Mountain Views News, Combined Edition Saturday, February 3, 2024

MVNews this week:  Page 10



 Mountain Views News Saturday, February 3, 2024 







Susan Henderson


Dean Lee 



Patricia Colonello




John Aveny 


Peter Lamendola


Stuart Tolchin 

Harvey Hyde

Audrey Swanson

Meghan Malooley

Mary Lou Caldwell

Kevin McGuire

Chris Leclerc

Dinah Chong Watkins

Howard Hays

Paul Carpenter

Kim Clymer-Kelley

Christopher Nyerges

Peter Dills 

Rich Johnson

Lori Ann Harris

Rev. James Snyder

Katie Hopkins

Deanne Davis

Despina Arouzman

Jeff Brown

Marc Garlett

Keely Toten

Dan Golden

Rebecca Wright

Hail Hamilton

Joan Schmidt

LaQuetta ShambleE




“Lupercalia”, if you study the terminology, comes from the Latin word 
“lupus” which means wolf…no kidding. Valentine’s Day and wolves. Yep!

Maybe that’s why “Lupercalia” is also the name of the ancient Roman 
“fertility” festival that ultimately morphed into the Valentine’s Day 
celebration. And since Valentine’s Day is right around the corner let’s 

“Lupercalia” was celebrated on February 15th for 500 years before the church stepped in. 
Pope Gelasius I (or is it Gelatinous?), in 494 AD, put an end to the “Wolf” festival with more 
of a fo-cus on love! How did wolves come to be associated with the Roman Empire you ask? 
“ Lupa” is the name of the wolf that saved the infants Romulus and Remus, who became the 
first Kings of Rome.

How did it end up being called “Valentine’s Day”? History tells us of two unfortunate sad 
sacks named “Valentine”. They both separately infuriated Roman Emperor Claudius II to 
the point where he exercised his power over life and death. The two men were executed 
in different years coincidentally both on February 14th. So, February 14th became a day 
where it was dan-gerous to be a man. Just like today lol!

Approximately 900 years later, enter English poet Geoffrey Chaucer who wrote about 
Valentine’s Day in “Parliament of Fowls”. Geoff’s contribution to the holiday is considered 
the earliest known Valentine Poem.

Lest we forget, Bill Shakespeare (another gifted writer of some repute), mentions Saint 
Valentine’s Day twice: Once in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and also in “Hamlet” or is 
it “Omelet”


I bet you never thought you would see the likes of Shakespeare and Chaucer quoted in one 
of my columns. Hey, I got class! Just ask me!

Wanting to help all my readers thrive in their love lives this upcoming Valentine’s Day, I’ve 
spent literally minutes researching perfect cuddly messages in a Valentine’s Day card. Here 
are some of the best ones:

“I love you even more than you annoy me.”

“We go together like socks and sandals.”

“Another year as my girlfriend, you lucky, lucky woman!”

“Turns out I like you more than I originally planned!”

“I love you just the way I am!”

“Our love is as magical as a unicorn farting rainbows.”

“You’re hotter than the bottom of my laptop.”

“I want to grow old and disgusting with you.”

Did you know, on average, 9 million people buy Valentines cards for their pets


By the way, Richard Cadbury (name ring a chocolatey bell) invented the first Valentine’s 
Day candy box in the 1860s. He was a Quaker, very religious. He believed if he created 
a desire for chocolate for the common folk in Victorian England, he could reduce the 
consumption of the evil alcohol. Currently 35 million heart-shaped boxes of chocolates 
are sold each Valentine’s Day! And Americans spend $1 billion dollars on chocolate every 
Valentine’s Day.

On average there are approximately 220,000 marriage proposals every Valentine’s Day. 
Guys, I have a suggestion if you want to get married. Lower the odds of failure and rejection: 
Propose to five women this Valentine’s Day. See, if you only ask one, you have a 50% chance 
of being rejected.

By the way, did you know “YouTube” debuted on Valentine’s Day 2005? Yep! (I wonder if 
they originally named it “MeTube”?) And the telephone was patented on Valentine’s Day. 
“Gotta love it lol!”

Now, if you really want to send a message to your secret lover aka paramour, make reserva-
tions for at least two for dinner next Saturday, February 10th at the Nano Café in beautiful 
Sierra Madre. The fantastic “oldies” rock band, “JJ Jukebox” will be performing ancient 
rock and roll from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. “If you’re Born to Be Wild, or into a Crazy Little 
Thing called Love, tell Beethoven to Roll Over and join you for dinner and dancing. (626) 
325-3334 is the number to call to make reservations.

I survived! Honestly I was so afraid of my surgery 
I thought it was the end of the line. I may have over 
dramatized the seriousness of the surgery but each 
day before the scheduled procedure was special. As 
I took my last walk around the canyon I marveled 
at the beauty of the sky. I appreciated the individual 
character of the trees and the leaves fluttering in the wind and the shadows 
created by these fluttering leaves which seemed like independent entities 
in them-selves - separate from the trees.

After I came home from the hospital I was still woozy from the sedation. 
I heard my wife speaking to the neighbor next door. He was in the process 
of moving but he took the effort to drop off a book for me, Free Will by 
Sam Harris. We had talked about the book before and he made a point of 
handing the book to me. Over the last few days I have looked at the book 
and thought about it in relation to the trees that had captured my attention 
a few days before.

Sam Harris takes the position that Human Beings have no free will. 
Although each indi-vidual believes he makes a conscious choice before 
he acts, Harris asserts that this choice has been made. The choice is the 
result of all the previous experiences including the individual DNA and 
the conditions surrounding birth that have already taken place. Every 
experience, every trauma has left their mark and no separate decision is 
ever made. It has all been predetermined.

This view of individual action is of course completely contrary to 
our individual experi-ence where we believe that we are the decision 
maker consciously choosing among options. Really there is no choice. I 
understood this position as something similar to the existence of the trees, 
and the leaves and their shadows that I thought about a couple of days 
earlier. An individ-ual tree makes no decision as to how it will appear 
at any given moment. That appearance will completely depend on the 
individual character of its DNA. 

Of course the DNA alone is not determinative of the appearance of the tree 
at any given moment. Also involved is the time of the season, the weather, 
the condition of the soil, the angle of the sunlight and a whole host of other 
things. The individual tree is the result of a series of cause and effect and is 
in no way responsible - it is not a decision - it is a result.

Following Harris’ thinking this same analysis applies to human beings and 
everything else. It is not about good or bad - if one had all the information 
everything could be predicted. The understanding is completely opposed 
to the moral character of our culture. We commonly judge people as 
good or bad. We believe in punishment and retribution for bad acts. The 
present Israeli position justifying the continuing military action against 
Hamas is acceptable no matter how uncivilized it appears; it is proper as 
a punishment for the aggression of Hamas. The think-ing goes that such 
wrongful action cannot go unpunished.

 There is a strong voice inside of me that demands punishment for 
the sinners. Harris and writers like Michael Singer, who I have written 
about recently, remind individuals that there are many voices competing 
to be heard in our own minds. It is only healthy and productive to be aware 
of all parts of ourselves before we exercise choices. Of course Harris says 
there is no choice but that by reading Singer and exposing ourselves to 
different perspectives our actions that are determined, still not chosen, 
will be ultimately more satisfying and reflective of who we are. Maybe we 
will be “healthier trees".

 A final explanation. Pictured on the cover of the book, above the 
words, FREE WILL there are marionette strings descending from pieces 
of wood. Sure we are controlled but an aware person does their best to 
understand what is controlling his actions while for Singer it is best to 
evaluate the different possible choices unblocked by previous decisions.

 In conclusion, life is confusing but I am very glad that I am still 
around to experience the confusion and feel satisfied that I am doing my 
best to continue writing whether or not I have any control of how trees 
grow. The more I notice, the more I can enjoy the experience.

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A member of the

California Newspaper 

As the designated “Tea Lady” for the office, my work responsibilities 
in Japan were exceedingly simple, it required little skill, less talent 
and the bare minimum of language, I was on track one hundred 
percent. As an intern I was given room and board but no salary, just 
a small per diem, barely enough for postage stamps to mail letters 
home, extolling to friends and family the hazards of scalding water, 
paper cuts and the unknown origins or species of the food served 
in the company cafeteria. 

On the way to work that morning my stomach growled, the culprit, fishy mackerel for breakfast - again, but joy of joys! It was 
Valentines Day, I couldn’t wait to pig-out on the chocolates and sweets my colleagues would bring. Platoons of chocolate coated Hello 
Kittys danced in my head. Note to self - check the drool. 

And just like that, Valentines Day crushed my expectations. In Japan, Valentines Day was the occasion for women to give chocolates 
and gifts to men, and not just to their beloved, but also the “giri-choco”, a courtesy chocolate for males in their social circle, including 
the boring assistant to the assistant, three cubicles down the aisle. That I arrived empty-handed was a social faux pas, par for the 
course, but as a foreigner, forgiven along with the angle of my bow (not low enough), blowing my nose during lunch (banished to dining hall Siberia), and 
facing the wrong way in the squat toilet (not pretty). 

It’s apt that Valentines Day is represented by winged cherubs, their sharp arrows aimed squarely at the heart, as more often than not, it leaves a wound. 
Unmet, unfulfilled and unrealistic promises play havoc with emotions, relationships and the wallet. 

Unlike Japan where Valentines Day is for the male, here the female partner is celebrated with flowers, sweets, a night out, declarations of undying love - at 
least that’s what Amazon tells me. 

But men, fear not for women know you can’t read their minds even though we expect you will interpret all our body signals, and inferences to what will 
make us happy in ways that are as clear as mud, because as logical as it sounds, we just can’t tell you what we want - that’s as romantic as a money order 
from Western Union.

A short and unscientific survey reported when asked,

“What are the top three things to give to your sweetheart on Valentines Day?”, a majority of men replied, 

“There’s three?”

Yes, in a non-Japanese world, men would celebrate Valentines Day not by receiving chocolates, but with a day to retreat guilt-free to the man-cave and 
binge on TV shows like Reacher, Yellowstone and Lawmen: Bass Reeves; where the hero never worries about his next meal, conversations with more than 
two sentences, or whether tomorrow is trash day, 'cause his fists do all the talking. 

A month after Valentines Day, I checked into work, assuring my colleagues that I now knew not to overboil the water, keeping the temperature at a steamy 
but brisk 150°F for their delicate Shizuoka green tea. I was rewarded with an armful of chocolates and candy. It was “White Day” when men in Japan 
reciprocated Valentines Day to women with one small difference, they had to “sanbei geshi” - triple the return. 

Hmm, Western Union is looking very romantic after all. 

Dinah Chong Watkins column appears every 1st and 3rd Saturday of the month. For more Close Encounters Of The Wrong Kind go to




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