Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Around the World Alone Non-Stop

Today marks the 40-year anniversary of a remarkable feat of single-handed sailing. On April 22, 1969, Robin Knox-Johnston became the first man to sail around the world alone and unaided, without making a single stop or taking on supplies at any point in the journey. A psychiatrist who interviewed him pronounced him "distressingly normal." Sir Robin Knox-Johnston (yes, of course he was knighted) later commented that the psychiatrist seemed a bit off. Knox-Johnston, now 70, keeps up an active career training new sailors for great adventures. Congratulations Sir Robin!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Bang the Drum Slowly

Here, like a patient etherized on a table and chopped into tiny bits, lie the disjecta membra of one component of a theatre pipe organ made by the Kilgen Organ Company of St. Louis, MO, for the Alberston Theatre in Kane, PA, in 1928. All wooden pieces have been cleaned and given a new coat of shellac. Worn out leather and rubber cloth has been replaced with new material. Now let's see if I can put it back together. When complete, this mechanism will operate the bass drum and crash cymbal. Check back in a couple of years.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Mexico City Metro

some footage from the Metro (subway) in Mexico City, taken March 25 on our way to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe. This stretch of the journey featured live music at no extra charge to the traveling public. During other parts of the ride, vendors would board to offer us CDs of popular music at the very reasonable price of 10 pesos (less than a dollar). I did not buy any.

Monday, April 6, 2009

And That's Just the Novices

The Missionary Servants of the Word are young, happy, and on fire for the mission to spread the Gospel of Christ with Bible in hand. That's what I learned during my recent trip to Mexico City. I also learned that they are going to send, not three, but four sisters to our parish in August. Hooray! Where are we going to put them? How are we going to pay for it? Don't forget, you are all invited to a very special event to raise funds for our new convent.
Mexico City and environs, known as the "Federal District", form a vast nightmarish landscape, like Mordor with really good food. 22 million persons inhabit the "DF" and I tip my hat to them, because you have to be really tough to live there. Just getting to work is hard work. Commuting times are long, roads are bumpy, and the traffic is indescribable. Drivers make up rules of the road as they go along. In addition to the usual stop signs and speed limit signs, the authorities have put up signs reminding people to do what the signs tell them to do. Let's think about the thought process that went into this decision. (1) authorities notice that drivers ignore speed limit signs (2) authorities notice that drivers ignore "yield" signs (3) authorities notice that drivers ignore "one way" signs (4) authorities conclude that additional signs reminding drivers to respect existing signs are a good investment. Now you understand Mexico.
On the plus side, I found that the Metro (subway) was mnre comfortable than that of Rome, even though Mexico City's Metro isn't a real subway in my opinion, because it has rubber tires. Real trains have steel wheels. Still, the trains are pretty clean, well lit, not too noisy, and the stations and platforms are of ample dimensions. I have seen much worse in New York City.