Monday, October 30, 2017

Fathers of Great Men and Women

Dr Abe V Rotor
Father and mother of Philippine heroes 
 Greatness, they say, runs in the family. Not really. Many great men and women came from humble birth. Let's take these examples.
  • Abraham Lincoln's father was a poor farmer and laborer.
  • The father of the great explorer James Cook was a farm worker.
  • The father of France greatest heroine, Joan of Arc, was a farmer.
  • Sophocles, the Greek poet, was the son of a blacksmith.
  • Christopher Columbus was the son of a weaver.
  • Sigmund Freud's father was a wool merchant.
  • The father of Henry Ford was a farmer.
  • Marco Polo's father was a traveling merchant.
  • Sir Francis Drake was brought up a Puritan, his father Edmund Drake was a clergyman. 
  • David Livingstone's parents were poor, David had to work in a factory at age 10.
  • The father of Lech Walesa, leader of Solidarity that freed Poland, was a carpenter.
  • Daniel Webster was the son of a poor farmer.
  • Benjamin Franklin was the son of a soap maker.
  • The father of Charles Dickens was a wage earner, clerk in the Navy Pay Office.
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  • Joseph Haydn's father made and repaired wheels of all kinds.
  • Emperor Diocletian was the son of a slave.
  • Pablo Picasso's father was a painter, but handed over his brushes and paints to his son after discovering his artistic genius.
  • The father of Shakespeare was a wool merchant.
  • Albert Einstein's father failed as a businessman      Sophocles
  • Virgil's father was a porter and for years a slave.
  • Franz Schubert's father was a modest schoolmaster.
  • Nelson Mandela, South Africa's living hero, came from a family of herdsmen, born in a thatched hut.
  • The father of John Paul II was an army sergeant.
  • Mother Teresa (Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu) was a daughter of an Albanian grocer.
  • Maria Montessori, founder of the Montessori school, was the daughter of a civil servant
  • George Frederick Handel's father was a barber-surgeon.
  • Joseph Stalin's father was an alcoholic, beat the young Joseph, deserted the family.
  • Ludwig Beethoven's father was ruthless to the young Ludwig.
  • The father of Lyndon Johnson, US president, earned a teacher's certificate, went to farming and local politics.
  • Former US President Richard Nixon grew in poverty, family illness and endless work.
  • Mikhail Gorbachev, the man who "made the USSR disappear" was born from simple peasant parents, and grandparents.
  • Mao Zedong was the son of an obscure peasant from the vast hinterland of China.
  • Charles Darwin's father was a medical doctor, his grandfather Erasmus Darwin was a renown scientist.
  • The father of Florence Nightingale founder of the nursing profession was a rich man.  She was born in Florence (hence her name) but returned to England as a little girl.  
  • Leonardo da Vinci's father was a notary, or lawyer and his mother was a peasant girl.
  • Michelangelo's father, Ludovico, was a magistrate and proud of his noble ancestry.
  • The father of Renaissance painter Raphael, contemporary of Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo  was an artist of some reputation, employed by the dukes of Urbino near Florence
  • The father of George Frederick Handel (1685-1759) was a prominent barber-surgeon in the town of Halle, Germany.
  • Austrian composer Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) was the second of twelve children born to a kindly couple of music-loving peasants.  His father Matias Haydn made and repaired wheels of all kinds. 

  • Franz Schubert (1797-1828) was born into a family that regarded music very highly.  His father was a modest schoolmaster.                                                
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  • The father of John Wesley, founder of Methodism, was a rector of Epworth Rectory
  • Captain James Cook was born of poor parents in 1728 in a village in Yorkshire where his father worked on a farm.  
  • Jesus Christ's father - St Joseph - was a carpenter.
References: Living with Nature  AVRJokes, Quotes and One-Liners for Public Speakers, Prochnow HV and HV Prochnow Jr, 1897, 1931; Ladyird Book Series                                                              Schubert 

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Queer Looking Trees from Another World

Photos and Poem by Dr Abe V Rotor
Living with Nature School on Blog

Balete (Ficus benjamina) strangles own host (acacia - 
Samanea saman), hence called Strangler's Fig, UST Manila
I love trees friendly or queer,
they whistle with the breeze;
they sigh in summer air, 
and make me feel at ease.

I love trees real or fancy,
tall, small, and spreading;
lining the shore, or foothill,
atop a mountain like king.

I love trees in all seasons,
even with their grotesque crown;
buds in spring fullest in summer;
and in autumn red and brown. 

I love trees, their make-believe faces,
dare to imagine in the evening, 
the legendary white lady;
or beauteous Maria Makiling.  

I love trees they are like people,
senses, language of their own
are universal to all creatures,
even before man was born.  

I love trees because I see myself
in them today as it was before;
and if i think trees are really queer,
I think I should love them more. ~

Ghost singers under a huge banyan tree, Sacred Heart Novitiate, QC 
(Photo taken after a wedding reception, unedited photo.) 
Ichabod Crane Tree, SPUQC (Fiction character in a 
short story  of the same title by Washington Irving)
Who is knocking on my window sill? (kalachuchi - 
Plumera acuminata), Sacred Heart Novitiate, QC
Tree casts its own shadow of death before its early 
demise following Ondoy flood in 2010 , UST Manila
Python Tree, an overhanging limb of acacia covered
 with epiphytes, Ateneo de Manila University, QC
Haunting Fig Tree (Gmelina), Church of the Ascension Parish Church, 
Lagro QC. Its broad prop roots produce a dull gong sound when struck.  


Leaning Pisa tree (Fire tree - Delonix regia) leans 45 degrees 
over busy Regalado Avenue, QC. NOTE: the tree was cut down 
to clear power lines, and eliminate possible accident. 
 
Elephant Tree, Kaohsiung, Taiwan
 Bearded Eucalyptus Tree, Angels' Hill, Tagaytay City. Clinging moss 
is actually lichens of the fruticose or hanging type. 

Saturday, October 28, 2017

What is the philosophy that guides your life?

Dr Abe V Rotor

Seven people chosen at random were asked, "What is the  philosophy that guides your life?" Here are their answers. *
  1. I just try to do my best.
  2. Slow down and enjoy the little things.
  3. Don't get in a rut.
  4. Take time to do what you would like to do.
  5. Relax and look at life in perspective.
  6. Take things a day at a time.
  7. See that your life has variety. 
Greek philosopher, student of Plato who wrote Nicomachean Ethics 
as a guide to the citizens of Greece on how to lead the good life.

When I read this article, I told myself to slow down and take time to reflect. What really is the philosophy of my life that makes it meaningful and fulfilled? 

I imagined myself as one - any one of the respondents, at one time or another. Actually I couldn't help compare the two aspects of life, the serious and the lighter side. I have not really given much attention to the latter. I have not settled down even after I retired from employment. I often remind myself that there is limit in everything. This is perhaps the greatest fault of people who are used to working hard. 

The survey means much more that slowing down. It is self examination. Consider  each item or response as a measure of The Good Life in practical and simple terms, and universal in application. 

Rate yourself under each item using the Likert Scale (1 very poor, 2 poor, 3 average, 4 good, 5 very good). Compute for the total score and the average. There is no passing or failing score.  In fact each item must be treated independently, so that you can see your strength you should be happy about, and inadequacies which you can correct and improve. 

Thanks to Better to Light One Candle (The Christophers Three Minute a Day) p 243 

Friday, October 27, 2017

Glowing Spider

Dr Abe V Rotor
Living with Nature - School on Blog
                       Glowing spider, relative of the Tarantula


You glow to decoy your prey
into your arms and fang;
or lurk in the magic glow
of phosphorescence
to mimic your surroundings –
an invincible knight you are!
then throw a thousand spears
like the Spartans at siege,
glowing best in victory.~

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Atop Historical Eiffel Tower (Paris, France)

The Eiffel Tower is the most-visited paid monument in the world; 8 million people ascend every year. 
Dr Abe V Rotor 
Living with Nature - School on Blog [avrotor.blogspot.com]

The Eiffel Tower is a wrought iron lattice tower named after the engineer Gustave Eiffel, whose company designed and built the tower in 1889 as the entrance to the 1889 World's Fair. 

 
Author on the second deck with co-worker at NFA, Director Nestor Zamora (right) 1976. 

It was initially criticized by some of France's leading artists and intellectuals for its design, but it has become a global cultural icon of France and one of the most recognizable structures in the world.

The Eiffel Tower is the most-visited paid monument in the world; 8 million people ascend every year. The tower is 324 metres (1,063 ft) tall, about the same height as an 81-storey building, and the tallest structure in Paris. Its base is square, measuring 125 metres (410 ft) on each side.

During its construction, the Eiffel Tower surpassed the Washington Monument to become the tallest man-made structure in the world, a title it held for 41 years until the Chrysler Building in New York City was finished in 1930. Due to the addition of a broadcasting aerial at the top of the tower in 1957, it is now taller than the Chrysler Building by 5.2 meters (17 ft). Excluding transmitters, the Eiffel Tower is the second-tallest structure in France after the Millau Viaduct. (Reference: Humanities Today (K Molina-Doria, AVRotor, Internet Wikipedia)



The tower, regally bathed with the colors of the French flag, exudes the nationalistic spirit of the French people. In fact the tower's inauguration in 1889 marked the 100 years anniversary of the French Revolution whose trilogy - Egalite', Liberte', Fraternite' - ignited the birth of independent nations, among them The United States of America. The trilogy became guiding principles of the US constitution, and constitutions of other free countries, which include the Philippines. By the way, the Statue of Liberty in New York was erected as a symbol of friendship between the two countries.





Perspective view of the tower.View of the tower from the second deck (AVR)

 

Bust of Gustave Eiffel beneath the tower. (AVR) 

 
   

Statue of Napoleon Bonaparte French hero and builder of the Arc d'Triomphe pointing at the Arc framed by the yawning base of the tower. (AVR). 

 

Panoramic views from the second deck of the tower. I took these photos from the second level on a clear day in July 1976 


 

US soldiers view the Eiffel which survived WW II, during the liberation of France from the Nazis in 1944. Hitler's instruction to destroy the tower was disobeyed by his own officers.

 

Eiffel Tower displays one of the most celebrated New Year celebrations in the world every year.
  

View from the base reveals the four massive legs of the tower leading to the first and second levels which explain its durability to weight and height (324 meters), and resistance to wind force - indeed an engineering feat to this day.

 
 


Stages in the construction of the tower by the company led by Gustave Eiffel from whom the tower was to be named. It took more than two years to complete just in time for the World Exposition in 1889.

 

The original lift is a hybrid of an elevator and escalator escalator. It took the passengers to the first and second levels. The third and upper limits were accessible only by a long winding staircase. This lift has been renovated and later modernized to accommodate thousands of visitors daily. In our visit it took us longer to queue than to reach the second deck which took some five to seven minutes.


The Eiffel Tower is the most popular place for promenade in Paris. The tower is also the most visited pay tower in the world with an average eight million tourists every year.




The tower has survived catastrophes like fire, earthquakes, lightnings, and terrorists' attacks. Ironically a number of daring sportsmen died scaling the tower, jumping off with parachute, a number simply committed suicide. For sometime the third level was closed for security reasons.
  

Magnificent Eiffel Tower, World Exposition 1889. Thousands of lanterns made the tower glow fire red, while two floodlights streamed down. Beacon lights made the tower appear like a giant torch.

 


Poster of the World Exposition in 1889 in Paris, showing the massive Eiffel tower. Despite objections and criticisms, Eiffel and group backed by the French government pushed through with the prospect - with the condition that it was to be dismantled after the affair. The opposition proved wrong, and the tower became a permanent landmark. At least 30 replicas of the Eiffel are found in different parts of the world, including that in Nevada. Today Eiffel is a French signature.~

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Manna from Heaven in Modern Times

There are many things that come to us through Providence that we can describe as “Manna from Heaven.”
Dr Abe V Rotor
We have so far survived two pessimistic predictions which are two hundred years apart, first the Malthusian Theory of Catastrophe – rapid population growth that could outstrip the world’s resources (1789) and Alvin Toffler’s Future Shock – the “disease” that accompanies rapid technological change (1970).
Holy Family Church stained glass Teconnaught (Wiki)
Both prophesies jolted us sitting on the bench of the so-called Good Life. Social and economic transformation brought us to a modern world, and industrialization’s accelerated thrust catapulted us to a post-modern world, we call Post-modernism.

Long before these global events happened, the ancient world saw the rise and fall of civilizations in a prototype pattern characteristic of the prophesies of Malthus and Toffler. The most celebrated of such event was the fusion and sudden collapse of the Greco-Roman Empire. Surprisingly however, the Greco-Roman culture became the model of the Renaissance in the 15th century, and the centuries that followed, including our present civilization.

All of these tested the resilience of mankind. Apparently, we were able to disprove the Malthusian Theory through Green Revolution in the sixties and seventies doubling or tripling agricultural production. We opened new territories, invaded the sea and converted wastelands to farmlands, while science and technology vastly improved production efficiency, and created new varieties and breeds of plants and animals.

We too, have survived the Cold War which lasted for fifty long years. Since the nineties, nations formerly polarized by the ideologies of free capitalism and socialism have merged into a “global village.” Never in history has the world turned into a common path of cultural, social, and economic globalization.

Now we are engaged in another great upheaval. We are experiencing the worse economic crisis since the Great Depression of America in the twenties and thirties. It is history repeating itself. The ghost of Malthus has returned, haunting us with gloom scenarios of worldwide miseries. Our population now 7 billion continues to increase in geometric proportion, while the availability and costs of goods and services are spiraling beyond the reach of the masses. Meantime the environment continues to deteriorate from the deleterious by-products of industrialization - pollution. We are destroying the base of production itself.

It is as if we are in a neo-exodus crossing a bigger desert this time, involving a thousand-fold throng, seeking deliverance as we strive to reach “the land of plenty.” The way is long and uncertain because it seems to be uncharted - ironically amidst a revolution in knowledge we quite often describe as “technology age,” “information highway,” “space age,” “cyberspace,” “electronic age.” Actually we do not need all of these in our search for that Promised Land.

Manna from Heaven may have a number of interpretations, from hoarfrost on grass at daybreak, to honey-like secretion of insects. It could be the crust of lichen or mycelia of a mushroom, or gum tapped from tamarisk, a legume tree growing in the desert. Researchers found other possible sources of Manna, which include the Manna Ash, a native to southern Europe and Southwest Asia.

In our sojourn to that Promised Land we find along our way a variety of manna that we can assure ourselves that “we shall not want.” We liken our native malunggay tree to the tamarisk or the Manna Ash. We have a diverse source of short- growing food crops we barely cultivate which like hoarfrost and honeydew become available at daybreak as we begin another day of travel. And like the biblical bread and fish during the Sermon on the Mount, there are manna that multiply with people’s faith and effort with the blessing of Providence.

Certainly there are the likes of the deliverer Moses in our midst. We greet and salute them. Above all, we join them in their campaign. Yes, we can find that Promised Land. And we shall not want along the way. ~

Down memory lane we all go

Man cannot live without valuing memory to the fullest. Memory captures the stimuli for senses: touch, sound, sight, taste and smell, storing them in a bank that supplies our happiness and joy. And yet, we grieve for things we remember to be painful, things we wish we had long buried in the past." avr

Dr Abe V Rotor
 Living with Nature School on Blog

The memory pattern is like a hill. We go up gathering memories along the way and storing them to the summit which is the peak of our career, the building of family, the prime of life, the fullest expression of intelligence, the quest for honor.
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Mnemosyne, Greco-Roman goddess of memory. The goddess Mnemosyne (memory personified) places her hand on the back of a man's head, symbolically aiding his memory. The figures are in a banquet scene. 
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Then as we face middle age onto the golden years of our 
lives, our memory fades and our capacity to gather and keep new ones is no longer as easy as before. 

While this memory pattern is common, it varies from person to person.  Here are scenarios for analysis and comparison. 

There are people who have photographic memory.  Napoleon Bonaparte won his battles because of his rare gift of cartographic memory.  He was always ahead of his enemies and knew well the details of the battleground. Musical geniuses like Mozart could play a musical composition they heard only once.  Napoleon

When I was a student my professor in botany, Dr Fernando de Peralta, used to walk the same lane I took on my way home, and he would point at the trees in a sort of cursory test. Scientific names are of course in Latin, so with their families and orders. Before I finished college I had "perfected' classifying some 100 trees on the campus. Today after 50 years my plant taxonomy is still good.                                                      Amadeus Mozart
A friend confided to me he bought aquarium fish and absentmindedly tossed it into the ref. Then he rushed back and saved the poor fish in the nick of time. I compare it with my experience of  forgetting my driver's license - twice or thrice -  and coming back for it before reaching the highway. Kabaw, young critics would say.  But wait, they'll certainly experience the same incipient memory loss when they reach fifty or sixty. 

Age-related decline in memory in well illustrated in a popular TV advertisement: a grandfather interchanging the names of his grand daughters, Gina and Karen. In real life this grandfather in his younger years was a popular actor and respectable lawyer. How can one be reduced to virtual oblivion in very old age!  But even younger people would commit the same error, calling persons wrong names, not remembering many things that surround them.

Dementia or Alzheimer's can totally erase memory, like a computer losing all stored information. President Ronald Reagan towards the end of his life remembered little - if anything at all - about having been a president of the US. A cousin of mine said, "Your manang can't remember anything."  She was in her eighties.  And yet another cousin about to turn ninety has still a vivid memory. As a retired biology teacher she can still carry conversation citing scientific terms and new developments in molecular biology and evolution.

Why professors are retained after their retirement is a manifestation to their unfailing mental capacity.  "It's like muscles regularly flexed and put to use," says one 75-year old professor emeritus at the University of Santo Tomas. 



Henry Wadsworth Longfellow the author of Hiawatha and Evangeline stayed with Cambridge to the end of his long life.  Jules Verne continued to write novels even at a very old age, so with Charles Dickens, England's greatest storyteller.  Pablo Picasso the greatest modern painter worked in his studio well into his nineties, producing hundreds of now famous paintings. 

More and more people are trying anything to sharpen their brain, more so to the aging brain. The idea is to fortify the brain with more blood to supply oxygen.  Ginkgo biloba a living fossil tree is among the commercialized products. Vitamins, folic acid, lecithin, are also thought to improve memory.  There is also a theory that Vitamin E protects brain cells from free radicals. And know one knows if anti-inflammatory drugs will help slow down memory loss.  The truth is, there is little or no scientific proof to back up the claimed benefits of these memory potions.

Computers make up for replacements of memory, they in fact bring forth needed materials which the brain processes. This is prelude to artificial intelligence.  In the future, fiction ideas may come out to be true like Flash Gordon paving man's conquest of outer space, and Jules Verne's conquest in the deep of the sea.    

Information is much easier to access on a wide range of subjects in encyclopedic volumes.  At fingertips anything from history to futuristic topics, literature in various movements, so with arts, visual and textual. Global positioning system (GPS) would locate places instantaneously. The world is in our palm. Which reminds us of William Blake's famous quotation:

To see the world in a grain of sand,
       and a heaven a wide flower;
hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
       and eternity in an hour.   

We are led to a false path in our postmodern world.  Man cannot live without valuing memory to the fullest. Memory captures the stimuli for senses: touch, sound, sight, taste and smell, storing them in a bank that supplies our happiness and joy, challenges to win, compassion for the vanquished, values the beautiful things we wish to re-create into masterpieces that speak of a beautiful humanity. 

And yet, we grieve for things we remember to be painful, things we wish we had long buried in the past.  Memory kept us from achieving more, memories attached to anger and hatred, of greed and indifference. Loss of memory has a reward - kindness to the restless mind, heart and spirit. It is Nature's own design to keep this earth a better place to live in.

Friday, October 20, 2017

The Blue Stream

"He wonders if ever the stream reaches the sea.
That's too far out from here, he thought." avr

Painting and Verse by Dr Abe V Rotor 

Blue Stream in acrylic, AVR c 1990

A painting is never finished, I must say.
     In it the artist discovers himself;
He is sitting on a rock ledge in deep thoughts,
     afraid of the water perhaps;
He flies the white kite, the others the red ones,
     why the white one he wonders;
He wades chest deep, goes upstream, 
     wonders at the salmon returning;
He whistles for the wind to take his kite higher 
     above the red ones. Whistles again.
He feels the chilly wind from the hills, did it 
     come all the way from Siberia? 
He looks up, the sky's gloomy, clouds heavy;  
     at this time of the year? he questions.
He traces the source of the stream, ah, 
     the watershed, he said, it's like a funnel;
He turns downstream, will the stream 
     join a river. He thinks of the Nile;
He wonders if ever his stream reaches the sea;
     that's too far out from here, he thought.
He returns on the rock ledge in deep thoughts, 
     looks at the blue sky and water.  ~