‘Tis the season…

Now that you mention it, it wasn't really the night before Christmas and we weren't in a house. In fact there were many creatures stirring (mostly human, I think) and I didn't see any stockings hung anywhere, there not being a chimney nearby. Be that as it may…

We had a wonderful Christmas play put on by the children of the parish, shortly after the end of Mass last week. Here in Shanghai, many of the foreigners in the international parish make plans to visit their home countries during the Christmas holiday, so our celebrations are pushed forward on the calendar to a time before people start to leave. Here's a collage from one of our “staff photographers” showing the little angels all dressed up like little angels.

Later that day, the parish met to celebrate a potluck luncheon and enjoy some caroling. We served about two hundred or so and enjoyed ourselves immensely. The caroling was great fun, and the food was delicious. But the best part was seeing the parishioners come together…many different faces from many parts of the world. Being an American, it made me think of home.


So, even though it's still a little early, Merry Christmas!


Now, where did I read that?

A friend of mine has located the entire set of The Harvard Classics which for those of you who are saying “Wha?” is a collection, printed and bound, which one could use as a basis of a very substantial personal library–back in time, when books were on paper–and which in fact my own father had in his den. I was saddened when the volumes were damaged beyond salvage in a flood at his Florida home some years ago. BUT they are on the web, so I have access to them after all. The “Five foot shelf of books” is not lost; it resides at Bartleby. How cool is that.

There are of course, other sources for literature, on and off the web. One that makes me a penny or two when you visit is a well-managed source of literature designed (or re-designed) for electronic consumption, with the rather catchy title as I’ve posted below. You could do worse. After all, free is still free, and they have a good search engine.

Download and read eBooks for Free – For Life


A few weeks ago we had an exercise on Facebook, recalling our whereabouts on 9/11. Many of us can recall vividly where we were and what we were doing when the planes hit the WTC, live on TV.

I wasn't in a location where TV was available 50 years ago, but I can recall where I was and what I was doing.

The weather was cold and damp in northern Ohio. We had been busy all day at a high-school speech tournament. My friend Charlie and a bunch of us guys were basking in the limelight of recognition. We did well. Charlie won an award for Oratorical Declamation, as I recall. He had done a cutting (an excerpt) from a play. It was A Raisin in The Sun. Damn, he was good, too. “What happens to a dream deferred?” I think he probably got the trophy. I remember I got a ribbon or something for my effort. I did a cutting from Inherit the Wind. “This man wants to be given the same privilege as a sponge. He wishes to think!”

As we came out of the school late that afternoon, we were full of ourselves, telling each other how good we Men From Chaminade were, how the boys from the other schools couldn't even remember their lines. When we returned to the bus which would take us home to Dayton, the bus driver was playing the radio.

But there was no music.

On the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address

272 words. The thing I remember most about the Gettysburg Address is that I couldn’t remember all of it, as I stood before the rest of my pack, and our parents, during some event or other somewhere well back in my dark and misty past. I have recovered from my shame, but the memory remains as one of a few which immediately rise upon reflection. Just one of those things of personal import that no one else cares about. I suppose we all have a few of those little morsels of memory stowed away.
That recollection returned once again as I came upon this article from the Tribune recently. Those of my readers who reside near my old Adams-York County stomping grounds will find many familiar references to the locale. If you’re close by, it’s a good trip to make.

Taking the Kids — to Gettysburg on the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address – chicagotribune.com.

Fruitful Ties to China’s Elite

Hmmm… Now why is this news? Is it unusual? Actually, it’s normal in this country where we have the rule by law, not the rule of law. On this side of the world, it’s not viewed as corruption of honest business practices, this is exactly and precisely how business is conducted.

JPMorgan's Fruitful Ties to a Member of China's Elite – NYTimes.com.

Nothing gets done (above a one-to-one exchange in the marketplace) without some extra consideration being worked into the deal somewhere. It’s called guanxi 关系 and it means relationship. But it goes far beyond friends doing good things for friends for the sake of the relationship. Where guanxi does not exist it can be purchased, as it looks like it was done here. Sometimes it’s very blatant, but most of the time it’s just under the table. Welcome to China.

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