West Palm Beach as an oasis of art and culture.

If you pay attention and follow this blog you will notice that the main topics covered are The Camino, academics and education, Literature, art and culture, and then a lot of random thoughts and stuff.

This reflects who I am, of what drives me, what makes me tick. And as such it is -I guess- remarkably reliable. The reason for my passion for art and culture lies in the emotions involved and invoked by art.

Fortunately, a lot of art is now accessible from the comfort of your home: film, books, and so forth. But, a lot of art has to be shared, you have to get out to experience it. I am blessed to live near Palm Beach, which is -I have said this before- an oasis of art and culture in this suburban wasteland that is South Florida.

The Norton Museum gets a lot of attention in this blog because it is a jewel of a place which I love. I recently went to see their latest addition: John Singer Sargent’s painting of Amy Phipps Guest. It is a beautiful painting with illumination reminiscent of Sorolla (they were contemporaries and not only did their careers overlap, their technique is eerily similar).

Another cultural treasure of Palm Beach is the Palm Beach Symphony, which I saw perform Handel’s Messiah in December. I recently saw them perform their season finale, at the Kravis Center, their “home”, which included Mozart’s Piano Concerto #23, Franck Symphony in D minor, and Hailstork’s Monuments for solo trombone

In conclusion: thank God for Palm Beach.

Duke, NC State, and UNC The Research Triangle, Tobacco Road


You have heard of the Bermuda Triangle, the National (or Parliamentary) Triangle in Canberra, Australia, Isosceles triangles, and other famous triangles, but today we are going to talk about the Research Triangle.

The Research Triangle is formed by three nearby universities in central North Carolina and the towns where they are: Chapel Hill home of UNC, Durham, home of Duke, and Raleigh home to NC State (in Alphabetical order by city –by university in the title). Many companies, mostly tech and biotech, seeking to take advantage of hiring all these grads have set up shop in the area, thus the name. You can´t blame them.

So that is an economic sort of benefit of the Triangle. But more importantly, and one that does not appear on the news, or in economic reporting, is the great relationship between these three great schools. Sure, we trash talk and compete to the death in sports -UNC vs Duke is the oldest rivalry in college sports, also known as the Tobacco Road, but in academia there is great collaboration and cross pollination. During my days at UNC it was normal to go to Duke or NC State for conferences and chats, I even went to concerts! It is normal for couples to work and study in different universities. I personally know two couples with one person at UNC and one at Duke and one at NC State! And there are many who get their undergrad degrees at one and pursue graduate work in one of the others.

I am blessed to teach -in the same class- a Duke and a NC State graduate, so the other day we agreed to wear our swag shirts and get our favorite photographer Dylan to take some photos of us showing off. Enjoy!

Sharing knowledge, academic articles (my first!)

PC: Jess Strub

As my dear old friend and brother Theo would say, I am a bit of a late bloomer. I got into teaching later in life, I started my master’s at 42 and my PhD at 47. Once in the doctoral program I realized the importance of publishing academic articles, but I never really committed to it, I was focused on my dissertation which I managed in 4 years from start to finish. So I was never into the article publishing game; I tried a couple of times but halfheartedly…

Then life happened, and I did not worry too much about it, oh and Covid, and so on. Once settled in Florida, alone, in the long winter nights, I actually hammered out an article! When I mentioned it to Irene, my dissertation director, she liked it! and recommended I submit it to Romance Notes academic literary journal…

And they accepted it.

And it was just published!

What is it about?

Remember that Francisco de Isla wrote a scathing satire of 18th Century Spanish preachers: Fray Gerundio de Campazas? The moment it was published it sold out -literally overnight- but as was to be expected, the novel rubbed some people the wrong way and it was denounced to the Inquisition.

The article deals with the letters that Isla wrote in defense of his work. And that is where it gets fun: it is not so much a defense, as an attack on the fellow who filed the complaint of Fray Gerundio to the Inquisition.

You can find the article following this citation, and if you do not have access to academic databases and still want to read it, reach out on the comments and I will get you a copy.

Balsón, Antonio. “La Apología por la historia de Fray Gerundio de Campazas de Francisco de Isla. La anfibología como arma secreta.” Romance Notes 62.3 (2022): 419-429.

Here is the abstract (oh, FYI its in Spanish):

La Apología por la historia de Fray Gerundio es la defensa de Francisco de Isla contra la denuncia presentada por Fray Pablo de la Concepción, superior general de los Carmelitas Descalzos, ante el Tribunal de la Inquisición contra La Historia de Fray Gerundio de Campazas, alias Zotes. Fray Gerundio se publicó en Madrid el 21 de febrero de 1758 y fue un éxito rotundo. La reacción de los predicadores fue instantánea y, no queriendo ser tildados de “Gerundios”, empezaron a predicar sus sermones en un lenguaje más claro y sencillo. Cuatro días después de su publicación, de la Concepción, presentó su denuncia del Gerundio ante el Tribunal de la Inquisición. Isla rebatió la denuncia escribiendo cuatro cartas que se convirtieron en la Apología por la historia de Fray Gerundio. La Apología es una obra típicamente isliana en su retorica combativa. Isla utiliza todos los recursos aprendidos durante su larga carrera literaria, para defender su obra y usa un ataque minucioso para desglosar la totalidad de la denuncia, aunque finalmente fuese en vano, y la novela best seller del siglo dieciocho fuese prohibida. Una de las claves para entender la Apología reside en el uso de la anfibología por parte de Isla. El doble entendre ilumina la Apología como arma ofensiva más que defensiva. Esta obra, como la mayoría de las obras de Isla con la excepción del Gerundio, ha tenido mínima repercusión crítica y académica.

La apologia por la Historia de FG

Saying farewell is hard. Fr. George and emotional healing.

“Goodbyes are only for those who love with their eyes. Because for those who love with heart and soul there is no such thing as separation.”


Life is a story, a narrative, with a beginning and an end, and in between (hopefully) many chapters, some longer and some shorter. When a chapter finishes, or is left unfinished, it is emotional. It is emotional because you are back to a blank page, you can start a new chapter -you should start a new chapter.

Saying goodbye is a process shared by all humanity, the emotions that we share when we say farewell. Books, films, plays, operas, ballets, songs, poems (especially poems), you name it, have been devoted to saying goodbye, how we deal with it, how we process, the whole messy procedure. And here is the space for magic to happen in the space left by the person who has left. As you let go of the person leaving, you are on the threshold, you are now open to growth, to seeing what you can take from the friendship, or whatever it was, and make yourself a better person, a more understanding person. Or you can become bitter and insecure.

It is in these transitional moments of our lives that authentic transformation can happen. Otherwise, it is just business as usual and an eternally boring, status quo existence. 

Richard Rohr

From family members, to loved ones, friends that sometimes you love as much as family, or even someone you have recently met but with whom you connected with, and everybody in between. Saying goodbye is hard.

The key word there is connection; the moment you share, you laugh, you cry, everything forms a connection with the other person.

Fr. George generously invited me to go paddle boarding with him last Fall, it became a bit of a tradition, going out early in the morning for an hour or so, and then getting a coffee at Willy Cafe before heading to work. We connected. Now he is leaving our school and going back to Orlando. As a proper surfer, Fr. George is known to wear Hawaiian shirts when not in his clerics; The other day, to celebrate him, we all agreed to wear Hawaiian shirts in his honor, it was fun and moving at the same time!

Words are so clumsy at explaining the feelings, the void left in your heart when someone leaves, dies, ghosts you, whatever.

Of the many, many words to express goodbyes, I like Rumi’s quote at the top and this poem a lot. What are your favorite farewell songs, poems, books? Let me know in the comments.

[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]

E. E. Cummings

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in

my heart)i am never without it(anywhere

i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done

by only me is your doing,my darling)

                                                      i fear

no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want

no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)

and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant

and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows

(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud

and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows

higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)

and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

Pancreatic Cancer Action Network PanCAN

Luciano Pavarotti, Steve Jobs, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Aretha Franklin, Patrick Swayze, Joan Crawford, Dizzy Gillespie, Alex Trebek. What do these people have in common with my father?

They all died of pancreatic cancer.

My father died in 2015, so when an opportunity arose a few months ago to volunteer at the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network PanCAN, I signed up.

The purpose of PanCAN is to help folks with pancreatic cancer. We sponsor researchers and doctors, clinical studies, and then we help divulge the findings and help patients:

Our mission is to take bold action to improve the lives of everyone impacted by pancreatic cancer by advancing scientific research, building community, sharing knowledge, and advocating for patients.

PanCan Mission Statement

PanCAN’s main event is a 5k fundraising event held across the US on the 29th of April. There was a lot of preparation involved in organizing the event. I drove to the Burt Aaronson Park in Boca Raton on the Friday before the event to help set up.

I returned on Saturday to see thousands of people signed up to do the walk -and more importantly, to fundraise. The event was an enormous success. I spent all morning running around getting this, helping with that, bringing something to someone, setting it up, breaking down, cheering walkers, staffing the Photo Booth, etc. it was exhausting but extremely rewarding!

I cannot wait to start helping with next year’s walk!

Oh, if I have inspired you to donate or to explore this further, click here! Thanks!

The awesome band!