Thursday, July 30, 2009

Don't Shoot The Horse Just Yet

I feel terrible - physically, anyway.

After a month of killer stress, my shoulders are in knots, my neck is out of whack, I got circulation problems / tingling in my legs and feet, and ringing/pressure in my ears.

Man, get out the shotgun, the horse is lookin' lame. But hold, wait! All is not lost.

I was going to say I broke down and went to the doctor; then I changed my mind; now I realize that is exactly what's going on: my body broke down and I'm going to the doctor's office.

Went to the witch doctor chiropractor already and he - pardon the pun - put me straight. My C1 and T12 lumbar were so obviously out of whack they were painful to the touch. Crick! Crack! Not nearly so painful now. Getting there.

The tingling pain is caused from sitting forward in my chair too much, cutting off the circulation to my legs. Some running and exercise will lessen the stress (yay, endorphins!) and get the muscles loosened and the blood flowing.

The ear pressure / ringing will be a bit harder to fix. It's basically caused by swollen eustachian tubes which are really hard to treat empirically. In the past when this happens, a nasal sterioid has done the trick. Now, not so much. It makes ANY sound painful to hear. Not what I need right now with a house full of Nodlings.

Already been to Soul Doctor via Confession:
My son, when you are ill, delay not, but pray to God, who will heal you:
Flee wickedness; let your hands be just, cleanse your heart of every sin;
Offer your sweet-smelling oblation and petition, a rich offering according to your means.
Then give the doctor his place lest he leave; for you need him too. -- Sirach 38:9-12

Going to the ENT doctor tomorrow. Put that shotgun away for another day, this one's going to make it.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Teach Like Me Or Get Out

Stuff like this I find both unbelievable and -- no pun intended -- intolerable. Adam Kissel of the Washington Examiner writes in his column:

Michele Kerr has had a harder year than most aspiring math teachers. For her the math was easy and the teaching was a snap. The problem was the Stanford Teacher Education Program. Once administrators found out she didn't fully share what she calls the "progressive" teaching philosophy that is pervasive at STEP and education schools nationwide, they tried to thwart her career.

This is the kind of stuff that Bob Parks over at Black and Right features from time to time. Just when I think maybe things like this don't really happen, it rears its ugly head again. In the end, she sued and prevailed, but you gotta fight to have and keep your own mind sometimes.

Marketplace of ideas, my foot.

Mysterious Signs

Blynken and Nod-girl are highly creative and imaginative.

Every. Single. Day.

This means lots of cleanup. Every. Single. Day. Mostly for their mother, who gets to see it in all its messy glory; I only get to see a pale shadow of the creative tornado with various bits strewn about in unlikely places. Paper, scissors, tape, glue, glitter, beads, sticks, rocks -- you name it.

Occasionally there are signs. Not like crop circles or blood trails, but rather hand written notes tacked up on doors or left in the kitchen. Once it was "Come see my dress" (full size and made out of felt and tape). Another time it was "Jesus, I will be good" (nice one, that). At other times it was "Rules for playing with toddlers" or "Buried treasure map" (ooh, my garden).

Today it simply reads:
No Baby's a Lawd
At Bed Tim
in les Mom
is Here

A lawd? What's a "lawd"? Is it like a "sposed"? Just to get even, I'm going to post this sign on the bathroom door. Where's Mom? She's in the sposed.

Things That Are Not Encouraging

It rained around late afternoon or early evening today.

After days of carrying a cane umbrella around to no purpose, today I was dry and they were covering their heads with their briefcases.

It was a hot, sticky, overcast summer day in Washington. I parked my car at the Metro garage somewhere mid-level and interior.

As I was finding my car, I noticed that all the joints in the parking garage leak. So as it is raining outside, it was raining in all the garage levels too, only slightly less.

Doing a quick survey, I discovered that the whole thing is built exactly the same at each level. All the joints line up (presumably to fit on the steel beam infrastructure underneath the concrete. (There are steel beams under there, right? Right?)

Plus, the tops of the garage are open to the sky, so this means that any water from the top level will run down the ramps to levels below as well.

This is genius. Only, not really.

Jellystone Fun

Jellystone Park is having a video contest to show how you have fun at Jellystone (yes, the one with Yogi Bear). I don't enter contests as a rule, but this is one we think we can win on the merits.

See what you're missing -- Jellystone: It Gets Into You is my entry. They forced me to cut the music to enter the contest (50% of the punch), but I think it still stands head and shoulders above the rest! (Even though my music was copyright free. Sigh.)

Reasons for helping? The kids love the park (it's our one special trip a year). The prize money just about equals the pay cut I took this year; the driveway needs repair; and the kids tuition is due. Plus, it's a real family park, and we're a real family -- look at all the Nodlings!

We'd like to win with your help; we need at least 1500 votes to get in the semifinals. You can vote every 7 days. Contest ends September 11.

Vote for me as the best video at
See all the videos at

Spread the word and help a deserving family!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Gigapxl: Whole Lotta Dots

You just have to see it to believe it:

Yes! The Gigapxl™ camera captures single exposures on film with enough resolvable detail to support scanning at resolutions up to four billion pixels. Single-gigapixel images are slightly larger than 44,000 x 22,000 pixels in size and four-gigapixel images are twice as wide and twice as high at 88,000 x 44,000 pixels.

One way of visualizing the size of a four gigapixel image is to consider a photograph of a regulation football pitch (soccer in USA) which is 90m x 45m. A four gigapixel top-down photograph of the entire field at 1mm per pixel would cover an area of 89.4m x 44.7m, which is 99.38% of the indicated size. This mm-per-pixel scale represents perhaps as many as 100 pixels per blade of grass across an entire pitch captured in a single exposure.


I've been very absorbed lately.

The last several weeks have been a blur work-wise. It takes most of the intelligent thought out of me, so by the end of the day I've got nothing left. Fortunately, I've reached a plateau where I can take a breath and look about again.

So what do you notice when you don't have time to notice anything? You notice the most insignificant details which your mind catalogs and plays back later. We're talking minutiae here: I noticed that when you spill your drink on the rug, Kleenex isn't very absorbent but toilet paper is.

I noticed that lady's dye job is growing out and the roots are showing. The tourists on the Metro don't know where to stand on the escalator. That kid on the train has the bluest eyes. You need at least 10 good seconds to cross the street in the city without running. Why would you wear flip-flops on the Metro? Won't somebody step on your bare feet? The pain in my temples is because the veins are swollen due to stress. I'm going faster, but not getting anywhere.

A thousand details that don't amount to anything; they're just there taking up space in your day.

On Saturday I stopped -- and went to confession and Mass and remembered the one thing that was important: Him.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival #15

On this week's Sunday Snippets, WBN talks about Bono and the BVM.

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 Go to the host blog and leave a comment giving a link to your post.

No Theme On The Horizon

U2 just seems to be this kind of band where this stuff keeps coming up.

My friend and I were discussing the new U2 album No Line On The Horizon again and were trying to put it in context of their canon of work. Was it eclectic like Zooropa? Was it ground breaking like Achtung Baby? Was it a throwback to their old sound? Maybe a throwback to the sound of the 80's and 90's, but not U2's sound of the 80's and 90's.

When it first came out, I had some thoughts in which I wrote:
In No Line On The Horizon, Bono returns to themes he has explored again and again: the search for love and meaning, the mystery of evil, birth and re-birth, and social justice. The songs are peppered throughout with religious phrases and imagery. The track Magnificent proclaims
From the womb my first cry, it was a joyful noise... /
Only love, only love can leave such a mark /
But only love, only love can heal such a scar /
Justified till we die, you and I will magnify /
The Magnificent
Is it true the perfect love drives out all fear? he asks on I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight. Yet we're never quite sure what it is that Bono so desperately seeks.
Others had slightly different reactions like Cum Grano Salis. This post echoed our own difficulty in finding a consistent style to make the album hang together.
Musically the style is a mix of old and new. A kind of montage of the various styles they have attempted over the years. Older fans may enjoy a renaissance the haunting, reflective and raw style, best displayed (IMO) in their Unforgettable Fire album of 1984. Fans of the more energetic albums since then will enjoy tracks like Get Your Boots and Stand Up, my least and most favourite tracks respectively. There are some some sparks of new innovation in a few tracks but the musical strength of the album is its gathering of their various styles into an unpretentious platform for their powerful lyrics. And the lyrics are what this album is all about.
No one seems to be able to write a review of No Line On The Horizon, however, without mentioning the track Magnificent. So finally over at NCR we see evidence of the theme that runs throughout the album in Bono's own words.
In a recent Rolling Stone magazine interview with Brian Hiatt, U2’s Bono says that the song “Magnificent” is inspired by the Blessed Virgin Mary.

“All music for me is worship of one kind or another,” says Bono.

The song appears on the band’s new album, “No Line on the Horizon.”

“Magnificent was inspired by the Magnificat, a passage from the Gospel of Luke in the voice of the Virgin Mary that was previously set to music by Bach,” says Bono. “There’s this theme running through the album of surrender and devotion and all the things I find really difficult.”
Ah. So that's it. And to think all we had to do is ask.

Here's a link to the video. See what you think.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Car Space Oddity

Although the title sounds like a science fiction film, it really describes what odd things people do when they get in their cars.

By putting three inches of steel and glass between one person and the next, people believe that they are alternately invisible or invincible.

We've all seen people eating, talking on the phone, texting, picking their nose, putting on makeup, reading the newspaper and the like while driving.

(Now, you and I would never do anything like that (yeah, right); and we know that anyone who drives slower than you is an idiot, and anyone who drives faster is a maniac ...)

But today I saw something that I think takes the cake; it simultaneously made me laugh and want to change lanes to get away.

A guy was playing the ukelele while driving. Both hands. And he was the only guy in the car. Are you serious? Playing an instrument while driving? Crazy.

Quote Of The Day

When faced with the obvious shortcomings of testing a networked application on a single local workstation, the developers countered with:
"Well we really didn't design it with [network] infrastructure in mind."

Monday, July 20, 2009

Pope Says Population Growth Needed

Now, aint' that a switch from what you normally hear from the so-called intellectual elite? There's just enough of us, but too many of you.

Pope says: we could use more people.

Overheard In My House

We went to see a play this weekend. Nod-girl asked me:
Nod-girl: Dad, when I grow up would you let your girls be an actor?
Me: If it makes you holy.
Nod-girl: I'm going to be an actor.
Me: I don't know, it's kind of a hard life.
Nod-girl: Don't worry. I'll be perfect.

We should all have such confidence.

Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival #14

This week on Sunday Snippets, WBN presents a bit of whimsy: Pope-a-palooza.


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 Go to the host blog and leave a comment giving a link to your post.

Workin' It

Because I can. I worked it out on a napkin, like all other great ideas ... how can it go wrong?

Friday, July 17, 2009

I Like Mine Fried

We all know there be monsters in the watery deeps. Seems like they've come up to the shallows recently.

[BBC News] Scuba divers off the Californian city of San Diego are being menaced by large numbers of jumbo squid.

The beaked Humboldt squid, which grow up to 5ft (1.5 metres) long, arrived off the city's shores last week. Divers have reported unnerving encounters with the creatures, which are carnivorous and can be aggressive.

[Guardian] The so-called Humboldt squid, named after the current in the eastern Pacific, have been known to attack humans and are nicknamed "red devils" for their rust-red colouring and mean streak. Divers wanting to observe the creatures often bait the water, use a metal viewing cage or wear chainmail to avoid being lashed by the creature's tentacles.

The squid, which is most commonly found in deep water from California to the bottom of south America, hunts in schools of up to 1,200 individuals, can swim up to 15 mph and can skim over the water to escape predators.

Generally, an animal will grow to fit in its environment. You put a fish in a tank and it can't get bigger than that. You want bigger fish, you get a bigger tank. You want giant fish ... you go to the ocean (average depth over 9000 feet).

For me, that's a good reason to stay out. When your food is big enough and carnivorous enough to eat you -- all bets are off. I like my squid on a plate with some light breading, not the other way around.

Trying Too Hard?

So while not exactly insightful commentary, the official Obama delegation picture with the Pope struck me as odd.

All three ladies are dressed in black veils. All three ladies look very, very uncomfortable. I'm sure it was meant as a sign of respect for the Pope, but it is conspicuous because it looks like they are trying too hard.

But then I went back and looked: it seems to be the dress code for meeting the Pontiff at the Vatican. Black veil and knee-length black dress. I think it's particularly unflattering. (Then there's Robert Gibbs: that guy creeps me out.)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Norma McCorvey Is Jane Roe

And she keeps herself in the news by getting arrested from time to time. Since her conversion in the 1990s Norma McCorvey has become a vocal opponent of the abortion rights she helped put in place.
[Washington Post] The woman at the center of the Supreme Court's landmark abortion rights ruling was arrested today at the confirmation hearing for Sonia Sotomayor among a wave of anti-abortion protesters who lined the sidewalks outside the Senate office buildings and several of whom made it into the hearing room and disrupted in an attempt to disrupt the proceedings.

Norma McCorvey, 61, of Texas, better known as "Jane Roe" in the famous Roe v. Wade case from January 1973, was arrested after she and another protester started yelling during the opening statement of Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), according to Capitol Police. McCorvey, whose pursuit of the right to access to abortion in the early 1970s led to the ruling that has been a pivotal part of every Supreme Court nomination process since, eventually become a notable opponent of the procedure.
What I find very interesting about this story is that it was covered in any detail by the press. As Jane Roe, McCorvey represents a possible potent voice against abortion, so abortion supporters have a vested interest in silencing her and not giving her any air or press. Certainly the younger generation has no idea who this lady is.

So to cover McCorvey's disruption of the Sotomayor hearing is natural, but to give the details of her background is a little surprising given the traditional liberal bent of most media groups. Maybe they figure that she no longer has relevance after so much time. McCorvey is not an eloquent speaker. Maybe it's just news.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Magic Pillars

These are magic pillars.

You can see them here outside the Starjunkies. (Click for larger image.) I don't know if they belong to them or not, but for a few seconds or so a day, they belong to me.

They amuse me. Why? Because they play music when you touch them.

More specifically, they play low pitched harmonic tones when people touch them (like a touch lamp). They have different segments, too. See the rings separating segments on each pole? They are blue LED lights and they illumine when you touch that segment. Touch a higher or lower segment, and you get a slightly different tone. The tones last about 2-3 seconds and since they are harmonic, you don't get to play Fur Elise exactly, but it's kid-in-a-candy-store kind of fun and it brings a smile to my face.

For several weeks now they've been busted. I'm glad to see these guys working on them. I've been fascinated to know how they're wired.

C'mon, gimme back my magic pillars!

Trains Are Not Private

To the 20-something guy at the other end of the Metro train today: Your conversations are not private.

Mostly there is an etiquette to taking public transportation. No matter how close you are jammed together in a bus, a train, or an elevator the established protocol is to pretend you can't see or hear anyone else -- and to act like you are in the library.

But there you go droning on and on at your end of the car. Some of us are almost asleep ... what's that? ... Catholic Church ... [drone] ... Pope is God's authority on earth, right? ... Bible. Why won't this guy be quiet? ... [drone] ... Vatican hierarchy ... [drone] ... voting for Obama ... [drone].

I don't want to be part of your loud, intrusive conversation, but you haven't given the rest of us a choice. I'm not sure what your point was, but we get your drift: you're not a fan. Only thing is, you pretty much demonstrated that you had no idea what you were talking about, but went on about what amounted to a mere caricature of the Catholic Church.

[Lady's voice] I don't mean to eavesdrop but there are a few things ...

Ah. Nice. Next time cure your ignorant bombast before you open your yap.

Monday, July 13, 2009

I Hope They Get The Maximum

PENSACOLA, Florida (CNN) -- A fourth suspect has been arrested in the shooting deaths of a Gulf Coast couple known for adopting special-needs children, authorities said late Monday.

It's All About The Benjamins

I hate it when they use our capitalism against us.

By they, I mean the re-architects of the social order. The Universal Health Care Squad is proposing to take our money and create yet another failed entitlement program in the name of "helping" the poor.

The rhetoric has morphed in recent weeks with proponents saying that the "public option" will be much less than originally envisaged and that it will be only an option, etc., etc.

But Hugh Hewitt at the Washington Examiner has got it exactly right. If the government creates a "public option" -- however small -- the big businesses will end up cramming it down our throats at the first opportunity.
[Examiner] "If the government option/public plan" costs $300 per employee per month and private-sector insurance costs $350 per employee per month, the choice to push their work force into the waiting arms of President Obama's new bureaucracy will make itself."

"They will have to "do the math" if the "government option/public plan" makes it into law ... [because] they owe shareholders and investors an objective assessment of what will improve their bottom lines."

"What [employer] will hesitate to fix and shift the cost of health care for their staffs to the federal government?"

The thing I like least about publicly traded companies with "obligations" to the shareholders to maximize their monies is that it rarely leads to doing the right thing and almost always leads to doing the most profitable thing.

Because after all, it's all about the Benjamins.

POTUS School Marm Takes Condescending Tone

So I hear this audio clip of the President today, fresh back from his trip to Europe.

In it he's got that lecturing tone; you know, the school teacher wagging her finger at those naughty children who have been acting up in her absence. It just rubbed me all the wrong way; I don't take kindly to anyone using that tone.
"I want to put everybody on notice, because there was a lot of chatter while I was gone. We are going to get this done. Inaction is not an option. Don't bet against us, we are going to make this happen. We are now closer to the goal of health care reform than we have ever been."
What happened to respectful dialog, accommodating other points of view, blah blah blah? Yeah, that's what I thought.

Kmiec, The Poisoned Chalice

.- The editor of a Malta newspaper has commented on President Barack Obama’s choice of Prof. Doug Kmiec as ambassador to Malta, describing the appointment as “somewhat of a poisoned chalice” and noting the controversies concerning Kmiec and his campaign to elect Obama to the American presidency.

Noel Grima, editor of the Malta Independent Online, said that though Kmiec was a Catholic and a pro-life person he has “fallen foul” of some Catholic leaders for his public stances on abortion and other pro-life issues.

Noting Kmiec’s past as a law school dean, a law professor, and a member of the Reagan and George H.W. Bush presidential administrations, Grima then discussed Kmiec’s transformation into a supporter of President Barack Obama, an open proponent of abortion rights.

Kmiec had said he was convinced that then-Senator Obama wanted to alleviate social conditions that correlate with abortion. Though describing himself as a Republican and a Catholic who believes in traditional marriage and the beginning of life at conception, he said he believed as president Obama would respect and accommodate opposing points of view.

"president Obama would respect and accommodate opposing points of view". Funny how Kmiec missed the part where Obama already said the opposing viewpoints have irreconcilable differences.

"Accomodation" has become the watch word for: hear and dismiss.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Control Your Environment

No, this isn't some deep thinking, soul searching, eco-friendly diatribe.

This is simply about stress: it'll kill you. It's a well worn phrase, you've heard it a thousand times. But here's the thing -- it's true.

I can feel it when it is work-induced: the stress headache, the feeling of being perpetually behind, the acid reflux, upset stomach, constricted breathing.

Thursday's solution was a couple of pints down at the corner pub with some compatriots, followed by Adoration (weird mix, I know).

Friday's solution was early to bed.

Saturday's was good old fashioned yard work and a family outing to the local burger joint, Red Robin, after Mass.

Sunday felt it creeping up again, because I'd brought work home but didn't do any. After dinner, I holed up and attacked a spreadsheet for 4 hours and then begged Mrs. Nod to help me clean the kitchen.

I feel better for having done both; it's not about would be, could be, should be -- it's about feeling in control of something in order to manage the stress. Now I can relax a little before I begin to tackle this week's deadlines.

Manage your stress before it kills you; controlling my environment does it for me. Take a deep breath and try not to care so much about things that are passing ...

Featurette: Is It Ap-Pope-priate?

The Pope is both the spiritual leader of a billion Catholics worldwide and the head of state for the Vatican, a 1-mile square country. It is easy for the average person to get the two roles confused, since the Pontiff receives hundreds of people a day in audiences and delegations.

The etiquette of international diplomacy requires the giving of gifts, shaking of hands, picture taking, and speechifying. So what would an appropriate presentation involving the Pope look like?

In this deeply thought out featurette (at least 5 minutes worth while mowing the lawn and mulling bad puns) WBN presents:

Ap-Pope-priate Or Not Ap-Pope-priate?

Ap-Pope-priate [CSM]: “The Pope was to give the President a mosaic representing Saint Peter’s square, an autographed copy of the encyclical ‘caritas in veritate,’ bound in white leather, and a pontifical medal.

The pope also gave Mr. Obama a document on bio-ethics called “Dignitas Personae,” which explains Vatican opposition to abortion and embryonic-stem-cell research, which the president supports.

Ap-Pope-priate?: President Obama gave Pope Benedict XVI something kind of cool ... “a stole that had been placed on the remains of St. John Neumann, a 19th century Redemptorist and the first male naturalized US citizen to become a saint,” per AFP’s Laurent Lozano in his pool report.

Ap-Pope-priate?:[WDTPRS] I am not sure, but it seems that something is odd with this gift that the President is living to the Holy Father. It is said to be a stole that “belonged to” John Neumann, something of ‘great historical significance’ – but when you look at the photo of the stole here, it is obvious that it is an Almy [Episcopalian-made] special, and then as you read further, you begin to pick up the fact that it really was only put on the body of the saint in 1989 and removed a few yeas later to be replaced with something that was more authentic to the period in which he lived.

Not Ap-Pope-priate:[FoxNews] Newsweek guest columnist Kathleen Kennedy Townsend is suggesting President Obama is more Catholic than the pope.

In a column on Newsweek's Web site, the former Maryland lieutenant governor and member of the Kennedy clan says Obama's agenda reflects the views of American Catholics "much more closely than those vocal bishops and pro-life activists."

Townsend continues that Catholics in the U.S. aren't bothered by disagreements between the White House and the Vatican over reproductive rights and homosexuality because "they know Obama's on their side... [his] agenda is closer to their views than even the pope's."

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival #13

This week on Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival, WBN presents: Appetites of the Body. Stories about controlling (or lack therof) the base desires and appetites of the human condition -- food, sex, respect for life.

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 Go to the host blog and leave a comment giving a link to your post.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Slip Of The Tongue Or Accidental Telling The Truth?

Wait long enough and people will eventually tell you what they really think.

Kind of like in dating, you can only be on your best behavior so long before you blurt out: I really hate your meatloaf and your aftershave stinks.

This week two prominent libs shot off their big mouths. I guess they're feeling comfortable with their current power.

[FoxNews] Newsweek guest columnist Kathleen Kennedy Townsend is suggesting President Obama is more Catholic than the pope.

In a column on Newsweek's Web site, the former Maryland lieutenant governor and member of the Kennedy clan says Obama's agenda reflects the views of American Catholics "much more closely than those vocal bishops and pro-life activists."

Townsend continues that Catholics in the U.S. aren't bothered by disagreements between the White House and the Vatican over reproductive rights and homosexuality because "they know Obama's on their side... [his] agenda is closer to their views than even the pope's."

Meanwhile, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg gave an interview with the New York Times in which she opined that the purpose behind Roe v. Wade was eugenics.

“Frankly I had thought that at the time Roe was decided, there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of,” said the Justice.

Meanwhile, some Republican pol somewhere is "walking the Appalachian Trail" I'm sure ... [/cynicism]

Going To Goshen

Wynken is going on his first camping trip to Goshen with the Scouts.

Since our troop went to Goshen during the same time as our annual family vacation, this means a couple of things:

a) he's going with his cousin's troop, which should be a blast for him, and
b) I'm out of vacation time, so I can't go myself.

Have fun boys; check for ticks; and come home in one piece.

Lake Merriweather from Viewing Rock

Goshen is the National Capital Area Council's long-term resident summer camp located on 4,000+ acres in the mountains of southwestern Virginia. There are six separate camps on the shores of 450-acre Lake Merriweather. The Boy Scouts use three of the camps for troop camping, the Webelos Scouts use two of the camps for their activities, and the High Adventure crews, hiking in the back country, depart from the sixth camp.


Goshen Scout Reservation is located about three and one-half hours from Washington, D.C., near Lexington, Virginia, in the Blue Ridge Mountains. It is located in some of the most beautiful country in America, and has its own private 450-acre Lake Merriweather, which is used for the varied water activities that make summer camp exciting and comfortable.

Mortification Sometimes Tastes Good

We attempt to keep our Fridays meatless as a mortification.

Catholics in the US used to be required to not eat meat on Fridays all year round. Nowadays the discipline has been relaxed to performing "some kind" of mortification on Fridays and no meat on Fridays in Lent.

Many people have interpreted that to mean that nothing is required on Fridays anymore: not true. Since Friday is the day on which Christ died, it is appropriate that that is the day of mortifications so we may unite our little sufferings with His redemptive suffering.

Of course that makes the Lord's Day (Sunday) a mandatory party day: no fasting. "Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast." (Mk 2:19)

The compelling reason (for me) to continue to fast from meat on most Fridays is a practical one: I can't come up with other creative means of mortification on a regular basis. I don't want to have to "remember" to think about it. That, and since Mrs. Nod isn't fond of fish, it ensures we get some on a semi-regular basis.

These things aside, my "dinner" consisted almost entirely of things from my garden. A bit of red lettuce, a few leaves of spinach. A small zebra tomato, an Italian sweet pepper, and a tiny yellow squash. Parts of these were a smidgeon under-ripe, but I have been impatient to taste these delectables.

I have to say, for a penitential meal, it tasted awfully good. I followed up with half a dozen quartered mushrooms, sauteed in a dab of butter and a dash of Old Bay. Call me crazy, but I like it that way.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Waiting On The Goods

I like planting and growing fruits and vegetables.

My little crops are at that agonizing stage where I can see the fruits, but they are not ripe yet.

I see little squashes and zucchinis, tomatoes and (surprise!) okra, peppers and spinach. Hurry up, you cucumbers and melons. Grow, you corn! Where are the peas, please?

I'm getting impatient for my own "fruit of the vine, work of human hands".

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Maybe It's Broken, Maybe It's Insurance

Everyone talks about how the U.S. health care system is broken.

Or that's what they'd have you believe anyway. The filibuster-proof Congress is busy trying to ramrod yet another entitlement program down our throats in the form of "universal health coverage".

These poor people can't afford insurance, so let's insure everyone at taxpayer expense and squeeze out the private market -- that's the end game; what's going through Congress now is the opening chess move.

So, the system is broken, right? Maybe parts of it are, but maybe not the part you thought. Everyone is focused on getting insured. Extending insurance. Providing a single payer insurance system.

What if we just chucked the insurance part and hooked up the doctors and patients directly. That's what a group in Seattle is experimenting with: flat-rate, no limit primary care.

[Reuters] Qliance says it is a private alternative to the failures of insurance, which have made health care President Obama's top legislative priority in Congress, with a price tag of $1 trillion or more.

Qliance customers pay $99 to join, then a flat monthly rate of $39 to $119, depending on age and level of service. Patients can quit without notice and no one is rejected for pre-existing conditions.

Patients must go to outside brokers and qualify medically to buy catastrophic care. One broker said a 30-year-old could expect to pay $133 per month for such care, and a 60-year-old nearly $400, plus substantial deductibles.

Qliance patients get unrestricted round-the-clock primary care access and 30-minute appointments.

"Why would a doctor not want to see sick people? That doesn't make sense, unless you're an insurance company," Bliss said.

He rejected the idea that unrestricted access causes overuse, calling that "nonsense promoted by insurance companies .... There's nobody I've ever met who gets their pleasure by seeing doctors."

Bliss said dumping rigid, convoluted insurance requirements and paperwork saves large amounts of money.

I know with the turmoil of the Y2K scare, the Dot Com bust, the housing bubble break, and the financial meltdown and recession, I have toyed with the idea of reverting to barter for services. Hey, Doc, have a look at my sick kid, while I secure your IT infrastructure. I've never done it, but I have thought about it. The tax implications have shied me away from it.

But the overall concept remains: challenge the assumptions. If you think X service is too broken, too unethical, too intrusive, maybe we should start an alternative that we can all get behind.


Adam And Eve's Unhappy Sex Life

Fellow Catholic Dads blogger, John Jansen posted this picture entitled Adam and Eve. It's a "painting that ... has [been] used in Theology of the Body presentations".

I don't know who painted it or where, but I feel compelled to re-post it. John says it speaks for itself, but I feel like it needs talking about.

It's just so potent, so visceral. I see boredom and pain. I see people trapped in a mechanical sexual relationship without pleasure. I see addiction. The half-nakedness suggests a hot summer night whose carnal activities has not brought relief from the heat outside or passion from within.

She looks old, worn out, tired; but she continues to apply make up to try to make herself alluring -- yet failing. She actually looks older than he does, suggesting some kind of cougar-love where the past-her-prime sexual aggressor actively seeks out the younger man to try to recapture her fading flower. Her vanity mirror is in front of her while she applies the makeup, but her eyes are sliding to the side, as if to see if Adam is still there, still caught in her wiles. Extending the metaphor, the classic pose of turning her head one way and her eyes another gives the viewers the impression that she is looking at us, to catch us too.

Adam looks spent, bored, and non-vital. He's either asleep, in pain, or both as his slack-jawed expression suggests. He looks post-coital, as if he's only just pulled on his pants. He grips the apple near his prominent crotch as he sits splay-legged. The apple here is a symbol of the forbidden fruit from the Garden of Eden, something that was taken in a way that was not supposed to be taken. It doesn't bring him pleasure, but he keeps hanging on to it, unable to let it go. In this picture the apple represents sex, but without love: a mechanical, even boring pursuit. He looks as if he meant to eat the apple, but fell asleep in situ before he could muster the energy.

The colors are flat: brownish and dull reds, symbolizing a lack of vitality. The browns also suggest earthiness, recalling the Garden of Eden by contrast -- in this case a barrenness, a lack of green growing things, of life. The lighting and shadows are harsh, non-flattering, as if the glare of reality is too much. The window shade is open and it's dark outside, giving the impression that it is a hot night. Since there is light on inside and darkness outside, the open window implies that anyone can see what the couple is doing from outside. The couple's half-nakedness shows a lack of modesty for their own bodies and for the sexual act. It is on display in a form of exhibitionism, but again without pleasure. In fact, Adam's base torso and passed-out pose implies they only just completed the act while the window was open the whole time.

These are just gut reactions I'm having. I'm sure others could explain it better. But I've never seen in one picture the damaging effects of sex without the proper understanding, context, and respect it demands that this picture affords.

Sex outside of marriage, contraceptive sex inside of marriage, self-gratification and selfishness: this is you -- and I've never seen you so unhappy.

New Encyclical: Caritas In Veritate

By now you've heard: the Vatican has released Pope Benedict XVI's latest encyclical entitled, Caritas In Veritate, or Love (Charity) In Truth.

A summary of the Encyclical released by the Holy See Press Office explains that in his introduction the Pope recalls how "charity is at the heart of the Church's social doctrine". Yet, given the risk of its being "misinterpreted and detached from ethical living", he warns how "a Christianity of charity without truth would be more or less interchangeable with a pool of good sentiments, helpful for social cohesion, but of little relevance".

The Holy Father makes it clear that development has need of truth. In this context he dwells on two "criteria that govern moral action": justice and the common good. All Christians are called to charity, also by the "institutional path" which affects the life of the "polis", that is, of social coexistence.

Get it while it's hot; after all, it was written for you.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Next Up: Dunkelweizen

After the rousing success of our Belgian Dubbel, the Homebrews will be turning their hand to a more summer-like beer: the Weizen. Being a fan of dark ales, we naturally chose the Dunkelweizen, the "dark wheat" beer.

It's like drinking a loaf of bread; what's not to like?

[Northern Brewer]

Dunkelweizen - Extract Kit

OG: 1049 / Ready: 5 weeks

Its name means "dark wheat", and that's just what it is. An amber colored version of a German hefeweizen, with the same sour-phenolic character and light hopping of its paler cousins. Although it's a bit maltier than our Hefeweizen kit, it's still a mighty refreshing beer.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Out Of The Mouth Of Babes

On the way home from Mass we were discussing the Sacraments, including Matrimony and Holy Orders.
Nod-girl: Girls can't be priests.
Me: No. Priests are like Jesus who is a man. Are you a man?

Nod-girl: No. Girls need to be who they are without a boy.
Can I save this pearl of wisdom and replay it in about ten years?

Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival #12

WBN submission for this week's Sunday Snippets: Crimes Against Humanity.

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 Go to the host blog and leave a comment giving a link to your post.

GE Now Experimenting On Babies

These bozos just dropped to the bottom of my Crap List.

I did a quick appliance check -- no GE that I can see -- a Whirlpool and a Frigidaire (although who knows who owns who these days). And yes, I know there's a difference between the Appliance Division and the Healthcare Division, but the brand gets to take the kudos and the lumps all together.

You can be sure that my next appliance will NOT be from GE.

These moral cretins are actually talking about sparing the lab rats in favor of experimenting on embryonic humans. Here's a clue why that drug testing would work better: they're humans.

[Discovery] Although ethical debates about the use of embryonic stem cells continue to rage, stem cell technology is beginning to make its way into the medical marketplace. Yesterday, General Electric division GE Healthcare announced that it’s teaming up with the biotechnology company Geron in a venture that will use embryonic stem cells to develop products that could give drug developers an early warning of whether new medicines are toxic [Reuters].
Read the rest of the article.

UPDATE: Weird. GE seems to be largely a media company these days.

Thoughts On The Melting Pot

If anyone ever tells you that assimilation into a culture isn't important, you have my permission to laugh in his face.

"The United States is a melting pot." How many times have you heard that old saw? Probably many more times than you've heard "Canada is a mosaic."

The basic ideas behind these two sayings are ones of cohesiveness vs. diversity. When you are talking about individual persons, diversity is good, when you are talking about culture, it doesn't work out too well. It's not that everyone has to be exactly the same, but it is important to have a set of values that provide cohesiveness for a culture.

Case in point: the neighbors to one side are Pakistani by ethnicity. The two teenage boys are second or third generation Americans. When they go out to eat, they beg to have anything but Pakistani or Indian food. For the Fourth of July the boys insisted on having burgers on the grill.

My family ate shish-kebab.

They wanted to be as American as American can be. They just wanted to have the sense of belonging, that they were just like every other kid on the block: doing the same things, eating the same food, speaking the same language.

My ancestors assimilated a while back in both ethnicity and religion. Hey, belonging is good.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Independence Day

On this Fourth of July, WBN wishes you and yours a happy Independence Day.

This is (still) the greatest country on earth. Let us be true to our founding principles and defend our freedom by the way in which we conduct our daily lives.

Hard work, personal responsibility, help for the needy, moral living.

God Bless the United States of America as we do these things, and God help us if we don't.

Palin Resigns

And I don't blame her.

Politics is dirty business and there is definitely a more seamy side than the photo ops, noble speeches, decision making. Sarah Palin got more than her share of the political roughing. Now she's throwing in the towel as Governor of Alaska with 18 months left in her term.

Of all the conjecture as to the reasons why -- not wanting to be a lame duck Governor, a possible run for the White House in 2012, a desire to increase her influence, rumors of an impending scandal, or a politically calculated act -- only one has any merit in my eyes: the personal attacks.
[Washington Post] Palin also cited the toll that life in the spotlight has taken on her and her family, and certainly it has been substantial. She talked about the relentless digging by political opponents and by the news media. She said she and her husband have accrued personal legal bills of half a million dollars from what she called frivolous ethics charges and "silly accusations." She said the state has spent millions on these probes.
It costs nothing for someone to lodge an ethics complaint; but no matter how frivolous, the Governor is obligated to defend herself legally and personally, which means racking up huge lawyer bills. This seems to have been the strategy and it seems to be working: if you can' t beat someone on the issues or in an election, try to bankrupt them by endless lawsuits to get them to drop out.

This is dirty pool, and lots of it, practiced by persons with low moral aptitude. For a person with a larger than average family -- and a young one at that -- this is a difficult business to be in.

Even if the candidate or elected official has "got what it takes" to take the shots and play "with the big boys", the family likewise has got to be willing and able to do the same. It seems that gone are the days where family members were largely "off limits" to direct personal attacks in politics. I know my family wouldn't survive that grist mill.

As for the money angle, maybe that's why the millionaires have better luck staying in office than the average Joe -- they can afford to.

Overheard In My House

Having lots of Nodlings means we watch plenty of kids' movies.

Nowadays there are plenty of commercials at the beginning of every DVD. One of these advertised the "origins" of the classic film The Black Stallion called The Young Black Stallion.

I love to watch little kids think. At the dinner table, Nod-girl asks me:
"Dad, why don't we have the Little Black Scallion?"
It's not the onions that are making me cry! ;-)


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