Daily Update: Sunday, August 28th, 2016

Augustine and 08-28 - Hurricane Isaac

Today is the Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, and the Memorial of Saint Augustine, Bishop and Doctor (died 430). It was also on this date in 2012 that Hurricane Isaac made its first landfall in Louisiana.

Born in 354 in Tagaste, Numidia (now Souk-Ahras, Algeria) as Aurelius Augustinus, today’s Saint was the son of a pagan father. Raised as a Christian by his mother, Saint Monica (whose Memorial was yesterday), he lost his faith in youth and led a wild life, living with a Carthaginian woman from the age of 15 through 30, and fathering a son whom he named Adeodatus, which means “gift of God”. He taught rhetoric at Carthage and in Milan, Italy. After investigating and experimenting with several philosophies, he became a Manichaean for several years; it taught of a great struggle between good and evil, and featured a rather lax moral code. Augustine finally broke with the Manichaeans and was converted by the prayers of his mother and the help of Saint Ambrose of Milan, who baptized him. On the death of his mother soon after his baptism he returned to Africa, sold his property, gave the proceeds to the poor, and founded a monastery. Becoming a priest and preacher, he was named Bishop of Hippo in 396. He founded religious communities, fought Manichaeism, Donatism, Pelagianism and other heresies, and oversaw his church and his see during the fall of the Roman Empire to the Vandals. Augustine was one of the most prolific Latin authors in terms of surviving works, and the list of his works consists of more than a hundred separate titles. Augustine is probably best known for his Confessiones (Confessions), which is a personal account of his earlier life, and for De civitate dei (Of the City of God, consisting of 22 books), which he wrote to restore the confidence of his fellow Christians, which was badly shaken by the sack of Rome by the Visigoths in 410. In the 11th century the order of Augustinian Monks came into being, claiming lineage from the religious communities founded by Saint Augustine. Augustine was canonized by popular acclaim, and later recognized as a Doctor of the Church in 1298 by Pope Boniface VIII. Patron Saint of theologians, brewers, printers, and of the city and diocese of St. Augustine, Florida (founded in 1565, and named for the Saint on whose day the land was first sighted from sea by its Spanish founder); his aid in invoked for the alleviation of sore eyes. And on this date in 2012 Hurricane Isaac made its first of two landfalls in Louisiana. On August 24th and 25th Isaac passed over Hispaniola and Cuba as a strong tropical storm, killing at least 29 people in Hispaniola, before it entered the Gulf of Mexico. The storm became a Category 1 Hurricane on August 28th and made its first landfall that evening just southwest of the mouth of the Mississippi River with winds of 80 mph. The storm then moved offshore, and some seven or eight hours later made its second landfall on August 29th just west of Port Fourchon. During the next day or two the storm blew itself out as it moved northwest. Five people died in Louisiana, some 901,000 homes lost electricity (St. John the Baptist Parish was especially hard hit, with extensive flooding), but the storm had been predicted to be a Category 2 storm before landfall, so residents of Louisiana were grateful that the damage from the storm was not worse. (Here in SouthWestCentral Louisiana, our electricity went on and off like fireflies on the 29th; otherwise, the storm did not impact us.)

I did my Book Devotional Reading, and on our way to work I did my Internet Devotional Reading. When we got to work I found my LSU bracelet from my friend and co-worker Deborah in my locker (made with safety pins, elastic, and purple and gold beads). Once we clocked in, Richard was on Mississippi Stud; I was on a Blackjack table. I dealt to the drummer of the group that had played in the Mikko Center of the casino on Saturday Night (Velcro Pygmies), and I had to use a blow-dryer on my table layout after one of our regular guests came up to the table and promptly spilled his beer all over the layout. Halfway through the shift I was moved to Mini Baccarat, where I had two regular guests after about 9:30 am. On my breaks I continued reading Gilead by Marilynne Robinson.

Once we were home from work, I made my lunch salads for tomorrow and Tuesday, and ate a salad while reading the Sunday papers. I then came to the computer to do today’s Daily Update. And once I finish this Daily Update, I will be going to bed for the duration.

Tomorrow is the Memorial of the Beheading of Saint John the Baptist, Martyr (died c. 30), and the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina (2005). Tomorrow is also the International Day against Nuclear Tests. (I don’t note every Day that is out there – like National Corndog Day, which is March 19th – just the ones that are personally important to me.) Richard and I will be working our eight hours at the casino on what is the Thursday of our work week, and I will continue reading Gilead by Marilynne Robinson on my breaks. Tomorrow our friend and co-worker Virginia will be having her hip surgery, and our friend and co-worker Deborah (her roommate) will be finding out when she will be having her foot surgery. After lunch I will start organizing books in the living room (which is where all of my general Non-Fiction books (those that are not Religious, Children’s’ Books, or Cookbooks) live).

On this Sunday afternoon our Parting Quote comes to us from Paul MacCready, American aeronautical engineer. Born as Paul B. MacCready, Jr. in 1925 in New Haven, Connecticut, to a medical family, he was an inventor from an early age and won a national contest building a model flying machine at the age of fifteen. After graduating from high school in 1943 he received his BS in physics from Yale University in 1947, a MS in physics from Caltech in 1948, and a PhD in aeronautics from Caltech in 1952. In the meantime, he trained as a US Navy pilot at the end of World War II. Some of his work as a graduate student involved cloud seeding, and in 1951 MacCready founded his first company, Meteorology Research Inc, to do atmospheric research. He had started flying gliders after World War II and was a three-time winner (1948, 1949, 1953) of the Richard C. duPont Memorial Trophy, awarded annually to the U.S. National Open Class Soaring Champion. In 1956 he became the first American pilot to become the World Soaring Champion. He devised the MacCready Theory on the correct speed to fly a glider depending on conditions and based on the glider’s rate of sink at different air-speeds. Glider pilots still use the MacCready speed ring to maximize the average cross-country speed by optimizing the airspeed in both rising and sinking air. He was the founder (in 1971) and Chairman of AeroVironment Inc., a public company (AVAV) that develops unmanned surveillance aircraft and advance power systems. With Dr. Peter B.S. Lissaman he created the first practical human-powered aircraft, the Gossamer Condor, and thereby won the Kremer prize in 1977; the seven-and-a-half-minute flight covered a figure-eight course a half-mile long in Shafter, California. The award-winning plane was built out of aluminum tubing, plastic foam, piano wire, bicycle parts, and mylar foil for covering. In 1979 he built its successor, the Gossamer Albatross, which won the second Kremer prize for successfully flying from England to France; it weighed 70 pounds and had a 96-foot wingspan, and took three hours to make the crossing over the English Channel. He later created solar powered aircraft such as the Gossamer Penguin and the Solar Challenger. He was involved in the development of NASA’s solar-powered flying wings such as the Helios, which surpassed the SR-71′s altitude records and could theoretically fly on Mars (where the atmosphere is thin and has little oxygen). MacCready also collaborated with General Motors on the design of the Sunraycer, a solar powered car, and then on the EV-1 electric car. In 1985 he was commissioned to build a life-size, flying replica of a pterodactyl for the Smithsonian Institution. The completed remote-controlled flying reptile was filmed over Death Valley, California in 1986 for the Smithsonian’s IMAX film On the Wing. MacCready helped to sponsor the Nissan Dempsey/MacCready Prize which has helped to motivate developments in racing-bicycle technology, applying aerodynamics and new materials to allow for faster human-powered vehicles (died 2007): “If you want to move mountains, you just go move mountains. If you don’t have a big enough shovel, you get some friends to help you. If you have the enthusiasm to charge ahead, you can do all sorts of things. Some things you can’t do. You can’t invent a perpetual motion machine. You’ve got to select your targets. But people can do so much more than they realize.”

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