho

Serves 6

Half pound of blanched almonds
1 bulb garlic, peeled
1.5 tsp salt
6 to 8 slices of slightly stale crusty bread, crusts removed
2/3 cups extra virgin olive oil
5 – 6 tablespoons sherry or red wine vinegar
Seedless green grapes
8 cups iced water

Soak the bread in the iced water. In a food processor or blender; blend salt, garlic and almonds. Squeeze the water out of the soaked bread, break it up and add it in pieces to the garlic and almond mix while the processor/blender is running. Add the oil gradually, followed by the vinegar and the remaining ice water.

Strain the soup through a strainer (go for a texture you would like; smooth use a fine mesh or just blend really well). Add more salt or vinegar to taste. Chill the soup in a covered dish, preferably overnight (or as littel as a few hours; the longer the better). Peel and/or slice the grapes in half. Serve ice cold with the grapes in chilled soup bowls. I have also had some slivered almonds to float on top just before serving, or some mild parsley.

Austria Day 3 – Meet the Mayor(s)

Before I continue to regale y’all with more mis-adventures from the trip I just wanted to share that Squink is very conscious of his “carbon footprint”. What this means is that he only eats the tomatoes that I manage to grow and not the ones I buy at the grocery store.

OK, so we return to Austria….

I manage to be woken up at about 10:30 or so with a loud knock… I still have not slept, but we (the royal one) are expecting guests, important one.

There was loads to do… however, I woke up after most of it was done. Here is Opa with the table set for 15 (I think).

Opa with the set table

Here, don’t I look tired? At this point I had not slept worth a dime for 5 days.

tired, oh so tired.

Before I continue though, I must show you this gift basket that Schatz’s parents got from Manfred, Agnes and Max… it was so cool. It had the most appealing culinary delights I have ever seen… but then, Manfred is a chef de cuisine… or something like that… all I can say is he is a damn fine cook!

the coolest gift basket ever.

Here is a picture of Agnes with Oma und Opa.

Opa, Agnes und Oma

This is Manfred. He is very tall. really tall.


[insert gratuitous Squink picture]


Myself with Max and Opa.

Looking tired, with Max und Opa

Still looking tired as we await their arrival.

still pretty tired but I manage to choo-choo spielen

The Mayor and his entourage arrive and chaos ensues… he came with the vice mayor, the town photographer and someone else whose role escapes me…

chaos ensues, the mayor arrives.

The mayor and vice mayor make a presentation to Oma und Opa. 50 years is a big deal over there too!

the presentation

Then it is the vice mayors turn to talk…

The vice mayor presents a gift basket

Here is the whole town crew.

the town honors oma und opa

Once they left we could relax and Max and Squink took to the TV.

Max and Squink

Or, Squink would want to choo choo spiel again.

more choo choo spielen

or he would give me a lecture on how to choo choo spielen correctly…


We had to drive to the town Chris grew up in in Austria the next morning and be there for mass which was at 8 or 9 a.m. so Schatz and I could meet Father Gregor before the baptism and wedding renewal masses… Again, I could not sleep. More on that soon.