Daily Update: Friday, April 29th, 2016

Catherine of Siena and Arbor Day and Jazz Fest 2016 - House of Swing – Portrait of the First Family of Jazz by Paul Rogers

Today is the Memorial of Saint Catherine of Siena, Virgin (died 1380). Today is National Arbor Day, and the second day of the second weekend of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. And today is the birthday of Richard’s sister Susan in Iowa (1946).

Born as Caterina Benincasa in 1347 at Siena, Tuscany, today’s Saint was the 23rd of 25 children (most of her mother’s children died in infancy). At the age of six she had a vision in which Jesus appeared and blessed her. Her parents wanted her to marry, but she became a Dominican tertiary (over the objections of the Tertiaries themselves, who until up to then had all been widows). In about 1366 she experienced what she described in her letters as a “Mystical Marriage” with Jesus. At this time she was told by Christ to leave her withdrawn life and enter the public life of the world. Catherine dedicated much of her life to helping the ill and the poor, where she took care of them in hospitals or homes. Her early pious activities in Siena attracted a group of followers, both women and men, while they also brought her to the attention of the Dominican Order, which called her to Florence in 1374 to interrogate her for possible heresy. After this visit, in which she was deemed sufficiently orthodox, she began traveling with her followers throughout northern and central Italy advocating reform of the clergy, the launch of a new crusade, and advising people that repentance and renewal could be done through “the total love for God.” In the early 1370s she began writing letters to men and women of her circle, increasingly widening her audience to include figures in authority as she begged for peace between the republics and principalities of Italy and for the return of the Papacy from Avignon to Rome. Catherine’s letters are considered one of the great works of early Tuscan literature; more than 300 letters have survived. She carried on a long correspondence with Pope Gregory XI, also asking him to reform the clergy and the administration of the Papal States. Other correspondents include her various confessors, the kings of France and Hungary, the infamous mercenary John Hawkwood, the Queen of Naples, members of the Visconti family of Milan, and numerous religious figures. Roughly one third of her letters are to women. Her major work was The Dialogue of Divine Providence, a dialogue between a soul who “rises up” to God and God Himself, and recorded between 1377 and 1378 by members of her circle. Often assumed to be illiterate, Catherine was acknowledged by her biographers to be quite literate. In June of 1376 Catherine went to Avignon herself as ambassador of Florence to make peace with the Papal States, but was unsuccessful. She also tried to convince Pope Gregory XI to return to Rome. She impressed the Pope so much that he returned his administration to Rome in January, 1377. Following Gregory’s death and during the Western Schism of 1378 she was an adherent of Pope Urban VI, who summoned her to Rome, and stayed at Pope Urban VI’s court and tried to convince nobles and cardinals of his legitimacy. She lived in Rome until her death in 1380. The problems of the Western Schism would trouble her until the end of her life. An adherent of extreme fasting and prayer, it seems possible that her extreme practices contributed to her early death at the age of thirty-three. She was named a Doctor of the Church in 1970, and is the Patron Saint of the United States, of Europe, of Italy, of the diocese of Allentown, Pennsylvania, of people ridiculed for their piety, of nurses, and of the sick, and her aid is invoked against fire and miscarriages. Today is the national celebration of Arbor Day, this being the last Friday in April. On the first Arbor Day, organized by J. Sterling Morton in Nebraska City, Nebraska on April 10, 1872, an estimated one million trees were planted. Birdsey Northrop of Connecticut was responsible for globalizing it when he visited Japan in 1883 and delivered his Arbor Day and Village Improvement message. In that same year the American Forestry Association made Northrop the Chairman of the committee to campaign for Arbor Day nationwide. In 1997 David J. Wright noticed that a Nebraska non profit organization called the National Arbor Day Foundation had taken the name of the holiday and commercialized it for their own use as a trademark for their publication Arbor Day,. He countered their efforts and defended the holiday name in a federal district court in the United States to insure it was judged as property of the public domain. The case was settled in October 1999 in Wright’s favor, and today anyone can use the term “Arbor Day” and anyone can hold their own Arbor Day celebration. (Unless one chooses to print it out, this Daily Update was produced without using any trees.) Today is also the Second Day of the Second Weekend of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. There is much more than music at JazzFest; the Louisiana Folklife Village features master artisans and tradition-bearers creating cultural treasures by using generations-old techniques. The Native American Village, a component of the Folklife Village, celebrates the rich heritage of our state’s indigenous peoples. And The Grandstand gives Festival-goers a chance to take an intimate look at the vibrant culture, cuisine and art of Louisiana in an air-conditioned environment. Today at Jazz Fest one can see Wayne Toups, Irma Thomas, Elvin Bishop, Lauryn Hill, My Morning Jacket, and Paul Simon. Today is also the birthday of Richard’s sister Susan in Iowa (1946).

Yesterday evening our #8 ranked LSU Tigers lost the first game of their three-game away Baseball series with #9 Mississippi by the score of 6 to 7.

This morning I posted to Facebook that today was National Arbor Day, and did my Book Devotional Reading. On our way to work I did my Internet Devotional Reading and said the First Day of my Ascension Novena. After we clocked in at the casino, Richard closed the already-shut second Pai Gow table, then was the Relief Dealer for a couple of Blackjack tables; he then became the Relief Dealer for Mini Baccarat, Pai Gow, and (for about two rotations) a Blackjack table. I was on Mini Baccarat all day.

When we clocked out, I picked up a flat of used decks of cards from Security (to eventually send to Liz Ellen). At Uniforms they told me that the rust (orange) dealer shirts, when unpacked, were all missing the logo of the casino, and had to be sent back, so it will be about three weeks before I can get a rust (orange) dealer shirt. (So, instead of rotating my gold, red, and orange shirts, I will be rotating my gold and red shirts for a few weeks.) At the Pharmacy I picked up my prescription. On our way home from work I read the May 2nd, 2016 issue of Sports Illustrated (having abandoned all hope of reading the previous five or six issues), and started reading the May 2016 issue of Consumer Reports. Once home I read the morning paper and ate my lunch salad. I then was going to take a nap, but could not get to sleep, and worked instead on music, consolidating double albums. At 4:30 pm we watched Jeopardy!, then I decided to come to the computer and do my Daily Update, and to not go play bingo tonight at the St. Edmund Spring Fair at my church. Later tonight our #8 ranked LSU Tigers will be playing the second game of their three-game away Baseball series with #9 ranked Mississippi; I will post the score of the game in tomorrow’s Daily Update. And late tonight, at 10:30 pm, is the Last Quarter Moon.

Tomorrow is the Optional Memorial of Saint Pius V, Pope (died 1572). It is also the Anniversary of Louisiana Statehood (1812), Walpurgisnacht, and the Third Day of the Second Weekend of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. We will sign the Early Out list when we get to the casino; I have no idea how many people will get out, nor of how many people who will be on the list will have more hours than we do, so we might get out early, and we might not get out early. At 11:00 am our #8 ranked LSU Tigers will be playing the third game of their three-game away Baseball series with #9 ranked Mississippi. In the early afternoon I will go to the Adoration Chapel to do my Weekly Hour of Eucharistic Adoration; I will then eat lunch, and come back to the church to play bingo for a few hours. Since Richard and I will not be going to work on Sunday or Monday (due to the horrendous crowds, we are not going to JazzFest either on Sunday), we plan to go out to eat dinner and see a movie tomorrow night.

Our Parting Quote this Friday afternoon comes to us from Jean Nidetch, American entrepreneur. Born as Jean Slutsky in 1923 in Brooklyn, New York, she received a partial scholarship to Long Island University but was unable to attend due to a lack of financial resources. Instead, she enrolled in a business course at City College of New York. When her father died in 1942, she dropped out and started working. Her first job was at the Mullin Furniture Company in Jamaica, New York. She later worked for Man O’War Publishing Company and the Internal Revenue Service, where she met the man she soon married, Mortimer Nidetch. She then quit working to raise her family. An overweight housewife with a self-confessed obsession for eating meat, Nidetch had experimented with numerous fad diets before she followed a regimen prescribed by a diet clinic sponsored by the New York City Board of Health in 1961. After losing 20 pounds, and finding her resolve weakening, she contacted several overweight friends and founded a support group which developed into weekly classes. She incorporated her idea of a support group for dieting on May 15, 1963 as Weight Watchers. She divorced her husband in 1971. Nidetch wrote The Memoir of a Successful Loser The Story of Weight Watchers in 1972, and in 1975, she met a bass player on a cruise; they married, but soon split up. The Weight Watchers Program Cookbook was published in 1976. In 1978 Weight Watchers was sold to the H. J. Heinz Company. Nidetch, who remained a consultant to the organization, established scholarship programs at the University of California at Los Angeles and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Today Weight Watchers now operates in about 30 countries around the world, generally under names that are local translations of “Weight Watchers”. The core philosophy behind Weight Watchers programs is to use a science-driven approach to help participants lose weight by forming helpful habits, eating smarter, getting more exercise and providing support. In 2009, with author and poet Maya Angelou, she wrote The Jean Nidetch Story An Autobiography (died 2015): “It’s choice – not chance – that determines your destiny.”

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