Daily Update: Friday, February 27th, 2015

Anosmia Awareness Day

Another Saintless day, but today is the second of three Ember Days for this season of the year. And today is Anosmia Awareness Day.

Today is the second of three Ember Days for this season of the year. Ember days (a corruption from the Latin Quatuor Tempora, four times) are the days at the beginning of the seasons ordered by the Church as days of fast and abstinence. They were definitely arranged and prescribed for the entire Church by Pope Gregory VII (1073 – 1085) for the consecutive Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday after December 13 (the feast of St. Lucy), after Ash Wednesday, after Whitsunday (Pentecost), and after September 14 (Exaltation of the Cross). The purpose of their introduction, besides the general one intended by all prayer and fasting, was to thank God for the gifts of nature, to teach men to make use of them in moderation, and to assist the needy. And today is Anosmia Awareness Day. I am a congenital anosmiac (born without the ability to smell); however, people can lose their sense of smell through illness or injury. When people find out that I cannot smell, I get one of two questions. I am either asked “Since you can’t smell, that means you can’t taste, right?” (wrong; I can taste just fine, so far as I know. The loss of one’s sense of taste is a separate issue called ageusia) or “That means you can’t smell me fart, right?” (Correct, and I, and everyone around me, would appreciate you not proving it). I have never been to a doctor to verify that I am a congenital anosmiac (most doctors have never heard of the condition, and I am not wealthy enough to see a specialist), but I suspect that there is a non-connection between my nose and my brain. I have been told that my great-aunt (long since gone) had no sense of smell, and that her nephew (my Dad’s late brother) also had no sense of smell, so it seems to go sideways down the family tree; since neither my brother or sister had any kids, I appear to end the line of those who can’t smell in the family. I am the co-administrator and founder of the Congenital Anosmia group on Facebook, with over 800 members (mostly congenital anosmiacs, or those who have family or friends with the condition), and of the Congenital Anosmia (Closed) group on Facebook, with over 150 members; there is also another Facebook group called Anosmics of the World, Unite!, with over 100 members, most of whom are accidental Anosmiacs (or fellow travelers). So, hug someone who does not smell today!

Yesterday evening our LSU Women’s Basketball team lost their game with Ole Miss by the score of 57 to 58; our Lady Tigers will play their last regular season game before the SEC Tournament with Texas A&M on March 1st. And our LSU Baseball team beat Southeastern Louisiana by the score of 9 to 8.

Richard and I woke up in time to go to work, but his back and my back were acting up badly, so we both called in to work. We went back to sleep, and I woke up again at 8:00 am. I posted to Facebook that today is Anosmia Awareness Day, then did my Bathroom Devotional Reading, read the morning paper while eating my breakfast toast, and did my Internet Devotional Reading. I then requested The Arrivals by Melissa Marr (my next Sci-Fi Fantasy Book Club book), How the White Trash Zombie Got Her Groove Back by Diana Rowland, and The Last Precinct by Patricia Cornwell from the Lafayette Public Library. I made lunch salads for today, Saturday, and Sunday, and ate today’s salad while continuing my reading of Cycle of Lies: The Fall of Lance Armstrong by Juliet Macur. I then worked on my weblog until 4:30 pm, when I watched Jeopardy!. Richard ordered our Lenten dinner from D.C’s Sports Bar and Steakhouse, and went to get our dinner; meanwhile, I came back to the computer to do today’s Daily Update. When he got home, I ate my shrimp poboy with fries. When I finish with my meal, my Daily Update, and the computer, I will get ready for bed. Tonight our New Orleans Pelicans will play the Miami Heat at home, and our LSU Baseball team will start a three-day series with Princeton at home; I will report on the scores of both games in tomorrow’s Daily Update.

Tomorrow we again have no Saints, but tomorrow is the third of three Ember Days for this season of the year. And tomorrow we note that in 1939 the word “dord” was discovered in the Webster’s New International Dictionary, Second Edition. Richard and I will head to the casino, and on my breaks I will continue reading Cycle of Lies: The Fall of Lance Armstrong by Juliet Macur. After lunch I will head to the Adoration Chapel for my Weekly Hour of Eucharistic Adoration. Our LSU Men’s Basketball team will play a home game with Ole Miss, and our LSU Baseball team will play a double-header with Princeton.

Our Parting Quote this Friday afternoon comes from Vicente T. Ximenes, Mexican-American civil rights leader. Born in 1919 in Floresville, Texas, after high school graduation he became a chief clerk in the Civilian Conservation Corps. Ximenes also enrolled in the University of Texas at Austin where he became friends with Dr. Hector P. Garcia, who would later organize the American GI Forum, the Mexican American civil rights organization. When the United States became involved in World War II in 1941, Ximenes volunteered to join the U.S. Air Force. He graduated from Bombardier School at Kirtland Air Force Base as a 2nd Lieutenant in 1941. During the war Ximenes flew 50 missions as a lead bombardier in North Africa and was later awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for bravery under fire. After serving in the war, he became an Air Force flying instructor at the Goodfellow Air Force Base from 1943-1946. Ximenes eventually retired from the U.S. Air Force with the rank of Major in 1947. Upon returning home from service, he realized that racial segregation persisted in his hometown. He later became a member of the American GI Forum after meeting with his old friend Dr Garcia. In 1950 he received his Bachelor’s degree in Education from the University of New Mexico, and a Master’s degree in Economics a year later. Ximenes then worked at the Bureau of Business Research from 1951 to 1961. In February 1957, Ximenes was made aware of a racist incident in Colorado, where a local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution refused to allow a Mexican-American boy to carry the flag in that year’s President Lincoln Day ceremony. As the national chairman of the American GI Forum, Ximenes took the lead in publicizing this incident with local and national press. Ximenes also sent telegrams to the national office of the Daughters of the American Revolution and the American GI Forum. UNM Professor and Ximenes biographer Michelle Kells explains that “the Denver Star and Amarillo Globe-Times noted that the Lincoln Day flag-carrying pageant had been immediately cancelled following Ximenes’s complaint [and] DAR National President Frederíc Graves responded immediately by pulling the charter from the local Denver DAR chapter. She contacted Ximenes and offered to travel to Albuquerque to exchange flags with the American GI Forum as an act of reconciliation. Ximenes had to decide how much more negative press he wanted to promote, heaping political coals on the head of the DAR. However, Ximenes chose to take a restorative justice approach to the conflict, engaging in negotiations with DAR President Frederíc Graves. The flag exchange ceremony was promptly staged in front of the American GI Forum building in Albuquerque.” In 1961 the Kennedy administration selected Ximenes to serve as program officer and economist for the U.S. Agency for International Development in Ecuador, and in 1966, he was named deputy director of the Agency for International Development in Panama. Ximenes was also appointed as Assistant Inspector General for the War on Poverty. The following year, President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed Ximenes as U.S. commissioner of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, where he served for five years. Ximenes directed the historic El Paso hearings in October 1967 that were the turning point in the goal to become part of the mainstream of the United States for the Hispanics in the nation. In 1967 Ximenes was also selected as the chairman of President Johnson’s new Cabinet Committee on Mexican American Affairs, a position he held from until 1972. Ximenes’ tenure at this position produced changes in federal legislation and regulation that affected the entire nation. From 1972-1973 Ximenes was Vice-President for field operations of the National Urban Coalition. From 1972-1977 Ximenes served as a member of the board of trustees of the Catholic University of Albuquerque, now renamed the University of Albuquerque. In 1977 President Jimmy Carter appointed Ximenes as Commissioner of White House Fellows. He served with former Secretary of HEW John Gardner, Lady Bird Johnson, White House Counsel Lloyd Cutler, Thomas Johnson of the Los Angeles Times, and others. This position empowered Ximenes and others involved to appoint the top scholars and future leaders to serve as White House Fellows in the offices of Cabinet members and the White House. Ximenes also has a scholarship established in his name at the University of New Mexico. This scholarship award is given to a graduate student in Rhetoric and Writing whose research or service demonstrates commitment to public rhetoric and civic literacy, and who exemplifies the work of Vicente Ximenes. The scholarship was established by a handful of UNM students and UNM professor Michelle Kells in March 2005. The scholarship maintains its funding entirely through donations.In 2007 Ximenes participated in the UNM Civil Rights Symposium as a speaker at the function. In 2008, Ximenes was the Honorary Degree Recipient of “Doctor of Humane Letters” from University of New Mexico. Previously, Ximenes received an Honorary Ph.D. in Humane Letters from New Mexico Highlands University. He was the recipient of numerous other awards including: the Common Cause Public Service Achievement Award, the State of New Mexico Distinguished Service Award, the Vasco Nunez de Balboa, Panama’s highest honor and awarded by the president of Panama; the Aztec award by the Mexican-American Opportunity Foundation; the Albuquerque Human Rights Bridge Award by the Albuquerque human rights board; and the De Colores Lifetime Achievement award by the De Colores Board of Directors. Ximenes was featured in a PBS American Experience documentary called The Civilian Conservation Corps which premiered in 2009. Ximenes was featured in a documentary called The Longoria Affair, which premiered in November 2010 on PBS. This documentary, written and directed by John J. Valadez, described how Mexican-American Rights progressed after a World War II Veteran, Felix Longoria, was refused burial in his home town of Three Rivers Texas because of his ethnicity. Unlike many other well known members of the Mexican-American rights movement in the U.S., Ximenes’ legacy is one in which systemic change was attempted from within the government, through years of civil service (died 2014): “You have to work with other people to succeed in whatever goal you set out to do.”

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