Over the years, Ricochet has inspired lasting friendships, not least of which is many members’ friendship with @tommeyer, who’s not only a great guy, but someone who rendered Ricochet great service before he moved on to other things. When Herb Meyer, Tom’s father, died, the outpouring of thanksgiving for Herb’s life was tremendous. At the time, I dedicated a motet I was working on to Herb’s memory, but life having gotten in the way, I haven’t had a chance to share it with the Ricoverse until now:More
If you’re of a certain age, you probably remember the fluoridated water controversy of the 1950s and early 1960s. I’m old enough to remember it and the other day I came across a brief discussion of the controversy in the book I was reading which whetted my appetite to see how accurate my memory of the issue was. What I found, I think, is that my memory of the controversy was only partially correct and incomplete. I thought I’d write about here at Ricochet because the actual story is 1) more interesting than the cartoon version I remembered, 2) I believe the story has been somewhat mythologized and distorted, and 3) the fluoridated water wars continued long after the early 1960’s and to a certain extent still exists.More
I’ve been fascinated by the St. Francis Dam failure since I first found out about it. For those who are unaware of or who’ve forgotten about it, the St Francis Dam failure, which occurred in 1928, was the greatest civil engineering failure in the United States in the 20th century (the Johnstown Flood killed many more people, but it took place in 1889), and except for the San Francisco Earthquake, caused more deaths than any other event in California history. Until recently, however, it was relatively hard to find much information on the topic. There was a book about the disaster by a local retired rancher, Charles Outland, who had been a high school senior in Santa Paula at the time the St Francis flood waters raged through town, which was published in the early 1960’s, but that was about it. Since then a couple more books have been published and an engineering professor who has extensively studied the failure and developed a detailed analysis thereof has written and given talks on the subject so that it’s now possible to flesh out the subject in great detail (I’ll provide links to the books at the end of this article; all other links will be in the text). The most interesting aspect of the story to me, however, is the way in which this event touches on and impacts so many other stories.
Los Angeles AqueductMore
I’d like to bring up the topic of infrastructure. President Trump, of course, beat me to it last year. He talked about the sad state of American infrastructure, how our roads, bridges and related facilities are in a sorry state, and how it’ll take over a tril to fix ’em. There have been a few […]
For many Western Christians, Epiphany, observed on Jan 6 or on a neighboring Sunday (like today), commemorates the visitation of the Magi, bearing gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. It also celebrates Jesus’ baptism in the River Jordan, which the Orthodox Church celebrates with the Great Blessing of the Waters. When we’re baptized, the water […]
I’ve always felt like I was at home in the water.
I grew up in Arkansas rice country, next to the muddy Black River. Plenty of rain throughout the year made our already hot summers muggy and miserable. The rain always provided temporary relief from the humidity, but as soon as it stopped, misery set in with a new wave of wet heat, mosquitoes, and chiggers. I spent every summer with red, itchy welts up and down my legs, but it never stopped me from celebrating the rain by dancing around in it barefoot, with my face held up to the sky to catch raindrops in my mouth. I loved splashing through the puddles in the driveway, and disrupting the mini-waterfalls created by the rocks in the ditch. By the time I was done, I was always covered in grass clippings and pine needles.More
(Posted as graphic, since WordPress hates poetry.)More
It was like being on a cloud. I was floating on the cool, green ocean along Carpinteria State Beach. It’s one of my favorite places in the world. The oak covered mountains loomed into the sky on the east. The dim outline of Santa Cruz Island was visible through the misty haze hovering off shore […]
Note: All translation from ‘Anglo-Saxon is the author’s. English had not long been a written language before it began producing masterworks of poetry. One of the earliest and to my mind most beautiful is the elegy we call “The Seafarer” in modern scholarship. It begins like this: More
Sometime in the spring of 1976, the rabbi found out that Mindy’s husband was smoking with his Sunday School students. They were the usual rum lot of high school age boys whose interest in religion had ceased with the cashing of their Bar Mitzvah checks; they put up with Eliyahu’s class for the sake of a reliable source of weed. A very unpleasant conference with the rabbi and the synagogue board was followed by a heated exchange with several outraged parents. Mindy and Eliyahu decided it was time to fulfill their dream of “making aliyah” — moving permanently to Israel. As their departure date neared, Mindy asked if I wanted to take over her job as balanit or attendant, at the mikveh.
The San Francisco mikveh (“ritual bath”) was in the Bnai David synagogue in the Mission District. Built in 1908 after the Earthquake, most of the congregation by then had long since departed, but the mikveh remained in use. Orthodox synagogues do not necessarily include a mikveh in their building plans, but this congregation, established in the 1880s by Eastern European Jews, was the first strictly Orthodox community in San Francisco. It is said that people came from as far away as Nevada to use the mikveh. The pool was unusually large — a dozen people could immerse at one time.More
Water is heavy. This was a lesson I learned in my freshman year in college, back more years than I care to remember. It was something I learned in class, but the lesson was underscored by my first-ever roommate, Seth. It is not his real name – for reasons obvious as this story progresses.
I was accepted to the University of Michigan’s College of Engineering. How far back? Back a few years after the Great Aerospace Bust left engineering graduates unable to find a job more challenging than pumping gasoline upon graduation. Not just baccalaureate degree holders, but rather those with masters and doctorates. In some ways folks looked on engineering grads the same way we view those with worthless studies degrees today.More
Filling glass of water from stainless steel kitchen faucet More
Think about the ancient Planet Earth. Billions of years ago, shortly after the new planet had cooled down enough, and had developed an atmosphere, and liquid water. Before there was any life on Earth, there was water. In fact, it is postulated that the first life on Earth developed in the water. Before cells, before […]
“Thveu sre ning tuk, thveu suk ning bai” is an old Khmer adage, which roughly translates to “grow rice with water; wage war with rice.” And the Khmer Empire certainly needed a lot of rice to feed its growing armies to continue its prior polities’ campaigns of expansion.
Between the 9th and 15th century, Angkor served as the seat of the Khmer Empire. The word Angkor itself means capital city, derived from the Sanskrit word nagara, meaning city. Scholars and researchers refer to Angkor as a hydraulic city.More
They would never allow it today. Any parent who tried would lose their kids, and possibly end up in prison. Unsupervised kids running wild in the wilderness, a place where the laws of kid-dom prevailed, untrammeled by the feet of parents? But it was a simpler, more innocent time, so it was the most natural thing in the world that we would spend half our lives at the Crik.
We all called it that, regardless of how we would pronounce the word. The settlement patterns in Ohio had created a mini Mason-Dixon line, that ran right through my home town. The third of the kids who spoke with a southern accent, with a sound like Kentucky-lite, called it the Crik, because that’s how they pronounced creek. And for the rest of us, the sort of kid-osmosis that guarantees that each succeeding generation of kids know the words to “Great Big Gobs of Greasy Grimy Gopher Guts” similarly guaranteed that every one of us knew that the proper pronunciation in this case was Crik, even though in every other case it was creek.More
On a golf course two miles down the street from my neighborhood in Lakewood, CA, one could hit their ball into Bouton Lake. The name of this man-made “lake” in this post-war suburban town bordering Long Beach, and wedged between the dammed-up San Gabriel and Los Angeles rivers is a clue to a quirky event […]
I’m busting out the Al Green version of the recruitment song, so you know I’m serious. Please sign up for Group Writing, several spots are available. If you follow the link, you’ll see what’s available, what’s already been claimed, and links to the conversations that have been posted. Here are links to the conversations posted […]
I love the sound and sight of water almost anywhere: the trickling of a brook; a roaring waterfall; the splashing of a child in a backyard wading pool; rain that sprinkles or thunders; waves that crash for shore or whisper away; or the sputter of a cormorant leaving the pond behind our home. And wherever […]