Thursday, December 25, 2008

Monday, December 8, 2008

Fear the shoes.

This is the eldest daughter at her sword fighting lesson. It was bout night, and she is sparring with one of the instructors. We spend the whole day in Tulsa on sword fighting nights, and before we leave town we remind her to wear appropriate clothing for fencing. I guess that means girlie red shoes and velvet pants. (Thanks to Marc Carlson for picture.)

Tulsa's Oldest House

Cross-posted from Tulsa Architectural History.

This is the oldest surviving house in Tulsa. It belonged to Reverend Sylvester Morris, a Methodist missionary, who founded many churches in and around Tulsa, including St. Paul's Methodist on Cherry Street. This house was built in the mid 1880s (the Tulsa Historical Society says 1885). Given that the railroad didn't arrive until 1882, that makes this house pretty early. The house is a simple framed building in the "Folk Style". It was originally located in the 400 block of North Cheyenne. It was moved to Owen Park in 1976, after being discovered by the local historian Beryl Ford. Sadly it is in an extremely neglected condition, with the windows and doors boarded over. As the picture at the Tulsa Preservation Commission website shows, when it was first moved, it still had doors and windows. Perhaps Owen Park is not the best place for this monument. The "new" building for the Tulsa Historical Society or Gilcrease Museum are two possible locations that would be better suited.

Ford identified the building, in part by, the unusual chimney. He also reportedly found letters addressed to Morris in the walls of the building. This picture shows the Morris family on the back porch of the house. Although the house in this picture has obvious similarities to the house in Owen Park, I find it interesting that the side door pictured here is nowhere in evidence in the Owen Park house. The missing door, however, could have easily been boarded over in the intervening years. (Photo provided courtesy of Beryl Ford Collection/Rotary Club of Tulsa, Tulsa City-County Library and Tulsa Historical Society.)

The Reverend Morris story had a sad end. In 1907, while returning home late one evening, two lawmen mistook him for a whiskey peddler. The lawmen called for him to stop, but either the elderly man did not hear them, or thought that they were highway robbers, and did not stop. The lawmen fired seven shots, two of which struck Morris, killing him. The horses, knowing the way, continued home, bearing the the pioneer's corpse. The killing caused a furor in Tulsa. The two marshals were indicted for murder, but were eventually acquitted.

Here's a final picture of the backside of the house. Thanks to my brother, for acting as my photo slave.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

On Christmas songs

Here is where I prove that I spend way too much thought on trivial matters.

We have reached the time of year when you can go nowhere without having Christmas music thrust at you. There is always at least one radio station playing nothing else. Invariably I will work with people who want to listen to it. Sometimes the Anglican in me wants to scream "IT'S NOT CHRISTMAS, IT'S ADVENT." For those of you who come from religious backgrounds that don't follow the liturgical year, Advent is the season that precedes Christmas. It is a season of preparation. It is a time for sober reflection and contemplation. And a daily piece of small candy. It is not a time for "Holly Jollies".

That rant aside, several years ago while listening to all of the Christmas music, I came to realize that "Christmas" music comes in several categories that can be arranged in order of decreasing relevance to the actual holiday of Christmas. I have inflicted this categorization on my family for several years, and now feel that it is time to inflict it on my readers. All three of you.

Category One: These are the true Christmas songs. Songs about the birth of the Christ, and all that attended it. If it's about the baby in the manger, the shepherds, the wise men, the star, the choruses of angels, or any mix of the above, it belongs in this category. Examples include "Silent Night", "Away in the Manger", "O Come, All Ye Faithful" and "We Three Kings". This category also includes songs that include events that are not in the Gospel accounts, but are still about the birth of Jesus, "The Little Drummer Boy", for example .

Category Two: These are songs about the secular trappings of Christmas; Santa Claus, his elves and reindeer, Christmas trees, presents, Caroling and the like. Example include "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer", "O Christmas Tree", and "Deck the Halls".

Category Three: This is a slippery category. It is for songs that are about Christmas, but not any particular aspect of it. They may rely on secular imagery such as Christmas trees, but they are there just to set the scene. The central message is "Gee isn't Christmas wonderful". Examples include "White Christmas", 'I'll Be Home for Christmas", and "Chestnuts roasting on an open Fire". One subset of these songs is the songs that use Christmas as backdrop for commentary on the singer's love life, "Blue Christmas", for example.

Category Four: These are Christian songs that are not about Christmas, that somehow have been attracted to Christmas. Examples include "Joy to the World"(a song celebrating the coming of the Saviour, but not about His birth.), "The Halleluia Chorus" (it's from the Easter cycle of The Messiah), "O Come, O Come Emanuel" (it's an Advent carol), and "Good King Wenceslaus" (it's about a Medieval Saint, but it mentions the Feast of St. Stephen, December 26).

Category Five: These are winter songs, they are not about Christmas at all, just winter. "Jingle Bells", "Let It Snow", "Winter Wonderland", etc.

Category Six: These are secular songs that have nothing at all to do with Christmas or winter that have somehow gotten attached to Christmas. The prime modern offender is "My Favorite Things" from the Sound of Music.

So there it is, my over analysis of Christmas music. Don't get me wrong though. I love Christmas music, or at least most of it. The unfortunate fact is that the majority of the Christmas music played on radio and in public places comes from categories five and three, with a smattering of of category two. Actual Christmas songs, those from category one, are largely banned and if they are found it is in instrumental versions. Oh well.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veteran's Day

They also serve who only stand and wait - John Milton

I never considered myself as coming from a military family, yet when I count the number of men in my family with military background, it surprises me. My paternal grandfather was in the Air Corps in the Aleutians during WW II. My adoptive father was a radio operator on landing craft during WW II. I an uncle on my mother's side was a submariner during the Vietnam era and after. One cousin spent some time in the Air Force, and another in the navy. Another uncle by marriage was also submariner. Another uncle was in the army in the same time period. My mother's husband was amongst the first troops sent to Korea. My wife's grandfather was a navigator on bombers during WW II. His brother was a civilian captured by the Japanese on Wake Island. My father-in-law served in Vietnam. My brother spent nine years in the Army from the late 70s through the mid-eighties.

The sacrifices and service of the WW II and Vietnam ere veterans are now widely and justly recognized and celebrated. The Korean veterans are less well remembered, but when they are, their sacrifices are recognized. The veterans of today's wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are justly honored. Today I want to talk about a largely forgotten group of veterans, those who served during the last years of the Cold War.

The period from the end of the Vietnam war to Desert Storm is seen as largely on of watchful peace. There were a few small wars in Grenada and Panama, but little seems to have happened. It was a period with a completely voluntary, professional standing military, something that had seldom been seen in American History before. At the beginning of the period the military was demoralized, underfunded and poorly regarded. At the end of the period, it was the force that drove the Iraqi army out of Kuwait in a few hours, when many of the "experts" were predicting a quagmire. In that period hundreds of thousands of people served, quietly. Many enlisted as a means of earning money for college. Many got to spend a few years in Europe or other exotic locales and have a relatively safe adventure. Because of that it easy to undervalue their service. There were real risks. The troops in Europe essentially a sacrificial force, they were to hold the line until the rest of the military could be brought to bear. If Soviet tanks had ever invaded the West, some of these men and women would have had lifespans measured in minutes. We may look back at the "little wars" such as Grenada and Panama as side shows, but service men bled and died in each of those operations. Even "guard" duty could have real risks. I once worked with man who saw American men hacked to death with axes by North Korean troops. The Cold War never really became "hot", thank God. It didn't because hundreds of thousands of American troops waited for the war that never came. It didn't come because they waited, and for that we should be grateful.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

A Hero

This is a little belated, but I met a true hero the other day, Lt. Col. Bob Powell (USAF Ret.). Col Powell enlisted in the army in 1940, and was assigned to the air corps. He piloted a glider in Operation Market Garden, hitting ninety foot tall trees that intelligence had described as low lying bushes. He woke up six weeks later in a French hospital with three medals pinned to his bed, including the Bronze Star. He was also promoted to master sergeant, but was quickly "demoted" (his word) to second lieutenant. He flew planes during the Berlin Airlift, carried troops out of Japan into Korea during the Korean war and flew an AC-47 gunship in Vietnam. For years he ran a small military museum at Memorial High School, helping to fulfill that school's dedication as a memorial to the troops of WWI, WWII, and Korea. The museum had recently been moved out of the school and into a freestanding building near 61st and Sheridan.

This kind of service seems to run in families. He commented that he has a grandson he returned from Iraq. minus a foot.

Random Music: Suzanne by Leonard Cohen

Cross posted from Dafydd's Random Music.

Leonard Cohen was one of these famous musicians I knew about, but whose music I didn't really know. I knew that he was widely regarded as a genius. I, of course, knew the song from the Judy Collins version. About six months ago, while coming home from work, I heard his version on a radio program that specializes in obscurities and was blown away. He is not a great singer, but his voice works well with the spareness of the lyric and melody. As fall fades into winter in my part of the world, this seems to be an appropriately melancholy song.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


I haven't written much lately, but I think I'm going to be getting back to blogging on a regular basis. I've been inspired, at least in part by my brother's pledge to post at least once a day. So far he has kept it up, and I'm going to try to at least once a day on my days home. I have some specialized interests and will be running separate blogs on those interests, while continuing to cross-post here. I have been posting all of my medieval stuff at Monstrous Beauty, which I am reviving after a six-month lapse in posting. I have done a couple of posts on Tulsa's architecture history. I have cross posted them to the newly created Tulsa Architectural History, where I intend to write more regularly. I work as a scrub tech and have blogged on my work life, I have cross-posted those posts to The Weekend Scrub, where I will continue to thrill the world with inner workings of the OR. I have had a fitful music blog, where I comment on pieces of music that I like at Dafydd's Random Music. I will continue to post there, but am going to start cross posting those things here. So if you are primarily interested in Medieval Art, Tulsa history, Surgical Technology, or Random Music, it might be easier for you to follow those blogs. If you are interested in my Random musings on all of those things and more you should stay here. All three of you.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Monday, September 15, 2008

Stupid Dumb Ass Cats

The Elder Daughter is very taken with the Warrior Cats books by Erin Hunter. She has read the each of the thirty million titles in the series at least 1035 times. (I may be exaggerating.) She also makes little dolls out of pipe cleaners including little pipe cleaner cats. She and the Younger Daughter (age 4) will play with cat dolls , acting out the books. Although she loves real cats, the Younger Daughter likes to tweak the Elder Daughter.

Does having your four year old call the game she is playing and enjoying, "stupid, dumb-ass cats" mean we have failed or succeeded as parents?

Sunday, September 14, 2008


Everyone in surgery and the ER has made the same joke. A young man, often African-American, comes in having been shot or stabbed or beaten to a pulp. After the patient is anesthetized, someone will ask what happened. Then The Joke starts. "He was sitting on his front porch, after coming home from church, reading the Bible when TWO DUDES, came up and shot, stabbed or beat him for no reason. And then stole his Bible." A while back we had a young man in who had been shot and had horrible injuries. He was one victim of this drive-by shooting. Other hospitals in town had three more. At one point we had the state police come in to the lounge and ask we if we could look for identifying scars, so that family could know which kid was which. One of the kids eventually died. I didn't hear The Joke, but I did hear someone say, "Don't these guys have anything better to do." The Joke is funny because the sarcasm is true. It is usually assholes who are doing things that they should not who get shot, beaten and stabbed. In this case, it really was four kids, all doing well in school, one of whom was a star athlete, who were coming home from church, and were mistaken for some gang bangers and got shot.


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Hiatus, sort of.

I am working an insane amount this week, and will be next week as well. This could go on for a while, so I will be doing very limited posting.

On the, other hand, I was passing through the Drs lounge in surgery last weekend and there were several docs watching the Olympics. About six or seven middle aged, professional men. the topic of discussion was which group of women athletes were the hottest. There were several votes for volleyball players and runners. One doc held out for swimmers. Said he liked the broad shoulders, skinny hips and little butt. (I hope he was talking about the women.) It seems you can take the guy out of the locker room, but you can't take the locker room out of the guy.

The answer, by the way, is high jumpers.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

New Project

So I haven't been doing much blogging recently. This is in part because I have been working on a rather large project.

Anybody who knows me knows that I like to make lists. Not "To Do" lists, but lists of things. One of the things I like to make lists of is books. Since my first daughter was born, I have developed an interest in children's literature. So obviously I had to start making a list of good children's literature.

I've decided to put this list as a web site, in part as an exercise in learning HTML. The first draft is over there. It's ugly, there are massive formatting problems and is incomplete. There probably will be a blog attached to it later.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Durham Cathedral Library, MS A II 10

Cross posted from Monstrous Beauty

First a little bit about the "name" of this manuscript. If you are already familiar with how shelfmarks work, you can skip to the next paragraph. Many manuscripts are famous and have names that are well known outside of the realm of medievalists, the Book of Kells for example. Others are more obscure, but are well known to medievalists, the Quedlinburg Itala or the Vatican Virgil, for example. Others may have names that uniquely identify them, but are not well known to anyone other than a specialist. Most manuscripts don't have names, though, and are identified only by shelfmarks. Shelfmarks are the cataloging labels given to each manuscript by the institution that holds it. Each institution makes its own rules as to how to assign shelfmarks. Some just number them; MS 1, MS 2, etc. Others will sort by their manuscripts into collections, and number each collection. The collections may be sorted by language, or manuscript type, or by donor. Some large institutions might have several different types of collections. In any case, the full shelfmark will identify a manuscript precisely. (Some institutions that only hold a few manuscripts, or perhaps only one, don't use shelfmarks at all.) These shelfmarks are a kind of secret passwords for medievalists. You stand a much better chance of getting an institution to let you look at a manuscript if you know its shelfmark. Some institutions, rather than simply numbering the manuscript, use a more complicated scheme, that gives you the precise location of the manuscript. To do this you must identify the bookcase a manuscript is in, the shelf of the bookcase, and the position of the manuscript on the shelf. This is what Durham Cathedral does. This manuscript is A II 10. This translates to the first bookcase (A), the second shelf (II), and the tenth manuscript (10).

This manuscript is a fragment of an early Insular gospel book. It is usually known only by the its shelfmark because there are at least two other fragmentary Insular gospel books at Durham Cathedral (MSS A II 16, and A II 17). MS A II 17 is sometimes called the "Durham Gospels". Kirsten Ataoguz at Early Medieval Art calls this the "Earlier Durham Gospels" and A II 17 the later Durham Gospels.

This manuscript is earliest in a sequence of magnificently decorated gospel books that stretches to the Book of Kells and beyond. This manuscript dates to the early 7th century and is not much younger than the Cathach of St. Columba. The surviving fragments contain two important pieces of decoration, on facing pages. Folio 3v* (see illustration above) contains the end of the the Gospel of Matthew. The text is in the left hand column, the other column contains a frame shaped like three capital letter "Ds" stacked one on top of the other. Each frame is decorated with a knot work pattern, and each frame has a different pattern. (Dr. Ataoguz suggests having students describe these patterns as an exercise in observation and description. Other than noting that the lower 'D' is decorated with a traditional three strand braid, I would find this very difficult.) The triangular spaces between, above and below the "D" frames are filled with larger, looser triangular knots. Inside the frames are written the explicit** to Matthew, the incipit** to the Gospel of Mark, and the Pater Noster, or Lord's Prayer, in Greek, but written in Latin letters. Facing this page is the opening page to the Gospel of Mark. (see illustration at right.) It starts with a large decorated initial. This initial takes the first three letters of the the opening word "Initium" and fuses them into a large monogram. The monogram is shorter on the right side than it is on the left. Each subsequent letter in the opening word is smaller than the preceding letter. This diminuation of letters was first seen in the Cathach. A manuscript of Jerome at Bobbio from the early 7th century also contains an "INI" monogram that is very similar in form to this monogram (see illustration below). This would suggest a fairly wide spread artistic convention.

This manuscript, fragmentary as it is, is still quite important. It is has the first surviving appearance of the knotwork that would a major motif in later Insular manuscripts. The later Insular gospel books would all use monograms similar to the "INI" monogram used here. It shows the continuation of the strong tradition of the diminuation of letters after an enlarged intitial.

The Bobbio Jerome initial. My apologies for the low quality of the image.

* Most manuscripts were not paginated as modern books are. In modern books, each side of a single leaf is given a new page number. Manuscripts are usually foliated, where each leaf is give a number. The two sides are then termed the "recto" and the "verso". The recto is the "front" side, that is the side that is on the right side of the book when it is opened. The other side, the verso is on the left side of the open book. Individual sides of folios are indicated by giving the folio number and an "r" or "v" for recto or verso.

**The incipit and explicit are the terms for text introducing announcing the beginning (incipit) and end (explicit) of a text. An incipit may read something like, "Here begins the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew". For the most part, except for an occasional "The End" at the end of some novels, this practice has died out in modern books.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Berlin Airlift

Yeserday was the sixtieth anniversary of the start of the Berlin Airlift.

In June of 1948, the Soviet Union blocked all ground and water access to the Allied controlled portions of Berlin. The US and Royal Air Forces responded with the largest humanitarian airlift ever attempted. For over 300 days all food, medical supplies and fuel needed for over 2 million people were flown into the city. At the high point, a plane was landing every 90 seconds, 24 hours a day. Berliners worked at unloading the planes. Their efficiency was such that one 10 ton load was unloaded in under six minutes. Each flight crew flew multiple round trips per day. By late April 1949, the Airlift was bringing over 8000 tons of material, per day into the city. This was more that had been brought into city by rail prior to the blockade. On April 25, 1949, realizing that the airlift had reached a point where it could be carried on indefinitely, the Soviet Union called off the blockade. The airlift continued for another three months so as to create a stockpile of supplies within the city in case the airlift needed to restarted. In total 2,326,406 tons of supplies were airlifted. There were 278,228 total flights into Berlin. There were 101 people including 31 Americans who lost their lives in the operations, mostly from crashes.

One US pilot, Gail Halvorsen started dropping candy from his plane to the children waiting outside of the runway. His example was expanded and the flight became known as "Candy Bombers". Over three tons of candy were eventually dropped.

The Berlin Airlift was one the pivotal moments of the 20th century. Without it, the Western Alliance might not have formed, and the Cold War would have started with a Soviet victory.

Monday, June 23, 2008

George Carlin, RIP

Shit, Piss, Fuck, Cunt, Cocksucker, Motherfucker and Tits.

You can prick your finger, but don't finger your prick.

George Carlin has died at 71 of heart failure.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Google Maps "Street View" hits Tulsa

Google has driven its funny van around Tulsa it seems. Street View is available for Tulsa. This is both pretty cool and kind of creepy. A while back, I called a friend in the DFW region and was able to describe his house, which I have never visited, to him, all courtesy of Street View. Kind of has a big brother aspect to it, especially when combined with the satellite views available on Google maps. I am sure that some criminals are finding this very useful data.

On the other hand, this will help a great deal with my research on Tulsa's architectural history. Rather than actually driving around to do my scouting I can sit here in Bartlesville in my underwear. With the current gas prices, this is great.

A down side, is that they don't seem to be done. There are blank spots all over the map. Especially troublesome is the large swath between Harvard and Yale from Pine to 41st Street, which has only about 15% of the streets covered. I notice that Tulsa doesn't have the little camera icon as you zoom out. OKC does and seems to have many fewer holes, so perhaps they are still driving, or processing data, or something.

Bobbio Orosius

Cross posted from Monstrous Beauty.

The Bobbio Orosius, from the 7th century, introduces an important motif to insular art, the Carpet Page. This is the oldest surviving carpet page. The design is not similar to the Carpet Pages in the later more famous gospel books (Durrow, Lindisfarne, Kells), but its purpose seem to have been similar; To serve as a sort of internal cover. As Dr. J. Kirsten Ataoguz points out over at Early Medieval Art, the Bobbio Orosius carpet page can be compared, at least in layout to the cover of the Stoneyhurst Gospels. (see below for image.) Like the later gospel books this carpet page faces a decorated initial. (I regret not having an image of the initial, and the poor image of the carpet page here, but it is all that is available on the net.)

The Bobbio Orosius also represents an important movement in the religious and artistic history of Europe. Although the manuscript was produced at a monastery in Italy, it was produced by Irish monks. The monastery in question, Bobbio was founded by St. Columbanus, who was from Ireland. Many important communities on the continent were founded by Irish monks. Many of the important "insular" manuscripts were in fact produced in the scriptoria of these communities. These monasteries were to play a vital role in the religious and artistic life of the next several centuries.

The manuscript itself (Milan, Biblioteca Ambrosiana MS D. 23. Sup.) is a copy of the Chronicon of Orosius. In the seventtenth century it was given to the newly established Ambrosian Library in Milan, where it remains today. Dr. Ataoguz also has a discussion of this manuscript at Early Medieval Art.

The Stonyhurst Gospel Covers

Friday, June 13, 2008

Roman D&D

It seems that a 2nd century Roman glass twenty sided die was auctioned by Christie's for $18,000. The auction notes said that "Modern scholarship has not yet established the game for which these dice were used." But, we know, don't we.

Seriously, this is very cool. I wonder if they made four sided dice as well. And then stepped on them in the middle of the night.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Unicorns and Dragons and CERN, oh my

Unicorns are real! I think we should rethink the plan those crazy physicists at CERN have for creating dragons.

Texas Governor's Mansion

This is a few days old, but there was major fire at the Texas Governor's Mansion in the early morning last Sunday. It appears to have been arson. Although I hate to see any historic structure lost or damaged, this one hits a little closer to home. When we lived in Austin, there was a major bus transfer point in front of the mansion. I spent a lot of time waiting on buses admiring the mansion. We always said that we ought to tour the mansion some time, but never did. This should be a lesson to not assume that things will always be around. Gather rosebuds while you may.

The good news is the the mansion was in the middle of a major renovation (which is why security was so lax) and all of the artworks, furniture, and artifacts were in storage. The bad news is that a lot of the historic fabric is gone. For example, the banister rail had filled holes where Governor Jim Hogg had driven nails to keep his kids from sliding down the banister. From the pictures I've seen, that rail is a complete loss.

The picture above is courtesy of the Texas Governor's Office. The Governor's office has also posted more images of the damage here. Governor Perry has vowed to rebuild, whatever the cost. I saw one estimate that said that other similar structure with comparable damage cost 20 million dollars to repair. If I know Texas that are probably several dozen rich dudes who would be willing and able to foot the entire bill. I also can't imagine the Texas legislature not coming up with the money.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Kiddie Park

Kiddie Park roller coaster
Originally uploaded by ezeiza
Today we renewed a family tradition. We went to the Kiddie Park in Johnstone Park. For those not from Bartlesville, the Kiddie Park is small amusement park in Bartlesville primarily aimed at small children. The perfect age is 5. By the time a child gets to six some of the rides are already too small. The park is maintained mainly through donations and volunteers. There are sixteen rides, most of them variants of going around slowly in a circle. Many of the rides are vintage things kept running through loving care. The biggest ride is the roller coaster. The highest hill is about 12 feet tall. Tickets cost 25 cents and most of the rides cost 1 ticket. The remainder cost 2 tickets.

One of the highlights is the miniature train which runs out into Johnstone Park and back, running through a "tunnel" (really the shed the train is kept in in the winter) where it is traditional for young girls to scream in pitches not usually possible for humans. If you stay until closing time, the last train ride is free.

It's a gentle place. There are loud speakers playing music, but unless you right under them they serve mostly as background noise. None of the rides have loudspeakers or the like, so they just make a quiet clacking sound as they run. The child to adult ratio is pretty close to 1:1 the families with Mom, Dad, and grandparents along to watch the single child have fun, match the few families with multiple kids. The kids are remarkably well behaved. The kids running the rides are basically recent graduates from being customers. The park hires 14 and 15 year old kids, giving them an early chance at learning job skills and get some experience. because of the short hours and sub-minimum wage pay the kids can expect to earn about 400 bucks a summer. The Elder Daughter is already plotting what she will do with her riches when she is old enough to work there in a few years.

I was very glad to be able to got today. I was worried Monday. Last year the flooding in Bartlesville flooded the Park. It was closed most of the summer. Monday the river was up high again. Some major roads were closed and the water was into Johnstone Park. The Kiddie Park stayed dry and the water was ten feet lower today.

The kids had good time. The Younger Daughter rode the roller coaster for the first time and came off squeaking "I love it, I love it". The Elder Daughter got in four rides. The younger daughter demonstrated that you can dye significant portions of your body blue with a single snow cone. (BTW, who in the hell decided that blue was the appropriate color for raspberry?) The only down side is that a few of the rides including the train were down for repairs. With luck, and if the river don't rise, we will be back a dozen or more times this summer.

Note: The picture above is from Flickr and not from today's trip.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Tulsa Architecture, Hooper Brothers Coffee

This is one of my favorite historical buildings in Tulsa, in part because I can find it, and most people don't know that it exists. It took me the better part of an hour to find it the first time though. It is in downtown, being within the inner dispersal loop, but just barely.

The building was built in 1924 and was active in the coffee business until 1961. The railroad tracks run right behind the building. Coffee beans were unloaded directly into the building, where they were roasted and ground. The coffee making machinery is long gong. In 1978, when the building was added to National Register of Historic Places, it still had the last working hydraulic elevator in Tulsa. The architect and builder are unknown. It is a rare survival of a 1920s commercial building.

The view above is the from the southwest. Below the view from the northwest.

The sign reading "Hooper Bros Coffee" on the front of the building is raised brickwork.

As can be seen above, the south facade has rectangular windows. There are panels with raised decorative brickwork between the windows of the two stories.

The windows on the west facade have low arches.

The west facade had a painted sign that is still faintly visible.

The north facade also had a painted sign that can only be seen in the lessened wearing of the bricks.

The corners of the building do not meet squarely, causing them to have a jagged appearance. The corner below in an "interior" corner. It is on the south facade, along the west edge of the, now boarded over, main doorway. I assume it represents an extension of an interior wall that was not built at a right angle to the south exterior wall. The southwest corner of the building has a similar appearance.

The Beryl Ford Collection at the Tulsa Library did not have any vintage images of this building online. They did have an image of the 1940 Hooper Brothers Coffee calendar.

Thanks to my brother for the photography of the building and to the Beryl Ford Collection/Rotary Club of Tulsa, Tulsa City-County Library and Tulsa Historical Society for the calendar image.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Buy Danish

My Brother has a "Buy Danish" logo on his blog. Here is an example of why. The subtitles suffered a bit in translation. "I have neutralized one...motherfucker", and the ever popular ">taunting<".

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Cathach of St. Columba

The Cathach of St. Columba is the starting point for Celtic manuscripts. The traditional story is that Columba was lent a psalter by St. Finnian on the condition that he not copy it. Columba nevertheless copied in a single miraculous all-night session. When Finnian discovered the manuscript, he appealed to the local king, who awarded the copy to Finnian. Columba raised his kinsmen which resulted in the Battle of Cúl Dreimhne. Columba went into exile, where he founded Iona, as penance for the men killed in the battle. The Cathach is traditionally identified with Columba's copy. The Cathach, however, has been dated to the 7th century on paleological grounds. Throughout the Middle Ages it was carried into battle as a talisman, a practice from which it gets it name. "Cathach" means "battler" in Irish.

The decoration in the Cathach is limited to the first few letters of each Psalm. This decoration establishes several themes that are explored in great depth in later manuscripts. The first letter of each Psalm is enlarged. In earlier manuscripts initial letters had been enlarged and decorated. Bit the decorations in those manuscripts were used to fill space or were appended to the latter. In the Cathach, the decoration distorts the shape of the letter, so that the letter becomes the decoration. Subsequent letters were drawn into the decoration through the gradual shrinking of the letters. In earlier manuscripts the letters after the first letter were the same size as the he rest of the text. In the Cathach, each subsequent letter is a bit smaller than the preceding letter until the letters reach the size of the bulk of the text. The letters are often decorated with small red dots. These three ideas the distortion of letters for decoration, the dimidation of letters, and the use red dots for decoration are ideas worked out in great detail later.

Friday, June 6, 2008


Forty four years ago today, thousands of young men endured a horror I cannot imagine. By the end of the day, they had changed the future of the world. Every day fewer and fewer of those young men are left. The Tulsa World ran a profile on one of them today.

Here are the memories of some of the other those men.

Monday, June 2, 2008

NPR can't say hero.

Today, as I was driving to work, NPR ran a short story saying that President Bush would be honoring PFC Ross McGinnis today. Although they described the act of heroism, throwing himself on a grenade in order to save four other soldiers, they never mentioned what he was being awarded. It was, of course, the Medal of Honor, posthumously. According to Wikipedia McGinnis is on of US servicemen to have thrown themselves on live grenades. The others were Marine Cpl. Jason Dunham, Navy SEAL Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael A. Monsoor, and Marine Rafael Peralta. Dunham and Monsoor were awarded the Medal of Honor and Peralta is waiting presidential approval.

5th century Coptic manuscript.

This manuscript represents a bit of a frustration for me. I had read Weitzmann, and some other sources so I thought I had a pretty good idea what were the important manuscripts. Then I checked out Lorenzo Crinelli's, Treasures from Italy's Great Libraries (New York, The Vendome Press, 1997). One of the early manuscripts was this 5th century Coptic Old Testament fragment (Naples, Biblioteca Vittorio Emanuele III, 1 B 18). Illustrated here is Job and his daughters. I wrote an article about it for Wikipedia. It makes me wonder though, how many more very early manuscripts am I missing? Are there other 5th century Coptic manuscripts. What about other eastern manuscripts. I know about Syriac manuscripts (The Rabula Gospels and the Bible in Paris) are there more? I haven't found a text in English on Coptic manuscripts, although there are some in French. It may be worth my while to struggle through them.

All of that aside, so that you won't have go read the Wikipedia article, here are the basics. This is a fragment of 5th century manuscript of the Old Testament written in the Coptic language. The manuscript has only 8 surviving folios and includes the text from the Book of Job and from Proverbs. One folio has a large pen drawing illustrating Job and his daughters with Job pictured as a bearded man wearing a crown and short tunic. His daughters wear tunics with jewels and diadems. The iconography of Job is very different in this manuscript from that in later centuries. Here he is seen as royal figure while in later portrayals he is seen as humbled and sitting on a dung heap.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Shines the name, shines the name

There seem to be few songs that celebrate individual or small groups of real soldiers or sailors. There is of course "The Sinking of the Reuben James", there is also the "Ballad of Ira Hayes", but that is really something different. And then there is the "Ballad of Roger Young", Roger Young and the Ballad are familiar to ever reader of Heinlein, of course, but he like so many heroes have otherwise slowly fallen into anonymity.

From his Medal of Honor citation (courtesy of Wikipedia)

On July 31, 1943, the infantry company of which Pvt. Young was a member, was ordered to make a limited withdrawal from the battle line in order to adjust the battalion's position for the night. At this time, Pvt. Young's platoon was engaged with the enemy in a dense jungle where observation was very limited. The platoon suddenly was pinned down by intense fire from a Japanese machine gun concealed on higher ground only 75 yards (69 m) away. The initial burst wounded Pvt. Young. As the platoon started to obey the order to withdraw, Pvt. Young called out that he could see the enemy emplacement, whereupon he started creeping toward it. Another burst from the machine gun wounded him the second time. Despite the wounds, he continued his heroic advance, attracting enemy fire and answering with rifle fire. When he was close enough to his objective, he began throwing hand grenades, and while doing so was hit again and killed. Pvt. Young's bold action in closing with this Japanese pillbox and thus diverting its fire, permitted his platoon to disengage itself, without loss, and was responsible for several enemy casualties.

What were their names.

Happy Memorial Day.

The USS Reuben James was the first United States Navy ship lost during World War II. It was named for Reuben James, a US Navy sailor who distinguished himself during the First Barbary War, in part by saving Steven Decatur's life during the burning of the USS Philadelphia.

Have you heard of the ship called the good Reuben James,
Manned by hard fighting men both of honor and of fame?
She flew the Stars and Stripes of the Land of the Free,
But tonight she's in her grave at the bottom of the sea.

Tell me what were their names, tell me what were their names,
Did you have a friend on the good Reuben James?
What were their names, tell me what were their names?
Did you have a friend on the good Reuben James?

One hundred men were drowned in that dark watery grave;
When that good ship went down, only forty-four were saved.
'Twas the last day of October we saved the forty-four
From the cold icy waters off that cold Iceland shore.

It was there in the dark of that uncertain night
That we watched for the U-boats and waited for a fight.
Then a whine and a rock and a great explosion roared
And they laid the Reuben James on that cold ocean floor.

Now tonight there are lights in our country so bright
On the farms and in the cities they're telling of the fight.
And now our mighty battleships will steam the bounding main
And remember the name of the good Reuben James.

-Woody Guthrie

The officers and men lost on the USS Reuben James, October 31, 1941.

John Francis Bauer Jr., Chief Radioman, USNR
Harold Hamner Beasley , Seaman first class, USN
James Mead Belden, Lieutenant, USNR
James Franklin Benson, Machinist's Mate second class, USN
Joseph Peter Biehl, Seaman second class, USN
Paul Rogers Boynton, Yeoman first class, USN
Harold Lelie Britt, Coxswain, USN
Herbert Ralph Burrell, Seaman second class, USN
Hartwell Lee Byrd, Seaman first class, USN
Leftwich Erastus Carbaugh, Jr., Fireman first class, USN
Joseph James Varuso, Radioman second class, USN
James Brantley Clark, Fire Controlman second class, USN
Raymond Cook, Mess Attendant first class, USN
Carl Eugene Cooperrider, Gunner's Mate third class, USN
Lawrence Randall Cosgrove, Gunner's Mate second class, USN
Alton Adelbert Cousins , Cheif Machinist's Mate (PA), U.S.N.R.,
Charles Beacon Cox, Chief Torpedoman (AA), USN
Dennis Howard Daniel, Yeoman third class, USN
John Justus Daub, Lieutenant (junior grade), USN
Lawrence Delaney Devereau, Chief Boatswain's Mate (PA), U.S.N.R.
Leonidas Camden Dickerson, Jr., Storekeeper third class, USN
Gilbert Joseph Doiron, Water Tender first class, USN
Karl Lee Drinkwalter, Seaman first class, USN
Nebraska Dunston, Mess Attennndant third class, USN
Corbon Dyson, Radioman third class, USN
Heywood Lane Edwards, Lieutenant Commander, USN (Commanding)
Gene Guy Evans, Boilermaker second class, USN
Linn Stewart Evans, Fire Controlman third class, USN
Carlyle Chester Everett, Fireman second class, USN
Edwin Louis Farley, Seaman first class, USN
John Joseph Fitzgerald, Quartermaster third class, USN
William Aloysius Flynn, Torpedoman second class, USN
Hartley Hardy Franks, Ship's Cook second class, USN
Ralph George French, Chief Commissary Steward, USN
Lester Carson Gaskins, Machinist's Mate first class, USN
Benjamin Ghetzler, Lieutenant, USN
John Calvin Greer, Chief Electrician's Mate (PA), USN
Ernest Dwane Grey, Jr., Seaman second class, USN
Arthur Raymond Griffin, Signalman second class, USN
Donald Knapp Gunn, Seaman second class, USN
Charles Waldon Harris, Seaman second class, USN
Charles Chester Hayes, Seaman second class, USN
William Henry Henniger, Gunner's Mate first class, USN
Francis Robert Hogan, Gunners' Mate third class, USN
Hugh House, Gunner's Mate third class, USN
Maurice Woodrow Hudlin, Fireman first class, USN
Joseph Johnson, Mess Attendant first class, USN
Dewey George Johnston, Lieutenant, USN
Glen W. Jones, Chief Quartermaster (PA), USN
Anthony J., Kalanta Boatswain's Mate second class, USN
Leonard A. Keever Chief Machinist's Mate (PA), USNR
Ralph W.H. Kloepper, Signalman third class, Class V-3, USNR
Joseph Gustave Little, Seaman first class, USN
Paul L. Magaris, Radioman first class, USN
William James McKeever, Sean second class, USN
Windell Harmon Merrell, Fireman second class, USN
Auburn F. Merritt, Seaman second class, USN
Gerald Edward Mills, Seaman second class, Class V-1, USNR
Albert J. Mondouk, Chief Water Tender (PA), USNR
Edgar W. Musslewhite, Machinist's Mate first class, USN
Kenneth Cecil Neely, Seaman second class, USN
Aldon W., Neptune Seaman first class, USN
William Harding Newton, Yeoman third class, USN
Harold J. Orange, Seaman second class, USN
Pedro Ortizuela, Officer's Cook first class, USN
Benjamin T. Owen, Seaman first class, USN
William H. Painter, Seaman first class, USN
Joseph J. Parkin, Chief Water Tender (PA), USN
William N. Paterson , Coxswain, USN
Burl G. Pennington, Quartermaster second class, USN
Joseph C. Polizzi, Seaman first class, USN
Corwin D. Porter, Seaman first class, USN
Frederick R. Post, Boatswain's Mate first class, USN
Lee P. Powell, Pharmacist's Mate first class, USN
Elmer R. Rayhill, Seaman second class, USN
Lee Louis N. Reid, Torpedoman first class, Class V-6, USNR
John R. Ress, Seaman first class, USN
James W. Rogers, Seaman first class, USN
John J. Ryan, Jr., Coxswain, USN
Clarence Rygwelski, Seaman second class, USN
Edward Peter Saltis, Boatswain's Mate first class, USN
Eugene Schlotthauer, Chief Water Tender (AA), USN
Sunny J. Settle, Seaman first class, USN
Walter Sorensen, Gunner's Mate third class, USN
Wallace L. Sowers, Seaman second class, USN
Craig Spowers, Ensign, USN
Anthony Gedminus Stankus, Seaman second class, USN
Jerome Stelmach, Seaman first class, USN
Wilton L. Taylor, Fireman first class, USN
George F. Towers, Chief Gunner's Mate (AA), USN
Lewis Aubrey Turner, Signalman third class, USN
Loyd Z. Voiles, Seaman first class, USN
Harold M. Vore, Fireman first class, USN
Howard Voyer Wade, Ensign, USNR
Jesse Weaver, Seaman first class, USN
Chester L. Welch, Fireman second class, USN
Kenneth R. Wharton, Fire Controlman first class, USNR
George Woody, Jr., Seaman first class, USN
Edwin E. Wray, Seaman first class, USN

Thanks to my brother.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The irony of the internet.

On my music blog, I posted about a couple songs on shipwrecks, specifically "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" by Gordon Lightfoot and the "The Sinking of the Reuben James" by Woody Guthrie. In light of the "What were their names, What were their names" chorus of the "Reuben James", I initially wanted to include list of the names of the men lost on both ships. However, a Google search failed to turn a list of the names of the men lost on the Reuben James, but it did turn up a list of the names of the men on U-Boat 552, the German submarine that sank the USS Reuben James.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Bag of guns

Another tale from the surgery department of the big-city trauma center.

No story that begins, "My buddy brought over this bag of guns." is going to end well.

He survived.

Stupid Names

One of the joys of working in medicine or any other field in which you see many peoples' names, is the opportunity to see truly stupid names people inflict upon their children. For years I thought that the winner was the two separate women my wife found when working for the state Tax Commission named Aquaneta. But we have a new winner. This is, sadly, third hand so it is beginning to rise to the level of urban legend.

One of our fine CRNA's at work tells the story from his days in anesthesia school. It seems that one of his colleagues had child patient. Paperwork had his name as "Liam". No problem, Lee-Um, nice Irish name. Anesthesia student goes into room and starts the usual routine, "What is little Lee-Um having done today?" Cold response from mother "His name is "Yum". "Oh, I'm sorry, we have his name as Liam." "It's pronounced Yum." I'm going to interject here that this family were white. I only mention this because some of the transliteration schemes for Asian and African languages can lead to surprising pronunciations. That's not in play here. Back to the story. Stunned silence. "OK, I'm just curious, how do get "Yum" out of L-I-A-M?" "He's named after his father......William."

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Hot chicks with guns

One of the medical blogs I read, M.D.O.D. is written by several ER docs. One of them is vacationing in Israel. He seems to be have made a hobby of taking pictures of attractive young female IDF members and including the pictures in his blog entries. Just because. He doesn't really talk about them, he just puts the pictures in.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Tulsa before the railroad: Taylor Postoak Home

One of my original ideas in setting up this is blog is that I would talk about Tulsa's architectural history. So far I have done nothing on that. Here is a start. I want to examine some of the evidence for buildings in the Tulsa area prior to the arrival of the railroad. The pictures below were taken from the Beryl Ford Collection, provided online courtesy of the Tulsa City County Library.

Modern Tulsa got its start with the arrival of the railroad in 1882. Tulsa was initially the terminus of the railroad and loading point for cattle driven up from Texas. A small town quickly grew up around the rail station.

Tulsa's history, however, did not begin then. Plains Indians had, particularly the Osage and Wichita lived in the area for centuries before 1882. Folsom points have been found in the area. The areas architectural history started with the arrival of the Creeks in the 1830s. The Lochapoka Creek set up a traditional Creek village centered around a square near present day 18th and Cincinnati. The American Civil War was disastrous for the Creek tribe, as it became a Creek Civil War as well. The Lochapoka village was burned and the inhabitants were driven away, into Kansas. After the war ended, the villagers returned, but they did not rebuild the village. Instead they built scattered cabins and houses. Very little remains from this period.

Below is one of the photographs of buildings from this period in and around Tulsa.

According to the Beryl Ford collection, this is the Taylor Postoak home in about 1865. It was located about 1 mile south of the current site of Rader Juvenile Detention Center, on the south side of the Arkansas River. According to an interview with his son, Lincoln Postoak, Taylor was a full blood Creek who was removed to Oklahoma from the East and who fought for the Union during the Civil War. Lincoln was born in 1868, so the if the date on the picture is correct, he is not one of the children in this picture. The children are identified as great granddaughters Bessie and Amy Fife with their father Soda Fife. I, however, have doubts about the date of the picture. Most of the homes in the area were burned during the Civil War. This is an awfully substantial house to have been built in the few months after the war ended. Note that the leaves are still on the trees so this was taken in the summer or very early fall. This photo is surely from at least few years later. The problem is according to Lincoln, by 1868 the family had moved to the vicinity of Coweta.

Regardless of date and identity, this a well built house with clapboard siding of at least two rooms. It is built on a cut stone foundation. The shingle covered roof incorporates the large front porch. The tree and the horse in the foreground block what appears to be a smaller log cabin with a stone chimney. Foliage is visible between and behind the two houses, so these two buildings are not connected. You can't tell what is behind the clapboard, but the Will Rogers Birthplace has similar clapboard siding on a log cabin (see image below). According to the Beryl Ford collection, the Postoak home later burned.

Yet another blog.

I started yet another blog. This one is basically masturbatory exercise. (Not that any other blog isn't). This one will consist of links to and my commentary on music I like for various reasons. I don't expect anyone to be too interested. It is over there.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Songs of dead people 2.

One of the best songs ever, Kilkelly, Ireland.

This version sung by Maloney, O'Connell and Keane.

Total running time 13:06

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Songs of dead people.

Years ago, I was an assistant scoutmaster for a scout troop in Tulsa. When I drove to camp-outs a few of the kids rode in my car. I had some mix tapes I had recorded of Celtic music that I played a lot. One trip, one thes kids asked "Does some one die in all of these songs?" As I realized he was right. Someone died in everyone of the songs on the tape.

My brother is compiling a list of songs to "scare normal people".

I thought I might try to recreate my long lost mix tape and compile a list of songs in which people die. Most of these songs will be Celtic or English folk. I'm looking for a running time of about 90 minutes.

To start with, here's a song to rip your heart out.

Total running time 6:25

Sorry Sammy

Between work and the Elder Daughter's lessons, I have to go to Tulsa 5 times a week. That's a 90-120 mile round trip, depending on where in Tulsa I need to go.

Gas cost today, $3.39.

I've always claimed that this was the great protest song of my generation.

Driving the speed limit can cut you gas mileage by as much as 20%.

I'm sorry Sammy, I can drive 55.


Thursday, April 24, 2008

Owned by grandma

It doesn't pay to mess with some old ladies.

46 year old ex con held off by 95 year old woman in wheel chair with a screwdriver.

Film at 11.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Medieval Survey bibliography

I would like to compile a bibliography of medieval art. In part it serves as a wish list, in case I ever win the lottery. This is a start, these works are surveys of the entire Medieval period. The only ones I am familiar with are the Calkins, which I own; the 1st edition of the Snyder, which was my Medieval Art textbook at OU; and the Stokstad which I have seen in the library. I quick look via Google at a few syllabuses for Medieval Art surveys seems to show the Snyder and Stokstad are the two most common textbooks in use. I hope to get my hands on the all of these in the near future. I f I do so, I may repost an annotated version of this.

Benton, Janetta Rebold, Art of the Middle Ages, New York, N.Y. : Thames & Hudson, 2002.

Calkins, Robert G., Monuments of Medieval Art. Ithaca : Cornell University Press, [1985?], c1979.

Focillon, Henri, (trans. Donald King). The Art of the West in the Middle Ages, 2 Volumes. London, New York, Phaidon, 1969.

Kessler, Herbert L, Seeing Medieval Art, Peterborough, Ont. ; Orchard Park, NY : Broadview Press, c2004.

Lacroix, Paul. Arts In the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. New York, F. Ungar Pub. Co. [1964]

Lethaby, William Richard, Medieval Art From the Peace of the Church to the Eve of the Renaissance, 312-1350., London, Duckworth and co., New York, C. Scribner’s sons, 1904.

Luttikhuizen, Henry and Dorothy Verkerk, eds., Snyder's Medieval Art, Second Edition, Upper Saddle River, NJ : Prentice Hall, 2006.

Morey Charles Rufus, Mediaeval Art New York, W. W. Norton & company, inc. [1942]

Reber, Franz von, History of Mediaeval Art, New York, Harper & brothers, 1887.

Sekules, Veronica, Medieval Art, Oxford : Oxford University Press, 2001.

Snyder, James; Medieval Art: Painting, Sculpture, Architecture 4th-14th Century; New York : H.N. Abrams, 1989; Upper Saddle River, NJ : Prentice Hall, 2006.

Stokstad, Marilyn, Medieval Art, 2nd ed., Boulder, Colo. : Westview Press, c2004.

Zarnecki, George, Art of the Medieval World, Architecture, Sculpture, Painting, the Sacred Arts, Englewood Cliffs, N.J. : Prentice-Hall, 1975.

Ender's Obama

Orson Scott Card wrote one of the best science fiction novels of all time.

It seems he also blogs a weekly column, and he has written one of the best examinations of Obama's "bitter" remarks I have seen. He makes the obvious point (at least it's obvious once he points it out) that no one in a small town is bitter because they lost their jobs twenty five years ago and couldn't find any other work, because those people left to find jobs elsewhere. That's why small towns are getting smaller.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Doctors are wealthy. No big surprise there, but given what they do most people don't begrudge them that. You want smart, skilled people to there when you come into the ER at 3:00 AM with a heart attack, or stroke, or injury. The only way that will happen is if you pay them well.

Not every body sees it that way though. The Tulsa World recently ran a letter from a gentlemen who refers today's doctors as "capitalist businessmen who masquerade as doctors", and hopes for the day of socialized medicine. Seems he doesn't like being asked how he is going to pay for the services he receives. He draws a comparison between today's routine office visit and the procedures during a disaster. I've been in a hospital during a big disaster. The ER saw hundreds of patients, and I bet not one was asked anything about finances.

All this is interesting, because I read the letter in the OR break room. When I was done with my break, I went and gave a lunch break in the trauma ortho room. On that room, a board certified, fellowship trained, trauma orthopedist was fixing a horrible break to the proximal humerus on a young man who had wrecked his motorcycle. He was assisted by two certified scrub techs and two certified radiology techs. There was a board certified anesthesiologist given anesthesia. The surgeon was using some very sophisticated (and expensive) plates and screws to fix the multiple fractures. A representative of the company that made the plates was in the room to make sure everything went well with his products. This is a lot of talent and expensive technology being used by this young man. Now many young men who crash motorcycles don't have a lot of insurance. This young man had several tattoos, one reading "Thug Life Bitch", and another reading "Fuck All". (We were left wondering if the thought was left incomplete, Fuck all... accountants, public employees, goats?) I may be showing bias, but I think it is safe to say the surgeon, the anesthesiologist, and the hospital are not going to be paid for this man's care. Some times life provides a nice ironic juxtaposition.

If you have the right to demand my services, and I have no right to demand to be compensated for my labor, then I am your slave.

Scrub tech blog?

It seems that scrub techs don't blog much about their jobs. There are several emergency room and ambulance people blogging, but I have yet to find a single scrub tech blogging about the job. There are scrub techs with blogs, but they seem to all be for sharing family pictures and stories. I guess this is because the job doesn't provide the same number of interactions with a wide variety of people. I really big case will have maybe six or seven people in the room plus the (unconscious) patient, and will last for several hours. The average ER person will see dozens of people in that time. Just more opportunity I guess to have those unusual experiences.

Monday, April 21, 2008

13 years

I was working on Saturday, so for the first time didn't actually note the date. It's been thirteen years since Oklahoma City. I was in OKC. I heard the bomb go off. Although, I no longer worked there, I went into St. Anthony's and scrubbed. It was six blocks from the Federal Building. Normally when I scrub a case, I never even notice the patient's name. I still remember the most serious patient's name. I called the ICU for two weeks checking on her.

13 years. I no longer think about every day, or every week, but it is always there, and always will be. When September 11 came around, I wasn't shocked. Angry and horrified, yes. Shocked, no. The world is not safe.

Another memory from that day. When the first rush was over, I went to the break room to wait. There were boxes of Sonic hamburgers. It seems that Sonic decided to send food to the hospitals. They knew there would be a lot of people working a lot of hours. No one asked, but they sensed a need that they could fill and then filled it. I will always be a Sonic customer.

There was a lot of people seeing needs and filling them. St. Anthony's, being the closest hospital, saw hundred of walking wounded in a very few hours. Many of them had lacerations that needed stitches. They were able to get them, in part, because Luanna, the Scrub Tech who was in charge of central supply, had people tear apart all of the non essential sets, the GYN sets and the like, and reassemble the instruments into suture trays; needle holder, forceps, two hemostats, and scissors. Lord knows how many people made similar contributions.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Red Army Choir

My brother is compiling a list of songs "to scare normals with." Things like punk bagpipes, and songs with refrains of "how many of them can we make die".

This is scary in another way. Bet you never knew that the "Song of Volga Boatmen" went so well with Lynyrd Skynyrd.

One Way Streets Suck

If you have ever driven in downtown Tulsa, you know that it is a maze of one way streets. Now I lived in Tulsa most of my life and know my way around downtown. I know which streets go which way. More importantly, I know to always look and determine which way traffic flows, before I turn onto any street. Even if I am certain which way the street runs, I look. Since I'm used to them, the one way streets never bothered me.

Today, I was taking the family to the Violin Shop (which I cannot recommend highly enough) to have some minor work done on the Elder Daughter's violin. The Violin Shop is on the north side of the tracks, and I chose to cross the tracks on Detroit Ave, here. Now, if you aren't familiar with the area, or can't tell from the satellite shot, Detroit crosses the railroad tracks via an overpass the rises and drops over twenty feet in about a city block. It's a big hill, and you can't see the other side until you are right at the top. It is also one-way, north. (I'm sure you can see where this is going.) When I was almost to the top of the hill, this crappy, mid 80's import comes bopping over the hill, right towards me, and in my lane. Did I mention the bus right behind me in the lane to the right? Somehow, I and he managed to not trigger my airbags. I went on my way saying things like, "gee that was interesting". I didn't even need to change my shorts.

Now, I think the one way streets are a bad idea. At least over blind overpasses.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Museum blog

I've started another blog, this one as place for me to gather together in one place info on the various exhibitions being put on by museums. I'm starting with Oklahoma museums, but will broaden the reach as time goes by. Posts there will not make it onto this blog.

Harvest Time

This weekend we had an organ harvest. I hate organ harvests. Hate them. Will do any other case in the OR, with any doctor for any amount of time in order to not do them.

The reason I hate them is not rational, but what it comes down to, is I don't want to be part of the machinery of death. Don't get me wrong, I fully understand that these people are already dead. I accept, at least intellectually, the concept of brain death. We are not killing them. I have no problem with organ transplantation. I will happily participate in an organ transplant. (OK, not happily, but as a happy as I am to do any other long surgery with finicky surgeons.) If I needed it, I would sign up in a heartbeat to be organ recipient. If it weren't for my medical history, I would be an organ donor.

None of that matters. We bring a patient into the room with a pulse and 02 sats, and then we take out organs and turn the machines off and send the patient to the morgue. In the pit of my stomach it feels like we are causing death. I've tried, I can't get around it. It gives me nightmares.

Luckily, the other tech on my shift doesn't have these qualms. She understands my reservations and does all of them. This weekend it looked like the cases were going to fall in such a way that I would have to do this one. I was going to suck it up and do it, but man it depressed me. But my coworker came through. Thank you.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

This should not have to be said.

Another work weekend.

I know it is spring, because the lawnmowers are out.

For those of you who might forget, power lawnmowers have large, rapidly spinning blades underneath them. Don't stick you fingers under there.

This weekend's patient only lost the tip of one finger.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008


Taking a cue from my brother, I have sort of split up this blog. I have copied all of my medieval art posts over to a new blog, Monstrous Beauty. Although I will be posting all of my medieval stuff there, I will also post it here, so if you are interested in finding out what birds I've seen lately and whatever manuscript takes my fancy you can read here. If you are only interested in the art, you can stay over there. I expect I will split out the birds also. I also will be starting a blog on Oklahoma architecture and history and another on political rants. Again if you want the full experience, stay here. There will be material here that won't be found elsewhere.

On the new blog, I intend to discuss not only manuscripts, but the whole range of medieval art. I reserve the right to define "medieval" and "art" however the hell I wish. I also hope to be able to point to other resources on medieval art. On the name, Monstrous Beauty, it comes from Bernard of Clairvaux, who when discussing (and denouncing) the Romanesque art that decorated the churches of his day railed against the "beautiful monstrosities and monstrous beauties" he found. I like Romanesque art, and the term "Monstrous Beauty" is indeed a great description of it.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Eagle Has Landed, Tell Your Children

I was six years old when Apollo 11 went to the Moon. That makes me part of the youngest group of people who can remember when the space program was something brave, bold and exciting. Because I was so young, I only got a glimpse of the excitement of the era, and then mostly by reading SF in later years. One can't read Heinlein and not realize what it all meant, even if you can't feel it. In the decades since, the space program has swung from tragedy to tedium, but has never really inspired. Maybe one day it will. There is always a little piece of me that is that little boy, excitedly watching, but not really understanding, or the teen reading alone in my room and dreaming of rockets, that sits and hopes.

All of this is really an excuse to provide a link to a video I found on YouTube that made me tear up. The song is by Leslie Fish, who oddly enough also set the Kipling poem. "The Song of the Picts" to music. This song is probably one of the best loved filks in the SCA. It is strange how worlds interconnect.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


I have found a new way to waste time. I recently started using It is a site that streams "stations" at you that gives you some control over what you hear. They have several preloaded stations, but you can also create your station by entering the names of an artists or songs. As you song is played you can give it up a thumbs up or thumbs down. If you vote thumbs down, it bans the song form that station. If you vote thumbs p, it feeds you more songs like it. The idea is that, as you give more opinions, the station will learn your tastes and play more music that you like and less that you don't. The thumbs up and down only applies to the particular station you are listening to at the moment. That way if you have a blues station and jazz station, voting against a blues song on your jazz station won't keep it off your blues station.

It all works because they analyze each piece of music before they put it into their database. After analyzing it the tag each piece with attributes like "folk styling", "syncopated rhythms", "extensive vamping", "extensive use of the mandolin" and the like. The more attributes two songs have in common the more likely you will have a similar reaction to them both. It works pretty well, although it does tend to get stuck in a rut sometimes. Since it is mostly based on a what a piece sounds like rather than what it is, it can become difficult to build a station that plays only, say Irish traditional music. (I'm trying.) It seems that this system doesn't see a lot of difference between Irish music and bluegrass. However, if you thumbs down an artist twice, without giving them a thumbs up, it will ban them from the station forever. I've gotten rid of most of the obvious bluegrass players, but the system keeps throwing new, more obscure players at me.

Which leads me to a the next point, it is great at finding new things you never heard of, but wish you had. Case in point, I am a big fan of Sandy Denny, June Tabor, Maddy Prior and some of the other female singers from the British folk-rock scene and folk revival scene. Through Pandora, I've discovered Anne Briggs. She was enormously influential on all of the singers I like, but she only recorded about 30 songs over a few years and quit the music business at the age of 27. But in that amount of time she changed how all British female folk singers sang. She has since been eclipsed by Denny, Tabor and the rest.

Like I said, a great way to waste time.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Osage Hills State Park

After an unplanned flat tire consumed almost two hours, the family had to scrub its plan for a trip to Little House on the Prairie. However, rather than waste the picnic lunch packed by the wife, we decided to visit Osage Hills State Park. Osage Hills is one of the lesser known state parks in Oklahoma. It isn't attached to a large reservoir, like Keystone, or have some odd natural feature like Alabaster Caverns or Little Sahara. It is just several hundred acres of scrub oak and juniper forest with a medium sized creek running through it that has been left alone for decades. There are the usual campsites. The tent campers are segregated away from the RVs, which is nice for the tent campers. They have some nice cabins and a swimming pool that is open in the summer and a nice picnic area. There are a couple of miles of trails over relative rough terrain. A nice place to spend an afternoon or weekend and look at a few birds and maybe see some deer. What they also have is a quite good collection of structures built by the Civilian Conservation Corps. There are is a very nice picnic shelter (pictured here), a scenic over-look tower, a nice single arch bridge, a no-longer in use restroom, plus a collection of picnic table, culverts, roads and trails and the like. There is also a dam for small lake that I believe was built by the CCC. I think the cabins were also built by the CCC. The other thing is that the remains of the camp where the CCC boys lived are still there. mostly just some foundations, but also a still standing stone chimney. Way off in the woods stands a stone shack where the explosives were kept. There is also building that looks as if it might have been a jail or something. For someone interested in CCC architecture or the social history of the state, it is an important site. Given that just about any armory built by the WPA still standing qualifies for the National Register of Historic Places, I would think that the whole park would qualify.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Today's birds

I went over to the Pathfinder trail this morning looking birds. I got there and discovered that my binoculars were not in the car. I used one of the backup pair, even though they are not as good. When I got out, there was a tremendous racket going on. There was a large flock of black birds in the trees and on the ground. Between the poor position of the sun, my crappy binoculars and my inability to ID icterids, I don't know what kind of blackbirds they were. I heard a call that was similar to the Red-Wing Blackbird's Kon-ker-ee, but wasn't quite right. I also didn't see any wing epaulets. Probably the same flock I saw last week and failed to ID. The highlight of the trip was flushing a pair of Wood Ducks off the river, and being able to ID them. I've never seen ducks on the Caney through town. I also saw, and heard my first Fish Crows of the year.

The list:

American Robin (flocks of them)
Blue Jay
Northern Cardinal
Downy Woodpecker
Red-Tailed Hawk
Turkey Vulture
Carolina Chickadee
American Crow
Fish Crow
Canada Goose
Wood Duck

Brings the family total to 41 for the year.

Last of the trio.

Arthur C. Clarke died this morning, the last of three greats of science fiction. Heinlein died in 1988 when I was in El Paso. Asimov died in 1992, when I was in Norman. It's odd that I know when and where I was when I read of each ones death. Sort of like baby boomers and John Lennon. Between the three, they constituted probably 20% of my reading between the ages of 14 and 25.

Clarke had a great run. Not only some of the best SF novels and short stories of all time, but part of the team that won the Battle of Britain. (Not the guys in the planes, the guys inventing radar.) Worked out the math for the geosynchronous satellite, and popularized the idea of the space elevator. His work with Kubrick on 2001 helped bring SF out of the pulp ghetto, although it is by far his weakest novel. Of the three greats, Clarke was most wide ranging. He could base novels around a big piece of technology (The Fountains of Paradise), yet not have the novel be about the technology. He was the first SF writer to write anything original, or interesting about religion.

He will be missed. RIP Sir Arthur.

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."