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®RM65¯start CyberSenior.5.3(#27) - by Permission


******* THE * CyberSenior * REVIEW *******


VOLUME 5 NUMBER 3 (#27) January 1, 2001


The CyberSenior Review is a project of the Internet Elders List, an active world-wide Internet Mailing List for seniors.  The Review is written, edited and published by members of the Elders for interested seniors worldwide.

Contents copyrighted 2000 by the Internet Elders List and by the authors. All rights reserved by the authors. Brief quotes permitted with attribution .

The editorial board of The CyberSenior Review:

Pat Davidson  ... patd@chatback.demon.co.uk
 Lotte Evans  ... lottee.evans@rmit.edu.au
Shirley Barwise  ... sbarwise@home.com
Tom Bruce  ... tom@laplaza.org
Audrey Autio  ... a.autio@att.net 




Lotte Evans

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For the last year the pundits had been bandying words about has the new millennium started on the stroke of midnight 2000 or will it start 2001.

Well now that it is 2001 I can say confidently we are in the new millennium and our Elders group started in the last century. Feels funny doesn't it ?

Now I am not going to speculate what this century has in store for us all. All I wish to say is that I hope that it will be as progressive as the last one. I must admit I did like it very much.

And if we wish to compare it with the one before I'd say the quality of our lives is much better.

Sure there were a couple of ups and downs ( I know, I know that this is an understatement) but on the whole the last fifty years were pretty good. And if the next fifty years are on par with the last, I for one, won't complain.

This, the latest review comes to you on the first of January and I hope you all lift your glasses and join me in a hearty Happy New Year and may there be many more for us all to come.

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Volume 5, Number 3, January 1,2001 (#27)




Pat Davidson

Pat has written a wonderful article about the way the Scot's frolic when they celebrate the New Year. Reading her story makes me wishful that I could join them and I am sure you all will feel the same.

Feature: From the Elder Archives


  Eloise Blanpied

his article is written by Eloise Blanpied and comes from the Elders archives. She tells us about the history and analysis of dreams beginning with:

"Where do our dreams come from? Is some mysterious power, external or internal, speaking to us through our dreams? Most dream theorists tend to imply as much"

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Bed and Breakfast

John Richardson

n this article Flabs reminisces about the trials and tribulations during the times when he and Veronica ferried their sons to and from their respective Universities. When a University is far from ones home a stay in a B&B is a good idea.


Feature: Photo Essay

But is "It" .. Art?

Tom Bruce

Tom's article might be felt controversial by the keen photographers in our group. His musings concentrate on the idea is  photography an art or what???

One Odd Election Day

Carol Tyndale

"The television image of a yellow Ryder Rental truck carrying ballots from several Florida counties to Tallahassee reminded me of a strange adventure I had during a long- -ago election -- the only time in my life I have ever cast my ballot in a bar"

Tantalizing opening by Carol isn't it? Well you will just have to read her story if you wish to find out what went on in that bar.



Pat Davidson

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The celebration of Hogmanay on 31 December, in Edinburgh.

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Hogmanay; a minute to midnight; all conversation ceases; then comes the first chime of the clock, announcing the beginning of another year. The first-footers leave to celebrate with their neighbours, offering up a piece of coal as they enter the house for the first time in the New Year. 27coal.gif (19330 bytes)

Where did this tradition originate? What does the word Hogmanay itself mean? Why has Hogmanay always been celebrated in Scotland, whereas it is only within the last fifty years that Christmas has become as important in Scotland as it has been in England?

New Year's Eve, 31st December, has for time immemorial been called Hogmanay in Scotland, but its origin is obscure; some say that the word is from "Hogmonat",the Icelandic name for Yuletide, the time of sacrifices to the fierce gods Thor and Odin; others say it was one of the four annual festivals of the Druids, held on the eve of the 10th March, the New Years Day by their calculations, when the mistletoe was cut down from the oaks by golden knives and laid in a white linen cloth; yet another suggestion is that the word comes from the old French cry at Christmas "Au gui menez!" (to the mistletoe go!) for during the reign of Mary, Queen of Scots, there was a strong French influence in Lowland Scotland.

The Highlands or north of Scotland have always seemed far away to the Lowlander Scot and the English, but comparatively near to the Norsemen just across the North Sea. Perhaps that is why many customs, possibly of Norse origin, were retained in the glens well into the eighteenth century.

One such tradition was that all work stopped on the afternoon of 31st December to allow the men of the clachan or hamlet to go to the wood to collect branches of juniper bushes.

Each household also collected a pitcher or water from the "dead and living ford" ie a ford in the river by which both funerals and travelers crossed. Care had to be taken with the pitcher on the way back from the ford, in case it touched the ground and lost its magical power.

Early in the morning of New Year's Day, the head of the house rose early and lit the fire. Woe betide anyone still in bed after the revels of the previous night, for the householder then sprinkled everyone still in bed with the magic water! Any water that was left he poured over a piece of silver money, or an oval-shaped crystal, and carried to the byre for the animals to drink. Next he heaped half the juniper bushes on the fire after he had sealed the windows and doors so that the smoke could fumigate the house. When the windows and doors again let in fresh air and the smoke dispersed, everyone had a glass of whisky. After this, the head of the house fumigated the byre and all the animals. This was to drive out any evil spirits. By the end of the nineteenth century, this tradition had mostly disappeared, and where it still existed, only the byre and animals were fumigated. This purification ritual reflects similar traditions in other parts of the world where fire and smoke were used to cast out devils and cure diseases.

Another unusual Hogmanay custom associated with fire was "Burning the Clavie", in the fishing village of Burghead, on the Moray Firth. The 27burningclavie.jpg (11228 bytes)"clavie" was a tar-barrel which was lit at dusk, and carried round the town, then rolled down a hill outside the town. The blazing "clavie" was then knocked to pieces by the crowd.

Highlanders would watch carefully for the direction of the wind on New Year's night, believing that it would show what kind of year they would have. A north wind would indicate storms and cold; an easterly, plenty of fruit on the trees; a south wind, heat and plenty; the west wind, fish and milk in abundance. If the first three days of winter were dull, the year would be good. The weather on Hogmanay gave some indication of the weather for January, New Year's Day, for February, 2nd January, for March, and so on.

In order to protect their luck for the year ahead, people would neither borrow, lend nor give anything out of their house on New Year's Day. The floor must not be swept, and it was a bad sign if the fire went out, for that meant a death. The New Year must begin with "routh o' roughness", or plenty to eat and drink. Even the poorest tried their hardest to have "something bye ordinar'" to welcome in the New Year.

In the Lowlands, on the evening of Hogmanay, boys went from house to house, "singing for carls" (three-cornered oatcakes). 27cookies.jpg (16978 bytes) The boys received slices of cheese with the carls. Sometimes they blacked up their faces, or put on masks or "fause faces" to disguise themselves. This goes back to the time when they enacted a play, similar to the "St Georges Play" in England.

Characters in the play were Galatian, probably the Caledonian king, Galgacus, who fought the Roman general Agricola at the battle of the Grampians, the Black Knight, Dr Brown, who cured dead men, Devil Doubt or Judas, who bore the traditional bag, and Bessie, the Talking Man or Chorus. By the end of the nineteenth century, most of the play had disappeared, and all the boys performed for their carls was the song:

"Get up, gudewife, and dinna be sweir

 To deal your bread as lang's you're here;

 The day will come when you'll be dead,

 And neither want ale nor bread.

 Get up gudewife, and shake your feathers,

 And dinna think that we are beggars;

 For we're bonny bairns come out to play:

 Get up and gie's our Hogmanay."

As the time drew on towards midnight, the streets began to fill up with young working lads preparing to welcome in the New Year, usually round the Market Cross.

A cheer welcomed each chime of midnight, and the New Year began. Many then left for "first-footing", leaving the others to shake hands and wish each other "A Gude New Year and a merry Handsel Monday." (Handsel Monday was the first Monday after New Year's Day, when the New Year celebrations would end). Young women crowded round the wells of the street, trying to be first to draw water after midnight, so that they could be sure of a husband sometime during a year of good luck. In the middle of the nineteenth century, the "hot kettle", a mixture of warm ale, whisky and sugar, was the favourite on New Year's morning. It was carried around in copper kettles in the street, as well as being offered to first-footers. Latterly the whisky-bottle took over from the "hot kettle".

First-footing, or being the first to enter a house, was as popular in both Highlands and Lowlands in the past as it is today. Someone who was regarded as being lucky was especially welcome and the door kept locked until he arrived. The first-foot, a dark-haired man, must not enter the house empty-handed, and brought bread and cheese as well as the whisky bottle, symbolising plenty to eat and drink in the year ahead. Later, a lump of coal, signifying warmth and comfort, was included.

Originally gifts were exchanged on New Year's Day, but later the custom was changed to Hansel Monday, handsel meaning a gift. The day was a holiday, when gifts were given to those who worked in the different trades, and sons and daughters working away from the family home usually managed to visit their parents on Hansel Monday.

Soon the bells will be ringing out across the world, welcoming in the first year of the Millennium. The crowds gathering in Trafalgar Square on Hogmanay, 2000, will be reflecting what has happened in the towns in Scotland from two centuries ago until the present day. What other ancient Hogmanay traditions will we be carrying forward into the twenty-first century?

Pat Davidson

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Feature: From the Elder Archives

Eloise Blanpied


Ink Drawing by Narina Sarkisyan

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Where do our dreams come from? Is some mysterious power, external or internal, speaking to us through our dreams? Most dream theorists tend to imply as much.

Theories that propose or imply an external origin for our  dreams have existed for as long as we know, and they maintain that dreams carry information from an all-knowing external force that 1) predicts or causes future events, 2) explains the mysterious present, and/or 3) provides wisdom and guidance for the future.

In ancient Greece, priests at the temples of Asklepius helped  the ill and infirm use dreams to enlist aid from the god of healing. Priests and supplicants in Greece, ancient Egypt, and classical Rome used dreams to seek divine guidance for everyday life and to obtain prophesies about the future. In ancient China, astrology, geometry, and calendar time were used in complex ways by dream interpreters to unveil the meaning in dreams. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, belief in the divine messages of dreams is evident in the 34 specific references to dreams (as distinct from visions) throughout the Old and New Testaments. In more modern times, Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther, and Joseph Smith looked to dreams for divine revelation. Even more contemporary prophets, such as Edgar Cayce, claimed to interpret God's word through dream analysis.

In all theories of external dream origin, there is an underlying message of human dependency -- dependency upon an all-knowing external power to create the dream. The function of the dream then becomes enlightenment, not about the self, but about the will of the external power. In effect, these theories create and maintain an unequal relationship between the unknown power and the dreamer -- a superior/inferior relationship. Furthermore, another dependency usually exists in dream theories of external origin: the dreamer depends upon a specially - endowed human to interpret the dream, creating a sage/disciple relationship.

One can understand the willingness to believe that external forces direct our dreams. Limitations of time and space are abandoned in these nocturnal dramas, and magically we travel the world and the years in any direction. Our pasts and futures intertwine in a present-tense dream reality, and our waking reality often seems slow and dull by comparison. It requires only a small leap from reason to assign our surreal dreams to external powers. However, as greater understanding of the dreaming process developed, emerging theories rejected the notion of external sources for dreams and looked within the individual for controlling factors.

One outcome of the shift to theories of internal dream origin has been a trivialization or discounting of the existence of meaning in dreams. Beginning with Hippocrates and Aristotle and continuing in varying forms to the present, certain theories of internal dream origin identified physiological events as the source of dreams. An early thought, still encountered, was that realistic dreams reflect good physical health while bizarre dreams signal physical illness. There are also notions that certain foods or food combinations, such as pickles and ice cream, or that environmental conditions (i.e., temperature, noise) are the source of dreams. Clearly, there is no power relationship between source and dreamer in these theories, but neither is there an assumption of meaning.

One of the most recent scientifically-based theories of internal dream origin is based on the fact that the brain remains neurally active during the dream state. J. Allan Hobson (of Harvard) has suggested that during dreaming the brain generates random signals, and the mind, using stored memory, attempts to make sense of these signals without reference to external input, logic, or critical perspective. While Hobson's work illuminates the neurobiological foundation for dreams, his theory of randomness strongly challenges the assumption of psychological meaning in dreams.

Psychological dream theories did not arise from ignorance of the workings of the body and brain. Sigmund Freud, whose insights provided the foundation for all other psychological dream theories, was trained in medical science and was particularly involved in neuropathological research. Fully aware of the work in neuroscience at the turn of the century, he was also fully cognizant of psychology's narrow focus at that time on the analysis of consciousness. But, based on his observations and his personal experience, Freud was aware of something more than consciousness, something as yet undefined and immeasurable. Out of this awareness he developed the concept of "the unconscious." This concept--whether it is called unconscious thought, the unconscious, the inner self, the voice within, or whatever else -- forms the basis for all psychological dream theories. In these theories, unconscious thought, by whatever name, is the source of meaning in dreams, and it is an internal source. But what exactly is "the unconscious"? How does it work? And does the fact that it is an internal source eliminate the power imbalance found in external theories?

Freud's dream theory is based on his concept of repressed (unconscious) wishes blocked from consciousness by a mental process which he first called the Censor but later named the Super-Ego. He believed that, during sleep, this Censor/Super-Ego distorted emerging unconscious and threatening wishes into unrecognizable and, therefore, unthreatening dreams. It is important to recognize that Freud did not attempt to show neurobiological foundation for his psychological theories. His references to a matterless and formless unconscious easily translates to an image of "The 27Freud.jpg (7275 bytes) Unconscious" as an alien and unreachable force within each of us. The Freudian dreamer's sense of helplessness is  compounded by the Freudian conviction that only a trained psychoanalyst can unravel the meaning hidden in dreams by the mind's mysterious Censor. The power imbalance prevails.

Carl Gustav Jung, whose theories equal Freud's in depth and reputation, identified two sources for the meaning in dreams, which he termed  "the personal unconscious" (repressed or forgotten experience) and "the collective unconscious" (never-experienced, archetypal material: predispositions carried forward during the mind's evolution). Jung viewed dreams as a compensatory process, providing an outlet for unconscious thought. He believed that, by and large, meaning is expressed directly in dreams; when substitution does occur, it is for the purpose of preventing an emotional impact too strong for the dreamer to tolerate. His theory abounds with mystical images and involves a dream process capable of evaluating and making choices beyond the ken of conscious thought. The power imbalance that results is less severe than in Freudian theory and, while the analyst plays a crucial role in Jungian dream interpretation, the process is not rigidly hierarchical, as it is Freudian dream analysis.

Persistent use of the psychological concept of "the unconscious" without precise definition has two significant consequences. First, because it is used without reference to substance or place but is acknowledged to be strongly influential, there is a tendency to think of "the unconscious" in almost mystical terms. The language used to discuss the concept often encourages anthropomorphization, as for example in Jung's comment that "the unconscious knows more than consciousness does" (Jung, 1989, p.311). The second consequence of an undefined concept of "the unconscious" is that it leads to a conceptual splitting of the mind--the unconscious mind as opposed to the conscious mind. The following statement by Jung is a prime example:

Within each of us there is another whom we do not know. He speaks to us in dreams and tells us how differently he sees us from how we see ourselves. When we find ourselves in an insolubly difficult situation, this stranger in us can sometimes show us a light.... (1953, p.76)

These two distortions--anthropomorphization of the unconscious and bifurcation of the mind--occur repeatedly in psychological dream theories, and the result is diminished individual authority, responsibility, and wholeness.

But not all dream theories are based on an amorphous concept of unconscious thought. Jonathan Winson (of Rockefeller University) has integrated information from the broad spectrum of sciences concerned with the human body and mind; this material plus his own research suggests an explanation of the existence and function of what psychologists call "the unconscious." His explanation notes that neuroscience research has found that sleep mentation is central to the process of long-term memory. The same cellular changes in the brain which occur during learning in the waking state are repeated during sleep for the purpose of processing or strengthening that learned information. Obviously not all waking brain cell changes are repeated during sleep--we couldn't possibly remember everything that activated our brain during waking so the brain in sleep works on only the most important things, especially the things that are necessary for survival. Research with animals focused on physical survival, but with humans more is involved--social survival, emotional/psychological survival --ego survival, is probably a good term.

It has been found that the hippocampus is crucially involved in the process of long-term memory.

The hippocampus is a scrolled structure located in the medial temporal lobe. In a coronal section, it looks like this:

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The hippocampus can be divided into at least five different areas, as labeled above. The dentate gyrus is the dense dark layer of cells at the "tip" of the hippocampus. Areas CA3 and CA1 are more diffuse; the small CA2 is hard to distinguish between them. (CA stands for cornu ammonis, from its ram's horn shape.) The subiculum sits at the base of the hippocampus, and is continuous with entorhinal cortex, which is part of the parahippocampal gyrus. There is essentially a one-way flow of information through the hippocampus, as diagrammed below.

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Information enters the hippocampus by jumping across what appears to be a gap between the subiculum and dentate gyrus. This tract is called the perforant path, as it perforates the space between the two. The entorhinal axons then synapse on cells in the dentate gyrus. The dentate neurons, in turn, send axons to CA3; these are called mossy fibers. ("Mossy fibers" is a morphological description for axons with large bulbous terminals, and these are unrelated to those in the cerebellum.) CA3 sends axons called Schaeffer collaterals to CA1, which sends yet another set of fibers to the subiculum. The subiculum is responsible for the output of the hippocampus: it can either send axons directly to the hypothalamus and mammillary bodies via the fornix (remember the fornix?), or it can pass along the information back to entorhinal cortex, which will relay it all back to sensory cortex. It is essentially one continuous pathway that begins in sensory cortex, traverses the hippocampus (loop-the-loop), and returns to sensory cortex. Somewhere in there, memory is born.

In humans the hippocampus  becomes fully functional at about 2 years of age, and it is thought that at that time and in early childhood, a cognitive base of survival information -- including ego survival information  -- is laid down in long term memory, and this base becomes a deeply-held concept of self and the world against which all new experiences must be compared and interpreted. Winson suggests that this cognitive base, laid down in early childhood, is "the unconscious" of psychological theory.

But what of dreams? Sleep mentation, central to the process of long-term memory, underlies the dreaming process and involves the comparison and interpretation of new experiences against the base of survival information bedded in long-term memory. In short, dreaming is the interaction (supportive or conflictive) between  current information and information in the basic cognitive substrate.

Winson's neurobiological explanation of dreams leads to an internal dream origin theory which does not rely on supernatural forces or mystical structures to explain the meaning in dreams. The unconscious is definable. Moreover, dreams are the product of the individual's own experience and nothing else. In this theory, a power imbalance does not exist for two reasons: 1) dream meaning is the result of a biochemical process (not the result of an all-knowing proactive force) and 2) no one but the dreamer can be certain of the meaning being expressed in a dream. In effect, this neurobiological dream theory strengthens the dreamer at the expense of the gods, the analysts, and the Censor; it gives the dreamer the full responsibility and authority for his/her own dreams.

Eloise Blanpied

Jung, C.G. (1989). Memories, dreams, reflections. (Aniela Jaffé, Ed.). New York: Vintage Books.
Jung, C.G. (1953). Psychological reflections. (J. Jacobi, Ed.). New York: Harper and Row.

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Bed and Breakfast
John Richardson

Andrew Richardson

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When the time comes for children to fly the nest, in the UK it is normally when they go off to University to get a degree. That does not mean that they cut the apron strings completely, especially those that are purse strings. They still need parental help of some kind or other.

In the case of our children, one of the things that they needed assistance with was the travel between college and home for the vacations. They did not necessarily <stay> at home for the vacations, but more often than not, they had to clear their belongings out of their college accommodation, which is used for conferences and the like during vacation times.

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One of our sons chose the University of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne as his place to study. When he went for interview, he traveled by train with friends from school, not an unreasonable way to travel for just himself. When the time came to go for longer periods, with all the goods and chattels he wanted to take, his parents were landed with chauffeuring duties. 

At this stage, I should explain for those less familiar with the geography of the UK, Newcastle is almost 250 miles from Fulbourn. It is divided highway or motorway for all but a couple of miles at the  Fulbourn end, and takes between 3 1/2 and 4 hours on a clear road. 

The first time I took him, complete with all his clutter, we rented a car for the purpose, as it was during a period when we only had one vehicle. It was only on that journey that he started to realise just how far it was. Near the halfway point there is a complex of coal fired power stations, the plumes from the cooling towers of which are visible from afar. We know these as 'King Arthur's Castle' ever since the confrontation between the miner's union under the leadership of Arthur Scargill and the Tory government of Margaret Thatcher. Near this point of the journey, Andrew started to ask how much further we had to go.  

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Before his graduation, he got used to the journey, and had two landmarks which told him he was nearing the end. At the Newcastle end, there was a tumble-down wooden shed in a field beside the road, 30 odd miles south of Newcastle. About 80 miles north of Fulbourn, there was a Lightning jet fighter in a field next to the road.

By the time I got home that night, I had decided that I was not going to do that round trip again with me doing all the driving. Not only was there the additional time taken to load and unload the car, but there were road works, which could add up to an hour to the journey time. I did a couple more trips, with our son Peter as a co-driver, one in a rented car, the other in our son Simon's Lada. Then I changed the arrangements. First, we bought a second car, so I no longer had to rent or borrow one. Then I had a business visit to Tyneside on the Friday before Andrew was due to come home on the Saturday. The business being completed, the local company rep suggested I find myself a B&B in somewhere like Whitley Bay, a seaside resort and Newcastle dormitory town, so I drove there and started knocking on doors. The second one had a vacancy, so I settled in for the night. Before leaving in the morning, I booked for the return date, which would be a Sunday night. My requirement for Friday and Sunday stays was most convenient, it seemed that the B&B was fully booked with workers Monday to Thursday, and with tourists on Saturdays.

I continued to use that B&B, including one trip when my recently widowed sister came for the ride, until Veronica was able to get away and come with me on one occasion. I had introduced some variation in the journey, as Whitley Bay being a few miles east of Newcastle, it was convenient to use a different road from a point about 70 miles south, crossing the Tyne by the toll tunnel to the east of Newcastle. The weekend Veronica was able to come, I called the B&B to try to upgrade to a double room, but was told this was not possible. However, their friends across the road were about to open as a B&B, and they would open early, having the one room ready for us, although unable to provide an evening meal, which the B&B I had been using could supply. We therefore headed first for my normal place, had the meal, then were introduced to their friends across the road, who had indeed got one double room ready. The other rooms were unfinished (as was our wardrobe), and these other rooms were without doors. It seemed that the work on finishing the property continued until quite late, but we got to sleep OK. The surprise came in the morning. All the other rooms (still without doors) were occupied! It seemed that a party who had been to Bladon Races, had turned up late at night, absolutely desperate for somewhere to stay, and had been grateful even to have unfinished rooms for the night.

I used that B&B for the rest of the time Andrew was at Newcastle, and indeed on business trips afterwards, and got to know them fairly well. There was one other occasion when Veronica came with me, when we went to Andrew's graduation ceremony. We were expecting to drive up to the North after the evening meal, which Veronica was going to have prepared for me as soon as I got home from work, so we could make an early start. The B&B had been warned that we would be arriving fairly late, as I usually departed straight from work, and Fulbourn is the other side of Cambridge from the road to Newcastle. On this particular evening, I got home to find that there was no meal - there was a power cut in progress, and Veronica had been unable even to start cooking it. After waiting a little while, partly in the hope that power would be restored, and partly to let the rush hour traffic clear, so that we would not just be sitting in a traffic jam trying to get round Cambridge, we decided that we would abandon the planned meal, and stop for one on the way. We already realised that we would be later than usual, and phoned ahead to warn our hosts.

We stopped at a roadside eatery, and had our evening meal. It was now obvious that we would not arrive until after midnight, but that should be no problem, as we knew where we were heading, and had made the trip many times before. As usual, I took the eastern route from Dishforth, and all was going well until we arrived at the Tyne Tunnel, about quarter past midnight, to find it closed for cleaning! We joined the queue of people waiting for it to be re-opened, as the next crossing of the Tyne would have involved a drive into the centre of Newcastle, and out again on the other side. We finally arrived at our lodgings at about 1 am.

The only other one of the children for whom it was necessary to stay overnight while fetching and carrying, was Matthew. he chose to go to  Aberystwyth, on the west coast of Wales. The journey time was similar, although the distance was less, but the last sixty miles was through the mountains, on a twisty road with few opportunities to pass slower traffic.

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Matthew found a B&B for me on the sea front, which was perfectly adequate, although on a couple of occasions I actually continued on to Bangor, much further north, where my sister's convent provided accommodation, before I brought my sister back to Fulbourn for a  vacation.

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The first time I collected him, he asked if I would mind giving a ride to another student, who lived in Cambridgeshire, and naturally I agreed. That was on the Friday evening. When I called at the Hall of Residence on Saturday morning, I discovered that the other student was in hospital, having fallen after the end of term party. We waited until the hospital discharged her, but we had to take her back to Canbridgeshire with the passenger seat reclined as much as practical, as her back was hurting if she sat upright. Matthew never mentioned her again.

One drive westwards through the mountains on a fine evening on a Friday night sticks in my memory. It was late enough that the roads were fairly clear, and the colours in the sky as I drove towards the sunset were incredibly beautiful. One drive eastwards in the winter was memorable in another way. I was on the way home after leaving Matthew at the start of term. Once the choice of road is made, after a few miles, there are no turnings off to chose another route. I had the radio on, listening to weather reports, as I set off on the A44, the main road to London from Aberystwyth. I had just passed the last of the possible turns to other (but longer) routes, when I got the announcement that the A44 in mid Wales had snowdrifts. A few miles further on, I met the snow plough coming down the pass, so I trusted that it was returning, having completed it's work, as indeed proved to be the case, but I was glad it had been out before me.

It was on one trip when I was bringing Matthew home, that he complained of feeling unwell, and I asked what he had had for breakfast.


'That's the problem, we'll stop where we normally eat coming the other way, and get you a proper breakfast'.

Sure enough, we did just that. I was halfway through my second fried breakfast of the day (having had one at the B&B), when Matthew started getting concerned at his father's unhealthy eating habits, taking in excess cholesterol.

I said   'One thing is for sure - I won't die of a heart attack before I'm 60'. 'How are you so sure of that?' he asked.

'Because I'm over 60 already'.

He has not criticised my unhealthy eating since.

I guess my days of chauffeuring children are almost over (Andrew still expects to be met at Gatwick, when he comes home from Texas), and sometimes I miss the adventures - like the time I was going to fetch Simon from Surrey, and the DAF van I was driving lost its oil filler cap in London. I stopped at a red light, and this steam came from under the bonnet (hood) as if the radiator was boiling. Hang on, DAFs of that type are air cooled - the 'steam' was oil smoke. Rotating gears under the filler cap were spraying oil out onto the exhaust manifold. I had to find something to block <that> off, not only to stop the smoke, but also to stop losing oil.

On the whole, though, the memories are sometimes better than the incident at the time. It's amazing quite how rose tinted the eyes of memory are.

John Richardson

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Feature Photo Essay


But is "It" ..Art ?

Tom Bruce

Tom (left) helping Forest.Service Employees build a fish habitat.

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I'm of the opinion that you can't squeeze "Art" from a   computer. 

To me,  "Art" has to come out of the gut, selected by the eye,  and tempered by experience and skill of the Artist.  This arrogant opinion comes out of a long time argument imposed upon me, by teachers, early in my education.  At that time, the question was, "Is photography an Art."  

Computers haven't helped.  Now there are many people/artist who claim to produce "art" using a computer.  So the new question is, "Is computer art .. 'Art'."  I can't see it. I can't see how Art can be created by either a "click" of the shutter or by a computer program.  To explain myself, I have to use Gertrude's Stein's words, "When you are remembering you are not creating and when you are creating you are not remembering."  

.. and isn't "Art" a creative activity ... ?

I know enough about computer programming to know that  programming is the essence of  "remembering."  That is, every program is designed to "remember" the "recipe" that the  programmer has commanded it to do .. again, and again .. and again.  

To fracture Gertrude's words,  "A computer program is not a "rose."

Well .. you decide.

Photo #1

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Art ?

St. Francis Church in Ranchos de Taos, NM


Photo #2

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Photo #3

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Art ?

Summer Hollyhocks


Photo #4

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Art ?

Pigeon Taking Off


Photo #5

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Garden Snapdragons


Photo #6

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Art ?

Hibiscus Showing Off



So there it is.  Whether or not the computer processed version of these photos is .. "Art" .. or not .. is immaterial.  .. but .. did you think those "Artsy" pictures were interesting? 

Tom Bruce

Another View: Susan Sontag has written an excellent socio-photography criticism in, "On Photography," Dell Publishing, 1978, isbn 0-440-56696-7 and makes this comment:

"But if Photographs demean, paintings distort in the opposite way: They make grandiose."tuff)
Except for the first two (church) images--all other photos appearing in this article, were taken in my garden, Taos, NM .. during summer, 2000.  I used a Nikon F3, (35mm) SLR camera attached to a Russian made, Rubinar, 1000 mm telephoto lens (4-inches dia., 11-inches long) mounted on a tripod. I used a cable release to compensate for the shaky tripod.  This instrument also serves as my favorite Astronomical  telescope which I can take outside and easily set up to look at a nightly parade of stars and other celestial objects.   I used  Fuji film (ASA400) processed by a commercial service.  Later, I used Adobe Photoshop (using the "stylized, find edges" and "curves" options) to produce the artsy-like pictures that appear when you click on the "Art?" clickables

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One Odd Election Day
Carol Tyndale

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The television image of a yellow Ryder Rental truck carrying ballots from  several Florida counties to Tallahassee reminded me of a strange adventure  I had during a long-ago election -- the only time in my life I have ever   cast my ballot in a bar.

For years, the polling place for my precinct in the little New England town where I lived was the Knights of Columbus Hall. Polling booths would  be set up in a semi-circle around the perimeter of the large main room,  with a fat red velvet rope looped through brass stanchions forming a long  oval in the center of the room to guide voters from the first election wardens' table to the arc of booths and then to the ballot box and the  second wardens' table.

As we went in to vote, we would stop at the first wardens' table and -- if one of the people there didn't recognize us and know -- tell the name of the street we lived on, then our house number and, if necessary, our name. The warden would draw a heavy line through our name and address, then hand  us a ballot. For the first 15 years or so that I lived there, we voted by  marking nice big "X"s on paper ballots with soft-lead pencils that were secured to the shelf in the booth with white string. That done, we would fold the ballot up and walk around to the ballot box, where we'd feed the ballot into a slot while the person in charge of the box turned a crank  that draw the ballot into the box and added one on the counter on top of the box.

Then we'd stop at the second wardens' table, where our name and address would be ruled through on a second copy of the street list for the precinct. In contested elections, there would often be additional tables beyond that with street lists to be marked by representatives for the various candidates. We who "manned" those tables also served as poll-watchers: eyes and ears to assure the fairness and propriety of the  election, and were prepared to intervene, if necessary, if a voter complained of -- or caused -- a problem.

Dedicated volunteers for each candidate had laboriously looked up telephone numbers for all the voters in our precinct who were thought  capable of supporting that candidate and written them on two or three  copies of the street list; they or other volunteers had then phoned those suspects and marked the lists to show which were supportive. Every few hours during election day, a runner would come by and pick up the list one  of the poll-watchers had been marking and leave another copy. While we went on marking off names, volunteers at the candidate's headquarters would be phoning supporters who had not yet voted, reminding them that it was important to get over to the K of C Hall and vote.

One Election Day, however, things didn't go that smoothly. The person  responsible for scheduling events at the Knights of Columbus Hall had, in  a bizarre lapse of consciousness, booked a wedding reception to begin at 5  PM that day; two hours before the polls would close. That conflict was noticed only a few days before the election -- much too late to find a different place for either the reception or the polling place. The wedding people, naturally, wanted to decorate the main room for their   party, so the voting booths, wardens' tables, and ballot box got set up in the separate, smaller room which housed the bar.

It was cramped, and really quite awkward, but everyone was sufficiently  amused by the situation to take the awkwardness in stride. The long-time head warden of that precinct was one of the world's truly lovely people -- her warmth and calm efficiency never faltered during the twelve long hours she had to spend greeting people to that odd venue and guiding them through the day's business. We poll-watchers joined the wardens in exchanging banter with the voters, a few of whom made brilliantly humorous comments which I, alas, cannot bring to mind.

About an hour before the polls closed, I took the final marked list home  and joined in making the last desperate calls to persuade our laggard supporters to get out and vote. I got a kick out of saying, "Look, it's the only time you'll ever get to vote in a bar -- you owe it to your grandchildren to have that experience to tell them about!" Three of the people I called actually did drag themselves off their couches and vote.

I know they did because I ran into them when I went back to the K of27donkey.jpg (6074 bytes) C  Hall just before 7:00. They had just come out when I got there, and were joking about being unable to say "no" to that crazy woman who called them. They didn't know how crazy I really was: the reason I'd returned was that I had agreed to be The Official Democrat who would accompany the ballot box to Town Hall, where our precinct's ballots were to be taken before counting so the wedding party could have access to the bar.

My counterpart, The Official Republican, and I sat in a corner while 27gop.jpg (4197 bytes)the exhausted election wardens struggled to count the numbers of lined-out names on the two street lists and reconcile them, first with each other and then with the number shown on the ballot-box counter, and then against the number of unused ballots plus the few spoiled ballots. Their task was not made one bit easier by the gorgeously-dressed young men who kept popping in from the wedding party to ask how much longer it would be before they could get a drink. After a few of those sorties, Mrs. Official Republican and I made ourselves useful by standing in the doorway and fending them off.

When all the tallies finally agreed and everything was packed up ready to go, we went outside and discovered that the police department, which was  responsible for transporting the ballot box, had been unable to figure out how to get it, and the cartons of unused and spoiled ballots, and the head warden, and us two partisan ballot-guards all into one cruiser. I am, therefore, qualified to tell you that you do not want -- ever -- to ride in the Black Maria [the police van used to transport prisoners]

The seats in a Black Maria are simply two long wooden shelves  fastened to the sides of the van, a little too high above the floor. It is never very comfortable to ride sideways. It is even less so when there are no windows in your conveyance. And when only your toes touch the floor, it is all but impossible to keep from sliding off the seat when the vehicle makes a turn away from the side you are facing.

Black Marias

Black Maria' was the nickname for secure police vans with separate locked cubicles, used for the transportation of prisoners. The name is said to have come from a large and powerful black lodging-house keeper named Maria Lee, who helped constables of Boston, Massachusetts in the 1830s when they needed to escort drunks to the cells.

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Our situation in that van was, in a way, even worse than the average prisoner's, because the ballot box and cartons of unused ballots were piled at the front of the space between the benches. One pile tipped over in the second turn, the top carton landing very hard on our head warden, Shirley's, shin. Mrs. Official Republican did her best to keep me from falling over while I crouched on the floor and shifted the boxes away from Shirley's legs, leaving one positioned so she could put her foot up on it. It took less than ten minutes to make the three-mile trip to Town Hall,but it felt like ten hours. By the time we got there, Shirley's leg was hurting so badly that she could barely walk -- and she still had hours of work ahead of her, counting our precinct's ballots.

I dug out of my purse a sample packet of Tylenol I'd stashed there against an emergency, gave it to Shirley, hugged her and wished her an easy count, then went to join the usual group of people waiting in the hallway by the Town Clerk's office for the returns to come in. The candidate I'd worked for probably won -- the town usually voted Democratic. I can't remember who it was that year, but I will never forget how strange voting booths look in a barroom, or the night I rode in the Black Maria.

Carol Tyndale

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