Saturday, November 1, 2014

Nisha Charkoudian contributes to Army's development of app determining body's water needs

Researcher Nisha Charkoudian contributes to Army's development of app which determines body's 

water needs - written by Kelly Field, USARIEM, published October 24, 2014,  reprinted here from
There's an app for that: Army has developed one to determine water needs
Pictured here is the Soldier Water Estimation Too app main screen. This Android-based smartphone application
 is a decision aid that translates a complex sweat prediction model into simple user inputs. The user need only 
estimate the anticipated intensity of the activity (low, medium, high, including example activities), choose 
from among three categories of military clothing ensemble and input weather conditions (air temperature, 
relative humidity and cloud cover) to estimate the fluid intake required to maintain optimal hydration.

NATICK, Mass. (Oct. 24, 2014) -- Clean, potable water is one thing the world universally cannot live without. It hydrates. It cleans. It keeps us alive and well. No doubt, water is very valuable to Soldiers.

However, as many mission planners know, water planning can be a nightmare. Too much water can strain already heavy combat loads, perhaps forcing some Soldiers to pack too little in favor of a lighter pack. When Soldiers don't have enough water, dehydration could set in, decreasing performance and increasing the risk of serious heat illnesses.

"Water is a huge logistical problem for training and field missions," said Dr. Nisha Charkoudian, a research physiologist from the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, known as USARIEM, Thermal and Mountain Medicine Division. "Obviously, planners do not want too much, but having too little can lead to serious problems. Dehydration exacerbates symptoms caused by heat and altitude exposure, and makes a lot of things worse, including the ability to perform physical tasks in hot and high-altitude environments."

To help solve this logistical problem, Charkoudian worked with researchers from USARIEM -- Dr. Sam Cheuvront, Dr. Robert Kenefick and Ms. Laurie Blanchard -- and a team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory -- Dr. Anthony Lapadula, Dr. Albert Swiston and Mr. Tajesh Patel -- to develop an app that will help unit leaders accurately predict water needs with the goal of minimizing the burden of water transport and sustaining hydration.

"Research into heat stress has been going on for over 50 years at USARIEM," Charkoudian said. "We have been providing guidance to the Department of Defense about sweat loss and hydration, and refining it for many years through TB MED 507. Paper doctrine provides generalized look-up tables generated from complicated equations. The app meets requests from the increasingly digital battlefield for paperless guidance that is simple, accurate, mission-specific and available in real time."

Called the Soldier Water Estimation Tool, or SWET, this Android-based smartphone app is a decision aid that translates a complicated biophysical and physiological sweat prediction model into simple user inputs regarding the anticipated intensity of activity (low, medium, high, including example activities), three category choices of military clothing ensemble and weather conditions (air temperature, relative humidity and cloud cover).

The SWET app has user-friendly inputs and provides the user with the amount of water required for the specified conditions in liters per hour. A separate "Mission Calculator" tab further simplifies planning by providing total amounts of water required for a given unit (number of people) for a given mission duration (total time, in hours). Total water amounts are provided in liters, one-quart canteens, two-quart canteens and gallons.

Charkoudian said this app was designed for unit leaders to determine group water needs. The average amount of water needed per person does not reflect individual differences, but the model error for individuals is estimated to be small. Soldiers should expect to see this app within the year on the Army's Nett Warrior platform.

"This will be one of the first apps rolled out in the Nett Warrior platform," Charkoudian said. "I am so excited to be doing stuff that is directly helping Soldiers in the field. I think that's just so cool."

In the meantime, Charkoudian said that the app has already undergone limited user testing with the Army Mountain Warfare School in Jericho, Vermont, where Soldiers gave very positive feedback. She is looking forward to more feedback once the app goes live, to make updates and possibly explore its uses in the commercial world.

"There is the potential here for future versions of SWET for sports and sports drink companies, for team sports, as well as for humanitarian and disaster-relief organizations," Charkoudian said. "People want apps; that's what they are excited about. It's something everyone can relate to."

Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween!

Halloween on a windy day along the beach in Falmouth
Sandwich Public Library's Scare Crow Contest contributes to the Halloween festivities.
                               Even the Puritans celebrate Halloween in Sandwich, Massachusetts!

Turkeys parade in front of the Falmouth Library on Hallowwen.  Photo by Nisha

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Wild Turkeys at Dusk: Shore Drive Roof Top, Falmouth, Massachusetts

It wasn't an early arrival of Santa with his reindeer. The animals flying through the air yesterday at dusk on Shore Drive in Falmouth, Massachusetts, were wild turkeys, and they were heading for the old woman's rooftop as she screamed in fear at the clumsy flapping of wings surrounding her and the dark hulks rising upwards.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Walking Along Shore Street, Falmouth, Massachusetts: Make Way for Wild Turkeys

Marash Girl was walking along Shore Street towards downtown Falmouth on Monday morning, the day after the Cape Cod Marathon, when she spied what she thought to be an early (and tacky) Thanksgiving decoration perched on the fence of this Falmouth home, but as she approached,
she realized that there was nothing tacky nor decorative about this live display of wild turkeys, turkeys that decided to lead the way into town.

Photos by Marash Girl

Tuesday, October 28, 2014


Lorig Charkoudian writes, "Here’s my oh-so-simple recipe for Sweet Potato Biscuits."

2 cups sweet potatoes (cooked and mashed)

2 cups flour (I’m doing half whole wheat pastry flour and half white right now)

2 tbsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

2 tsp salt

½ cup coconut oil

Pre-heat oven to 375.

Mix dry ingredients. Add oil and sweet potatoes. Mix well. Shape or roll out 

biscuits. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until done.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Cape Cod Marathon, Falmouth, Massachusetts, October 26, 2014

The weekend before Halloween (is there a reason?) has always been the time to head to Falmouth, Massachusetts, to run the Cape Cod Marathon on that Sunday (and if you can't run a full marathon, you can run the half marathon on Saturday.)  Nary a room is available in Falmouth and environs that weekend, as 1,200 runners from all parts of the United States, (as well as from all parts of the Cape, of course), converge on Falmouth to run the now famous Cape Cod Marathon.  This year's marathon featured lots of wind, but no rain, and beautiful views for the runners as they ran their 26.2 miles, the route lined with spectators cheering them on, handing out water, gel, high fives, and shouts of encouragement.  At one junction, (see photo below), a band greets the marathon runners with the music, "When the Saints Go Marching In" as the bystanders clap their hands in time to the music and the runners, and agree with the band, that these runners are indeed saints, running for all of us who could never even think of attempting such a feat!
26.2 or bust.  Lorig Charkoudian running strong!
Aline & Raffi greet their mother Lorig Charkoudian who has just crossed the finish line!
Her shirt says, "Run like a Mother"!
What was my time?  What? I came in second in my category?
"My best time ever!"  Despite the wind, 3 hours, 48 minutes and 10 seconds!
                                                                              Photos by Marash Girl

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Guacamole á la Martha

If you're lucky enough to have a perfectly ripe avocado -- just squishable but not squishy -- a fresh lemon, AND a bottle of all natural salsa (the freshly made salsa in the vegetable section of the supermarket tends to have preservatives added -- check before you buy), your guacamole is minutes away.  Simply slice the avocado in half, remove the avocado pit (unfortunately you can no longer use these pits to grow avocado trees -- probably because they have been genetically modified in some way), dig out the avocado flesh and mash with a fork, leaving the mashed avocado ever so slightly chunky.  Add a tablespoon of salsa and a squeeze of freshly squeezed lemon juice -- more or less, depending on your taste -- stir with fork, and you have just prepared guacamole, absolutely delicious and freshly made, WITH NO PRESERVATIVES! Hope you have some chips around  . . . 

Thanks to Martha McCool for the recipe!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Mushrooms in the Sand Dunes of Provincetown

Friday, October 24, 2014

Indoor Gardening á la Thalassa Cruso

Many years ago, Marash Girl read Thalassa Cruso's Making Things Grow, a  gardening book with verve and humor.  To this day, Marash Girl remembers two points from the book, both of which made her smile at the time, and make her smile today.

Cruso cautions us to wash those emptied plant pots before putting them away in a corner of the cellar.  You wouldn't put dirty dishes on a shelf, would you? she asked.

Does Marash Girl remember correctly?  Did Thalassa Cruso really ask, "Do you keep fresh flowers after they have wilted or worse, died? Why keep a potted plant that is not thriving?  Simply buy another!"

That theory, of course, would have been anathema to Marash Boy's mother, who would rescue wilted twigs from the sale shelf at the back of the "Five and Ten" and with her last five or ten cents, buy a twig and nurse it into a living, thriving plant!

Would that Marash Girl had Medzmama's green thumb! Or Thalassa Curso's, for that matter!


While helping set up for the church fair,  Marash Girl overheard the following interchange during a coffee break:

God helps those who help themselves . . .

But God help those who help themselves (to the antiques on the flea market table!)

The Lord's wrath upon them.

Minister: I'd rather wreak my wrath upon them!

Thursday, October 23, 2014



Speaker #1:  So when is your birthday?

Speaker #2:  Halloween.

Speaker #1:  Why does that not surprise me?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Lentil Stew á la Nisha

Lentil Stew á la Nisha

1 medium onion, chopped
1 lb dry lentils
4 scallions, chopped
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp Aintab red pepper, or to taste
1 15-oz can diced tomatoes
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
Sea salt and black pepper, to taste

Rinse lentils and drain.  Saute onion in olive oil until translucent.  Add garlic powder (and/or chopped garlic) and lentils, sauté for a few more minutes.  Add scallions, cumin, Aintab red pepper and tomatoes.  Add 6-8 cups (total) of chicken broth and/or water (I used mostly broth) and bring to a boil.  Add cilantro.  Let simmer for 30 minutes.  Add more broth or water if you prefer more broth and cook for a few more minutes.  Delicious!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Happy Birthday, Brother James!

You arrived home on my birthday, and I must admit, you were the best birthday present Marash Girl has ever received!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Olive Drab . . .

An ardent member of the Harvard-Radcliffe Armenian Club back in the day, David Balabanian was brilliant and funny.  To this day, Marash Girl remembers David's quip when a fellow Armenian classmate left college to join the United States Armed Forces.  "Olive drab on olive drab."

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Being Armenian in the Jazz (and Not So Jazz) World of the Past . . .

"Many years ago in Boston, there was a really great tenor sax player named Varty Haroutunian.  He was superb and played nightly at the jazz club downtown called the Stables.  He and Herb Pomeroy were co-leaders and later had a wonderful big band.  I was honored one evening to be asked to sit in with the quintet and had a great time.  The jazz world knew Herb and Vardy, but the two musicians didn't want a life on the road, so they stayed in Boston and played the Stables for years.  As a joke we would sing to Vardy a version of My Wild Irish Rose.  Only we sang, "My wild Armenian nose, how it grows and grows and grows"  He had a bit of a large nose, of course, and in the jazz world we were not particularly kind to one another."
Above is a memory sent to Brother James by musician Phil Welch, now in his eighties.  Having never heard of Varty, Marash Girl looked up the name on the internet and found

N.B. It wasn't only the jazz world that sang the song; Marash Girl remembers George Bedirian, Nevdon Kupelian and Raffi Yeghiayan, all members of the Harvard Armenian Club, laughing and singing at the top of their lungs, "My Wild Armenian Nose",  as they drove through Cambridge and Watertown (Massachusetts) in Raffi's convertible Volkswagon bug, with the top down, of course!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Marash, Turkey -- Photos of Marash bring back sad memories for Armenian families

Photo courtesy of Özcan Gülkesen
No longer the Bilezikdjian home.  Photo taken c. 2000, Marash (now known as Kahraman Marash), Turkey

They say the house had the most magnificent baths!

This was the house in which Garabed Agha Bilezikdjian hid his extended  family during the Armenian Genocide.  As Grandpa Peter told it, there was a family in every corner of the living room.  There was a high wall around the house and a well for water in the center, both of which allowed for survival of the family.

When the photographer was asked why the house was in such disrepair, he said that some kerosene sniffers inadvertently caused the house to be set on fire.  It is well known in the city of Marash as the former abode of the Bilezikdjian Family.
1917 Marash German hospital - Marash Alman Hastanesi. Photo courtesy of Özcan Gülkesen

A photo of the German Hospital  in Marash, Turkey, where Marash Girl's Grandma Yepros used to work c. 1918-1922. She worked for a loaf of bread a day! It was in this hospital that she saw the Turkish soldier wearing the coat of her mother-in-law, Marta Ganimian Bilezikdjian.  When Grandma Yepros admired the coat, he bragged, I took that coat off of the giavour before Ithrew her into the ovens!  Grandma Yepros, who the soldier thought was Turkish,  had all she could do to quell her grief stricken screams and continue to care for the injured Turkish soldier at Alman Hastanesi. Oh, Marash Girl shouldn't tell you that; it's too awful and she had forgotten until this moment!

Bethel Orphanage - Photo courtesy of Edward & Mary Ann Kazanjian - Photo darken  during a recent trip to  Marash

Marash Girl, named Bethel after her Grandmother Yepros Kurtgusian Bilezikian, in memory of the orphanage that took Yepros in after she and her sister Mary (Mairie Baju) hid in a closet in their home in Marash and witnessed Turkish soldiers bludgeoning their parents to death.  As Grandma told it, somewhere around 1895, Grandma Yepros, then a little girl of 8 and her sister Mayry, then a little girl of 5, were with their parents at home when a knock came at the door.  Their parents told them to hide behind the curtains in the closet and never to make a peep, no matter what they saw or heard.  Their parents opened the front door, Turkish soldiers came in and  . . .   Soon after, German missionaries retrieved the two little girls, now orphaned, placing them in the Bethel Orphanage (photo above).  Whenever Marash Girl is asked about the origin of her name, she must tell this story.  So sad.  

N.B. Bethel (or Paytel in Armenian) means "House of God" . . . we are all Bethels, are we not?  Our bodies are Temples of the Living Spirit!)

Friday, October 17, 2014

Drop those stitches and pull to your heart's content!

The Easiest Knitting Pattern (stitch, or better called drop stitch) in the world - Just rib it out (rip it out) . . . when binding off at the end of scarf or sweater, just drop every other stitch, or drop as many stitches as you want spaces (you always want spaces in togetherness, right?).. . . and pull so that the dropped stitch is dropped all the way up the scarf . . . Now there you have a beautiful patterned scarf with little or no effort!

Could this be a metaphor for life . . . okay, readers, go for it!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The next block . . .

"45% of all gun homicide crimes depends on your location within a network of co-offenders.  NOT your location!  If you are in the network, you are at higher risk. . . "  Shankar Vedantam, NPR, Thursday morning, WBUR, October 9, 2014.

That could explain the message Marash Girl received from all of her neighbors in Washington Heights many years ago, the day after a gruesome murder in their neighborhood: "Don't worry," were their comforting words. "The murder occurred in the next block!" They knew not to worry, even though they hadn't had the benefit of Shankar Vedantam's research!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


Sounds like the title of her soon to be published novel, but actually it's the caption of her soon to be published photo . . .  and here it is!
The tree at the end of the avenue . . . October 13, 2014

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

At the beach . . .

"You never know how many friends you have until you own a beach house!"

Monday, October 13, 2014

Overheard at the phlebotomist's . . .

It's been real, it's been nice, but it hasn't been real nice!

And speaking of art . . .

Wondering what to do with all that art work you've collected over the years?  Follow the latest  advice from MOMA  P.S. 1:
     "THROW YOUR ART AWAY"  (probably right into their bins for future display!)
The very first exhibit on display at the entrance of the new MOMA P.S.One, New York City . . . Photo by Marash Girl

Sunday, October 12, 2014

And speaking of speaking . . .

Overheard at a party, many years ago:

Hunky guy to beautiful blonde:  But how could you be married? We only just met!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Learning a new language?

When Marash Girl taught English to speakers of other languages, she noticed that the Russians remembered with ease all the long words and the Chinese remembered all the short words . . . never in the reverse!  Now if the Russian students had grown up bilingual (speaking Chinese as well) and the Chinese students had grown up bilingual (speaking Russian as well), there'd be no problem for either of them.  But then, of course, they could have grown up trilingual, including English in the mix, and they wouldn't have had to be in her class!

Friday, October 10, 2014

"I'd give my eye teeth to be able to do that!"

What does that mean? asked Marash Girl's daughter.  Why would you give your eye teeth?  Clear from the context as to the meaning of this expression, but very unclear after much research as to the origin of the expression.  Any takers out there?

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Need an air conditioner in September? Just open your windows!

Overheard in the Newtonville Shaw's parking lot:

The furnace repair man didn't have the time to go to my friend's house to repair her furnace; because of the heat wave this September, he was too busy with the calls to repair air conditioners.  "People in Newton and Brookline don't know how to open their windows, it seems," he told her.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

On Burnt Toast

A comment by Brother James on yesterday's blogpost entitled Burt and the Burnt Pancakes (see below) states, "Remember the assurance, 'if you eat burnt toast, you will find money'? I suspect that saying derived from before reliable toasters were on the market. Trying to toast bread over a fire, or coals virtually guarantees its being burnt. Ah, but did we find money! Did we ever!"

Interesting to note that Marash Boy remembers his grandmother Turvant Sanjian (born in Marash, survivor of the Armenian genocide) assuring him that if he ate burnt toast, he would find money. Sure enough, immediately after his eating burnt toast, his grandmother would take him, often with his cousin George, on walks along the path behind their house, a path that meandered through the woods. Invariably the little boys would find coins along that path, coins that, unbeknownst to them,  their grandmother had strewn . . . earlier in the day? or then and there? They never did figure that out!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Burt and the Burnt Pancakes

And speaking of pancakes (see yesterday's blog post below), Marash Girl still remembers Mrs. Evans, a neighbor on Lowell Avenue, Auntie Zabelle's knitting pal . . . Mrs. Evans telling the story about her young son, Burt, who loved to make pancakes on Sunday mornings.  As Mrs. Evans told the story those many years ago, the Evanses took their children out for a pancake breakfast one Sunday morning, and Burt stopped eating after his first bite.  "Something is wrong with these pancakes," he said; "they don't taste right!"  Mrs. Evans couldn't stop laughing as she told us the problem.  "The pancakes didn't taste right to Burt because they weren't burnt!"

Monday, October 6, 2014

Cooking Idea for October: Sweet Potato Pancakes

Cooked too many sweet potatoes for last night's supper? Don't know what to make for breakfast?  Well, if your family members are fans of pancakes, you have no problems!

Just add peeled, blended up or well mashed cooked sweet potatoes to your pancake batter along with a 1/2 tsp (or more to taste) of cinnamon and nutmeg, substituting the sweet potatoes for some of the milk -- in other words, reduce the milk to approximately the same amount as the sweet potatoes you have added, so that in total you add the same amount of liquid -- just so the batter looks about right -- and you will have the most delicious pancakes, pancakes that you'll want to snack on throughout the day . . . Or perhaps that's a good reason NOT to make them!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Best Place to Plant a Tree . . .

Marash Girl recently received  a promotional piece in the mail from the Armenia Tree Project Celebrating 20 Years.  In the piece, the Tree Project quotes a Chinese proverb (I guess they couldn't find a fitting Armenian proverb for the occasion):  the proverb reads, "The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago.  The second best time is now."  Reading this proverb made Marash Girl very sad as it brought to mind the orchard of 100 olive trees that her grandfather Movses planted in Marash, Ottoman Empire, in 1884, the year before he left for the United States, trees he planted to ensure the well-being of his descendants for generations to come.  Perhaps it will not be surprising to you, dear reader, to learn that not one of those olive trees is left standing today.  

More likely, we should be talking about the best PLACE to plant a tree to make sure that it will be standing in years to come.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Confused? Just ask!

Danīshan daghdan ashmīsh.
Danīshmiyan duz yold yoluna sahmīsh.

The one who asks passes through the mountains,
The one who doesn't ask is confused by a straight road.

A saying straight from the Armenians from Marash early in the 20th Century.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Every day you live . . . .

"From the day you're born, every day that you live,  . . .  you're one day closer to the day you'll die!"

Now why in the world would Marash Girl's father repeat that so often, as she was growing up, so often that she would remember the edict to this day?  Could it be that his world growing up was the world of the Armenian Genocide?  Or was it his way of admonishing his children never to fear death because death is a given . . . .

Thursday, October 2, 2014

TRACES, or, It doesn't pay to be a mother . . .








Les 7 doigts de la main, founded in Montreal in 2002 . . . 
Acrobats.  Young acrobats.  Young acrobats from as far away as China.  On stage at the Emerson Masjestic Theater in Boston, they introduce themselves via the microphone hanging down from the rafters, rafters from which the acrobats would soon be hanging . . .   they introduce themselves simply, by height, weight, country of origin, native language . . . If you knew nothing about them, you would not know what to expect . . . They continued to introduce themselves, all seven of them (6 men and one woman), and then the show begins.  Acrobatics the likes of which Marash Girl has never witnessed, bar none. 

Watching the performers of  "Traces", Marash Girl's heart was in her mouth, praying that God would save the young men and woman from instant death as they performed their (literally) death-defying acrobatics, knowing that there would have been no way in the world that she would have allowed her children to perform such actions that challenged gravity, that challenged God. . . But Marash Girl's friend was completely entranced -- having never been a mother, she saw only the beauty and skill and talent that these young people exhibited.

TRACES was, in the full sense of the word, awesome.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Plymouth, Massachusetts


While I'm here in the east, I'm going to visit my "family".  They all live in Plymouth.  They've been there for hundreds of years.

Oh, are you Native American?

No, my family came over on the Mayflower.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Sultan Abdul Hamid

Yesterday, Marash Girl received via email the above document from her nephew Michael, Grandpa Peter's grandson, a document he had found on the internet recording  Grandpa Peter's membership in the Order of the Masons.  (Note that the nationality is listed as Marashli, Armenia!) Several years after Grandpa Peter had joined the Dalhousie Lodge (Newtonville, Massachusetts) of the Masons, a Roman Catholic priest gifted Grandpa Peter a biography on the life of Sultan Abdul Hamid and in that biography, Grandpa Peter learned that the Sultan who had been responsible for the killing of many Armenians, that very same Sultan had been a Mason!  Grandpa Peter quit the Masons as soon as he learned that fact (and perhaps because, by then, he had become aware of a few other Masonic realities!)

Monday, September 29, 2014

The longer you live . . .

Survivor of the Armenian Genocide, Peter Bilezikian, born in 1915 in Marash, reached the age of 90 years when he asked his daughter, "How much longer can I live, anyway?"  She answered him,
"You know what they say . . . the longer you live, the longer you'll live!"

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Don't worry, I see you!

Newtonville, Massachusetts, 10 A.M. Friday morning - Marash Girl heading east at the Walnut Street crosswalk (corner of Austin Street).  About to cross the street, she met a young woman crossing in  the opposite direction who appeared a bit flustered as she asked Marash Girl, "Did you see that ambulance go by?  It nearly hit me as I was crossing the street, and I was in the crosswalk!"  Marash Girl wondered if the ambulance had been looking for business . . .

Same day, 30 minutes later, on Mt. Auburn Street, crossing Dexter Avenue in Watertown, the heart of the Armenian community --  Armenian funeral homes on opposite corners . . . . a car barely missed Marash Girl as it barreled through the stop sign going about 30 miles an hour, crossing Mt. Auburn Street to Dexter Avenue where Marash Girl was dutifully walking in the cross walk. (She should have known better!)  Alarmed, she called out to the guy driving the car who shouted back out of his car window as he skimmed by, barely missing Marash Girl:  "Don't worry! I see you!" 

Marash Girl wondered if  the guys in the car wanted to drum up a little business for  the funeral homes!

As Marash Girl has noted earlier in this blog, more folks are killed crossing the street using crosswalks than crossing the street between intersections!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Hydrangeas in the trash!

One of the most beautiful bouquets that Marash Girl has ever seen was laying on the sidewalk in Watertown, bundled up and ready to be picked up next trash day!  Although it was not trash day, Marash Girl picked up the bouquet,  and carried the flowers to Newton Corner where she shared them with her neighbors.  The event brought to mind the day four years ago she came home from Wilbraham, to find her 100 year old (possibly 140 year old) hydrangea bush gone -- only the tree stumps left.  Who could have, who would have stolen a whole tree? Was this God's way of returning what was taken from her . . . and allowing her to share the bounty with her neighbors?

Hydrangeas in the morning on the tree belt in Watertown on Trash Day!
Salvaged hydrangeas that afternoon, somewhat the worse for wear: sharing with the neighbors in Newton Corner
One neighbor replied, "No, thank you, I have a palm tree. I can only take care of one thing at a time!"

Friday, September 26, 2014

And speaking of investing . . .

And speaking of investing . . .

Marash Girl wonders, as she rushes around packing her bag and preparing for a busy weekend . . .

Which is more valuable:  time or space?

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Invest in America!

David Bosworth's presentation at the Boisi Center on Tuesday brought to mind Vahan Topalian's pronouncement of many years ago:  "People are not interested in reading the news in the newspapers; they just want to look at the ads."

And Peter Bilezikian, a good businessman, a survivor of the Armenian Genocide (1915-1923), a man who loved the United States for welcoming the Armenian survivors,   would always say, "If you're going to buy stocks,  invest in America -- you'll never go wrong.   . . . And the same goes for cars . . . buy American!"

Is that even possible today?

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

David Bosworth: The Demise of Virtue in Virtual America: The Moral Origins of the Great Recession (2014)

David Bosworth, the author of The Demise of Virtue in Virtual America: The Moral Origins of the Great Recession (2014) spoke yesterday at the Boisi Center, Boston College, on "The Demise of Virtue in Virtual America -- the Moral Origins of the Great Recession".  Below, Marash Girl has attempted to summarize Prof. Bosworth's presentation as often as possible in his words.

The American story is an "inside story", seductive rather than coercive, David Bosworth ascertained.  Consumer capitalism produces the goods, but not "the good".  Rather it creates addictive consumption.  Virtual America is designed to grow profits as it entertains.  Look at Disneyland created in 1955, says Bosworth; Disney defines our core philosophy. (Marash Girl can't remember the Disney song that Bosworth sang at this point, with Alan Wolfe joining in.) Our civic centers have become enclosed malls.  The volunteers who used to go door to door to save the whales now take 30% of the proceeds!  It is, as Bosworth sees it, the demise of virtue.  Virtuous America has become virtual America.  We are surrounded in our virtual world by all that we "must have". Bosworth posits that we have become (at our places of work) Dr. Jekyl, and (at our homes) Mr. Hyde.  Submissiveness to whatever is required of us in the workplace  allows for us to self-indulge when we return home.  Humility and honesty get edited out of the workplace, Bosworth stated.  "Our faith has become a prosperity theology.  We are experiencing 'evangelical Mammonism' -- a belief that products will save us and solve all of our personal problems.  The 'soft duplicity', the monetizing of arts and culture, has led to the cultural contradictions of philanthro-capitalism. . . The unbridled pursuit of 'stuff' is not a ruling purpose worthy of society; our society cannot survive this."

At the Boston College's Boisi Center, Prof. David Bosworth considers the questions asked of him by his esteemed audience of professors and students.
And as if to confirm all that Prof. Bosworth said yesterday, today's Wall Street Journal announces, "The SEC is investigating whether bond giant Pacific Investment Management Co. artificially boosted the returns of a popular fund aimed at small investors, the latest challenge for the firm run by investor Bill Gross."

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Go South, young man!

A furry caterpillar heads south on Newtonville Avenue, as the temperatures drop precipitously!

Monday, September 22, 2014

"I wanna be a drunk when I grow up!"

When I was a  boy living on Lincoln Street (which is no longer there) in Brighton, Massachusetts, that was during the 1920's,  I  wanted to be a drunk when I grew up.

Why is that?

Because the drunks that I saw on the streets and sleeping in the hallways of the "Three Castles" (our apartment complex) . . .   those drunks were always happy! replied Peter Bilezikian,  a man who had survived the Armenian Genocide.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Did I just hear Brooklynese?

Overheard at a yard sale yesterday . . .

That man came from Brooklyn, right?

Yeah, but he left when he was 8 years old!

Well, I guess you can take the man out of Brooklyn, but you can't take Brooklyn out of the man!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Armenian (?) Flag at the JFK Library in Boston, Massachusetts

While at the JFK Library, Marash Girl wandered over to the gift shop, and there she found a vase of flags for sale:
What is wrong with this picture?

Friday, September 19, 2014

Maureen Dowd and Robert Redford Chat at Boston's JFK Library

Marash Girl dreamed that she stood in line at the JFK auditorium waiting to get Robert Redford's autograph, but by the time she got to the front of the line, neither she nor Robert Redford had paper to write on.  It was so disappointing!  But surprise of surprises, when she got home, there he was at her home, socializing with the family.  But that was only a dream . . . a dream that she had after attending the conversation between Maureen Dowd and Robert Redford at Boston's JFK Library.  Here's what happened.

Because Marash Boy had worked with Redford at Sundance many years ago,  because Marash Boy often reads Maureen Dowd's columns in the New York Times, because Marash Boy has always been interested (and sometimes involved) in politics, Marash Girl thought he might enjoy the conversation that was to take place between Maureen Dowd and Robert Redford at the J.F.K. Library.  Marash Boy, not accustomed to arriving early -- ever -- was not in a hurry, and when Marash Girl suggested that the lunchroom would close at 4:30, he agreed to leave the house at 4.  But when they arrived at 4:30, the parking lot was full, and the doors to the auditorium had opened to accommodate the crowds that were attending the event -- at 4:30 there were only 2 empty seats left, and those seats were in the last row at the back.  Marash Girl grabbed Marash Boy's jacket as he sat at a table nibbling on his salad while overlooking Boston Harbor; she ran back to the auditorium to protect the two seats that were left.  The only problem was that the two seats were too far back to see the stage or to snap a believable photo of the two stars (see photo below).  Visible, however, was the fact that not a person under 50 years old was in the room, and that included the presenters.

Maureen Dowd and Robert Redford: two redheads face off on stage!
At the heart of Robert Redford's message was T.S. Eliot's dictum in his "Four Quartets: "For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.”  Using the Sundance Festival as an example, Robert Redford said, "The Festival is not as much fun as at the beginning . . . It's the work that's fun . . . awards have never meant that much to me."

Robert Redford spent his formative years in a lower working class Mexican community in Los Angeles, California.  Growing up, his friends were all Mexican, but, he noted, "After World War II, we were no longer friends.  It was something about the 'American' thing," he said.   "This is a country that's all about winning . . . " he continued.  Growing up, Redford was always great in sports, the Red Sox his favorite team, and Ted Williams his hero. His film THE NATURAL was "a homage to the baseball that I loved," Redford commented.  "I don't know what's happened to sports now, with the money and violence . . . maybe it's television that did it . . ." 

Redford admitted that he draws, though he doesn't paint, that he writes poetry, though he can't recite . . . and that his favorite poet is William Butler Yeats.

"I never look back, but I keep trying . . . , " he said.  "Once I complete a film, I never view it again. . . I'm not comfortable seeing myself on film . . . I finish a film and move on!"  When concluding his films, he admitted, he likes to leave the audience with a question.  

He talked a lot about the fun times he had in his friendship with Paul Newman.

"Filmmaking in Hollywood," he said, "is a business which cannot afford to take chances. . . the fact which made it so important to support independent films . . .  and the reason I built Sundance."  After 6 years, though, he realized the Sundance films were going nowhere, which is why he started the Sundance Festival.  "It's the climb up that's really exciting . . . success itself is not as much fun."

On politics, Redford said of Obama, "I think he's a good man with a good mind who is over his head. . it took him too long to figure out 'how it works'", said Redford.  "There's sufficient debate about Isis and whether we should take immediate action . . . it all started in the prior administration -- Obama inherited a rotten deal with a lot of costs  . . . it makes me sad."  

Redford referred to the Republicans as the "Looney Tunes without the Merry Melodies".

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Gathering Pears on Wilbraham Mountain

Post-tornado: Wilbraham Mountain, 4 years later.
The top of the mountain in Wilbraham was the place that the Charkoudian family chose as their summer country abode, a replacement for the mountain abode they had frequented in Marash, the land of their forefathers.

The little red "Radio Flyer" wagon that Marash Boy used to play with as a little boy, transplanted by the tornado. 
One of the pear trees survived the tornado!

Success!  A pear!

This year, we were hoping to poach our pears, but as it turned out, someone else beat us to it!

Note: Two pear trees were gifted to Deron and Karoun by Uncle Levon Bilezikian on the occasion of Deron's and Karoun's baptism at the St. Gregory Armenian Church in Indian Orchard, Massachusetts.  (Uncle Levon Bilezikian was born in Marash, married and brought up his family in Paris, moved to Newtonville, Massachusetts in the early 1960's.)  One of those pear trees, the pear tree in the 2 photos above, survived the tornado!