Posts Tagged ‘ABC Wednesday’

EucharistWhen I spent five days caring for my sister Leslie in San Diego last month, we talked a lot about her conversion to Roman Catholicism. One of the fundamental questions she had to address in her religious training involved the Eucharist.

Specifically, how she felt about transubstantiation, i.e., whether “the change of substance or essence by which the bread and wine offered in the sacrifice of the sacrament of the Eucharist during the Mass, become, in reality, the body and blood of Jesus Christ.”

When I was a kid, I used to help my paternal grandmother, Agatha Green, pour the Welch’s grape juice into the little glasses (and unless I’m misremembering, pouring the unused juice BACK into the bottle; those were different times.)

Knowing that, I still felt from an early age that communion, as we Methodists and other Protestants used to call it, was a Big Deal, even if we believed the transformation was merely representational.

I certainly remember going to Roman Catholic churches and feeling excluded because we heathen Protestants didn’t believe doctrinally in the transubstantiation. There was an event at the Albany Cathedral of All Saints in the late 1900s, some anniversary service, when EVERYONE was invited to the Table. Some of my Protestant friends refused, but I figured, if thy’re inviting, I’m partaking.

I went to a Coptic church, the Egyptian Orthodox branch, in Albany around the same time. It was not expected that I should take the Eucharist, and I did not, though Roman Catholics could have. After the long service, there was a meal. I had a nice chat with a young man who kindly informed me that I would be going to hell for my Protestant beliefs. OK, then.

At my church in July 2018, I helped prepare communion for the first time. I had served it before, back when I was an elder over a decade ago, but the prep was during choir rehearsal. I HAD cleaned up afterwards in the past. We cut up the pita bread; there are also gluten-free wafers. Ah, still using Welch’s grape juice, I see.

So my sister chooses to believe in the possibility of transubstantiation. I don’t dismiss it out of hand. It’s true, though, that I can’t remember that word without thinking of Tom Lehrer’s irreverent The Vatican Rag from the 1960s, a song guaranteed to offend at least a few.

For ABC Wednesday

I’m finding this a little weird. Because of my skin color, some of the Daughter’s friends don’t believe I am black, or African-American if you prefer (I don’t), so they don’t think she’s part black.

Her first set of friends are first- or second-generation sub-Saharan Africans, so I sort of get that. But I’ve been getting the same message from her American black and even American white buddies.

In fact, we were all at a play at her school this spring, the fourth iteration of Lion King I’ve ever seen. My wife and I were sitting a dozen rows behind the Daughter and her friends. At the intermission, she and one of her friends came back to where I was seated. She specifically pointed to my hand, pointing out the variated skin tone. “See, he’s darker there. He just has this skin condition.”

As I’ve noted before, the condition is called vitiligo. Incidentally, Chuck linked to Why you don’t say what you shouldn’t say to people who look “different”, including those with vitiligo far more severe than mine. Also see vitiligo queen and Artist Creates Dolls With Vitiligo.

When I was diagnosed with it, I was extremely cautious about going outside, so paranoid about developing skin cancer. I was much paler than I am now. In fact, there were black and white pictures of me from 2010-2015 and I do not recognize myself.

My forehead is somewhat darker, but, as you may be able to see, the top of my head is still lighter, and thus much more vulnerable to sunburn or worse.

I got interested in the issue of skin color – well, always. My mom was very fair, my father much darker, and her family was not pleased when they were courting, I’ve been told. Colorism does exist in many cultures.

And when Roseanne Barr made an offensive tweet about former Obama aide Valerie Jarrett, Barr’s defense was that she didn’t know Jarrett was black. Her racial identification was well-reported, but also obvious to my eye.

Of course, race in America has been complicated in what is now the United States only for about four centuries. This is interesting to me: They considered themselves white, but DNA tests told a more complex story.

For ABC Wednesday

In the year before I turned 65, I realized that I had to apply for Medicare. If I had not known this, the wealth of solicitations, including multiples from the same few companies, that I received made it abundantly clear.

Technically, I had to apply within the 7-month Initial Enrollment Period, which:
Begins 3 months before the month you turn 65
Includes the month you turn 65
Ends 3 months after the month you turn 65

I waited until May and applied online. In short order, I received my Medicare card dated March 1. “Most people should enroll in Part A when they turn 65, even if they have health insurance from an employer. This is because most people paid Medicare taxes while they worked so they don’t pay a monthly premium for Part A.” Part A covers inpatient hospital stays, care in a skilled nursing facility, hospice care, and some home health care.

“Certain people may choose to delay Part B. In most cases, it depends on the type of health coverage you may have.” Since I’m still working at a job with decent health benefits, I am presuming I can postpone signing on to that section, which covers certain doctors’ services, outpatient care, medical supplies, and preventive services.

I HOPE that’s correct because “you may have to pay a Part B late enrollment penalty, and you may have a gap in coverage if you decide you want Part B later.” And the penalty is 10% per year.

I know a friend of mine who signed to Part B when she did not have to. And once you’ve signed on, you can’t UNsign.

In anticipation of this, I’ve been going to every doctor I’ve thought I should have seen years ago. My podiatrist has provided me with a pair of shoe inserts that compensate for my pigeon-toedness that I’ve experienced at least since I was in 7th grade.

My dermatologist checked my skin for irregularities and discovered actinic keratosis, a pre-cancerous condition, on the tip of my ear, which she sprayed with liquid nitrogen. So I’m redoubling my effort to use sunscreen ALL of the time, SPF 70 or better; and wearing a floppy hat, not just a cap that covers my pate. This is why I’ve been wearing long-sleeved shirts, even in the summer, for the past 15 years.

For ABC Wednesday

Marie Curie, née Sklodowska, is probably the most famous woman of science ever. She engaged in “groundbreaking work on radioactivity”, and became the first person to win the Nobel Prize in two different fields.

“In July 1898, Marie along with her husband Pierre Curie, announced the discovery of a new chemical polonium, naming it after her native country Poland. The same year, the Curies discovered radium.

“In 1903, she was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics alongside Pierre and Henri Becquerel. Eight years later, she won her second Nobel Prize in Chemistry.”

It’s less well known that she was a major hero of World War I.

“At the start of the war, X-ray machines were still found only in city hospitals, far from the battlefields where wounded troops were being treated. Curie’s solution was to invent the first ‘radiological car’ – a vehicle containing an X-ray machine and photographic darkroom equipment – which could be driven right up to the battlefield where army surgeons could use X-rays to guide their surgeries.

“One major obstacle was the need for electrical power to produce the X-rays. Curie solved that problem by incorporating a dynamo – a type of electrical generator – into the car’s design. The petroleum-powered car engine could thus provide the required electricity.

Eventually, using her fame, “she had 20, which she outfitted with X-ray equipment. But the cars were useless without trained X-ray operators, so Curie started to train women volunteers. She recruited 20 women for the first training course, which she taught along with her daughter Irene, a future Nobel Prize winner herself.”

“Not content just to send out her [eventually 150] trainees…, Curie herself had her own ‘little Curie’ – as the radiological cars were nicknamed – that she took to the front. This required her to learn to drive, change flat tires and even master some rudimentary auto mechanics, like cleaning carburetors.”

Yet she experienced the Matilda Effect, the marginalizing of women in science, named for Matilda Gage, an early suffragette. The French Academy of Sciences, founded in 1666, excluded women, such as Marie Curie, though her husband got in, Nobel winner Irène Joliot-Curie, and mathematician Sophie Germain, for nearly three centuries. “The first woman admitted as a correspondent member was a student of Curie’s, Marguerite Perey, in 1962.”

Marie Curie is included in the 2018 book She Persisted Around the World: 13 Women Who Changed History by Chelsea Clinton.

For ABC Wednesday

Writing is a very useful, even necessary, exercise for me. It helps me offload stuff in my brain, where it would otherwise interfere with my life.

I can tell when I haven’t written something for three or four days, usually because of technical difficulties. Sometimes life gets in the way – busyness, illness (mine or the Daughter’s). I’m usually emailing myself – “you should write about X”, which somewhat alleviates the frustration.

Writing helps define what I believe. And by that, I don’t mean a knee-jerk response to someone’s comment on Facebook, which I generally consider the fast food of communications. You won’t starve, but there are probably more emotionally nutritious options.

I’d rather work on a (hopefully) thought-out, considered opinion in the blog, or perhaps in a private journal. I consider it more like the slow cooking movement that is taking hold in some parts of the world.

I find writing easier than talking because one can spend time thinking and contemplating while writing. I can even change my mind, deciding that another option would be the better choice.

Still, I found this piece useful: Am I still a real writer if I don’t feel compelled to write?

“Not writing gives you time to have experiences. I can’t stand that thing where people are talking about something interesting in the world on social media or whatever, and some scold pops in to say, ‘This is a distraction/waste of time, get back to work.’

“As though anyone can literally work all the time and never stop to talk to humans or engage in politics and expect to make good art out of that. You actually have to spend some of your life living and doing normal life stuff or you can’t be a good writer.”

The message of this vlogbrothers video, The Secret to my Productivity, I hope to emulate. 80% ain’t that bad.

For ABC Wednesday

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