Subway Riders Save Life

Chad M. Estep is accused of pushing a man onto tracks. (Chicago Police Department)

Megan Crepeau, Katherine Rosenberg- Douglas, Jeremy Gorner Chicago Tribune 10.11.17

The attack at a Loop CTA station was the stuff of public-transit nightmares: a man waiting on a train platform eyed a nearby stranger, came up behind him and shoved him onto the tracks below.
The assailant tried to block the victim from climbing back onto the platform, but seconds before a train pulled up to the station, he managed to scramble to safety with the help of others.

. . . .

Assistant State’s Attorney Erin Antonietti said Estep came up behind Benedict and shoved him onto the tracks with both hands, knocking him perilously close to the electrified third rail.
Estep then tried to block Benedict from getting back onto the platform — and even tried to stop others at the station from assisting Benedict, she said.
Benedict finally climbed to safety just seconds before a train arrived, Antonietti said, while Estep escaped on foot.

. . .
In September, Benedict said he was standing near the edge of the platform when he felt a hard jab to the back and tumbled to the tracks 5 feet below. He said he stopped a foot short of the electrified third rail.
He looked down the tracks but didn’t see a train approaching. He then looked up and saw the man who apparently had pushed him staring at Benedict with a blank look on his face.
“It was like a lion looking at his prey, that’s kinda what it looked like to me,” he said.
Benedict tried to get onto the platform, he said, but the man kept blocking his way, pointing his finger at him. When Benedict yelled for help and people tried to come to his aid, the man tried to keep them away until they were able to form a circle and help Benedict off the tracks.

More Kindness

When Susan and I had arrived in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, for my sister Carol’s funeral, she remarked on the courtesies we had received en route, she with her arm in a sling and  I with my cane, but the best was ahead.

After we checked into the Hilton Garden, I went back to  the parking lot to get my bag.  I found our rental car by opening the trunk with the button on my key.  I reached in, grabbed my bag and yanked it out.  The bag came easily, but it was heavy and took me to the concrete with it.

(One of the problems for old guys in taking a fall is that it’s impossible to get up without something pull on.  I don’t know now where my cane was.)

I lay there wondering what to do, until a small woman showed up and grasped my arm.  She wasn’t strong enough to get me off my butt, so she called for her husband who came behind me and put his arms around my chest.  He was no bigger than the woman, but together they got me on my feet. By that time their daughter had showed up, a head taller than her parents.  By their appearance and speech, I took them to be Japanese.

We were all smiling as I thanked them.  It was fun to see them at breakfast next morning.  We all smiled some more.


Leaning Tower Bells in Niles



The Leaning Tower of Pisa SB.jpeg    Leaning Tower of Pisa  Wikipedia


Leaning Tower bells in Niles, Illinois are survivors.  Some might be among oldest in U.S.
Construction of the Leaning Tower of Niles, Illinois,  a half-size replica of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. was begun in 1932. (Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune ) This bell, one of five located inside the Leaning Tower of Niles, is believed to date to 18th-century Italy. (Chicago Bell Advocates photo)
By Jennifer Johnson Pioneer Press, Chicago Tribune, `10.11.17

Image result for leaning tower of lincolnwood photo  Leaning Tower of Niles
High inside the iconic Leaning Tower of Niles are remnants of another time and place.
Five bronze bells, three bearing religious motifs and Latin inscriptions, wait to ring again. The writing on the Latin-inscribed bells suggests their ages.
One dates back nearly 400 years.
If their ages can indeed be proved, they could very well be among the oldest church bells hanging in the United States — and the rarest, according to Kim Schafer, founder of Chicago Bell Advocates, an organization dedicated to helping owners of tower bells restore and maintain them.
“If you go to Mexico, which was a colony of Spain dating back much longer and had a strong Catholic tradition, you will find bells as old or even older. But in the United States, it’s much rarer,” Schafer said.
But where did they come from? And how did they get to Niles?
Schafer and her organization are helping to unravel the origins of the bells as the village of Niles continues its renovation of the Leaning Tower, a half-size replica of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, which has stood along Touhy Avenue since the 1930s.
Niles Mayor Andrew Przybylo said restoring the bells so they can ring once again is a goal.
“Maybe by adding one or two more we could create enough tones, enough notes to chime out some music,” he said. “If we do a celebration at the base for some holiday, maybe there’s a way to chime out some music.”
According to the book “The History of Niles, Illinois,” written by Dorothy C. Tyse and published in 1974 to mark the village’s 75th anniversary, construction of the 94-foot-tall Leaning Tower of Niles began in 1932 and was undertaken by businessman Robert Ilg as a way to conceal a water tank that supplied spring water for two outdoor pools on the site.
When the tower was completed two years later, Ilg “dedicated it to the memory of Galileo,” who demonstrated that objects of different weights fall at the same speed when he dropped various items from the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Tyse’s book said.
At the time, the property on which the tower stood was a park for employees of Ilg’s electric ventilating company. Later, Ilg would leave the tower — and the land surrounding it — to the YMCA, with the stipulation that it remain standing until 2059 and an average of $500 be spent on maintenance annually, the Chicago Tribune reported.
This summer, the village of Niles took over ownership of the tower after years of leasing it from the Leaning Tower YMCA and paying to maintain it, said Przybylo. The cost of the purchase was $10.
Following previous studies that determined extensive repairs to the tower were required, the village began rehabilitation work. So far, approximately $750,000 worth of repair and restoration of the tower’s exterior has been completed, said Mary Anderson, director of public works for the village of Niles. This work does not include restoration of the bells or replacing existing railings around the tower’s exterior, she said.
It was the potential historic nature of the bells that came to light during the tower renovations, said Bernie DiMeo, spokesman for the Leaning Tower rehabilitation project.
Przybylo said little had been said about the bells during his political career with the village, which dates back nearly 30 years.
“I don’t remember anybody highlighting the bells,” he said. “They were a treasure we didn’t know we had.”
A report from Chicago Bell Advocates, completed at the request of the village of Niles, found that three bells, dated 1623, 1735 and 1747, were each cast in Italy, and that at least one of them likely hung in a church in Cavezzo, a town about 150 miles northeast from Pisa.
“Chicago Bell Advocates has no reason to doubt at this time that the three Italian bells are authentic and date from the 17th and 18th centuries,” the report reads.
Each bell features Catholic imagery: A crucifix. Madonna and child. Faces of cherubs. A grape vine. The oldest bell is inscribed, in Latin, with a line from a Catholic prayer in devotion to Mary, the mother of Jesus: “Ave, Maria, full of grace, the Lord be with you.”
A fourth bell, according to the report, is dated 1912, and appears to have been created at a foundry in San Francisco. It bears a leaf pattern and an inscription in Italian that includes the word “Vespruccio,” which, according to the research report, is the name of one of the bells in the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
Robert Ilg lived in San Francisco as a young man, according to “The History of Niles, Illinois.”
The fifth bell in the tower is undated and cracked, though it can be repaired to ring again, the report says.
Since the report was compiled, Chicago Bell Advocates spoke with a researcher in Cavezzo, Italy, who found that church bells in Cavezzo were sold to a foundry in Milan in the 1930s in order to be recast for new bells, Schafer said. That was right around the time the Leaning Tower’s bells arrived in Niles, so Schafer believes it is entirely possible that instead of recasting, the bells were sold — and are as old as their dates say.
“I think they just sold them to Ilg or some middle man who then sold them to Ilg,” Schafer said.
But details of the acquisition to confirm Schafer’s theory have not yet been found.
“We have been trying to uncover that story, and it’s unclear how the connection was made between Robert Ilg and this foundry,” Schafer said. “That’s a mystery we will hopefully one day be able to uncover.”
Chicago Bell Advocates also recovered written correspondence between a Cavezzo church and the foundry, but they require translation, Schafer said.
While a process called a metallurgical analysis can help “narrow down the ages of the bells,” the method is not foolproof, Schafer said. The Chicago Bell Advocates report indicates that there are several opportunities for additional research, including searching records of the United States Customs Service, which can found in the National Archives, and conducting research within the community of Cavezzo.
Chicago Bell Advocates has not been contracted for additional studies at this time, and the organization is currently advising the village on how to remount the bells and get them ringing again, as they are not currently operational, Schafer said.
It is unclear when the bells last sounded, but newspaper reports from the last several decades seem to indicate that hearing the bells was not a common event.
In October 1958, the Chicago Tribune reported that the bells rang for the first time in 15 years to celebrate $54,000 raised by YMCA workers for renovation work inside the tower and construction of an athletic field, ice skating rink and camping area on the grounds, which was the headquarters of the Skokie Valley YMCA.
In November 1963, special note was made of the ringing of the bells when ground was broken for new YMCA facilities, including the construction of residential accommodations, which still exist, the Tribune reported.
Anderson, the village’s public works director, said she has heard the sounds of the functioning bells, describing them as having a “decent tone.”
“We were really excited when Chicago Bell Advocates started working on this for us,” she said. “It’s a very cool piece of history in Niles.”
Once the current tower renovation is complete, it will be available for visitors to explore, Przybylo indicated.
“The plan is to clean it up, turn (the first floor)] into a visiting center where people can be told the story of the tower and bells before they proceed up the stairs,” Przybylo said.
He added that the hope is to allow groups to climb the tower by next spring or summer, with a goal of the tower securing a place on the National Registry of Historic Places.
“It’s part of our brand,” Przybylo said of the Leaning Tower. “Our brand and our village logo is the Leaning Tower. A lot of people know about it.”
Twitter @Jen_Tribune

Super Volcano under Yellowstone


The Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park, a large hot spring known for its vibrant coloration. Beneath the park is a powerful supervolcano which drives the spring and other geological activity. CreditMarie-Louise Mandl/EyeEm, via Getty Images

Beneath Yellowstone National Park lies a supervolcano, a behemoth far more powerful than your average volcano. It has the ability to expel more than 1,000 cubic kilometers of rock and ash at once — 250,000 times more material than erupted from Mount St. Helens in 1980, which killed 57 people. That could blanket most of the United States in a thick layer of ash and even plunge the Earth into a volcanic winter.

Yellowstone’s last supereruption occurred 631,000 years ago. And it’s not the planet’s only buried supervolcano. Scientists suspect that a supereruption scars the planet every 100,000 years, causing many to ask when we can next expect such an explosive planet-changing event.

To answer that question, scientists are seeking lessons from Yellowstone’s past. And the results have been surprising. They show that the forces that drive these rare and violent events can move much more rapidly than volcanologists previously anticipated.

The early evidence, presented at a recent volcanology conference, shows that Yellowstone’s most recent supereruption was sparked when new magma moved into the system only decades before the eruption. Previous estimates assumed that the geological process that led to the event took millenniums to occur.

To reach that conclusion, Hannah Shamloo, a graduate student at Arizona State University, and her colleagues spent weeks at Yellowstone’s Lava Creek Tuff — a fossilized ash deposit from its last supereruption. There, they hauled rocks under the heat of the sun to gather samples, occasionally suspending their work when a bison or a bear roamed nearby.

Ms. Shamloo later analyzed trace crystals in the volcanic leftovers, allowing her to pin down changes before the supervolcano’s eruption. Each crystal once resided within the vast, seething ocean of magma deep underground. As the crystals grew outward, layer upon layer, they recorded changes in temperature, pressure and water content beneath the volcano, much like a set of tree rings.

“We expected that there might be processes happening over thousands of years preceding the eruption,” said Christy Till, a geologist at Arizona State, and Ms. Shamloo’s dissertation adviser. Instead, the outer rims of the crystals revealed a clear uptick in temperature and a change in composition that occurred on a rapid time scale. That could mean the supereruption transpired only decades after an injection of fresh magma beneath the volcano.We’ll bring you stories that capture the wonders of the human body, nature and the cosmos.

“It’s shocking how little time is required to take a volcanic system from being quiet and sitting there to the edge of an eruption,” said Ms. Shamloo, though she warned that there’s more work to do before scientists can verify a precise time scale.

Dr. Kari Cooper, a geochemist at the University of California, Davis who was not involved in the research, said Ms. Shamloo and Dr. Till’s research offered more insights into the time frames of supereruptions, although she is not yet convinced that scientists can pin down the precise trigger of the last Yellowstone event. Geologists must now figure out what kick-starts the rapid movements leading up to supereruptions.

“It’s one thing to think about this slow gradual buildup — it’s another thing to think about how you mobilize 1,000 cubic kilometers of magma in a decade,” she said.

As the research advances, scientists hope they will be able to spot future supereruptions in the making. The odds of Yellowstone, or any other supervolcano erupting anytime soon are small. But understanding the largest eruptions can only help scientists better understand, and therefore forecast, the entire spectrum of volcanic eruptions — something that Dr. Cooper thinks will be possible in a matter of decades.

Carol Jeanne Murphy

My sister Carol has died in Crosslands, the place where she worked and then lived.  Susan and I went to Kennett Square for the funeral.  It was nice to see Carol’s children and grandchildren.  I will miss my only sister.   RJN

Obituary —  Carol Jeanne Murphy

Carol Jeanne Murphy Obituary
Carol Jeanne Murphy, age 88, of Kennett Square, PA, passed away on Tuesday, October 3, 2017, at her residence. She was the wife of Joseph E. Murphy, Jr., who passed away in 2000, and with whom she shared 47 years of marriage.Born in Evanston, IL, she was the daughter of the late James Nugent and the late Marjorie Forshee Nugent.

She was a registered nurse last working for Crosslands in Kennett Square, PA.

Carol was a member of St. Patrick Church in Kennett Square, PA.

She enjoyed entertaining her family, reading a good book, little children, her husband’s jokes, and being with her family and friends.

She is survived by three sons, Joseph E. Murphy, III and his wife Debra of Amherst, NH, Timothy J. Murphy and his wife Bernadette of Plano, TX and Matthew W. Murphy and his wife Angela of Holly Springs, NC; three daughters, Mary Ruth Johnson and her husband Thomas of Kennett Square, PA, Marjorie Campbell and her husband William of Park City, UT, and Julia Anne Welch and her husband Rudolph of Half Moon Bay, CA; four brothers, Patrick Nugent of Cambridge, MD, Richard Nugent of Wilmette, IL, Thomas Nugent of Delavan, WI and John Nugent; twelve grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. She was predeceased by one brother James Nugent.

You are invited to visit with her family and friends from 6:00 to 8:00 on Friday evening, October 6, 2017,and again from 9:30 to 10:30 on Saturday morning, October 7, 2017 at the Kuzo & Grieco Funeral Home, 250 West State Street, Kennett Square, PA. Her Funeral Mass will be held at 11:00 Saturday morning, October 7, 2017, at St. Patrick Church, 212 Meredith Street, Kennett Square, PA. Burial will be in St. Patrick’s cemetery, Route 82, Kennett Square, PA.

In lieu of flowers, a contribution may be made to the ALS Association, Greater Philadelphia Chapter, 321 Norristown Road, Suite 260, Ambler, PA 19002 or to the Robert N. & Lenora C. Zearfoss Fund for Crosslands Staff Support, P.O. Box 100, Kennett Square, PA 19348.

Published in The News Journal on Oct. 4, 2017


Pap test lost its value?


Has the Pap test lost its value?

By John Biemer and Guliz A. Barkan   source
The Pap test — a staple of women’s health checkups for generations — is one of medicine’s greatest success stories, saving the lives of countless women by detecting abnormal cells on the cervix that could turn into cancer. Yet the Pap test could be on the decline due to changing technology.
The Pap test is widely considered the most effective cancer screening test. As recently as 2000, an estimated 61 million Pap tests were performed in the United States, according to surveys conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics. But if recent proposals from the United States Preventive Services Task Force are approved, fewer Paps may be performed going forward, with a molecular test replacing them.
This month, the task force proposed that screening healthy women ages 30 to 65 for cervical cancer could be performed by either a Pap test or by a human papillomavirus DNA test instead — although a Pap would be performed every three years while the HPV test alone could be performed every five years.
The task force proposals, which are now in a public comment period, follow a study of 47,208 women undergoing routine cervical exams that demonstrated that a DNA test for HPV was more sensitive than the Pap at picking up lesions on the cervix that could progress into cancer.
However, critics of the HPV molecular test say it also is more likely to turn up with erroneously “positive” results (when there is no precancerous condition), which may lead to unnecessary treatment such as colposcopies and biopsies for patients who don’t need them. There also are concerns that setting the screening at five-year intervals may lead to women failing to follow up with gynecological checkups, which are also important for other health concerns besides cervical cancer screening. As a result, for the patient’s benefit, it may be better to have co-testing — both a Pap test and HPV testing at the same time — to ensure higher sensitivity in detecting cancer.
Cervical cancer was the most common cause of cancer deaths of women in the United States in the 1930s, but deaths dropped dramatically after the introduction of the low-cost, easily performed Pap test, which was developed by Dr. George Papanicolaou, a pathologist who emigrated from Greece.
In the Pap test, commonly referred to as a “Pap smear,” cells collected from the uterine cervix with a tiny brush are later placed on a glass slide.
Cytotechnologists and pathologists examine those slides under a microscope, scouring thousands of cells for any abnormality. From the perspective of patients, collecting cells for the HPV molecular tests also requires a speculum exam, so they won’t notice much difference.
Some strains of the human papillomavirus — the same virus that causes warts — have been linked to the development of cervical cancer. Infection by HPV, which is spread by sexual contact, still is common, especially in sexually active young men and women.
At least half of sexually active people will have HPV at some point in their lives, but the infection is usually transient and the body clears it on its own. That’s why the Pap test, rather than the HPV DNA test, is still preferable in women under 30 to see if precancerous changes in cervical cells already have taken place.
Some women, however, do develop persistent infections that can progress over time into invasive cancer. There are still nearly 13,000 new cases of cervical cancer in the United States each year and more than 4,000 deaths due to the disease, according to the American Cancer Society — though it now ranks as the 21st most common of cancers in women, according to the National Cancer Institute.
The biggest reason for its precipitous decline is vigilant surveillance. Although HPV vaccines and the HPV testing ultimately may lead to fewer Pap tests being performed, the goal remains the same: to stop a deadly disease in its tracks.
John Biemer, M.D., a former Tribune reporter, is a cytopathology fellow at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood; Guliz A. Barkan, M.D., is the director of cytopathology at LUMC.


Oh, oh.  I discovered this morning that friends of the blog had made several comments to which I hadn’t replied.  Usually I get an email  “comment alert” and I reply. For those I missed I hadn’t been alerted by the blog system, but I have now replied.

Please do reply to blog posts.  I enjoy comments very much and intend to answer all but the ones selling sunglasses and “make money with your blog” rackets.

Love, RJN

Image result for photos sunglasses

Singing “The Star-Spangled Banner”

Some notes:

The music is difficult.  In most elementary schools, the 5th grade classes and older sing it every morning, but in my fourth grade class we sang “My Country Tis of Thee” instead.

Even professional singers get the last line wrong, adding a note, maybe on purpose:             ba-an-ner yet wave.  Then they end on  a (more dramatic?) high note, rather than the middle note as written.

The country singers make the formal music into a broken-heart piece!

I was moved when Aretha Franklin gave the anthem a thrilling Black sound at the Democratic National Convention of 1968. You can see and hear Franklin doing the song on

Recently the cantor of my synagogue, a White Sox fan,  sang the anthem beautifully, in his powerful baritone voice before a Sox game, the second time he’d been invited to do this.  We went to the park for his first performance.  A cantor, or hazzan, is a trained singer and expert on Jewish ritual music.  Before the recent performance, I told him it was nice to expect a straight rendition of the song.

A few days ago, a girl, maybe 16 years old, sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” before a ballgame I was waiting to watch.  She got the words tangled up but finished as well as she could.  Surely she felt bad about this failure, and  I wish I could have told her that even professionals had had the same problem, that she should be proud she had not broken up and run off the field.  She finished the job.

The words were written in 1814 just after a failed attack on Baltimore by the British in the War of 1812.  They were applied to the melody of a well-known drinking song.

While the song was widely approved and performed, it did not become the official “national anthem” until adopted in Congress in 1931, just before I was born.

In a well-done episode of “On the Media I learned that the 3rd stanza of the song has been challenged as “racist”–take a look below.  The fact is that British ships were manned by mercenaries working for pay and slaves fighting for the reward of individual freedom if they survived. You can hear that show in the Chicago area on WBEZ 91.5 fml.  On the Media, too, was the observation that we have a history of using the flag in making legal demonstrations.

Federal law includes rules for handling the flag but provides no penalties for violation.

One rule is The flag should never be used as wearing apparel. Several years the Under Armour company arranged for the Northwestern U . football team to wear special uniforms incorporating the flag.  I sent a complaint to the Director of something or other at the University who was unimpressed.


O say can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
‘Tis the star-spangled banner, O long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion,
A home and a country, should leave us no more?
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave,
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

O thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation.
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the Heav’n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: ‘In God is our trust.’
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave![27]

Cover of sheet music for “The Star-Spangled Banner”, transcribed for piano by Ch. Voss, Philadelphia: G. Andre & Co., 1862



We saw a very young Jerry Lewis

Image result for photo young martin and lewisJerry Lewis died last month at age 91.  He was a comedian, actor, singer, producer, director, screenwriter, and humanitarian. Wikipedia

Our dad took my brother Tom and me downtown  more than once.  One day, when we were maybe eleven and twelve, he took us with the plan that he would work in his office while we went to a movie and had lunch.  Then he would take us to to buy our first suits.

I don’t remember the movie we saw at the big Chicago Theater that day. But I do remember how we laughed at the young Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, so silly and energetic.  The downtown theaters offered a stage show with the movie, so I think Martin and Lewis would have had to do 5 or 6 shows that day.

He was an interesting man, I think a good guy. RJN

They’ll Let Women Drive !

A woman behind the wheel in Saudi Arabia in 2013. . CreditFaisal Al Nasser/Reuters

By Abdullah Al-Shihri and Aya Batrawy Associated Press Chicago Tribune 9.27.17

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia —

Saudi Arabia on Tuesday announced that women will be allowed to drive for the first time in the ultra-conservative kingdom next summer, fulfilling a key demand of women’s rights activists who faced detention for defying the ban.
The kingdom was the only the country in the world to bar women from driving and for years had garnered negative publicity internationally for detaining women who defied the ban.
The move, which has been welcomed by the United States, represents a significant opening for women in Saudi Arabia, where women’s rights have slowly gained ground over the years. Saudi women remain largely under the whim of male relatives due to guardianship laws.
King Salman and his young son and heir, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, have tested the waters though, allowing women into the country’s main stadium in the capital, Riyadh, for national day celebrations this month. The stadium had previously been reserved for all-male crowds to watch sporting events. The king and his son have also opened the country to more entertainment and fun.
Women’s rights activists since the 1990s have been pushing for the right to drive, saying it represents their larger struggle for equal rights under the law.
Some ultraconservative clerics in Saudi Arabia, who wield power and influence in the judiciary and education sectors, had warned against allowing women to drive. They argued it would corrupt society and lead to sin.
Women will not be allowed to obtain licenses immediately. A committee will be formed to look into how to implement the order, which is scheduled to begin in June 2018.