August 2009


Source: The Boston Globe

Al Vellucci, former mayor of Cambridge, famously wanted to pave over Harvard Yard for a parking lot. (He also wanted to turn the Lampoon building into a public urinal and reportedly said, “Well, that’s what it looks like, doesn’t it?’’)

But then asphalt would have ruined Harvey Cox’s grazing rights.

Cox, the celebrated Harvard religion professor, was the Hollis Professor of Divinity from 2002 until his retirement this past June after 44 distinguished years at Harvard. (He is now the Hollis Research Professor of Divinity.) The Hollis chair was endowed in 1721 and first occupied by Edward Wigglesworth the following year.

It is the oldest endowed chair in American higher education, and, more germane to this story, traditionally came with grazing rights in Harvard Yard for the cows of chair holders. Wigglesworth and his son who succeeded him exercised those rights.

During the late afternoon of Sept. 10, Cox will do the same and bring a Jersey cow named “Faith’’ from The Farm School in Athol into the yard to graze. The cow’s name is really “Pride,’’ but as that is first among the seven deadly sins, she will go by “Faith’’ for the day to occasion his retirement from teaching and the release of his new book – wouldn’t you know it – “The Future of Faith.’’

Cox is a man of deep intellect, dry humor, and some whimsy. One can also detect in his eye, when the light is right, a potential for mischief or mayhem. He has long wanted to bring a cow into the yard and was simply not going out without having done so.

“I’m reclaiming a tradition that almost got lost,’’ he said last week on the porch of his summer house in Woods Hole. “Why can’t we have cows grazing in Harvard Yard? People started saying to me, ‘Why don’t you do it?’ I finally said to myself, ‘I’m going to do it.’ ’’

At 4:30 that day, a ceremony will be held honoring Harvey along the steps of Memorial Church facing Widener Library. Peter Gomes, Harvard’s preacher, will preside and orate. Cox will say something. But I’m guessing all eyes will be on Faith, who will be chewing her cud behind a rope on one of the two grassy hillocks on either side of the church steps.

Sept. 10 should be a wild one in the Yard. Students who return earlier that week will see Faith there and wonder what in God’s name has happened to Harvard. One can safely assume some will immediately start scheming to top Cox.

Cox, Faith, and entourage will then process to the Divinity School, where they will arrive at a green behind Andover Hall for more ceremony, a reception, and, to crown the day, the milking of Faith by Bradley Teeter, Farm School manager.

Along the way, there will be music – Crimson anthems like “Ten Thousand Men of Harvard’’ – performed by “The Soft Touch Dance Band,’’ a swing band out of Waltham in which Cox has played saxophone for years. He has been addicted to the sax all of his life and can’t wait to play during the procession.

It is no small task to get a cow into Harvard Yard. Cox had to clear the plan with a laundry list of Harvard entities, but they all warmed to the scheme. William Graham, Harvard Divinity School dean, loved the idea. So did the Harvard security people, whose approval was critical.

Cox recalls that when he raised the potential of Harvard security blocking Faith’s entrance into the Yard to his friend, Gomes thundered, “They wouldn’t dare!’’

(Gomes, who also teaches the history of Harvard, notes that the “back yard,’’ as the area where Cox and Faith will be was called, teemed in years past with cows, pigs, chickens, and outhouses. Classes were routinely interrupted by the squeals of pigs as they were taken to meet their maker and become dinner.)

Cox also cleared it with the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, a Harvard body he had never heard of before. No problema. All he had to do, he recalls, was answer its questions, which included: When was the cow last vaccinated; is she shy around people; and most important, in my words, who is the lucky soul to care for and clean up after the ineffable Faith?

When queried, the secretary to the Harvard Corporation, its governing body of seven poobahs, could find nothing written into the creation of the Hollis chair about cows. Grazing, then, is more of a tradition, prompting Cox to note, “This place is pasted together with traditions.’’

But of course there would be nothing in writing and here’s why. Thomas Hollis was a wealthy London merchant who never set foot in Harvard Yard. He never came to New England, so of course he wouldn’t have written grazing rights into the provisions of his chair.

Hollis was a Baptist and thus a dissenter from the Church of England. He heard from über-Puritan Increase Mather, who spent time in London, about a little college in Cambridge that educated many young men to be ministers. He gave his money to the institution stipulating there be no doctrinal requirements for the post. (Donald Cutler, Cox’s longtime literary agent and an ordained Episcopal minister to boot, is the repository of all knowledge on this stuff.)

As the evening shadows begin to fall on the fated day, Harvey Cox will probably purr with pleasure after a spectacular send-off, and Faith will have been the first cow in the Yard in a couple of hundred years. She will then travel back to Athol and reclaim her rightful name of Pride after a job well done.

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I had heard about an Amish produce auction across the Ohio river in Belmont County and have been wanting to visit it for a couple of years, but it never came together.  Thursday there was an article about it in the Wheeling paper that you can read here and find out the particulars so I took it as impetus to go.

For the older readers of this blog who were here before devotees became employees and voluntary poverty was the norm, going to flea markets was standard operating procedure.  You will know the Mother of All Flea Markets is the one in Rogers, OH, which also started out as a produce auction and grew into the behemoth it is today, incidentally.

The one in Belmont County is still produce only. While it is open to anyone, it is basically Amish who have been driven out of traditional strongholds by urban pressures put on land prices.  Belmont County is a negative population growth county with land not so suitable for industrial agriculture so it is still relatively cheap.

It used to be Amish were mostly self sufficient who sold milk for some cash. That model doesn’t work anymore so they have taken up truck farming, as vegetables are a higher value per acre crop and suitable for the labor instensive style of the Amish.

The parking lot was trucks and horses.

amish auction parking lot

The first lots sold were 5 1/2 dozen bags of sweet corn, 3 bags minimum, sold right out of the back of a horse drawn wagon. They sold between $12-14.50 a bag.  The rest of the produce was on pallets under a pavilion.

amish produce auction

I was being respectful of the Amish desire to not be photographed so you won’t see any recognizable individuals but you can see them in the background.

Mostly it was regular produce but there are some organic growers and those lots were marked as being organic.

Older NV devotees will know who Frank and John are. They have sold produce at the Glendale and Moundsville Flea markets forever.  They were there and are about the biggest buyers.  They sell at Trader Jack’s flea market by Pittsburgh now, and John’s son sells at Moundsville and Glendale, so if you want Amish grown produce you can buy it there.

We talked to Frank for a while and got the inside story on the dynamics of the market which was fun.

I didn’t buy anything because I don’t have the energy to do any canning and the lots are too large for an individual otherwise. I do plan on going back later when the gourds start coming into the auction.

They are normally sold locally as green gourds for decorations, but I will buy them and let them cure into craftable gourds by next spring.  I feel optimistic I will get some good deals and now I know how to find the place.

Anyone from New Vrindaban wanting to buy lots of produce, you go into Moundsville and cross the 12th Street Bridge. Go south to Powhatan Point then turn right onto Route 148 and go about 2o miles. It is a pavilion on the left side of the road. It is 4 miles east of Rte 800 south of Barnesville, if you go around by the Mall.

Oh, Great Spirit, whose voice I hear in the winds.
And whose breath gives life to all the world.
Hear me! I am small and weak.
I need your strength and wisdom.
Let me walk in beauty, and make my eyes
Ever hold the red and purple sunset.
Make my hands respect the things you have made.
My ears sharp to hear your voice.
Make me wise so that I may understand
The things you might teach me.
Let me learn the lessons you have hidden
In every leaf and rock.
I seek strength, not to be greater than my brother.
But to fight my greatest enemy, myself.
Make me always ready to come to you
With clear hands and straight eyes.
So when life fades, as the fading sunset.
My spirit may come to you without shame.

Srila Prabhupada: ” Suppose you know the cause of cancer. What is the benefit? Even if you could stop cancer, you could not make a man live forever. That is not possible. Cancer or no cancer, a man has to die. He cannot stop death. Death may be caused, if not by cancer, simply by an accident.”

Morning Walk, May 3, 1973

I recently had a squamous cell carcinoma removed from my cheek. You can get all the background information on this cancer here. SCC isn’t the bad skin cancer, that dubious honor goes to melanoma  which can easily metastasize to other parts of the body.

It was an outpatient procedure  that took about 5 minutes with local anesthesia in a doctor’s office. They cut off the skin and then cauterized it.

Nothing like the smell of my own flesh burning to remind me I am getting old.

I was referred to a specialist who said we caught it in the earliest stage.  He also said that once you have one, it is common to get another  so his nurse give me a spiel on staying out of the sun between 10 AM and 4 PM and wearing UV resistant clothing.

I had all the risk factors  — fair skin, blonde hair and blue eyes,  extensive lifetime  exposure to the sun (a factor for anyone) and  Prograf  (an immune suppressor to prevent rejection of my liver transplant) that has as a side effect greater sensitivity to the sun.

Prograf also recommends avoiding midday sun.  Although I get a  fraction of the sun I used to get, I can’t say I have been religious about avoiding it.

I usually wear a broad brimmed solid weave straw hat but not always. I guess I will be more careful avoiding  sunshine in the future. Which is hard being into gardening.

I am going to study blood root, which an old timer told me he witnessed a guy with an bad external cancer use and get it into remission.  If  diagnosed with another SCC early stage, I will consider using the blood root salve first.

As a kid I spent practically every waking hour in the sun during the summer, either playing or working. From the age of 13 I was working with tractors or cows outdoors 60 hours a week except during harvest  when we would work overtime.

My father set a good example wearing long sleeve shirts and a broad brimmed hat but I was too cool — T shirted and hatless. Later in life I adopted  a baseball cap to keep the sun out of my eyes, but I had decades more of lots of sun exposure before the fatigue of my medical condition the last few years forced me indoors and onto the couch.

As I was always aware of the risk for skin cancer, I had been pointing out dry spots on my skin to my family doctor. A couple of years ago he had frozen off a few spots with liquid nitrogen but they had persisted.

A few months ago I started putting shea butter on them. The one on my cheek did turn to SCC but  on the other cheek it has  gotten better so I will continue to apply the shea butter to any hard spots.

There is one spot on my eyebrow where the specialist has me scheduled for a biopsy in November.  This has been around for a while and is sensitive to the touch so we will see if it persists.  Maybe it will clear up with the shea butter, that would be nice.

Most students entering college for the first time this fall were born in 1991.

  1. For these students, Martha Graham, Pan American Airways, Michael Landon, Dr. Seuss, Miles Davis, The Dallas Times Herald, Gene Roddenberry, and Freddie Mercury have always been dead.
  2. Dan Rostenkowski, Jack Kevorkian, and Mike Tyson have always been felons.
  3. The Green Giant has always been Shrek, not the big guy picking vegetables.
  4. They have never used a card catalog to find a book.
  5. Margaret Thatcher has always been a former prime minister.
  6. Salsa has always outsold ketchup.
  7. Earvin “Magic” Johnson has always been HIV-positive.
  8. Tattoos have always been very chic and highly visible.
  9. They have been preparing for the arrival of HDTV all their lives.
  10. Rap music has always been main stream.
  11. Chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream has always been a flavor choice.
  12. Someone has always been building something taller than the Willis (née Sears) Tower in Chicago.
  13. The KGB has never officially existed.
  14. Text has always been hyper.
  15. They never saw the “Scud Stud” (but there have always been electromagnetic stud finders.)
  16. Babies have always had a Social Security Number.
  17. They have never had to “shake down” an oral thermometer.
  18. Bungee jumping has always been socially acceptable.
  19. They have never understood the meaning of R.S.V.P.
  20. American students have always lived anxiously with high-stakes educational testing.
  21. Except for the present incumbent, the President has never inhaled.
  22. State abbreviations in addresses have never had periods.
  23. The European Union has always existed.
  24. McDonald’s has always been serving Happy Meals in China.
  25. Condoms have always been advertised on television.
  26. Cable television systems have always offered telephone service and vice versa.
  27. Christopher Columbus has always been getting a bad rap.
  28. The American health care system has always been in critical condition.
  29. Bobby Cox has always managed the Atlanta Braves.
  30. Desperate smokers have always been able to turn to Nicoderm skin patches.
  31. There has always been a Cartoon Network.
  32. The nation’s key economic indicator has always been the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
  33. Their folks could always reach for a Zoloft.
  34. They have always been able to read books on an electronic screen.
  35. Women have always outnumbered men in college.
  36. We have always watched wars, coups, and police arrests unfold on television in real time.
  37. Amateur radio operators have never needed to know Morse code.
  38. Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Armenia, Latvia, Georgia, Lithuania, and Estonia have always been independent nations.
  39. It’s always been official: President Zachary Taylor did not die of arsenic poisoning.
  40. Madonna’s perspective on Sex has always been well documented.
  41. Phil Jackson has always been coaching championship basketball.
  42. Ozzy Osbourne has always been coming back.
  43. Kevin Costner has always been Dancing with Wolves, especially on cable.
  44. There have always been flat screen televisions.
  45. They have always eaten Berry Berry Kix.
  46. Disney’s Fantasia has always been available on video, and It’s a Wonderful Life has always been on Moscow television.
  47. Smokers have never been promoted as an economic force that deserves respect.
  48. Elite American colleges have never been able to fix the price of tuition.
  49. Nobody has been able to make a deposit in the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI).
  50. Everyone has always known what the evening news was before the Evening News came on.
  51. Britney Spears has always been heard on classic rock stations.
  52. They have never been Saved by the Bell
  53. Someone has always been asking: “Was Iraq worth a war?”
  54. Most communities have always had a mega-church.
  55. Natalie Cole has always been singing with her father.
  56. The status of gays in the military has always been a topic of political debate.
  57. Elizabeth Taylor has always reeked of White Diamonds.
  58. There has always been a Planet Hollywood.
  59. For one reason or another, California’s future has always been in doubt.
  60. Agent Starling has always feared the Silence of the Lambs.
  61. “Womyn” and “waitperson” have always been in the dictionary.
  62. Members of Congress have always had to keep their checkbooks balanced since the closing of the House Bank.
  63. There has always been a computer in the Oval Office.
  64. CDs have never been sold in cardboard packaging.
  65. Avon has always been “calling” in a catalog.
  66. NATO has always been looking for a role.
  67. Two Koreas have always been members of the UN.
  68. Official racial classifications in South Africa have always been outlawed.
  69. The NBC Today Show has always been seen on weekends.
  70. Vice presidents of the United States have always had real power.
  71. Conflict in Northern Ireland has always been slowly winding down.
  72. Migration of once independent media like radio, TV, videos and compact discs to the computer has never amazed them.
  73. Nobody has ever responded to “Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.”
  74. Congress could never give itself a mid-term raise.
  75. There has always been blue Jell-O.

A lot of people find it hard to believe, but if you open the picture in Photoshop and measure the color values, you will see that it’s true…

A and B are the same

I don’t have Photoshop so I just held pieces of paper up to the screen and looked at A and B only, with all the context blocked out and yes, they are the same color.

The senses are imperfect and subject to illusion.

“Whether meat-eaters are more material in mind, grosser in appetite and more irascible in temperament than vegetarians is another point for scientists to enlighten us upon. It is the general impression among modern thinkers, however, that the bloodless diet results in strong, healthy bodies, great powers of endurance, good resistance against disease, clear heads for brain work, freedom from nervous disorders, and a higher form of spiritualization.”

When my father-in-law passed away in his mid-nineties, my wife ended up with some old books and magazines. This included an issue of American Cookery, December, 1920.  In it is an article on vegetarianism.

An Adventure in Vegetarianism 001

Click the thumbnails for the rest of the article.

An Adventure in Vegetarianism 002

An Adventure in Vegetarianism 003

“Works of art make rules; rules do not make works of art.”

Claude Debussy

“Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear.”

Bg 18.66

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