Daily Update: Thursday, June 18, 2015

Ramadan 2

Again, no Saints (we will have one tomorrow, my little ones). However, we can celebrate Φ Day, or Golden Ratio Day, today. And we note that today at sunset (inshallah) the Islamic month of Ramadan begins, according to an edict from the Fiqh Council of North America.

In mathematics and the arts, two quantities are in the golden ratio if the ratio of the sum of the quantities to the larger quantity is equal to the ratio of the larger quantity to the smaller one. The golden ratio is an irrational mathematical constant, approximately 1.6180339887 (which is why today, 6/18, is Φ Day), and is denoted by the Greek letter Φ. Mathematicians have studied the golden ratio because of its unique and interesting properties, and at least since the Renaissance, many artists and architects have proportioned their works to approximate the golden ratio (especially in the form of the golden rectangle, in which the ratio of the longer side to the shorter is the golden ratio) believing this proportion to be aesthetically pleasing.  Salvador Dalí explicitly used the golden ratio in his 1955 masterpiece The Sacrament of the Last Supper. The dimensions of the canvas are a golden rectangle, and a huge dodecahedron, with edges in golden ratio to one another, is suspended above and behind Jesus and dominates the composition. Turning to the Islamic world, Ramadan is the ninth month of the lunar Islamic calendar, which lasts 29 or 30 days according to the visual sightings of the crescent moon, As there are no interlocutory months in the Islamic calendar, any given month usually begins each year about 10 to 12 days earlier than in the previous Gregorian calendar year (and the determining of when a given month starts is an art, not a science; I depend on the ruling of the Fiqh Council of North America). It is the Muslim month of fasting, in which Muslims refrain from dawn until sunset from eating, drinking, and sexual relations. Muslims fast in this month for the sake of demonstrating submission to God and to offer more prayers and Quran recitations. The act of fasting is said to redirect the heart away from worldly activities, its purpose being to cleanse the inner soul and free it from harm. It also teaches Muslims to practice self-discipline, self-control, sacrifice, and empathy for those who are less fortunate; thus encouraging actions of generosity and charity. It becomes compulsory for Muslims to start fasting when they reach puberty, so long as they are healthy, sane and have no disabilities or illnesses. The elderly, the chronically ill, and the mentally ill are exempt from fasting, although the first two groups must endeavor to feed the poor in place of their missed fasting. Also exempt are pregnant women if they believe it would be harmful to them or the unborn baby, women during the period of their menstruation, and women nursing their newborns. At sunset, the family will gather the fast-breaking meal known as Iftar. The meal starts with the eating of three dates, just as the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) used to do. Then the Maghrib prayer, which is the fourth of the five daily prayers, is said, after which the main meal is served. Over time Iftar has grown into banquet festivals. This is a time of fellowship with families, friends and surrounding communities, but may also occupy larger spaces at mosques or banquet halls, where a hundred or more may gather at a time. (In the Northern Hemisphere, the Summer Solstice falls during Ramadan this year; thus, the observant have many more hours of daylight when they must fast as opposed to darkness when they may break the fast.)

Last night we heard from Michelle; she was flying from Baton Rouge to Providence, Rhode Island, with a layover in Atlanta. However, she missed her connection in Atlanta, and ended up flying to Boston, where her brother picked her up. (When we flew, it was direct from Houston to Boston; a lot of driving at both ends, but no worries about missing connecting flights.) And when the Backup finished last evening Richard ran the Weekly Virus Scan for me.

Richard bagged up the trash and put the new dumpster-style trash can out on the curb before I woke up at 8:30 am. I did my Bathroom Devotional Reading, then read the Thursday papers while eating my breakfast toast. I then came to the computer, where I did my Internet Devotional Reading, printed out the names and dates of the National Parks I have been to (more anon), and prepared the monthly package to send to Liz Ellen. (It turns out that Liz Ellen will not be able to come down when Matthew and Callie and the baby come down in October; drat. Perhaps I can check with Callie when they come down to see if they are coming down when Liz Ellen will be here for Christmas.) I also downloaded the new Encyclical from the Pope, Laudato Si, which is subtitled “On Care for Our Common Home”, i.e., the Environment. I have it saved on my Galaxy Note 4, to read when I get a chance.

I left the house on my own at 12:15 pm. My first stop was the post office, where I mailed off Liz Ellen’s package and was complimented on my 2015 Jazz Fest T-shirt (I told the lady who liked it that my husband had gotten it for me when he went to Jazz Fest this year). I then went to the Hit-n-Run, where I purchased my Powerball and Louisiana Lotto lottery tickets for Saturday night’s drawing. I ate Chinese for lunch at Peking and continued reading The First Phone Call from Heaven by Mitch Albom. Finally, I went to Wal-Mart, where I got my salad supplies and some groceries and household items.

Returning home at 2:00 pm, I cleaned up the music I had downloaded and put the songs on a new album. (I have several Miscellaneous S**t albums; I am now starting #12.) I then did a couple of Advance Daily Update Drafts through Sunday. Next, I made my lunch salads for Friday and Sunday, and watched Jeopardy! I then came to the computer to do today’s Daily Update. And tonight at the College World Series in Omaha, our #1 ranked LSU Baseball team will face TCU (the same team they lost to on Sunday, 3 to 10), with the loser of the game going home and the winner of the game playing Vanderbilt tomorrow evening. Geaux Tigers!

Tomorrow is the first full day of Ramadan. We will also celebrate the Optional Memorial of Saint Romuald, Abbot, and tomorrow is Juneteenth. We will be heading to the casino to start our work week. On my breaks I will start plugging the National Parks I have been to, and the date I first visited each park, into my Passport to Your National Parks application on my Galaxy Note 4. (I had this app on my Galaxy S-4, but unaccountably did not do a backup before switching to my Galaxy Note 4.) I will also continue to organize my photos of the baby from our trip to Connecticut. And I have nothing planned for the afternoon.

Our Parting Quote this Thursday afternoon comes to us from Clarence Clemons, American saxophonist and actor. Born in 1942 in Norfolk County, Virginia (later Chesapeake), his father owned a fish market. His grandfather was a Southern Baptist preacher and, as a result, the young Clemons grew up listening to gospel music. When he was nine his father gave him an alto saxophone as a Christmas present and paid for music lessons. He later switched to baritone saxophone and played in a high school jazz band. His uncle also influenced his early musical development when he bought him his first King Curtis album. Curtis, and his work with The Coasters in particular, became a major influence on Clemons and led to him switching to tenor saxophone. At age 18 Clemons had one of his earliest studio experiences, recording sessions with Tyrone Ashley’s Funky Music Machine, a band from Plainfield, New Jersey that included Ray Davis, Eddie Hazel and Billy Bass Nelson, all of whom later played with Parliament-Funkadelic. He also performed with Daniel Petraitis, a New Jersey and Nashville legend. As a youth he also showed potential as a football player, and he attended Maryland State College on both music and football scholarships. He played as a lineman on the same team as Emerson Boozer and attracted the attention of the Cleveland Browns, who offered him a trial. Clemons also tried out for the Dallas Cowboys, but was involved in a serious car accident the day before his trial, effectively ending any plans of a career in the National Football League. While at Maryland State College Clemons also joined his first band, The Vibratones, which played James Brown covers and stayed together for about four years between 1961 and 1965. While still playing with this band he moved to Newark, New Jersey where he worked as a counselor for emotionally disturbed children at the Jamesburg Training School for Boys between 1962 and 1970. Clemons and Bruce Springsteen allegedly met for the first time in September 1971. At the time Clemons was playing with Norman Seldin & The Joyful Noyze at The Wonder Bar in Asbury Park, New Jersey. Seldin was a Jersey Shore musician / entrepreneur who, as well as playing piano and leading various bands, had his own record label, Selsom Records. It was Karen Cassidy, lead vocalist with The Joyful Noyze, who encouraged Clemons to check out Springsteen who was playing with The Bruce Springsteen Band at the nearby Student Prince. In July 1972, Springsteen began recording his debut album Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. and during breaks from recording, he jammed with Clemons and The Joyful Noyze on at least two occasions at The Shipbottom Lounge in Point Pleasant, New Jersey. When Springsteen then decided to use a tenor saxophone on the songs “Blinded by the Light” and “Spirit in the Night,” it was Clemons he called. By October Springsteen was ready to tour and promote Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. and he put together a band featuring Clemons, Tallent, Danny Federici and Vini Lopez. Clemons played his last gig with Norman Seldin & The Joyful Noyze at the Club Plaza in Bayville, New Jersey on October 21, 1972. Four days later Clemons made his debut with the formative E Street Band at an unadvertised, impromptu performance at The Shipbottom Lounge. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s Clemons was featured prominently on Springsteen albums. On Born to Run he provided memorable saxophone solos on the title track, “Thunder Road” and “Jungleland” while Darkness on the Edge of Town featured another notable solo on “Badlands”. The River saw Clemons feature on songs such as “The Ties That Bind”, “Sherry Darling”, “I Wanna Marry You”, “Drive All Night” and “Independence Day” while Born in the U.S.A. saw solos on “Bobby Jean” and “I’m Goin’ Down”. At the end of shows, when recognizing members of the E Street Band, Springsteen would refer to Clemons as “The Biggest Man You Ever Seen”. Clemons also pursued an acting career, making his screen debut in Martin Scorsese’s 1977 musical New York, New York in which he played a trumpet player. He played one of the ‘Three Most Important People In The World’ in the 1989 comedy film Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. In 1985 Clemons was a special guest star in the Diff’rent Strokes episode “So You Want to Be a Rock Star”, in which he played the role of Mr. Kingsley, a young saxophonist helping Arnold Jackson to learn to play his sax. He was also a guest voice in an episode of The Simpsons. In 1990 he co-starred in the pilot episode of Human Target, a Rick Springfield action series intended for ABC. He also played the role of Jack in Swing starring opposite Lisa Stansfield and Hugo Speer, directed by Nick Mead. He appeared alongside Michael McKean and David Bowe as a miner in one episode of musician “Weird Al” Yankovic’s children’s television show The Weird Al Show. He made a cameo appearance in 1999′s sequel to Blues Brothers, Blues Brothers 2000, as part of the metal section of the super blues band The Louisiana Gator Boys. He appeared in an episode of Damon Wayans’ television show My Wife And Kids as a musician and performed an original composition, co written with bassist, Lynn Woolever, called “One Shadow In The Sun”. Clemons twice appeared as a Baltimore youth-program organizer in HBO’s crime drama The Wire. Outside of his work with the E Street Band, Clemons recorded with many other artists and had a number of musical projects on his own. The best known of these are his 1985 vocal duet with Jackson Browne on the Top-20 hit single “You’re a Friend of Mine”, and his saxophone work on Aretha Franklin’s 1985 Top-10 hit single “Freeway of Love”. Married five times, Clemons was a strong advocate and supporter of Home Safe, a non-profit organization helping victims of child abuse and domestic violence. Each year Home Safe serves more than fifteen thousand infants, children and families in south Florida. From 2005 until his death, Clemons hosted an annual charity event for Home Safe called The Classic Rock & Roll Party. Through these events Clemons helped raise over $2.5 million for Home Safe. In addition to raising funds for Home Safe programs, Clemons would also personally visit abused children at Home Safe’s campuses to give them words of encouragement and practical advice about life. Clemons’ monumental efforts on behalf of Home Safe earned him the President’s Volunteer Service Award in 2010. Clemons’ final recordings with Springsteen and the E Street Band were featured on Springsteen’s 2012 album Wrecking Ball (died 2011): “As a horn player, the greatest compliment one can get is when a person comes to you and says, ‘I heard this saxophone on the radio the other day and I knew it was you. I don’t know the song, but I know it was you on sax.’”

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