Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Voice Of An Angel

So, he described himself as just a bore.
Male angel from Myspace 2His tender smile kept me occupied.
He sang off-key, I smiled all the more -
he may not last, but I'm still on his side.

I'd love to hear him singing just for me -
he'd grow quite bored himself, I'm sad to say.
I'd let him choose whatever melody
he felt it in his heart to send my way.

How could he bore them? I will never know!
I truly hope he is the one who'll rise.
I've seen these stars how fast they come and go -
but none were quite an angel in my eyes.

He may have bored the masses with that song -
Hang in there, love, you picked a boring song.

--Byron D. Howell

Bryon D. Howell is a poet currently residing in New Haven, Connecticut. He has been writing poetry for a great number of years. Recently, work of his has appeared in Unlikely Stories, poeticdiversity, and Censored Poets.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day

tumblr_llvcgiip061qfjriho1_1280Memorial Day is a United States federal holiday observed on the last Monday of May (May 30 [Today] in 2011). Formerly known as Decoration Day, it commemorates men and women who died while in military service to the United States. First enacted to honor Union and Confederate soldiers following the American Civil War, it was extended after World War I to honor Americans who have died in all wars.

Memorial Day often marks the start of the summer vacation season, and Labor Day its end.

Begun as a ritual of remembrance and reconciliation after the civil war, by the early 20th century, Memorial Day was an occasion for more general expressions of memory, as ordinary people visited the graves of their deceased relatives, whether they had served in the military or not.


Graves_at_Arlington_on_Memorial_DayBy 1865 the practice of decorating soldiers' graves had become widespread in the North. The first known observance was in Boalsburg, Pa on October, 1864, and each year thereafter. The friendship between General John Murray, a distinguished citizen of Waterloo, and General John A. Logan, who helped bring attention to the event nationwide, was likely a factor in the holiday's growth. On May 5, 1868, in his capacity as commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of the Republic – the organization for Northern Civil War veterans – Logan issued a proclamation that "Decoration Day" should be observed nationwide. It was observed for the first time on May 30 of the same year; the date was chosen because it was not the anniversary of a battle.

There were events in 183 cemeteries in 27 states in 1868, and 336 in 1869. The northern states quickly adopted the holiday; Michigan made "Decoration Day" an official state holiday in 1871 and by 1890 every northern state followed suit. The ceremonies were sponsored by the Women's Relief Corps, which had 100,000 members. By 1870, the remains of nearly 300,000 Union dead had been buried in 73 national cemeteries, located mostly in the South, near the battlefields. The most famous are Gettysburg National Cemetery in Pennsylvania and Arlington National Cemetery, near Washington.

The Memorial Day speech became an occasion for veterans, politicians and ministers to commemorate the war – and at first to recall the atrocities of the enemy. They mixed religion and celebratory nationalism and provided a means for the people to make sense of their history in terms of sacrifice for a better nation, one closer to their God. People of all religious beliefs joined together, and the point was often made that the German and Irish soldiers had become true Americans in the "baptism of blood" on the battlefield. By the end of the 1870s the rancor was gone and the speeches praised the soldiers of both the Union and Confederacy. By the 1950s, the theme was American exceptionalism and duty to uphold freedom in the world. In 1882, the name of Decoration Day was formally changed to Memorial Day in "memory" and 'honor" of those who gave their lives fighting for a common cause, America.

In the South

In Charleston, South Carolina in 1865, freedmen (freed enslaved Africans) celebrated at the Washington Race Course, today the location of Hampton Park. The site had been used as a temporary Confederate prison camp for captured Union soldiers in 1865, as well as a mass grave for Union soldiers who died there. Immediately after the cessation of hostilities, freedmen exhumed the bodies from the mass grave and reinterred them in individual graves. They built a fence around the graveyard with an entry arch and declared it a Union graveyard. On May 1, 1865, a crowd of up to ten thousand, mainly black residents, including 2800 children, proceeded to the location for events that included sermons, singing, and a picnic on the ground, thereby creating the first Decoration Day-type celebration.

142-NWS-Confederate_Memorial_Day__1-05122009.standalone.prod_affiliate.9Beginning in 1866 the Southern states had their own Memorial Days, ranging from April 26 to mid June. The birthday of Confederate President Jefferson Davis, June 3, became a state holiday in 10 states by 1916. Across the South associations were founded after the war to establish and care for permanent cemeteries for Confederate soldiers, organize commemorative ceremonies, and sponsor impressive monuments as a permanent way of remembering the Confederate tradition. Women provided the leadership in these associations, paving the way to establish themselves as capable of public leadership.

The earliest Confederate Memorial Day celebrations were simple, somber occasions for veterans and their families to honor the day and attend to local cemeteries. Around 1890, there was a shift from this consolatory emphasis on honoring specific soldiers to public commemoration of the Confederate "Lost Cause". Changes in the ceremony's hymns and speeches reflect an evolution of the ritual into a symbol of cultural renewal and conservatism in the South. By 1913, however, the theme of American nationalism shared equal time with the Lost Cause.

Columbus, Mississippi at its Decoration Day on April 25, 1866, commemorated both the Union and Confederate casualties buried in its cemetery.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Lovely Advice

  1. tumblr_liw3656UYB1qdhlyeo1_400Drink plenty of water.
  2. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a beggar.
  3. Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants and eat less food that is manufactured in plants.
  4. Live with the 3 E’s - Energy, Enthusiasm and Empathy
  5. Play more games.
  6. Read more books than you did in 2010.
  7. Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day.
  8. Sleep for 7 hours.
  9. Take a 10-30 minutes walk daily. And while you walk, smile.
  1. 6_30_2010_YOTDDon’t compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
  2. Don’t have negative thoughts or things you cannot control. Instead invest your energy in the positive present moment.
  3. Don’t over do. Keep your limits.
  4. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
  5. Don’t waste your precious energy on gossip.
  6. Dream more while you are awake.
  7. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
  8. Forget issues of the past. Don’t remind your partner with his/her mistakes of the past. That will ruin your present happiness.
  9. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone. Don’t hate others.
  10. Make peace with your past so it won’t spoil the present.
  11. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
  12. Realize that life is a school and you are here to learn. tumblr_llnutalSKT1qceuzao1_1280Problems are simply part of the curriculum that appear and fade away like algebra class but the lessons you learn will last a lifetime.
  13. Smile and laugh more.
  14. You don’t have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
  1. Call your family often.
  2. Each day give something good to others.
  3. Forgive everyone for everything.
  4. Spend time with people over the age of 70 & under the age of 6.
  5. Try to make at least three people smile each day.
  6. What other people think of you is none of your business.
  7. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.tumblr_ljrxypdlvu1qdslmho1_400[4]
  1. Do the right thing!
  2. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful, beautiful or joyful.
  3. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
  4. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
  5. The best is yet to come.
  6. Your Inner most is always happy. So, be happy.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Moment of Zen: Tighty Whities


I don’t always go for tighty whities but some guys make them look so damn sexy, at that moment it is a moment of Zen. I hope all of you are having a great Memorial Day Weekend.

Friday, May 27, 2011



On an update to my post Call to Action, believe it or not, I did actually hear back from my Congresswoman (on another matter that I wrote to her about a few months ago), and the letter was somewhat more personalized than I expected, which gives me hope.  


She's still a Republican, which takes away a lot of that hope, but you never know.  I just have a hard time trusting these Tea Partiers, which she is loosely associated with and how she got elected.  She spent the whole campaign going on and on and on and on about the evils of Nancy Pelosi.  It was her only platform, and most of the stuff she had quoted was wrong, yet the people of my district still elected her.  Is there no hope for us living in the Conservative Bible-Belt of the South?

I will move on to other stuff. 

Enough about politics.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Call to Action

Urge your member of Congress to save Teaching American History Grants and many other vital education programs:
Legislation has been introduced in the House of Representatives that would eliminate the Teaching American History (TAH) grants program at the U.S. Department of Education.  We urge you to contact your Member of Congress immediately to oppose this bill. The bill (H.R. 1891), the "Setting New Priorities in Education Spending Act," would terminate 43 K-12 federal education programs.  Click on the link for a PDF that outlines those cuts.
The President's fiscal year 2012 budget request for the Department of Education would eliminate Teaching American History grants (TAH) as a separately funded program.  However, the Administration proposed consolidating history education into a new program called Effective Teaching and Learning for a Well-Rounded Education. This reflects the President's Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization proposal, the Blueprint for Reform that was released in March 2010.
Teaching American History grants is the only federal program that funds K-12 history education.  Its elimination would exacerbate the problem of local school districts deemphasizing history in their curriculum because it is not the focus of high-stakes testing.
The House Education and the Workforce Committee is expected to consider H.R. 1891 at any time. It is important that you contact your Member of the House of Representatives TODAY, to urge them to oppose this bill.
The Alliance has set up a template message for you to customize. We strongly encourage you to personalize this message by telling Congress why TAH programs are important to you, your institution, your field, your state, and/or district. Take Action
There are many other programs listed that do not need to be cut.  With the economy and cuts in education on the state level, why would the federal government do more to damage American education.  We are already behind many other nations in education.  We need to find a program that works to enhance education, not defund it.  I am not the first to admit that “No Child Left Behind”  (NCLB) is a total failure, but something needs to be done.  The government states that the “OMB’s 2004 PART evaluation found no demonstrated results from the program” which I don’t believe.  When I was in graduate school, this grant funded a lot of great programs for teacher education, National History Day, etc.  These were programs that promoted history education.  What results were they looking for?  I can’t answer that, and more than likely, neither can they.
The TAH program is designed to raise student achievement by improving teachers' knowledge and understanding of and appreciation for U.S. history. The purpose of these grants is to promote the teaching of traditional American history in elementary and secondary schools as a separate academic subject.
A daguerreotype of the US Capitol, Washington DC, taken in 1846
Many important subjects, such as history, civics, geography, and foreign languages have received less classroom time.  As a result, our children are growing up with diminished knowledge and understanding of our nation's history. To fulfill its obligations and take advantages of its privileges, citizenship requires knowledge of America's past. As a nation, we cannot afford to ignore our responsibility to provide high-quality history education to all our students. 
By eliminating the Teaching American History grants program, Congress will be repeating the mistakes of NCLB and cutting off the only federal funding for K-12 history education.  The program works: evaluations of TAH programs show a clear increase in participating teachers' content knowledge and skill in teaching history.
By the way, this is on a side note to this, but have you seen this story: Meet Amy Myers.  I think it is great that students are taking a keen interest in politics, civics, and US history I do have one problem with this young girl, and that is I do not like it when kids think they are smarter than adults.  I have a couple of students who like to challenge me in class, now it is one thing to do so in the pursuit of knowledge, it is another to try an show off your intellect at the expense of others.  I have never actually had a student that I wasn't able to show that I was right and though much of history is about interpretation, they are not looking at the full picture.  Teenagers often don't know the vast extent of what they don't know.  Now saying that, Amy Myers probably can beat Michelle Bachmann in a debate or history quiz, to me it is still a little presumptuous of her and somewhat disrespectful.  I also have a suspicion that this was not her idea and that she was put up to it by an adult with a particular political agenda.  Then again, that is my opinion. 
Now the reason I brought this up is because Miss Myers wrote to Congresswoman Bachmann and did not get a response.  I have written to my Representatives before and though I always get a response from my senior Senator,  I only occasionally get a response from my junior Senator.  However, I have yet to ever get a response from my Representative in the House, no matter who it was or what his/her political affiliation was.  I just wonder if it is common not to hear form your congressional representatives?  Do any of you write to your representatives in Congress?  Do you get a response?  Does it have to do with staff size, or what?  I would love to hear your input on this.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Travelling Between Places


baptiste-giabiconi-19Leaving nothing and nothing ahead;
when you stop for the evening
the sky will be in ruins,

when you hear late birds
with tired throats singing
think how good it is that they,

knowing you were coming,
stayed up late to greet you
who travels between places

when the late afternoon
drifts into the woods, when
nothing matters specially.


Born near Liverpool's docks, he attended Sefton Park School in the Smithdown Road area of Liverpool, where he was noted for his essays and greatly encouraged in his work by Harry Sutcliffe his form teacher. He left school at fifteen and began work for The Bootle Times writing a column on popular music. One of his first articles was on Roger McGough and Adrian Henri, two pop-oriented Liverpool Poets who later joined Patten in a best-selling poetry anthology called The Mersey Sound, drawing popular attention to his own contemporary collections Little Johnny's Confession (1967) and Notes to the Hurrying Man (1969). Patten received early encouragement from Philip Larkin.

Patten's style is generally lyrical and his subjects are primarily love and relationships. His 1981 collection Love Poems draws together his best work in this area from the previous sixteen years. Tribune has described Patten as "the master poet of his genre, taking on the intricacies of love and beauty with a totally new approach, new for him and for contemporary poetry." Charles Causley once commented that he "reveals a sensibility profoundly aware of the ever-present possibility of the magical and the miraculous, as well as of the granite-hard realities. These are undiluted poems, beautifully calculated, informed - even in their darkest moments - with courage and hope."

Monday, May 23, 2011

The "Royal" Silly Giggles

I don't know what they are laughing at, but obviously it cracked up Princess Anne, Prince Harry, and the Duke.  It looks like Harry started it.  In the last picture, you can see that the Queen got a little tickled, but Charles just looks on with little humor in his expression.  I would love to know the story behind this.  It shows they are obviously human after all.

All in all, I found this a wonderful sequence of pictures.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Moment of Zen: The Rapture

It's a complicated business calculating the precise date of the end of the world. There's the Great Flood to consider, which may have happened around 4990BC, depending on who's estimating. And the timing of the exodus of the Jews from Egypt. Then there's a bit of math that involves equating one day to 1,000 years.
Do all that and it turns out that Armageddon will begin at 6pm on Saturday. That is, if Harold Camping has got his calculations and his reading of the Book of Ezekiel right.

The 89-year-old doomsday prophet, a former engineer, has prompted a tide of expectation, elation and derision after persuading listeners to his Family Radio Worldwide across the US and as far away as the Philippines to sell up everything and prepare for the beginning of the end of the world with the second coming of Jesus.

If all goes according to plan, those who have been "saved" by Jesus will rise into the air in the Rapture and look down as God smites billions of nonbelievers with a great earthquake rolling from city to city across the planet, and a bit of fire to boot.

Judgment day will begin at 6pm wherever you are. The mayhem will move west over the planet, wiping out cities, towns and villages.

In the US, some believers have given up their jobs and donated money they think they will no longer need to pay for more than 2,000 billboards across the country proclaiming "Judgment Day: May 21, 2011 – Cry mightily unto God. THE BIBLE GUARANTEES IT!"

Camping previously predicted that the end of the world would be in 1994. He blames that on an error in the math but says he has it right this time. "There is no possibility that it will not happen because our information comes from the Bible," he told the Philadelphia Daily News.

Besides his mathematical formula, Camping has conjured up more "evidence" that doomsday looms. He has pointed to the re-establishment of Israel – which some Christians believe is a prerequisite for the second coming of Jesus and the Rapture – as a sign from God "that the world is getting near its end". He has said that the earthquake and tsunami in Japan were a divinely organized foretaste of what awaits most of humanity.

Camping has also said that "gay pride" and same-sex marriage are "a sign from God that judgment day is very near". "No sign is as dramatic and clear as the phenomenal worldwide success of the Gay Pride movement. In the Bible God describes His involvement with this dramatic movement … We will learn that the Gay Pride movement would successfully develop as a sign to the world that Judgment Day was about to occur," he writes.

I, for one, will be standing outside when 6pm comes today.  I don’t want to hit my head on my way to heaven, LOL. This will also be my last post if the Rapture occurs;  so I will say goodbye to you all and will say hello again once we are in Heaven together.

Though this post is done with humor, Harold Camping does believe he has predicted the end of the world, which will actually come five months after the “Rapture” on October 21, 2011.  I am a Christian, and I tend to believe the Bible:

Matthew 24:36
But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.
Mark 13:31-32
Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.  But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.
Therefore. I just can’t take these predictions seriously.  I also don’t believe in a literal “rapture” as described by those who say we will be flown up into heaven.

Some notable rapture predictions include the following:
  • 1844 - William Miller predicted Christ would return between March 21, 1843 and March 21, 1844, then revised his prediction, claiming to have miscalculated Scripture, to October 22, 1844. The realization that the predictions were incorrect resulted in a Great Disappointment. Miller's theology gave rise to the Advent movement. The Baha'is believe that Christ did return as Miller predicted in 1844, with the advent of The Báb, and numerous Miller-like prophetic predictions from many religions are given in William Sears book, Thief in The Night.
  • 1914, 1918, 1925, 1942 - Dates set for the end by the Jehovah's Witnesses
  • 1981 - Chuck Smith predicted that Jesus would probably return by 1981.
  • 1988 - Publication of 88 Reasons why the Rapture is in 1988, by Edgar C. Whisenant.
  • 1989 - Publication of The final shout: Rapture report 1989, by Edgar Whisenant. More predictions by this author appeared for 1992, 1995, and other years.
  • 1992 - Korean group "Mission for the Coming Days" predicted October 28, 1992 as the date for the rapture.
  • 1993 - Seven years before the year 2000. The rapture would have to start to allow for seven years of the Tribulation before the Return in 2000. Multiple predictions.
  • 1994 - Pastor John Hinkle of Christ Church in Los Angeles predicted June 9, 1994. Radio evangelist Harold Camping predicted September 6, 1994.
  • 2011 - Harold Camping's revised prediction has May 21, 2011 as the date of the rapture.
  • 2060 - Sir Isaac Newton proposed, based upon his calculations using figures from the book of Daniel, that the Apocalypse could happen no earlier than 2060.


Friday, May 20, 2011

On this day…


On this day in 1873, San Francisco businessman Levi Strauss and Reno, Nevada, tailor Jacob Davis are given a patent to create work pants reinforced with metal rivets, marking the birth of one of the world's most famous garments: blue jeans.

And they have been helping to make men look hot for the last 138 years.

Thursday, May 19, 2011


tumblr_ll9tjxGez61qepg91o1_500In Greco-Roman belief, the god Mercury (Hermes) was thought to have invented masturbation and taught it to his son Faunus (Pan). The Greeks called it thrypsis, “the rubbing,” and in Latin it was known as masturatus. As with other aspects, the Celts were influenced by Roman ways and beliefs after the two cultures began to merge in some areas.
Mercuralia was the celebration known also as the “Festival of Mercury”. Mercury was thought to be the God of merchants and commerce as well as the patron of masturbation. On 15 May, merchants would sprinkle their heads, bodies, ships, merchandise and businesses with water taken from the well at Porta Capena. But some believe they would sprinkle themselves with another liquid as well.
Obscure sources suggest men would masturbate - an expression thought not uncommon or unseemly to the Celts - in honor of Mercury on this day because he was believed the patron of the act and that doing so would bring virility and sexual prowess. Given that May is now known as masturbation month, an auto-erotic experience could seem an appropriate Mercuralia observation…
Image: Pierre et Gilles
163207_130005253732189_100001681458906_188331_3773745_nceThe picture and text are courtesy of Celt Eros: The mystique - imagined or real - of the Celtic male and Celtic culture appeals to many worldwide. The constructs of this culture, both ancient and modern manifestations, are alluring.  CeltEros is about sharing and spreading appreciation for the Celtic ethos, mythos and importantly - eros.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Divan of Hafiz

Hafiz i-Shirazi

hafezKhwāja Šamsu d-Dīn Muḥammad Hāfez-e Šhīrāzī, known by his pen name Hāfez (1325/26–1389/90) was a Persian lyric poet. His collected works composed of series of Persian poetry (Divan) are to be found in the homes of most Iranians, who learn his poems by heart and use them as proverbs and sayings to this day. His life and poems have been the subject of much analysis, commentary and interpretation, influencing post-Fourteenth Century Persian writing more than any other author
Despite his profound effect on Persian life and culture and his enduring popularity and influence, few details of his life are known. Accounts of his early life rely upon traditional anecdotes. Early tazkiras (biographical sketches) mentioning Hafez are generally considered unreliable. The preface of his Divān, in which his early life is discussed, was written by an unknown contemporary of Hafez whose name may have been Moḥammad Golandām.
Modern scholars generally agree that Hafez was born either in 1315 or 1317; following an account by Jami 1390 is considered the year in which he died. Hafez was supported by patronage from several successive local regimes: Shah Abu Ishaq, who came to power while Hafez was in his teens; Timur Lang (Tamerlane) at the end of his life; and even the strict ruler Shah Mubariz ud-Din Muhammad (Mubariz Muzaffar).

Ghazl No. 10 from the Divan of Hafiz

Divan_von_HafizHis mop of hair tangled, sweating, laughing and drunk,
Shirt torn, singing poems, flask in hand,
His eyes spoiling for a fight, his lips mouthing “Alas!”
Last night at midnight he came and sat by my pillow.
He bent his head to my ear and said, sadly,
“O, my ancient lover, are you sleeping?”

The seeker to whom they give such a cup at dawn
Is an infidel to love if he will not worship the wine.
O hermit, go and do not quibble with those who drink the dregs,
For on the eve of creation this was all they gave to us.
What he poured in our cup we drank,
Whether the mead of Heaven, or the wine of drunkenness.

The cup’s smile and the wine boy’s knotted curl
Have broken many vows of chastity, like that of Hafiz.

A variation on the interpretation of E.T. Gray, Jr.
in The Green Sea of Heaven, White Cloud Press, 1995.

Monday, May 16, 2011


I was recently shocked by a student of mine who described something as “fantabulous.”  I had heard the word (maybe even used it myself), but I would have never used slang in a paper I turned in to one of my professors.  I do not consider slang to be proper English and therefore not a real word.  So I decided to look it up and see if it was in the dictionary.  It was in online dictionaries, and of course, it was listed in UrbanDictionary.com.
According to UrbanDicitonary.com:
Are you tired of your old gay quotes?
Doesn't fantastic just feel like it used to?
Is fabulous already soooo used?
Then Fantabulous is for you!
Now with 50% more gay!

I hope you have a fantabulous day today.  I only have one more half-day of school (the students were gone on Friday), now it is just getting everything ready for summer and tying up loose ends. Who knew teachers did so much after school was out?

Friday, May 13, 2011

Blogger Buzz: Blogger is back

Blogger Buzz: Blogger is back: "Update (5/13 7:46PM PST): Nearly all posts since Wednesday are restored, now bringing back comments from last couple days. We expect the co..."

Sorry Guys


Thank you for your patience the last day or so.  Blogger has been undergoing maintenance for about the last 24 hours. During that time, all of my posts since Wednesday night were deleted during this maintenance. Also, the comments were deleted as well. I had been in the process of answering comments when Blogger shut down.  Hopefully, the comments will be recovered, but I am not holding out a lot of hope.  I have re-uploaded the posts that were saved to my computer. Blogger seems to be up and running again now, though it still has a few problems.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

U.S. Navy Pre-Flight School, St. Mary's, California

footerThe Christian Brothers who moved the College to Moraga in 1928 would scarcely recognize today’s Contra Costa County, with its crowded freeways and sprawling subdivisions in place of the orchards and pastures that once dominated the landscape.

Moraga itself, which has grown to a population of 16,000, maintains much of the bucolic charm that enticed the Brothers from Oakland’s Broadway and 30th Street eight decades ago. Yet the surrounding East Bay has experienced an almost continuous real estate boom — especially when World War II’s military mobilization and industrialization transformed the region.

The war certainly had a dramatic impact on the College, as the U.S. Navy’s Pre-Flight School took over most of the campus at 1928 St. Mary’s Road from 1942 to 1946. The arrival of thousands of Navy men housed in temporary barracks and trained in classrooms also brought a crucial missing ingredient to Saint Mary’s — a reliable supply of water that has allowed the College to expand ever since.

The Move to Moraga

tumblr_l7eyg41Fa81qc0um2o1_1280As the College started outgrowing the Oakland Brickpile campus after World War I, trains and automobiles were making it easier to settle in outlying parts of the Bay Area. In 1919, the Brothers purchased what seemed to be an ideal new location: 255 acres next to Lake Chabot in the San Leandro hills.

Unable to raise enough money for construction, the Brothers turned their attention elsewhere. In 1927, James Irvine’s Moraga Company — hoping a college would jumpstart real estate development — offered the Brothers 100 free acres, the beginnings of today’s 420-acre campus.

The Moraga location had many virtues — pastoral seclusion, rolling hills and plenty of elbow room — but it lacked a dependable water source. While the proposed San Leandro site was on a lake, the Moraga location was fed solely by the fickle flow from Las Trampas Creek through a marshy area north of campus.

“It’s amazing to me that the College was able to survive here for years without other sources of water,” says biology professor Lawrence Cory, a Saint Mary’s student in the 1930s. “Some years, there might be enough water, but what about years like this one (2007) when the creek is completely dry?”tumblr_l7eyh4AigG1qc0um2o1_1280

In fact, Moraga developed more slowly than its neighbors because Lafayette and Orinda were situated along the aqueduct system created by the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) in the late 1920s. EBMUD, a public trust set up in 1923 to develop a steady water supply for East Bay communities, piped Mokelumne River water to reservoirs, including the Lafayette Reservoir, by 1929. But Moraga was too far away and too small, even with the arrival of more than 200 Saint Mary’s students in 1928, to merit the effort and expense of EBMUD incorporation.

This lack of water hindered early Moraga development efforts, as Nilda Rego chronicles in her history Days Gone By in Contra Costa County. In 1922, when the county and Irvine’s company split the cost of a “Moraga Highway” from Orinda — today’s Moraga Way from Highway 24 into the town — the project almost foundered due to lack of water.

E.E. O’Brien, the Martinez contractor who won the bid, had her crews implement creative solutions to the problem.

“They told me there would be many difficulties and said I could not get the water to mix concrete for one thing,” she told the Contra Costa Courier on May 8, 1922. “Water was obtained by impounding dams along the right of way, thereby conserving the rainwater that otherwise would have run off.”

Necessity: Mother of Invention

tumblr_l7l2dtaqx51qc0um2o1_1280During their first years in often-arid Moraga, the Brothers relied on similar improvisations to keep the College hydrated.

As they began setting up the College in 1927, however, lack of water did not appear to be a problem. If anything, there seemed to be an abundance.

With heavy rainfall in 1927 and 1928, the campus was often flooded, slowing construction. Las Trampas Creek frequently overran its banks, rainwater flowed down from the hills and the campus’ adobe soil turned to thick mud.

One of the College’s oldest Moraga alums, Bob McAndrews ’32, remembers his first year at the College as particularly muddy: “We had to slog between buildings in boots because roads and pathways weren’t finished and the winter was exceptionally rainy.”

The soggy beginning failed to dampen the Brothers’ spirits. They lived in an era marked by new confidence in water management feats similar to EBMUD’s successful dam and pipeline system. William Mulholland’s aqueducts had brought water hundreds of miles south to thirsty Los Angeles and earthquake-shaken San Francisco dammed faraway Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite for a reliable water supply. The Brothers were convinced Las Trampas Creek could make a big enough reservoir to supply the College.tumblr_l7l2fkOnrT1qc0um2o1_1280

So Lake Lasalle, created with a $100,000 earthen dam constructed by Berkeley contractor J.P. Brennan, was formed. The College’s main source of water from 1928 to 1942, the 134-acre-foot reservoir was north of the campus (behind the Power Plant) at the mouth of Bollinger Canyon.

Wells supplied some of the College’s water, but Lake Lasalle provided the rest, including irrigation water for the campus’ 20 acres of lawns. A pumping station sent lake water to redwood storage tanks located in the hills behind De La Salle Hall (near today’s “SMC” logo). The College also set up a treatment system in the hills for purifying and chlorinating water.

The water tanks proved to be an irresistible target for some pranksters: At the height of the Saint Mary’s–Cal football rivalry in the early 1930s, Berkeley students tried to paint a big yellow Cal “C” on them before games.

For a while, the water system did more than quench the campus’ thirst. The lake itself was an added attraction, as students swam and boated there in the 1930s. A 1939 Gael yearbook writer rhapsodized: “Lake Lasalle, limpid, cool, inviting, where many an hour is whiled away in an easy jaunt around the mossy banks … a tranquil panorama of water, sky and rolling hills to soothe the weary eye escaping from the printed word.”
Soon enough, however, this aquatic idyll faced a significant problem — the steady accretion of silt due to erosion which threatened to overwhelm the lake.

The Brothers’ own ad hoc hydraulic engineer, Brother Nivard Raphael, took matters into his own hands. In 1941, he built a small foredam to catch silt upstream from Lake Lasalle. But Las Trampas Creek uprooted it, leaving him back at square one. He later attempted to use the sump valve that contractors built into the bottom of the lake to drain silt through an underground pipe. The valve failed, and much of the lake’s water was lost.tumblr_l7l2gpJNZ11qc0um2o1_1280

These efforts to revitalize Lake Lasalle were soon overshadowed by a more pressing national concern: preparation for World War II.

A Navy Needs Water

With an acute shortage of fighter pilots after Pearl Harbor, the U.S. Navy set up pre-flight training schools at colleges across the country. Naval officials considered several West Coast locations before accepting Saint Mary’s offer of its Moraga campus.
In a brusque wartime communication, Navy Secretary Frank Knox informed Brother President Austin via telegram on Feb. 27, 1942, that “St. Mary’s College has been selected by the Navy Department as one of the four locations for pre-flight training. Your patriotic cooperation in this vital program is appreciated.”

By June 1942, the campus’ population swelled from around 300 to more than 2,000 — the vast majority of whom were navy cadets and officers.tumblr_l7l2i0tpLe1qc0um2o1_1280

With a pre-flight curriculum that included boxing and swimming rather than Greek and Latin, certain accommodations were necessary. Major construction projects — including temporary barracks, a field house and a rifle range — were completed with lightning speed.

The Navy pumped silt from the bottom of Lake Lasalle to level out the area between the Chapel and St. Mary’s Road for athletic fields. The College still uses some of this space for rugby and soccer fields.

But Lake Lasalle itself, the Navy concluded, was not a good primary source of water, especially during a drought.

“When the Navy came here, they were determined not to have to rely on a creek,” Cory explains.

The College was still outside EBMUD’s service area. But while the utility district could turn down the Brothers’ request to run water pipes to Moraga, it couldn’t say no to Uncle Sam.tumblr_l7l2jbm1ns1qc0um2o1_1280

“The Navy went to EBMUD and told them to bring in water,” says Brother Raphael Patton, the College’s unofficial historian. “The response — that it was too far and too expensive — was what had denied the College a water connection since 1928. The Navy did not take this response kindly.”

Top Navy brass made it clear that water for the College was crucial to the war effort. Admiral L.E. Denfield sent a telegram about it to the Joint Army and Navy Munitions Board Priorities Division on May 12, 1942:

“To provide adequate water supply, both for drinking purposes and for fire protection, a pipeline will have to be constructed. The subject school (Saint Mary’s) is scheduled to open June 11, 1942, and accordingly it is requested that proper rating be assigned to the College as soon as possible.”

Rear Admiral Randall Jacobs, the chief of naval personnel responsible for overall manpower readiness, followed up with another telegram.tumblr_l7l2m8WVlO1qc0um2o1_1280

A few months later, EBMUD and the College made an agreement leading to the installation of iron pipe beneath St. Mary’s Road to the closest EBMUD water main (two miles away, near the intersection of Rheem Boulevard and Moraga Road) and pumping equipment to bring 200,000 gallons a day to the College.

With access to EBMUD’s Mokelumne River water established, the Navy trained thousands of pilots for action against the Axis powers. After the war, it left behind the water infrastructure that has allowed the College to grow over the last six decades.
Following years of improvisation and praying for rain, the College’s water supply was finally resolved — no more relying on Lake Lasalle, which gradually turned into a willow-covered wetland.


Source for text:  http://www.stmarys-ca.edu/news-and-events/saint-marys-magazine/archives/v28/sp08/features/01.html

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Cornelian

LordByron3The poem below appears in The Penguin Book of Homosexual Verse (ed. Stephen Coote, pp. 192-93).  “The Cornelian” is about a choirboy, John Edleston (spelled “Eddleston” by Byron), whom Byron met as a student at Cambridge and with whom he was deeply in love (see The Columbia Anthology of Gay Literature, ed. Byrne R. S. Fone, p. 219).  Despite Byron’s reputation as a womanizer and a world-class object of heterosexual love, he was, apparently, throughout his life romantically attached to men.  Louis Crompton, in Byron and Greek Love: Homophobia in 19th-Century England, has shown that Byron fled England not only because of the scandal over his affair with his half-sister, but also because of the repressive anti-same-sex laws in England, where the penalty for sodomy was death.  expoAlso, Crompton suggests that homosexual desire was one of the reasons he first went to Greece and the anti-same sex sentiment in England may account for the famous Byronic stance of lone defiance.  The Oxford Anthology of English Literature, Vol. II, says that Byron was “fundamentally homosexual” (p. 285), yet that was not a fact generally taught over thirty years ago, at least not in my experience, and the latest edition of The Norton Anthology of English Literature (2006) ignores the fact Byron was "fundamentally homosexual."

The Cornelian
No specious splendour of this stone
    Endears it to my memory ever;
With lustre only once it shone,
    And blushes modest as the giver.

Some, who can sneer at friendship’s ties,
    Have, for my weakness, oft reprov’d me;
Yet still the simple gift I prize,
    For I am sure, the giver lov’d me.

He offer’d it with downcast look,
    As fearful that I might refuse it;
I told him, when the gift I took,
    My only fear should be, to lose it.

This pledge attentively I view’d,
    And sparkling as I held it near,
129206699892370848_dbeac859-4c06-4f11-bd27-579462390b88_103725_273Methought one drop the stone bedew’d,
    And, ever since, I’ve lov’d a tear.

Still, to adorn his humble youth,
    Nor wealth nor birth their treasures yield;
But he, who seeks the flowers of truth,
    Must quit the garden, for the field.

‘Tis not the plant uprear’d in sloth,
    Which beauty shews, and sheds perfume;
The flowers, which yield the most of both,
    In Nature’s wild luxuriance bloom.

Had Fortune aided Nature’s care,
d4952936r    For once forgetting to be blind,
His would have been an ample share,
    If well proportioned to his mind.

But had the Goddess clearly seen,
    His form had fix’d her fickle breast;
Her countless hoards would his have been,
    And none remain’d to give the rest.


Note: Byron received the cornelian (also spelled carnelian, "a reddish variety of chalcedony used in jewelry," Random House Webster's College Dictionary) from the choirboy, Edlestone.
The photographs are by William von Gloeden, one of my favorite early historical photographers of male nudes.  This post combines two of my favorite things: the poetry of Byron and the photography of von Gloeden.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother’s Day

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I hope that we all think of our mothers today. I love my mama, but like all mothers, she drives me crazy sometimes. She has been in a long, five year period of depression since she found out I was gay, but that was relieved somewhat by the birth of my niece, so she now has the grand-baby she always wanted. She is still convinced I am going to hell, but she doesn't say it as much anymore. As long as it is a "don't ask, don't tell, don't discuss" situation, we get along great.

So even if your mother drives you crazy, I hope that you still have a good relationship with her and tell her how much you love her today.

I love you, Mama.

(She would surely die if she ever saw this blog, but I did choose a picture of sunflowers because they are her favorite.)

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Moment of Zen: Those Who Serve

AMERICAN DREAMS -- NBC Series -- Pictured: Will Estes as JJ Pryor -- NBC Photo: Paul Drinkwater

I found it hard to choose which was a better moment of Zen: the man in  uniform or the man out of uniform.  Either way, both are pretty sexy and thank God these men serve our country to keep us free.


Thank You to ALL who serve!!!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011



Some of you may know that May is National Masturbation Month, and I thought I would have a little fun with this post.  In honor of this month our poem today is dedicated to the deed of the month.

It’s always been a fascinationtumblr_lh6iegFPaV1qzactjo1_1280
I’ve never lacked for motivation
Always finding the inspiration
A wonderful form of relaxation
Much more fun than meditation
Starting with some stimulation
You get that feeling of elation
As it begins its elongation
Followed by the levitation.
Then waiting in anticipation
Of enjoying that final sensation
As I try to reach my destination
It then all turns to serious frustration
And a decision is taken for termination
As you get that realization
That there will be no ejaculation
And you’re in serious danger of dehydration.

--by Andrew

I hope you all have plenty of solitary fun this month.


By the way, for those of you who love poetry, do any of you guys know of any poems about masturbation.  I know that there are some suggestions that “Birches” by Robert Frost is about masturbation, but I’ve never bought into that way of thought.  Though not poetry, I do remember by English 102 professor (a very sweet former kindergarten teacher) whispering to us in class (in that prim and proper way that older southern women can be) that the university writing center would explain to us that "The Rocking-Horse Winner," a short story by D. H. Lawrence, is all about masturbation, but she believed that it was about obsession.