Daily Update: Friday, May 8th, 2015

05-08 - Execution of Lavoisier (Les Martyrs de la Science, G. Tissandier, 1882)

We have no Saints today; but it was on this date in 1794 that Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier, the French chemist and scientist, was tried, convicted, and guillotined during the Reign of Terror during the French Revolution as an enemy of the State, due to his position as a tax collector in the Ferme Générale, a tax farming company before the Revolution.

Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier (born 1743) was of the nobility, and a member of the Ferme Générale, which gave him the finances and freedom to be educated and to become one of the foremost scientists of his time. He named both oxygen (1778) and hydrogen (1783) and predicted silicon (1787). He helped construct the metric system, put together the first extensive list of elements, and helped to reform chemical nomenclature. He was also the first to establish that sulfur was an element (1777) rather than a compound. He discovered that, although matter may change its form or shape, its mass always remains the same. The Ferme Générale was deeply unpopular before the French Revolution, as the 28 tax collectors (which included Lavoisier, who was politically a reformer and a liberal) were known to profit immensely by exploiting their position. During the Reign of Terror they were formally brought to trial on May 8, 1794, convicted of having plundered the people and the treasury of France, of having adulterated the nation’s tobacco with water, and of having supplied the enemies of France with huge sums of money from the national treasury, and were collectively sent to the guillotine. According to a (probably apocryphal) story, the appeal to spare Lavoisier’s life so that he could continue his experiments was cut short by the judge: “La République n’a pas besoin de savants ni de chimistes; le cours de la justice ne peut être suspendu.” (“The Republic needs neither scientists nor chemists; the course of justice cannot be delayed.”)

I did my Bathroom Devotional Reading, and on our way to work I did my Internet Devotional Reading and said the First Day of my Ascension Novena. I then requested Time and Again by Jack Finney (my next Third Tuesday Book Club book) from the Lafayette Public Library; they have only one copy, and I am second in line to request it, and the book is not available on Overdrive or at my local library, so I may have to get it via my Nook next week to read it. Once at the Casino in ADR I called the Pharmacy and renewed two prescriptions. When we clocked in, Richard was on the second Mississippi Stud table (and was very busy all day). I was on Mini Baccarat, with only three guests all day. I was grateful to not have many guests, because I had a bad case of swimmer’s ear in my right ear, and it varied from being annoying that my ear would not clear to being painful from pressure. I did start reading Yesterday’s Kin by Nancy Kress, but did not get far in it. I also tried to drink water rather than have Diet Coke every break, and was halfway good at doing so (today was the first day I logged in my meals and snacks on My Fitness Pro) I also downloaded a related app, Map My Walk, since I’d like to get back to walking again. At 10:30 am I was mindful that Liz Ellen was having her MRI. (I very much hope that she will not need surgery.)

After work I picked up my prescriptions at the Pharmacy. On our way home I started reading the May 11th, 2015 issue of Sports Illustrated. At our auto garage we waited for the car to be ready; they fixed the Low Coolant sensor, but did not fix the Cruise Control, because they could not get it to not work. They said for me to bring it in if it is ever not working, but usually it is not working at a time and place that makes it impossible for me to bring it to the garage. (Sometimes it works, if it is not working, if I stop the car, turn it off, and start it again. Talk about your classic computer solution.) Before we go on our vacation this fall, we will have them give the car the once-over, and have them replace the cruise control. Richard took the truck and got some chicken for his lunch to take home, and I took the car (the cruise control was indeed working) and got some Swimmer’s Ear ear drops at Winn-Dixie. When I got home I put the drops in my right ear, then read the morning paper. I then took a nap, and woke up about 5:00 pm when Richard was about to go to bed. I did get a text message from Liz Ellen; she will get her results from the MRI on Tuesday, May 19th, and will call me to let me know how things went. I got online to do today’s Daily Update; tonight our #1 LSU Baseball team will be playing the first game of a three-game home series with Missouri, and I will put the score in tomorrow’s Daily Update. And I did not start doing my Blood Sugar testing today.

Tomorrow is Friday, with no Saints to honor. So tomorrow we will recall that it is the anniversary of the day in 1671 when Thomas Blood, disguised as a clergyman, attempted to steal England’s Crown Jewels from the Tower of London. We will head back to the casino, and on my breaks I will continue reading Yesterday’s Kin by Nancy Kress (and I hope my ear will be doing better). Once home from work I will read the morning paper, then head to the Adoration Chapel for my Weekly Hour of Eucharistic Adoration. After my Hour I will go eat lunch at McDonald’s, then go to the 4:00 pm Mass for the Sixth Sunday of Easter (Rogation Sunday). And our #1 LSU Baseball team will be playing the second game of a three-game home series with Missouri, with the score to be reported in Sunday’s Daily Update.

Our Parting Quote on this Friday afternoon comes to us from Maurice Sendak, American writer and illustrator of children’s literature. Born in 1928 in Brooklyn to Polish Jewish immigrants, his childhood was clouded by his parents’ constant reminders to him of how lucky he was not to have been killed in Poland by the Germans, like many of his extended relatives. His love of books began at an early age when he developed health problems and was confined to his bed, and he decided to become an illustrator after viewing Walt Disney’s film Fantasia at the age of twelve. One of his first professional commissions was to create window displays for the toy store F.A.O. Schwarz. His illustrations were first published in 1947 in a textbook titled Atomics for the Millions by Dr. Maxwell Leigh Eidinoff. He spent much of the 1950s illustrating children’s books written by others (including Else Holmelund Minarik’s Little Bear series of books). In 1963 Where the Wild Things Are was published. The book’s depictions of fanged monsters concerned some parents when it was first published, as his characters were somewhat grotesque in appearance. The book won the Caldecott Award for Children’s Literature in 1964. When Sendak saw a manuscript of Zlateh the Goat, the first children’s story by Isaac Bashevis Singer, on the desk of an editor at Harper & Row, he offered to illustrate the book. It was first published in 1966 and received a Newbery Award. Sendak was delighted and enthusiastic about the collaboration. He once wryly remarked that his parents were “finally” impressed by their youngest child when he collaborated with Singer. Sendak was an early member of the National Board of Advisors of the Children’s Television Workshop in the late 1960s during the development stages of the Sesame Street television series. His book In the Night Kitchen, originally issued in 1970, has often been subjected to censorship for its drawings of a young boy prancing naked through the story. The book has been challenged in several American states including Illinois, New Jersey, Minnesota, and Texas. In the Night Kitchen regularly appears on the American Library Association’s list of “frequently challenged and banned books.” It was listed number 21 on the “100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990–1999.” (It was also a favorite book of my children when they were little.) Sendak produced an animated television production based on his work titled Really Rosie, featuring the voice of Carole King, which was broadcast in 1975 and is available on video (usually as part of video compilations of his work). An album of the songs was also produced. He contributed the opening segment to Simple Gifts, a Christmas collection of six animated shorts shown on PBS TV in 1977 and later issued on VHS in 1993. He adapted his book Where the Wild Things Are for the stage in 1979. His 1981 book Outside Over There is the story of a girl, Ida, and her sibling jealousy and responsibility. Her father is away and so Ida is left to watch her baby sister, much to her dismay. Her sister is kidnapped by goblins and Ida must go off on a magical adventure to rescue her. At first, she’s not really eager to get her sister and nearly passes her sister right by when she becomes absorbed in the magic of the quest. In the end, she rescues her baby sister, destroys the goblins, and returns home committed to caring for her sister until her father returns home. Additionally, he designed sets for many operas and ballets, including the award-winning 1983 Pacific Northwest Ballet production of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker, Houston Grand Opera’s productions of Mozart’s The Magic Flute (1981) and Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel (1997), Los Angeles County Music Center’s 1990 production of Mozart’s Idomeneo, and the New York City Opera’s 1981 production of Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen. In the 1990s Sendak approached playwright Tony Kushner to write a new English version of the Czech composer Hans Krása’s children’s Holocaust opera Brundibár. Kushner wrote the text for Sendak’s illustrated book of the same name, published in 2003. The book was named one of the New York Times Book Review’s 10 Best Illustrated Books of 2003. In 2003 Chicago Opera Theatre produced Sendak and Kushner’s adaptation of Brundibár. In 2005 Berkeley Repertory Theatre, in collaboration with Yale Repertory Theatre and Broadway’s New Victory Theater, produced a substantially reworked version of the Sendak-Kushner adaptation. His final book, Bumble-Ardy, was published in 2011 (died 2012): “Once a little boy sent me a charming card with a little drawing on it. I loved it. I answer all my children’s letters — sometimes very hastily — but this one I lingered over. I sent him a card and I drew a picture of a Wild Thing on it. I wrote, “Dear Jim: I loved your card.” Then I got a letter back from his mother and she said, “Jim loved your card so much he ate it.” That to me was one of the highest compliments I’ve ever received. He didn’t care that it was an original Maurice Sendak drawing or anything. He saw it, he loved it, he ate it.”

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