Instead of prayer and meditation…

It is 2:20 AM. I awoke Tuesday morning sick with a cold or the flu or somatic manifestations of despair–certainly not confined to the tax bill, but a sense of hopelessness that after Elizabeth聽MacDonough, Parliamentarian of the Senate, raised what is referred to colloquially as “the Byrd bath” before Christmas President Trump will sign a soak the poor bill with devastating economic consequences.


Deror avi, Detail of the Knesset Menorah, Jerusalem: Hillel the Elder teaching a man the meaning of the whole Torah while he stands on one foot











All day, sweaty and exhausted, I have been reluctant or unable to get out of bed–in and out of restless sleeping, hoping for a respite where I might set aside an hour to put my mind in order following the considerable distractions of the week. Seeking for focus now that I am hopeful that at this unlikely time this may be the appropriate hour, I ritualistically clean my glasses.


Ideally, this would be an excellent time to say my prayers or meditate making use of a mantra helpful for launching the wiping clean of temporal thoughts. The best prayer is already on my lips. In Hebrew. Designed to be said first thing in the morning but one I say periodically over the course of the day.

诪讜止讚侄讛 讗植谞执讬 诇职驻指谞侄讬讱指 诪侄诇侄讱职 讞址讬 讜职拽址讬旨指诐, 砖讈侄讛侄讞直讝址专职转旨指 讘旨执讬 谞执砖讈职诪指转执讬 讘旨职讞侄诪职诇指讛. 专址讘旨指讛 讗直诪讜旨谞指转侄讱指.

“I offer thanks to You, living and eternal King, for You have mercifully restored my soul within me; Your faithfulness is great.”


The appropriate mantra is the first of three rhetorical questions.

讗诐 讗讬谉 讗谞讬 诇讬, 诪讬 诇讬

“[Rabbi Hillel]聽is popularly known as the author of two sayings: (1) If I am not for myself who is for me? And being for my own self, what am ‘I’? And if not now, when?’ and (2) the expression of the聽ethic of reciprocity, or ‘Golden Rule’: ‘That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole聽Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn.'”


Prayer and meditation are denied me. Instead, a jumble of distractions cause restlessness. If I begin describing one of the distractions, I may linger too long and fail to provide an understanding of the sense of being overwhelmed. Here are six concerns (not all, but an arbitrary listing of serious issues that readily come to mind competing and too often interfering with the focus required for resolution).

  1. Here at Addison Court, the apartment complex where I live, the danger of fire and I am convinced more serious than fire itself the danger of panic when fire alarms go off in this partially defend in place building where a substantial number of residents are mobility disabled. Addison Court, in the heart of Downtown State College–across the street from Webster’s Bookstore and Cafe–is a low income residence for the elderly and for those with physical and emotional disabilities. At Addison Court, the designated fire escape route is not wheel chair accessible. Instead, those of us with mobility disabilities (especially those living on floors two through eight) must wait for a fire woman or man to rescue us in the event of fire.

According to Steve Bair, Centre County’s excellent fire chief, there may be as many as 30 residences in the Borough of State College where a portion of the residents should be mindful that defend in place is their best safety measure.

Addison Court is in the advantageous position of being constructed of brick and of having an excellent sprinkler system. Five years ago, with the enthusiastic assistance of Mayor Elizabeth Goreham and with Steve Bair working closely with then Police Chief Thomas King the dangers of panic–responded quickly and effectively.聽 The panic was averted. The panic had manifested itself in such dangerous behavior as residents throwing wheel chairs down the stairs–were averted with education and other measures including residents establishing a volunteer group (patrols on each floor).

In January, with the assistance of Addison Court’s efficient property manager Jim Hook, fire safety education will resume in the social hall/bingo parlor (where Lady Gaga has yet to accept an invitation to perform). Two weeks ago, having set up a meeting with Steve Bair, I asked Tom King (now retired as a police chief but working full time as a Borough Council staff member) for assistance. Consequently, Police Captain Mathew E. Wilson and Police Officer with a community relations portfolio joined us at Alpha Fire Company–an encouraging meeting. It is also worth noting that the current State College Police Chief聽John Gardner, whose career has been based here in the community, is a strong supporter of cooperation with Alpha Fire and Steve Bair.


Two die in a Wilkes-Barre, PA fire. The building is disturbingly similar to the low income high rise where I live with 89 other residents in Downtown State College.












Last week, Fire Chief Steve Bair told me about the disturbing deaths on December 5th of two residents at a multi-story apartment building in Wilkes Borough–a building disturbingly similar to Addison Court.

“Smoke was seen pouring out of the balcony of a fifth-floor apartment as fire crews evacuated the building, a public housing complex run by the Wilkes-Barre Housing Authority, reported聽Bob Kalinowski for the Scranton-based “The Times-Tribune.”

鈥淭he firefighters really had their hands full. Hundreds of people live in this building. They not only had to go in and extinguish the fire, but they had to rescue the occupants,鈥 Delaney said. 鈥淭he firefighters did an impeccable job. Yes, there were two people who didn鈥檛 make it out, but 150 or 160 people did without injury.鈥

Initially, fire crews called for ladder trucks from surrounding towns to come rescue people who fled to their outdoor balconies, but they decided against that option after getting a good initial attack on the fire, Delaney said.


We residents at Addison Court are eagerly anticipating Lady Gaga’s acceptance of our invitation to perform at our social hall/bingo parlor. There, late in January, Fire Chief Steve Bair will be distributing ear plugs to muffle the sound of the fire alarm. Do not be concerned, Lady G, we will remove the ear plugs when you perform.









2. At Mount Nittany Medical Center and HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital, patient outcome would be improved as well as employee moral if professionals in the field were to incorporate art and music into our hospitals.

3. A major effort is required to reduce the infant mortality rate in central PA and promote efforts to prevent women from having avoidable deaths–as are taking place in Texas–during childbirth.

4. The Commonwealth must pass legislation to ensure the intentions of the Americans with Disability Act are made a reality. Currently, a restaurant in State College was able to receive an operating license because it complied with the letter of the law and not its spirit. The restaurant spent more than the $4 thousand dollars to meet its disability requirement. It fulfilled its requirement by installing a wheel-chair accessible toilet. However, it did not first make sure the entrance is accessible–which it is not.

5. Last week Ed LeClair, who is in charge of planning for the Borough of State College, told me his department has no information on the current and future impact on the economy of the Borough of Foxdale and other upscale retirement communities which are growing in size.

6. On Valentine’s Day 2018, I am seeking funds to visit Stuttgart, Arkansas to research a forthcoming book on how to feed the 20 million people in the world currently starving to death. Arkansas is the largest rice-producing state in the U.S. Stuttgart is home to Riceland Funds, an important grain and soybean trading company. The technical savvy of Arkansas’s rice farmers could be critical to helping Zimbabwe improve its rice production. Zimbabwe used to be the breadbasket of the region of southern Africa. Restoring its ability to help Africa be self-sufficient in food production is critical in any effort to prevent unnecessary deaths from starvation.



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On Thanksgiving: Watch the 1946 version of The Razor鈥檚 Edge, the most influential movie in my life

Premature Publication Excuse: An-as-yet incomplete posting explaining the meaning of life

It is taking me a while to achieve completion because I am writing for readers who may not have heard about Tyrone Power and Gene Tierney.

GeneTierneyandTyronePowerOne problem, of course, is if I were Tyrone Power and Gene Tierney was trying to seduce me so I do not go off to India to find the meaning of life, would I have the spiritual courage to say NO?



I am goaded into publishing this post prematurely due to the kind permission of Mary Reilly Nichols, a prominent yoga teacher and spiritualist based in New York City to discuss her spiritual experiences..

Here is a link to  Nichols’ website:


Nichols writes:

“I have been teaching Yoga since 1982, upon completing a five-year stint of ashram life under the auspices of my Guru, Swami Muktananda.

“We didn’t really practice Hatha Yoga in his ashram as a discrete activity. All the branches of yoga were unfolding at all times, so that is the way I teach Hatha: as inseparable from all the other branches of yoga.

“If you sever a branch from the vine, the branch withers. Hatha must be connected to its root, or it is merely acrobatics. Yet it is a foundation for liberation when aligned with understanding.”


Book jacket of The Razor's Edge featuring the two main characters in the forthcoming movie
Book jacket of The Razor’s Edge featuring the two main characters in the forthcoming movie

The central character in the  most significant book in my life (The Razor’s Edge by W. Somerset Maugham) achieves his understanding of the meaning of life at an ashram in India where he has an out-of-body experience.

Tyrone Power played the central character in the 1946 film version of Maugham’s 1944 novel. Although he died at age 44 in 1958, his fame was so enduring that his photographic appears on The Beatles’ iconic 1967 album cover for St. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band. Sgt__Pepper's_Lonely_Hearts_Club_BandTyrone Power is so perfectly cast in the 1946 version of the movie that although Maugham named his main character: Larry Darrell, I automatically think Tyrone Power.

I find that this cinematic accomplishment helps add validity to Tyrone Power’s out-of-body experiences.


Nichols has an extensive section on her site describing her out-of-body experiences including those that preceding meeting her guru in India. Nichols, a graduate of Harvard University, had her first out-of-body experiences as an undergraduate.


“It was the spring of my junior year in college and i was writing my junior thesis, a major term paper, for the anthropology department. I had chosen as a topic the ecstatic religious cults of New Guinea.

“It was about how ecstatic religious movements function to help people adapt to conditions of extreme social stress. Visionary religious experience, arising from the unconscious, transforms the deep psycho social programming of human beings undergoing major anxiety and stress.

“The strain can result from culture contact, especially with a technologically superior culture. But any radical change of environmental or social conditions can render traditional cultural categories irrelevant and unproductive, which is extremely stressful.

“The whole process of writing this paper had been unusually energizing and compelling. I was so excited by the material, and wanted nothing else but to read and write about it.

“One evening i sat at my desk writing, listening to the street music wafting up from the streets of Cambridge. The not terribly brilliant thought occurred:

“Doesn’t my own contemporary Western culture qualify as a society who鈥檚 traditions are breaking down due to rapid change? We must be ripe for ecstatic religious renewal.

“At that moment there was an explosion of energy at the base of my spine, energy which wriggled upward with the gushing power of a fire hose to the crown of my head.

“The whole room turned into dazzling white light, myself included. The light spoke clearly to me: ‘A great Being is in a body in your lifetime, and you will recognize him.’ The light conveyed some other knowledge as well.

“After regaining a sense of my physical body, I ran out of there, afraid. Only later would I understand that I had had a classic kundalini awakening, and learn that Kundalini Shakti, subtle energy normally dormant at the base of the spine, rises to the crown center through yogic processes producing states of super consciousness.”


Not yet prepared to describe my own spiritual experiences that led to a life-altering event when I discussed The Razor’s Edge with my grandmother at age 16, I asked Nichols for permission to cite her account. She granted permission with the cautionary note:

“I have found that reporting those experiences sometimes results in very angry feedback, so share at your own risk! “


Mindful of Nichols’ warning, the rest of this post-in-progress represents my summoning up courage to explain my notion of The Meaning of Life.

My completion deadline is Thanksgiving.

I will let you know if I complete it earlier given that I am worried about the fate of the Detroit’s Institute of the Arts as a consequences of Detroit’s bankruptcy, the largest of any city in U.S. history.

Mary Reilly Nichols
Mary Reilly Nichols

Lengthy preparation prior to getting the point (not yet included)


Note 1: It is customary for fastidious movie goers and book readers (who may stray to this site) to be warned that (despite my assertions it does not matter) the following posting is so filled with spoilers it might be prudent to stop reading now.

Note 2: For the rest of you, who actually belong here, I am preparing for Thanksgiving by discussing the most influential film in my life The Razor鈥檚 Edge starring Tyrone Power shown here and released 68 years ago鈥攐ne year before I was born.

Rarely, does Tyrone Power wear a tuxedo in the movie. He stars as Larry Darrell, a man searching for the meaning of life which he finds dressed in second-hand clothes in a cabin high up in the Himalayan Mountains.

Maugham writes about Darrell, 鈥淸I]t may be that the way of life that he has chosen for himself and the peculiar strength and sweetness of his character may have an ever-growing influence over his fellow-men so that, long after his death perhaps, it may be realized that there lived in this age a very remarkable creature.鈥

This preparation for Thanksgiving includes a discussion I had with my grandmother Celia Schneider when I was 16 about Somerset Maugham鈥檚 novel upon which the movie is closely based.


My grandmother Celia Schneider is shown here right in an early 1940s photo. Celia is standing next to her daughter Miriam Pell, years before she met my father. As a child, Celia was the most stable adult influence on my life. Her favorite book was W. Somerset Maugham鈥檚 1944 novel The Razor鈥檚 Edge.

Mother engraved a quotation from The Razor鈥檚 Edge on my grandmother鈥檚 tombstone.

The book title (which the author reproduces as an epigraph) comes from a verse from the Katha-Upanishad:

“The sharp edge of a razor is difficult to pass over; thus the wise say the path to Salvation is hard.”

The Katha-Upanishad is a Hindu treatise probably composed after the fifth century BC and it contains passages that suggest contact with Buddhist ideas. I am not sure I agree with the concept that the path to Salvation is hard. [What do you think?]

Talking to my grandmother about life鈥檚 meaning changed my life. Discussing this subject seems a useful way to get ready for Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is an auspicious holiday in my life.


The book and the film are so closely tied together in my mind, especially the superb casting of the three main characters that I often think about the two separate genres as if they were one.

This is a wonderful movie鈥攁 way to getting Thanksgiving rolling toward meaning while providing fun for everyone.

While you have yet to meet the heroine, much fun involves snickering at the third of the main characters Clifton Webb who plays the role of a diverting snob.

Maugham writes of Elliott Templeton, Webb鈥檚 character (to whom I shall return as the story does) to effectively lighten up the story鈥檚 serious Main Purpose.

鈥淭he Paris season was drawing to a close and all the best people were arranging to go to watering places or to Deauville before repairing for the rest of the summer to their ancestral ch芒teaux in Touraine, Anjou, or Brittany. Ordinarily Elliott went to London at the end of June, but his family feeling was strong and his affection for his sister and Isabelle sincere; he had been quite ready to sacrifice himself and remain in Paris, if they wished it, when no one who was anyone was there, but he found himself now in the agreeable situation of being able to do what was best for others and at the same time what was convenient for himself.鈥


Parsimonious accolade: I only give the movie four stars instead of five because:

  1. The music is dreadful. Every time something significant happens, a violin plays or two or three or the entire orchestra.
  2. The key spiritual moment is explained away as being caused by God rather than as Maugham described it by a generic spiritual power. (Before discussing this at the dinner table, please pass the cranberry sauce.) [More on God. Before Larry has his defining moment with an Indian guru, Maugham describes a conversation he had concerning God with Isabel Bradley (played by Gene Tierney). The conversation eventually will  appear below, following another photograph of Gene Tierney 鈥淎cclaimed,鈥 Wikipedia writes, 鈥渁s a great beauty.”


The Plot (as yet incomplete)

W. Somerset Maugham鈥檚 begins The Razor鈥檚 Edge by denying the book is a novel.

鈥淚f I call it a novel it is because I do not know what else to call it鈥 have invented nothing.鈥 Maugham invented quite a lot .


Note: Last month, I celebrated my 67th birthday. Increasingly, I find myself eager to communicate with women and men in their 20s and 30s鈥攖he age of my two daughters Joanna and Amelia.

One reason I am eager to communication with this specific demographic is because I live half a block away from Webster鈥檚 Bookstore and Caf茅 where recent friends include the baristas and non-baristas who serve me coffee and organic salads, sell me books, and sit with me and talk about books and life.


Two years ago, Tom Connolly, a musician who is currently playing in a rock band in Philadelphia, shared Thanksgiving with me at my apartment with a mutual friend .While I made turkey (Tom helped), he set up a drum and cymbal set which I later played with great delight.

Tom Connolly plays as the turkey cooks
Tom Connolly plays as the turkey cooks. See

–30?–Not yet. This is the post so far.


Copyright by Joel Solkoff, 2014. All rights reserved.


Thank you to the State College Community, Penn State’s Department of Architectural Engineering and to the Jewish people

On this Sunday night, I am sitting in my apartment four blocks away by scooter to Penn State’s iconic Old Main. 聽You have seen it on television.

Penn_state_old_main_summerContemplating my forthcoming cancer surgery, I cannot help but express my gratitude.

My gratitude extends the length and breadth of the Borough of State College under the inspiration of our dynamo Mayor Elizabeth Goreham.

The Borough of State College includes all Downtown, which is at economic risk, suburban State College (but not suburban enough to collect the large revenues). and Penn State University.

We are all Penn State聽here.

First and foremost, I want to thank Elaine Meder-Wilgus.Next year, Webster鈥檚 proprietor Elaine Meder-Wilgus will be reading the role of the sensuous Molly Bloom whom Joyce deliberately paralleled to Homer鈥檚 Penelope.

Webster’s Bookstore and Cafe has immeasurably improved the quality of my life here. Book Store Duchess Anne and I contemplate Webster’s related activity, such as promoting the bookstore with a recreation of the Battle of Trafalgar. We require three floats such as are featured at the Rose Bowl, each retailing for $120,000.One ship on the converted float would be the one where Lord Nelson dies; there would be a French and Spanish ship as well. Of course, the helicopter with Elaine playing Lady Hamilton. Funding has been a problem.

Thank you employees and patrons of Webster’s Bookstore and Cafe. Thank you.


I thank my neighbors, friends, Cathy Fisher, Bryan and the excellent maintenance staff, and the owners and managers of my apartment building.


Other than names already mentioned, I will not use this space to express my appreciation of my family and friends–except when I get the urge.

This posting is intended to express appreciation for the environment where I reside. So, herein is the way I have arranged my thank you’s, including my thanks to:


I thank, of course, my dear friend Fire Chief Steve Bair.

I also thank Police Chief Tom Kane, who has been thoughtfully responsive to my emails–long as they are.

I also thank my assemblyman Scott Conklin. I especially like Scott–period. I am glad that he is a real union man.

I also thank my REPUBLICAN Congressman Glenn (“GT”) Thompson [Republican,. Fifth Congressional District of PA]. GT was a physical therapist before he was elected to Congress despite my active campaign against him on behalf of his Democratic challenger Mark McCracken.

GT met his wife while they were changing bedpans at the nursing home I will enter by default if anything happens to me. Since his election to 聽Congress, GT has displayed an admirable record regarding medical oxygen, wheel chairs, scooters, and power chairs–equipment that is indispensable to paraplegics such as myself and to others in the disability community. President Obama, despite his rhetoric–holding my nose voting for him this time around–having voted for candidate Obama in the PA primary and then worked for his first election insisting that Democratic headquarters pour new concrete for its broken down wheel chair access ramp.

Excuse the rant. The point is GT has been an inspiration to the durable medical equipment community even if he is a Republican.


Regarding health care gratitude, I do not know where to start. When I had pneumonia in November right before Thanksgiving, I felt like hell. I called 911. The ambulance was here in no time. I breezed through the Emergency Room and would up in a room with a view and I had a really great doctor–right down the road at Mt. Nittany Hospital where the food is good.

Let us start with Sapana Minali, my primary care physician at Geisinger Medical Center. When the excellent and gracious urologist Jennifer Simmons diagnosed that I had cancer, Dr. Simmons referred me to Sloan Kettering in New York for a surgical consultation….

When that happened, my primary care physician was informed that I was discharged from the hospital but with a kidney cancer diagnosis. Dr. Minali then directed her staff to call me and when that did not work after many un-returned calls, Dr. Minali called me herself.

Meanwhile, she directed that I receive social services available to someone in my situation, and the wonderful Doreen Moronski found me the Bob Perks Fund, which provides grants to individuals who have to travel for medical reasons. My grant pays my monthly rent every four months for a year, plus provides a $160 grocery store card every quarter.

Thank you Bob Perks.


Regarding the Jewish people: Words cannot describe my gratitude to Rabbi David Ostrich, who performed the State College memorial service for my mother Dr. Miriam P. Schmerler at my apartment building–where we had a minyan.

My attachment to the Jewish people is based on my strong belief in Zionism, my great love for the Hebrew language (the Bible is great stuff in the original), and my attachment to things Jewish. My spirituality has not been invoked by traditional Jewish practice. I have been strongly spiritual for as long as I can remember. I am very fond of the Wisdom of the East. Confucius’ Analects and the teachings of the Buddha have provided me with understanding. Rabbi Ostrich has been demonstrating to me the compatibility of Eastern teachings with an understanding of The Torah.


Congregation Brit Shalom and the Jewish Federation of Pennsylvania have provided me with the funding that made it possible to receive cancer treatment in New York City, 250 miles away from State College. For my June trip to Sloan Kettering, where Dr.Russo decided to operate, I received $1,500. It is astonishing how expensive is New York. After shopping around, I found a cheap garage that would let me park the car for $400 for the week I was there for tests and consultation.

Last week, Rabbi Ostrich met me at the PNC bank on College Avenue and provided me with an additional $1500 for this trip to New York for surgery and two weeks of recovery. This total of $3,000 exhausts the extent of generosity from a small congregation. Thank you, landsmen of my Congregation including the Bagel Boys.

Thanks to the Jewish people: I was raised by a single mother in the 1950s when that was no picnic. My mother supported us on her salary as a teacher of Hebrew school teacher, a Hebrew school principal, and an Educator. She liked it when people called her a theologian.

I remember first hearing the words of the Bible in Hebrew when I was five. From grades 1-8, the day began at the Hebrew Academy of Greater Miami with a pledge of allegiance to the U.S. flag and a singing of the anthem of the State of Israel–both flags displayed.

During those years, I read the Five Books of Moses in the original Hebrew in the mornings and studied English subjects in the afternoon. There was a lot to praying.

While I have rejected much, my love of the Hebrew language remains. My support for Israel as a safe, peaceful, Jewish entity is strong. “If I forget Jerusalem, let me forget how to use my right hand….”

What I have always found to my surprise and relief is the availability of Jewish Family Services and similar organizations to be there for me because that is what our people do. We care for each other.


Regarding work:

I may get emotional here, so forgive me in advance.

I have a strong feeling about my work.

I have spent years learning how to write.

Now, I know what to write about.

I write about how to overcome the limitations of a disability and live life to the full.


For the past four years, I have been working as a research assistant at Penn State’s Department of Architectural Engineering. Dr. John Messner hired me.

John is in charge of the Computer Integrated Construction (CIC group) and runs the Immersive Construction (ICon) Lab. Shown here is the ICon lab’s mascot:

Costa Rican Frog

Given the still recovering construction industry’s state, the building of hospitals and medical facilities–taking place at a rapid pace–has proven to be a great relief. The images projected on John’s three screens viewed with 3-D glasses are intended to help architects, engineers, and construction personnel conceptualize design and then make changes before construction begins.

John assigned me to work with now Dr. Sonali Kumar’s whose graduation I attended in May, one week before my daughter Joanna graduated with her usual honors from nursing school.


Sonali’s thesis is entitled, Experience-based design review of healthcare facilities using interactive virtual prototypes.聽

Yes, I am in Sonali’s thesis. See below.

I was the model for her avatar for the independent living virtual reality module designed in Autodesk’s BIM-compliant Revit and imported into a Unity gaming engine.

Somewhere in my appreciation from the virtual reality lab, I became obsessed with McKeesport, a Pennsylvania Rust Belt town with high poverty, a lot of crime, and two gifted men the brilliant Robert Walters and the capable and enabling John Bertoty who created a Blueroof Research Experimental Cottage.


The cottage was constructed in a factory where sensors were placed in the walls. With digging the foundation, it took 3 days to assemble the structure. The cottage contains a living room, kitchen, bathroom, and 聽two bedrooms.


Cameras are available at the client’s option for monitoring. Motion detectors can tell whether a resident has fallen in the shower and communicate that information by voice simulation to 911 as a call for help. This is off the shelf technology.

This kind of low-cost housing for low-income individuals represents an understanding of how to design a residence for elderly and disabled individuals that helps them live their lives.

During a period when the largest generation in U.S. history is retiring–Baby Boomers retiring at the rate of 10,000 a day…. There is no way the housing stock in our country can support the demand.

Over 90 percent of U.S. housing is NOT wheel chair accessible.


Then, along came Dr. Richard Behr, Chair of the Center for Aging in Place at the Department of Architectural Engineering. (Why at the Department of Architectural Engineering? you may ask. Ask.)


Richard and I became planners. A Pittsburgh foundation had paid $50,000 to design a plan for downtown McKeesport. Richard and I wrote a grant proposal to the Ford Foundation for the funding to execute the plan. I plan to go back to the Ford Foundation for reconsideration.

Then, there would follow useful studies Penn State could perform, especially for my boss Dr. Ali Memari, Chair of the Pennsylvania Housing Research Center.


Dr. Memari and I are coauthoring a report entitled

Renovating Existing Housing to Provide Individuals with Mobility Disabilities the Opportunity to Live Independently

The book contains a lot of photographs of independent living facilities where design modifications should have been required. I will be submitting my work thus far to Dr. Memari by close of business on Thursday.



Gratitude is hard to express. Syrup often accompanies it. More of the gratitude I feel will be expressed as time goes by.


Joel Solkoff

Noisy Thanksgiving November 22, 2012

Copyright 漏 2013 by Joel Solkoff. All rights reserved.









Today is Bloomsday

State College, PA, June 16, 2012, across Beaver Avenue from Webster鈥檚 Bookstore and Caf茅 where next year [not in Jerusalem, but at Webster鈥檚] Bloomsday
will be celebrated properly]:

Next year, Webster鈥檚 proprietor Elaine Meder-Wilgus will be reading the role of the sensuous Molly Bloom whom Joyce deliberately paralleled to Homer鈥檚 Penelope.

鈥淪tately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed.鈥

This is the first sentence of Ulysses, James Joyce鈥檚 novel, first published in 1922 and for 15 years banned in the United States as obscene.

U.S. Postal Authorities prevented its distribution in one instance burning 500 copies.

The Committee on College Reading, endorsed by the National Council of Teachers of English and the American Library Association, recommends Ulysses as one of the 100 most significant books in the world.

Today, Joyce鈥檚 novel about one 24 hour-day in Dublin, June 16, 1904, is being read aloud throughout the world–all 265,000 words.

Depending on the size of the print, as many as 1,000 pages are being read out loud today, including here in Pennsylvania where Philadelphia’s Rosenbach Museum and Library houses the famous first edition published in Paris by Shakespeare & Company.

Today, say No to banning books; Yes to great literature; Yes again with Molly Bloom as she says in the last words of Ulysses, 鈥…yes I said yes I will Yes.鈥

James Joyce


鈥淭wenty years have passed,鈥 writes the authoritative Joycean critic Stuart Gilbert in 1950, 鈥渟ince the appearance of the Study of Ulysses of which this is a new鈥dition鈥nd among many notable events of these two decades one of the most interesting, from the literary point of view, was the lifting of the ban on the admission of Ulysses into the English-speaking counties. In the original Preface to my book I said: 鈥業n writing this commentary I have borne in mind the unusual circumstance that, though Ulysses is probably the most discussed literary work that has appeared in our time, the book itself is hardly more than a name to many鈥.鈥

Consequently, in his discussion of the novel, which at one time was so hard to obtain that New York University鈥檚 smuggled copy was chained to a table in the main library lest it be stolen, Gilbert provides extensive quotations. In the last chapter entitled Penelope, the name Homer gave to Ulysses鈥 famously loyal wife, Gilbert discusses Molly Bloom’s soliloquy that ends the novel.

Gilbert writes,鈥 [T]he force of this long, unpunctuated meditation, in which a drowsy woman鈥檚 vagrant thoughts are transferred in all their named candour of self-revelation on to the written record, lies precisely in its universality鈥.鈥

Gilbert continues, 鈥淭he concluding pages, a passage of vivid lyrical beauty鈥re at once intensely personal and symbolic of the divine love of Nature for her children, a springsong of the Earth; it is significant for those who see Joyce鈥檚 philosophy, nothing beyond a blank pessimism, an evangel of denial that Ulysses ends on…a paen of affirmation.鈥

Gilbert then quotes Joyce鈥檚 Molly Bloom saying to herself:
I love flowers Id love to have the whole place swimming in roses God of heaven theres nothing like nature the wild mountains then the sea and the waves rushing them the beautiful country with fields of oats and wheat and all kinds of things and all the fine cattle going about that would do your heart good to see rivers and lakes and flowers all sorts of shapes and smells and colours springing up even out of the ditches primroses and violets nature it is as for them saying theres no God I wouldnt give a snap of my two fingers for all their learning鈥.yes I said yes I will Yes.”


Listen now to聽聽Marcella Riordan read the last 50 lines of Ulysses as your heart thumps with joy.


Joyce selected June 16th as the 24-hour day during which all the action in Ulysses takes place because it was the date of his first date with Nora Barnacle who became his wife and was always his muse.


This surprisingly sexy, mind-opening book by my one-time editor Brenda Maddox is terrific.

[Aside, in 1984, my friend Jonathan Miller, as I was about to leave for China, told me he would publish an interview on the telecommunications plans of the Beijing Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications if I could somehow get an interview. Jonathan and Brenda were editing a joint D.C. Telecommunications Daily/London Economist publication. When the interview turned into a series of articles, Brenda was an excellent editor. At the time, Brenda was also working on this biography of Joyce’s wife, long regarded by distinguished Joyce scholars as an extremely dull woman. Jonathan had read the book proposal, envied the size of the advance (as did I), and marveled at Brenda’s ability to track down erotic letters between Nora and James Joyce. When I finally read Brenda’s book, she was able to open up Ulysses for me in a way that finally opened up the pleasure of reading the great novel which had previously seemed so intimidating. ]

This is how Amazon describes:

Nora: The Real Life of Molly Bloom

Publication Date:聽June 16, 2000
“In 1904, having known each other for only three months, a young woman named Nora Barnacle and a not yet famous writer named James Joyce left Ireland together for Europe — unwed. So began a deep and complex partnership, and eventually a marriage, which endured for thirty-seven years.
“This is the true story of Nora, the woman who, transformed by Joyce’s imagination, became Molly Bloom, arguably the most famous female character in twentieth-century literature. It is also the story of Ireland, a social history encapsulated in the vivid recreation of Joyce and his small Irish entourage abroad. Ultimately it is the portrait of a relationship — of Nora’s complicated, committed, and at times shocking relationship with a hardworking, hard-drinking genius and with his work.
“In NORA: THE REAL LIFE OF MOLLY BLOOM, the award-winning biographer Brenda Maddox has given us a powerful new lens through which to see both James Joyce and the woman who was in turn his inspiration and his salvation.”
Next year, Events Coordinator Molly Haight will be working with the Director of 2013 Bloomsday at Webster’s.

Molly is currently accepting email applications for the position of Director of 2013 Bloomsday at Webster’s at the following address:[email protected]

We are looking for a faculty member in the English Department at Penn State sufficiently familiar with the 18 episodes of Ulysses who will:

  1. Provide audiences with a brief overview of each episode before reading begins
  2. Organize the readings
  3. Recruit readers
  4. Designate a preferred edition so readings can take place smoothly
  5. Be prepared for the gratitude and adulation of the Webster’s literary community
At next year’s Bloomsday celebration, Cafe Manager 聽Meg McAuley will be dancing to your table with Irish tea and real Pennsylvania cream plus lots of wonderful Irish soda bread. Special orders for kidneys will be taken at the appropriate time.

Right now, Robbie Mayes has just received a shipment of James Joyce scholarship, really juicy books.

Next year, film lecturer聽Anne Triolo will be in charge of all video arrangements. You saw her win on Jeopardy, imagine what she will do in her own metier.

Until “met him pike hoses” (metempsychosis) [“Yes. Who’s he when he’s at home?”], watch this selection from the 1967 聽movie Ulysses:

Webster’s on the web:

Webster’s on the map:’s+state+college&fb=1&gl=us&hq=webster’s&hnear=0x89cea899c13bdb73:0x9ce1c6c2833c8091,State+College,+PA&cid=0,0,4409987300851388285&ei=pB_dT8HkAoSE8QT-roH_Cg&sqi=2&ved=0CA4Q_BIwBQ

This is how Bloomsday is observed in Dublin.