Renaissance Hombre

It’s ten years since I first posted on my blog – http://www.renaissancehombre.com. What started as a – where will this go – endeavor, is now a twice a week offering. There have been a thousand posts.  Usually 200 to 300 words.  I try to stay away from political stuff though I occasionally dip my toes (in my opinion – gently) into those frigid waters. . . . .

It has been fun. And challenging to come up with something new. When I’m lazy, I can always “repeat.” There are about a hundred subscribers. Plus others get a copy of the posting. And each day, lots of folks will log on to the site.

It was about three years ago that I decided to compile a collection of “posts.” And I did. I worked with an editor – Pat Vaccaro – who fine-tuned the manuscript and in late September 2020, Renaissance Hombre was published. There is a YouTube video promotion – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m2MlesbpAT0. The book is sold on Amazon (and other book sites) – https://www.amazon.com/Renaissance-Hombre-Reflections-Well-Rounded-Life/dp/1728372356 And there is a Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/RenaissanceHombre/

There are even bookmarks and business cards. Let me know and I’ll send some along 🙂

Further Reviews. . . .

The Kirkus Review in the prior post was a bit disappointing. I have to wonder if the reviewer finished reading Renaissance Hombre given some of the comments. It was curious to read that I have “no interest in fully exploring or questioning why these inequities [poverty, hunger] exist.  [Petersen] simply notes how lucky he is.” From my perspective – there is page after page of challenge, inspiration and hope:

The traces we leave behind . . .  may not mean much to us.  But they could mean everything to someone else.” 

Today is the first day of the rest of your life.  What are you going to do with what’s left of it.” 

Gratitude. . . . . Inspiration to give.  Reasons to be grateful.” 

Who are the saints in your life?” 

Are we doing enough?  . . .  Could we do more to make the world a better place?   If every person – spurred by that simple query – did one extra act of kindness, charity or contribution each day, imagine how much better the world might be.” 

And on and on and on. . . . I much prefer to defer to the earlier critiques of Renaissance Hombre that are mentioned on the book cover:

This book is a treasure chest. Each entry is a golden nugget. Give this book to everyone you know.”
~ Marilyn Crow, literacy teacher

These stories will make you laugh and cry, and wonder where those simple times went, and question what is happening now. Read and enjoy.” ~ Carol M. Santora, photographer and philanthropist

Enjoy these entertaining slices of life, both humorous and serious. What stories might you leave behind?” ~ Sandy Haggart, founder, Feed the Dream

Renaissance Hombre – the Kirkus Review

Renaissance Hombre was just reviewed by Kirkus Reviews – an independent book reviewer based in Texas. Below is the entire review which was released on December 14, 2020 (with permission of Kirkus Reviews). It could’ve been better. But it coulda been worse.

TITLE INFORMATION: RENAISSANCE HOMBRE
Reflections on a Well-Rounded Life
by Scott W. Petersen
AuthorHouse (236 pp.)
$26.99 hardcover, $13.99 paperback
ISBN: 978-1-72837-234-1
September 18, 2020
BOOK REVIEW
A volume of blog posts offers personal anecdotes and addresses serious issues.

Petersen has been running a blog and posting twice a week since 2011. This book is a compilation of his posts over the years. Divided into 17 parts that move thematically rather than chronologically, the collection ranges from humorous childhood memories to book recommendations and is peppered with tidbits of trivia and historical facts. The posts cover both amusing and weighty topics. The author is at his best in the opening pages; the humor is delightful, focusing less on one-line jokes and more on the hilarity of various situations. It’s genuinely funny to learn that Petersen accidentally misdialed a pal’s number when he was a child and then promptly encouraged his friends to make prank phone calls. The author later rhapsodizes about the importance of comedy: “I like jokes. Humor. Comedy. The Three Stooges (are you kidding, Petersen?). The Honeymooners. Seinfeld. I like to laugh. A favorite funny movie? Planes, Trains and Automobiles. Or maybe it’s Airplane! Or Young Frankenstein. Or The Pink Panther. Humor is a great medicine. One of the best.” Petersen also displays sincerity in this well-meaning assemblage. He frequently speaks of tolerance, logic, and rationality when facing the thorny problems of the 21st century. But even when he includes brief quotes or vivid historical moments plucked from his research, his posts, often due to their short length, lack substance, especially for a diverse readership. While he asserts that some of the things he finds “downright icky” include “prejudice” and “intolerance,” he presents a world where, largely, he is not part of the problem. He clearly acknowledges inequality: “Even now there are those who are born into a life of abysmal poverty, suffocating hunger and crippling disease. Raised in countries ravaged by violence, hatred and injustice.” But he shows no interest in fully exploring or questioning why these inequities exist. He simply notes how lucky he is. An amusing but uneven collection.
Kirkus Indie, Kirkus Media LLC, 2600 Via Fortuna Suite 130 Austin, TX 78746

Cybercrime

When I was a State’s Attorney, one guy I put on death row had murdered 17 or 18 (who’s counting?) souls. One by one by one. He was tried for two of the murders in an intense – highly emotional – 3-1/2 week jury trial. He was convicted and then – in the bifurcated trial – the jury heard evidence that would justify the death penalty. Or not. In my closing argument, I called him “the grim reaper of death.” The jury was out for a few hours and walked back into the courtroom with somber faces. Never looking at the defendant. All 12 signed on and the killer sat on death row for about 4 years until an appellate court “modified” the sentence.

More than half of all states in the U.S. have laws that justify capital punishment. So does America’s criminal justice system. Since the trial, my feelings on this topic have softened. A bit. I sometimes think that life – without parole – is a better punishment. But then again, just what do you do with people who are worse than your worst nightmare. Who are hardwired to do truly unspeakable things to their victims.

On Sunday (6/6/21) Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said that cybercrime presented “a lot of parallels” to the threat of terrorism before 9/11. And she refused to rule out military options to defend America against ransomware criminals. I don’t disagree. When cybercriminals invade hospital data systems or worse use malicious software to invade and shut down medical systems, and people die, what should America do? Cybercrime is intentional. And it can be devastating. With the prospects of fatalities escalating on all levels of cybercrime – should we say pay the ransom and leave the perps to do it again? Or do we go at them. With an vengeance.

Chef Popi

Some years ago, I led a book discussion on Dearie – the Remarkable Life of Julia Child by Bob Spitz.  In preparation, I got myself a full chef’s outfit – with the jacket and toque stitched with the words “Scott” and “Renaissance Hombre.”  Today – I occasionally wear that outfit when making Swedish pancakes or dinner for my granddaughters . . . .   Oh – and Swedish pancakes?  

SHHHH!  You are sworn to secrecy!  A cup and a quarter of Bisquick, two eggs, a generous portion of honey (no sugar), a pinch or two of salt, a cup+ of milk and a third of a stick of melted butter.  In the blender for a minute or two.  Then portion three inch dollops of batter in a fry pan – medium heat – on a dusting of melted butter.  The first batch always looks burned.  After that, things settle down and the pancakes (thin, small and medium brown) usually end up perfect.  Make sure you have some lingonberries and real maple syrup.  You don’t need the chef’s outfit.  Though it may help . . . . .

“Your best yet”

I made dinner on Sunday. And I scored a perfect “10” . . . . and got the gold medal. 

You know that I enjoy cooking — and experimenting. Last Sunday’s dinner was up in the air.  So I volunteered.  And Donna quickly agreed. I went to Fresh Market and got the fixings for a Mexican fiesta — la cena.  I marinated and baked two chicken breasts.  I chopped and sautéed a large yellow onion and some shiitake mushrooms in olive oil over low heat  in a covered pan for about 45 minutes [shiitakes are healthier and have less toxicity than other mushroom varieties].   Then there were the Garden of Eatin organic blue taco shells (heat 5 minutes at 350).  I sliced the chicken and placed strips within each shell.  Then a slice of garlic cheddar cheese.  On top, I spooned some of the shiitake and onion combo (after I had drained the olive oil and browned slightly).  And I warmed the shells in the oven for another 5 minutes.

I made my usual guacamole recipe (smooshed avocado, cilantro and lime juice – that’s it) and I prepared some fresh quinoa on which I spooned some organic black beans (I confess – from a can).  I provided green tomatillo sauce for the tacos.  We had a great Joel Gott cabernet and some San Pellegrino to wash things down.  Lauren and Trent joined us for the experience.  The sauteed shiitake and onion combo was a 10 point triple Lutz.  The unique combination of quinoa and black beans – with fresh guac on the side – was a graceful double Axel that landed perfectly.  The wine was a magical double toe loop.  The entire meal was a flawless triple Salchow nailed by The Renaissance Hombre.      

Donna and Lauren both looked up from their plates and said seriously “This is your best yet.”  Awww shucks. . . . .  

The Chicago Literary Club

The Chicago Literary Club is one of the oldest literary groups in the United States.  It was founded in Chicago in 1874 as an all male bastion of those who loved literature.   The Club opened in the year after Chicago’s Fortnightly Club opened for women with literary interest.  Members would regale their fellows with discussions of politics, the labor movement and reminiscence of the Civil War.   Today, the Club is coed and meets every Monday from October to May.  Dinner is usually served and a paper presented at 7:30.  Papers will run from 25 to 60 minutes.  The papers are published online at the Club’s website – www.chilit.org

On January 7th, I delivered my sixth paper to The Chicago Literary Club.  The title of the paper was “The Renaissance Hombre.”  I’ll bet you can guess the topic.   You can check out my paper online at http://www.chilit.org/Papers%20by%20author/Petersen%20–%20Renaissance%20Hombre.htm   R.H.  

Haiku

A haiku is a short form of Japanese poetry characterized by three qualities: 

1.  There are three stanzas of 5, 7 and 5 syllables;

2.  In this highly abbreviated poem, there are two well-defined images (with a kireji or “cutting word” between them); and

3.  The subject is usually drawn from the natural world (often seasonal).

The most famous composer of haiku poetry was Matsuo Basho (1644-1694).   He was the grand poet of the Edo period and his poetry has achieved international renown.  His works frequently appear on Japanese monuments and at traditional Japanese sites.  Basho’s most famous (and probably the best known example of) haiku was “The Old Pond.”

Fu-ru-i-ke ya

Ka-wa zu to-bi-ko-mu

Mi-zu no 0-to

The translation?

Old pond

A frog leaps in

Splash

I tend to think that haiku can be a poignant teaching tool for students since it requires structure, thought, concentration and result.  Face it — if the three elements of haiku are present, how can the haiku be bad? 

Winter Squirrel by Renaissance Hombre

A squirrel sits still

His tail begins to move

And away he goes

Move over Mister Basho. . . . .