Doktoro Benson. Mi Amas Lin.

Yes, I love Dr. Benson. William Sol Benson. He’s my favorite early American Esperantist. He was a New Jersey osteopath at the beginning of the last century. He was born in Kiev and moved to the United States as a teenager, having learned Esperanto in Russia in the second year of its existence. He loved Esperanto. He loved it so much that he was inspired to create a textbook, using pictures exclusively to teach the new language. The only problem? He was a doctor, a busy man, who may or may not have had any artistic ability. Most of us, in such a situation, would have shelved our esoteric goals and instead concentrated on more mundane career demands. But not Dr. Benson! He found a way. He enlisted the help of a local prison inmate, a man with both artistic ability and unlimited time on his hands. With the help of this uncredited inmate, Dr. Benson published his “Universala Bildmetodo” in 1932. It includes hundreds of drawings, such as the one pictured above, that teach various aspects of the language. And it’s clear that Dr. Benson, in addition to commissioning these drawings, posed for several of them. Yes, that’s him in today’s drawing. And notice how every drawing is just a little bit different. Today, with computer assisted drawing programs, an artist would surely reproduce the same basic drawing ten times and simply manipulate the fingers to represent the given numbers. In the late 1920’s, our inmate friend had little choice but to actually draw each panel from scratch. Perhaps not the most efficient method, but one that produced, in my opinion, profoundly charming results!

And if anyone noticed a certain Ed Troyer vibe in the cut of that mustache, well, yes, you get bonus points.


First Esperanto Worksheet

Yes, I started teaching Esperanto at my son’s school about a month ago, and, Dude, it’s freakin awesome! I’ve got about 12 students (including my initially reluctant son), and they seem to be adsorbing this language like a sponge. I created a review sheet for them this weekend (which I will distribute on Wednesday) and they’ve already learned a word list that goes on for almost three pages. And they are actually talking about meeting on Friday afternoons in addition to our usual Wednesday meetings (their idea, not mine). I seriously couldn’t be happier.

Tick, Tick, Tick

Oh, dear God, where have I been?! Time does have a way of marching on, doesn’t it? Well, for one thing I did a guest post here. Check out the October 11 entry. That will go a piece toward explaining one of the projects that is draining my time. You can also check out the associated website that my daughter and I are working on at I’m doing the research and writing; she’s doing the web design and programming. We’ve actually done far more work than what is currently displayed on the site. My daughter, age 15, has tentatively decided that she would like to pursue web design as a career. She intends to use our site as part of a portfolio of her work. As a consequence, she has envisioned so many possible bells & whistles for the site that she has bogged herself down in detail and now finds it difficult to decide where/how to begin. Not an uncommon problem around here, I’m afraid!