Sunday, November 28, 2021

There are families and then there are families

Families come in all shapes and sizes.

Some, like our friend Geri Reichstein's family, are quite small. Geri and her husband Larry, who sadly died a few years ago, had one child, a daughter, whom they named Alyssa. Alyssa, a talented musician, grew up and married another talented musician named Saperstein and became--wait for it--Alyssa Reichstein Saperstein. That is a mouthful but it is not funny. When Faith Ford's character Corky Sherwood on the old Murphy Brown show decided she couldn't marry Will Forest because her name would be Corky Sherwood Forest, now that was funny. Anyway, Alyssa and that Saperstein guy also had just one child, a boy they named Larry after Alyssa's father. Larry, now 23, has turned out to be every bit as talented in singing and dancing as his parents and is now in his third season in the role of Big Red on Disney+'s High School Musical: The Musical: The Series. With Grandpa Larry gone and that Saperstein fellow also out of the picture, Geri's whole family consists of herself, her daughter Alyssa,and Alyssa's son Larry.

At the other end of the spectrum are our friends Andy and Kate Ring. When we met them in 1975 they had two little boys, Thaddeus and Isaac, and Kate was expecting a third child. Andy was getting his doctorate in structural linguistics at Florida Atlantic University. After graduating, Andy was accepted by Wycliffe Bible Translators, Kate had delivered another boy, Toby, and the family went off to jungle training camp in Yucatan, Mexico. By the time Wycliffe sent the Rings to the West African country of Ghana in 1979, another son, Ben, had been born to Andy and Kate. During their years in Ghana, Andy invented an alphabet for the solely oral Lelemi language spoken by the Buem people, produced the first book ever printed in the Lelemi language, the Lelemi New Testament, and through the use of computers and teams from other people groups that Wycliffe called the Upper Volta Multi-Language Project produced a four-language New Testament in Ghana. He did similar work in Nigeria and South Asia (India) as well. With Kate, Andy produced four more sons--Hiram, Ethan, John, and one whose name eludes me at the moment, and two daughters, 10 children in all.

"I know what you're trying to do," I once teased Andy. "You're trying to bring baseball to West Africa singlehandedly."

Unfortunately, oldest son Thaddeus died of a cerebral hemorrhage caused by dengue fever when he was 18, but the nine other children are now all grown up and married. Besides Andy and Kate and the nine children and their spouses (that's 20 people right there), Kate was photographed last week holding newly-arrived grandchild number 28 in her arms. In all, there are now 49 Rings to date (I'm including Thaddeus).

Recapping, Geri Reichstein's family consists of three people, five if you include the missing grandpa Larry and the Saperstein fellow. Andy and Kate Ring's family consists of 49 people.

I said all that to say this: Our family is growing. We began, as I presume you did, with just the two us saying "I do." We eventually had three children (2+3=5) who grew up, got married (5+3=8), and between 1996 and 2001 produced two children each in the next generation (8+6=14). And 14 it has remained, until this year. Our oldest grandson proposed to a young lady in January and they were married last month to great celebration all around (14+1=15). Our secoond oldest grandson proposed to his young lady on Thanksgiving Eve with the wedding likely to occur in late spring or early summer next year (15+1=16). Three of the four remaining grandchildren have been bringing the same steady dates to recent family events, so it is likely that our family will reach 20 before very many more trips around our nearest star.

We can now actually begin to imagine living to see great-grandchildren, something we never imagined before.

Here are our two oldest grandsons , first cousins, with their ladies at the family's Thanksgiving get-together. The newly engaged couple, Katy and Matthew, are on the left and the old married couple (all of five weeks), Elijah and Kasey, are on the right.

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie

...may taste pretty good (I really don't know), but are they good for you?

According to an article in Men's Health magazine, cardiologists and dietitians have identified the 40 worst foods for your heart. The list doesn't seem to be in any particular order. Read it and weep:

1. Processed deli meats
2. Hot dogs
3. Rotisserie chicken
4. Ketchup
5. Barbecue sauce
6. Table salt
7. Reduced-fat salad dressings
8. Fat-free packaged snacks
9. Fat-free peanut butter
10. Sugary cereal
11. Flavored milk alternatives
12. Fried chicken
13. French fries (British, chips)
14. Potato chips (British, crisps)
15. Fruit smoothies
16. Green juices
17. Canned soup
18. Canned vegetables
19. Capers
20. Fruit-flavored yogurt
21. Granola
22. Fancy coffee drinks
23. Coffee creamer
24. Margarine
25. Pastries
26. Crescent rolls
27. Certain frozen entrees (for example, ones with over 1,000 miligrams of sodium per serving or per meal)
28. Store-bought energy bars
29. Candy bars
30. Red meat
31. White bread
32. White rice
33. Sports drinks
34. Energy drinks
35. Soda (this means sugar-sweetened beverages such as colas, not bicarbonate of soda or baking soda)
36. Diet soda (see 35)
37. Pizza
38. Marinara sauce
39. Sugary candy
40. Alcohol

I would like to state for the record that since June 2019 my weight has dropped 50 pounds and Mrs. RWP's about 90 pounds. I'm sure we are much healthier than we were and have probably extended our lifespans. However, eight (okay, 10) of the items on that list may still be found in our house.

Ignore this list at your peril, but you don't have to follow it religiously unless you want to. My advice is give yourself a little leeway. Everything in moderation, my dad used to say. You will still die--all of us do eventually--but in all likelihood you will die happier.

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Alert the media!

Four months from today, if the Lord tarries and the creeks/Creeks don't rise and I keep putting one foot in front of the other, I will be 81 years old.

In the middle of writing that last sentence, I remembered something very sobering I read a long time ago that every last one of us would do well to ponder: "I complained because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet."

All in all, during my 80 years, 8 months so far of living on planet Earth, while there have certainly been some ups and downs and unforeseen circumstances and bumps in the road along the way, I can't complain.

Alert the media: I'm still here, and if you are reading this, so are you. Not everyone is. During the last 18 months alone the following friends of ours have died, some from Covid and some not: Tom Brown, F.M. Moore, Rita Ramsey, Charlie Ramsey, Margie Rowe, Paul Walker, Carmelita Walker, Peggy Nelson, Len Gallucci, Paul Storey, and Walter Turner. The youngest was 69 and the oldest was 98. One was 73 but had had only 18 birthdays because he was a Leap Year baby, born on February 29th.

On a different note, Blogger is giving me fits again. Currently I am often unable to leave comments on other people's blogs or even, at times, publish your comments on my own blog or reply to one. I do hope the kinks will work themselves out soon. In the meantime, it is very frustrating.

But I really can't complain.

Sunday, November 14, 2021

Sumer is not icumen in

...unless you are in Australia or New Zealand or Santiago, Chile (famous for having been Yorkshire Pudding's jumping-off place for his trip to Rapa Nui, also known as Easter Island, in 2009) or anywhere south of Mount Kilimanjaro on the continent of Africa (our grandson had a magnificent view of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania from his front door during the summer he spent in southern Kenya several years ago, but that is a topic for another day).

Wikipedia tells us that "Sumer is icumen in" is the incipit of a medieval English round or rota of the mid-13th century; it is also known variously as the Summer Canon and the Cuckoo Song. You may consider this your factoid for the day and look up the word "incipit" later, if you so choose.

In Canton, Georgia, USA, this morning it is 29°F (-1.67°C) and we have had the second frost of the season in our back yard (British, garden). Sumer is a-goin' out in my part of the world. In fact, it is long gone; we are actually two-thirds of the way through autumn (spring for those readers covered in the opening paragraph above).

No news is good news, as they say, and I have nothing else to say except that I do not like cold weather at all and am not looking forward to the next three months. Sumer can't be icumen back in too soon for me. To paraphrase Maya Angelou, I know why the cuckoo sings.

Have a good day.

Here is a panoramic view of Santiago, Chile, where apparently one can have summer and winter simultaneously.
(Photograph used in accordance with GNU Free Documentation License)

P.S. -- Here is another factoid, a bonus factoid of the day, a sub-factoid, if you will. Santiago, Chile, and San Diego, California are both named in honor (British, honour) of the same person, Saint James. The Hebrew name Jacob somehow becomes James in English, but in Italian it is rendered Iago (are you listening, Shakespeare?) and in Spanish Diego.

You are very welcome.


Wednesday, November 10, 2021

In which your correspondent follows rabbit trails even though Easter is still five months away

When I read in Tasker Dunham's blog the other day about the departure of the Queen Mary ocean liner from Southampton in 1967 on her final voyage, which was to the port of Long Beach, California, where she would be (and still is) permanently moored to serve as a floating luxury hotel, it sent me down a number of rabbit trails.

We all know that curiosity killed the cat, but Mrs. RWP says that finding out brought it back. I wondered what route the QM took from England to reach her destination on the west, repeat, west coast of the United States. Did she go across the North Atlantic and through the Panama Canal? If she was too large to fit through the Panama Canal did she go into the South Atlantic and around Cape Horn at the southern tip of South America? Did she sail around the Cape of Good Hope at the southern tip of Africa instead, into the Indian Ocean and ultimately eastward across the Pacific Ocean to reach Long Beach?

I began searching, and found the answer rather quickly, actually. The QM went around Cape Horn. However, one thing leads to another in my crazy brain and I didn't stop there; I found myself looking at other topics:

  • Cape Horn (the headland at the southern tip of South America, not to be confused with the Cape of Good Hope, which is the headland at the southern tip of Africa)
  • Straits of Magellan
  • Tierra del Fuego
  • Treaty of Peace and Friendship of 1984 between Chile and Argentina
  • How many islands does Chile have? (answer near end of post)
  • Which country has the most islands? (I was thinking Indonesia but the correct answer is Sweden. In fact, three countries--Sweden, Norway, and Finland--have more islands than Indonesia, which is in fourth place when it comes to islands. Chile is in tenth place. Australia--AUSTRALIA--is in seventh place, three places ahead of Chile. The only island in Australia I knew about is Tasmania. I must be slipping.)
  • How many islands does Sweden have? (answer near end of post)
  • Who discovered Diego Ramirez? (It wasn't Magellan. No, friends, it was the Garcia de Nodal expedition that was sent out by King Philip II of Spain in 1618, almost a century after Magellan, which was led by the Portuguese brothers Bartolomeu and Gonçalo Nodal, that discovered the Diego Ramirez Islands, the most southerly point visited by Europeans up to that time.)
  • Who was Diego Ramirez? (Diego Ramirez de Arellano Chamás was the cosmographer of the Garcia de Nodal expedition.)
  • What is cosmograhpy? (According to Wikipedia, cosmography is the science that maps the general features of the cosmos or universe, describing both heaven and Earth, but without encroaching on geography or astronomy.)
I cannot imagine how one maps the general features of the cosmos or universe, describing both heaven and Earth, without encroaching on geography or astronomy.
  • Diego Garcia (a group of islands in the Indian Ocean, thousands of miles away from the southern tip of South America. We need not concern ourselves with them right now.)
  • Who discovered Tierra del Fuego? (That wasn't Magellan either. It was a couple of Dutch guys.)
  • Falkland Islands
  • Drake Passage
  • Sir Francis Drake
  • Antarctica
  • South Shetland Islands
  • Magellan Expedition (now, there is some juicy riveting reading right there)
  • Drake circumnavigation
Some interesting tidbits/factoids gleaned from my running down rabbit trails today include:

Tierra del Fuego is not an island at all. It is an archipelago.

The Treaty of Peace and Friendship of 1984 between Chile and Argentina is also known as the Treaty of Peace abd Friendship of 1985 between Chile and Argentina.

Chile has 5,000 islands, Sweden has 267,570 islands.

I know. It's unbelievable, isn't it?

Ferdinand Magellan did not circumnavigate the world. He was killed in the Philippines, but he led an expedition, part of which eventually completed the first circumnavigation of the world without him.

I do enjoy history and geography. I hope you enjoyed this little foray into them today.

You know what they say. Those who do not learn from history or geography are probably no good at spelling either.

Your assigmment for extra credit, should you wish to accept it, is to find out how the term New Albion is related to this post.

Finally, here is a drawing of Magellan's ship Victoria, a detail from a 1590 map by Abraham Ortelius:

Thursday, November 4, 2021

How ya gonna keep ‘em down on the farm?

Ya ain't.

In case you haven't been paying attention, let me be the first to tell you that big cities are getting bigger all the time.

One last post about cities and then I won't bother you any more. Well, I may still bother you, but talking about cities won't be the reason.

It took the human race until the year 1804 to reach a world population of one billion (British, one thousand million). The world's population grew to two billion by 1927. In 1950, which I remember clearly, New York City and London vere vying with each other to be called the largest city in the world. Each had around eight million in the core city and over 12 million in the larger area that included suburbs.

Today the picture has changed greatly. The world has nearly eight billion people now. According to 2018 UN estimates, tthere are at least 81 cities with a population of more than five million.

Here is one list of the very largest cities in the workd today. Note that New York and London are nowhere in sight:

1. Tokyo, Japan (39 million)
2. Jakarta, Indonesia (35 million)
3. Chongqing, China (32 million)
4. Delhi, India (31.8 million)
5. Seoul, South Korea (25.5 million)
6. Mumbai, India (24 million)

The problem is that different organizations have compiled different lists, and it depends on what you mean by "city." Various terms are used in the making of the lists, such as city proper, urban area, metropolitan area, and urban agglomeration. For example, Chongqing, China, which is third in the list above, is in 14th place on the UN's list, with the explanation: "The municipality of Chongqing, China, whose administrative area is around the size of Austria, has the largest population for a city proper. However, more than 70% of its residents live in rural areas."

Consolidated city-county areas such as Miami-Dade in Florida can't hold a candle to Chongqing. My point is that when it comes to determining the largest cities in the world, you pays your money and you takes your chances.

Here are the top ten "cities" on the UN's 2018 list:

1. Tokyo, Japan (37.4 million)
2. Delhi, India (28.5 million)
3. Shanghai, China (25.6 million)
4. São Paulo, Brazil (21.6 million)
5. Mexico City, Mexico (21.6 million)
6. Cairo, Egypt (20.1 million)
7. Mumbai, India (20 million)
8. Beijing, China 19.6 million)
9. Dhaka, Bangladesh (19.6 million)
10. Osaka, Japan (19.3 million)

On the UN's list, New York is 11th at 18.8 million and London is 37th at just over nine million.

I do not envy the people who live in the megalopolises of the world. It's all I can do to cope with Atlanta, which is 69th on the UN's 2018 list of urban areas, is the 37th-largest core city in the United States, and has America's 13th-worst traffic according to the people who keep up with such things. Atlanta has the further distinction in the U.S. of being the smallest core city (population 524,000) among its top ten metropolitan areas, ranking ninth at just over six million.

Here is a typical day in my adopted home town:
(Photo by Georgia State University,

If you want to learn more about the terms core city, metropolitan area, or urban area; or find your favorite city on the UN's list of 81; or see a map of Chongqing, click here.

Don't mind me, folks, I find this stuff fascinating.

<b> There are families and then there are families</b>

Families come in all shapes and sizes. Some, like our friend Geri Reichstein's family, are quite small. Geri and her husband Lar...