UMass Lowell Professor John Shirley teaches Harmonica class to LIRA.

Winter 2009 Intersession Schedule

The 2008‑2009 LIRA Winter Intersession, given between semesters, offers to retirees, and those semi‑retired, a sample of LIRA’s almost year‑round program and very friendly community. The program is planned and much of it provided by the members themselves. The general public is cordially invited.

PLEASE NOTE: LIRA’s new home is in the Wannalancit Building on Suffolk Street, Lowell. All the following sessions meet on Wednesdays from 10 AM to noon unless noted otherwise. Parking is available in the IPI lot on the corner of Pawtucket and Aiken Streets and in the parking garage on Pawtucket Street next to the ball field. You must have an ID card to get in.

Directions to meeting room in the Wannalancit Building:

  • Enter the main entrance on Suffolk Street.
  • After going through the double doors, head for the elevator (or take the stairs).
  • Go to the 2nd floor.
  • When you get off the elevator, turn right and head down a hall.
  • After the restrooms, there is a small lobby. Bear left.
  • The LIRA meeting room is in the rear of the building near those offices.
  • The room is on the right, #223 and labeled "Suffolk-Tremont Mills Room."

In the event of a storm, information will be available on radio 980 AM, WCAP. If UMass/Lowell or Lowell Public Schools are closed, the Winter Intersession program will not be held.


10 AM–Noon

Please plan to attend LIRA’s Town Meeting and Holiday Party at the Wannalancit Building on Suffolk Street in the MIL Conference Center. If your last name begins with A THRU M please bring a dessert. If your last name begins with N THRU Z please bring a main course. Also, please bring an appropriate serving utensil for your potluck dish. And please don’t forget a book suitable for a child or young person - or warm hats, gloves, scarves - to be donated to CTI.

December 19 - BOOK DISCUSSION: The Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks

Coordinator: Toby Hodes*

December 20 through January 6 - Holidays: No LIRA sessions

January 7 - HARD TISSUE, EARLY MAN AND THE RHYTHM OF LIFE - Paleoanthropologist Timothy Bromage, PhD returns for another look at science from his unique perspective.

Not a single day goes by without night. The most potent regulator of our physiology, behavior, and development is our planet earth, turning on its axis with a period we measure in about 24 hours. The effect it has on us is a manifestation we call a biorhythm; specifically a circadian rhythm, meaning “about a day”. But there is another rhythm as plain as night and day, but one that oscillates on a longer time scale. For mammals this rhythm controls the pace of life. We discovered this rhythm, not from the halls of molecular biology, the keepers of research on circadian rhythms, but from the harsh landscapes of our human ancestors and the sawing, grinding, and polishing machines of hard tissue biologists. The bones and teeth of us all reveal our – indeed, your individual - long-period rhythm and our place in nature, which we will examine in some detail. Beyond this, using our newfound knowledge of long-period rhythms, we explain, if even we do not understand, really long-period rhythms!

Coordinator: Dorothy Bromage*


981 Varnum Avenue, Lowell

Dr. Tom Shea from UMass- Lowell will discuss the normal aging process of our brains, what can sometimes go wrong, and what we can all do to enhance our memory. He will also talk about the "Smart Pill" research that has been conducted at the university. This research has been conducted on Alzheimer's patients as well as "normal" individuals. Although presently there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, after a year of taking the pill, in most cases the progression of the disease has been slowed. And, for “normal” people, it has been shown to improve memory.

On another topic of interest, there will also be a talk on medication safety.

Following the talk, we will be the guests of the Center for a hot lunch and a tour of the facilities for those who are interested. The Center includes an Adult Health Center; Alzheimer’s Services, Independent Living, and a Skilled Nursing Facility.

Sign up at the Holiday Party or by contacting Toby Hodes.

Coordinator: Toby Hodes*

25 Milot Road, Westford, MA


The Meditation Center was created in 1996 as a "Great gathering place for sharing of Wisdom, truth, knowledge, healing, and, most importantly love of the center in each of us, our hearts". The Center is open to the general public. Meditation is taught on Wednesday evenings and Yoga on Friday evenings.

The Center has participated in the Lowell Folk Festival, the Lowell Asian Water Festival, the Thanksgiving Interfaith Services, and has had visitors from Westford First Parish Church Children's Sunday school. The Center's Abbot is Venerable Mangkone Sananikone and the Vice-Abbot is Venerable David Chutiko.

The center currently includes a modest house, large garage, play structure, sheep's stable, horse barn, and garden. So far, with the combined efforts of the monks and lay members, the large garage has been converted into an indoor meditation hall. The roof of the building is decorated with red and gold detail, reflecting a Lao architectural influence. The hall provides a venue for meditation and services. Above the property's former swimming pool, Venerable Mangkone and volunteers constructed a larger hall for services and functions. This structure includes a raised platform for the monks and an ample seating area for temple attendees. The temple attracts many families with young children who enjoy using the playground.

Coordinator: Jerry Gilmore*

January 28 - THEY ALL DID IT - PART II Dorothy Bromage*

In September, Dorothy Bromage presented a survey of compositions in the musical form Theme and Variations. Part II became necessary due to the large number of excellent examples available, providing further evidence that many composers found theme and variations to be a fulfilling means of expression. Once again the selections will span the Baroque Era through 20th Century compositions. Once again, the program will start with some ear training and ways that composers play around with a melody. Variations can be seen as well as heard, and this will be demonstrated in several ways. Instruments used to show composition include piano, string quartet, flute, orchestra, and even balalaika. Concluding the subject will be the most famous composition in the form.

January 28 - BOOK DISCUSSION – The Post American World non-fiction, by Fareed Zakaria

Coordinator: Toby Hodes*


Alan Rux

Alan Rux, Technical Support Associate at UML’s Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, will tell about the Assistive Technology Capstone Program which was begun in 1991. Its roots were in the senior project courses in the ECE curriculum, providing seniors with projects and sources of motivation beyond the normal. UML engineering students build custom devices for disabled persons. Mr. Rux and Adaptive Technologist Senait Haileselassie will demonstrate some of the projects, including hands free computer control using the muscles of the face and brain waves. 

Coordinator: Dorothy Bromage*

February 11 - DOCUMENTARY FILM - Constantine’s Sword

As part of a two-part program, we will be showing this very important film on February 11.

Stephen Holden wrote about this film in The New York Times: "At once enthralling and troubling, the film, whose title has been simplified from the book’s Constantine’s Sword: The Church and the Jews: A History, does about as good a job as you could hope of distilling a 750-page historical examination of religious zealotry and power into 95 swift minutes. Because the book was published several months before 9/11, the film adaptation updates the book’s pessimistic vision of how religions demonize one another to include Christian and Islamic fundamentalism as well as anti-Semitism".

Coordinator: Toby Hodes*

Padraic O’Hare

Dr. O’Hare, the author of a number of books on the study of Jewish-Christian Relations, is the Director of the Center for the Study of Jewish-Christian-Muslim Relations and a professor of religious studies at Merrimack College. He is a friend of James Carroll, and he is quoted and acknowledged in the book on which the film is based. His insights into this book, the film and this very important issue are not to be missed.

Even if you cannot make both dates, we urge you to attend whichever one you can.

Coordinator: Toby Hodes*


Geoffrey Douglas is the author of several books of non-fiction, including The Game of Their Lives; Dead Opposite: The Lives and Loss of Two American Boys; and Class: The Wreckage of an American Family. He will be discussing his latest book, The Classmates: Privilege, Chaos, and the End of an Era. The Classmates is the story of his class (the Class of 1962) at St. Paul’s School, focusing in particular on six boys, including the author.’s review of The Classmates says “Douglas’s chronicle of those times and choices is both a capsule history of an era and a literary tour de force.”

His discussion of the book and its characters should be interesting and enlightening. Mr. Douglas will sign books for those interested.

Coordinator: Toby Hodes*

February 25 - BOOK DISCUSSION – Suite Francaise fiction, by Irene Nemirovsky

Coordinator: Toby Hodes*

*Indicates LIRA member