Friday, February 23, 2018

HIATUS ON HILTON HEAD


I am wintering on Hilton Head, a large island in the South Carolina Low Country. With me are my wife Connie, who often doubles as driver, nurse, and typist together with Ray, my faithful multi-talented guide dog.  We come here to escape Connecticut’s bitter temperatures, snow, and black ice that could result in a major fracture. Hilton Head and the Low Country is a unique place with mild winter temperatures, beaches, and an environment that attracts golfers and others from the mid-west and New England. Living here is more modest than Florida until April when the prices rise significantly and snowbirds return home. Liberated slaves who found security and who lived by fishing and farming originally settled it after the Civil War.  They became known as the Gullah because they originally came from Angola.  Among themselves they speak a dialect called Geechee, English spiced with African words, and live in settlements with their own churches. They are friendly and interact freely with visitors, but try to continue crafts such as basket weaving they developed over the years.  There are a number of artists among them.

We enjoy the many restaurants featuring fresh seafood and hush puppies, concerts, and walking the beaches where Ray can run free.

The Low Country was home and haven to Pat Conroy, who became one of the foremost writers our Southern literature.  Born in Atlanta, he was a “military brat” with many siblings and an abusive father, who was a Marine Colonel.  Conroy attended the Citadel, South Carolina’s military college. Many of Conroy’s books were influenced by his growing up in a harsh environment.  Among his outstanding novels are The Great Santini and The Citadel. Other popular ones are Beach Music and The Prince of Tides.. The latter was made into a movie starring Barbra Streisand Nick Nolte. Conroy died in 2016 and his life continues to be celebrated on the Island. 


In a few more weeks, we will start packing for our return to Connecticut.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

A NOVEL ON TIME TRAVEL



One day in 1998 I was sitting in my office when my thoughts strayed to my father, who had died 23 years ago. He was born in 1899 and became a mechanical engineer.  Some of the early technical achievements  of his era included transatlantic radio and the first flight of Orville and Wilbur Wright. What if he came back today? How would he react to the Internet, DNA, cell phones, computers, genetics, ATM’s, and the space station? This led me to think about time travel.

The possibility of time travel has been seriously considered by scientists. Cambridge Professor Steven Hawking concluded that time travel was impossible because of the paradox. This paradox maintains that if a person traveled back in time and murdered his own grandmother, one of his parents would not have been born, and therefore he couldn’t exist.  But apparently that’s not the end of the story. An Israeli scientist found a flaw in Hawking’s argument—something to do with parallel universes.

At any rate, time travel has been a fascinating theme in fiction, starting with Jules Verne’s classic The Time Machine, the humorous A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain, Timeline by Michael Crichton, and many others. I began to write my first novel Stranger in Time.

Suppose Daniel Rowland, a young Connecticut farmer from colonial times, was mysteriously whisked to our present time leaving his wife and unborn child behind. How would he react?  And how would people regard him?

In researching my novel, Stranger in Time, I needed to learn as much as I could about the life and times of colonial Connecticut, the era of Daniel Rowland, my protagonist. My quest began in the Historical Room of the Guilford Free Library where the librarian provided documents and maps of the colonial period.  Next, I explored the old cemetery in Guilford, noting the names and dates on the old tombstones.  For days, I visited some of the historic homes such as the Whitfield House Museum, and wandered around Hammonasset State Park, the site of some colonial farms. During these explorations, the character of the protagonist began to form in my mind as I envisioned the places where Daniel might have lived and the events he could have experienced.

Meetings with the Connecticut State Archaeologist, the Madison Archivist, and the Staff Archaeologist of the Connecticut Historical Commission were all helpful. A numismatist described coins of the colonial era.  I learned much about the Calvinistic beliefs of the Puritans and their services during conversations with the friendly pastor of the First Congregational Church in New Milford. All in all, I enjoyed these activities. The people I met were friendly, enthusiastic, and expressed interest in reading Stranger In Time once I had finished my writing.

Awed by technology and bewildered by the lightning-pace of modern life, Daniel is regarded as an imposter despite his familiarity with obscure details of colonial life. He experiences crime, murder, and medical problems. Unable to return to his wife and unborn child in the distant past, Daniel encounters legal complications when he tries to reclaim his farm lost in the intervening centuries. With an attorney who happened to be one of his descendants, Daniel is helped.

Learn more about Daniel’s adventures in Stranger in Time.



Sunday, February 18, 2018

INTRODUCTION


Visions of a Blind Writer  (VOBW)

Happy President’s Day weekend!
VOBW will be my new BLOG.  Some of you may remember my original BLOG, which intermixed posts of my writing with political statements.  This BLOG will be limited to things literary.
First, an introduction.  After completing three years of medical school at the University of Maryland College of Medicine for my Ph.D. , I resolved to spend my life in medical academia. My first position was as Instructor at the new medical school at the University of Florida. After four exciting years, I became an Assistant Professor at the medical school of the University of Vermont.  Three years later, I accepted an offer at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons where I spent the next twenty-six years moving up the ladder to become Professor of Microbiology and Pathology. I was successful in my lectures to medical and graduate students and post-doctoral fellows. On four occasions, the medical students voted me “Teacher of the Year” and “Outstanding Lecturer”. At the same time, I was the Director of the Clinical Microbiology Service at the Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital. In 1992, I received the prestigious Sonnenwirth Award for Leadership in Clinical Microbiology in the U.S.
Shortly after receiving my doctorate, I accepted a commission as a reserve officer in the U.S. Public Health Service, where I eventually rose to the naval rank of Captain. I was tasked to establish Disaster Medical Assistance Teams in New York and New Jersey. I also lectured on biological weapons to U.S. Navy personnel. Several times, I was called for periods of temporary active duty.
When I retired from Columbia, I worked as a legal consultant in infectious disease testifying as an expert witness in many cases.
Fifteen years ago, I became blind due to age-related macular degeneration, but before losing my vision, I had qualified as a commercial instrument rated pilot and flew search and rescue missions for the Civil Air Patrol.  
My last two non-fiction books are Understanding Infectious Disease and The Biomedical Scientist As Expert Witness. Late in life and always a writer, I began to use my imagination and turned to writing fiction.
More about this soon.