Category Archives: Around Town

Personal posts — some social justice (Not in Our Town), some faith-related (Princeton United Methodist Church), some I-can’t-keep-from-writing-this

Einstein Ever Fascinates

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Einstein lived at 110 Mercer Street, now a private home with no house number.

While on duty to give tours of the Tiffany window at Princeton United Methodist Church, I encountered a visitor who wanted to take an historical tour, shorter than the ones offered by the Historical Society of Princeton.

Princeton Tour Company is your answer, I said, but you will still have to hoof it.

Vainly I looked in online files to find one of my 20 minute driving tours, titled “Gossips’ Guide to Princeton,” but I did find this “Einstein Tour,” written in 2005. It’s longer than 20 minutes if you get out at each stop. I’ve updated it a little. It begins:

Einstein has always been Princeton’s most sought-after celebrity. Visitors from Europe who are visibly unimpressed by “old” buildings like Nassau Hall, and those from other continents who turn a deaf ear to stories of the town’s role in the Revolutionary War – they all know about Albert Einstein and are eager to view any signs of the great man’s legacy.

Continue on the Einstein journey

The newest addition to the Einstein tour might be the sculpture that intends to represent Einstein’s brain, pictured in this article on the Arts Council of Princeton website. 

sculpture of einstein's brain

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“God will be there for you”

arms up IMG_2546 - edited steveMy current delight is the children’s musical directed (and co-authored) by Tom Shelton and “preached” to Princeton United Methodist Church on February 24. The musical theme is God will be there for you,” and to hear it from these young voices is very meaningful to me.

A couple of these children have significant talent, and all of them are expertly trained by a real expert. They are a joy to see and hear. Here is a picture album for “Lost Then Found” by Camilla Pruitt and Tom Shelton.

Here is the video from when the children reprised  the musical on Monday, March 4 at 6:30 p.m. at Bristol Chapel on the Westminster Choir College campus.

Part 1 https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fprincetonumc%2Fvideos%2F2350427265172381%2F&show_text=0&width=560“>

The second part The https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fprincetonumc%2Fvideos%2F2607272262633589%2F&show_text=0&width=560

Third part.

Then they take it to Stonebridge at Montgomery on Wednesday, March 16 at 4:30. Anyone is welcome to come to either.  Like a groupie, I’ll be there both times!

Finding your ender: Here’s help

 

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Tabernacle by sculptor Adam Kraft at St. Lorenz Kirche in Nurnberg.

Good writers supposedly know how they will end an article before they start. Enders were always my burden (as in this gratuituous photo of a 15th=century stone sculptor). 

From Medium, here is extensive help, by Jason Shen, filed for my personal  use and perhaps useful to you.

How Great Writers End Their Articles: What you can learn from the final paragraphs of 100 top feature articles from Malcolm Gladwell, the Atlantic, Fast Company, and the New York Times

Black History Month: Bermuda

Cobbs Hill Methodist Church: 

“This one room place of worship was built block by block by the slaves and the free blacks, and completed in 1827 after two years of rigorous work. Bermuda stones were used from the local quarries to build the church. Most of the work was done during their free time at night. “

In contrast

At St. Peter’s Church

Free or enslaved blacks COULD worship with the Episcopalians (they drove the carriages of their owners?) but were in the balcony at the oldest continually used Anglican church in the western hemisphere: 

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At St. Peter’s church, blacks could worship in the gallery where the organ now is. Photo provided by the church.

 Both are on the African Diaspora Heritage Trail  

Both will be filled with worshippers this Sunday. 

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Out with the Ums and the Uhs!

Do you hate to listen to a recording of yourself? Because you hear the Ums and the Uhs (and maybe the ‘Likes’?)

Eileen Sinett, of Speaking That Connects, offers a three-part training focused on helping speakers drastically reduce or eliminate the “uhs, ums, duhs,” and other fillers that can punctuate our public speaking. “All listeners are not the same,” says Sinett. “Some will focus on your message despite fillers; others will be distracted and count these hesitations as you speak. If you have been told you ‘uh’ and ‘um’ too much, help is here to reduce or eliminate these vocal fillers.”

Sinett is a corporate trainer as well as a speech pathologist. She first became interested in helping people with physical disabilities after watching a Jerry Lewis telethon in high school. “I’m probably one of the few people who can list Jerry Lewis as a career influence,” she says. A counselor suggested speech pathology, and she enrolled at Emerson College in Boston, receiving a bachelors degree in 1971. She earned a master’s in speech correction from Kean University in 2002.

“Drastically Reduce Ums, Ahs, and Other Fillers” consists of three weekly group sessions and one private coaching session. The group is limited to eight participants and runs Thursdays, February 21, February 28, and March 7 from 7 to 8:45 p.m. at the Speaking that Connects Studio, 610 Plainsboro Road. The cost is $250 for all four sessions. Call 609-799-1400 or visit www.speakingthatconnects.com/programs to register.

This post was taken from an article in U.S. 1 Newspaper on January 30, 2019. I am highlighting it because Sinett has been able to improve my speech. 

In lieu of a card

 

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My Christmas Card: before dawn, Rochester New York

I probably won’t get around to answering your cards this year, again. Sometimes I have sent New Year’s cards. Or Valentines. Or St. Patrick’s Day cards. 

Instead, here is a list of resources that are helping me face 2019.

At Princeton United Methodist Church, we have embarked on a series called Relationships and Faith, based in part on materials from the Arbinger Institute. to  learn the difference between an Inward Mindset and an Outward Mindset. Pastor Jenny Smith Walz is undertaking the important and difficult task — to talk about difficult questions of gender and race within the church. Her challenging sermon series, titled “The Beloved Community,”  begins this month, focusing on “What God wants for God’s people.”  The ongoing study has workbooks available in the church office. Also here is a link to one of the Arbinger books,

I am also led to discover, and embrace, the work of Julia Cameron. Known for founding  The Artist’s Way, Cameron recommends — nay, requires — those pursuing creativity to write “Morning Pages,” three pages written in the morning, first thing, to clear the addlement from one’s brain. I found my first Cameron book in one of those “free libraries” on the street in DC in October, and it has taken me this long to convince myself it might work.

For the evening, I am trying to use a journaling system called Vertellis Chapters,  This “mix of mindfulness and stoicism practices” is a Netherlands-based journaling system (the Dutch are so smart!) and I found it at my favorite shopping spot – online.

Then, my old favorite, is the Upper Room Disciplines. a book of daily devotions based on the lectionary — the Bible passages read throughout the Christian church. So often, that commentary, that scripture, speaks to a current sadness or gladness of the day. My small group at PrincetonUMC, the Monday Morning Group, uses these readings for informal study.

Am I reading these, writing these, studying these consistently every day? No. 

George was a habit-driven person and I am the exact opposite. He did exercises daily without fail. When it comes to doing exercises daily, I mostly fail. 

But I am trying to create these habits. And I feel led to share them with whoever is out there, just as Jenny, Ginny, Gerri, Aimee, Anthony, Ineke, Judi, Mary Lib, Pat, Deborah, Susannah and so so many more have shared their inspirations with me.  

 

 

 

Executive male or black teen?

driverless graph
Graph of MIT survey courtesy of NZHerald

Princeton engineering professor Alain Kornhauser might seem to dominate discussions of driverless cars; he’s making them and leading the dialogue on their controversies.

Now Princeton prof and Nobel winner Daniel Kahneman has been linked to the ethics of how driverless cars make their decisions about who to hit – cats or people? pregnant women or old man? In this article, Kahneman is cited re his experiment on the psychology of health decisions that extrapolates to the choices that driverless cars will make.

Quoting the Washington Post and NZ Herald (note the British spellings!)

The way questions are framed can often have an impact on the final decision that’s made. The behavioural scientist Daniel Kahneman illustrated this through a thought experiment in which the outbreak of an unusual disease was expected to kill 600 people.

Respondents, in this case, were offered two potential health programmes. In programme A, subjects were told they had a 100 per cent chance of saving 200 lives. Programme B offered a one-third chance of saving 600 lives and two-thirds possibility of saving no lives.

In this scenario, most people went for programme A – the guarantee of saving 200 lives.

However, when Kahneman switched the scenario to lives lost rather than lives saved, the choice respondents made was completely different.

When they were asked to choose between the 100 per cent chance of the death of 400 people or programme B (which remained unchanged), most respondents opted for the latter despite the fact that programme A was unchanged in both scenarios.

What Kahneman illustrated was that moral decisions can be swayed by the way in which the questioning is phrased.

Kahneman doesn’t decide. He illustrates the complexity of the decision. What I am asking? Will driverless cars “see” race? 

Princeton Cop: in Dallas, Doing WHAT?

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Photo by Carli Geraci, Dallas Morning News

You could take this as another example of how the whimsical statues of Seward Johnson can amuse passersby all over the world.

The work of the 88-year-old sculptor, J&J heir, and founder of Grounds for Sculpture is scattered all over Princeton. At Princeton hospital, the figures of the caregiver tending the little old lady always give me a start, no matter how many times I’ve encountered them.

In 1983, using a Princeton police officer as a model, Johnson fashioned a statue of a nearly six-foot cop writing a parking ticket. Titled “Time’s Up,” it is one of seven castings, and it was installed at a Dallas shopping center, Central Market, by Lincoln Property Company.

How cute, you might say, especially since another whimsical touch, the eggplant, is nearby.

But since social justice is one of my concerns, I think there could be another motive. If you were an undocumented person — down there in Texas country — how would you react?

Is this just an update of Confederate statues meant to intimidate?

Thanks to Brendan Meyer for the light-hearted reporting, and the amusing details are here. The paranoid insinuations are mine.

(Aside to Princeton residents, don’t worry about current cops issuing parking tickets until after Christmas or even January. According to my ‘reliable sources,’ because of the confusing new system,’ the meter cops are issuing only warnings. But don’t tell the tourists — we need the revenue.) 

 

From England to Princeton to Saint Louis: William Morris

kehinda wiley mrs siddons
“Mrs. Siddons from the series ‘The Economy of Grace'” and detail image of Blackthorn-inspired wallpaper Photographs by Monica Bowen.

Since I learned that the design for Princeton United Methodist Church, built in 1909, has its roots in William Morris’s Arts and Crafts Movement, I have been trying to learn more about it,  And my friend, Mary Pat Robertson, enlivens my research by posting Instagram pictures from England.

Now I find that Barack Obama’s portrait artist, Kehinda Wiley, is also influenced by William Morris, as described here by critic Monica Bowen, courtesy Nancy Marshall’s post on the Arts and Crafts Movement Facebook page.  

Wiley came to the streets of Saint Louis and Ferguson and painted 11 original portraits of people that he met. From the website of the Saint Louis Art Museum:  Kehinde Wiley creates large-scale oil paintings of contemporary African American subjects in poses that recall grand traditions of European and American portraiture. His models—real people dressed in their own clothing—assume poses adapted from historic paintings. Wiley’s portraits often feature ornate and decorative backgrounds, elements of which surround and sometimes weave around his subjects. His works address the politics of race and power in art, drawing attention to the pervasive lack of representation of people of color in the art world. The exhibition at the Saint Louis Art Museum continues through February 19, 2018 and admission is free.

So two of my passions – Princeton UMC’s architecture and stained glass windows and the study of African American culture, based on experiences with Not in Our Town Princeton –– now intersect.

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Carvings on the oak pews; At Princeton United Methodist Church, with roots in the Arts and Crafts Movement, attention was paid to every detail.

The care they need – the care they want

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If any part of health care in New Jersey needs reform, it’s end-of-life healthcare. Patients here are likely to undergo more intensive medical care, in their final days, than in any other state. All this treatment rarely helps the patients; likely it just makes them uncomfortable.

David Barile MD, palliative care specialist, founded NJ GoalsofCare,  a non-profit, to help everyone — lay people and medical people — achieve their goals for this stage of life that is often feared and ignored.  “We’re working to set a new standard by helping healthcare providers, patients, and families make medical decisions that genuinely reflect a person’s wishes,” says Barile. He created educational materials and documents to ensure that patients would receive the care they need and no less, and the care they want and no more.

In our family, we have had examples of too much care, too little care, and just the right amount of care. The “just the right amount,” no coincidence, was supervised by Dr. Barile. 

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Now his small organization has coalesced into The Goals of Care Coalition of New Jersey. Its partners are healthcare providers, government agencies, and community organizations.  Founding members are an impressive list:  NJ Hospital Association, the Medical Society of NJ, the NJ Association of Health Plans, the Health Care Association of NJ, HQSI, the Home Care & Hospice Association of NJ, LeadingAge NJ, the NJ Health Care Quality Institute, the NJ Palliative Care APN Consortium, the VNA Health Group, Samaritan Healthcare & Hospice, the NJ Association of Health Care Social Workers and the NJ Association of Mental Health and Addiction Agencies.

From Robert Wood Johnson Foundation it has a one-year grant, $195,000, to address disparities in access to palliative care for minority populations living in New Jersey. It also landed a $75,000 matching grant, and here’s where I — and maybe you — come in. I’m donating, and I invite you to contribute. You can do it through a Facebook fundraising page or directly through GoalsofCareNJ website. 

Talking about the end-of-life does not come easily! That’s why I believe both the medical people and lay people need the GoalsofCare materials.

Bottom line: When it’s time to say goodbye to someone you love, it’s such a comfort to know that the caregivers are following the patient’s wishes.