Here's the famous Ruml turkey sandwich, developed over many years. Reading from the bottom: Pepperidge Farm Seeded Rye lightly toasted, gravy, hard-boiled egg slices, emmenthal cheese, turkey white meat, cranberry jelly, ultra-crisp thick bacon, broiled dressing, gravy, toast.
Update for summer 2021
Nice to be back in the real world! And to be going to Lucca again.
Our first reaction to the pandemic was to "make lemonade" and start a menu blog. It was sufficiently useful as an aide memoire and as a prod to cook new things that I kept at it for six weeks.
I've completed the third offering of my Biblical Literacy study group at HILR (previously in 2009 and 2011). A terrific group of knowledgeable and enthusiastic study group members. Had a wonderful time.
I continue to work away at my long-time goal of a web application which will make it easy to specify a history timeline. I think timelines are easily the most powerful undervalued pedigogical tool and I think that's because it's hard and therefore expensive to produce one. Of course, computers are good at that so the problem could be solved with a properly designed program. Don't hold your breath!
Of course, I've been spending a fair bit of time reading and would recommend:
- Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld. A well-imagined alternative life for Hillary following her decision to leave Bill before marrying him as a result of his admission that he's a sex addict.
- The Splendid and the Vile by Eric Larson. A splendidly-written account of the initial year of Churchill's prime ministership which just followed Dunkirk and included the Battle of Britain.
- The Price of Peace by Zachary Carter. A new intellectual biography of John Maynard Keynes, written in a particularly accessible style, which asserts that he was one of giants of the 20th century in terms of creativity and impact and argues the case persuasively.
- Soul, Self and Society by Edward Rubin. Published in 2015, this terrific book (pushes all my buttons!) analyzes western culture since 500CE in terms of three moralities: the "morality of honor" (until 1200), the "morality of higher purpose" subsuming the values of the Catholic Church and nationalism (until 1800), and the "morality of self-fulfillment" which is still struggling for dominance but has come on strong in the past 50 years. It's useful to compare this taxonomy to that of Jane Jacob's Systems of Survival (1992) positing two moral systems, the "guardian syndrome" of the military and the "commercial syndrome" of capitalism.
- Arguing with Zombies by Paul Krugman. Although "just" a collection of columns from the last 15 years, this is just the book to convince you that Krugman is our indispensable public intellectual.
- Supreme Inequality by Adam Cohen. An examination of the Supreme Court decisions which followed those of the Warren Court demonstrating the courts indifference to the poor and minorities. The key moment is said to be Nixon's improper machinations which resulted in Abe Fortas's 1969 resignation.
- The Second Founding by Eric Foner. I wasn't disposed to like this history of the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments but the argument, concluding that these amendments restructured the federal/state relationship in profound and permanent ways, is unassailable.
Not everything I've read can I recommend.
- Dirt by Bill Buford. A followup to Heat, his enjoyable memoire of time spent in Tuscany learning about Italian food. This time it's France, specifically Lyon, one of our favorite French cities. Unhappily, the anecdotes are less interesting and some of the food history is downright dull.
I've been a member of the Harvard Institute for Learning in Retirement since 2009. It's a group of 550 superannuated folks who put on courses (sample catalog) for each other. It's been a tremendous stimulus for me to pursue the intellectual history I was unable to study at Harvard College (they didn't teach it). Of course, if you really want to learn something, you should teach it!
I'm thinking about my next course which would be Six Things We Now Know Ain't So including body/soul dualism and that human beings act rationally (the basis for classical economics).
- 2009: Religious Literacy, a bible survey;
- 2011: Religious Literacy (again);
- 2015: An Intellectual History of Judaism and Christianity;
- 2017: The Bible and Modern Scholarship;
- 2017: The Golden Age of Rock and Roll;
- 2018: The Fruits of Monotheism, with an oh-so-cool falling title (now migrated here!)
- 2021: Biblical Literacy (spring semester)
Undergraduate Courses Online
Ever since the advent of Open Yale Courses it's been painfully clear that Harvard fails in its mission by not recording undergraduate courses for free viewing on the web. So I collaborated with Prof Shaye Cohen, a wonderful teacher, to put his two undergraduate courses online without any Harvard participation beyond permitting the final product to appear on the Harvard iTunesU channel.
Our food blog is here and an aging collection of favorite recipes is here but here are some specialities of the house:
I'm a hugh fan of olive bread, but nothing I can buy has enough olives (I guess the olives are a lot more expensive than flour). The solution has been to use Jim Lahey's no-knead bread recipe with about 3 cups of chopped olives to make the ideal loaf.
This is the tart we make at the villa during cherry season. Exactly the same recipe as for our classic blueberry tart; the cherries come from the nearby town of Vignola, considered the best source for cherries in Italy.
Some favorite things said to me or encountered:
- "You won't learn anything by being right all the time." Cabell Pearce
- "For you, it's always so important whether there's a 'not' in there or not." Wera Hildebrandt
- "When I said the flat (in London) was 'one big room' I didn't mean that it was a big room." Lydia Fillingham
- "I want the last check I write to bounce."
- "Ginger Rodgers did everything Fred Astair did, only backwards in high heels." Gov. Ann Richards
Some signs in English:
- In a cocktail lounge in Norway: "Ladies are requested not to have children in the bar"
- In a cafeteria in southern France: "Coureous and efficient self-service"
- In a German hospital: "No children allowed in the maternity ward"
- Outside a Roman doctor's office: "Specialist in Women and Other Diseases"
- In a Roman laundry: "Ladies: leave your clothes here and spend the afternoon having a good time"