Blog #18 Humor, No Laughing Matter

Out of 17th Century Spain,  brought to your local theaters by the same iconic producers and directors that brought you the box office boffos, Columbus (see pliny blog #2) and the Spanish  Inquisition comes the  daring expedition of discovery of  nobleman,  Juan  Ponce de Leon.

The goal was to discover the (mythical) “Fountain of   Youth” which by some colossally funny finger of fate, brought him to the State of Florida, slated to become the Mecca of the elderly retiree.

Had de Leon been possessed (in theory) of a crystal ball which would have enabled him to see the laughable nature and the future of his enterprise, he and his retinue might have and been afforded some benefit, from that hilarious vision.

Modern scientists, of every stripe, are in complete agreement in ascribing to laughter, positive effects, such as physical relaxation,   relief from tension, even the enhancement of the immune system, perhaps, longevity.

Down through the ages, the contagious nature of laughter (studies show, more contagious than coughing and sneezing) has brought people together, reduced physical pain and has had numerous and varied salubrious benefits.

Authoritative studies of the effects of laughter show that it improves the mind, lends helpful perspective to disappointing or perplexing situations and reduces conflict.

To p., the greatest and most remarkable property of spontaneous laughter, is that it adds joy and zest to life.

Laughter is our birthright, is innate, inborn and, by the way, free.

Those who cannot see the lighter side of life, may find much less joy in their  life than persons with significant physical handicaps who do  have a sense of humor.

Someone should have told our friend Ponce, that the fountain, like all important things, is inside him.







It is becoming manifestly evident that military operations, specifically, aerial bombing of Isis strongholds, is not the most effective response to this murderous, atavistic horde.  These zealots would, consistent with their purpose and goal, prefer to portray a fictional context of a war between civilizations.  Traditional warfare (“boots on the ground”) would seem to play into their barbaric aspirations (not to mention the issue of collateral damage).

It seems to p that wholesale and warm welcoming of Syrian refugees would be a public and historic demonstration that Isis’ avowed attempts to portray its goals as the creation of a paradise, is far from credible. Vetting may be necessary in many cases, but the admission of these desperate refugee families and individuals, who have risked death to flee the nascent caliphate, would be a clear, public refutation of Isis’ opium-dream like portrayal of its principles and aspirational goals.

It would also be in keeping with our tradition as a haven for humanity in trouble.



Blog #16 Anger in Orbit

The metallic clang of the sunshine-

Resonates in trees and dry bushes

Fearful critters peer out of sandy burrows-

At the menacing light

River banks, stoically, endure relentless abrading

As surges of super-heated streams-

Flood the planet, sunami-style

By instinct, predatory insects set out

For their daily kill

In a perfumed theater of lethal carnage

While mankind, diverted by its ducks and music-

Ignores tectonic fury and gorges on.

pliny (attrib. Leonard N. Shapiro (2015)

Blog #15 Growing Changes

Reluctance to make necessary change is a non-productive, but forgivable cowardice.

From the time we are forcibly evicted from the dark safety and warmth of the womb, into the bright-lighted unknown, newness poses potential threat. The subliminal recollection of this unwanted dispossession, soon evolves to a diffidence, a neurotic trend, toward automatically eschewing change; without conscious knowledge of its motivation. Don’t we all rationalize our acts (or reluctance to act) retrospectively, and sometimes even creatively?  Our individualized psyche and personal chemistry are formidable opponents to our spontaneity, and even, our free will.

However, such seemingly innate, and understandable, antipathy to change, it appears, often leads to disappointment in life. The baseless impression of “security,” all too often, results in the avoidance of mature growth, emotionally and intellectually. We fearfully and, ignorantly choose to arrest our aspirations in exchange for the prenatal “known”

Change of long-held opinions and beliefs, of routine thinking, professional choice and even, marriage, when the objective facts clearly indicate, however strenuous and painful, may lead to a satisfying life, a sense of self-realization, and, even joy.

Usually, when change is thrust upon us by circumstance, the forced readjustment and the imperative acceptance of altered circumstances results in a mandated new “normalcy.”

We must negotiate in earnest and bravely with our personal unconscious and innate   perceptions of safety and security and venture on.

The realization and discovery that change feels dangerous and wrong, in various degrees, is universally shared   but where overcome may lead to joy.


Blog #14 Retirement Epiphany

A hypotenuse of pale yellow light

Illumines a small cracked collar button

Fresh- evicted from its domicile of utility

Bereft of the tactual industry-

Of intimately engaged fingertips

Lying in the roadbed, clinging to thread-

Supine, solitary, estranged and unmarked

But, suddenly, reveling in the joyous discovery

An unobstructed view of blue sky!

pliny (attrib. to Leonard N. Shapiro, 2012)





Blog #13 The Birth of Julsie


A brightly colored bud-

If you look closely

Has already spoken change

A subtle parting, a movement of tight-wrapped, nascent petals

May be observed

Pristine droplets of clear rainwater-

Invest the developing bloom

A ladybug performs its mandatory reconnaissance-

Climbing up to peer at the future

A colorful butterfly alights so briefly

Knowing instinctively-

Beauty and Fragrance is on the way

pliny  (attrib. to Leonard N. Shapiro, 2012)









Blog #12 Dining Out, The Tipping Point

The final act invariably punctuating the restaurant dining event is the gratuity, or “tip”. While technically, and legally, understood to be voluntary, the gesture is required by our notions of acceptable behavior and etiquette. Reviled are those who “stiff” a server.

It is commonly (and, I am sure, incorrect) to identify the word, “tips” as an acronym for the phrase “to insure prompt service”. Were that so, the concept cannot compete with rational sense; the gesture is at best, an expo- facto judgment,  since it is calculated, given or refused after the  meal.

Indeed, why shouldn’t every service be reasonably timely? Why should anyone be rewarded for simply doing his job?  Shouldn’t the service of a meal be prompt without an expectation of a later bribe?

Don’t gratuities also express the degree of our satisfaction with the cuisine?  This is clearly not relevant to prompt  service. Should tips be given to the chef and kitchen staff? Others?

Good food and prompt service should entirely be the responsibility of the management; should be expected and taken for granted. Bad service should be unusual.

I have a friend who described his incompetent and inattentive waiter  as  “someone who had performed the geometric miracle of having his back turned to everyone”. This should be a rarity.

Restaurant owners should pay their staff fairly and not oblige their patrons to subsidize inadequate wages . Good restaurants are revisited by diners  when the food and service are good.