August 2012 Archives


I've always imagined Tolstoy (1828-1910) as 'just' a great writer. A 'pillar of World Literature,' as he is called.

Tolstoy 1848 (age 20)And a Russian. Very Russian. The people famous for their ability to endure hardship. One of the guys who made the Golden Age of Russian literature golden.

But Tolstoy, I've come to discover, was also very much a THINKER. And not a very shy thinker, either. No, sir. Fearless.

I know more about Dostevsky (1821-1881), who was born 7 years before Tolstoy. But Tolstoy obviously takes a back seat to none.

I have been learning more about him only recently. Very interesting. A real character. Beyond his works, I mean. Beyond his literature. The man himself.

No, Tolstoy does not have a story about a mock execution to tout on his resumé. Nor was his soul tested for years of hard labor in a nasty Siberian prison camp. [ Is there any other kind? ] But Tolstoy didnt let that stop him.

In the 3rd paragraph of the Wikipedia entry, you find the following passage »

"His ideas on nonviolent resistance, expressed in such works as The Kingdom of God Is Within You, were to have a profound impact on such pivotal twentieth-century figures as Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr"

So right there, if we go no further .. than having had a profound impact upon the likes Gandhi & King .. uh, that would make a person, any person, a formidable influential force in World History (.. because Gandhi & King each had such large influences. Certainly within Western culture.

» The Bug flies back East every summer with his mom for a few weeks. Camping. Fun stuff. So it's expected. Never a surprise.

Baloo and Mogli | The Jungle BookThis year however, I felt depressed (sad, blue, logy, lethargic) beginning the day he left .. seeing I knew I wouldnt see him for several weeks.

And I couldnt shake it. Couldnt snap out of it.

I mean, I'm okay with sadness .. having spent much time there. I've learned to adapt. It has become almost comfortable .. like an old friend.

But I think, some times, it comes off as unsociable, which I can certainly understand, seeing that I tend to get quiet.

I dont get in a bad mood, per se .. merely blue (and quiet), so I usually try to be alone .. to avoid being misunderstood.

Exhausting it can be .. trying to feel up/happy .. when you're not. The problem however, was that .. I wasnt exactly sure WHY I was feeling blue .. but, when he returned, the blues left. =)

So. Guess I just plain missed him. Silly me. I somehow had the idea that I wouldnt miss him, seeing the trip was planned well in advance (anticipated).

But he's back and we had an excellent time together last week. I made him laugh a lot. The cat was watching him eat and I performed an impromptu voice-over of what the cat was thinking.

The Bug was hysterical (.. eating a taco). The cat is handsome, regal and serious so I gave him a snooty aristocratic British accent.

» The Approach | Incoming!

On our way back, taking the Bug back to his mom, after we had spent a few days together, we stopped for lunch at Carlos' restaurant in Dana Point (.. on Pacific Coast Hwy). Yummy Mexican comidas. Fun, colorful place. Comfortable.

Anyway, we took the cat with us, while the house was being bombed for ants.

So I carried the carrier that held the cat and set it down on the chair at the end of the table .. so we could all see him. The chair was also at the far end of the patio.

Pooh and Piglet Look for ButterfliesAfter setting down the cat carrier, I sat down opposite the Bug.

A minute later, he got up, and, seeing there was no other option, he walked all the way around ..

.. the long end of the table .. and came over and climbed up on my lap (.. like it was nothing) and there he sat down.

I suspect you needed to BE there .. or at least view a schematic of the patio floor-plan .. but it was such a remarkably cool feeling .. that I'm STILL perched atop Parenting Cloud #9.

Parenting is not easy. You'll hear no sane person claim otherwise. It's mostly hard, relentless, thankless work. (If you're doing it for the appreciation, you probably oughta look for a new job.) So when these little treasures drop in your lap, you use them to help get thru the tough times ..

.. which reminds me of the time he spilled a glass full of ice-water on my crotch at a restaurant. Could not have placed it any more .. precisely.

» Recall from Greek mythology how Prometheus stole fire from the gods and gave it to man for human use.

As punishment for this transgression, Zeus, the king of the gods, the guy who has been known to toss a lightning bolt or two, had Prometheus bound to a rock, where each day Zeus's pet-eagle would come feed on his liver (.. which naturally grew back overnight).

Dr. J Robert Oppenheimer (1904-1967) | Father of the Atomic BombZeus was obviously *not* happy.

In 6th grade I had a class on Ancient History, which included a little Greek mythology.

The obvious question here (which no one thought to ask) » "What's wrong with man having fire?"

Despite my obvious interest in (and fascination with) Nuclear power, I have never delved into the bomb-making aspect.

I figured that a nuclear bomb is merely a commercial nuclear reactor re-configured (re-packaged?) in such a way as to release all the energy AT ONCE (.. with that mesmerizing mushroom cloud) .. instead of over a period of 25 or 30 years.

From the library last year, I checked out an audio book which bore the intriguing title » American Prometheus, subtitled » "The Triumph & Tragedy of J Robert Oppenheimer" (© 2005).

» Politics Plays a Big Part (Too Big for Me, at First)

Despite the fact that this book won the Pulitzer (2006), and that the authors (two of them) spent an amazing 25 years researching the material ..

.. and that the story deals with the development of nuclear energy, and that I have always loved biographies (.. cuz people are so darn interesting, especially learning what makes them tick) ..

United States Capitol | Washington D.C... I nevertheless could not get into this book ..

.. cuz it starts with so much political stuff ..

.. that surrounded the man, the bomb, the era, especially the post-bomb years.

I have actually checked out the audio book a few times, but could never stomach the political stuff long enough to continue.

I was interested in the technology, the science, the people involved in building the bomb. "Enough politics!" I would cry in frustration. "Let's build the stupid bomb, already!"

Well .. I finally made it past the politics .. and we are now building the bomb. And I can see why the authors began where they did (.. at a point well AFTER the bomb had been built, tested & "successfully deployed") .. because the political aspects (ramifications) paint the scene for the action of the bomb-making.

They set the scene for you before introducing the characters, which enriches the story considerably later on. But you first need to get past the political set-up (.. which can turn your stomach).

American Prometheus | The Triumph & Tragedy of J Robert Oppenheimer» Perhaps My Favorite Book - Ever (Still Reading)

Truly a remarkably story. My preferences tend to change with mood, but this might be the most interesting story I've EVER read (.. certainly seems that way today).

I am no historian, but I have taken a gander up & down the century .. and I can see no more defining story. Can you?

The bomb is 67 years old .. same year Oppenheimer lived to [1967]. So the bomb is not yet 100 years old. Not yet a single century.

There are people walking the streets today who are older than the bomb .. can remember what life was like back then .. before the bomb. It's story does not represent the most encouraging or uplifting of ideas .. things to ponder.

A story which revolves around a remarkable man .. a "real genius" (.. among other geniuses, including a ridiculous number of Nobelists). I am now surprised at myself that I hadnt looked into this story sooner (.. than last year).

What makes this story so engaging .. is that it 'speaks' on numerous levels .. scientifically, morally, ethically, militarily, politically, industrially, culturally, ethnically, atomically, cosmically, religiously, spiritually, suicidally, etc.

The story itself is so remarkably VAST and sweeping that there is no way I could capture it all in a single entry. [ Nor will I try. You can read the book yourself. ]

But there ARE some key observations I'd like to point out.

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