Sunday, November 27, 2011


As noted in an earlier piece, “Together forever” is written on the heart-shaped gold charm I gave my wife, Tina Su Cooper, for our 25th wedding anniversary June 2009. It’s a promise we will keep, as life and death allow. Two burial plots, side by side, have been reserved. One headstone will be used for the two of us. At the bottom, it will say, “Together forever.”


The topic of death and burial arose after another lovely “roll and stroll” near our lakeside country home in the park-like surroundings. I do not understand why it came up, but we agreed we liked the thought of resting side by side, “almost as though we are holding hands,” Tina said, much as we did when we could at Cornell, and --- much later --- when married. Hopefully, our souls would be reunited in heaven, as we are approximately equally Christian. If not, our graves would be markers, monuments, to our love.


I reminded Tina of a headstone I had seen in Ramsey,  NJ, a man’s tribute to his wife, “Pretty to talk with. Witty to talk with.”


“Am I witty?” she asked.

“Sometimes … especially if you extend ‘wit” from simply ‘humor’ to ‘intelligence' and ‘sense.’”


Then we got silly: “I told you I was sick.” “Should have called 911.” “Wrote: The Variable-Slit Impactor and Aerosol Size Distribution Analysis.” “Immobile” and “Immobile, too.” “Keep off the grass.”


She asked me whether she should commit suicide if I should die first. No, remember me and pray for me and live as long as you can. I will do the same for you.


It brings tears to my eyes now, but we are reassured by the plan: “Together forever,” come what may. No joke there.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


From Ting and I:

Tina and I thank the professionals at the Orange Regional Medical Center, Middletown, NY (Horton Campus), who have several times saved Tina’s life.

We thank Drs. A. Baradaran, P. Chidyllo, A. Fruchter, F. Guneratne, S. Koyfman, and R. F. Walker for their skilled assistance in preserving Tina’s life, as noted more fully in this book, during the post-hospitalization period. Dr. M. Kaplitt of N.Y. Presbyterian Hospital we thank for his brain-saving operation on me.

We also thank the nurses who have cared for Tina in our home, highly capable and caring women who have been committed to Tina’s good health and morale.

We have been fortunate to have IBM’s generous retiree medical benefits, which we appreciate. I had chosen to go to work for IBM partly for that reason.

Three of the four insurance companies who have been IBM’s agents in supporting Tina’s medical care, and my own, deserve our praise: John Hancock, Empire Blue Cross / Blue Shield, and United Healthcare.

For their contributions to the book, and their contributions to our lives, we thank the following specifically, and many others who have helped and encouraged us:

Family: Phil Chiang, Ted Chiang, Eugene Su, Priscilla Cooper, Diana Cooper, Cliff Cooper, and Chris Cooper.

Friends: Nancy Meisenzahl, Mary Kay Solera, Deanne Gebell Gitner, Judy Jayson Sonfield, Elaine Tashiro Gerbert, Wendy Loveless Garfein, Ruth Goldberg, Phil Nodhturft, Norman Wasserman, John Skoufis, Kathy Miscioscio.

Staff: Barbara George, Diane Beggin, Terry Bush, Kathy Karpiak, Angela Mullings, Kate Murphy, Dori Oskam, Audrey Pottinger, Maria Schmick, Michele Shehata, and Mary Wilkinson.

For permission to use their portrait of Tina from May 1967, we thank Bachrach Studios of Boston. For the excellent black-and-white portrait inspired by that photograph, we thank Mike Jaroszko of the Wallkill River School of Art.

Finally, the author is pleased to thank our friend and editor, Ellen Goldensohn, for her careful and intelligent editing of this work, a gift to both Tina and me.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Excellent quarter-hour talk by Simon Sinek. Viewed 3 million times thus far on

Great leaders focus on WHY, with HOW and WHAT following naturally.

The Wright brothers succeeded when better-funded competitors failed, because the brothers inspired their team with a VISION of powered flight, rather than seeking fame or money.

Inspire others by getting them to share your DESIRE / PURPOSE. The rest will follow.

Saturday, November 19, 2011


They don’t see her at the supermarket. Many neighbors have never seen her either. She’s not at multiple sclerosis patients’ support groups any more. Tina Su Cooper is almost the Invisible Woman.

Quadriplegic and nearly inseparable from her ventilator, Tina can be seen at various doctors’ offices a dozen times a year, and she goes to our polling place in November to vote. I help her make an “X.” The poll-workers greet her warmly, recognizing her, admiring her spirit. Born in China in 1944, Su Ting-ting became Tina Han Su and eventually Tina Su Cooper, my beloved wife. That story is told in our book, Ting and I: A Memoir of Love, Courage, and Devotion. Her patriotism is praised there, and part of her feeling for America is reflected in her determination to vote, when possible.

Tina is not quite invisible. She is also softly audible. Our nurses hold the phone for her when a call comes and dial for her when she wants to call out. Her most important statements are made to us at home:

“Thank you.”

“How are you? How are your children?”

“Have you eaten yet?”

“I love you.”

She is an inspiration to those who know her.

There must be many nearly invisible folk in America. One of our staff has a severely handicapped child whose usual day is: at home, on a bus, in a special school, back on the bus, and back home. On rare occasions he will visit other family members or they will visit him. If he goes with his mother to the supermarket, most people look away, producing another form of near-invisibility. The handicapped make some of us uncomfortable. What should we do? Should we help ? Should we give them the privacy of not staring at them? Do they remind us of a fate that could have been ours?

Unfortunately, the patients who most need help are often invisible to all but a very few. Tina cannot attend meetings. She cannot write articles, for several reasons. She can be the kindest, sweetest, dearest person I know. When she asked me to write about her, to write about us, I felt I had to. It would help make her much more visible.

Friday, November 18, 2011


Winter Issue, 2011. Fine presentation of what I originally entitled "Undefeated."

Ting and I


by Douglas Winslow Cooper

“Please, God, don’t let her die,” I prayed and pleaded as I walked our dog around our little lake in early March of 2004. Tina Su Cooper, my beloved wife, had been in a medically induced coma for a week in the Critical Care Unit of the Orange Regional Medical Center. She had a severe case of aspiration pneumonia, part of an MS exacerbation. The infection had spread throughout her body. She was not expected to live.


I had called the 911 emergency number near midnight the week before. Tina’s temperature was rising alarmingly fast. The EMTs got her to the Emergency Room twenty minutes before I arrived. She told them that she did not want any invasive procedures, no tubes down her throat, etc. I countermanded that, having her power of attorney and knowing that this was no time for fuzzy thinking. Her MS, especially when she was feverish, had diminished her cognitive abilities, which had earned her honors at Cornell and Harvard and an editorial position at the Encyclopedia Britannica.


“Do whatever you must to save her life,” I instructed the medical personnel. Thus began a one-hundred-day battle to keep Tina alive.


Later, when she was out of the coma but still near death, now quadriplegic, unable to speak due to an air tube that ran between her lips and down her throat, being fed intravenously, I asked her whether I had made the right choice, to take all steps needed to save her life. Yes, she nodded, emphatically, yes.


Our love story began in January 1963. Cornell University formed the beautiful backdrop for our romance. When Tina Su walked into the second semester of the language course I was taking, Chinese 102, I saw the incarnation of my feminine ideal: lovely, slender, soft-spoken, elegant without pretension, graceful. After a few “coffee dates,” I learned that this Chinese - American woman was also intelligent, learned, cheerful, talented, considerate, kind, and more than somewhat attracted to me, too. By Valentine’s Day, 1963, we were officially in love, “going steady.” That included going hand-in-hand together whenever and wherever we could. When it was cold, we would each shed one glove and share my coat pocket. We loved to walk and to talk, to hug and to kiss. Bliss.


She was a freshman and I was a junior. We had three glorious semesters left in which we fell even more deeply in love. Usually, a couple as old as we were would have become engaged to marry, perhaps soon after Tina had graduated. It had already become clear, however, that an interracial marriage would estrange Tina from her parents (as happened to her younger brother several years later). My own parents argued that such a marriage would bring added complications for ourselves and for any children we might have. Then, too, we were young, with little real experience in the adult world. Neither would want to have a wrong decision harm the other. We accepted parental persuasion and pressure and parted very sorrowfully when I graduated, in June of 1964. We each cried a lot that summer.


Tina’s parents arranged for her to take her junior year abroad in England, where her father, a professor of engineering, took his sabbatical year at the same time, and her mother accompanied him. That put the Atlantic Ocean between us, a large moat.


While Tina was in England, I was drafted into the army. She returned to finish at Cornell, went to Harvard, dated men of Chinese ancestry only, and married promising scientist from Taiwan, who took a faculty position in Chicago. She spent the next fifteen years under his thumb. He had expected a traditional Chinese woman, but she was an American girl with a Chinese flavor. Their marriage was rocky, but two fine sons were born. Her first MS exacerbation, with a temporary partial paralysis, came right after that second son’s birth. Her husband, more committed to career than to family, had little time for any of them.


After serving in the U.S. Army, I went on to graduate school at Penn State and Harvard. I married a Caucasian woman who reminded me of Tina, and steadily progressed professionally an associate professor of environmental physics at the Harvard School of Public Health. Unfortunately, eight years into my marriage, I found out my wife was having an affair. She was from a rich family and thought she could get away with it. Wrong. We divorced. Later on, I dated, even got engaged, then disengaged. None had been Tina’s equal.


On an academic business trip via Chicago, I called Tina. We had been separated nineteen years, but it was so comfortable to talk with her, it was more like we had been apart for weeks, not years. Before calling, I had suspected her marriage was in trouble. I told her I had to know whether we could ever be married. I planned to wait, if necessary.

“Nothing has changed for me in twenty years,” she stated circumspectly, meaning that she loved me as much as she ever had.


Soon after this, we talked via long-distance phone calls. She did a courageous thing, an honorable thing: she told me she had multiple sclerosis. I read about it, spent a very sad night imagining her some day to be quadriplegic, on a ventilator, fed through tubes. Could I handle that, if I had to? Yes. Could I bear to walk away and learn some day she had gone through that without me? No.


“Will you marry me?”


“Yes, yes, yes!”


I had yet to see her. When we did finally meet, I was thrilled. She was all I hoped she would be.


On June 2, 1984, a year later, we were married. Her father toasted us after the wedding, “Love conquered all.” As one of the conquered, he would know. Her parents had “surrendered” gracefully, after all. Our wedding rings were inscribed, “a dream come true.”


Near June 2, 2004, twenty years later, the decision had to be made: to a home or to a hospice for Tina? She was catching infections from the other patients in the hospital, a place of rescue had become dangerous. Would we fight to preserve her life at home, in a replica of the Critical Care Unit, or did she want to give up? “Be a brave soldier,” her father often told her in her youth. We fight on, my brave soldier and I, undefeated, so far.


The doctors estimated she would live only a few months. We’ve had seven years, precious, sometimes difficult, wonderful years.


I thank God daily for the miracle of another day that we are together. To life!



Douglas Winslow Cooper, Ph.D., retired physicist, is a freelance writer who has written Ting and I: A Memoir of Love, Courage, and Devotion, published this fall by Outskirts Press, available through and .

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


“The fastest way to become famous is to throw a brick at someone famous,” the noted 20th-century columnist, Walter Winchell, said and lived up to, stirring up many a controversy. Another approach is to throw bouquets, as one million-book-selling novelist explained in his book on his own trek toward fame and fortune.

Plunder or pander, two options. A New York theater critic today told radio show host Don Imus how he parlayed a history B.A. degree from Columbia University and a minor writing gig into a successful theater critic career by taking on Frank Rich, then king of the hill, ogre of the orchard, in the Big Apple. Fine, if his differences with Rich were sincere. Not fine, if those differences were merely fabricated to advance his own career.

The aforementioned million-ebook-selling novelist, “enovelist” more precisely, recommended exchanging favorable reviews on with others of his ilk. When I see favorable blurbs from other writers on book covers, I am going to be more skeptical from now on. “Go along to get along” or “scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours” evidently extends beyond the political sphere, where insincerity is too often the rule rather than the exception.

The Occupy Wall Streeters and allied protestors have gained publicity and adherents by their choice of targets to criticize, and much of the country has decided they are to be applauded or derided for their choice and their activities. While some, perhaps most, in the occupying crowds are expressing sincerely held feelings, occasionally well founded opinions, others no doubt have joined up for the fun or the fame. Targeting those richer than oneself is envy or ignorance if the wealth is deserved, a pursuit of justice if the wealth is undeserved. How are we to know?

To savage or to suck up, that is the question. Either or neither can be appropriate, depending on your motives…and your information.

Douglas Winslow Cooper, Ph.D., is a freelance writer and a retired physicist, author of Ting and I: A Memoir of Love, Courage, and Devotion., available thorugh,, and .His web site is, email address

Sunday, November 13, 2011


From Ting and I: A Memoir

Some people argue that it is a waste to spend our resources on the disabled, especially as they get older. I disagree. It is a dangerous philosophy.

We value things on the basis of their usefulness and their scarcity. Water is useful, but widely available, thus generally inexpensive. Silver has practical and monetary uses and is relatively scarce, so it is much more expensive than water.

We do not know how long we will live. As we get older, we know there is less time left; it is scarcer. If we can make good use of it, enjoy it, be helpful, whatever, then the scarcity enhances its value. Even if what we do is not as good as it was years before, the years we have left can be quite precious. Tina’s life is precious, as is my own.

Some social planners come from another perspective, viewing public funds for medical care as “investments.” Babies who are unwanted or unlikely to survive do not merit investment, in this view. Your productive value goes up as you grow up, become educated, enter the work force.

Toward retirement, your productivity may decline. When old, at the very least, you have only a few more years in which to produce. These planners are reluctant to “invest” much more in you. Time to “pull the plug” on Grandpa or Grandma. Get that DNR order signed, and let them expire with the next heart attack. This approach is “rational” from a public-expenditure viewpoint, though it takes no account of the value of the ill person to himself and to those who care about him. It is part of a slippery slope that goes from not treating to euthanizing.

Notice that none of these calculations take into account gratitude for past actions. Some people have not done merely what they were paid for on the jobs they had. They have done more than required, better, cheerfully, cooperatively on the job, at home, with their families, friends, neighbors, community, country. Shouldn’t this all count, too? A good Granny deserves better treatment than a bad one.

Tina’s care has been expensive. We’ve spent money. IBM has spent more and Medicare has had a share. We certainly expected to help pay our medical costs. IBM recruited me partly though the attractiveness of its medical benefits program, which I knew we might someday need. When IBM wanted to cut its work force, I volunteered, again considering future needs for medical coverage. That leaves Medicare: decades of withdrawals from my paychecks have gone to this program, with the notional “locked-box account” for coverage of my family and me. As with other insurance, some people end up needing more and others less, a lottery of sorts. Fair enough, we thought. Now, some suggest we are “selfish” to be getting “more than our share” of medical coverage. We are not exactly winners of a lottery, but no one argues that winners of lotteries are “selfish” for collecting “more than their share.”


Ting and I
A Memoir of Love, Courage, and Devotion
By Douglas Winslow Cooper
Offered with love to Tina Su Cooper, the light of my life
Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
–Khalil Gibran, The Prophet
All that we love deeply becomes part of us.
–Helen Keller

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


From Ting and I: A Memoir

The Pennsylvania State University, 1966– 69

Part of what attracted me to the research assistant position I took at Penn State’s Center for Air Environment Studies (CAES) was the likelihood that I would be admitted to the graduate physics program with a full U.S. Public Health Service Traineeship, with tuition and living expenses paid, for the two years needed to get the M.S. degree. I had graduated from Cornell in physics with honors and had scored at the 99th percentile in the verbal and 99th percentile in the quantitative aptitude tests in the Graduate Record Exams that I took my senior year. Indeed, I not only was admitted to Penn State but was awarded the Traineeship.

The work at CAES dealt with pollutant particles and gases in the air, and I had my first technical paper published, dealing with using light to measure airborne dirt, “Effect of Humidity on Light-scattering Methods of Measuring Particle Concentrations.” It was a great pleasure to see it in print. As with many of my subsequent publications, it dealt with subtleties in measurement and data analysis and interpretation, especially as applied to airborne particles. Eventually, over a thirty-year span, I had more than 125 papers published in refereed technical journals, some of which I was quite proud.

At CAES I also did some lecturing, primarily to undergraduates who would become air pollution technicians. The work there was a nice mix of experiments, data analysis, lecturing and writing. A colleague, John Davis, became a lifelong friend.

Somewhat sadly, I learned of the transient nature of much professional achievement early, at CAES. The widow of a noted engineer/scientist donated his two score technical publications, done in a related technical area, to the Center. We accepted gracefully, but when I looked them over afterward, they were already outdated or of marginal significance. Sic transit gloria mundi. Science had marched on.

I also learned about transience of scientific fads. Lasers were new and were “in.” They had become available commercially only a few years earlier, and my M.S. thesis advisor and I were able to get Federal research funding to use them in particle measurement studies. From this came my M.S. thesis and, later, three technical publications. The work was also the basis of a successful grant award that funded work over the next Christmas and summer vacations. It was during such a summer vacation period that I met the young woman who was to become my wife. But we are getting ahead of ourselves, which is anatomically odd.

I learned, too, that graduate students are cheap labor, thus likely to be exploited. When my M.S. thesis advisor wanted even more work done before signing off, I appealed to the physics department chairman, who said, in essence: “Hold. Enough.” A few years later, at Harvard, I had a somewhat similar showdown with my doctoral thesis advisor; and I gave him the ultimatum that I would be leaving at the end of the year, regardless. He relented. Three solid technical papers resulted from that dissertation.

“Power tends to corrupt and absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely,” wrote Lord Acton, probably without the teacher-student relationship in mind.

Of the three colleges I attended, Cornell, Penn State, and Harvard, I liked Penn State the best. The people seemed nicest, least pretentious, the setting very pretty. I lived a couple of miles off campus and had a car, but I often took my bicycle back and forth, first to work, later to school. There was not a lot of traffic then.


Sunday, November 6, 2011


Published at

“You ought to write a book” Tina Su Cooper, my wife, and I were told many times. Our love story, of nearly fifty years of being in love, though separated for nineteen of them, has recently given birth to our book, Ting and I: A Memoir of Love, Courage and Devotion. It is an upbeat story of triumph over prejudice, separation, and life-changing, life-threatening illness. The National Multiple Sclerosis Society magazine, Momentum, has scheduled our article, “Undefeated,” about Tina, for its winter 2011 issue. She is an Asian American heroine. Tina’s primary physician, Dr. Richard Walker, told us “your memoir is an antidote to the news,” emphasizing love and loyalty in marriage.

Half of the Asian American readers of are likely to marry someone of another race, if past is prologue. Despite some parental disapproval when we were much younger, and perhaps our occasionally missing out on friendships that never developed, we have not found being of different races to be a barrier to marital success. We think that others will be encouraged by our story to do as we did, to commit themselves, “for better or worse, in sickness and in health, ‘til death do us part.”

Our book has been summarized as follows:

“Tina Su and Doug Cooper met in a Chinese class at Cornell University in 1963. They fell in love, later married and lived happily ever after.

“Actually, it was not quite that simple. With both sets of parents opposing an interracial marriage, the couple separated and did not reunite for nineteen years. Meanwhile, Tina went off to grad school at Harvard, married a scientist from China, edited for the Encyclopedia Britannica, had two sons, and felt trapped in a difficult marriage. Doug was drafted into the army and afterward earned his master's in physics from Penn State and a Ph.D. in engineering from Harvard. His first marriage (to a Caucasian woman who resembled Tina) failed.

“Eventually Doug contacted Tina, and the two declared their love. Interracial issues were no longer a problem; but her multiple sclerosis, with its likelihood of increasing disability, would cast a shadow on their prospects. Tina--with great difficulty and pain--left her marriage.

“Now together for more than twenty-five years, Tina and Doug have learned that while love may not conquer all, it has been crucial in successfully meeting the challenges of Tina's progressive immobility, and recently her quadriplegia and near death from an MS-caused pneumonia.

“More than a love story, this wry memoir has reflections on love and marriage, faith, professional ethics, at-home intensive nursing care, medical insurance, finances, and the exceptional character of a brave woman, written by the man who loves her, with tributes from those who admire her.”

Tina Su (“Su Ting-ting” at birth) and I have learned that love does conquer, that two can be stronger than one, that foresight and preparation can help in over-coming life’s challenges, that life --- even with severe handicaps --- is precious.

I wrote the book because Tina asked me to. She has been so brave throughout even this most difficult phase of our lives that she deserves to be celebrated in print. I wrote it in the spring of 2011, then augmented it with tributes and recollections concerning Tina from family, friends, and our nursing staff. It was published in September 2011, by Outskirts Press, now available from and other Internet book sellers.

Of relevance to the readers of, I would add that I believe something in Tina’s Chinese American background --- whether genetic, cultural, or familial --- has helped her persevere in being a cheerful and loving wife, mother, and friend, despite being bedridden for sixteen years, quadriplegic and ventilator-dependent for the last seven, several times near death. She is our heroine, our inspiration, our beloved Ting.


Douglas Winslow Cooper, Ph.D., is a writer, caregiver, retired physicist. Ting and I is available in paperback and ebook formats from,,, and

Saturday, November 5, 2011


There are times when the patient’s family should be assertive.

Douglas Winslow Cooper, Ph.D.


She awoke from the medically induced coma quadriplegic, with an air supply line passing over her lips and into her throat. She could not speak, nor move anything below her neck. My wife, Tina Su Cooper, was near death from pneumonia caused by food aspiration due to a severe multiple sclerosis attack, an MS “exacerbation.” I was desperate to help her, but aware that I was not a physician, just a retired physicist, whose opinions on the proper care for his wife might be met with skepticism or even hostility by the doctors and nurses.

My first task was to make clear that all possible steps should be taken to save Tina’s life. The ambulance had gotten to the hospital ahead of me. Tina told the receiving medical staff that she did not want invasive treatment, including tubes down her throat. When I arrived, twenty minutes later, I countermanded that. I have her power of attorney, because about half of MS patients have cognitive deficits due to the disease, and Tina is in that half. Sometimes she shows the intellect that carried her to honors at Cornell and Harvard and to the editorial staff of the Encyclopedia Britannica. Sometimes she falls short of that. This was no time for fuzzy thinking. Save her life … if possible.

My next goal was to reassure her. We had already handled twenty years of marriage during the last ten years of which Tina was bedridden. I believed we could handle quadriplegia, too, as long as neither of us gave up. I needn’t have worried. Her father had often told her, in her youth, to “be a brave soldier,” and she was all of that. When I asked her whether she agreed with my decision to go all out to save her life, she nodded, twice: yes, yes. When they wanted to classify her as “Do Not Resuscitate” (DNR), we said, “No, no.”

We had already been using a nurse part-time at home, and I had this nurse, Terry Bush, LPN, stay with Tina in the Critical Care Unit in the mornings. Terry was to do as little or as much as the hospital staff allowed. Her primary goal was to communicate for Tina, whom she had come to love. A secondary goal was to be there, to observe, to report to me, to insure by her presence that care was given and given properly. Not everyone can afford to do this, I know, but it was worth it to us. I was there for the afternoons, to do much the same things.

I learned as much as I could about what was needed and about what was being done. The doctor most important to her survival was her intensivist - pulmonologist, Richard F. Walker, MD, F.C.C.P., with whom we bonded. In the book I have just finished, Ting and I: A Memoir of Love, Courage, and Devotion, Dr. Walker has contributed the Forward, from which I quote a portion:

“As I have been accorded in the book a disproportionate credit for Tina’s survival, I must state that our ultimate success resulted from the efforts of the entire health-care team and, in no small measure, the efforts of Doug and Tina themselves….”

“Doug tirelessly directed the attention of the health care team to seemingly trivial aspects of her care, asking detailed questions and demanding satisfactory answers, even occasionally suggesting changes in her care plan. My periodic annoyance, hopefully not always apparent, served to refocus my attention away from the pathophysiology and back to Tina. What I did not initially realize was that Doug’s persistence was improving his wife’s care….”

“Doug dedicates this book to Tina, his ‘good soldier,’ but in a larger sense, the story is also a tribute to his powerful advocacy for her survival. I believe their love saved them both….”
"My participation in Tina’s care made me a better physician and provided me with one of the most rewarding experiences of my professional career.”


Tina and I have shared seven more years of precious life together since then.

Someone must speak up when the patient cannot.


Friday, November 4, 2011


From Ting and I: A Memoir

Tina is proud of her Harvard M.A. and of my Harvard Ph.D. She mentions my credentials to the incoming new-hires. She may sometimes refer to me when talking to them as “Dr. Cooper ...,” but I stick to “Mr. Cooper.”

I liked getting into Harvard and thought well of many of the people there. Pride, however, is close to smugness, perilously close. Once I graduated, I found that some people viewed my Harvard connection favorably, but others were eager to prove they were not impressed. Win some, lose some.

I tease my brother, who has a Stanford Ph.D., that although some like to call Stanford “the Harvard of the West,” one never refers to Harvard as “the Stanford of the East.” I am not above a bit of sibling rivalry.


Wednesday, November 2, 2011


From Ting and I: A Memoir

Whom do you trust?

In a country with a fifty-percent divorce rate, approximately, for first marriages and for second marriages, one cannot have complete confidence in the fulfillment of the marriage vows. If you can’t trust your spouse, others become even more suspect.

Start with your parents. Were they honest? Reliable? Did they have your best interests, rather than their own, at heart? Extend the same questions to evaluation of your siblings. Extend it to yourself in your dealings with others.

As we consider people outside our family, with few exceptions, their trustworthiness becomes even more suspect. Friends? Better than acquaintances, who are generally better than those who hardly know us, who are generally better than those who want our votes or our money.

I think that there is currently less emphasis on being a truth-teller than there once was. Don’t believe all that is written or said, obviously.

Trust yourself, if you deserve to. Trust your spouse, with open eyes. Trust your best friends, cautiously. Trust people to be people rather than to be saints. Trust the universe to be neither malevolent nor beneficent. Trust God? He will have His way, which may or may not please us. Presumably, it will be for the best overall, not necessarily for what is best for us individually.

Judging from the experience of His “chosen people,” His ways are mysterious indeed.