Welcome to the Dog-Days of August!
Why this terminology?
This month is so named from Caesar Augustus, adopted son of Julius Caesar. We have always associated the month with heat and humidity and refer to this time of year as the “dog days of summer”.
Why dog days? Why not some other animal? As in Masonry, there exists history here. The concept dates back to Greek and Roman times. Originally, the days ran from July 24th through August 24th. It was thought that this was an evil time when the sea would boil, wine would turn sour and dogs would go mad. Disease would also be on the rise. (relevant to today?) The dates for this period vary somewhat, having the span as July 6th and ending September 5th. Regardless, it’s HOT and UNCOMFORTABLE.
As it turns out, the canine connection refers to Sirius (the Dog Star) in the constellation Canis Major (large dog). It is mentioned in Greek poetry as far back as 700 BC. At that time Sirius (the brightest star in the northern hemisphere) was seen to rise just before or at the same time as the sun. The problem here is that a little event, known as precession, has taken place. It seems that the Earth, as it orbits the sun, is not precisely upright but tilts slightly (23.5 degrees from absolute vertical). Neither the sun nor our moon like that and exert gravitational pull to try to correct our tilt. The result is a periodic (about every 26,000 years) wobble, which changes our perspective with respect to how we view the surrounding stars and constellations.
In other words Sirius (the Dog Star) is not there at or before sunrise anymore. Perhaps if the star, viewed by the ancients, had been Deneb in Cygnus, we would have the “Swan days of summer” instead.
In truth, the dog is a good metaphor for heat and humidity. Our friend, the dog, does not come with a huge supply of sweat glands…actually, none…hence, the panting.. The few present are sparse and are frequently covered with a thick coat of fur, which reduces their ability to regulate temperature. The most effective sweat glands old Fido(or in our case, my doodle-buddies, Ozzy and Jethro!) does have are found on the pads of his paws; but those don’t really help. The main mechanism for canine temperature control is the very visible panting we observe in our pets.
Please keep this in mind on hot and humid days, Brethren and Friends. Please be cognizant of how EASY it is for hyperthermia, or over-heating, so quickly occurs with our loving dogs…They cannot speak and let you know just how dangerous conditions might be for them; you push on, assuming they happen to be “A-OK”…We anthropomorphize, assigning “human” behaviors to non-human animals, and figure they’re feeling just fine, because their tails might be wagging. If you take a car ride with your dog and stop to shop, please do NOT leave your best friend in the car where the temperatures can rise very rapidly. Also be aware that if you walk your dogs in extreme heat, that the “pads” of their feet, unbeknownst to YOU, may exceed temperatures of 130 degrees! Not cool! So much for the heat itself. There also exists “applied science” for Masons and lay-persons as well:
What’s the lesson here for we Masons during these “dog days?” :
The Heat Hypothesis states that hot temperatures can increase aggressive motives and behaviors. Although alternative explanations occasionally account for some portion of the observed increases in aggression when temperatures are high, none are sufficient to account for most such heat effects. Hot temperatures increase aggression by directly increasing feelings of hostility and indirectly increasing aggressive thoughts.
“I pray thee, good Mercutio, let’s retire;
The day is hot, the Capulets abroad,
And, if we meet, we shall not ’scape a brawl,
For now, these hot days, is the mad
—William Shakespeare,Romeo and Juliet, Act 3, Scene 1
***Extracted From: Heat and Violence
Craig A. Anderson1
Department of Psychology, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa
As Masons, we must, as we are taught, exercise Temperance and Prudence—“Count to Three” before reacting harshly, especially when subjected to adverse environmental conditions, including, but certainly not limited to, high heat. We know that traffic, the economy, world-conflict, etc…challenges our daily transactions with Mankind. Let us always have the empathy I mentioned last month—remembering the “Golden Rule”…try a few “Acts of Kindness” :
Compliment someone, leave a treat for the mailman, buy a gift card for the person behind you in line, make baked goods for the neighbors, buy the person behind you coffee, smile at someone, donate unused toys to those in need, leave a 50% or more tip, babysit a neighbor, friend or family member, send a thank-you card to someone, give a dog treat to a dog on a walk, pay for a stranger’s meal, plant a flower or tree and watch it grow, say thank you and please more often, volunteer, open the door for someone , offer to do yard work for a neighbor, send a care package to a soldier, pick up trash, send a handwritten letter(not e-mail), leave change in a vending machine, let someone go before you in line pay someone an unsolicited compliment, buy groceries for a family in need, make breakfast for a family member or a friend, donate to charity ,give a teacher a thank-you gift, help someone elderly carry out their groceries, leave a bag of candy on a doorstep, prepare a meal for a needy family, donate outgrown clothes, help someone in need cross the street, plan a surprise party for someone, volunteer at a retirement home, host a free lemonade stand, hold the elevator, return a cart or unload someone’s groceries at Costco, do another family member’s chores, pay for someone’s bus/cab/Uber fare,…and these are but a few things you might be able to do, EVEN IN THE DOG-DAYS of August!
Freemasonry teaches not merely temperance, fortitude, prudence, justice, brotherly love, relief, and truth, but liberty, equality, and fraternity, and it denounces ignorance, superstition, bigotry, lust tyranny and despotism.
— Brother Theodore Roosevelt
CLEOPATRA’S NEEDLE :
“The Missing Link In Masonry”
Springfield Lodge No. 217 will present an amazing program prior to our August Stated on the 15th, open to ALL, including a 1/15 scale, constructed by late Brother Bruce Spangler…a model of an ancient Egyptian obelisk. The base of the obelisk contains what is considered to be ancient Masonic symbols. The symbols include a perfect white cube, a Master’s mark, square, and many others…placed there “purposefully”, well over 2000 years B.C. If you have never seen this thought-provoking presentation, it’s “must-see” Masonry—and it’s equally-awesome for our guests and non-Masonic friends!
The obelisk was constructed over 4,000 years ago and was transported to the United States in the 1870’s, from Heliopolis, Egypt, to New York City(Central Park). When being dismantled, the stones representing Masonic symbols were discovered. The program asks the question, “When did Freemasonry begin?”
The model is dismantled and the symbols shown and described. The program also describes the voyage of the obelisk and its erection in Central Park, New York City.
Masonry is considered an ancient fraternity. How ancient is it? Springfield Lodge No. 217’s program attempts to answer that question…join us for dinner and this renowned program!
Please check out the following site, at the URL: https://freemasonlifestyle.com/masonic-articles/2017/9/4/cleopatras-needle-a-link-to-the-ancient-builders
…for an intriguing background expose’ on Cleopatra’s Needle, and its ‘travels’ to NYC!
The August Stated dinner will be presented and hosted by our own International Order of the Rainbow for Girls, Quantico-Freedom Assembly No. 6, and we invite them to migrate to the lodge room with us to see “The Needle!” THANK YOU, Ladies and Advisors, in advance!
Last week, Brothers Bill Smith, Morgan Tolliver, and myself, sojourned down to the Masonic Home of Virginia, in Richmond, and had a wonderful tour and lunch of this amazing facility! I encourage each one of you to visit the Home. Not only is this one of our most important philanthropic Masonic duties here in JAL No. 350 and the rest of Virginia, but it serves a crucial and loving role in the lives of its residents in Central Virginia. I’ve including a ‘few’ of the hundred or so pictures of the “Crown Jewel of Virginia Masonry”, for your enlightenment and enjoyment!
The Brethren of John A. Lejeune No. 350 continue to work to improve the overall ‘physical structure’ of this nearly century-old building, and in that vein, given its age, we have a number of ongoing and future projects to do just that. Namely, we’ve contracted and have signed off on a project that will replace all the windows in the Lodge’s Fellowship Hall (“basement”/first floor), along with one of the large windows in the lodge room itself (allowing for egress and escape in case of fire), adjacent to the Treasurer’s Desk
Special thanks go out to the hard work of Brother Willie Woodson, who formulated 4 contracts on which to review, as well as our own Col. Bill Smith, our “Humble Treasurer”, who never ceases to amaze us all with his wisdom, fortitude, and zeal for doing the right thing in a timely, sensible manner! We are all so very lucky to have these fine Brothers amongst our Membership! Please come out to the next Stated (and subsequent meetings) and be part of the “legacy” that IS General John A. Lejeune.
On a related “Masonic” front, please join us on Friday, September 3rd, at 6:05 p.m., for a “Food, Fellowship, and Fun” night out at the Fredericksburg Nationals. We’ve reserved 30 spots for JAL “family” and friends. Please reserve your spots quickly, as I’ve already filled 16 of the 30. Anyone within the ‘sound of this mailing’ is heartily welcome to join us!!! We’ll be joined on the “First Base Line Party Porch” by a local Elks Lodge (quite an example of serendipity, unplanned)… which might very well lead to fellowshipping heretofore not seen. It should be a blast!
Welcome to the Dog-Days of August!