Motto October 24–November 6, 2015

Mirror image of Edith Wharton's autobiography. For explanation of end date of motto's prime application see: https://joelsolkoff.com/using-zotero-to-manage-dissertation-citations/
Mirror image of Edith Wharton’s autobiography. For explanation of end date of motto’s prime application see: https://joelsolkoff.com/using-zotero-to-manage-dissertation-citations/

Years ago I said to myself: “There’s no such thing as old age, there is only sorrow.”

I have learned with the passing of time that this, though true, is not the whole truth. The other producer of old age is habit: the deathly process of doing the same thing in the same way at the same hour day after day, first from carelessness, then from inclination, at last from cowardice or inertia. Luckily the inconsequent life is not the only alternative; for caprice is as ruinous as routine. Habit is necessary; it is the habit of having habits; of turning a trail into a rut, that must be incessantly fought against if one is to remain alive.

In spite of illness, in spite of the arch-enemy sorrow, one can remain alive long past the usual date of disintegration if one is unafraid of change, insatiable in intellectual curiosity, interested in big things, and happy in small ways. In the course of sorting and setting down of my memories I have learned that these advantages are usually independent of one’s efforts, and that I probably owe my happy old age to the ancestor who accidentally endowed me with these qualities.

A Backward Glance by Edith Wharton

Driving from NYC to San Francisco with my grandmother while listening to Don McLean’s surprising NINE minute-long American Pie

 

This posting is under construction. Put on your hardhat and exercise caution.
This posting is under construction. Put on your hardhat and exercise caution.

Use ZOTERO to manage dissertation citations–Beta

This manual contains:

  • Why Zotero is so useful for writing a dissertation
  • How to install Zotero
  • How to collect websites, pdf files, and an interface for adding books to a bibliography
  • How to organize by adding a collection at the Zotero Library interface screen
  • How to cite references
  • How to share citations and references;namely, how to insert the material into the Word document you are using to write your¬†dissertation
  • How to select the right style manual when Zotero offers¬†over 500¬†options
  • Ongoing discussion of related observations–provided in the form of notes marked as such. An item marked Note¬†may distract the reader from the central focus of this user guide. Nonetheless, I hope each Note provides information you find useful.
  • Zotero also helps navigate in the Cloud.

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Eccentric Zotero user guide–Beta version

Why Zotero is so useful for writing a dissertation

I have not been able to find documentation which teaches me how to use Zotero. Zotero is an effective but complicate tool that removes the grunt workРnotably citations and bibliographies-involved with writing a dissertation.

I am writing this manual to help me master Zotero for a technical paper I am completing. ¬†I am trying to master Zotero because it will help me complete my technical report. My experience using software to automate dissertation writing; primarily dissertation, but also other academic writing such as articles for the Journal of Electrical Engineering or technical reports for Dr. Ali Memari’s Penn State’s Housing Research Center.

Several years ago, I worked with Dr. Somali Kumar on her dissertation entitled:

EXPERIENCE-BASED DESIGN REVIEW OF HEALTHCARE FACILITIES USING INTERACTIVE VIRTUAL PROTOTYPES 

Professor John Messner first introduced me to Zotero.

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This guide¬†is directed specifically to graduate students at Penn State’s Department of Architectural Engineer. This is my effort¬†to help you learn¬†quickly, this¬†program for automating citations and inserting them into your documents can make your life much easier.

Zotero is the oldest and most popular software for relieving graduate students from the most tedious part of their work. Several graduate students who used ¬†End Note for bibliography¬†and were unhappy at the experience. Joche Astro J. Gayles, who recently received her doctorate from Penn States’ Department of Home Development & Family Standards (HDFP), said that she “. The best example of Zotero’s virtue is its ability to insert citations according to style manuals. Worth noting: Case in point:

At the Zotero home page library, I chose an item and inserted it into the style manual for the American Psychological Association, the style manual I recommend for graduate students at Penn State's Department of Architectural Engineering

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Penn State libraries resources for mastering Zotero

Here is a quick example of the resources the library provides

At the Penn State Libraries home page, enter "Zotero" at the library' s CAT search engine.
At the Penn State Libraries home page, enter “Zotero” at the library’ s CAT search engine.

Seek and you shall find

Thursday morning (11/4/2015), I will be meeting with Angela Davis. Angela is the Department of Architectural Engineering's library liaison. I will report back on Friday at the seminar.
Tip: ¬†Angela is the Department of Architectural Engineering’s library liaison.¬†Make an appointment with Angela. She can help you with Zotero. She can also help ¬†you by suggesting data bases and helping navigate them. Making an appointment with Angela is an excellent investment for helping complete your dissertation.

[email protected]

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“As an academic writer, I always prided myself on my technical savvy. Until recently, I believed that I had developed a sophisticated system of bookmarks, email messages to myself, word documents, and the like to save useful references, citations, and other resources that I felt were essential to my clinical and academic productivity. In my system, I would manually save portable document format (PDF) files by manually typing in the title of the article, the journal it was published in, and the year of publication. However, I recently discovered a freely available computer software called Zotero that has made my life easier and my so-called ‚Äúsophisticated‚ÄĚ system obsolete.”

–Zotero:¬†Reviewed by Thomas E. Vanhecke, MD

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2479046/?tool=pmcentrez

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Angela’s Davis’ email with link to Zotero tutorials

Hello Joel,

Thanks for the question you asked via the Ask A Librarian system. I wanted to introduce myself as the librarian specialist for Architectural Engineering.

I would be more than happy to assist you in using the library. And would love to meet with you and discuss the ways that the library could help you, but I have found that these work best if you have a specific research project you are would like assistance with. I am also available for help via email or phone, for any questions you may have. Please contact me in whichever way is most comfortable for you.

If you would like a basic overview of how to navigate library resources, the Online Tutorials page is an excellent starting place. These are geared towards undergraduates but they provide the basics that everyone can use.

Please let me know how I could be of assistance to you and I look forward to working with you in the future,

~Angela

Angela R Davis
Engineering Liaison Librarian | Engineering Library
328 Hammond, University Park, PA 16802
[email protected] | (814)865-7005 |
https://twitter.com/EngineeringLib

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A sneak peak at how select the right style manual

At the Zotero home page library, I chose an item and inserted it into the style manual for the American Psychological Association, the style manual I recommend for graduate students at Penn State’s Department of Architectural Engineering.

http://search.proquest.com.ezaccess.libraries.psu.edu/docview/221000464?pq-origsite=summon&accountid=13158

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Be there or be square

MyZoteroSeminar

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Note: Confession makes good pedagogy. For simplicity, I use the word “dissertation” as shorthand for a range of academic publications including articles for the Journal of Architectural Engineering.¬†My confession refers to the technical report¬†I am completing¬†(having procrastinated ) for publication¬†for the Pennsylvania Housing Research Center (PHRC).

Using Zotero will help me complete my project. By extension I hope these step-by-step instructions for using Zotero will help speed completion of your dissertation.] Zotero can also help you navigate The Cloud.

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Your home in Zotero is this interface screen that appears immediately after login

Zotero historically was designed as an extension working within Firefox. Now there is a standalone version as well as Zotero residing within other browsers such as Chrome and IE.
Zotero historically was designed as an extension working within Firefox. Now there is a standalone version as well as Zotero residing within other browsers such as Chrome and IE.

Zotero has four applications

  • Collecting articles, web pages, books, and other references
  • Organizing, reading, and making notes of the collected material
  • Citing the collected material in one’s own writing.
  • Sharing, as in inserting Zotero citations into your dissertation when you are writing it using Microsoft Word.

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You can access Zotero from web browsers and Windows, Apple, and Unix operating systems; hence this cautionary slogan

E pluribus unum–From many one

Great seal of the United States showing the Latin motto translated: From many one
Great seal of the United States showing the Latin motto translated: From many one

As with the motto on the Great Seal of the United States, there are many ways to get to the Zotero interface. These methods include, but are not limited to:

  • Add-on to the Firefox browser
  • Add-on (plug-in [query: documentation uses add-ons and plug-ins interchangeably; is this correct?]) for Chrome and other browsers
  • Standalones for Unix, GNU/Linux and Mac OS
  • Available features include the ability–while writing your dissertation–to download citations into Microsoft Word

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What to do when you reach the basic Zotero interface, Basic level.

What matters most–that is what makes your life easiest–is not the multiple options, but rather what to do when you reach the basic Zotero interface, here at¬†log-in, now twice in this posting to increase your familiarity with your essential home screen:

Zotero historically was designed as an extension working within Firefox. Now there is a standalone version as well as Zotero residing within other browsers such as Chrome and IE.

Application 1: COLLECTING

Collecting video

[vimeo]https://vimeo.com/14188877[/vimeo]

Six methods for incorporating material into your Zotero library

Getting_stuff

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To simplify, arbitrarily I have chosen to provide examples from Zotero standalone downloaded onto Windows 7 and linked to Chrome. This involved:

  1. From Chrome, I keyed in Zotero at the Google prompt which directed me to this download page.
This screen shot shows I had already established a Zotero account. I originally established this account in a bye-gone era when one could obtain Zotero as an add-on to Firefox. Before downloading standalone from Chrome, I had logged into Zotero's home page. If you do not have a Zotero account you can establish one and log in either before or after the download.
This screen shot shows I had already established a Zotero account. I originally established this account in a bye-gone era when one could obtain Zotero as an add-on to Firefox. Before downloading standalone from Chrome, I had logged into Zotero’s home page. If you do not have a Zotero account you can establish one and log in either before or after the download.

2. Zotero standalone shortcut on my messy desktop

Zotero shortcut on my messy desktop. Advice: A messy desktop is a bad idea. Messy slows down performance and hinders organization. Do as I advise; not, as I do.
Zotero shortcut on my messy desktop. Advice: A messy desktop is a bad idea. Messy slows down performance and hinders organization. Do as I advise; not, as I do.

3. Clicking on the shortcut brings you here

Clicking on Zotero shortcut bring me here. That is because I already logged in at the Zotero home page navigating to the library. Otherwise, one reaches the homepage where one must log in. {Are my details too detailed?}
Clicking on Zotero shortcut bring me here. That is because I had already logged in at the Zotero home page navigating to the library. Otherwise, one reaches the homepage where one must log in. {Are my details too detailed?}

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Using the Zotero connector to collect websites, books, articles, pdf files, and what have you

Zotero’s explanation of how the connector collects

https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/zotero-connector/ekhagklcjbdpajgpjgmbionohlpdbjgc?hl=en

zotero_connector

Capturing tools

Zotero has three basic capturing tools.

  • URL with Zotero login

zoteroCaptureurl

  • Left mouse clip providing menu item “Add to Zotero”
  • Manual insert books etc. into Zotero’s home page
Explicit.
Explicit.

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Application 2: ORGANIZING

The first step in organizing is to add a collection to the Zotero library.

Collections are often compared to Itunes playlists. Suggestion: Incorporate as many projects as one can--career and personal. That way one becomes more fluent in using Zotero.
Collections are often compared to Itunes playlists. Suggestion: Incorporate as many projects as one can–career and personal. That way one becomes more fluent in using Zotero.

AddingASubcollection

Application 3: CITING

At the Zotero home page library, I chose an item and inserted it into the style manual for the American Psychological Association, the style manual I recommend for graduate students at Penn State's Department of Architectural Engineering
At the Zotero home page library, I chose an item and inserted it into the style manual for the American Psychological Association, the style manual I recommend for graduate students at Penn State’s Department of Architectural Engineering

Application 4: SHARING

See Zotero documentation of sharing

https://www.zotero.org/support/word_processor_plugin_changelog

zoteroWord

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More sharing

“Citations and bibliographies generated by the word processor plugins might appear in a different style (font, font-size, etc) than the surrounding text. The appearance of the generated text can be changed by changing the default style. E.g. in LibreOffice, open the styles manager in ‘Format’ > ‘Styles and Formatting‘ or by hitting F12. Right click on Default, select ‘Modify‘, and make the desired changes to this style.”

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It always helps (I find) to put work into a larger perspective

That way,¬†I do not become overwhelming by the seriousness of my efforts.¬†As you labor away at the process of receiving a doctorate, you might find comfort in the legendary William James‘ 1903 ¬†classic critique of the process in which you are currently engaged:¬†The Ph.D. Octopus.

“Some years ago, we had at our Harvard Graduate School a very brilliant student of Philosophy, who…received an appointment to teach English Literature at a sister-institution of learning. The governors of this institution, however, had no sooner communicated the appointment than they made the awful discovery that they had enrolled upon their staff a person who was unprovided with the Ph.D. degree…

“His appointment had thus been made under a misunderstanding. He was not the proper man; and there was nothing to do but inform him of the fact…¬†[O]ur Subject, being a man of spirit, took up the challenge…¬†grinding his psychology, logic, and history of philosophy up again, so as to pass our formidable ordeals.¬†When the thesis came to be read by our committee, we could not pass it. Brilliancy and originality by themselves won’t save a thesis for the doctorate….”

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Idiosyncratic footnote section

My preference for footnotes does not diminish the reality that in the Engineering and sciences academic departments footnotes are banned.

Final note

Benny Goodman’s clarinet (and of course vocals by Miss Peggy Lee influenced the writing of this post. I am sentimental about the clarinet. Salvatore, my grandfather, played in the clarinet at the orchestra of a silent movie, when my grandmother fell in love with him.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JqD0WiqtTSg

From the album Peggy Lee & Benny Goodman “The Complete Recordings 1941-1947”

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This post is copyrighted © 2016 by Joel Solkoff. All rights reserved.

Driving to the World Series of Rodeo while listening to the Eagles

I am preparing to become a grandfather; Joanna’s due date is early April, 2016

“Driving to the World Series of Rodeo in Oklahoma City while listening to the Eagles over the radio” might be considered an eccentric way of saying, “My elder daughter Joanna is pregnant. The due date is April 2016. I am counting down the months ahead when I will be handing out cigars–chewing gum, chocolate and real tobacco cigars while announcing, “I am a Zeyda.”

In my culture Zeyda is all the title required to command respect for my  wisdom, sagacity, and mindfulness. [Yes, there are the parents Joanna and Jade to consider.]

With a grandfatherly purpose (which will be revealed) I write about the 1972 World Series of Rodeo with deliberate intent. The appearance of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. is deliberate.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Crumb
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Crumb

KeepOnTrucking

 

“Keep on Trucking,” especially in this R. Crumb rendition, is a lifetime motto although as I prepare to become a Zeyda my mind turns to 1972 and the Gusher Club in Oklahoma City

The news that I am about to become a grandfather has been occupying all lobes of my brain.

Donovansbrainposter

Except, like Donovan’s Brain, my brain has expanded to prepare for Amelia and Javier’s wedding August, 2016, Chapel Hill, NC where I will be giving away the bride to Javier Blanco a sergeant in the Spanish Army. Amelia and Javier live in Toledo¬†[not Ohio]. The wedding will be officiated by my friend Adam Phillips.

Chapel Hill Town Flag. I love Chapel Hill.
Chapel Hill Town Flag. I love Chapel Hill.

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You Tube Note:

When I came to the emergency room a week ago Thursday, a massive infection swept through my body. On my site, I will provide a list of names of the physicians who saved my life. I will also tell you about my doctors, the staff–wonderful staff–who paraded in and out my room. When I arrived, I was so infectious that I could not kiss you [whoever you are.]

Now you can kiss me. Toward the end of my stay only hospital workers had to wear gowns when entering my room. They also had to shed gowns immediately upon leaving. Visitors did not have to wear gowns. The gown-precaution was to reduce the remote chance that the oncology patients on the forth floor might catch a germ from a hospital worker.

Immediately after this film, my physician in charge walked in without a gown and shook my hand without a glove. Yesterday, Dr. Salmon Haroon told me that it is safe for me to visit my daughter Joanna who is pregnant with my first grandchild.

This video will be the first of future efforts to work with hospital architects and maintenance administrators to make Mt. Nittany hospital rooms more accessible while at the same reducing costs. In February I plan to publish an academic technical report for the Pennsylvania Housing Research Center on this subject.

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scales-of-justice

In 1972, after flying back from the New York courthouse where I obtained an annulment from Vicki, I became a legal resident in the State of California. After living with a good friend, I decided to live alone which also pleased Hadley.

On the flight from the annulment, Mary, a California-raised nurse then living in New York,¬†was on vacation. A brief conversation about the fact that she was wearing yellow glasses may have contributed to our arranging to sit next to each other. Deer hunters wear yellow glasses to better kill their prey trying to hide behind trees. Why Mary was wearing yellow glasses from JFK to San Francisco airport….

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I explained to Mary that I had a lot of business ahead of me:

–Renting an apartment

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Crumb
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Crumb

–Traveling to REMOTE Northern California where I had spoken to legendary cartoonist R. Crumb by phone in NYC, but whom I wanted to see in person

"Being hit by the Meatball" has special significance. For details: Consult with an R. Crumb expert
“Being hit by the Meatball” has special significance. For details: Consult with an R. Crumb expert

–Preparing to drive from San Francisco to Lubock, Texas and then take a bus to Oklahoma City where I would be lodged at the World Series of Rodeo headquarters hotel, drink with cowboys and cowgirls and the author of Dallas North 40 in the Hilton’s Gusher Club and cover bull riding and the other events three hours a night for five nights and several blurry early mornings.

OKC_seal

Mary said she would spend her vacation helping me find an apartment. She said helping me generally sounded like fun. However, first we had to go on a helicopter ride.

SFO Helicopters Airlines operated from 1961 to 1965. This photograph from Wikipedia does a good job of showing the helicopter that made it possible for me to see San Francisco Bay from the air, but up close and personal.
SFO Helicopters Airlines operated from 1961 to 1965. This photograph from Wikipedia does a good job of showing the helicopter that made it possible for me to see San Francisco Bay from the air, but up close and personal.

bayarea

 

We flew from the San Francisco Airport to the Oakland Airport where Mary had reserved an automobile. She called her sister whom she had been planning to visit. It was a private call. Then, she drove to the house I shared with Hadley on Bernal Heights. http://www.datapointed.net/2010/02/more-steeps-of-san-francisco/bernal heights

bernal

Mountain Top

“I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!” Less than 12 hours after delivered his I Have Been to the Mountaintop speech (excerpted below), Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot and killed.

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I have been to the mountaintop

It really doesn’t matter what happens now. I left Atlanta this morning, and as we got started on the plane, there were six of us. The pilot said over the public address system, “We are sorry for the delay, but we have Dr. Martin Luther King on the plane. And to be sure that all of the bags were checked, and to be sure that nothing would be wrong with on the plane, we had to check out everything carefully. And we’ve had the plane protected and guarded all night.”

And then I got into Memphis. And some began to say the threats, or talk about the threats that were out. What would happen to me from some of our sick white brothers?

Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now,¬†because I’ve been to the mountaintop.

And I don’t mind.

Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!

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Bacchiacca_-_Moses_Striking_the_Rock

“If, when you have entered the land that the Lord your God has given you, and occupied it and settled in it, you shall be free to set a king over yourself… Moreover, [the King] shall shall not keep many horses or send many people backed to Egypt to add to the horses. ‘You must never go back that way again. ‘”

–Deuteronomy, 17:14, Jewish Publication Society translation (2)

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I am musing over the idea of being a grand father. Grand father.

 

My prospective grandchild; first trimester; 2015
My prospective grandchild; first trimester; 2015

 

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Joanna Marie Solkoff right with her husband Jade Phillips
Joanna Marie Solkoff right with her husband Jade Phillips

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Zeyda is the Yiddish word for Grandfather. I will be called Zeda. Here is a photograph of my paternal grandfather and grandmother
Zeyda is the Yiddish word for Grandfather. I will be called Zeda. Here is a photograph of my paternal grandfather and grandmother

Amelia Altalena Solkoff (r) with Javier Blanco. The couple will be married August 2016, Chapel Hill, NC

Amelia Altalena Solkoff (r) with Javier Blanco. The couple will be married August 2016, Chapel Hill, NC

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Observations on my maternal grandfather

 

My paternal grandfather Salvatore Pellicia. He died in a Veteran's Hospital in Staten Island three years before I was born.
My maternal grandfather Salvatore Pellicia. He died in a Veteran’s Hospital in Staten Island three years before I was born.

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My San Francisco Noe Valley apartment was like living in San Jose’s Winchester Mystery House

 

My San Francidsco Noe Valley apartment was like living in San Jose's Winchester Mystery House

Cowboy’s Prayer

Cowboy_s_Prayer

 

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Winslow, Arizona. Yes, the radio was playing “Well, I’m a standing on a corner/in Winslow, Arizona/¬†and such a fine sight to see…” just as I picked up a hitchhiker

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“Take It Easy” by the Eagles, lead singer Don Henley

Well, I’m running down the road
tryin’ to loosen my load
I’ve got seven women on
my mind,
 
Four that wanna own me,
Two that want to stone me; one that says she is a friend of mine.
 
Well, I’m a standing on a corner
in Winslow, Arizona
and such a fine sight to see
It’s a girl, my Lord, in a flatbed
Ford slowin’ down to take a look at me
 
Come on, baby, don’t say maybe
I gotta know if your sweet love is
gonna save me
 
We may lose and we may win though
we will never be here again
so open up, I’m climbin’ in,
so take it easy
 
Well I’m running down the road trying to loosen
my load, got a world of trouble on my mind
lookin’ for a lover who won’t blow my
cover, she’s so hard to find
 
Take it easy, take it easy
don’t let the sound of your own
wheels make you crazy
come on baby, don’t say maybe
I gotta know if your sweet love is
gonna save me, oh oh oh
 
Oh we got it easy
We oughta take it easy,
Don’t let the sound of your own wheels
drive you crazy
 
Lighten up while you still can
don’t even try to understand
Just find a place to make your stand
and take it easy
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IKpay8gumw0

Flashback Three Weeks Earlier: Mary and I drive to R. Cromb’s remote hermit-like retreat

R. Crumb cover; Scanlan’s Monthly 6, August 1970, from my personal collection
R. Crumb cover; Scanlan’s Monthly 6, August 1970, from my personal collection

The “side trip” to Crumb’s kitchen in the woods took place before Mary returned to NYC. Also, the visit took place before I obtained a car stopping at Winslow, Arizona en route to Lubbock, Texas where I dropped off the car and took a bus to Oklahoma City.

My experience with R. Crumb took place in 1970 where I worked for Scanlan’s Magazine where Crumb published two covers–illustrations that so dominated the front cover critics in New York City (for personal reasons unwilling ¬†to provide coverage to Scanlan’s) could not help but provide us with coverage because Crumb’s work is so startlingly good and mind bending.

In addition to being research director at Scanlan’s and co-author of a cover story on Russian pornography, my job was to get in touch with Crumb when we needed him. Wikipedia’s account of Crumb’s whereabouts is incorrect. He was not in the South of France, as reported. Rather, Crumb and his wife lived in a community so remote that it made calling ¬†him by telephone extremely difficult and time consuming. I figured I might get enough to pay the rent if I interviewed Crumb. I also greatly admire Crumb and Ralph Steadman. Here is Ralph Steadman.

Screen shot from Ralph Steadman's online autobiography in which he shows the Kentucky Derby drawing for Scanlan's Monthly where I watched him draw. Wow.
Screen shot from Ralph Steadman’s online autobiography in which he shows the Kentucky Derby drawing for Scanlan’s Monthly where I watched him draw. Wow.

[Note from this site’s lamentably non-existent Protocol Editor who regrets the confusing manner in which this posting is being put together and who wonders about ¬†the relevance of my becoming a grandfather to a story involving R. Crumb, the World Series of Rodeo, Martin Luther King, Jr. and virtual reality in the construction industry. This is an elaborate way of saying that I may come back to this side-trip to R. Crumb or I may focus my attention on the fashion show put on by the wives of rodeo cowboys. This posting is coming together. However, I have not reached a conclusion–in my mind Yes; in practice Not yet. Please be patient. Festina lente.]

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Shocking bull riding footage

“Sometimes it is prudent to know when to give up.”¬†In February, 2011 I published these words plus the following two paragraphs on rodeo. I was writing a column on a subject totally unrelated to rodeo. Rather than get to the point immediately, I wrote about the rodeo. No relevant reason explains why I decided to write about the courage (perhaps misguided courage) of a cowboy who was waiting to¬†ride a very angry bull. The hold of my now 43-year-old experience with rodeo still emerges when I least expect it. The relevance of rodeo¬†to my prospective¬†grandfather hood indicates….

¬†The handler applies the fully charged cattle prod to the rear of a bull bred for ferocity. The cowboy‚ÄĒSlim really is his name‚ÄĒholds onto his hat with his left hand. In his right hand are the reigns, two strips of leather held on tightly at first, but capable of falling apart to help the rider jump away from the bucking bull to safety after the regulation eight second ride is complete.

The maximum score is 100 points; 50 for the rider and 50 for the bull. A mean angry bull is the most desirable because he gives the rider the opportunity to make the most money. This bull is mean. When the bull jumps higher after the cattle prod, Slim smiles with optimism. The gate leading to the ring fails to open. Historically, when the gate sticks, a confined maddened bull has been known to break both legs of a rider. Slim, who attended rodeo schools, is aware of the danger.As a reporter at the World Series of Rodeo at Oklahoma City (before it moved to Los Vegas), I am sitting next to the handlers on the inside wooden planks of the chute. It took considerable effort to get permission to be this close to Slim‚ÄĒclose enough to watch his pupils dilate into huge ovals displaying a fear he cannot disguise. The lead handler asks Slim if he would like to wait 20 minutes before beginning the ride. Slim nods him off. The gate opens.

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Six-time World Rodeo Champion Larry Mahan guided me through the inside world of professional rodeo

Larry Mahan rides a bull. 1972 was not a good year for the winner of Rodeo Cowboy of the Year title. However, in 1972, Larry came to the World Series with only $22,327. His winnings were so far behind Bobby Steinar, who had taken the rodeo through a quiet series of championships. It was Larry who produced vivid quotes picked up by a grateful media to describe 1972's World Champion. Larry decided to befriend me, which he did telling vivid rodeo stories and observations. On one occasion, Larry nearly slugged me at the Gusher Club after returning from three hours of rodeo to several hours of non-stop drinking. Larry was sitting with a stunningly beautiful blonde Playboy model when I arrived. His hat was on a chair. I picked up the hat. Suddenly, amiability was replaced by rage. A quickened set of danger threatened until Peter Gent, author of Dallas Noth 40, grabbed Larry around his arms so he could not slug me.
Larry Mahan rides a bull. 1972 was not a good year for the winner of Rodeo Cowboy of the Year title. However, in 1972, Larry came to the World Series with only $22,327. His winnings were so far behind Bobby Steinar, who had taken the rodeo through a quiet series of championships. It was Larry who produced vivid quotes picked up by a grateful media to describe 1972’s World Champion. Larry decided to befriend me, which he did telling vivid rodeo stories and observations. On one occasion, Larry nearly slugged me at the Gusher Club after returning from three hours of rodeo to several hours of non-stop drinking. Larry was sitting with a stunningly beautiful blonde Playboy model when I arrived. His hat was on a chair. I picked up the hat. Suddenly, amiability was replaced by rage. A quickened set of danger threatened until Peter Gent, author of Dallas Noth 40, grabbed Larry around his arms so he could not slug me.

LarryMahanhttps://www.youtube.com/watchv=F9ahKJas3zI

330px-Bull-Riding2-Szmurlo

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Peter Gent,  former receiver for the Dallas Cowboys, provided me with detailed comparisons between professional football and professional rodeo

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I convinced Peter to report on the fashion show in which cowboy wives exhibited the latest style–the layered look. The two of us were the only males in a¬†large room filled with women drunk on cold duck, describing their lives, disclosing names of the women cheating on their husbands, providing up-to-the minute cancer reports on a friend recently diagnosed with breast cancer. Nothing bonds two journalists together like sharing exclusively a mind-altering view of life on a seemingly different planet.

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[Note: This video from Gent’s movie version of North Dallas Forty contains language not suitable for minors and others who like English expressed without non-stop obscenities. Note required on what is fit to publish and why,]

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“Peter Gent, a receiver for the Dallas Cowboys of the 1960s whose best-selling novel ‚ÄúNorth Dallas Forty‚ÄĚ portrayed professional football as a dehumanizing business that drove pain-racked players to drug and alcohol abuse, died Friday in Bangor, Mich. He was 69.

Gent (pronounced Jent) never played college football ‚ÄĒ he was a basketball star at Michigan State ‚ÄĒ and he caught only four touchdown passes in five seasons with the Cowboys.

But he achieved an enduring niche as a writer, most notably with ‚ÄúNorth Dallas Forty,‚ÄĚ his first novel, published in 1973. He contributed to the screenplay for the 1979 movie of the same title in which Nick Nolte played a role drawing partly on Gent‚Äôs career.

—The New York Times,¬†Obituary by¬†

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Lyrics: George Strait’s Amarillo by Morning
 
Amarillo by morning, up from San Antone.
Everything that I’ve got is just what I’ve got on.
When that sun is high in that Texas sky
I’ll be bucking it to county fair.
Amarillo by morning, Amarillo I’ll be there.
They took my saddle in Houston, broke my leg in Santa Fe.
Lost my wife and a girlfriend somewhere along the way.
Well I’ll be looking for eight when they pull that gate,
And I’m hoping that judge ain’t blind.
Amarillo by morning, Amarillo’s on my mind.
Amarillo by morning, up from San Antone.
Everything that I’ve got is just what I’ve got on.
I ain’t got a dime, but what I got is mine.
I ain’t rich, but Lord I’m free.
Amarillo by morning, Amarillo’s where I’ll be.
Amarillo by morning, Amarillo’s where I’ll be.

 

“A long long time ago/when we were young and pretty,/we ruled the world, we stopped the time, we knew it all, we owned this city/Running with the crowd, carefree and proud I heard somebody say/….”

 

The Day After My Birthday

"A long long tme ago/when we were young and pretty,/we ruled the world, we stopped the time, we knew it all, we owned this city/ running with the crowd, carefree and proud, I heard someone say.../ --"Take a Pictue of This" by Don Henly
“A long long time ago/when we were young and pretty,/we ruled the world, we stopped the time, we knew it all, we owned this city/ running with the crowd, carefree and proud, I heard someone say…/
–“Take a Picture of This” by Don Henley

Why do I continue?

I like the deliberate ambiguity. “”Why do I continue?” teases on a number of levels (including causing me and my readers to wonder whether I am being rhetorical). After the teasing has worked its will, the reality remains. There is a story I want to tell from the 1961 birthday report.

After several readings of the previous post, I realize that comparing each of my 68 birthday celebrations to an annual report written in the genre of a morality play may seem odd. However, I am odd. What you are getting here yesterday, today, and (who knows) maybe even tomorrow is authentic Joel.

Germane to any celebration is that I have had an exciting life and have experienced a lot of fun. A lot of fun. A good example of my perspective is an outgrowth of a conversation I had with a graduate student who had recently arrived at Penn State’s Department of Architectural Engineering. We spoke about Suzhou, a magical city in southeast China founded in 514 B.C.

Humble Administrator's Garden, Suzhou (1), China
Humble Administrator’s Garden, Suzhou (1), China

The previous week I had a conversation at Webster’s Bookstore and Cafe with a faculty member whose home was Suzhou. To my distress, she described the economic modernization that has robbed Suzhou of much of its charm. When I relayed this information to the graduate student, he asked,

“When were you in China?”

“1984.”

“I was not even born in 1984.”

“What a shame. You have no idea how much you missed. China was wonderful in 1984.”

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“Youth is wasted on the young.”

The key to understanding this birthday cycle posting took place when I was 14 years old and met the Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. The meeting took place at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, the Church of Dr. King’s father. It was a Sunday. My friend Harold, an African-American minister, had asked whether I wanted to accompany him for services. There was nothing in the world I wanted to do more.The previous weekend Harold and I attended services together at my synagogue.

Dr. King’s sermon focused on a difficult passage from the Book of Mathew. A sin against The Father and the Son, the passage read, can be forgiven. A sin against the Holy Ghost can never be forgiven. After the service, Dr. King greeted each of the churchgoers who came up to him. Dr. King and I spoke for 15 minutes.

This was the most significant event in my life. Fathers will tell you the birth of their children was most significant. My 15 minute meeting with Dr. King was far more significant. Meeting Dr. King prepared me for being a father and a grandfather.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today I Am 68 Years Old


October 12, 2015; Monday; State College, PA; Borough of State College; Centre County; Fifth Congressional District of Pennsylvania; 6:30 AM Eastern Standard Time, same time zone as Metropolitan Washington, D.C. and NYC; 12:30 PM Toledo, Spain.

[Important. Unimportant. Important. Unimportant.]

Self-image on my 68th birthday
Self-image on my 68th birthday

 

Webster's Cafe and Bookstore barista Grace took this photograph of me last month
Webster’s Cafe and Bookstore barista Grace took this photograph of me last month

In the Beginning

When I awoke at 6 everything was dark. I was alone. The door was closed. I was happy. As a rule, I am most content after I have prepared the night before for waking up. Instead, at 11:30 PM getting to sleep took on a special urgency. Consequently this daytime hospital world emerged abruptly. Where am I? What am I doing here? My  consequential questions suddenly had clarity. It did not matter where I was or why. Today is my birthday.

From the time I was three until each of my daughter s were old enough to vote, my grandmother displayed a reproduction of thes El Greco landscape. The landscape is a symbol of...
From the time I was three until each of my daughters was old enough to vote, my grandmother displayed a reproduction of this El Greco landscape in her living room. The landscape is a symbol of…

Moments of silence

Moments of silence consist of a specialized shorthand. Explaining ratiocination to others requires converting nano-seconds into hours (shorthand into longhand). Upon being conscious of today being my birthday, 67 years of rigorous implanted, well-enforced and solidified protocol went into effect.

Rule number 1, Mother taught, be greatful for being born.

Now at 68 I am an orphan as is the vast majority of my contemporaries. Indeed the rule for birthdays (as for most of life’s occasions) no longer applies. The teachings of the past linger unexamined (until this moment of silence where I decide to leave it in place). The teachings were simple. Presents, parties and fun were fine in their place. However, one has (I have) a moral obligation upon obtaining another year of longevity. The obligation consists of a report concerning the relevant period October 12, 2014 to October 12, 2015.

In the 1970s, I worked on several reports for Congress' General Accointability Office. Unlike the report I edited on the M-1 tank (which gets one mile to every 10 gallons), the personal report on my 86 birthday optimistic conclusion is gratifying although the need for improvement is duly noted.
In the 1970s, I worked on several reports for Congress’ General Accointability Office. Unlike the report I edited on the M-1 tank (which gets one mile to every 10 gallons), the personal report on my 68th birthday’s optimistic conclusion is gratifying although the need for improvement is duly noted.

Today I am recovering from the flu and my memories; plus, there is the promise of the future

‚ÄúEvery day we look each other over. Everyone has cancer, and every day the radiation makes us sicker. I think of the waiting room as a betting parlor where we wonder, What are your odds? Since most of us are out-patients, we have to get dressed to travel to the hospital. Radiation is enervating; few of us give a damn what we look like we look like hell.‚ÄĚ

–Learning to Live Again, My Triumph over Cancer by Joel Solkoff

Today I am recovering from the flu and my memories; plus, there is the promise of the future

I do not understand why I can write when I feel dreadful. I do not understand. So much has happened since 1976 when I was treated with radiation treatment for Hodgkin‚Äôs disease. Long ago and far away is the excerpt above about the radiation treatment room at George Washington University Hospital. Yet the memory of fatigue‚ÄĒastonishing fatigue‚ÄĒreturns with a sudden burst of memory perhaps most comparable to a long forgotten odor that suddenly reappears. The reminiscence takes me back to a time I still think of as hell despite the logic and gratitude that I am alive today because of my experiences in that hell.

Today, I am recovering from the flu. The influenza symptoms began on Monday. Now, it is Sunday night. I know I am getting better. I know that in a week‚Äôs time the symptoms and the memories the symptoms invoked will vanish. As one friend said, ‚ÄúYou know you have a delicate immune system.‚ÄĚ I know. However, my delicate immune system is not as delicate as it used to be. It has been five years at least since I had the flu or even a bad cold. Before that, I had the flu on an annual basis‚ÄĒwith flu shots presumably protecting me. Always, influenza brought with it recollections of radiation waiting rooms. Today‚Äôs remembrance of ‚Äúmalaise‚ÄĚ‚ÄĒa fancy oncological term for being severely bummed out‚ÄĒis mild compared to my reaction to the panic the flu brought in the past.

Now, I understand the process. The weakness. The inability to get things done. Plus, the understanding that in x-days I would regain my strength, regain the drive, ambition, the joie de vivre that has made it possible for survive two separate rounds of radiation treatment and to survive cancer three times.

A man with a plan‚ÄĒPanama

Wikipedia defines palindrome as ‚Äú[A] word, phrase, number, or other sequence of characters which reads the same backward or forward. Allowances may be made for adjustments to capital letters, punctuation, and word dividers. Famous examples include ‚ÄėA man, a plan, a canal, Panama!‚Äô‚Ķ.‚ÄĚ To make the obvious explicit: ‚ÄúA man a p‚ÄĚ reads Panama backward. Given my nature (my nature being subject for a different time [or even this one]), over the years, I have developed a variety of logical [and perhaps not so logical] plans for dealing with the complexities of my health problems over the decades. Readers of this site are familiar with the evolving nature of my plans. My current Plan will be revealed in due course. What each of the plans has in common is an effort to get beyond my current problem and establish myself as someone who is reliable and capable of contributing to society. To use Rabbi Hillel‚Äôs formula, ‚ÄúIf I am not for myself, who is for me? [If I am not for others, what good am I? If not now, when?‚ÄĚ]

Contrast between formulating a plan and self-delusion

Elizabeth K√ľbler-Ross, whose work has received considerable negative criticism, formulated an excellent yardstick for dealing with the news one has cancer, is likely to die, or is facing a life-changing event.

[Editorial note: I wrote this last week hoping to complete in round-about typical fashion a complete plan superseding previous posted plans plus photographs. Reality is my recovery from the flu is taking longer than expected. Now, having hidden myself in my back room against the headboard of my bed, I am emerging. I just slipped my October rent check under the landlord‚Äôs door. Tomorrow I grovel to the appointment‚Äôs secretary of Dr. Sepana Minali, my ever-patient internist, whose appointments I have been canceling because I have been too weak and too accustomed to turning night into day and vice versa [one of several reforms‚ÄĒkeeping a regular schedule being a requirement to my clear goal of becoming dependable at 67 [68 on October 12th]. Two weeks ago I delivered a well-received seminar on how use of style manuals can help graduate students at the Department of Architectural Engineering increase the speed of completion of doctoral dissertations. On October 30th, I am scheduled to deliver a seminar on Zotero, a software program that automates the citation process for academic papers. Meanwhile, my Cousin Rona, who knows ADA requirements in her sleep has sent me suggestions on measurements for bathroom sinks to make a house wheel chair accessible. Completing the long-delayed academic paper on renovating existing housing to make it wheel chair accessible is high on my priority list. High.

[Editorial note continued. Until the flu and associated medical problems I was making considerable progress on a report on Internal Revenue Service policy as it relates to tax credits for low-income housing that prohibits residents in elderly and disabled housing from earning enough money to fix their teeth. This report has the promise of earning enough that I will be able to stop appealing the friends for contributions. There is, for example, a trip to New York City, now scheduled for November, that would inert a spinal stimulator which would dramatically reduce the spinal pain caused by radiation treatment for cancer which while saving my life also resulted in my being a paraplegic and causing degeneration of my spine. The strange reality is that at 68, I may very well have a lifespan of an additional 30 years. Living 30 years longer seems a strange reality. There is indeed, as one Netflix movie reminded me, a spark of life within me. With regular physical therapy and movement, sound sleeping habits, and assorted reforms might very well make me productive‚ÄĒfurthering my grandiose goal to plan communities where the elderly and disabled are productive. The last two weeks have been demoralizing, too weak to leave my bed, canceling doctors‚Äô appointments, and sadly resulting in my missing the performance of Havdalah on Yom Kipper, an honor Rabbi David Ostrich conferred on me.

[Editorial note continue again. Hence to convince others that I can transform myself into productivity and self-reliance is something I must demonstrate to my own satisfaction as well as future employers. My lifelong tendency to procrastinate when I am feeling well enough to goof off coupled with an inclination to become distracted and not focus on the work at hand…]

[Editorial note with optimism. Each of my daughters was born in the same hospital in which I was treated with radiation treatment which saved my life. When Joanna was born, Joanna’s mother and I took a detour before taking our new baby home from the hospital. We went to the basement of the hospital, to the radiation treatment waiting room (described above). Going from patient to patient, I showed off my new baby to the cancer patients awaiting treatment. Holding my infant daughter in my hands, I explained to each patient I was explained that I was able to father Joanna AFTER radiation, the emotion-filled show and tell ended when I handed Joanna to Trudy the oncology nurse who operated the linear accelerator that saved my life. Last month Joanna, now married to Jade Phillips (who asked me for my daughter’s hand in marriage three years ago, told me she is pregnant. In April, I will be a grandfather. A grandfather.

[More optimism. In August, my younger daughter Amelia will be marrying Javier Blanco in Chapel Hill, North Carolina at a ceremony performed by my friend Adam Phillips, who helped me greatly when I was treated for my second cancer. As with Joanna, I will be scooting Amelia down the aisle to give her away. I am hopeful that I will be using an Amigo Mobility travel scooter to take her to her wedding vows to Javier who is a sergeant in the Spanish army. The couple is planning to have children. Read Henry Kaplan and the Story of Hodgkin’s Disease by Charlotte Jacobs. Jacobs‚Äô engaging book reveals that I was able to live past 30 years of age, father two children, and anticipate the arrival of my first grandchild as a consequence of Henry Kaplan meeting a nuclear physicist at a cocktail party.

–Joel Solkoff, Cancer survivor, Zeda in waiting.