Daily Update: Monday, June 8th, 2015


Today is the Optional Memorial of Saint Médard, Bishop (died c. 545).

Today’s Saint was born about 457 in Salency, Oise, in Picardy; his father was of Frankish origin, while his mother was Gallo-Roman. While still a youth Médard gave one of his father’s finest horses to a peasant who had lost his. Immediately afterward, rain started to downpour, and while everyone else was drenched, an eagle spread its wings over Médard, and he remained dry. In 490 he was chosen as the new Bishop of Vermand due to his exemplary piety and his knowledge, considerable for that time. Despite his objections, he found himself obliged to accept the heavy responsibilities of the position, to which he devoted himself zealously. He is held to have removed the see from Vermand, a little city with no defenses, to Noyon, the strongest place in that region, in 531, and was a councilor to Clotaire, the Merovingian king at Soissons. In the north of France (and later, in Cajun Louisiana), the saying was, ”Should Saint Médard’s day be wet, it will rain for forty yet. But, if it is sunny and dry on Saint Médard’s day, so will the next 40 days be dry.” The old Cajuns (who refer to this day as “samida”) hold that if it rains on this day, it will rain at least once a day for the next 40 days. So I will note if it rained on this day, and see if the saying holds true. Saint Médard is the Patron Saint invoked for (or against) the weather, and his aid is invoked against toothaches.

Before going to sleep I read the May 18th, 2015 issue of my Jesuit America magazine. And at the NCAA Baseball Tournament Super Regional in Baton Rouge our #1 ranked LSU Baseball team beat UL – Lafayette by the score of 6 to 3. Our Tigers now head to TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Nebraska to play in the College World Series; they will play TCU on Sunday, June 14th.

We got an early start today; I woke up at 3:45 am in our room at the Americas Best Value Inn and Suites – George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston. We checked out at 4:45 am, and caught the 5:00 am airport shuttle to the airport. After going through security and locating our gate, we ate breakfast; Richard got his from Wendy’s, and I got a bagel from Nature’s Kitchen. We boarded our 7:15 am United Airlines flight to Boston, and I read the Houston Chronicle and USA Today. I then listened to music on my headphones (Richard was doing good the same with his earbuds), and I started reading the May 25th – June 1st, 2015 issue of my Jesuit America magazine. Our plane landed at Logan International Airport in Boston at about 11:45 am EDT, and we took the shuttle bus to the car rental station, where we rented a Chevy Cruise at the Avis / Budget counter. We then headed out of Boston, with the temperature a good twenty degrees cooler than back home in SouthWestCentral Louisiana.

I sent a text to Callie at 12:45 pm to let her know we were on the way. At 1:30 pm we stopped at the Longhorn Steakhouse in Mansfield for lunch, and were back on the road at 2:30 pm. At 2:45 pm we crossed into Rhode Island, and we reached Connecticut at 3:30 pm. We arrived at the kids’ place in Groton, and spent the rest of the evening talking, cooing at the baby, 20150608_162327 eating pizza, and (in my case) drinking Stella Artois beer and not doing my Daily Update.

Tomorrow is the Optional Memorial of Saint Ephrem, Deacon and Doctor, and the birthday of Richard’s nephew Steve (the older son of Richard’s sister Susan in Iowa). Richard and I will be in Groton with the kids. I will do my Daily Update for yesterday, and the Last Quarter Moon will arrive at 11:43 am.

Our Parting Quote on this Monday evening comes to us from Niels Diffrient, American industrial engineer and designer. Born in 1928 near Star, Mississippi, as a child his family had two books, the Bible and the Sears Roebuck catalog, and he spent hours drawing his own versions of items from the catalog. During the Great Depression his family relocated to Detroit. He then attended Wayne State University and Cranbrook Academy of Art, where he received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in design and architecture and excelled as an outstanding student, winning the First Medal in Design three of his four years there. While in Italy on a Fulbright Scholarship in 1954, Diffrient went to work in the studio of Marco Zanuso, where he assisted with the design of an award-winning Borletti sewing machine. Upon arriving back in the United States in 1955, Diffrient joined Dreyfuss Associates in their Pasadena offices, and spent the next few decades revolutionizing American industrial design through his development of interiors and corporate identity for American Airlines planes, the landmark Princess telephone, the Polaroid SX-70 camera, and tractor seats for John Deere. In 1981 after 25 years with Henry Dreyfuss Associates, Diffrient left to start his own independent practice and struggled for more than a decade to find a new niche. In the late 1990s, when he was past 70, he found it in the creation of a new ergonomic office chair, which he called the Freedom Chair. During his half century career Diffrient designed every type of equipment, as well as computers, exhibits, trucks, airplane interiors and corporate identity programs. He was broadly published in the field of design and human factors, most notably as co-author of the three-volume publication Humanscale in 1974 and 1981. He is credited with pioneering the use of ergonomics, or what he called human factors engineering, in dozens of office furniture designs. Additionally Niels spent time as adjunct Professor of Design at UCLA for eight years and was a visiting critic at the Yale University School of Architecture for two years. In the field of furniture design, most notably ergonomic seating, Niels won a total of 24 awards, including two Best of Show and 10 Gold and Top awards. Diffrient held more than 46 design and utility patents on furniture designs in America and abroad, and his many honors include the I.D. (magazine) Top 40 Design Innovators of 1996, the 1996 Chrysler Award for Innovation, the Smithsonian’s 2002 Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award for Product Design, and the 2005 Legend Award from Contract magazine. In 2007, Forbes.com named Diffrient the “granddaddy of the ergonomic revolution” and one of ten “Tastemakers” in the field of industrial design. Diffrient was also an Honorary Royal Designer for Industry, awarded by the Royal Society of Arts and Industry (died 2013): “The difference between us as designers and engineers is that engineers are fundamentally without an aesthetic motive. They work out something that functions mechanically or electrically and it’s functional, but they don’t add that extra something that’s poetic, cultural, visually satisfying.”

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