Daily Update: Sunday, March 22nd, 2015

03-22 - Emerald Buddha

Today is the Fifth Sunday of Lent, with no Saints to honor today, but on this date in 1784 the Emerald Buddha was moved with great ceremony to its current place in Wat Phra Kaew, Thailand.

The Emerald Buddha is the palladium of the Kingdom of Thailand, a figurine of the sitting Buddha, made of green jasper (rather than emerald), and is 19 inches wide at the knees and 26 inches high. Ancient legend holds that the Emerald Buddha was created in India in 43 BC by Nagasena in the city of Pataliputra (today’s Patna). It was taken across most of Southeast Asia over the centuries, mostly due to war and capture. In 1779 General Chao Phraya Chakri put down an insurrection and returned the Emerald Buddha to Siam, taking it home with him to Thonburi. After he became King Rama I of Thailand he moved the Emerald Buddha with great ceremony to its current home in Wat Phra Kaew on March 22, 1784. It is now kept in the main building of the temple, the Ubosoth. The Emerald Buddha itself is simply the Jadeite statue, but it is adorned with garments made of gold. There are three different sets of gold clothing, which are changed by the King of Thailand in a ceremony at the changing of the seasons – in the 1st Waning of Lunar Months 4, 8 and 12 (around March, July and November). The three sets of gold garments correspond to Thailand’s summer season, rainy season, and cool season. The two sets of gold clothing not in use at any given time are kept on display in the nearby Pavilion of Regalia, Royal Decorations and Thai Coins on the grounds of the Grand Palace, where the public may view them.

I did my Bathroom Devotional Reading, and on our way to work I did my Internet Devotional Reading and said the Seventh Day of my Annunciation Novena. Once at work, I did my Book Review for this weblog and for my Goodreads and Facebooks account for The Last Precinct by Patricia Cornwell via WordPress for Android. When we clocked in Richard was the Relief Dealer for Macau Mini Baccarat, Mini Baccarat, and Pai Gow, with the Macau Mini Baccarat table eventually closing; I was on Mini Baccarat, and we had a busy day. On my breaks I did my Daily Update for yesterday, Saturday, March 21st, 2015 via WordPress for Android.

On our way home we stopped at the store, and Richard was able to get me a bit of baby swiss cheese, which I ate while reading the Sunday papers once we got home. (Our LSU Men’s Basketball, one and done at the NCAA Tournament, had their best year in five years at the Tournament; our LSU Women’s Basketball team, one and done at the NCAA Tournament, had their worst showing in 21 years at the Tournament.) I then took a nap until 5:30 pm; while I was sleeping our New Orleans Pelicans lost their away game with the L. A. Clippers by the score of 100 to 107. (They next play a home game with the Houston Rockets on Wednesday, March 25th.).When I woke up I made an Excel spreadsheet to help me keep track of the hours Richard and I work. (In a given two-week pay period we work 80.50 hours (which includes the 15-minute Pre-Shift Meetings on Saturdays), but if we get out early I want to keep better track of what we’ve worked.) Then I put the spreadsheet on my Android. Finally, I started today’s Daily Update, after which I will get ready for bed.

Tomorrow is the Optional Memorial of Saint Turbius de Mongrovejo, Bishop, and is also the birthday of Richard’s brother Slug here in town (1943). We will work our eight hours at the casino for the start of the two-week pay period, and I will start reading How the White Trash Zombie Got Her Groove Back by Diana Rowland. In the afternoon I hope to stay reasonably upright.

Our Sunday Afternoon Parting Quote comes to us from Sir James W. Black, Scottish doctor and pharmacologist. Born in 1924 in Uddingston, Lanarkshire, his father was a mining engineer. He was brought up in Fife and, at the age of 15, won a scholarship to the University of St Andrews, where he studied medicine. His family had been too poor to send him to university and he had been persuaded to sit the St Andrews entrance exam by his maths teacher at Beath. Black had large debts upon his graduation from university in 1947, so took a teaching job in Singapore for three years before moving to London in 1950. Upon his return to Scotland in 1950 he joined the University of Glasgow (Veterinary School) where he established the Physiology Department and developed an interest in the way adrenaline affects the human heart, particularly for those patients suffering from angina. Having formulated a theory to annul the effects of adrenaline, he joined ICI Pharmaceuticals in 1958, remaining with the company until 1964, during which time he developed propranolol, hailed as the greatest breakthrough in the treatment of heart disease since the discovery of digitalis, which later became the world’s best-selling drug. During this time Black pioneered a method of research whereby drug molecules were purposefully built instead of being synthesised first and then investigated for their potential medical uses. At the same time Black was developing a similar method of treatment for stomach ulcers, but ICI did not wish to pursue the idea; so he resigned in 1964 and joined Smith, Kline and French for whom he worked for nine years until 1973. While there, Black developed his second major drug, cimetidine, which was launched under the brand name Tagamet in 1975 and soon outsold propranolol to become the world’s largest-selling prescription drug. Black was appointed professor, and head of the department of pharmacology at University College. London in 1973 where he established a new undergraduate course in medicinal chemistry, but he became frustrated by the lack of funding for research and accepted the post of director of therapeutic research at the Wellcome Research Laboratories in 1978. However he did not agree with his immediate boss there, Sir John Vane, and resigned in 1984. During that time he was made a Knight Bachelor in 1981 for services to medical research, receiving the honour from the Queen at Buckingham Palace. Black then became Professor of Analytical Pharmacology at the Rayne Institute of the King’s College London medical school, where he remained until 1992. He established the James Black Foundation in 1988 with funding from Johnson and Johnson and led a team of 25 scientists in drugs research, including gastrin inhibitors which may prevent some stomach cancers.  He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1988 for work leading to the development of propranolol and cimetidine. Black contributed to basic scientific and clinical knowledge in cardiology, both as a physician and as a basic scientist. His invention of propranolol, the beta adrenergic receptor antagonist that revolutionised the medical management of angina pectoris, is considered to be one of the most important contributions to clinical medicine and pharmacology of the 20th century. In 2000 he was appointed to the Order of Merit, of which there are only 24 members at any one time, by Queen Elizabeth II (died 2010): “I’ve been a fan of the New York Review of Books for many years. And, I remember one review of the novel Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood, and it was being reviewed by another novelist, Hilary Mantel, and the book is about recollections. And, Mantel says, perhaps there’s no such thing as memory, only the act of remembering, perhaps remembering is not about recollection but about reconstruction. And I think- well, the problems of this kind of thing I’m going through now is am I recollecting or reconstructing? And I guess I’m doing a bit of both.”

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