Monday, May 31, 2010

Life Without You


Wynken was on the Boy Scouts 100th Anniversary Camporee this weekend at Goshen. The last such Camporee was sometime back in 1970-something; the next one is likely not until the Boy Scouts' 150th anniversary. So, in that sense it was fairly historic.

The rest of the Nodlings were very occupied with our many coming and goings; birthday parties, pool openings, people going to and from the airport, and the like. A very busy weekend spent mostly without #1. That fact and aka the Mom's complaints of a girl-less fortnight got me to thinking.

In a big family, somebody's absence is actually quite noticeable. [I'm sure it's a lot noticeable in a small family, but I wouldn't know. ;-) ] The house just feels different depending on who is there and not there; the family dynamic changes dramatically, especially with the kids.

Wynken is both a bookworm and a night-owl. He's a smart kid with amazing long term recall. I am always the last man standing before bed, and I make periodic patrols of the house as I putter about. Many's the night when I have to "retire" a book from Wynken's hands to get him to go to sleep. When he's not here, everyone is asleep early.

Blynken is the ringleader for the other girls and a bit of an instigator. She is either sweet as sugar and the perfect playmate or the unseen hand for all the girl dust-ups. When she's not around, Nod-girl tends to wander about aimlessly claiming she's bored.

Nod-girl is the original drama queen. A typical middle child, neither big nor little. Emotionally sensitive, attention craving, both smart and creative, given to random acts of kindness. When she's not here, it feels like there is a vacuum between the Bigs and the Littles that needs filling.

Nub is our toddler on steroids. He is celebrating his third anniversary of his second birthday. A lovably cute boy with DS, he's got the strength and reach of a five year old with the understanding of a two year old. He is also our resident musician and people-watcher. Almost every toy he has makes music, which is what he loves. When he is not around there is a preternatural quiet which makes us 'start' suddenly, wondering where he is.

Nib is our impish little girl. She is the size of a pixie and as clever as a fox. She runs and skips around the house taking delight in every little thing. Most of what she does is unbearably cute, and she'll tell you so. "I cute!" How someone so small can make such a loud ruckus is beyond me. When she is not around, we start counting heads and wait for someone to come along to delight us with the joy of living.

Mrs. Nod is the one that everyone wants and needs, including me. Once she said it didn't seem like I needed her that much since I'm the extrovert, but I told her she is like a touchstone to which you have to keep returning in order to stay grounded. Nobody can bear to have her gone for long. It's tiring being everyone's number one, but fame and popularity has its price!

I can't imagine life without them, really. Every once in a while we get a glimpse of what that would actually be like, and it's just Wrong somehow.

Memorial Day: Reveille

On this Memorial Day, WBN would like to pause to remember all the great men and women who have served this country in the Armed Forces and gave the last great measure of devotion: their very lives.

h/t Thoughts of a Regular Guy

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival #59

This week on Sunday Snippets, WBN presents: Picture this.
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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.

Galactic Homebrew

I have 5 gallons of beer fermenting in my basement, but apparently that's nothing compared to what the neighbors are doing; and by neighbors, I mean in the Sagittarius B2 region.

[source] McGovern’s enjoyable book, Uncorking the Past, begins with an amazing image: apparently, astronomers have used radio-waves to discover “massive clouds” of alcohol, “measuring billions of kilometers across,” scattered throughout interstellar space, “surrounding new star systems.”

IMAGE: Colour-composite image of the Galactic Centre and Sagittarius B2 from the European Southern Observatory. Sagittarius B2 is a vast cloud of interstellar particles including alcohol in the form of methanol, ethanol, and vinyl ethanol.

So I guess God is the ultimate homebrewer?

In related news, Dogfishhead brewery now has 3500 year old chocolate beer, Theobroma.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Vocatus Es: Thou Art A Priest Forever

My submission for the Cleansing Fire Vocatus Es contest ...

Pope Gets Around

The Pope's travel schedule for the next five months was published recently. I like to see it in pictures. The guy gets around.

.- As the Pope was preparing to leave for Malta Saturday afternoon, an outline of his schedule for the coming five months was released by the Vatican. Peppered among the four trips the Holy Father is scheduled to make by the end of September are a number of other events in Rome and the surrounding area.

The month of May will see the Holy Father in Turin to meet with the faithful and to venerate the Shroud (May 2) which is on temporary exposition. A pastoral visit will be made to Portugal from May 11-14, during which time he will be in Lisbon, Oporto and Fatima. Planned festivities include celebrations to mark the 10th anniversary of the beatification of Jacinta and Francisco Marto. Later in the month, on May 23, he will preside over Mass at St. Peter's Basilica on Pentecost Sunday.

In June, in addition to his trip to Cyprus (June 4-6) to present the Instrumentum Laboris for the October's Special Synod for the Middle East, the Pope will preside over six other celebrations, according to the official agenda. Among the most notable of these are a prayer vigil and Mass with priests taking part in the International Theological Convention for the conclusion of the Year for Priests (June 9-11) and a Mass for priestly and deaconate ordinations for the Diocese of Rome (June 20).

July and August have only one announced event each. On Sunday, July 4 the Holy Father will make a Pastoral Visit to Sulmona, Italy, in the Abruzzo region, to celebrate the 800th year since the birth of Pope St. Peter Celestine V. The local parish of St. Thomas of Villanova will host Pope Benedict on August 15, where he will preside over Mass.

During the month of September, he is planning one local and one international visit. On Sept. 5, Benedict XVI will go to Carpineto Romano, about 60 miles southeast of Rome, in observation of the 200th year since the birth of Pope Leo XIII. Later, from the 16-19 of the same month, he will travel to Great Britain to beatify Cardinal John Henry Newman, spending time in England and Scotland, where he will meet with Queen Elizabeth II.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Spring Amnesty 2

At the risk of seeming like this is turning into all hearts and flowers, kids and cooking kind of blog, I thought I'd post my little find this week.

The annoying robins who built a too-low nest in my tree seemed to have abandoned ship, so I was going to knock it down with a broom. A sudden impulse to double check showed why momma wasn't sitting on the nest anymore.

They hatched; momma bird was off looking for worms.

Sigh. I'll give 'em a few more weeks rent-free, but then they gotta go. Now, on the other hand, if anybody sees the groundhog, he's toast.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

New Feature

I just recently went over 1000 posts on this blog.

I got to thinking, "Whew! That's a lot of posts. It's a shame that a lot of people will never read some of the better bits from the past."

Now I could re-post stuff from time to time, but that's a lot of work, it's repetitious, and frankly annoying. Of course the archives are all there on the left side, but unless you're really bored, brand-new here, or stalking me, you're probably not trolling the archives. You faithful followers (did I mention how great you are?) have all read it before anyway.

No, what we need here is a better way of bringing up the relevant bits from the archives and relating them to what's current. So, I've implemented a new feature that I hope will be of interest.

Now at the bottom of every post there are 3 "Related WBN articles" that are automatically selected by this service called LinkWithin. I saw it first over at Natural Relaxed Home Learning, so hat tip to Shelley!

So we're going to try it out, let me know how you like it. It only shows up on the blog itself, so RSS readers will have to drop by the site to check it out.

Self Appointed Experts

I just got done with the required Diocesan child sexual abuse prevention presentation. Yes, it was needed; yes it was annoying being from 7pm - 11pm, but that's when I could make it. I have no problem with doing required paperwork and jumping through hoops if it means our kids are even an ounce safer.

What I do have a problem with is all the self-appointed experts in the room. There were a couple of loudmouth people in the room who just felt the need to pontificate on What Should Be Done and How To Teach Kids How To Be Safe, and I Can Just Tell When Someone's A Child Molester.

Shut up. The loudmouths in the room are the ones who need to pay the most attention, because they haven't got a clue and they proved it by opening said mouths. The lady giving the presentation did a heroic job of quashing all that self-perpetuating chatter. It was late, we'd all already had a long day, and nobody particularly wanted to be there in the first place.

If these self righteous experts have so much to say, they can volunteer to teach the next course, but in the meantime: zip it; get the needed information; and let us all go home to tell our wives and kids how much we love and appreciate them.

Monday, May 24, 2010

When Taste Buds Dream

It must be food week. Cooking with maple syrup has gotten my taste buds dreaming.

Tonight's food adventure is Almond Maple Chicken over a bed of rice with parsnips, apples, and fresh parsley.


First I coated the chicken in flour, rosemary, salt, and pepper and browned it in butter and set aside. Then I added vinegar, apples, parsnips, maple syrup, and a cup of chicken bullion and simmered for 6 minutes. I added the chicken back in and cooked it covered on medium heat until the juices ran clear. I added a 1/3 cup of sliced almonds and fresh parsley and served over a bed of chicken-and-wild-rice pilaf.

My taste buds have the best dreams.

Original recipe here.

Sounds Fishy

Mrs. Nod really doesn't like fish very much.

Other than Wynken, my fish-eater, the Nodlings think fish means fish sticks. So it came as a bit of a surprise when Mrs. Nod brought home several bags of fillets to fill the freezer. "Variety", she said. "Who are you?", said I.

Now of course I discover this on the day when the larder is practically empty. No vegetables, no real sides, and a couple of condiments. (The grocery check out guy thought $400 was a large order - ha!). I'm the designated weekend chef, but it was just me and an empty refrigerator. Tough sell.

But I'm nothing if not inventive. It's been said that I only know how to make one dish called: something similar. As in, this is something similar to something you may have had before, but not quite. So, I improvise a little.

Wynken will eat fish, and I remembered that Blynken recently discovered she likes tuna; if I can sell her, I can fake the rest of the Nodlings out. I defrosted a couple of sushi-grade Ahi Tuna steaks and seared them on a 500 degree grill for one minute on each side; then minced. I took the only two tablespoons of mayonnaise remaining in the house and combined. Meanwhile, I made some chicken flavored 10-minute rice on the stove as a filler.

I know from experience that presentation is everything when trying to get kids to try something new. So I grabbed some tortillas and quick heated them in the microwave. I put the rice onto the tortilla, added the tuna mix, quick chopped some iceberg lettuce on top, threw on a slather of ranch dressing, and just a dash of maple syrup for insurance. (Yes, it was just sitting there on the counter, don't look at me like that.) I rolled it all up and cut it fancy and served it as a wrap.

The Nodlings thought it was fantastic. I waited until they had wolfed most of it down before I told them that "seared tuna" meant "only cooked on the outside". Didn't matter -- they said I could make it again. Winner!

By the time my plate hit the counter we were all out of mayo. My wrap featured just rice, tuna, lettuce, ranch dressing, and sriracha hot sauce (oh, and a tiny dab of the maple syrup for giggles). The flavors went together surprisingly well.

So, it's not so much what you make, but what you make out of it that counts (on occasion). Happy eating!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Milestone

Wow. This is my 1000th post; it's hard to believe that I've had a thousand things to say in the 2 1/2 years I've been blogging. (Some people might say I still don't have anything to say, but who's listening to them?)

I wanted to do something really great or awesome for this thousandth post, but then I realized it's not really about me, it's about you, dear reader. Because without you, this blog is the sound of one hand clapping.

So here's to you - a small but loyal cadre of readers who have made the blog worth writing. When I read your comments, see your follower icon, or even note your anonymous and aggregated numbers on the RSS feed, it warms my little digital heart.

So all I can say is if you will keep it up (reading, commenting, following), then I will keep it up too. From all of us here at WBN -- Nod, Mrs. Nod, Wynken, Blynken, Nod-girl, Nub, and Nib -- mille grazie (a Thousand Thanks)!

Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival #58

This week on Sunday Snippets, WBN presents: Babies, bioethics, and birth defects.

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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, May 22, 2010

The Seeds Of Expectation

Every year I say I'm going to get a head start on my garden; most years it doesn't happen. It doesn't help that my garden is 650 square feet of largely red clay.

At one point it was appreciably better amended; at one point I was appreciably younger too. But when we expanded the house to fit all the Nodlings, a lot of fill dirt got dumped in my garden which puts the lousy soil on top -- oh, and rocks, HOW we've got rocks (did I mention the rock quarry down the street?)

So I had to wait for the rains to begin in order to till the garden, otherwise even with a front end rototiller it's impossibly hard. What I need to do is haul half the dirt out and replace it with grade-A topsoil. In the meantime, I just keep amending and tilling.

So that part is finally done; now I've got seeds in their starter pods. I think I was trying to make up for lost time, because I overbought on seeds. We've got bush basil, purple basil, savory, beets, cantaloupe, zucchini, cow peas, black beans, green beans, peas, leeks, sweet yellow onion, parsnips, corn, yellow banana peppers, cucumbers, Bibb lettuce, strawberry, and celery.

I still need tomatoes, bell peppers, and yellow squash. The kids want pumpkins. Sigh. I've got to fit all that into 650 square feet.

To let you know how I feel about my garden, I was planting in the rain. Here is my post from last year when I was waxing poetic (an original!).




I have a mistress to whom my wife bids me go; "Indeed", she says, "you have been away too long".

It is not a lady that beckons, but rather the earth in my garden. For three years she has lain fallow; no crops, no food, no fruit of the earth has she given me. "Alas", I sigh, "my lady lies barren, my mistress comforts me not."

A man comes from the earth, made by the effortless hand of God; a man toils in the earth to bring forth its fruit by the sweat of his brow -- such is his doom. And yet the garden is his refuge, he longs to feel the land beneath his feet; to plant and to furrow; to take delight in the tender shoots from the earth; to reap and to gather the work of his hand.

If God in His mercy sends His rain in due season, yet shall she bear forth. My fields are plowed, my garden prepared -- let the sowing begin! "Come.", my mistress beckons, "Come and let it begin again."

Friday, May 21, 2010

As If On Cue

Now we have this story about a team of American scientists who have created the first synthetic cell. J. Craig Venter , a genome-mapping pioneer and researcher converted one kind of bacterium into another with its own RNA.

We just mentioned last post (Fold It, the protein folding game) about medical/scientific research and the obligation to behave ethically. The Church is not anti-science regardless of what you may have head misreported about the whole Galileo incident. Indeed she is very avid to support it, because truth can never be contradicted, and God is Truth. But as with all research, it needs to come with boundaries in order to use it rightly.

[NYT] A top Italian cardinal, Angelo Bagnasco, said the invention is ''further sign of intelligence, God's gift to understand creation and be able to better govern it,'' according to Apcom and ANSA news agencies.

''On the other hand, intelligence can never be without responsibility,'' said Bagnasco, the head of the Italian bishops' conference. ''Any form of intelligence and any scientific acquisition ... must always be measured against the ethical dimension, which has at its heart the true dignity of every person.''

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Cure Cancer By Game Playing?

This is a bit novel: games with real-life purposes and applications. A team of biologists have created a game called Fold It (at the equally clever domain name fold.it).

David Baker, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute researcher at the University of Washington, designed a game that uses human intuition about puzzle solving to help predict how proteins fold. Proteins are key players in both diseases and developing cures.

What big problems is this game tackling?

  • Protein structure prediction: As described above, knowing the structure of a protein is key to understanding how it works and to targeting it with drugs. A small proteins can consist of 100 amino acids, while some human proteins can be huge (1000 amino acids). The number of different ways even a small protein can fold is astronomical because there are so many degrees of freedom. Figuring out which of the many, many possible structures is the best one is regarded as one of the hardest problems in biology today and current methods take a lot of money and time, even for computers. Foldit attempts to predict the structure of a protein by taking advantage of humans' puzzle-solving intuitions and having people play competitively to fold the best proteins.
  • Protein design: Since proteins are part of so many diseases, they can also be part of the cure. Players can design brand new proteins that could help prevent or treat important diseases.
A human protein (+) Enlarge This Image

How does my game playing contribute to curing diseases?

With all the things proteins do to keep our bodies functioning and healthy, they can be involved in disease in many different ways. The more we know about how certain proteins fold, the better new proteins we can design to combat the disease-related proteins and cure the diseases.

I suppose it is a little like SETI@home in that it is using voluntary distributed processing to work on difficult problems, but unlike SETI, this might have more practical applications closer to home.

Supposedly all the resultant work will be in the public domain and not just the intellectual property of some mega-biotech firm, but time will tell. One guy has already folded a protein that might be a good anti-influenza form.

One of the troubling aspects of all the research that is getting done these days is the lack of ethics and moral restraint accompanying it. (Yes, I know that ethics can mean whatever you want it to depending on your starting point, but in this case I mean Judeo-Christian/natural law type ethics). "Science" is running far ahead of its ability to keep a moral framework around it.

Case in point: a friend of mine says he rarely contributes to fundraisers and Walk/Run/Race for the X cure, because the money raised to "find a cure" frequently turns into "a genetic test for X abnormality in utero and subsequent abortion". Instead of curing the disease, they are preventing the disease from troubling society by preventing that person's birth.

This has apparently happened with organizations like the March Of Dimes, UNICEF, and the Komen Foundation.

As helpful as many [Down Syndrome] support organizations can be to parents of children with DS, some of the largest ones have abdicated any responsibility for reducing abortions of babies with birth defects. The March of Dimes, the National Down Syndrome Society, and the National Down Syndrome Congress all take a neutral stance on abortion, ostensibly because they don't want to judge or to tell anyone what to do.

However, a neutral stance on abortion is not a neutral policy. It implies that the killing of these innocents is in the best interests of society, and can therefore be justified. Instead, these organizations need to take a stand in defense of all babies with Down syndrome, born and unborn.

They could have an unparalleled influence on the current situation by putting a positive face on these unborn babies, whose humanity and inherent value to society shine through at the moment of birth. There is no telling how many precious lives could be saved if they did. [source]
These are all things to ponder and think about. In the meantime, you could solve a puzzle by Fold It.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Hacking Your Car

Ok, so remember all the brouhaha not so long ago about Toyota cars having sudden acceleration and braking problems? Toyota initially said it was floor mats, and then a braking pedal shim needed to be added.

And then Popular Mechanics piled on and showed conclusively that the braking problems were all mechanical and not electronic.
[Popular Mechanics] But the possibility that a vehicle could go from idling at a traffic light to terrific, uncalled-for and uncontrollable acceleration because the guy next to you at a traffic light answered his cellphone? Or some ghost in the machine or a hacker caused a software glitch that made your car run away and the brakes suddenly simultaneously fail? Not in the least bit likely.

These throttle-by-wire systems are very difficult to confuse—they're designed to be robust, and any conceivable failure is engineered to command not an open throttle but an error message.

Remember how some people were caught being liars and gold diggers? Then there were the graphs and interpolations of data that showed that old people were disproportionately victims of Sudden Unintended Acceleration (SUA) - a not so subtle hint that the geezers were pushing the accelerator when they thought they were pushing the brake. Oops.


And then Toyota came out and said there was a problem with software causing braking problems after all, but it was nothing like this "runaway" problem that people were reporting. And there were Congressional hearings and fines levied and then we all breathed a collective sigh of relief because it was all overblown in the first place.

Remember all that, mister? Do you? Huh, do you?

Well nobody is calling out any companies by name, but a team of geeks led by Stefan Savage, an associate professor with the University of California-San Diego, and Tadayoshi Kohno of the University of Washington successfully hacked a car's computer to make it do all kinds of things you're not "supposed" to be able to do, including "turn off the brakes in a moving car, change the speedometer reading, blast hot air or music on the radio, and lock passengers inside the car".

They built a custom analyzer called CARSHARK and plugged it into the industry standard computer access port under the hood.

In the United States, the federally-mandated On- Board Diagnostics (OBD-II) port, under the dash in virtually all modern vehicles, provides direct and standard access to internal automotive networks. User-upgradable subsystems such as audio players are routinely attached to these same internal networks, as are a variety of short- range wireless devices (Bluetooth, wireless tire pressure sensors, etc.). Telematics systems, exemplified by General Motors’ (GM’s) OnStar [service].

Fuzzing. Much to our surprise, significant attacks do not require a complete understanding or reverse-engineering of even a single component of the car. In fact, because the range of valid CAN packets is rather small, significant damage can be done by simple fuzzing of packets (i.e., iterative testing of random or partially random packets). In- deed, for attackers seeking indiscriminate disruption, fuzzing is an effective attack by itself. [source]
Oh, and then they did the whole thing over again by remote control. Yeah.

Read the entire thing here.

I'm a computer security guy and I find this the Coolest. Thing. Ever. (also scary). So it's not like I'm saying "I told you so" or anything ... OK, who are we kidding? I am saying it. I told you so.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Overheard In My House

Actually, it was overheard on Catholic Radio.

A man calls in regarding whether it is permissible to be sterilized at a certain age if there is a history of begetting children with genetic defects after 40.

The host responds that we need to see children with Biblical eyes, as gifts from the Lord.

He goes on to say, "I, myself, have a genetic defect. I was born with Original Sin."

Best comment ever!

Catholic Joke Of The Day

Lost on a rainy Friday night, a priest stumbles into a monastery and requests shelter there. Fortunately, he's just in time for dinner and was treated to the best fish and chips he's ever had.

After dinner, he goes into the kitchen to thank the chefs. He is met by two brothers, "Hello, I'm Brother Michael, and this is Brother Francis."

"I'm very pleased to meet you. I just wanted to thank you for a wonderful dinner. The fish and chips were the best I've ever tasted. Out of curiosity, who cooked what?"

Brother Charles replied, "Well, I'm the fish friar."

Father turns to the other brother and says, "Then you must be...."

"Yes, I'm afraid I'm the chip monk..."

Monday, May 17, 2010

Hail, Hail

Last Friday evening we got nailed by a sudden hail storm. I had just finished saying, "I think I'm going to till the garden before it gets too late", when the skies darkened and 1"-2" hail started coming down in a deluge.

It was so violent, we decided we had better close the drapes in case the windows broke. We looked out onto the lawn and the hail was getting such a good bounce it appeared that hail was jumping upward from the grass by six inches.

Somebody (not me) got some video of the storm.



When it was all over, it looked like someone had opened dozens of bags of party ice all over. The hail melted fairly quickly after all was said and done which created a fog over the streets.



Wild stuff.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Hello Baby!

So, I've got all the kids and I've bought a -ahem- crapload of diapers. My questions is when do I get the free iPad?

h/t Aggie Catholics

Virtual Glory

Who's to say that shameless posturing, begging, bribing, pandering, and incessant nagging don't get you anywhere? The final results are in from The Crescat's 2010 Cannonball Catholic Blog Awards.

Sean over at the Catholic Roundup has a podcast with none other than Kat, The Crescat herself, as his guest to announce the winners; Kat says that she would like "to confirm that I DO NOT sound like Kathleen Turner after smoking a carton of cigarettes and a night of hard drinking" -- although we would have laughed if she had.

Remember that half the fun was not taking yourself too seriously and a chance to get introduced to some great Catholic blogs out there that you otherwise wouldn't have known about. You gotta keep the funny in mind!

One spoiler, WBN is the winner in Best Potpourri of Popery! Thanks to all the little people (by that I mean the Nodlings who are all under four feet high). This virtual award is gonna look great next to my other imaginary accomplishments.

Oh, and the Chicago-land style voting didn't hurt either. A big shout out to my peeps in the Cannonball Voting Bloc: LarryD, Acts of the Apostasy: winner Snarkiest Blog; Aka the Mom, Shoved To Them: winner Best Under-Appreciated Blog; Joe, Defend Us In Battle: runner up Best New Kid On The Block. (The Machine can even crush a Bloc in Chicago-land ...)

Thanks again, and the homebrew will be ready in about four weeks; if you start biking now, you'll be here just in time.

Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival #57

This week on Sunday Snippets, WBN presents: A Potpourri of Popery.


=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

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, May 15, 2010

Spring Amnesty

The robins around my house are not that bright and can be a bit of a pest at times. One thought that my garage was his home, a notion that I discouraged vigorously.

So now they've chosen a tree next to the garage and built a nest. At least it was a tree. The issue (for them) is that they only built it six feet off the ground, so they are easy prey for cats, foxes, and -- well me. As I said, not the brightest birds.

Given that the momma bird has already laid eggs and is sitting on them, I'll cut 'em a break -- for now.

In the meantime, it's picture time with camera phone.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Last Chance

There are a mere few hours left to get your vote in for WBN as Best Potpourri of Popery.
That's right, just when you thought the Catholic blogosphere's snarkiest awards contest would never end -- it ends tonight.

WBN would like to thank all the people we hounded who voted. You guys are the best!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

I Am An Immortal


I am an immortal and so are you; it's just that not everybody realizes this.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) teaches that a person's soul is immortal, is created immediately by God, it does not perish when it separates from the body at death, and it will be reunited with the body at the final Resurrection.1

People get some crazy ideas about what we are and why we're here. PETA thinks we're all merely animals and therefore equivalent: bug=fish=dog=boy. Another old heresy comes from the Albigensians2 that holds only the soul is important and needs to be freed from the body.

Fact is, the body and soul are a unity3, profoundly linked.4 Death itself is only a temporary separation, not the end.

So how do we deal with all this? I'll leave it to you to figure out how to counter PETA - it seems a fairly shallow philosophy; as for Albigensians:
Two men considering a religious vocation were having a conversation. "What is similar about the Jesuit and Dominican Orders? " the one asked.

The second replied, "Well, they were both founded by Spaniards -- St. Dominic for the Dominicans, and St. Ignatius of Loyola for the Jesuits. They were also both founded to combat heresy -- the Dominicans to fight the Albigensians, and the Jesuits to fight the Protestants."

"What is different about the Jesuit and Dominican Orders?"

"Met any Albigensians lately?"



[1] Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), para. 366
[2] New Advent, Catholic Encyclopedia, http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01267e.htm
[3] GS 14 § 1; cf. Dan 3:57-80.

[4] Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), para. 365

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

PDQ Bach: Beethoven's 5th

Sticking with our theme, here is a very funny "sportscast" of Beethoven's 5th symphony from Peter Schickele, a.k.a., PDQ Bach.

This is a"listening" gag, so no pretty pictures (except the one). Stick with it though, this is comedy gold!

What if Worship were like an NBA Game?

What if Worship were like an NBA Game?
h/t The Ironic Catholic



Remember, you can't take yourself too seriously.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Since You're Here ...

Just want to give a shout out to all the visitors from The Crescat: thanks for coming!

Also "mad props" to all of you who are keeping Wynken, Blynken, and Nod in the running for the Best Potpourri of Popery. It don't mean nothin' -- except to me!

As long as you're here, why not click on the RSS feed in the upper left corner to "Follow the Blynken Blog" posts and get them delivered directly to your Reader? It's private and nobody has to know your guilty pleasure ...

Or fearlessly slap your icon down on the Followers bar like the cowboys of old and become a public Nod'er. We're glad to have ya, and we'll fight any man who says different!

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Monday, May 10, 2010

Pabstbier Is Pope Beer

If it's good enough for the Pope it's good enough for me!

Weideneder Brau Vertriebs GmbH, a family-owned brewery in nearby Tann, Germany, has created a special brew called Pabst Bier/Pope Beer. The label reads, "Dedicated to the Great Son of our Homeland, Pope Benedict XVI."

"We consider it to be our obligation to appreciate the election of a Bavarian Pope in a Bavarian way," says brewery Weideneder Bräu, which is local to where young Joe Ratzinger grew up. "The Pope’s Beer is a festival beer of highest quality containing only exquisite raw materials, presenting a mild character and a light colour, brewed strictly in accordance with the German beer purity law." h/t Ship of Fools

Speaking of the Pope, there is still time to vote WBN to victory in the Best Potpourri of Popery category. We are going strong, but we need to fight to the finish!

Vote! Vote! Vote! Minions awake! Then you too can share in basking in the glory of a truly pointless award. We wants it.

Aka The Mom is giving out donuts, WBN is offering homebrew!

Onward Cannonball Bloc!

Bilocation And Other Holidays

Since we're all a journey towards holiness, I thought I'd try bi- and tri-location this weekend. Somehow, I think I'm doing it wrong.

Why does everyone schedule everything for Mother's Day weekend? Don't they know that maybe Mom wants a day of leisure? Instead I got a day with three soccer games, a birthday party, a Scout campout, a double-date Father-daughter dance, a bridal shower, visiting relatives, and extended family dinner.

And that was just Saturday.

The only thing I wasn't part of was the bridal shower. That was Mrs. Nod's job -- that and a nap. Ok, we can't begrudge her that one. But that meant she was out and I was bi-locating. It was an eventful day. One kid almost got lost at the campout, one kid almost drowned at the pool, one kid wouldn't dance, one wouldn't eat, and one wouldn't sleep. I grilled two full top round and 6 T-bone steaks for the family dinner at Mom's house and stayed up to all hours with the relatives. It was exhausting.

Monday morning at the office you get the inevitable question: How was your weekend?

"Good", was my only answer.

Beer Haiku


Fermenting beer sits
Millions of yeast in situ
Can't wait to drink it

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Papal Picture Of The Day

Don't forget to vote for Wynken, Blynken, and Nod, for Best Potpourri of Popery award. You can vote once a day and you don't have to sign up for anything. Help a struggling blogger get some recognition in the Catholic blogosphere's snarkiest awards contest.

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What's black and white and red all over? A newspaper.
What's gold and white and red all over? The pope coming down the stairs. No, not funny, but dig those crazy red shoes!

[Wikipedia] The Papal shoes are the red leather outdoor shoes worn by the Pope. They should not be confused with the indoor papal slippers or the Episcopal sandals, which are the liturgical footwear proper to all Latin Rite bishops.

As did many noblemen, the Pope wore slippers (pantofole) inside his residences and leather shoes outside. The indoor papal slippers were made of red velvet or silk and were heavily decorated in gold braid, with a gold cross in the middle.

Before 1969, the Pope, like all bishops and prelates, wore Episcopal sandals during the Mass. The color of the Episcopal sandals varied to match the liturgical color of the Mass.

The Papal outdoor shoes were made of plain red Morocco leather and had a wide cross in gold braid. The cross once extended across the shoe and down to the sole. In the eighteenth century the ends of the cross were shortened, as shown in the photo of Pius VII's shoes. This old-fashioned type of dress shoe is very thin-soled and is sometimes called "pantofola liscia" or smooth slipper model.

After 1958, Pope John XXIII added gold buckles to the outdoor papal shoes, making them similar to the red shoes worn by cardinals outside of Rome.

Pope Paul VI eliminated the gold cross and completely discontinued the custom of kissing the papal foot. Paul VI can be seen wearing red buckled shoes in photographs from his 1964 trip to Jerusalem. In 1969, Paul VI abolished buckles from all ecclesiastical shoes, which had been customarily required at the Papal Court and for prelates. He also discontinued the use of the indoor velvet papal slippers and the Paschal mozzetta and shoes. Paul VI wore plain red leather shoes throughout the rest of his pontificate. Pope John Paul I, who was pope for only 33 days, continued wearing the plain red leather shoes worn by Paul VI. Early in his pontificate Pope John Paul II wore red shoes; however he quickly adopted wearing ordinary brown shoes. Paul VI, John Paul I, and John Paul II were buried in the red leather papal shoes.

Pope Benedict XVI restored the use of the red papal shoes, which are provided by his personal cobbler in Rome.[1]. In 2008, Pope Benedict XVI also restored the use of the white damask silk Paschal mozzetta, which was previously worn with white silk slippers.

The papal shoes, along with the camauro, papal mozzetta, and cloak (tabarro), are the only remnants of the former red color of the papal garments. St. Pope Pius V (1566 - 1572), who was a Dominican, changed the papal color to white, and it has remained so since.

Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival #56

This week on Sunday Snippets, WBN presents: Origin of the Rosary and The Virtues.
Don't forget to vote for your -ahem- humble host, Wynken, Blynken, and Nod, for Best Potpourri of Popery award. You can vote once a day and you don't have to sign up for anything. Help a struggling blogger get some recognition in the Catholic blogosphere's snarkiest awards contest.

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

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, May 7, 2010

Give Me Your Poor, Your Tired, Your Vote!!


The cage match battle to the death voting has begun at The Crescat for the 2010 Cannonball Catholic Blog Awards!

Your humble blogger needs you to vote, vote, vote each day for me in the Best Potpourri of Popery category.

We got Popery, we got funny, we got serious, we even have snacks. Our 5 little Nodlings will be completely bereft and destitute* if you don't vote and help us win. We're offering free home brewed beer** and a homemade Super Catholic cape if you vote for us like you're from the Chicago vote-early-vote-often section or Huey Long's Louisiana.

Don't let a better blog win! Help the poor guy with the full mini-van instead. Only you can prevent forest fires, and only you can put WBN in the win column!

Vote, and be counted as one of the Minions in the Old Dominion!

* For some value of "bereft and destitute"
** Must be present to collect

Update: Join our Cannonball Voting Bloc!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Visited By Heroes


Today Wynken's Scout Troop was honored by a visit from a Medal of Honor recipient, Ronald E. Ray. The Medal of Honor is the highest decoration for bravery and heroics in the face of danger with selfless disregard for personal safety.



Here is the official photo courtesy of Wikemedia, and my poor cell phone picture of the real thing.



His citation reads:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Capt. Ray distinguished himself while serving as a platoon leader with Company A.

When 1 of his ambush patrols was attacked by an estimated reinforced Viet Cong company, Capt. Ray organized a reaction force and quickly moved through 2 kilometers of mountainous jungle terrain to the contact area. After breaking through the hostile lines to reach the beleaguered patrol, Capt. Ray began directing the reinforcement of the site.

When an enemy position pinned down 3 of his men with a heavy volume of automatic weapons fire, he silenced the emplacement with a grenade and killed 4 Viet Cong with his rifle fire. As medics were moving a casualty toward a sheltered position, they began receiving intense hostile fire.

While directing suppressive fire on the enemy position, Capt. Ray moved close enough to silence the enemy with a grenade. A few moments later Capt. Ray saw an enemy grenade land, unnoticed, near 2 of his men. Without hesitation or regard for his safety he dove between the grenade and the men, thus shielding them from the explosion while receiving wounds in his exposed feet and legs. He immediately sustained additional wounds in his legs from an enemy machinegun, but nevertheless he silenced the emplacement with another grenade.

Although suffering great pain from his wounds, Capt. Ray continued to direct his men, providing the outstanding courage and leadership they vitally needed, and prevented their annihilation by successfully leading them from their surrounded position.

Only after assuring that his platoon was no longer in immediate danger did he allow himself to be evacuated for medical treatment. By his gallantry at the risk of his life in the highest traditions of the military service, Capt. Ray has reflected great credit on himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Potpourri




The Pope does impressions? I'll bet he's great at charades, too.

Spirit Juice: Simply Catholic

It's making the rounds; if you haven't seen it yet, here it is.
Simple, but with a good message: be simply Catholic.

Spirit Juice studios has a new video for the Illinois Prayer Breakfast.



[h/t American Papist] The phrase “Simply Catholic” comes from Cardinal George’s book The Difference God Makes ... The phrase represents the Cardinal’s proposed solution to the struggle between orthodox and liberal wings of the Church, or more accurately, the perversion of orthodoxy which can happen on both the left and right sides of the Church.

Orthodoxy, of course, inasmuch as it represents the objective adherence to the truths of our Catholic faith and applied to our own times, is being “Simply Catholic.” Thus being simply Catholic does not represent a “lowest-common-denominator” approach, but calls all Catholics to fully embrace and live the saving truths contained in the Church’s deposit of faith. It represents a very high standard, not a low one.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Angelic Virtues

What's a Virtue? Other than the habit of doing good or moral excellence, the Virtues are second order angels, according to Thomas Aquinas. Virtue comes from the Latin root, "vir", meaning "man"; so virtue is an aspect of manliness or courage.
Virtues are known as the Spirits of Motion and control the elements. They are sometimes referred to as "the shining ones." They govern all nature. They have control over seasons, stars, moon; even the sun is subject to their command. They are also in charge of miracles and provide courage, grace, and valor.
According to traditional Thomistic division, there are 9 choirs, or ranks, of angels in three spheres: 1) Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones; 2) Dominions, Virtues, Powers; 3) Principalities, Archangels, Angels.

Angels are powerful creatures; not to be trifled with. These are not fat baby angels with wings, these are celestial creatures that exude the Power of God with which they are imbued.

From Dionysius the Areopagite: [source]

"The name of the holy Virtues signifies a certain powerful and unshakable virility welling forth into all their Godlike energies; not being weak and feeble for any reception of the divine Illuminations granted to it; mounting upwards in fullness of power to an assimilation with God; never falling away from the Divine Life through its own weakness, but ascending unwaveringly to the superessential Virtue which is the Source of virtue: fashioning itself, as far as it may, in virtue; perfectly turned towards the Source of virtue, and flowing forth providentially to those below it, abundantly filling them with virtue."

The list of the seven virtues include the 3 Theological virtues of Faith, Hope, and Charity as well as the 4 Cardinal virtues of Prudence, Justice, Temperance, and Fortitude.

Monday, May 3, 2010

St. Dominic And The Rosary

Ok, one more.

Our Lady gave St. Dominic the Rosary to pray as an effective tool for the conversion of sinners. Here it is in comic book form. Click for larger images.



[source] The Treasure Chest of Fun & Fact was a Catholic comic book published by George A. Pflaum of Dayton, Ohio and provided to Catholic parochial school students between 1946 and 1972. The digital collection contains the first eighteen volumes running from 1946 to 1963, which are in public domain. There are some issues missing from Volume 4 (1948-1949). The issues published from 1964 through 1971 are still under copyright protection, which cannot be included in the digital collection at this time. Issues published in 1972 were not copyrighted and will be added to the collection soon.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival #55

This week on Sunday Snippets, WBN presents: Virtues and the Funny Papers.

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

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, May 1, 2010

Jesus In The Funny Papers

Now it's not at all as bad as it sounds.

This is actually a very reverent treatment of the Eucharist in a publication called The Treasure Chest. Although the political overtones and certain details about the Eucharistic fast have changed, this is still relevant for Catholics everywhere.

People are going to read the funny papers. They may as well learn something.








[source] The Treasure Chest of Fun & Fact was a Catholic comic book published by George A. Pflaum of Dayton, Ohio and provided to Catholic parochial school students between 1946 and 1972. The digital collection contains the first eighteen volumes running from 1946 to 1963, which are in public domain. There are some issues missing from Volume 4 (1948-1949). The issues published from 1964 through 1971 are still under copyright protection, which cannot be included in the digital collection at this time. Issues published in 1972 were not copyrighted and will be added to the collection soon.

Age Appropriate Virtues: 16 To 18 Years Old

A resource that I refer back to periodically is a book called Character Building: A Guide for Parents and Teachers by David Isaacs. It outlines the general virtues that parents should be developing in their children at various ages.

These are the days that will try parent's souls and put our kids virtues to the test. Time to put the crowning touches on their virtue foundation.

From 16 to 18 years old
  • Prudence
  • Flexibility
  • Understanding
  • Loyalty
  • Audacity
  • Humility
  • Optimism
The first virtues we emphasize for this age level are based on the ability to reason things out intelligently; in other words, it is almost impossible to develop virtues fully without a certain intellectual capacity. ...

When we come to describing how these virtues work, the reader will be able to see why I say this. For example, I speak about 'continually gathering information'; 'thinking out the consequences'; 'protecting a series of values'; 'recognizing various factors influencing situation'; 'recognizing one's own shortcomings'; etc. Therefore, it seems good to emphasize these virtues at the stage when young people are more intellectually developed. ...

In the earlier stage dangers arose out of letting their passions 'do their own thing'; in this later stage the main danger is mistaken ideas. Hence the need for flexibility so that they can learn from different situations without saying goodbye to the standards governing their personal behavior. ...

Parents should realize that already at these ages it is very difficult to require children to do things: nor is it such a good idea, anyway. Rather what they should be doing is really requiring the children to think things out before taking decisions; they should be reminding them of the importance of adopting standards which can form a basis for acting reasonably.

Ad Altare Dei

The Boy Scouts have a religious medal program for Catholics called Ad Altare Dei (to the altar of God). Here it is laid out in comic form.

Click for larger images.

[source] The Treasure Chest of Fun & Fact was a Catholic comic book published by George A. Pflaum of Dayton, Ohio and provided to Catholic parochial school students between 1946 and 1972. The digital collection contains the first eighteen volumes running from 1946 to 1963, which are in public domain. There are some issues missing from Volume 4 (1948-1949). The issues published from 1964 through 1971 are still under copyright protection, which cannot be included in the digital collection at this time. Issues published in 1972 were not copyrighted and will be added to the collection soon.





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