I was very, very sad to read in today’s Gazette that Michael G “Mike” Martin, 72, has died. Haven’t seen Mike in years, but for a quarter of a century we saw a lot of each other at WMU games, at K-Wings games, in the Kalamazoo Optimist Hockey Association, SW Michigan High School Hockey League, and Portage Northern H.S. Hockey, and in the Over-30 Fat Boy Adult leagues. At WMU and the K-Wings, we were just fans and pals. The rest of time we opponents, of sorts. I was either a coach or player or minor team official. Mike always did the job and always made me laugh. By the way, he was always Martin on the ice. He had his own way of communicating. To say the least.
Me: Why the hell did you call that, Martin?”
Mike: “Your tie color sucks.”
Me: “I’m not wearing a tie.”
Mike: “There ya go.”
Mike: “Heywood, your player speared the goalie.”
Me: “You don’t know a spear from a darning needle, Martin.”
Mike: “Yah? I know that goalie’s my son. Any further questions?”
On the ice in a fat boy league fracas, in the aftermath, bodies here and there, Mike trying to assess penalties. He turns to me:
Mike: “You’re getting old, Heywood. Took you two punches to knock that sucker out.”
Me: “You need glasses. I didn’t punch anybody.”
Mike: “Well, you should have because you’re getting five and a game.”
Me: “See you at the bowling alley after the game?”
Mike: “Yah, sounds good. Now, Yooooooure outtta here!”
He was a fine and memorable man who gave decades of his life to hockey and kids in this county and state. He will be missed. My condolences to his family. There are legions of us out here in the darkened stands who are so sorry for your loss. I expect when we meet again, he’ll still be wearing stripes.
We took a circuitous route to the grock store today for our Sunday papers (NYT, Chi Trib, and Kaz Gaz). In an approximate three mile radius of our house in Portage we counted 15 churches. They are: Prince of Peace Lutheran; Victory Baptist; Cross Community Church; Greater Faith Empowerment Center; Kalamazoo First Assembly of God; Chapel Hill United Methodist; St. Michael’s Lutheran; Oakland Drive Christian Church: Kingdom Hall /Jehovah’s Witnesses; St. Catherine’s Roman Catholic Church; The Bridge; Portage United Church of Christ; Cornerstone Pentecostal and Valley Family Church, which has an annex in the radius but has moved main ops to church once called the Cathedral. Valley is a megachurch. All those churches and not a single family bar. Too bad. It appears to me that Christianity is a badly segmented, split and tied up in disagreements as the factions in our political parties. A republican is not just a republican, or a democrat just a democrat, but some other subgroup/category. Same for the Christian churches.
Then I read in the Chicago Tribune how Pentecostal style worship and wealth gospel have proved popular across Asia. America invented the mega-church, but Asian countries now have the biggest. Prosperity gospel blends the spiritual and the material. Kind of like predestination once declared that our spiritual faith would be known by our worldly status and no, the meek-and-poor did not inherit the earth in that scheme. The Trib story says the Singaporian churches are “working to export it to the world and turn Singapore into a hub for evangelical Christianity.” For some years now Christian denominations in Africa have been sending missionaries to the US, while the US continues to send same such folk that direction. Who is trying to save Whom?”
I also read in the Trib that rain dances are being held in San Juan Bautista, CA. “In a small town, when you call a rain dance, word gets around,” said Ray Sanchez, a barbecue chef, construction worker of Apache heritage.
Trib also reports half the states in the US are considering decriminalizing or legalizing pot.
Sad item. One Ebony Wilson of Somewhere, South Carolina, 32, pregnant, told her Fam she needed a break. There was talk of an abusive husband in the story, but not much detail. Ms. Ebony some of her kids, 3,9 and 10 to Florida for a “break.” Drove out onto a beach near Daytona Beach, and got stopped by cops. She seemed normal, and police let her go on, whereupon she promptly told her kids to close their eyes and go to sleep and aimed her minivan for the ocean. She got to a depth of 3 feet, before being stopped. Her nine-year-old fought her for the steering wheel the whole way. Others noticed the erratic driving, pursued and caught up. At some point she reportedly told authorities, she was” taking her children to a safer place.” The kids reported she started talking to Jesus and qall when they got to Florida. The news report says there is no known history of mental illness. May I suggest away from her is a safer place and I wonder, as a writer, what life holds for those kids, what sort of PTSD will live in their neurocells. Her marriage was not characterized as a happy one. We live in a sad, strange world.
We have some snow melting under way here. Supposed to be in the fifties tomorrow. I read in the Trib today, “So much ice coverage in the Great Lakes will not effect spring. Data from 1973 now suggests little or no correlation between the max amount of lake ice and mean spring temperatures. Rationale: Because the surface area of the Great Lakes is so small compared to the large-scale airflow over the continent. The paper cited 1976-77 which had 94 percent ice coverage and up until then, warmest spring on history.
Working memory is linked to IQ and is the first brain function to decline as you age. It is central to your ability to manipulate stored information and can be improved by practicing a series of simple exercises, which of course you must pay for in order to use them.
On a somewhat more serious note, a piece by Kyle Bibby of the Kazoo Nature Center says today, Robins don’t really migrate. They move into the woods when neighborhood food production falls off, or slightly south. Interesting.
I am now trying to close up taxes, but am also thinking about writing. The magnificent Neal Stephenson in Snow Crash talks about language. Character says, “Well, a French-speaker’s brain starts out the same as an English Speaker’s brain. As they grow up, they get programmed with different software – they learn different languages.”
Another character then explains, “Yes. Therefore, according to the universalists, French and English – or any other languages – must share certain traits that have their roots in ‘deep structures’ in the brain. According to Chomskyan theory, the deep structures are innate components of the brain that enable it to carry forward certain formal kinds of operations on strings of symbols. Or, as Steiner paraphrases Emmon Bach: These deep structures eventually lead to the actual patterning of the cortex with its immensely ramified yet, at the same time, ‘programmed’ network of electrochemical and neurophysiological channels.
Another character concludes: “So Lagos was trying to say that the newborn human brain has no structure – as the relativists would have it – and that as the child learns a language, the developing brain structures itself accordingly, the language gets blown into the hardware and becomes a permanent part of the brain’s deep structure – as the universalists would have it.”
How much of this is out of Stephenson’s mind I don’t yet know, but will take a look. The notion that language can shape the brain is intriguing. And if true, what effect does multiple language-learning have? Or learning drastically different kinds of languages?
Fascinating stuff. Appropos of nothing but pure curiosity and the high state of Huh.
On a more practical side I have all my topo maps for five counties this summer. Soon we will be out in the bush marking up the great fishing and animal sighting-spots.
On a less practical side, I realized that when Zip drives went bye-bye and flash drives and CDs became all the memory rage, I failed to transfer 6-7 manuscripts to the newer storage methods, and now I must get that done in the next few weeks. It never, never ends.
Friends Joe (“Griz”) and Nan Harris sent me the attached photo. A shelf all to myself. Funny. A true honor.