Daily Update: Thursday, June 1st, 2017

Shavuot 3 and Justin, Martyr and Hurricane Season

The Jewish pilgrimage feast of Shavuot continues, ending at sunset today. Today is the Memorial of Saint Justin, Martyr (died 165), and today is the beginning date of the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season.

According to the Midrash, Mount Sinai suddenly blossomed with flowers in anticipation of the giving of the Torah on its summit. Greenery also figures in the story of the baby Moses being found among the bulrushes in a watertight cradle (Ex. 2:3) when he was three months old (Moses was born on 7 Adar and placed in the Nile River on 6 Sivan, the same day he later brought the Jewish nation to Mount Sinai to receive the Torah). For these reasons, many Jewish families traditionally decorate their homes and synagogues with plants, flowers and leafy branches in honor of Shavuot. Some synagogues decorate the bimah with a canopy of flowers and plants so that it resembles a chuppah, as Shavuot is mystically referred to as the day the matchmaker (Moses) brought the bride (the nation of Israel) to the chuppah (Mount Sinai) to marry the bridegroom (God); the ketubbah (marriage contract) was the Torah. Some Eastern Sephardi communities actually read out a ketubbah between God and Israel as part of the service. However, the Vilna Gaon (died 1797) canceled the tradition of decorating with trees because it too closely resembled the decorations that Christians used for their holidays. Today’s Saint was born c. 100 at Nablus, Palestine; he called himself a Samaritan, but his father and grandfather were probably Greek or Roman, and he was brought up as a pagan. It seems that Justin had property, studied philosophy, converted to Christianity at the age of thirty by reading the Scriptures and witnessing the heroism and faith of martyrs, and devoted the rest of his life to teaching what he now considered the true philosophy, still wearing his philosopher’s gown to indicate that he had attained the truth. He probably traveled widely and ultimately settled in Rome as a Christian teacher. He used his philosophical and oratorical skills to dispute with pagans and explain the faith, becoming one of the first great Christian apologists. (A Christian Apologist is not one who apologizes for his faith; the word comes from the Greek for “verbal defence, speech in defence” and signifies one who presents reasoned bases for the Christian faith, defending the faith against objections.) All this naturally brought him to the attention of the authorities, and he died a martyr. Justin’s writings constitute a storehouse of early interpretation of the prophetic Scriptures, and he is the Patron Saint of orators and philosophers; for reasons unknown, he is invariably referred to as Justin Martyr. And today is the opening day of the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season, which runs from now through November 30th; the climatological peak of activity is around September 10th each season. Across the entire Atlantic Basin for the six-month season, NOAA is predicting a 45 percent chance of an above-normal season, a 35 percent chance of a near-normal season, and only a 20 percent chance of a below-normal season. They also predict a 70 percent likelihood of 11 to 17 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 5 to 9 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 2 to 4 major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of 111 mph or higher). An average season produces 12 named storms of which six become hurricanes, including three major hurricanes. The most active season was 2005, during which 28 tropical cyclones formed, of which a record fifteen tropical cyclones became hurricanes (including Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita). The least active season was the 1914 season, with only one known tropical cyclone developing during that year. Let us hope that this will be a calm hurricane season; of course, what defines a season for those living within reach of the Gulf or Atlantic Coasts is whether a given storm system impacts one personally.

Richard woke up early, gathered up the trash and wheeled the trash bin out to the curb, then went back to bed for a bit. The First Quarter Moon arrived at 8:43 am, but I did not fully awake until 10:00 am. I put in a new pair of contact lenses and flipped to the next month in my wall calendars. I then put my spare Galaxy Note 4 battery into my phone, posted to Facebook that today was the start of the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season, and cleared out the phone call lists and voice mails on my phone. I then did my Book Devotional Reading, and read the morning papers. I did my Internet Devotional Reading and said the Seventh Day of my Pentecost Novena, cleared out the browsing data on Chrome, Wikipedia, Play Store, and Facebook, and deleted my Google search history.

We left the house at 12:15 pm, and I took screenshots of all of my phone home screens. We ate lunch at the Hacienda Real, which is having its grand opening in its new location (the old Radio Shack building and dress shop across the road), and it was very good. We then went to Wal-Mart; I purchased a new car charger and new house chargers, and we got groceries, cash, and my salad supplies.

Arriving back home at 2:00 pm, I got on the computer to work on today’s Daily Update. At the Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City, our #19 LSU Lady Tigers (41-18) played a College Softball game with the #8 UCLA Lady Bruins (42 -13). and beat them 2 to 1. I then ironed my Casino pants, apron, and shirts, and made my lunch salads for Friday and Sunday. We watched Jeopardy! at 4:30 pm, and I will now finish this Daily Update and read a bit in The Mummy: A History of the Extraordinary Practices of Ancient Egypt by E. A. Wallis Budge before going to sleep.

Tomorrow is the First Friday of the month, dedicated to devotions to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Tomorrow is the Optional Memorial of Saint Erasmus (or Elmo) of Formia, Bishop and Martyr (died 303), the Optional Memorial of Saints Marcellinus and Peter, Martyrs (died 304), and the annual Day of Prayer and Fasting for Protection from Storms. Finally, tomorrow is National Doughnut Day. Tomorrow is the start of our work week at the casino, and on my breaks I will continue reading A World Without Smells by Lars Lundqvist via Kindle on my tablet. In the afternoon at the NCAA College Baseball Regional in Baton Rouge, our #3 (#1 Seed) LSU Tigers (39-17) will be playing the (#4 Seed) Texas Southern Tigers (20-32), and tomorrow evening at the Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City, our #19 LSU Lady Tigers (42-18) will play a College Softball game with the #2 Florida Lady Gators (50-6).

Our Parting Quote this Thursday afternoon comes to us from Ann B. Davis, American actress. Born as Ann Bradford Davis in 1926 in Schenectady, New York, at the age of three her family moved to Erie, Pennsylvania. She entered the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, intending to go into pre-med, but switched her major to drama after seeing her older brother’s performance in Oklahoma!. Graduating in 1948 with a degree in drama and speech, her first credited work was as a musical judge in the 1953 – 1954 season of ABC’s Jukebox Jury. After an uncredited role in the 1955 film A Man Called Peter, a friend’s boyfriend who was a casting director on NBC’s The Bob Cummings Show recommended her for the part of Bob’s secretary Charmaine “Schultzy” Schultz. She got the job, was in 153 episodes from 1955 through 1959, and was nominated for the Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series four times (winning twice). On February 9th, 1960, Davis received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In the 1965-1966 television season, she appeared as Miss Wilson, a physical education teacher at a private girls’ academy in San Francisco, in John Forsythe’s NBC sitcom The John Forsythe Show. In 1969 she got the part of Alice Nelson, the housekeeper for The Brady Bunch. Alice was best known for telling jokes (often self-deprecating, and usually interspersed with drier humor than the rest of the Brady clan), which were almost invariably met with multiple “Oh, Alice!” responses. Alice was also known for her sky blue housekeeping uniform, which she almost always wore. She also joined in the children’s games (including playing basketball), and went along with the family on vacations. In an apparent running gag with the character, strenuous physical activity would sometimes cause Alice to throw her back out, making her immobile for a short period of time. She had an identical cousin, Emma (also played by Davis), who was a retired master sergeant in the Women’s Army Corps. For most of the series, Alice dated Sam Franklin (Allan Melvin), who ran the local butcher shop. In the final 1974 season, Alice and Sam were engaged. The Brady Bunch went into syndication after 1974 and became an iconic show of that decade. (Former Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal’s real first name is Piyush; born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in 1971 as the son of Indian immigrants, he wanted an American first name, and took the name of Bobby from the show.) For a period in the 1960s and 1970s Davis was known for her appearances in television commercials for the Ford Motor Company, particularly for the mid-sized Ford Fairlane models. Davis was also featured in commercials for Minute Rice until the mid-1980s. In 1976 she sold her home in Los Angeles to move to Denver, Colorado, where she joined an Episcopal community led by Bishop William C. Frey. The community later relocated to Ambridge, Pennsylvania. Davis had long been a volunteer for the Episcopal church, working at the General Convention, attending services at churches around the country, and was not cloistered in the community. Meanwhile, The Brady Bunch spawned several specials, short-lived television series, and movies, and Davis played Alice Nelson in most of them. In the early 1990s she focused on theater. She performed in a production of Arsenic and Old Lace, and was in a world tour production of Crazy For You. In 1994 Davis published Alice’s Brady Bunch Cookbook, with Brady Bunch inspired recipes. She never completely retired from acting; in her later years she was the celebrity spokeswoman in several Shake ‘n Bake commercials, and later appeared in several disposable mop commercials for Swiffer. Excepting 1995’s The Brady Bunch Movie (in which she played a trucker named Schultzy), her last role was in a 1997 episode of Something So Right (died 2014): “I remember my first ‘demographic report’ on the ‘Brady Bunch.’ I was with a friend, who told her little girl, ‘honey, you remember Schultzy?’ The girl said, ‘that’s not Schultzy, that’s Alice!’ I knew that we were coming along…. Today, people with three-piece suits and briefcases suddenly become twelve when they’re walking by me. That just breaks me up and I love it!”

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