Saturday, March 28, 2020

Safety Days

THREE DAYS OFF EVERY TWO-WEEK pay period (designated as "Weather and Safety Leave" uncharged to an employee's annual and sick leave balance), plus buddies from the largely dead airport joining us at the seaport starting today, are welcome reprieves to essential seaport workers who have been showing up for work day in and day out despite the coronavirus pandemic. My imagination had my eyes glued on that vile swarm on a metallic sign shield, trying to figure out what the heck they were. Were those spotted lanternflies that had invaded Red Hook through a cargo ship from Philly? A portent of new bugs to come, already here? Even the blue sorbet king of the Queens neighborhood was not horsing around. After all, Port Authority boss Rick Cotton, Cuomo's buddy, already got the virus. Just be safe, all!

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Fig Of My Imagination

WAITING FOR WARMER WEATHER that would let my new Ficus bonsai ship from a nursery in Florida (at $315 after $150 credit card bonus still not cheap), I ordered a console table from Amazon ($68 shipping included) to replace the metal cover of the thermostat by the west window of the bedroom and prepare a tropical spot for it next winter, then picked up a kerosene lamp at ACE Hardware (on sale at $8.70 tax included) to complete the works, soon to be together. The balete has many uses in traditional Asian medicine, the aerial roots of some species being a good immunostimulant or booster of the immune system. Will they make good fortifying tea against the coronavirus? Check out these collaborative scientific papers by Kmail, et al. (p. 55), Khan, et al. and Wei Chiang Chan, et al. Last is a fascinating article on Mangyan folk medicine by late Mindoro missionary Magdalena Leykamm (Google Translate into English) describing the use of balete bark as an antirheumatic.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Sublimate Hero?

APOLINARIO MABINI contracted the polio virus at age 31 that rendered him a paralytic, but it was not the bug that killed him; it was the cholera virus in his favorite drink, carabao milk, that did him in two months after he was allowed to return to the Philippines in 1903 from his exile in Guam, after he refused to swear allegiance to the American colonial government. Reading about epidemics and the Philippine Revolution, I strayed into this somewhat irreverent but interesting look at the enigmatic hero by Nick Joaquin in the July 28, 1962 issue of the Philippines Free Press.