“David Attenborough’s Natural Curiosities” — for Zoe

midwife toad.jpg


Dear Zoe,

Sometimes just before going to bed I like to watch a nature program on Netflix, just to take in some easy watching and to appreciate nature’s beauty and variety before drifting off to sleep.  Yes, I get tired of the endless repetitions in their scripts – including, for example, that old saw that juvenile animal play develops important life skills.  (“I know, I know!”)  But I like these sorts of programs anyhow, in their moment, and spend some time, when I’m hankering to watch one, looking for something new and interesting.

Last night, as it happens, I stumbled upon a David Attenborough series called “David Attenborough’s Natural Curiosities.”  I was a little reluctant about starting it, thinking I may have seen all his examples before – on one or another of his other great productions.  The individual programs in the “Curiosities” series are short and, so far at least, he considers two such “curiosities” in each program.  So far, in the two programs I watched last night, he’s examined the chameleon, the giraffe, the platypus, and the midwife toad.  Well, it didn’t take long for me to realize that I’d lucked out.

Why?    Continue reading

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A needless safety disconnect in football

IW signal

Signal for an inadvertent whistle

Football season is upon us again.

I pursued a sidelight career as a high school football official – a “ref” – for ten years in my earlier life in the San Francisco Bay Area.

My initial training as a “newbie” official harbored more than a few unexpected revelations.

It didn’t take long to discover that football officials had their own subculture, a “social world” more or less unknown to everybody else.

One of the key elements in that secret world, as it turned out, was a generalized abhorrence and bitter distaste for something called the “inadvertent whistle,” or “IW.”

Seasoned officials tried to avoid the inadvertent whistle at all costs.  It was one of the very few mortal sins in the craft.     Continue reading

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Unpacking “gratuitous”


Though I probably use the word no less often than most of us do, the term “gratuitous” has always seemed vaguely problematic and suspect to me.

In its more common usage “gratuitous” means “unwarranted” or “uncalled for” in a negative sense – as in an undeserved slight, insult, or cut.  We say, for instance, “That was gratuitous!” when a criticism was wrongly offered or excessive.

And yet the word’s root — “gratus” – also underlies such neighboring words as “gratitude,” “grateful,” and “gratuity” (or tip), all sourced in the Latin word meaning “pleasing” or “grateful.”

In what sense, then, should we connect this “grateful” meaning-root with the unwarranted criticism or claim meaning we intend when we say “gratuitous”?  How, in other words, do “gratuitous” and “grateful” share a meaning bridge?    Continue reading

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Two newly unearthed pics of Mary White and Ralph Semmes Gordon

A wedding photo of Mary in her gown (Dec. 29, 1920) and Ralph in his military uniform (c. 1918).  Incidentally, Mary’s wedding photo, IMHO, indirectly confirms that the
“possible” image of teenage Mary White offered on p. 25 of A Child’s-Eye View is indeed Mary — because the two images appear to be the same young woman.  Nice finds this morning!

Mary Jane White wedding garb.jpg



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Mary White Gordon Reading and Discussion in Wallace on the 27th

Note:  Below, the press release and poster for the Mary White Gordon memoir event at the Depot, at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 27th, 2017.  I’m hoping to bring a little social history into play at the reading.  Looking forward to seeing everyone there!

Roizen-posterThe public is warmly invited to a reading of selections from the memoir, A Child’s-Eye View and related discussion by Mr. Ron Roizen — in the Women’s Waiting Room at the Northern Pacific Railroad Depot Museum at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, September 27th, 2017.

Mary White was born in Wallace on April 8th, 1898, the daughter of Henry and Maude White.  The White family made their home in the handsome edifice at the northeast corner of Cedar and Third Streets.  Father Henry, a businessman and banker, was an early pioneer to the Coeur d’Alene Mining District.  He’d moved his business pursuits from Murray to Wallace in 1888 — where, soon thereafter, in 1890, he and partner Charles Bender built the White & Bender building in downtown Wallace, which remains one of the jewels of Wallace’s historic architecture to this day.  Maude Fox White, Mary’s mother, was cousins with Grace Campbell, the wife of noted mine owner and investor Amasa “Mace” Campbell; Grace and Amasa lived cattycorner to the White family on the southwest corner of Cedar and Third.      Continue reading

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A caution regarding Tony Bamonte’s recent book

Bamonte coverReaders of Tony Bamonte’s recent book, Historic Wallace, Idaho and My Unforeseen Ties (2017), should be cautioned that its narrative occasionally borrowed text – either verbatim, nearly verbatim, or in paraphrase – from sources on the World Wide Web without specific acknowledgment or citation.  Hence, readers wishing to cite or quote from Bamonte’s book should first take the precaution of googling sentences included in the text segments they wish to cite or quote in order to check for such an uncredited source.

— Ron Roizen

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Mary White Gordon’s memoir is published, at last!

6x9_Front_Cover - 1.1 - from template.jpgIt’s available at last! Mary White Gordon’s A CHILD’S-EYE VIEW has finally made it through the editing process and can be bought at Lulu.com. Here’s the little description on the book’s back cover:

Why did Mary’s father, Henry White, send his shirts all the way to Chicago for laundering? What was it like to coast one’s bike at breakneck speed down one of the long wooden flumes that decorated the steep canyons around Wallace? Did Mrs. Hoyt’s “big gray earthen jar” of taffy never empty? And what was the town’s reaction when Mr. McCarthy left his wife at home and took his “pretty nurse” with him to Hawaii instead? These and so many more questions about life and times in the frontier mining town of Wallace, Idaho – in the decade before the Great 1910 Fire – are answered in Mary White Gordon’s wholly absorbing and warmly affectionate memoir.


The link:  http://www.lulu.com/shop/mary-white-gordon/a-childs-eye-view/paperback/product-23237541.html

The “Preview” pages at Lulu’s website for this slender volume allow one to read Kinyon Gordon’s “Introduction” and my “Editor’s Note.”

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