Sometimes It Pays to Give Your Professor a Little Attention

I was forced to broaden my horizons in my PhD pursuit.  That’s because, although I’ve done coding since I was eighteen, I had to acquire a deeper understanding for two things: linear algebra and numerical methods.  It’s no understatement to say that both of these are at the core of the advances wrought by computerisation, whether we’re talking about statistical analysis or (in my case) simulation.

After my initial boffo performance, I turned to my Iranian friends for more help.  So they let me use some of the books they found useful for study back in the “old country”.  One of those was a sizeable book entitled Applied Numerical Methods by Brice Carnahan, H.A. Luther and James O. Wilkes.  As was the case with their wedding video, the heart skipped a beat, because the middle author, Hubert A. Luther, was my Differential Equations teacher at Texas A&M, forty years ago this spring.

Applied Numerical Methods was, AFAIK, the first really comprehensive textbook which combined linear algebra, numerical methods, and coding (in their case, FORTRAN IV) in one text.  Although some of the methodologies have been improved since it was published in 1969, and languages have certainly changed, it’s still a very useful book, although a little dense in spots.  Many of the books on the subject that have come afterwards have learned from its mistakes, but still refer back to the original.

Dr. Luther taught me the last required math class in my pursuit of an engineering degree at Texas A&M.  It wasn’t an easy class, even after three semesters of calculus (which I did reasonably well at).  Although he was originally from Pennsylvania, he acclimated himself to the Lone Star State with western shirt, belt and string tie, the only professor I can remember who did so. The start to his course was especially rough; the textbook was terrible, he was a picky grader, the scores I got back were low.  I thought I was facing the abyss…until another one of those “aha” moments came along.

We (the engineering students) were standing outside our Modern Physics class, which came before Differential Equations.  I found out I wasn’t the only one having this problem.  But one of my colleagues, a Nuclear Engineering student who went on to become my class’ wealthiest member, had a simple suggestion.  Go visit his office, he said.  He’s lonely (he was nearing retirement) and likes the company.  Your grade will go up.

I wasn’t much for visiting my professors, but I was desperate enough to try anything.  I made a couple of office visits.  I’m not sure how helpful his advice was, but his grading became more lenient and I got through the course OK.

Today I’m on the other end of the visitation.  I spend a lot of time in the office with no student visits.  Part of the problem comes from scheduling, both theirs and mine.  But I’ve found out something else about student visits: the students that come to see you really care about what they’re supposed to be doing in your class.  Although there are still students who think it their duty to “tough it out” without asking questions, many others just want to get through in the quickest and least time-consuming way they can find.

I’m glad I took my classmate’s advice and made the office visits.  But there are two other lessons I have learned since that time.

The first is that I wish I had taken a numerical methods course taught by Dr. Luther, it would have prepared me for what I’ve been doing both before and during the time of my PhD pursuit.

The second is that, when I started my MS degree twenty years later, I took a course over basically the same material taught by a Russian.  I found out that there was a great deal I hadn’t learned from Dr. Luther, and that American math education leaves a lot to be desired of.  So sometimes making the way easier up front comes back to get you in the end.

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Acolyte Order of St. Peter

We present the guide for the Acolyte Order of St. Peter at Bethesda-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church for three reasons:

  1. To give a historical view of acolytes in Episcopal churches in the era it was written (around 1968.)
  2. To help Anglican churches today in training their acolytes.
  3. To show how the “rich and famous” (or infamous) served at the altar.

If you use this in your own church, keep the following in mind:

  1. If you have problems visualising how this worked in its original setting, you can go to our video slide show on Bethesda-by-the-Sea for help.
  2. Keep in mind that this routine was for services conducted under the 1928 Book of Common Prayer. If you use another prayer book or liturgy, you will need to modify the instructions accordingly.
  3. Except for corrections in grammar and spelling (which were numerous,) these instructions are as they were written. They assume an all-male acolyte order, which is seldom the case today.

pmw-bethesda-jun-68The photo at the right shows some original members of the Order at their duties. If you see this photo elsewhere rest assured that it came from here first.


ACOLYTE ORDER OF SAINT PETER
Bethesda-by-the-Sea
Palm Beach, Florida

  1. Instruction for Acolytes
    1. Rise early in order to have plenty of time to prepare yourself both physically and spiritually for the duties you will perform. Always try to enter the Church aware of the fact that you are being given the privilege of serving God at His altar. Pray that you nay be worthy of this honor.
    2. Remember! A good Acolyte:
      1. Stands, kneels, sits, as appropriate, in an erect position and carries himself with dignity.
      2. Avoids nervous habits, such as squirming, kicking, playing with his hands or cross, folding or rustling paper, shifting weight from one foot to the other while standing.
      3. When not holding an object during the service, keeps his right fist held in his left hand, just above waist level.
      4. Follows the service in the Prayer Book and Hymnal.
      5. Pays attention to everything the Priest says – including the Sermon.
      6. Except when giving the Alms Basin to (or receiving them from) the Ushers, and lighting or extinguishing Altar Candles, never side-steps when moving from place to place, but turns and walks wherever he goes.
      7. Performs his duties naturally and easily: avoids stiffness and uneasiness.
      8. Is alert and sure of himself; knows his job.
      9. Behaves himself and avoids unnecessary talking and whispering.
    3. Dress:
      • If possible wear black -shoes (well polished), white shirt and dark tie – be sure that your hands and fingernails are clean.
    4. Before the Service:
      • Arrive twenty minutes before the service. This gives ample time to vest, receive special instructions and to light the Altar Candles.
    5. Lighting the Altar Candles:
      1. Proceed to the Chancel, with your Taper lighted, by the shortest route, advance into the Sanctuary, pause before the altar and reverence the Altar (Bow), then ascend the Altar steps.
      2. Light the Epistle Side (right) candle first, then the Gospel Side (left).
      3. Descend the Altar steps facing the congregation, turn, reverence the Altar (bow) and return to the Sacristy by the shortest route.
      4. Extinguish your taper and return it to its holder.
    6. Entrance and Service through the Epistle:
      1. Crucifers, flag bearers and torch bearers will precede the choir in entering the Church. Acolytes will follow the choir but precede the Clergy. All will halt at the Altar rail and step aside to allow the Clergy to enter the Sanctuary. All will then proceed to their appointed places – the Acolyte who will serve the Priest kneeling in the end stall on the Epistle Side inside the Sanctuary.
      2. Kneel to the reading of the Epistle.
    7. The Gospel and the Creed.
      1. At the words “Here endeth the Epistle” the Acolyte serving the Priest will rise, go to the center of the Altar, bow, and ascend the Altar steps on the Epistle Side.
      2. 8 a.m. Take the missal and missal stand – holding them firmly – descend the Altar stair and place missal and missal stand on the Gospel side of the Altar at a 45° angle, facing the Priest and return to your place.
      3. 10 a.m. In the event another member of the Clergy reads the Gospel, you will carry the missal and missal stand to him and re-gain holding the missal stand during the reading of the Gospel. After the reading of the Gospel you will return the missal find missal stand to the Gospel side of the Altar. Return to your place.
    8. The Offertory
      1. At the end of the Creed the Priest will read, one or more Offertory sentences (Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, etc.)
      2. When the Priest uncovers the Chalice you will rise and. go directly to the Credence table – if there are cruets (bottles) on the Credence table you will remove the tops.
      3. Pick up the Ciboriun (wafer box) and carry it to the Priest -remove the cover with your right hand – the Priest will remove the necessary number of wafers. Replace the cover and return the Ciborium to the Credence table.
      4. You will now take the wine cruet in your right hand and the water cruet in your left hand – if you are using the silver pitchers, be sure the handles face the Priest. Return to your place at the Epistle Side of the Altar.
      5. Bow and present the wine cruet to the Priest – as he takes it, move the writer cruet from your left hand to your right hand – receive bock the wine cruet in your left hand – after the priest has taken the water cruet move the nine cruet to your right hand – receive the water cruet in your left hand and return both cruets to their place on the Credence table. The Lavabo – Father Cary does not normally use the Lavabo but will tell you in advance if he intends to. When the Lavabo is being used – place the Lavabo in your left hand, and take the water cruet in your right hand – go to the Altar where the Priest will hold his fingers over the Lavabo – pour a little water over his finders -wait for the priest to dry his fingers on the towel – return his bow – go to the Credence table and return cruet, Lavabo and towel to their places,
      6. At this point the Alms Basins are presented to the ushers from the Chancel steps.
  2. The Communion
    1. You will kneel or sit during the administration of the Communion. Do not stare at the people receiving.
    2. When the Priest finishes administering Communion rise up and go to the Credence table.
    3. Remove the tops from the cruets – take the wine in your right hand and the water in your left.
    4. Go to the Altar – the Priest will hold the Chalice towards you and you will pour first a small amount of wine in the Chalice and then a small amount of water – Father Cary normally will use only the water; therefore, when assisting Father Cary you will only carry the water cruet for him – return the cruets to the Credence table and return to your place,
    5. After prayers you will stand when the Priest stands and leave the Sanctuary, preceding him in the Recessional.
  3. Duties of Crucifer
    1. A Crucifer may be used at all services. His primary duty is to lead processions and recessions. Two crucifers may be used at special services such as Christmas and Easter.
    2. Getting ready for Services
      1. Arrive at least twenty minutes before the time of the service and vest in your alb, sash and white gloves. Obtain the cross from its permanent holder and proceed to the point where the procession will form.
      2. The Crucifer will lead the processional – walking in a natural manner and as near in time with the Hymn as possible – hold the cross in a vertical position – the left hand should be around the staff just below the ball – the right hand a foot lower on the staff to steady the cross.
      3. Proceed with dignity into the Chancel and. halt before the Sanctuary steps, holding the cross without wavering
      4. At the conclusion of the processional hymn turn and place the cross in its holder, making sure it is properly placed and securely fastened.
      5. Move directly to your assigned seat,
    3. It is the responsibility of the Crucifer to coordinate the duties of the Flag and Torch Bearers. He will select the Acolyte to handle the Alms Basins.
    4. Closing Prayers and Recession:
      1. Upon announcement by the Priest of the recessional Hymn you will take the cross from its holder -make sure that the torches and flags are ready- and in position – walk to the center of the Chancel Aisle and, holding the cross in proper vertical position, stand facing the Altar at the Sanctuary step.
      2. Upon completion of the second stanza of the recessional Hymn, turn and lead the recession slowly down the center aisle.
      3. Walk with a natural gait reasonably adapted to the Hymn – proceed with dignity to the rear of the Church.
      4. Guide the recession to its “break up” point, then return to the Acolyte’s room – place the cross in its permanent holder – remove your vestments and hang them neatly on the hangers provided.
  4. Duties of the Torch Bearers
    1. Getting ready for Service
      1. Arrive twenty minutes ahead of the service time.
      2. Robe in cassock and cotta.
      3. Obtain your torch and matches – do not light torch until procession is ready to move.
    2. Entrance
      1. Hold your left hand above your right on the torch staff with the torch base on a level with your eyes. Take places either side of the Crucifer and about a half step in back of him.
      2. At the Sanctuary step, step to either side and face each other so that the Clergy may enter the Sanctuary – return to position facing the Altar after the Clergy has entered.
      3. At the conclusion of the processional Hymn extinguish the torches, place them in their holders and take your assigned seat.
      4. Following service, relight torches and join the Crucifer at the Sanctuary steps.
      5. When the Crucifer turns and faces the congregation, you will turn towards each other and accompany the Crucifer in the Recessional.
    3. C. After the Service
      1. Extinguish torches and place them securely in holders.
      2. Remove vestments and hang them neatly on hangers provided.
  5. Duties of the Flag Bearers
    1. Getting ready for Service
      1. Arrive twenty minutes before service tire,
      2. Robe in cassock and cotta.
      3. Obtain flags and go to the formation point.
    2. Entrance
      1. Flag Bearers follow the Crucifer and Torch Bearers, keeping a distance of about four feet between them. The American Flag is carried to the right of the Church Flag and the State Flag follows, in the center of the aisle.

Remembering the Anti-Moon Luddites

Today, of course, is the fiftieth anniversary of Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon–“one giant leap for mankind,” to be sure.  It was a great accomplishment and deserves to be remembered.

It’s easy to forget, however, that at the time there were many–especially on the left–who believed that the whole enterprise was a mistake, that the money we spent to put Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin (and of course, Michael Collins, commemorated the following year by Jethro Tull in their album Benefit) would have been better spent on feeding the poor and rectifying social injustices.

And in a sense the years that followed this achievement were the time when real science died in this country.  As I noted earlier this year:

But by the time Armstrong and Aldrin set foot on the moon, the mood had changed. The 1960’s were a decidedly Luddite time; technology was blamed for despoiling the environment and creating the “few minutes to midnight” atmosphere of the Cold War. Those who plied their trade in technology were “nerds.” The space program collapsed and the aerospace industry went with it. A new generation turned away from technology to more “relevant” (and easier way up) professions such as law and finance. Instead of landing on Mars in 1986, we were in angst (something we’ve gotten good at) over the explosion of the Challenger.

bahama-lane-front

Our home in Palm Beach. It was located on the old “Dodge Estate,” one of the last of the large estates to be broken up (Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago is an example of one that is still intact.) Built in the late 1950’s, it survived the hurricanes that were reasonably frequent during the years we lived in Palm Beach (we experienced two the first summer we lived there.) All of the windows were fitted with shutters (as shown here) or had a metal shield that could be fitted for a blow. This obviated the need to strip forests for plywood every time a hurricane arrived. Note also the ficus hedge running along the street. Using a hedge to both close in the yard and to obscure the view of the property (they’re generally higher now than they were then) is fairly common in Palm Beach. After living with this, being forced into the “open yard” mould so common in the U.S. (especially in the South) just doesn’t quite cut it.

The space program had many technological spinoffs that enhanced life here on earth.  But when we have the same old “zero-sum” mentality about this, we’ll end up getting nowhere, and in the long run shortchanging those we profess to help.

And where was I when the first step was taken?  In Palm Beach, of course.  Behind the balcony of our house (right) was my brother’s room, where we witnessed history on his black and white television.

NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio USA — Construction and architecture

NASA John H. Glenn Research Center at Lewis Field is a NASA center, located within the cities of Brook Park and Cleveland between Cleveland Hopkins International Airport and the Cleveland Metroparks’s Rocky River Reservation, with a subsidiary facility in Sandusky, Ohio. Glenn Research Center is one of ten major NASA field centers, whose primary mission is to develop science and technology for use in aeronautics and […]

via NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio USA — Construction and architecture

A State of Being

helene

Helene Tuchbreiter Portrait by Antonio Sereix Photo Reproduction by John Haynesworth

Helene Tuchbreiter was one of Palm Beach’s most prominent socialites in her time.  She made an impact both on the social scene and on the people immediately around her.

My own recollection of her, however, was more prosaic: she was one of my mother’s best friends during the years we lived in Palm Beach.  This was made more real by an experience they both shared: the founding of the Church Mouse thrift shop.

Both of them were members at Bethesda-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church and also members of the St. Mary’s Ladies’ Guild. (or circle, as it’s called in some churches.)  Each year the guild had a “Rummage Mart” at the church to raise money for its charitable activities.  Helene was the Guild’s president. In the Spring of 1968 the Vestry of the church informed the Guild that it wasn’t right to have the sale on church property.  In support of their position they cited such Bible verses as “Jesus went into the Temple Courts and began to drive out those who were selling, Saying as he did so: “Scripture says–‘My House shall be a House of Prayer’; but you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’” (Luke 19:45-46)  This didn’t sit well with the ladies of the Guild, who thought all along they were doing something good.  The Vestry, flush with its new found knowledge of the Scriptures (they probably really wanted to keep the riff-raff off of the church grounds) stuck to its guns.  So the Guild had to find an alternative.

Helene, unwilling to be sidetracked in the mission to do good (and probably unwilling to be outdone by sellers of shirts), took the initiative and led the Guild to start a thrift shop off of the church grounds.  The Rector, Dr. Hunsdon Cary, was sceptical about the concept; he told Helene that they would probably end up poor as church mice. Beyond the absurdity of anything in Palm Beach experiencing such poverty, this doubtless spurred Helene and the others to make it work.

tuchbreiter-warrington

Left to right: Roy Tuchbreiter, my mother, father, and Helene, at a Christmas fête in Palm Beach in the late 1960’s. (Photo courtesy Bert and Richard Morgan, Palm Beach) Note: Some of the information for this article was taken from Helene Tuchbreither’s own copy of The Bulletin of Bethesda-by-the-Sea, 9 April 1991, complete with her own tart comments.

Dr. Cary’s quip also gave the enterprise its name; in March 1970 the Church Mouse thrift shop opened. It was soon forced to move because the building was being torn down for the Publix market in Palm Beach (that was another great controversy as well.) It moved to its second location at 101 North County Road. My mother kept the books for the Church Mouse during its early days.

In 1987 it moved to two locations, one at 374 South County Road and the other in West Palm Beach. The store was and is to this day a success, as good example of any of taking lemons and making lemonade.

Years later, while we were preparing for my mother’s estate sale, the portrait reproduction above was found in my mother’s things.  The individual who was organising the sale asked me the question, “What did she do?”  My response to him was, “In Palm Beach, it isn’t a matter of what you do, it’s what you are,” and went through the story you have here.

This state of affairs, however, is not unique to socialites.  When God called Moses to lead his people out of bondage, Moses asked the obvious question:

“Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel, and I shall say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you.’ Now they may say to me, ‘What is His name?’ What shall I say to them?” And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.'” And God, furthermore, said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is My name forever, and this is My memorial-name to all generations.” (Exod 3:13-15 NAS)

This abstract sounding answer had then and has now an important point.  We as human beings have a habit of defining everyone and everything by what they do.  The gods of ancient peoples were a reflection of that; every one of them had a speciality task.  But the God who commissioned Moses and later sent his own Son is beyond that: he is not defined by what he does, but by what he is and moreover that he exists: “For in him was created all that is in Heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible–Angels and Archangels and all the Powers of Heaven. ”  (Col 1:16)  Jesus himself underscored his own nature and that of his Father when “Jesus said to them, ““In truth I tell you,” replied Jesus, “before Abraham existed I was.”” (John 8:58 NAS)

Our habit of defining ourselves and others by what we do is worse than ever in this performance based world we live in.  Helene Tuchbreiter — the preacher’s kid from Montgomery, Alabama, who went on to Palm Beach — has gone on for the last time to meet the great “I Am.”  Of the results of this encounter, we do not know, but we do know that before we do anything else we must follow God through his Son Jesus Christ, and then what we are will far surpass anything we can do — in this life and the life to come.

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