PHILADELPHIA REFLECTIONS
Musings of a Philadelphia Physician who has served the community for six decades

Return to Home

Volumes

Personal
New volume 2012-07-04 14:03:33 description

Favorites Podcasts

Recordings of Dr. Fisher's personal favorites.

An audio introduction to the style and season of Dr. Fisher's reflections.

Curtis: Fainting Spells (Podcast)

{Mexico}
Curtis Building

http://www.philadelphia-reflections.com/blog/2057.htm


Christmas Reflections (Podcast)

http://www.philadelphia-reflections.com/images/missing_img.gif

http://www.philadelphia-reflections.com/blog/2045.htm


Easter Sunrise in Philadelphia

Download the video player from apple.com/quicktime
Download the video player from apple.com/quicktime
Listen to the narration

William Penn first advertised the layout of his new city in a book by Thomas Holmes published in 1683. Records are lacking about how these plans developed, how much of the idea came from Holmes, how much of the rest was carefully planned, versus how much just worked out. There's not much doubt the streets were laid out in a square grid. And the "numbered" streets all run North and South, following the compass path. These two ideas make it inevitable that the cross streets named after trees would run due East and West. That's enough for a sketch, and whether anyone thought about it further is not clear.

However, the consequences of this layout are that if you looked East at the sunrise on March 21, the rising sun would be exactly framed within the streets, whether they are lined with trees or lined with skyscrapers. That would make quite an Easter morning, with every cross street in the city pointed exactly but briefly at the rising sun.

http://www.philadelphia-reflections.com/images/missing_img.gif
Thomas Holmes

Let your imagination run on this idea, a little. The exact day of Easter varies a little because of the Biblical definition of Passover to which it is linked, and the Eastern Orthodox Easter varies from that. With Philadelphia providing a forceful example of the utility of using an astronomical definition which was probably the original basis for all the religious traditions, maybe it would even become easier to remember just what date Easter is, each year. Or, perhaps things would go haywire the way things did in Brazil. Magellan sailed into what looked like the mouth of a big river on January 1, 1520, so he named it the Rio de Janeiro. They have an enormous Mummers-like celebration down there in Rio every New Year's, in spite of the awkward fact that it's just a big bay, there is no river there at all, and the dates for Christmas are astronomically a little mixed-up too.

Well, to get back to William Penn, his streets run North and South from Magnetic North. Even though it's quite a natural mistake to make in the Seventeenth Century, that's six degrees off from True North. So the astronomical transformation of Philadelphia into one big humongous Easter sunrise celebration never happened.

We'll never know for certain, but, on reflection, that may be just as well.

http://www.philadelphia-reflections.com/blog/449.htm


Abortion (Podcast)

{Mexico}
Roe v. Wade

http://www.philadelphia-reflections.com/blog/2055.htm


Sanctuaria Mariposa (Podcast)

{Mexico}
Mexico

http://www.philadelphia-reflections.com/blog/2053.htm


ZNOTE: Swashbuckler (Podcast)

http://www.philadelphia-reflections.com/blog/2058.htm


ZNOTE: The Swendenborg Church (Podcast)

http://www.philadelphia-reflections.com/blog/2059.htm


Passage to India

{Palce on Wheel Train}
Palace on Wheels

Journalists tactfully intone that India has fallen behind in its infrastructure. Translation: it's often at real risk of your life to cross a street. The Indian road system is overwhelmed by avalanches of rickshaws, tick tocks (motorcycle rickshaws), little cars, big cars, buses, trucks and motorcycles. All vehicles seem to be driven by teenaged maniacs, honking their horns and driving straight at you; the motor accident rate in India is among the worst in the world. It's not just a statistic. One tour bus we were riding bashed into a motorcyclist, and just kept on going even though the passengers yelled and banged on the windows. Conclusion: airplanes and trains are the only reasonably comfortable ways to travel in India today. In another twenty years, things will surely improve or India must strangle, but right now you better save your pennies to afford the Palace on Wheels. That's a tourist train making a big continuous loop through the main tourist attractions of central India, beginning and ending in New Delhi every Wednesday.

{Taj Mahal}
Taj Mahal

You would have to be pretty aloof to avoid acknowledging the other seven passengers who share a sleeping car with you: four bedrooms, two houseboys and a living room. And you soon enough know the busload (thirty passengers) in your guide group. Ours was the Pink Group, definitely not named for its political leanings. With the passengers from four bedroom cars, you also share a bar car, arranged in a facing circle of overstuffed furniture, (just as you see extended families in Bollywood movies), a sitting in one of the dining cars, and one tour bus with a Pink sign in the window. Thus organized, the twenty-car train with three trailing buses carries a hundred tourists with well-practiced efficiency in style which claims to treat each passenger as a maharajah. It is true these modern rajahs do not have three hundred concubines or twelve wives, as the real ones did. But the briefest reflection confirms that no sane man would want twelve wives or more than, say, twenty concubines. So the tourist's condition could in a way be held superior to that of any real maharajah. The central point at the moment, however, is that the arrangement of this brief collection of strangers lends itself to gossip and reckless self-description, sort of like a rolling girls' boarding school. There's really nothing much to talk about except each other, and only eight members in the conversation group.

{The Pink Group}
The Pink Group

While it was hard to overlook the mixed-ethnicity elderly couple in our midst, it was of course the ladies of the party who quickly assembled the essential bits of intelligence available. These two, an elderly Indian man with a broad smile and broader paunch, plus a thin wisp of a little white lady with the grace and social command of a duchess, had been friends in a Canadian nursing home where their children had placed them, had both lost their spouses, and then eloped to freedom. By escaping from the hateful nursing home they saved $9000 a month, so it really must have been a pretty upscale CCRC, or retirement village. In Canada there is lots of snow, cozy like an igloo all winter, but unquestionably confining. A little bit of scientific background allowed me to estimate the life expectancy of these two to be about eight more years, or perhaps seven if you subtract the dismal last year that everyone should be glad to skip. These two had apparently counted up their resources, found they could afford better things than a nursing home, and decided to make a dash for freedom to spend their last seven years in playland while they had the chance. The ladies in our group obviously thought this adventure was just about the most exciting thing ever, and grinned approvingly at every new detail. Although our travel group overall seemed to have its fair share of boors, no one, absolutely no one was boorish enough to ask if there had been a wedding.

Like pimpled teenagers, the two would slip their hands together with the hope that if they didn't look at their hands, no one else would notice. So, from time to time, the gentleman would slide his hand onto her thigh. And she, with the practiced skill of a high school cheerleader, would wait thirty seconds and with a big smile aimed at no one in particular, brush his hand away. She was having a perfectly wonderful time because she knew very well that every other lady was watching every movement.

{Palace Train}
Palace Train

At about the same age, Ben Franklin once moved with the fast set in Paris in his eighties. In fact Franklin probably moved with a fast set whereever he was at any age. He seldom discussed the topic directly except in that famous letter to his son which concluded, "And son, they are so grateful". In our present society which claims such infinite sophistication, Ben might now have expanded on the misdirected pressures of inheritance laws which thwart re-marriages. Or on a new-found freedom, the age-related indifference to complicating children, which some couples miss more than others. In fact, Franklin's famous letter to his (illegitimate) son enumerates a list of other advantages of love affairs with older women which could just as easily have been listed by John Milton or Cotton Mather. At least one gentleman has given the opinion that Franklin was all mischievous talk, and no action. But I dunno. That remark about how grateful they are, surely carries some implication of personal experience.

http://www.philadelphia-reflections.com/blog/2089.htm



Please Let Us Know What You Think


(HTML tags provide better formatting)

Because of robot spam we ask you to confirm your comment: we will send you an email containing a link to click. We apologize for this inconvenience but this ensures the quality of the comments. (Your email will not be displayed.)
Thank you.