Nobel Prize, 1951: Glenn T. Seaborg Glenn T. Seaborg, with Edwin M. McMillan for "their discoveries in the chemistry of the transuranic elements."
"A question that sometimes drives me hazy: am I or are the others crazy?" - Albert Einstein
"Keep your feet on the ground and your thoughts at lofty heights." - Peace Pilgrim
"I have my values, and if you don't like them, well I've got some others." - Mark Twain
"If you don't like something change it; if you can't change it, change the way you think about it." - Mary Engelbreit
Just to keep people informed, recently I was blessed by the gods of facebook when on a whim I searched for a "best friend" that I lost touch with over fifty years ago. We were blessed with the fact that his name is even more rare than mine. There were not many possibilities and so I chose the most likely one and got it right the first time. This is the picture I guessed was my friend. It looked like it was taken a few years back to me. Can you see the ten year old boy in this man? I thought I could.
Fifty years plus of absence and now we are present to one another once more. And more. We are still compatible. I believe he feels the same. We were children in a modest Berkeley, California neighborhood where many of the residents were college employees and students, where Glenn Seaborg, a nuclear physicist lived just around the corner before he became nationally known, where he lived when he got his Nobel Prize. I played with Glenn's son, Peter, but we were not close. My mother was a student and then a teacher at Cal in those days. My step dad played on the championship Golden Bears football team. They won the Rose Bowl. That I believe was 1948, when I was three.
I was in second and third grade. My friend Conal Boyce was in third and fourth. He told me just the other day about a father figure in his life, and I guess a little in mine. Conal had a cloud chamber in his house for a time, built by his mentor, a device where you can see the tracks left by cosmic rays as they pass through. I remember it, or I think I do. I know I remember some cloud chamber somewhere. You see, Conal and I both knew about nuclear stuff in 1952 and 1953, before either of us we were ten. Conal became a Harvard graduate, a PhD specializing in things Chinese, a Sinologist, and later in life, he has also become a theoretical chemist and philosopher of science. Me, I became a counter culture guy and then an Engineering Designer with a degree in Philosophy and Psychology.
Yesterday was a beautiful day and today as well, except for the biting winter's wind that is informing the departure of fall. So today I shall recall September, but not this September. I wrote this poem about September a year ago. As I have been at pains to mention from time to time, the date and time beneath the poem is when it was written and occasionally a date is added as to when I edited it in some (usually minor) way.
The First Fall Rain
Look how our summer days have washed away with rain sent insistently by the weather god who has forced the sun lower in my heart.
I find you rejoicing. He has called you out while I sit in my study writing how lovely your scent is to me in the moist bright air of this first rain.
Some years ago my poetry took on a mythic flavor and I became a character in my own poems, a mage, "the man of the Northern Wall". This apellation is not completely fictional. My middle name is Noordwal, a Dutch term for north wall, though in current Dutch it mainly means north bank as in riverbank. I was told that an ancestor, a Portugese Jew escaping the Inquisition, settled in a small Dutch town and took this name from where he settled, near the north wall of the town. I have thought for a long time that -wal meant wall, think my mother told me that. A linguist might say that my usage is no longer common, is an older usage, but then the Inquisition happened in Portugal a few centuries ago, right around the time the Moors lost control of the Iberian Peninsula and the Jews lost the modest protection given them by Islam. Now I write as this mage, my poetry persona.