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Category: FEMA

Enlightened Ancestor: Dr. Benjamin West

I can thank my migraines for Dr. Benjamin West.

When I am anxious or don’t feel well, I often do genealogy research to take my mind off things. I have always enjoyed learning about family history, but really got bitten hard by the bug the first time I had cancer, in 1994. I was at home recuperating, on painkillers and other drugs that made concentrating difficult, and I found message boards on AOL that were all about genealogy. And my ancestors were there! I connected with some very distant cousins and compared notes. I started learning more and more about my origins.

It occurs to me that we are all the products of our parents, who are the products of their parents, who were the products of theirs, and so on. Our parents don’t just pass genetics on to us. Even when we disagree about things like politics or religion or how to raise our children, the values of our parents are distilled into us, just like the values of their parents were distilled into them. We find that professions tend to run in families -a  certain branch of the family may tend to be lawyers, writers, preachers, doctors, architects, artists, military, etc.

An obituary notice in a newspaper from 1822 led me to him. He was named as the father of one of my 5th great-grandmothers, a woman whose origins were completely unknown to me before that moment.  The man was phenomenal, and I don’t understand why every generation after him hasn’t continued to hold him up as the pinnacle of the Enlightenment. This guy’s brain was so huge and active I don’t know how it managed to stay confined in his skull.

benj-west

Benjamin West, from the Brown University Portrait Collection

Benjamin West was born in Bristol, Massachusetts in March 1730. I think of him as the Stephen Hawking of his day. His accomplishments in math and science are truly remarkable because he was an autodidact – his formal schooling lasted a whopping three months of his childhood. He was poor and had to borrow every book he read until about 1758, when he managed to find some backers to open a dry goods store. A couple of years later, he opened the first bookstore ever to grace the commercial avenues of Providence, Rhode Island. He managed to pay for the books he so desperately wanted by selling them to other people.

He married Elizabeth Smith, daughter of Benjamin Smith, in 1753 when he was 23.  They were married for 53 years and had eight children, only three of whom survived Benjamin. The 1822 death notice for his daughter, Mary Smith West (wife of Oliver Pearce), in a Providence newspaper, alerted me to him. The death notice that mentioned her father was “Dr. Benjamin West of Providence.” Mary West Pearce died in Fayetteville, NC. Her daughter, Eliza West Pearce, married Dr. Benjamin Robinson, that guy from Vermont who tested out that newfangled smallpox vaccine on his little brother and his brother’s friends and basically got run out of Bennington for his efforts. The science is strong in my family!

Benjamin West was a brilliant mathematician and astronomer. His buddies were the founders of Rhode Island College, which later became Brown University. He loved mathematics and astronomy, and conferred with some truly fantastic minds of his day. He published annual almanacs for Halifax, Nova Scotia and Providence, Rhode Island for nearly 40 years. He didn’t have the formal schooling necessary for good academic chops, though, and before he opened that dry goods and book store, he failed at operating a school. He tutored students privately for all of his adult life.

Astronomical Genius

In 1766, something would happen that ultimately would reverse his fortunes and open some gilded doors for him. A comet appeared in the constellation of Taurus on the evening of April 9. Being a good astronomer, Benjamin took careful measurements. The next day wrote a letter to an astronomer named John Winthrop who was at Cambridge College (now known as Harvard University). He had never met or corresponded with Winthrop, but was so excited about his observation he simply had to share it.

Providence, April 10, 1766

Dear Sir:

For the improvement of science, I now acquaint you, that the last evening, I saw in the West, a comet, which I judged to be about the middle of the sign of Taurus; with about 7 degrees North latitude. It set half after 8 o’clock by my watch; and its amplitude was about 29 or 30 degrees. Nothing, Sir, could have induced me to this freedom of writing to you, but the love I have for the sciences; and I flatter myself that you will, on that account, the more readily overlook it.

I am, Sir, yours,

Benjamin West

He and Winthrop became great friends and continued to write each other. For the rest of their lives they would share observations about the night sky.

1769 Transit of the Planets

Johannes Kepler and Edmund Halley figured out how to apply the theory of parallax to determine the distances between astronomical bodies.  With both Mercury and Vanus predicted to pass between the Earth and the Sun in 1769, astronomers world-wide were anxious to test the theory . Since this was the first really good opportunity to view the transits of both inner planets since Kepler’s original accurate prediction in 1627 of the 1631 transit, everyone in the field of astronomy was excited. Captain Cook would famously observe the 1769 transit of Venus from Tahiti while on his ill-fated circumnavigation and while bringing European diseases and disharmony to the South Pacific. At the time of the last transit of Venus in 1761, Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon, who had just finished their survey of the boundary between Pennsylvania and Maryland, had traveled to the Cape of Good Hope to observe it. All of these men used astronomy as an important part of their lives – navigating the oceans and surveying the land required precise measurements, and measurements started with the stars.

benjamin-wests-1769-telescope

Telescope used by Benjamin West, at Providence, Rhode Island, to observe the 1769 transit of Venus. Ladd Observatory, Brown University

There was no telescope in Providence in 1769. Benjamin West, Stephen Hopkins (the signer of the Declaration and great-grandson of the Mayflower passenger) and the Brown brothers – founders of Rhode Island College, later known as Brown University – were determined to see the phenomenon, though, so they managed to import a telescope from England at the incredible expense of 500 pounds.  They set up on the outskirts of Providence. Transit Street in Providence is named after the spot where they viewed the transit on June 3, 1769. There are photos of the telescope on the Brown University website – the school still has it.

benjamin-wests-diagram-of-the-1769-transit-of-venus

Benjamin West’s diagram of the transit of Venus, 1769, from the Ladd Observatory, Brown University

As was his habit, Benjamin West made careful measurements of the transit. He published a tract (and dedicated it to his friend Stephen Hopkins) about the event. A copy of the tract made its way to John Winthrop at Harvard, and on July 18, 1770, Benjamin West – the man with only three months of formal education – was awarded an honorary Master of Arts from Harvard. Here’s the text of the notification letter from John Winthrop:

Cambridge, July 19, 1770

Sir —

I have the pleasure to acquaint you that the government of this college were pleased, yesterday, to confer upon you the Honorary degree of Master of Arts; upon which I sincerely congratulate you. I acknowledge the receipt of your favour, and shall be glad to compare any observations of the satellites.

Yours, &c.

John Winthrop

 

American Academy of Arts and Sciences: the American Philosophical Society

That same year, Benjamin West was unanimously elected to membership in the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia – the American colonial version of Great Britain’s Royal Society. He would meet another author and publisher of almanacs there: a fellow named Benjamin Franklin.

Benjamin West was still primarily a merchant at this time, and the Revolution was on its way. When full-blown war finally arrived, commerce dried up. He went to work manufacturing clothing for the American troops. He continued his studies and his correspondence with the other great minds, though.

Mathematics was Benjamin’s first love. In 1773 he wrote to a friend in Boston of a theorem he had developed to extract “the roots of odd powers” that was probably his greatest contribution to the field of mathematics. That’s right – he discovered a math formula that I can’t even begin to hope to understand, but other really smart people who could math really well understood it and lauded him for it. When he finally explained his theorem to other math geniuses in 1781, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences not only published it in one of their earliest journals, but unanimously elected him to membership and awarded him a diploma. It was his second honorary academic degree, and he still supported by only three months of formal education. The theorem caught the attention of the European mathematical geniuses, who, giddy with discovery, also published it. Benjamin West, already pretty cool, became seriously hot stuff.

He didn’t stop at math and astronomical observations, though. One of the biographies I found explained a physics problem he cogitated upon for more than two years in conjunction with John Winthrop and a Mr. Oliver. It had to do with the properties of air in a copper tube that was then put into an otherwise airless container. The qualities of invisible gases – basically, the scientific understanding of the very concept of the physical nature and properties of “air” – was in its infancy. Our ancestor speculated about the attractive and repulsive nature of the tiny particles that made up the matter of air – what we now call its molecules – and how they would behave under different conditions. Gravity, matter, magnetism, and ultimately the behavior of the tails of comets played into his understanding of the question. This is stuff my brain simply isn’t big enough to handle.

Benjamin West’s mind was at the peak of its illuminating brilliance as the world around him heaved. His most important discoveries and writings happened as the American Revolution was about to explode.  By the end of the Revolution he had returned to academic pursuits. He tutored students in math and astronomy. He still wasn’t rich; despite his prominence in academics he never became particularly wealthy. The well-endowed founders of what would become Brown University had not forgotten their friend, though. In 1786, he was elected to a full professorship there.

For some reason he did not begin teaching at Brown for a couple of years. Probably because of his honors and his friendship with Ben Franklin and the rest of the gang at the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia, Benjamin West was invited to teach at the illustrious Protestant Episcopal Academy there. The name of that school is familiar to members of my father’s family.  Although Benjamin West was the direct ancestor of my Arkansas-born mother, my dad, an Irish-Italian kid who grew up in the Philly suburb of Gladwyne, went to school at Philadelphia’s Episcopal Academy while his dad coached its sports teams. (Insert refrain from “Circle of Life” here.)

Brown University awarded Dr. West his first non-honorary degree, his Doctor of Laws, in 1792. He taught mathematics and astronomy there from 1788 until 1799. Then he opened a school of navigation and taught astronomy to seafaring men. Like Carl Sagan and Neil deGrasse Tyson, this man loved to teach other people the wonders of the universe.

I’m proud of him for another reason, too: Benjamin West was a member of an active abolitionist group in Providence.

I’ve found several contemporary biographical accounts for Benjamin West. They are typical of their time: purple prose and flowery metaphors abound. They all reach one conclusion: Benjamin West was a genius. He was a determinedly self-educated man who contributed considerably to the arts of science and mathematics during his lifetime. He was truly a product of the Age of Enlightenment: a self-educated, self-made man whose gifts and prominence considerably exceeded his bank account.

This discovery of my ancestor Benjamin West is exactly why genealogy research is so rewarding. And given the anxiety-provoking events of November 8, I expect to be doing a lot more of it – in between my stepped-up schedule of political activities, that is.

______

Bibliography:

American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Book of Members  (2016 edition), p. 252. Entry for Benjamin West, elected 1781, Fellow. Residence and Affiliation at election: Providence, RI. Career description: Astronomer, Educator, Businessperson, Book of Members; American Academy of Arts & Sciences, American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Leonard Bliss, The History of Rehoboth, Bristol County, Massachusetts:  Comprising a History of the Present Towns of Rehoboth, Seekonk, and Pawtucket, From Their Settlement to the Present Time (Boston:  Otis, Broaders, and Company, 1836). Google Books

Bloomsbury Encyclopedia of the American Enlightenment, Entry for Benjamin West (1730-1813), pp. 1096-1097. https://books.google.com/books?id=qZ2yBwAAQBAJ&lpg=PA1096&dq

Louise Hall, “Family Records: Newby Bible”, New England Historical and Genealogical Register 122 (Apr 1968):  125-128, 125.

Martha Mitchell, “Benjamin West”, Encyclopedia Brunoniana (1993). https://www.brown.edu/Administration/News_Bureau/Databases/Encyclopedia/search.php?serial=W0170

John Chauncey Pease, John Milton Niles, A Gazetteer of the States of Connecticut and Rhode-Island:   (Hartford:  William S. Marsh, 1819), 331-333. Biographical entry for Dr. Benjamin West.  Google Books.

Unattributed, “Biography of Benjamin West, L.L.D.  A.A.S.:  Professor of Mathematicks, Astronomy and Natural Philosophy, in Rhode Island College – and Fellow of the Philosophical Society of Philadelphia, &c.”, The Rhode Island Literary Repository Vol I, No. 7 (October 1814):  137-160 (337-360), http://books.google.com/books?id=HLQRAAAAYAAJ.  Google Books.

Benjamin West Papers; Rhode Island Historical Society Library, 121 Hope Street
Providence, RI 02906. http://www.rihs.org/mssinv/Mss794.htm.

Catholicism – WOW!

Jack, my 15 year old son, and I were watching Dogma the other day. You know, the Kevin Smith classic where George Carlin, as Cardinal Glick, rolls out a kinder, gentler Catholicism and its new front man, “Buddy Christ.” Naturally it made me think about other changes the Catholic Church has made recently. I initiated yet another theological conversation with my favorite Scion.

“Did you hear, Jack? Limbo’s gone.”

“What do you mean, gone? What happened to it?”

“The Vatican abolished it.”

“Abolished it? Just like that? How? I mean, I thought it was, like, dogma!”

“It says in this article that ‘Limbo has never been defined as church dogma and is not mentioned in the current Catechism of the Catholic Church, which states simply that unbaptized infants are entrusted to God’s mercy.’ So I guess Limbo was just policy.”

“So how does the Church have the authority to abolish Limbo? That would seem to be under the jurisdiction of God to do.”

“Well, according to the articles I read, it seems that the Church was really just wrong about Limbo existing in the first place. It never really was there.”

“I thought the Church was infallible.”

“The Pope is infallible. The Church, well, like the Muse and the Apostle say here in Dogma, there was the silent consent to the slave trade, and the Church’s platform of non-involvement during the Holocaust. Protestants were condemned to Hell until the 1960’s when the Church made an exception to heresy. And there’s the whole usury thing, too. Mistakes have been made.”

“Other than the unbaptized babies, who was in Limbo?”

“Um, I think anyone who would have gone to Heaven but wasn’t baptized. You know, the people who qualified except for the technicalities. Pre-Christian Jews. Pagans. Good Buddhists.”

“Does that mean that if I live a good life and do right, but don’t go to Church or anything, that I still go to Heaven?”

I rolled my eyes. “The notion was that only those who didn’t get the chance to know about Christianity would go to Limbo. It wasn’t fair to send them to Hell since they didn’t know, but they can’t get to Heaven except through Christian beliefs. So you have to toe the line.”

“Okay, so, now that Limbo doesn’t exist, and apparently never did, what happened to the souls the Chruch thought were warehoused there?”

I checked the article I had seen on the internet. “Hmmm. I’m not sure, and evidently the Church isn’t, either. It says here that ‘the carefully worded document from the Vatican’s International Theological Commission stops short of certainty in this regard, arguing only that there are “serious theological and liturgical grounds for hope,” rather than “sure knowledge.”‘ That really doesn’t say much, now does it?”

“So what about all the souls in Limbo?”

“I don’t know. Maybe they can go to Heaven now. And the good news is that from now on there’s no waiting. Unbaptized babies who die can go straight to heaven.”

“Man, I bet the people who had to spend all that time there are pissed about that.”

“Why?”

“It’s like doing time. Paying dues. They had to do their time in Limbo with no hope of ever getting out, and now the new guys get to go straight to Heaven. They get a free ride, without the Guantanamo-like experience the old guys had.”

“Guantanamo?”

“Yeah. You know, those guys in Guantanamo have no idea when or if they’ll ever get out. So if we have another war and suddenly they are freed and the new POWs we get are repatriated without the wait as soon as the President announces ‘Mission Accomplished’ – and are designated POWs without the ‘enemy combatant’ BS – the Guantanamo guys will be pissed off.”

“I hadn’t thought about it in quite those terms.”

“And Mom, what if the Church is wrong about this, too? They abolish Limbo but God still won’t let the innocents into Heaven since they weren’t baptized? I mean, what if the policy really isn’t changed and the Church didn’t get the right memo?”

“Well, son, I guess those souls will have to go somewhere. I just don’t know where.”

“You know, the government still has a lot of empty FEMA trailers… I bet souls don’t take up too much room.”

“How many souls do you think would fit in a single trailer?”

“I don’t know. Is it anything like how many angels fit on the head of a pin? I mean, they aren’t, like, substantial or anything.”

“Hmmm. And I suppose they won’t exactly eat a lot, either. Jack, I think you’re on to something.”

Earth Day 2007

Since April 22 falls on Sunday this year, and all good Bible Belters are in church even if they subsist on wheat germ and granola, they had the big First Annual Earth Day Extravaganza down at the William Jefferson Clinton Presidential Library a day early this year.

Bill wasn’t going to be there so I saw no need to attend. It wasn’t a command performance for us former interns. Anyway, Hillary seems to be wearing the pants in the family these days. Oh, who am I kidding? She always did. Bill couldn’t keep his up.

There. The requisite Bill-and-Hill-bashing is done and out of the way. Whose thunder did I steal?

Let me just say that the festivities at the Inconvenient-Truth-Al-Gore-Was-My-Veep Presidential Library were remarkable. In fact, they were so remarkable I’m about to embark upon remarking on them right here in my very own blog, for all the world to behold. According to the Clinton Foundation, it was a “carbon-neutral event,” whatever that means. I guess they ate their hot dogs raw, since cooking them over an open flame meant releasing CO2 into the air, and even microwaving them would use energy derived from some polluting source.

About noon yesterday I was getting my pearl necklace (from the jewelry store – get your sick minds out of the gutter – I’m a Virgin, dammit) when another customer mentioned that she was heading downtown for the event. Not because she believed in global warming or anything, she assured us. “I just like to watch those hippies dance around. They just look so funny.” She giggled in that cute, helium-brained way certain women of melanin-challenged hair have.

I stood there in my socially conscious and politically correct hand-batiked cotton sun dress made by some woman in an unpronounceable third world village and sold to the rich (all things are relative) American for about ten times her annual income. Wait a minute, I thought. I used to be one of those hippies!

After my freshman year in college I lived in a co-op called Peace House. We operated a soup kitchen once a week for all two of the homeless people in Hamilton, New York. (They were students who were crashing in someone else’s dorm room for the semester.) We knew people in the Peace Corps and people who played sitars; we wore organic skirts and were interested in other organic things that I won’t discuss in detail in a public forum, even if the statute of limitations has run.

We had no knowledge of AIDS or global warming back then, but we wanted the CIA out of Nicaragua and we were utterly appalled that an actor was in the White House. I finally managed to get a bit jaded on the whole shtick when the student who led the soup kitchen’s weekly bread-baking marathon said, in my hearing, “I love minorities. They’re such colorful people.” She was dead serious. And she was a brunette. GAH!

Social and political issues were important to me when I was 19. They still are. And there few things more important, socially or politically, than our continued social and political existence.

Yes, that statement has to do with Earth Day.

Before anyone reminds me that earth’s climate has changed in the past and will change in the future, let me go ahead and say it myself: the average temperature on our planet has been both much colder and much warmer than it is now.

But something different is happening. Something the scientific community is screaming about. While there are those in the scientific community who disagree, the overwhelming majority are in accord: Global warming is real, and it is caused in considerable part by us, and it is happening at a rate faster than climate change has ever occurred in the history of our planet.

The cataclysms thought to have caused the mass extinctions in the past – at the end of the Devonian Period, when most species on the planet disappeared, and the end of the Cretaceous (the K-T extinction), when the non-avian dinosaurs died – caused massive climate change. Yes, climate change caused by an event of apocalyptic proportions is believed to have been instrumental in those mass extinctions.

In 1998 the American Museum of Natural History issued a press release regarding the results of a survey of biologists pertaining to global climate change and the continuation of life as we know it. It stated in part:

The survey reveals that seven out of ten biologists believe that we are in the midst of a mass extinction of living things, and that this loss of species will pose a major threat to human existence in the next century.

According to these scientists’ estimates, this mass extinction is the fastest in Earth’s 4.5-billion-year history. Unlike prior extinctions, this so-called ‘sixth extinction’ is mainly the result of human activity and not natural phenomena.

The American Museum of Natural History is not prone to histrionics. When 70% of the people who study life say that it is disappearing at such a phenomenally rapid rate, and that human abuse of the planet is the main reason, it seems to me to be a wake-up call.

Climate change and extinctions go hand in hand.

What is causing the climate change? It’s not just fossil fuels. It’s deforestation, both of temperate and of rain forest. It’s water pollution. It’s surface mining. It’s planting crops and digging them up and wiping the dirt clear of brush and planting a crop again. It’s the way we abuse our planet.

Two weeks ago the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report that was unequivocal: human activity is a significant contributor to global climate change, and it may well kill us all. Hundreds of scientists from all over the world participated in the studies on which the IPCC report was based. I strongly encourage anyone who cares about this issue one way or another to read the report.

The IPCC report wasn’t released when it was supposed to be. There was political maneuvering as to how to word the report. Who was doing this political games playing? Not the scientists who composed the report. The scientists were outraged that some of the the governments involved were “watering down their warnings.” Specifically, diplomats from China and Saudi Arabia demanded that the authors reduce the confidence level they said they had in the report’s conclusions. In other words, these two countries did not want the warnings to be as dire as the scientists believed they should be.

What a travesty for politicians to dictate scientific conclusions.

The report says that if things continue at their current levels, by 2020 global temperatures will rise one degree Celsius or 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit. That doesn’t seem like much until we understand that one-sixth of the world’s population will be affected by widespread famine and lack of water.That’s a billion or more people. By 2050, fully a third of the population of the planet will be in these famine conditions, and fresh water will be even scarcer. Twenty to thirty percent of the species on the planet will become extinct. According to the report, the estimates of one degree Celsius over the incremental periods of time are conservative estimates. The third world human populations will be hit hardest by the temperature increase. Equatorial countries will see their fresh water supplies dry up even as more temperate countries reap the benefits of longer growing seasons.

We can’t stop global warming. It is a crisis, and we as a species will have to adapt. It won’t be pretty.

The Bush administration has steadfastly maintained its ostrich-like response to this crisis, as it has to other scientific matters. Perhaps when ostriches and bushes of all varieties become extinct, whomever among us is left will pull our heads from the sand to see a vast desert not unlike Mars. At least at the equator. The populations of coastal cities in temperate zones, which will be flooded much like New Orleans was after Katrina, will have to cope, too.

I just hope when that coastal flooding happens, FEMA doesn’t commandeer back the trailers we’re using for dorm rooms at the Virgin Training School. Now that would be a catastrophe.

Wench’s Virgin Training School – Again

I am thrilled to report that Wench’s Virgin Training School is quite popular. Enrollment numbers are quite encouraging and the Camel Endowment is quite large. Ahem.

Please allow me to make a full report to our Trustees, Students and Sponsors.

In just three months of operation, the school has enrolled 19 female revirgination candidates. They are, in order of enrollment, KimberKat, Cyndi, Lisa, Silly, Sue, Sherry, Shira, Catherine,Blue, DWMeowMix, SweetP, Selinda, Gypsy Firecracker, Lia, Susan, Jen, Cherish, Bobbie-Lynn, and Melissa.

We are still waiting for 7 more students: Free, Juls, Red Carol, Tricia, Superbitch, JeniT, and Nancy . You may remember that these potential virgins were contacted by either Habib Aktar or Hachbar Vinmook (and maybe by both) to be members of their harems. Their admissions applications have been approved but they have not yet picked up their copies of Virgins for Dummies or the Pop-Up Kama Sutra, nor have they appeared for class. If anyone knows where these truants are, please have them report to me immediately.

We have a Winter Dance coming up soon. We couldn’t have a Christmas Dance because…well, Hachbar and Habib don’t exactly celebrate Christmas. We need volunteers to decorate the gym with the appropriate tissue garlands, incense burners, and silk rugs. One exciting feature of the Winter Dance will be the BookChick, Cyndi’s exhibition performance of the Dance of the Seven Veils. She is our Dance Instructor, and classes in both “Advanced Seven Veils” and “Belly Dancing 101″ are being offered in the spring term. (“Seven Veils” will only be available with Instructor permission based upon an audition, as “Belly Dancing 101″ is a prerequisite for it.)

We’re going to have a fundraiser and sell chocolate bars and gift wrap. It is necessary for the school to raise enough money to repurchase Ohio. Our dear friend and champion, OhBilly, traded Ohio for the honor and virtue of one of our students when Habib had her on the run. Also, Basser has passed me a letter from the National Security Advisor that if we do not reinstate Ohio soon, Habib may be considered a terrorist for having caused Ohio to secede from the Union involuntarily. We have to buy back Ohio, and that may take a little doing. Texas was also traded for one of our students, but apparently the government doesn’t much care about that.

We have a special ed student, proving the accepting and inclusive nature of Wench’s Virgin Training School. Sherry’s 504 plan is in place, and Mad Diane LeDeux,, who is our Flogger of Recalcitrant Virgins, handles special education instruction at Wench’s Virgin Training School. Unfortunately, Mad Diane has had to wield her whip a few times. We are sad to report that we do have disciplinary issues with some students. Shira is in the habit of sleeping behind her veil and Silly keeps showing up for class naked. For some reason Mad Diane is particularly enthusiastic about Silly’s floggings.

In a related matter, Blue has asked about cuff and stick training. It has been determined that this class shall be an elective for advanced students, except for those who Mad Diane believes need the extra discipline. Mad Diane will be the class’s instructor, of course.

Hachbar has become quite a benefactor for Wench’s Virgin Training School. I am pleased to report that he compensated me with much livestock and health insurance. Because of his generosity, I am able to concentrate on the school full time.

Hachbar also wants to sponsor a new building on the campus of Wench’s Virgin Training School. He has directed that all virgins shall use their feminine wiles to lure contractors to build the new school. This will indeed be a test of our revirgination program because of course, the contractors will not be allowed to touch the virgins. Hachbar has decreed that the penalty for touching virgins is death by camel humpy. What Hachbar doesn’t know won’t hurt him, though. If virgins get touched, all they have to do is go back to Virgins for Dummies, Lesson 1, and start the revirgination program all over again.

Habib has not been seen around the school very much. Hachbar informs us that Habib had a delicate operation called an “addadictomy.” I thought all that facial hair was proof certain that Habib already had a Y-chromosome, but Hachbar insists that Habib was missing from many of the opening festivities of the school because of that surgical procedure. Habib hotly denies this, and we can certainly understand why he might be a bit embarrassed about it. One simply does not discuss one’s elective cosmetic or prosthetic surgeries in polite company.

Shortly after Wench’s Virgin Training School opened, we received a dire warning from Basser.It seems that US intelligence operatives somehow got the idea that our school is an Arab Training Camp! According to Basser, Homeland Security was tipped off by an undercover inside informant. Homeland Security has now put the country on Yellow Alert because of this misinformation. Navy SEALs stealthily infiltrated the bushes behind the school and began monitoring us. When they saw Silly was naked, they even began filming!

Homeland Security was disturbed primarily by the fact that because so many women were attending revirginification classes, men could get drunk in bars with no worries about a phone calls demanding they come home. For some reason Homeland Security considers this a national threat beyond even Bill Gates running for president.

The government is now closely watching the school’s banks accounts, activities of students and instructors that occur outside the school, our cable TV bills (searching for naughty pay-per-views, I suppose), breast exam results, and so forth. Under the Patriot Act, the government has access to everyone who deals with us and our virgins. Despite my best legal wrangling with the government’s dark-suited men with their dark glasses and their dark SUVs with the dark-tinted windows, the Patriot Act allows them to violate our rights anytime they want by claiming it is in the best interest of the government. They have specifically asked that our gynecologists check us for Arab intrusion and that our hair stylists check us for fleas. As headmistress of Wench’s Virgin Training School, I find this highly insulting.

What’s even more insulting is the intimation that the government thinks that there are spitters here at our school. Basser said that the SEALs objected to the camels, which stink and spit, and advised me that Navy Men do not like spitters. I was quick to inform Basser that so far as I am aware, the camels are the only spitters at this school, and the Navy men just need to stop playing with the camels. The lip gloss gets in their fur and makes it difficult for Lou’s crew of camel jockeys to groom.
The problem was rectified very quickly, though, when we got use of the FEMA trailers still languishing at Hope, Arkansas (just a few miles down the road from where I live). David (that adorable green puppy!) Reminded us that the trailers were sitting there empty and unused, and naturally we had a great use for them while awaiting our expansion. Each virgin is now assigned a FEMA trailer when she arrives at school, and the Navy SEALs have graciously agreed to leave the bushes and stealth mode behind and take rotating shifts guarding our virgins! There are two SEALs to a virgin on each shift. This has been a great reassurance to Homeland Security and the safety of our virgins is guaranteed.

Before Silly gets too worried (I know she’s thinking about this), let me assure everyone that there is plenty of lip gloss. Our budget has ample funds set aside to purchase lip gloss in 55-gallon drums, and one drum will be placed in each FEMA trailer.

Initially we got wonderful financial advice from that scion of numbers, the Spy Man himself. Thanks to his input, we have established the prices we will charge for our virgins. A virgin in training will go for 6 camels (2 humps preferred), a 12 cup coffee maker, The Idiot’s Guide to Disarming Bombs, and a gift certificate from “BURQAS R US.” A graduate will cost 12 camels, 10 horses, a year’s supply of Glade room deodorizers, a Brookstone electric shaver with the body hair attachment, and an oil well producing at least 500,000 barrels a day.

Of course, Hachbar’s explanation of the livestock exchange rates was very helpful in establishing the virgin prices:

 

1 camel = 2 horses
1 horse = 2 sheep or goats
1 goat = 1 sheep
pig = worthless

 

I am sad to report, however, that Spy turned out to be a, well, an embezzler. I know, I know. It’s hard to believe. But shortly after publication of the last blog about the school, he bought an Aston Martin with school funds and headed to the casino in Monte Carlo. He assured me it was to increase our holdings and for marketing purposes, and he even took Silly with him, ostensibly for some undercover work. He left a note, which was found after his departure, that he had purchased a Walther PPK gun with Silencer for $650 and an $1,800 Hugo Boss Tuxedo. He wiped out the remaining funds in out bank account, leaving us with only 23 cents.

He abandoned the Aston Martin in Monte Carlo, apparently, because he took the company Lear jet back to the school. He dodged in and out under cover of darkness, I am sorry to say, and left another note. Our bank account was overdrawn by $150,000, and still he had the temerity to demand reimbursements for mini bar charges of $1,452; a cash advance at the Monte Carlo Casino of $72,000, and entertainment expenses of $33,400! And this was despite the fact that he had won $500,000 playing baccarat! I tell you, the NERVE of some people!

What’s worse is that he swiped money from the school’s coffers and wired it to the bank account of the Young Republicans. They called and thanked me, or I might never have known. I nearly died of embarrassment. Of all the organizations in all the world, he had to choose the Young Republicans! He is now officially known as ”Spy Non Grata,” if his name must be spoken at all. Please use his name sparingly in my presence as it makes my blood boil.

For every bad egg like Spy Non Grata, though, there is a good egg. Feudalserfer, my beloved friend and now my partner, has established the Satellite Academy. That’s right, Wench’s Virgin Training School has launched into space and a campus is now located on the moon! Legal aliens only may apply, though. We don’t want gate crashers.

A huge party in the Feud’s blog celebrated the grand opening in glorious style.

And speaking of blog parties, Billy’s Dusty Springfield Blog, the official 69 training ground for Virgins, has not seen a 69 since Christmas Eve. Ladies, if you want to be considered experts in 69, you had better get busy! I’m just sayin’….

The last official count, on December 12 at 7 a.m. Central Standard Time was:

 

  • Melissa in the lead with10, with #’s 369, 869, 1169, 1769, 1969, 2169, 2369, 2569, 2769, and 2869.
  • SweetP demonstrated her prowess with 7 glorious 69s. She stole #’s 269, 1069, 1269, 1369, 1469, 2069 and 2669.
  • Silly, the original 69er of the training blog, elegantly stealthed in for 5, #’s 69, 1569, 1669, 1869 and 2469.
  • I scored twice with #’s 169 and 769.
  • Susan captured #469 in a dazzling display of 69 activity.
  • Natalie showed that she is definitely not afraid to get her hands dirty with her procurement of #669.
  • Cherish showed great stamina and a truly adventurous nature in her grabbing of the only 69 worthy of being read the same either backward or forward. #969
  • And Sue bombarded the blog in an effort to grab 2269.


Billy, honey, can we get a current count?

Oh, and you don’t mind the Virgins using you to practice their 69 technique, now do you?

Disclaimer: Please note that all prices and exchange rates either expressed or implied are subject to change without notice. The Wench of Aramink reserves sole discretion in the adjustment, revocation, and/or evaluation of said prices and exchange rates. All sales are final; no refunds and no exchanges. Internet sales are subject to all applicable regional, national, and international laws and taxes. Paypal is accepted. Virgins may be traded on eBay. All transactions void where prohibited.

Further Developments for Wench’s Virgin Training School

Classes are forming and virgin trainees are lining up at the gates of Wench’s Virgin Training School!
I, Anne, Wench of Aramink, wish to extend a hale and hearty welcome to all of my students!

Please let me introduce you to the faculty:

SweetP, the undisputed Queen of 69, shall be teaching a class in – what else – 69! Retaining one’s virginity during 69s is of paramount importance for our virgins. SweetP’s qualifications are impeccable, seeing as how she got not one, not two, not three, not four, but FIVE 69’s on OhBilly’s Dusty Springfield blog! This woman is GOOD! We are so pleased to have her aboard! Her Teaching Assistant is none other than Melissa, who got three 69’s on the same blog.

CFBookChick, is chairman of our dance department. Her exhibition performance of the Dance of the Seven Veils is, of course, the industry standard. Belly dancing, pole dancing, and lap dancing are electives, but each virgin must reach mastery in at least one of these dance areas.

Mad Diane LeDeux, who is our Flogger of Recalcitrant Virgins, handles “special education” instruction at Wench’s Virgin Training School. Already Mad Diane has had to wield her whip a few times. We are sad to report that we do have disciplinary issues with some students. Shira is in the habit of sleeping behind her veil and Silly, keeps showing up for class naked. For some reason Mad Diane is particularly enthusiastic about Silly’s floggings.

Guy, High Priest of Meatloaf and proud owner of the famous Giant Cock, is in charge of Virgin Spiritual Studies. He definitely keeps our spirits high!

Ross D has generously offered his supervisory services for a laboratory practicum for aspiring virgins. The exact details of what will happen in these labs has not yet been revealed.

Queenie Beaudine will be in charge of Virgin Etiquette and Interpersonal Relations. Queenie comes to us quite experienced in the ways of behavior, having put up with her evil twin Cussy’s behavior since before birth. Students may have to bring dictionaries to class, though, because sometimes Queenie uses big words that are difficult to understand, even in context.

And now, a description of the facilities:

Despite Homeland Security’s accusations that the school is an Arab Training Camp, our Navy SEALs are quite devoted to us. Our SEALs, supervised by Basser, provide round-the-clock security in the bushes around the school, inside the FEMA trailers and on the way to and from classes. They make training films of our students and helpfully watch them over and over again to provide us with constructive criticism of our techniques. They even offer free breast exams to our Virgins. I believe that without exception the SEALs are one of the most popular and beloved aspects of Wench’s Virgin Training School!

Everyone is aware that the FEMA trailers left over from the Katrina SNAFU are at our disposal, thanks to David’s high-level government contacts in Hope, Arkansas. Each virgin has been assigned to a FEMA trailer and two of Basser’s Navy SEALs are with her at all times. The SEALs work in shifts, so each virgin actually has six SEALs for her pleasurable protection. These six SEALs are in addition to the numerous SEALs who keep the perimeter of the school secure and who are engaged in conducting breast exams at any given time.

The camels are being kept in a corral and I have plans to ask Lou, who has some experience with large beasts of burden, to be camelmaster. Lou, what do you say? Surely the transition from horses to camels won’t be too much of a challenge, will it?

Spy has offered his services in the realm of financial advice. Since Hachbar Vinmook posted the livestock exchange rate his accounting duties have been made considerably easier. Habib Aktar returned from his stay in the hospital (for the addadictomy) with a huge wad of cash in his pants – boy, was HE happy to see us! – which of course enriched us further. We have some problems with some of our assets, though, because it seems that both Ohio and Texas were at different points traded for virgins. Finding a place large enough to store two entire states has presented us with some difficulties, but I’m sure Spy has things worked out on the accounting side.

And, of course, the Curriculum:

There have been some modifications to the curriculum, and there are likely to be more as we obtain the services of new instructors in different disciplines. There are two required texts. The first text is “Virgins for Dummies.” As soon as that text has been completed, each Virgin begins intensive study of “The Pop-Up Kama Sutra.”

Certification of Revirginification is issued when the Virgin demonstrates mastery of all areas of study and passes her Orals.

Because this school is such a novel enterprise, all suggestions for the curriculum will be considered. Please advise the administration of any ideas you have.

Thank you for your support,

Anne, Wench of Aramink

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