Among other things, I really don’t get this weather

image by Michael Tinkler
image, a photo by Michael Tinkler on Flickr.

This was yesterday on the way home. Every year, the snowflakes show less and less on my hair . . . où sont les neiges d’antan?

We seem to have dodged the snowpocalypse – the weather maps are all much re-designed.

This morning the temperature is 32.2 degrees but the snow is falling steadily. I think it’s accumulating where there was already snow, but sidewalks and streets are staying clear (if slushy). I don’t have to go outside until later, when I need to walk a sick friend’s dog.

Sobering Report from Lower Manhattan

6) I did not witness a single Red Cross Truck or FEMA Vehicle or in lower Manhattan. Recall the assistance these agencies provided after 9/11 – this is NOT HAPPENING. There are bound to be hundreds of elderly people, rich and poor, who live on the upper floors of buildings with elevators that are now disabled. IF POWER IS NOT RESTORED, THIS WILL MOVE FROM BEING AN ECONOMIC DISASTER TO A HUMANITARIAN DISASTER.

For everyone who thinks government does it better – go read the whole thing.


I’ve figured it out – my body is recapitulating all my worst illnesses, in order.

Bronchitis in the place of pneumonia (that was when I was 23?). Started last week, still going on.

Crazy GI symptoms that remind me of pancreatitis (Christmas break when I was 25). I seem to have survived them, but Wednesday night I thought about going to the E.R. I was still pretty uncomfortable yesterday, but ok today.

Today I’m having the kind of wrist pain that kicked off the carpal tunnel years (34-35, the endgame of the dissertation). I’ve been icing it and wearing my old wrist brace since noon.

What’s tomorrow? Some version of the lung abcess-driven pneumonia from the summer of 2001? If so, I quit!

Orvieto for a day

Orvieto Cathedral

Originally uploaded by Michael Tinkler.

I combined a pedagogical need with a desire to get out of Rome for a day and took a train to Orvieto for the afternoon. You see, spring is here, but it’s still hard to find in the Centro. So I wanted some blooming trees! We’re taking the class to Orvieto in April and I needed to preview. I’m neurotic that way – I don’t like taking groups somewhere I haven’t been.

So – a little less than a 90 minute train ride, funicular to the top of the rock (JUST like the Incline in Chattanooga, only not so long), wandering around a city built of local stone, visiting a GREAT cathedral (along with about a thousand Italian high school students on field trips), seeing the Luca Signorelli Apocalypse frescoes, finding a good restaurant, wandering some more, and then the train home.

The Signorelli frescoes were tremendous and I was almost alone with them. Unfortunately, that “almost” was a guard, so I had to obey the sign that said “no photo.” Alas. Here’s a page with good photographs, but it’s commercial and may not last. And Orvieto is in Umbria, anyway. Typical Tuscan, trying to claim all the art for Tuscany. The official website is hard to navigate. Wikipedia’s photos are not adequate.

Still, I could see all I wanted. The chapel of the corporal was a different problem. I could barely edge my way into the chapel, which was built to house the miraculous corporal of Bolsena, That’s where all the Italian students were going, sitting down in the pews, and getting lectured to. It was not, shall we say, a devotional atmosphere.

Danteblogging Purgatory Canto XVI

Purgatory Canto XVI
The Wrathful in Canto XVI, already on their way to correction, sing the sweetest liturgical chant, the Agnus Dei. One of my New Testament study sheets for art history students is all about lambs and shepherds — and students explore the transformation of the Lamb of God into the Lamb on the Throne in the Apocalypse. It’s a good lesson for the angry as they untie what Dante describes as the “knot of anger” (Purg XVI.23).
Vision fails on this ledge, because a thick smoke fills the air. People can still here Dante speaking Tuscan, though, and Dante falls in with a Lombard. The Lombard explains how men confuse astrology with fixed fate, as though the stars destroy free will. Instead,

The heavens give your movements their first nudge–
  not alll your movements, but let’s grant that too–
  still, light is given that you may freely judge
And choose the good or evil , and should free will
  grow weary in the first battles with the stars,
  foster it well and it will win the day.
You men lie subject to that One who made
  you free …. (Purg XVI.73-80)

It’s the nature/nurture argument, with Dante saying that fate nudges us, but we don’t have to do what fate says, nor do genes always win. The souls in Purgatory are learning to be really free.
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