Daily Update: Wednesday, May 27th, 2015

Augustine of Canterbury

Today is the Optional Memorial of Saint Augustine of Canterbury, Bishop (died 605). Today is also the first of three Ember Days for this season of the year.

Today’s Saint was born in Rome, sometime in the first third of the 6th Century, and was a monk and abbot of Saint Andrew’s Abbey in Rome. He was sent by Pope Saint Gregory the Great with 40 brother monks to evangelize the British Isles in 595. Before he reached the islands, terrifying tales of the Celts sent him back to Rome in fear, but Gregory told him he had no choice but to evangelize the Isles, and so he went back. He finally arrived in 597 and established and spread the faith throughout England; one of his earliest converts was King Æthelberht, who brought 10,000 of his people into the Church. Ordained a bishop in Gaul (modern France) by the archbishop of Arles, he became the first Archbishop of Canterbury, England. He helped re-establish contact between the Celtic and Latin churches, though he could not establish his desired uniformity of liturgy and practices between them. Today a Celtic cross marks the spot in Ebbsfleet, Thanet, East Kent, where Augustine is said to have landed, although historian Alan Kay told the BBC in 2005 that Augustine actually landed somewhere between Stonar and Sandwich. According to Kay, Ebbsfleet was not on the coast in the 6th century, and the story that Augustine landed there was started in 1884 by a Victorian aristocrat who needed a publicity stunt to draw people to his newly opened tea rooms. Anglican Archbishops of Canterbury are still referred to as occupying the Chair of Augustine, and he is one of the Patron Saints of England. Today is also the first 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.

I neglected to mention in yesterday’s Daily Update that when we got off the casino floor at 11:00 am we went to the Box Office to get our tickets to see Laughing with “Twitchy” on June 16th at 11:30 am. “Twitchy” is a humorous motivational speaker with Tourettes (hence his nickname), and the casino is hoping that all associates see one of his shows. (The June 16th is his last show, and the only one that is not long after 11:00 am on a day when we work.)

Before I woke up at 10:00 am, Richard had gone to Fantastic Sams and gotten his hair cut. Once I woke up I ate my breakfast toast and read the morning paper, then I finished setting up Balance My Checkbook Pro and deleted Pocketmoney from my Android and from the computer. I then started the Weekly Computer Maintenance, got it to the point of doing the Windows Backup (the last thing I do), and started my laundry. I also traded Emails with Liz Ellen; she needs me to download a version of “Take Me Out To The Ball Game”, suitable for her juggling and hooping programs at nursing homes. She also needs me to get her some pseudoephedrine (and chastised me mildly for not sending her any in her latest box of stuff). I told her that this was the first I heard of her needing it, and after a few more Emails established that she needs the 12 hour variety that you ask for at the pharmacist’s counter.

We left the house at 2:00 pm, and our first stop was the Hit-n-Run, where I purchased my Powerball and Louisiana Lotto lottery tickets for tonight’s drawing. We then went to Fantastic Sams; Richard walked over to AutoZone to get a quart of oil for my car, and I got my hair cut. Richard then got a call on his phone from the Clinic for me (they said they did not have my number; I gave it to them, and they said, “Oh, that’s the number we have!”); they wanted to reschedule my appointments with the Health Coach on June 29th and July 6th. I told them that 11:10 am on Mondays is the only time that she and I have worked out that works for her and me, and for them just to cancel those two appointments. We then went to Champagnes, where Richard got groceries.

Arriving home at 3:45 pm, the Weekly Computer Maintenance was finishing up. At 4:30 pm I watched Jeopardy!, then came to the computer to work on today’s Daily Update. At about 6:00 pm we had our dinner of barbecued pork steaks with whole boiled small potatoes. I also got a text message from Lisa with some fresh baby photos; upon asking, she told me that Callie is doing “a thousand times better!”, which is very good news. Now it is past 7:30 pm, and I think I will finish this Daily Update, start the Weekly Virus Scan, and do some reading.

Tomorrow we have no Saints to honor, so we will instead remember that on tomorrow’s date in 1754 the Battle of Jumonville Glen, the first battle of the French and Indian War, took place in Pennsylvania between English forces under young Lieutenant Colonel George Washington and French forces under Richard’s several-times great-uncle. I will finish my laundry, get my salad supplies from Wal-Mart, make my lunch salads, and call my oncology clinic to reschedule my June 11th appointment. And, if my Note 4 Otterbox Commuter and 128gb SanDisk come in the mail tomorrow early enough, I will head to Verizon to upgrade my Galaxy S-4 to the Note 4. (If they do not arrive tomorrow, I hope they arrive on Friday; otherwise, I will have to wait until Monday to get my new phone.)

Our Parting Quote on this Wednesday evening comes to us from Massimo Vignelli, Italian designer. Born in 1931 in Milan, Italy, he studied architecture at the Politecnico di Milano and later at the Università di Architettura, Venice. From 1957 to 1960 he visited America on a fellowship, and returned to New York in 1966 to start the New York branch of a new company, Unimark International, which quickly became, in scope and personnel, one of the largest design firms in the world. The firm went on to design many of the world’s most recognizable corporate identities, including that of American Airlines (which forced him to incorporate the eagle, Massimo was always quick to point out). Vignelli designed the iconic signage for the New York City Subway system during this period, and the 1970s–80s map of the system. Contrary to news reports, Vignelli did not design the Washington Metro Map, which was designed by Lance Wyman and Bill Cannan. However, he did create the signage and wayfinding system for the DC Metro and suggested it be named “Metro” like many other capital city subways. Its original name was a mishmash of various states and transportation groups. In 1971 Vignelli resigned from Unimark, in part because the design vision which he supported became diluted as the company diversified and increasingly stressed marketing, rather than design. Soon after, he and his wife Lella (a designer in her own right) founded Vignelli Associates. Vignelli worked in a wide variety of areas, including interior design, environmental design, package design, graphic design, furniture design, and product design. In August 1972 Vignelli’s design for the New York City Subway map appeared on the walls of subway stations and became a landmark in Modernist information design. He worked with the National Park Service and the design staff at the Harpers Ferry Center in creation of the “Unigrid System.” The system has been used since 1977 in creation of park brochures in all national parks locations. His clients at Vignelli Associates included high-profile companies such as IBM, Knoll, Bloomingdale’s and American Airlines. Vignelli worked with filmmaker Gary Hustwit on the 2007 documentary Helvetica, about the typeface of the same name. Vignelli participated in the Stock Exchange of Visions project in 2007, as well as publishing the book, Vignelli: From A to Z, containing a series of essays describing the principles and concepts behind “all good design”. It is alphabetically organized by topic, roughly approximating a similar course he taught at Harvard’s School of Design and Architecture. Vignelli’s designs were famous for following a minimal aesthetic and a narrow range of typefaces that Vignelli considered to be perfect in their genre, including Bodoni, Helvetica, Garamond No. 3 and Century Expanded. At the end of 2007, Mark Rozzo, an editor at Men’s Vogue magazine, invited Vignelli to submit a commemorative edition of his New York City Subway system map for inclusion in a ‘design classics’ edition of the magazine. This invitation precipitated the thinking of the team at Vignelli Associates, who had for some time been considering how they would do the map differently. Vignelli, Yoshiki Waterhouse, and Beatriz Cifuentes worked together to build a new, up-to-date map from scratch. Besides the general principle of a systematic and minimalist design, they added the specific requirement that the map should preserve spatial relations between stations. For example if one station was east of another station in real life, then it must be so on the map. This defused one of the most persistent criticisms of the 1972 map. Their wholly new map was released through the May 2008 edition of Men’s Vogue: within hours, all 500 signed prints were sold for charity at $299 each. In 2008 the Vignellis agreed to donate the entire archive of their design work to Rochester Institute of Technology, in a new building designed by them, The Vignelli Center For Design Studies. The building, which opened in September 2010, included among its many offerings exhibition spaces, classrooms, and offices. In January 2009 he released The Vignelli Canon as a free e-book; an expanded version was printed in September 2010, but the original remains available for download on the Vignelli Associates website. Vignelli also updated his 1972 New York City Subway map for an online-only version implemented in 2011 and described it as a “diagram”, not a map, to reflect its abstract design without surface-level features such as streets and parks. In 2011 the MTA began to look at ways of displaying service disruptions due to weekend engineering works in a visual format. They invited Vignelli to develop a digital version of the 2008 map. This was released on the MTA’s Weekender web site on September 16, 2011. Since then it has undergone several revisions and is still in use today, with weekly updates of service changes. The last map in which Vignelli was involved was a special transit map, designed by Yoshiki Waterhouse at Vignelli Associates, for Super Bowl XLVIII. The 2014 map showed both New York and New Jersey, and besides showing the New York City Subway, the map also included the MTA’s Metro-North and Long Island Railroads, New Jersey Transit lines, and Amtrak lines, all in the consistent visual language of the Vignelli map. His awards included the Gran Premio Triennale di Milano (1964), the AIGA Gold Medal (1983), the first Presidential Design Award, presented by President Ronald Reagan, for the National Park Service Publications Program (1985), the National Arts Club Gold Medal for Design (1991), and the Architecture Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, NY (2005) (died 2014): “In the new computer age, the proliferation of typefaces and type manipulations represents a new level of visual pollution threatening our culture. Out of thousands of typefaces, all we need are a few basic ones, and trash the rest.”

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