Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Fallen Things

The night had just fallen on this early fall day.

Only 30 minutes ago I was walking outside under that tree at twilight looking at the fence with the contractor. We were just shuffling the last of the Nodlings off to bed when we heard that horrifying crack.

Blynken screamed, Mrs. Nod jumped out of her seat, and I went outside with a flashlight to investigate.

A giant section of our Bradford Pear tree broke clean off and came crashing down in the back yard. The high winds must have weakened it earlier in the day. Bradford Pears are notoriously weak jointed and prone to splitting at the crotch. Those branches must weigh several hundred pounds and fell at least 20 feet -- enough to kill.

But as God willed it, it fell exactly between the deck, house, and fence hitting none (including me). I used this event to reassure Blynken and Nod-girl of the Providence of God and his constant care and concern for us. I hugged the girls and prayed a prayer of thanksgiving that we had been spared.

Spared of Fallen things. Hm. Past time for a trip to Confession to repair my own fallen state. Deo gratias.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival #24

This week on Sunday Snippets, WBN presents Holiness Calling.


Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival is a weekly opportunity to share your best posts with the wider Catholic blogging community. To participate, create a post highlighting posts that would be of interest to Catholics and link to the host blog at http://rannthisthat.blogspot.com. Go to the host blog and leave a comment giving a link to your post.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Workaday Fairies

I don't believe in fairies, but they do a lot of work in my house. Many moons ago, my wife asked me how I thought "things got cleaned and the work got done around the house: fairies?"

Ever since then, like the Elves and the Shoemaker, we've found evidence of these unseen but hardworking sprites.

There are the Dish Fairies, who clean the kitchen and scrub the pots and pans; there is a Cleaning Fairy to vacuum and pick up toys, there is the Laundry Fairy who takes the laundry baskets for days at a time, but always returns them empty and drawers full of clean, folded clothing.

My daughters insist that there is a Tooth Fairy, who takes little children's teeth and leaves a few coins under the pillow. I tell them point blank that I don't believe in the Tooth Fairy, that I've never seen a Tooth Fairy, and can't be convinced otherwise. They laugh derisively and show me the two quarters she leaves at their bedside as they whistle through the hole in their smile. I'm faintly amused.

The girls read books about Rainbow Fairies, play with Barbie Fairies, watch movies about Fairytopia and Disney Fairies. Everywhere you look, it seems, there are fairies.

I told my wife I thought there was a Yard Fairy who mowed the lawn and other manly chores, but she just looked at me like I was an idiot. You can't win 'em all.

So when I saw this van with a sign advertising Fairy Maids, I knew I had to show my wife. See? See? They are real. And they take credit cards.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Hey There, Flabby

You're flabby, complacent, and despite a regular prayer life and involvement in the parish ministry you still haven't attained to the transforming union with Christ; although you're basically a good Catholic, going to Mass and avoiding serious sin, you're more or less just getting by.

If you can identify to any degree with these statements, I'm talking to you. If you emphatically believe that this does not apply to you, I'm most definitely talking to you. I know that I'm not excepted from this, and very few of us are saints or near-saints; ergo, you could use a few spiritual push ups.

This book, Temptation & Prayer, will kick your butt. It will challenge you like books many times its length will not. It's short. Really short. Chapters are about one or two pages each. It's also easy to understand. It's -- how shall we say it? -- practical, incisive, cuts to the chase.

[Joseph I. Cisetti] Grounding himself in the thought of Ignatius of Loyola and John of the Cross, Galilea offers brief, even pithy chapters, seldom more than two pages, that are sharp, practical and insightful.

Acknowledging that temptation is part of any human as well as Christian life, Galilea observes that those with a mature spirituality generally resist temptation to intentional evil but instead face the temptations of mediocrity, tepidity and stagnation.

Often these evils can appear as good and hence the need for greater discernment. After initially reflecting on discernment as a type of salve applied to the eyes so that we might see, Galilea divides the book up into two sections regarding ministry and prayer. Each concise chapter concerns itself with a "demon" of ministry or of prayer.

Galilea first describes sixteen demons of prayer that include activism, sectarianism, entrenchment, pastoral envy and losing a sense of humor. In his analysis Galilea shares some succinct but sharp wisdom.

The second section lists twenty-one demons of prayer ranging from discouragement and neglecting one's lifestyle to putting quantity above quality and not putting sensations and feelings in their proper place.
I have this book and I periodically refer back to it to shake myself out of complacency. Galilea doesn't leave you much wiggle room. Everyone can find something to benefit from in this little book.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Still Life With Cameraphone: Broken Sign

Things that don't make you feel good about riding the Metro: everything is getting to be dilapidated. First you've got all the Metro crashes, deaths, fires, and suicides; then there's the broken escalators, train doors opening while moving, leaking gaps in the parking deck, broken signs, breakdowns in the tunnel; and finally the warnings that there may be another Spain-like mass transit bombing.

Yeah, the Metro isn't the happiest place in town lately.

Still Life With Cameraphone: Drunk

The gray-blue smudge under the tree is a motorcycle cop giving the dark smudge at the base of the tree a ticket for (presumably) being drunk in public at McPherson Square in DC. And he's not even homeless. (At this point I know all the regulars.)

I haven't figured out the pattern quite yet, because according to the paper on the weekends the Square is wall-to-wall homeless and dislocated veterans. Certain Tuesdays and Thursdays see various charitable organizations giving out food in the late afternoon. But this morning, which was fairly warm, there were zero homeless in the park and they weren't lurking in the Metro station.

The DC shelter was shut down by Mayor Adrian Fenty and they turned everybody out of St. E's. So where do they come from and where do they go?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Mother Teresa's Contact Info

My sister told this story at brunch this week.

She's an ad executive who was meeting in New York with the CEO/owner of a successful business; let's call him John. Along with her were the owners of her ad agency who are not Catholic; let's call them Ida and Rick. During the meeting John reveals that his goal is to make a lot of money so that he can donate the profits to the orphanages started by Mother Teresa.
Sis: "Oh, you've met Mother Teresa?"
John: "No, I lived and worked with her for several years in India."
Sis: (Wink) "You'll have to give me her contact info."
He goes on to describe how he gives his employees a certain number of days off every month to perform charity work of their choice.
Ida and Rick: "But you're doing this work here because you really love this field, right?"
John: "No. I mean, it's good, but it's just a means to an end. I intend to make millions of dollars but die penniless."

Ida and Rick: "What do you mean, "penniless"?"
John: "I intend to give it all away to the Missionaries of Charity. "

Ida and Rick: (blank looks of incomprehension) "I don't get it."
Later that day they meet with a different client owner, Sal.
Sis: "... and so you see if you make a small change to your program you can save a whole lot of money for the company -- and then pass the savings on to your customers."

Sal: "No, we intend on sticking the profits in our own pockets!"

Ida and Rick: "Finally, something we understand."
And that's a true story. So keep on doing things the world just doesn't understand, because Christ does.

Still Life With Cameraphone: Autumnal Equinox

[NG] In the Northern Hemisphere fall officially begins at 5:19 a.m. ET on Tuesday, September 22, 2009—the autumnal equinox, or fall equinox.

This is what the last day of summer / first day of fall looked like in Northern VA: foggy.

It would have been more apropos if I had been standing at Foggy Bottom Metro, I know. You'll have to settle for Vienna where it's only foggy on top.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival #23

This week on Sunday Snippets WBN presents: Religious Activists and Why Polls Don't Mean Anything.

Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival is a weekly opportunity to share your best posts with the wider Catholic blogging community. To participate, create a post highlighting posts that would be of interest to Catholics and link to the host blog at http://rannthisthat.blogspot.com. Go to the host blog and leave a comment giving a link to your post.
Publish Post

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Still Life With Cameraphone: Farmer's Market

Michelle Obama very nearly earned my opprobrium in the form of a Blynken Raspberry today with the institution of the new McPherson Square Farmer's Market. The Office of the First Lady narrowly avoided the anti-award because the Metro station upon which my commute relies did not close entirely and the McPherson entrance was open after 4 p.m.
[Dr. Gridlock] The District Department of Transportation warns motorists that Vermont Ave NW will be closed between H and I streets today until 8 p.m. for the new [McPherson Square] farmer's market. These closures will continue every Thursday from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. through Oct. 29.

Additionally, the Vermont Avenue entrance at McPherson Square station will close until approximately 4 p.m. today. Metro advises riders to use the 14th st entrance during that time.

Now in general I am very supportive of real farmers (as opposed to big agribiz), fresh produce, and cutting out the middleman. So I have no problem with the idea of a farmer's market as long as it doesn't make everybody else's life miserable in the process.

The stretch of road that is Vermont Ave NW between H and I streets is tiny; even though some buses had to be re-routed, I don't think it had that much impact. Given the fact that it is one day a week for a limited time until October 29, it should be livable.

Not that traffic in the city has ever been good, but since Congress and schools came back into session the traffic everywhere is horrible. If you really, really want to help ease traffic congestion then get a job within 5-10 miles of where you live.

Me, I'm starting the countdown.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Buck And A Quarter Staff

It's Larry's fault I remembered this ...

Why Polls Don't Prove Anything

Polls reflect the views of the ones who come up with the questions and not much more. Polls are inherently unreliable, but that doesn't keep it from being a multi-million dollar business or from being a major policy driver.

First, a little whimsy:

[CP] First-ever polls comparing conservative and progressive activists are revealing to what degree these groups diverge when it comes to issue priorities, issue positions, and beliefs about scripture.

The surveys, the results of which were released Tuesday, also show how religious activists part ways on issue priorities.

While the vast majority of conservatives identify abortion (83 percent) and same-sex marriage (65 percent) as the most important priorities among eight issues listed in the surveys, less than 10 percent of progressive religious activists called abortion and same-sex marriage the “most important” issues.

Instead, progressive activists identify poverty (74 percent), health care (67 percent), environment (56 percent), jobs/economy (48 percent), and the Iraq war (45 percent) as the highest priorities.

This poll, touted as delineating differences between religious activists, doesn't reveal any new information. The reason the survey split the way it did has less to do with the fact of "religious activism" than it does with the fact that the respondents are conservatives and progressives (liberals); these are definitions.

Polls function as nearly self-fulfilling prophecies. Biases are baked in by the very act of formulating the question: how a question is asked (lead-in, background info), word choice, how large the sample is, who was asked, how they were asked, who did the asking, how respondents were chosen, the type of person who is willing to answer a survey, method of survey, time of day, geographic region, economic background, social background, recent events, choices presented, who paid for the survey -- all these things help to skew the results into near meaninglessness.

The best you can say is "Of the people who were willing to answer this question in this way, X number chose one of the predetermined answers -- which means nothing." Polls are nothing more than relative statistics, they cannot measure absolutes.

Me, I almost always refuse to answer polls or even poll phone calls, which means that my opinion is underrepresented. Of the few polls that I've participated in, I almost always found something to disagree with in the poll choices themselves or something that needed to be qualified, or my opinion was not one of the choices.

Everybody loves a poll, study, or survey because they promise a quick view into what's really going on, but in reality they say more about the questioner than about the answerer. Whoever gets to frame the debate gets to steer the answers.

That's what 4 out of 5 people say, anyway.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Bush Redefined Party, Killed Conservatism

Lending credence to the idea that George W. Bush was no conservative, a new tell-all book Speechless: Tales of a White House Survivor, a former speechwriter paints a picture of the former President as a go-it-alone cowboy. At times, he may also have been an idiot.
[Washington Examiner] Conservatives greatly admired Bush for his steadfastness in the War on Terror -- to use that outlawed phrase -- and they were delighted by his choices of John Roberts and Samuel Alito for the Supreme Court. But when it came to a fundamental conservative principle like fiscal discipline, many conservatives felt the president just wasn't with them.

"Look, I know this probably sounds arrogant to say," the president said, "but I redefined the Republican Party."

You can argue whether Bush was a fiscal conservative at any time in his political career, but he certainly wasn't in the White House. And some real fiscal conservatives, with their guy in charge, held their tongues.

Now, with unified Democratic control of the presidency and both houses of Congress, we're seeing spending that makes Bush's record look downright thrifty. Republicans have again found their voice on fiscal discipline. And some of them wish they had been more outspoken when a president of their own party was in the White House.

Now I wouldn't be so uncharitable as to question the guy's faith or religion because of his politics as some do, because in those I think he is sincere; but as for his governing philosophy as a conservative, Bush stank.

Obama Kowtows To Unions, Slaps Tariffs On China

President Obama pandered to his base recently when he slapped tariffs on imported Chinese tires after complaints by a U.S. union. China immediately filed a grievance with the WTO. Unless both sides tread carefully, this may trigger a trade war with China at a time when they hold a majority of the U.S. debt.

Sept. 14 (Bloomberg) -- China is demanding talks with the U.S. and has filed a complaint to the World Trade Organization on Barack Obama’s decision to impose tariffs on tires from the Asian nation.

Obama announced duties Sept. 11 of 35 percent on $1.8 billion of automobile tires from China, acting on a complaint by the United Steelworkers union against the second-largest U.S. trading partner. China said yesterday it will begin dumping and subsidy probes of chicken and auto products from the U.S.

Can you say stupid? I'm no fan of trade with China (pass the cheap goods, please), but a global recession is no time to play protectionist politics. This can only cause more people to lose their jobs, trigger inflationary pressures, and antagonize the foreign debt holders.

But it was a union, see? Obama had to protect the base (donors, really). The union whined, Obama pandered, China threatened -- see how it works?

Every President panders, but it doesn't keep it from being any less disgusting. If you're going to pander, pander to me (all I got was this lousy t-shirt).

Still Life With Cameraphone: Truck Bump Sale

Not to cast aspersions on the gentleman in the picture, but let's just say in general that I have doubts as to the legitimacy of a lot of these "sidewalk vendors" in Washington, D.C.

Some of them, no doubt, have a permit and a license to sell their wares; some of them look like they found stuff that fell off the back of a truck and are looking to make a fast buck.

My personal favorite is the guys trying to sell bedsheets on the side of the road ... yeah, that's legit. Can I get a receipt with that?

Still Life With Cameraphone: Along Came A Spider

Motorcycle that is ...

Acorn In Trouble

The house of cards is crashing down around ACORN.
[LA Times] Washington - The Senate voted Monday to block the Housing and Urban Development Department from giving grants to ACORN, a community organization under fire in voter-registration fraud cases.

The 83-7 vote came as ACORN , which stands for the Assn. of Community Organizations for Reform Now, is receiving bad publicity related to surreptitious videos. Two conservative activists posed as a prostitute and her pimp, then released a hidden-camera video in which ACORN employees in Baltimore advised the couple on house-buying and how to account for the woman's income on tax forms. Two other videos, aired frequently on media outlets such as the Fox News Channel, depict similar situations in Brooklyn and Washington, D.C.

If the House agrees with the Senate, ACORN could not win HUD grants for programs such as counseling low-income people on how to get mortgages.

Last week, the Census Bureau severed ties with ACORN, saying it does not want the group's help with the 2010 count. The group, which advocates for poor people, conducted a voter registration effort last year and became a target of conservatives when some workers were accused of submitting false registration forms with names such as "Mickey Mouse."
Only Nancy can save them now ...

RIP Parick Swayze


LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- Patrick Swayze, whose good looks and sympathetic performances in films such as "Dirty Dancing" and "Ghost" made him a romantic idol to millions, died Monday from pancreatic cancer. He was 57.

Patrick Swayze's doctor said in March 2008 that Swayze was suffering from pancreatic cancer.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Redskins Put Up a Giant Stink

Whew! What is that horrible stench enimating from New York tonight? Oh, wait, it's just the Redskins stinking up the field -- again. The Giants just dominated in the Skins' season opener.

I'm a fan, and I'll stick with my team to the end, but does it have to be so painful from Game 1?
In true Redskins style, the team put up a lackluster performance for 3 quarters, got behind, and then tried to win on heroics in the 4th quarter, only to fall short.

Is it so much to ask that they either win or lose starting in the first quarter and just spare us the drama?

Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival #22

This week on Sunday Snippets WBN presents: Stand and deliver.
Living the Christian life involves both sacrifice and courage.

Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival is a weekly opportunity to share your best posts with the wider Catholic blogging community. To participate, create a post highlighting posts that would be of interest to Catholics and link to the host blog at http://rannthisthat.blogspot.com. Go to the host blog and leave a comment giving a link to your post.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

What Kids Say Isn't What They Mean

Kids usually say whatever is on their minds; the trouble is understanding what they are really thinking.
Case in point: Wynken came home from school and asked for the umpteenth time for us to buy him his own Nintendo DS game console. Rather than rehash our reasons for why we haven't done so, Mrs. Nod noted that Wynken was a bit upset and probed a little deeper into what was up.
As it turns out, the kids on the bus have been excluding him from playing the collaborative games even when he borrows a DS from another kid. Wynken's rationale was if only he had his own DS and was good at the games, then the other kids wouldn't exclude him. Of course, as a parent we know that isn't the case at all: it wasn't his ability or lack of ability on the games -- they were excluding him. Bullying doesn't stop unless hearts change.

Since he goes to a Catholic school, we called the administration and got that little problem nipped in the bud. We've learned the hard way that we have to aggressively defend our kids and keep people accountable for their actions. We've got the behavior changed, but we'll still be praying for their hearts.
Second case: Nod-girl came up to me, apropos of nothing, and says: "I'd miss you if you left." I said, "Thanks, sweetheart, but where am I going? I go to work every day." She responded, "Liam's Daddy left them and now he lives in a different state."
Turns out her classmate's parents are divorced, but she didn't know the word for it. Now this happens more than it should, but it does happen and that's a reality in our society. (Actually I'm very proud in a weird way that my kids have never heard of divorce.) I did my very best to reassure her that Mom and Dad would never, never get divorced, that as practicing Catholics divorce was not an option, that Daddy would always be there for her and never leave her. We then had a nice discussion on why it's so important to choose your (Catholic) husband or wife very carefully, since it is "forever".

So kids say things all the time, but it's worth your while to figure out what they're thinking.

Still Life With Cameraphone: Leaf Bug

Yet another random occurrence when all I've got on me is my camera phone.

One way for a bug to avoid getting eaten is to look exactly like a leaf. As long as you don't move, you're good.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Pro-Life Demonstrator Murdered

A peaceful pro-life demonstrator was murdered outside a school by a drive-by shooter. The victim was an elderly man with an oxygen tank.

Read about it here, here, here, and here.

Where's the outrage by liberals, the media, Planned Barrenhood? Where's the FBI and Secret Service protection for all the grandparents praying on the corner? This statement by PP is kinda lame:
"We want to be very clear that we have no idea if this was related to his views, but Planned Parenthood would never condone any sort of violence against anyone, regardless of their views," said Lamerand.
Yeah, right, I forgot -- they're just in it for the money. After the public tar and feathering of all the peaceful pro-life crowd following the abortionist Tiller's murder, you'd think PP could muster up a little better response.

And yeah, the old guy with the oxygen tank WAS murdered for his views:
[CMR] It's now confirmed that Drake killed Pouillon because he was "offended" by his pro-life message, according to Connected Michigan.
One thing you can bank on: whatever the radical left wing nuts accuse conservatives of, you can be sure it was in their own hearts first.

Coast Guard Pulls Boneheaded Drill On 9/11

In what turned out to be nothing more than a routine drill, CNN reported that shots were fired on the Potomac River closest to the point near the Pentagon where the President was laying a wreath to commemorate those killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

[AP] Unaware that it was an exercise, CNN opened its reporting on the incident by saying at least one boat was intruding in a security zone on the river and the Coast Guard was chasing it.

Even the Coast Guard was confused about what the Coast Guard was doing.

After the erroneous reports surfaced and flights were grounded, at 10:12 a.m., the Coast Guard ordered one of its helicopters based at Reagan National Airport scrambled to fly over the river to investigate the reports of shots on the Potomac, Coast Guard spokesman Ron LaBrec said.

The Coast Guard began the drill at 9:30 a.m., five minutes after Obama arrived at the Pentagon for ceremonies keyed to 9:37 a.m. — the time of the 9/11 attack. Other agencies were not widely notified of the drill because the Coast Guard considered the exercise routine.
CNN reported the alleged attack after hearing radio chatter of someone saying "bang, bang, bang, bang" and "we have expended 10 rounds". CNN should check some actual facts before hyperventilating on the air.

On the other hand, the Coast Guard should get its head out of its collective rear. How dumb is holding an exercise on 9/11 and within a mile of the President at a public ceremony? Everyone is on edge on this infamous anniversary. This is just as boneheaded as the Air Force One flyover of Ground Zero in New York earlier this year.

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

WBN awards this Blynken Raspberry to the Coast Guard for epic stupidity.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Still Life With Cameraphone: Parking

I've always wondered about pedestrians getting run over in the city on the sidewalk. How bad a driver do you have to be?

In the case of this guy, he's taking the sign too literally. Hey, guy, that's a sidewalk.

Still Life With Cameraphone: Pigeons

Here's something you don't see much of in the 'burbs: pigeons.

In the city, they are ubiquitous and a bit of a menace. I've taken to carying a large stick umbrella, not so much for the rain, as to sweep these critters out of my way.

Still Life With Cameraphone: By The Wayside

I saw this on the steps of the Metro garage. A pretty butterfly, cast to the wayside, presumably dead. There's a metaphor in there somewhere ...

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Honest Scrap Award

Wow, I've never been tagged before, so I'm not sure how to react to being tapped with the Honest Scrap Award. First, mad props to David for even considering me: you da man! Now, as to 10 Honest Facts about myself -- really, I can't even fib just a little bit? -- oh, very well:
  1. My mother bought me a T-shirt in high school that showed one colorful fish swimming against a school of plain fish and said "That's so you, going against the crowd." At the time I thought she was crazy; five years later I agreed it was true.
  2. I was a teenage heart-throb for one month after having the lead role in Grease in high school -- and I've never wanted to be that popular again.
  3. I brew my own beer.
  4. I've known since I was in fifth grade that my vocation was to be a husband and a father; it was always a matter of finding the right girl.
  5. I actually know all the lyrics to the song Louie Louie, but my favorite version is by Bill the Cat.
  6. I've been called a Super Catholic by my old co-workers, and they actually bought me a shirt with that on it. Maybe they just never met a practicing one ...
  7. There are only 7 foods that I absolutely hate: eggplant, mussels, liver, organs of any kind, marinated artichoke hearts in chicken salad, non-Kraft macaroni and cheese, and artificial smoke flavor.
  8. I am now allergic to cleaning product fumes, air fresheners, scented pine cones, candles, scented hand lotion, and nail polish odors. Flowers and gasoline are no problem.
  9. When people marvel that I have 5 kids, I say, "Thanks, we made them ourselves."
  10. People actually pay me to break their computers.
Voila! The rules as I learned 'em: Thank me profusely, submit ten honest facts about yourself, and pass it on... Next up: Pat, Polska-Polska, and Paul.

Yawn, Wake Me When It's Over

These days, when speeches and announcements are leaked well ahead of the event, it's hard to get an honest reaction. Pollsters and pundits are so concerned about how it will play in Peoria, that they forget about real life. You want to know how it will play in Peoria? Go there.

Tonight the President gave his speech to the joint houses of Congress on the health care reform initiative. I'll be honest, I didn't watch it. Based on the early returns, it looks like he didn't say anything new. If he couldn't be bothered to say -- or more importantly do -- anything new, why should I care or bother to have a different reaction?

All the politicians and all the newshounds had their reactions to the President's speech canned well ahead of the event with a few fill-in-the-blanks. It's all so fake, it makes astroturf look real. Yessiree, genuine-synthetic-naugahyde right here.

If this whole health-care-cum-foie gras didn't make me so angry, I'd be snoring already.

Pelosi Top Legislative Priority: Her Hair

Are you serious? Vanity is one thing and I know you're probably being photographed every day, but still ... Nancy, you go to the hair salon every day?
[WashingtonExaminer] She’s the most powerful woman in politics, but when it comes to Speaker Nancy Pelosi's hair, she finds herself lacking any power to veto a bad hair day.

"Nancy said that in her next life, she would like to be able to style her own hair," said Gary Croteau, stylist at Salon Mario Russo in Boston, Mass. Not too surprisingly, as for years, Pelosi has made the salon at the Four Seasons in Georgetown her first stop every morning.
With the nation in crisis due to the recession, two foreign wars, public health care being crammed down our throats, financial bail-outs -- you go to the salon?! Says a lot about your priorities.

And yes, I posted this to annoy Pelosi's #1 fan ... not!

Year Of The Priest: Poll

Since it is the year of the priest, I thought it might be nice to talk about the priests in our lives.

As Catholic Dads, we have the direct responsibility over our domestic Church. As priests they have responsibility over everyone who walks through the door.

We've all had experiences of priests, both good and bad, who have helped to shape us and our understanding of the Faith and our love of God and neighbor.

Who has been the most important priest in your life, and why?

Take the poll and then leave your comment telling us who has had the most impact on your life.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Labor Day, Manly Day

I know Labor Day is a celebration of the worker where we are not supposed to do any work. But sometimes it feels good to get out there and flex the muscle.

My lawn tractor broke down on Sunday evening while I was mowing the lawn. I had run out of gas, but after refilling it would stall out when I took my foot off of the clutch/brake and the wheels locked. Today I got some neighbor guys to help me look at it (very manly activity!) and we finally figured out that the tractor uses an electronic clutch and it had basically come unplugged from bouncing around the yard.

After that, I felt so good I knocked down the old wooden swing set in the back yard and piled it up in the truck for disposal. A socket wrench here, a sledgehammer there, and I was in business. Poor kids don't have anything to play on anymore, but it was getting to be a real safety hazard. We originally got it used for nothing, so the price was right. Going forward, we'll likely have to replace it with something horrendously expensive, especially in the light that Nub will use it longer than the other four kids.

Sigh. It's only money.

I followed this manly activity with some great beef ribs that I slow-cooked for 4 hours, homemade salsa, and homebrew beer.

Ahhh! Nice day.

Beknighted Dunkel: Tap Day

Making beer is as much about taste as it is about sustenance. Beer, properly made without fillers, is like drinking a loaf of bread. It is the yield of the grain, the staff of life. What can be more basic than wheat beer?

On this edition of Me and the Homebrews, WBN chronicles the making of a Dunkelweizen, or dark wheat, beer.


Today was Tap Day. We tapped our Beknighted Dunkel after 24 hours in the fridge with a canister of CO2. First thing I noticed was that we had run through a lot of CO2; down from 900 units to about 200. I'm not convinced there isn't a slow leak -- perhaps refrigerating the CO2 along with the keg is a bad idea as well.

Also, the PSI is inconsistent. We set it to 10 PSI when it went in the fridge. After 12 hours I checked it and it had risen (surprisingly) to 15 PSI. I notched it back down to 10 PSI. Another 10 hours later I noticed the PSI had dropped to almost nothing. I cranked it back up to 10 and let it alone for another 3 hours.

When the Homebrews came over we switched CO2 tanks and have the keg a good shaking. The initial taste test was flat and slightly bitter. After switching the tanks and forcing the carbonation, our Dunkelweiss tasted wheaty and a hint of sweet on the aftertaste. MUCH better. We'll see how the carbonation holds up in the fridge.

Beknighted Dunkel: Forced Carbonation

Making beer is as much about taste as it is about sustenance. Beer, properly made without fillers, is like drinking a loaf of bread. It is the yield of the grain, the staff of life. What can be more basic than wheat beer?

On this edition of Me and the Homebrews, WBN chronicles the making of a Dunkelweizen, or dark wheat, beer.


Today we kegged the beer at four weeks and a day post brew. We could have waited another week, but when you're packing two canisters of CO2, why bother? Fermentation is done, clarification was, well, done in the same carboy.

Tomorrow the beer will be all chilled and we'll tap it with the rest of the Homebrews. We'll take a lessons learned and do the same recipe again to refine our brewing talents.

I'd like to get a diffusion stone for increased aeration and a second wort chiller to put in an ice bath for more rapid cooling. Tomorrow's the day -- bottoms up!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival #21

WBN presents Media Week on Sundays Snippets: a book, a video, a podcast, and a bit of news.

Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival is a weekly opportunity to share your best posts with the wider Catholic blogging community. To participate, create a post highlighting posts that would be of interest to Catholics and link to the host blog at http://rannthisthat.blogspot.com. Go to the host blog and leave a comment giving a link to your post.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Sill Life With Cameraphone: Parasailing

Sometimes you see things but you don't know what they are. The dull splotch in the green circle is not a smudge on the windshield. As we left DC for the day, we saw what appeared to be a guy parasailing over Rosslyn. I've never seen such a thing in Rosslyn; I don't think it's legal there.

Was it a parachute? A parasail? It didn't seem to be coming down very fast, but it didn't seem to be being dragged by a plane.

Up there in the sky! It's a bird! A plane! No, it's ... still don't know.

Still Life With Cameraphone: Emergency

Because Thursday's accident wasn't exciting enough, on Friday morning I was greeted with this fleet of emergency vehicles outside the McPherson Square Metro Station.

Never did find out what the emergency was. Sometimes it's just best to keep moving when the situation is obviously in hand and it doesn't involve you. Made me think how it must be terrible to be a fireman in DC: the traffic is so congested you can't drive your fire truck anywhere in time to respond to the emergency.

Still Life With Cameraphone: Jaws Of Life

Driving in to DC on Thursday, we were passed by no less than 10 emergency vehicles, including multiple fire trucks and ambulances. When we finally crawled up on the scene we saw the firemen cutting this guy out of his car with the Jaws of Life.

They cut the top off his car, which was smashed front and back and turned around backwards on the Interstate. Given the heavy volume of traffic on 66 East during the morning rush hour, I'm wondering how anyone got up enough speed to have an accident of this magnitude.

By the grace of God this guy was alive. Makes you think: it could happen to you. Stay close to God. Kiss your wife and kids.

Overheard In My House

Nod-girl comes running up the stairs breathlessly:
What's for dinner? Chicken pox?
Man, I'm never letting her set the menu ...

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Dictionary Game: Flocci, et. al.

My family has played the "dictionary game" for years growing up. We'd argue about words, spellings, origins, and grammar.

I actually spelled this word correctly from memory today. Yes, I'm a word freak.
You get to read about it from Wikipedia:
Floccinaucinihilipilification (pronounced /ˌflɒksɨˌnɔːsɨˌnaɪ(h)ɪlɨˌpɪlɨfɪˈkeɪʃən/; Floccinaucinihilipilification.ogg British English , Floc.ogg American English ; variously floccipaucinihilipilification, with p for n) is the estimation of something as worthless, or the habit of doing so.[1] Sometimes written with hyphens, it is frequently cited as one of the longest words in the English language.

The word is derived from a list of Latin words found in a section of the Eton Latin Grammar.[1] The word is said to have been invented as an erudite joke by a student of Eton College, who found in his textbook four ways of saying "don't care" and combined them:[citation needed]

  • flocci facere (from floccus, -i a wisp or piece of wool)
  • nauci facere (from naucum, -i a trifle)
  • nihili facere (from nihilum, -i nothing; something valueless (lit. "not even a thread" from ni+hilum)) Example being: "nihilism"
  • pili facere (from pilus, -i a hair; a bit or a whit; something small and insignificant)
Hey, at least I didn't say Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis.

Chesterton: Human Vs. Christian Charity

I read The Chief Mourner of Marne, by G.K. Chesterton. I was struck by this quote at the end of the story.
"There is a limit to human charity," said Lady Outram, trembling all over.

"There is," said Father Brown dryly; "and that is the real difference between human charity and Christian charity.

You must forgive me if I was not altogether crushed by your contempt for my uncharitableness today; or by the lectures you read me about pardon for every sinner.

For it seems to me that you only pardon the sins that you don't really think sinful. You only forgive criminals when they commit what you don't regard as crimes, but rather as conventions.

So you tolerate a conventional duel, just as you tolerate a conventional divorce. You forgive because there isn't anything to be forgiven."

Language Teasers

Something sparked a memory today and made me remember this "Latin" joke. Made me smile.
If it doesn't make sense, or your "Latin" is rusty, try reading it out loud.
O sibili si ergo, fortibuses in ero.
O nobili demis trux: sewatis enim? Cowsendux.
And this other gem:
M R ducks.
M R not ducks.
O S A R. C M wangs? C M E D B D I's?
L I B, M R ducks.
For that last one, you could replace ducks with rats or whatever, and get the same joke. Sure, they're groaners, but that's why we like them.

Speaking of Latin, my favorite doggerel as a student:
Latin is a dead language
As dead as it can be;
First it killed the Romans,
And now it's killing me.
And the esoteric: Conjugate the verb to spit
spitto, spittere, ach tui, splattus!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Me Toolbuilder

Man is a tool builder. He has been since his earliest days. Using that 3 pounds of gray matter between his ears for something other than a paperweight.

Tools are cool. Guys like tools. Even when the "work" is virtual - on a computer - we still build tools to do it bigger, better, faster, cheaper -- whatever it is, it needs a tool.

I built a tool this week using an Excel spreadsheet and a pile of macros. Makes my work easier, and doggone it, it felt good.

I feel a little caveman coming on: Me build tool. Me like. Ug. Ug.

Year Of The Priest: Ordination 2009

Great video promoting Ordination 2009 from NYPriest.com.
Good script, music, camera work. Compelling with just a bit of mystery. Our great faith.

I seem to be on a "new media" kick this week.
h/t Catholic Manhood

The Gargoyle Code

Fr. Longenecker is at it again with a new book called The Gargoyle Code which is written in the tradition of The Screwtape Letters.

Fr. L. discusses his new book in a podcast here. Check out Fr. L. as he reads a letter from the book! Very cool! Fr. L. says this book is just right for Lent (thinking ahead).

Here's a podcast in which I speak about Screwtape Letters and my new book Gargoyle Code. Tell your friends to tune in please. If you have a blog, I'd love you to link to the podcast.

The book is available through St Benedict Press, and will soon be available for purchase through my website. If you would like a signed copy just send me an email: dlongenecker@charter.net and let me know how many copies you would like, and the address to which it should be sent. Then go to the 'Donate' button in the right sidebar of the blog and donate the amount we agree. (one book is $15.00 which includes p+p, but more than one costs less)

The Butterfly Circus

Good Film. Watch. Now.

The Butterfly Circus

At the height of the Great Depression, the showman of a renowned circus leads his troupe through the devastated American landscape, lifting the spirits of audiences along the way. During their travels they discover a man without limbs at a carnival sideshow, but after an intriguing encounter with the showman he becomes driven to hope against everything he has ever believed. Starring Eduardo Verástegui (Bella), Doug Jones (Pan's Labyrinth, Fantastic Four) and featuring the debut performance of Nick Vujicic.

h/t Mike in CT

Little Black Raincloud

Time for my stoutness exercise.

You never can tell with bees.


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