Friday, December 31, 2010

Gate Of Heaven, Star Of The Sea

Jan 1 is the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God.

The Solemnity of Mary Mother of God commemorates the divine motherhood of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the God-Bearer, Mother of our Lord and God Jesus Christ. It is celebrated on January 1st, one week after Christmas.

Loving Mother of the Redeemer,
Gate of heaven, star of the sea,
Assist your people
who have fallen yet strive to rise again,
To the wonderment of nature you bore your Creator,
yet remained a virgin after as before,
You who received Gabriel's joyful greeting,
have pity on us, poor sinners.

[ChurchYear.Net] In the 4th and 5th centuries debates about the nature of Christ raged in the Church. The debate was about the relationship of Christ's divine and human natures. At the center of this debate was a title of Mary. Since at least the 3rd century, Christians had referred to Mary as theotokos, meaning "God-bearer." The first documented usage of the term is in the writings of Origen of Alexandria in AD 230. Related to theotokos, Mary was called the mother of God.

Referring to Mary this way was popular in Christian piety, but the patriarch of Constantinople from 428-431, Nestorius, objected. He suggested that Mary was only the mother of Jesus' human nature, but not his divine nature. Nestorius' ideas (or at least how others perceived his arguments) were condemned at the Council of Ephesus in AD 431, and again at the Council of Chalcedon in AD 451. The Church decided that Christ was fully God and fully human, and these natures were united in one person, Jesus Christ. Thus Mary could be called "mother of God" since she gave birth to Jesus who was fully divine as well as human. Since this time, Mary has been frequently honored as the "mother of God" by Catholics, Orthodox, and many Protestants.

The Solemnity of Mary Mother of God falls exactly one week after Christmas, the end of the octave of Christmas. It is fitting to honor Mary as Mother of Jesus, following the birth of Christ. When Catholics celebrate the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God we are not only honoring Mary, who was chosen among all women throughout history to bear God incarnate, but we are also honoring our Lord, who is fully God and fully human. Calling Mary "mother of God" is the highest honor we can give Mary. Just as Christmas honors Jesus as the "Prince of Peace," the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God honors Mary as the "Queen of Peace" This solemnity, falling on New Year's Day, is also designated the World Day of Peace.

Sixth Beer of Christmas

The 12 Beers of Christmas is a little tradition I started last year in which I treated myself to 12 different beers, one each day. It celebrates the incredible taste and variety that can be found in beers around the world and just a few klicks from my doorstep.

The Sixth Beer of Christmas is Grimbergen Double Ale , 6.5% ABV, brewed by Brouwerij Alken-Maes in Alken, Belgium.

This beer pours out a dark, lovely amber color. It has a dense, tan head which is nothing short of incredible. It clings to the side of the glass in clumps like puffy clouds and lasts the whole way down.

For a Belgian Double, this actually tasted very sweet and malty. At only 6.5 % ABV, this means they could have kicked up the alcohol content by fermenting more of the sugars out of it.  Nevertheless, the Grimbergen is a very drinkable Double. It has a taste of toffee that combines with the malty structure of the beer to give it a slightly cola flavor with a hint of brandy on the finish. I would have liked to see what happened with a longer fermentation or an additional yeast rouse.

Rich, medium-full body. Mild hoppiness. Still, very tasty and an easy introduction to Belgian Doubles. 

The official write-up:

Grimbergen Double is a rich, dark burgundy ale with a white head. Double has undergone two fermentations, which give this ale a chocolaty, toffee taste with a brandy-like finish.

Grimbergen Abbey Ale was first brewed as far back as the early middle ages by Norbertine monks. The recipe for this outstanding Abbey Ale has been carefully guarded throughout the centuries by the monks of the Abbey of Grimbergen. Their beautiful monastery with its phoenix stained-glass windows lies just north of Brussels. The tradition of ale brewing by the monks originates from the former role of abbeys as inns for pilgrims.

Fifth Beer Of Christmas

The 12 Beers of Christmas is a little tradition I started last year in which I treated myself to 12 different beers, one each day. It celebrates the incredible taste and variety that can be found in beers around the world and just a few klicks from my doorstep.

The Fifth Beer of Christmas is the Duck-Rabbit Milk Stout, lovingly hand made in small batches by the Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery in Farmville, North Carolina.

This stout pours all black. It has a creamy tan head with excellent retention 2 inches thick. Lacy islands cling to the side of the glass.

The taste is dark malty richness, sweet lactose on the side of the tongue, bitter dark chocolate on the long, long finish. It has a thick body, and a full mouth feel.

A well crafted beer which I recommend without hesitation. Do you see the Duck or the Rabbit?

Thursday, December 30, 2010

7 Forbidden Foods

I'm relatively open to trying new foods and taste combinations, but I'm not adventurous for adventure's sake. I have no need to try the world's deadliest hot sauce or to try to squeeze water out of elephant dung for survival.

I simply like food and am willing to try new things. But there is a short list of foods I hate and will avoid with a passion. In no particular order, the 7 forbidden foods:

  1. Liquid Smoke (sorry aka the Mom)
  2. Liver (makes me want to hurl, but strangely liverwurst is OK)
  3. Organs of any kind (brains, eyeballs, tendons, tongue -- yes, it's been offered)
  4. Non-Kraft macaroni & cheese (powdered orange cheese rocks! Velveeta sux!)
  5. Eggplant (tried it baked, fried, boiled, etc. It's just yucky.)
  6. Marinated artichoke hearts in chicken salad (bad experience, yo.)
  7. Mussels, spiny urchin, and some rather exotic seafood (regular sushi/sashimi is OK)
There may be other stuff that I don't care for, or may merely tolerate, but this is the list that makes me turn green and bolt the other way. What does it for you?

24:15 Stewards Of Creation

Wynken asked me what we should do about the fact that the moon was receding from the Earth several inches a year. My reply was that the angel choir of the Virtues had the responsibility and control over seasons, stars, and moon; even the sun is subject to their command.

But that set me to thinking: what is the proper response of Catholics to issues of the environment as distinct from some of the popular movements now in vogue?

The Problem

The main problem with radical environmentalists is that they have substituted the created for the creator. Everywhere you look “going green” is all the rage. It has become the new religion in developed countries across the globe. It spans the gamut from an over-emphasis on providing for “future generations”, misplaced love of animals at the expense of humans, personification of the Earth (the Earth has feeeeelings), to full blown pagan Mother-Earth-cum-Gaia worship.

G.K. Chesterton famously said:
“When people cease to believe in God, they don’t believe in nothing; they believe in anything.”
Continue reading >>>

Subscribe to As For Me And My House (Jos 24:15), Thursdays at Catholic Dads Online!  

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Fourth Beer Of Christmas

The 12 Beers of Christmas is a little tradition I started last year in which I treated myself to 12 different beers, one each day. It celebrates the incredible taste and variety that can be found in beers around the world and just a few klicks from my doorstep.

The fourth beer of Christmas is Blanche De Chambly from Unibroue in Quebec, 5% ABV. This beer is described as "Ale on lees".

What is Ale on lees? Also known as "trub", lees are the deposit of yeast and sediments at the bottom of the tank after fermentation. Blanche de Chambly is re-fermented in the bottle on a yeast base.

It pours pale, golden, and cloudy with plenty of suspended yeast, which is tangy. Vegemite anyone?

The abundant carbonation produces clear, tight bubbles, champagne like. From the bottle there is o lasting head, and minimal lacing on the glass.

The nose is fruity and spicy, a preview of this Belgian Witbier.

The Chambly taste is bright, tart, and fruity.  Lemon and orange peel imbue this light wheat and adds spicy coriander to the mix. With a medium body and a medium finish, Blanche de Chambly is a fine Belgian white beer. Great with fish, fruit, or light cheese.

Third Beer Of Christmas

The third beer of Christmas is the Flying Fish Belgian Style Dubbel from the Flying Fish Brewing Co, Cherry Hill NJ. 7.0% ABV

This beer is made as a Classic dubbel style. Note this is a Belgian "style", not a true Belgian -- and it shows. Those brewing monks have their secret recipies that they've been working on for a couple hundred years and that's not easily reproduced by some upstarts in New Jersey. Maybe it is the yeast, maybe it's something else, I don't know.

This beer pours a light brown with hints of copper color. The head was next to nonexistent. As for bouquet, initially the beer was too cold to give off any esters or nose. After five or ten minutes of warming, I was startled by a soapy smell. Is this my glass? Another ten minutes and the beer was devoid of any nose at all.

The taste was as I expected from the style: Sweet malt, candi sugar, smooth, good body.

I struggled to like this beer, but I found it unremarkable. For a Belgian "style" beer, it lacked any, well, style. It was decent without being remarkable.

The one good quality I liked is that it hid its high 7% ABV gravity well. It did not come off as "hot" or alcoholic tasting.

Pope: Every Child Needs The Love Of Family

Remarks from the Holy Father.

"The Holy Family is certainly unique and unrepeatable, but at the same time it is a model for every family, because Jesus, true man, chose to be born in a human family, and in so doing, "He has blessed and consecrated that institution."

These were some of the words of Pope Benedict XVI during the Angelus prayer with the faithful in St Peter's Square on Holy Family Sunday.

Pope Benedict stressed that the birth of a child "is not just a reproductive act, " saying that child does not need a great deal of "external comforts, " but rather "the love of a father and a mother," and " the warmth of a family."

"That," said Pope Benedict, is what gives children real security," said the Holy Father.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Second Beer Of Christmas

The 12 Beers of Christmas is a little tradition I started last year in which I treated myself to 12 different beers, one each day. It celebrates the incredible taste and variety that can be found in beers around the world and just a few klicks from my doorstep.

The Second Beer of Christmas is Lion Stout, established 1881 in Sri Lanka. That's a long, hot way to go for a beer. This stout pours a dark cola brown, nearly black in color and forms a thick, creamy tan head that persists for a long time. I was tempted to float a bottle cap on it.

The nose is all malt sweetness. On the palate the malt is pronounced with roasted chocolate and dark cocoa notes, almost coffee. It goes down rich and smooth and delicious.

At a hefty 8% ABV, this is a heavyweight contender that is good to savor by the fireplace. It's high alcohol content will light a fire of its own in your belly.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

First Beer Of Christmas

The 12 Beers of Christmas is a little tradition I started last year in which I treated myself to 12 different beers, one each day. It celebrates the incredible taste and variety that can be found in beers around the world and just a few klicks from my doorstep.

Me, I'm an Ale fan, so here we go ...

On the first beer of Christmas I shared a fresh pint with my brother. Technically it was 1 pint 9 oz, which made it easier to share. :D  The lucky brew was Black Sheep Ale, brewed and bottled in the English style by the Black Sheep Brewery in Masham, Yorkshire England.

This tasty beer is a lovely English bitter with a golden hue and a light and crisp taste. It has a refreshing hoppy flavor that paints the inside of your mouth and finishes dry. Bubbly and thirst quenching. At only 4.4% ABV this is a session beer that you could enjoy more than one of at a sitting.

One thing that I appreciate is right on the label: Serve Cool. Note that it did not say Cold.  Serving it at "cellar temperature" rather than ice cold refrigerator temperature allows its true aroma and flavor to come out.
We paired it with a buttery triple creme cheese and some rosemary olive oil bread. The rosemary complimented the English hops superbly and made the taste bloom in our mouths.  Bread, cheese, beer. It's meals like these that make you feel the life of an English peasant might not be so bad after all.

The official write up from Black Sheep:


Masses of hops, orange-fruit and roast coffee maltiness


Black Sheep Ale is a full flavoured, premium bitter with a rich fruity aroma. Handfuls of choice Golding hops give it a bittersweet, roast coffee maltiness followed by Black Sheep’s characteristic long, dry and bitter finish.


We use superior quality Maris Otter malted barley which delivers a better tasting and more consistent beer. This brew contains more Crystal Malt which gives Black Sheep Ale its rich flavour and darker colouring.
We use a mix of whole hops including Challenger and Progress varieties with an emphasis on Goldings which gives the beer its fruity nose.

The Story Behind the Artwork

The intention was to create something radically different from the traditional beer bottle label. Initially inspired by the practice of “hot branding” sheep flocks, the design aimed to create a distinctive and eye-catching “hot branded” label.
Despite being updated over the years, the label remains true to its original design and is one of the most recognised beer labels on the market today - a fact that's reflected by Black Sheep Ale's regular position in the top ten best-selling bottles beers in the UK.

Ecce Virgo

Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means “God is with us.” Mt 1:18-25

From all of us at the Nod household: Nod, Mrs. Nod, Wynken, Blynken, Nod-girl, Nub, Nib, and Baby Nodling — Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Video Roundup

People have been really creative with their Christmas themes this year, so here's a Catholic roundup of vids to make you smile. (With apologies to Catholic Roundup.)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Doppelganger Dilemma

I'm used to being fairly unique. In fact, my surname is somewhere in the neighborhood of the 21,000th "most common" last names in the United States. Not exactly springing up everywhere. So I'm always a bit nonplussed whenever I encounter it somewhere that it doesn't actually relate to my family.

I've looked online and in census tables and there are exactly two other guys who share my name. I can't quite figure out if it's the same guy who moved from Colorado to Seattle or really two guys, so we'll call it two. One of those guys has an Amazon wish list and he wants a piloting book -- not me.  It makes me want to hunt them down and demand they change it due to false impersonation. 

I could use my "mad skillz" on Teh Internets to force the issue, but that just wouldn't be right now would it? (Let's see ... he's got my name, lives in CO or WA, has a wife and kid that I  know about ... no, no must stop.)

Imagine my surprise when "Julie" sent me this email instead of to her husband of the same name:
I'm so sorry but I accidentally had Omaha steaks send you an email (instead of my husband) saying you are receiving Omaha steaks for Christmas.  Unfortunately you're not the recipient :(   I was momentarily mistaken about his email address.

Sorry for an confusion and/or excitement this may have caused.
Doh! Yes, there was some confusion and/or excitement, but not just because of the steak. I feel a little Highlander coming on -- there can be only one!
The least they can do is to send me a veal cutlet. I'm just sayin'.

Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival #88

This week on Sunday Snippets, WBN presents: Yes, Your Pregnancy. Go ahead, laugh a little.


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.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

24:15 Yes, Your Pregnancy

I’ll come right out and say it: pregnant women are crazy. There are all these hormonal shifts that are taking place, the body is stretching and changing rapidly to make room for this amazing bundle of joy inside that we call a baby; after nine months you get to name it and then the real fun begins. In the meantime, we men get to live with a woman who is alternately exhausted, moody, nauseous, uncomfortable, giddy, excited, and “nesting”. It’s a real barn-burner of an experience and you have to keep up with the changes or risk getting run over in the process. In our house, Mrs. Nod goes by her title: Your Pregnancy.

There are occasions when things may not may not make sense to you, but the only proper response is: Yes, Your Pregnancy. You just don’t mess with a pregnant woman. Mrs. Nod says, “I’m hormonal, I don’t have to make sense.” My sister-in-law puts it a little more colorfully: “Pregnancy is its own bag of crazy!” To channel J.R.R. Tolkien’s Galadriel:
“[Y]ou would have a Queen! Not dark, but beautiful and terrible as the dawn! Treacherous as the sea! Stronger than the foundations of the Earth! All shall love me and despair!”
Ok, that last might be overstating the case a bit, but those hormones are powerful stuff. If your wife feels like she’s “losing her mind”, consider this: it could be your fault. According to the Institute of Gynecology and Obstetrics of the Catholic University of Rome, stem cells from the baby containing the man’s DNA become lodged in the woman’s brain during pregnancy and remain there. The mother inherits some characteristics from her child, and indirectly, from the father. I’m not sayin’, I’m just sayin’.

Continue reading >>>

Subscribe to As For Me And My House (Jos 24:15), Thursdays at Catholic Dads Online!  

Must Be Love

We just went to Blynken's first ever band concert where she played the flute. Altogether, it was wonderfully terrible.

I can't wait for the next one.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

It's All About Me

It's all about me, although I don't want it to be.  I just slogged through the company's performance self-appraisal, where you get to wax eloquent about how great you are.

It's a process that I despise, trying to fit my "real" job into these artificially crafted categories and company goals developed by some corporate wonk that's too far removed from day to day operations to be relevant.

Goals? How about: I wore pants. Everyday.  Everyone's grateful for that one; that's gotta be worth a couple hundred bucks in the old paycheck, yes?

If you don't play the game and fill out the paperwork, you don't get a raise. Period. Talk about leverage. I'm allergic to paperwork and will go miles out of my way to avoid it.  My usual excuse is "I'm an IT geek. I don't actually know how to read."

Several years ago, I developed a system to defend myself against this yearly dread. I simply wrote down in my ledger what I did that day. That way I could refer back to it when it was review time. I've always preferred to let my work speak for itself, so I try to work hard and produce good results. Rather than try to come up with wonderful and vague generalizations about my year, I simply copy stuff from my ledger. I usually get comments from the higher-ups on how detailed my review was and how well I backed up my case.

It's because I'm lazy, believe me.

Now, just to make my life hard, I'm getting calls from the Corporate proposal team, who want to use my resume to win new work for the company. That's how I ended up going back downtown last year. They used my name on the proposal and promised I wouldn't have to be on that contract -- and then bid me as a key individual and were shocked when they won -- and I had to go work it. I've spent the last six months working to find my way back to the office near home. Yo, boss: anybody see a pregnant lady with 5 other kids in my house?!

They can't just use my resume and leave it at that, can they? Oh, no. Now these proposals require that you map your experience to yet another set of arbitrary categories and requirements. Are they going to read my resume and do all that for me? No sir. It falls back in my lap. Would I mind reading these position descriptions and filling in the relevant experience in the highlighted blocks? Yes, as a matter of fact, I would -- it's paperwork

Grumble, grumble.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Overheard In My House

Some things don't change. Just like last year, I asked the Nodlings about Gaudete Sunday and what it meant.

Nod-girl said the rose candle on the advent wreath stood for Noah, because he gave us the Ten Commandments.

(Maybe that's why Moses had to go up on the mountain to get them -- they were stuck on the Ark.)

Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival #87

This week on Sunday Snippets, WBN presents: Gaudete In Waiting.


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, December 10, 2010

Thursday, December 9, 2010

24:15 Better Living Through Chemicals

I have a small pharmacy in my spice cabinet. Open it up and there are a dozen bottles of something ready for the taking: all different sizes and colors. There are the usual suspects, including cough and cold remedies, pain relievers, antacids, antibiotics and the like. Then there are some more serious medications: thyroid, anxiety, ADHD, and amphetamines. That’s a lot of drugs. How did we get so many, and are they really necessary? The answer may surprise you.

As the head of my household, I take the charge to provide for and protect my family pretty seriously. Mrs. Nod’s side of the family has a hair trigger nervous system that is highly reactive to drugs. Every time we get something new from the doctor, I hold my breath a little bit when it’s taken for the first time. With half a dozen Nodlings, we get lots of opportunities for “firsts”. My side of the family takes pills by the handful like they were Tutti Frutti. We’ve got a lot of combined experience, believe me.

Continue reading >>>

Subscribe to As For Me And My House (Jos 24:15), Thursdays at Catholic Dads Online! 

Stem Shell Game

I can't decide whether this reporting is purposefully negligent or simply sloppy. is carrying a story about a Japanese team that used "stem cells" to partially treat a spinal cord injury in a monkey.
TOKYO - Japanese researchers said Wednesday they had used stem cells [which kind? some are moral to use, others not] to restore partial mobility in a small monkey that had been paralysed from the neck down by a spinal injury.

"It is the world's first case in which a small-size primate recovered from a spinal injury using stem cells," professor Hideyuki Okano of Tokyo's Keio University told AFP. [Another reference to generic "stem cells". Designed to confuse?]

Okano's research team, which earlier helped a mouse recover its mobility in a similar treatment, injected so-called induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells into a paralysed marmoset, he said. [So-called? That's what they're called: iPS. Differences matter.]

The team planted four types of genes into human skin cells to create the iPS cells, according to Kyodo News. [Injecting genes into skin cells is licit (iPS), putting baby in the blender (embryonic stem cells (ESC)) is not.]

The injection was given on the ninth day after the injury, considered the most effective timing, and the monkey started to move its limbs again within two to three weeks, Okano said.

"After six weeks, the animal had recovered to the level where it was jumping around," he told AFP. "It was very close to the normal level." [Apparently not a cure-all.]

"Its gripping strength on the forefeet also recovered to up to 80 percent."

Okano called the research project a major stride to pave the way for a similar medical technique to be used on humans. [Always they want to experiment on humans.]

Scientists say the use of human embryonic stem cells as a treatment for cancer and other diseases holds great promise, but the process has drawn fire from religious conservatives and others who oppose it. [Irrelevant reference to ESC, when Okano's research used iPS. Uncalled-for attack on "religious conservatives and others" who are opposing the "great promise" of the ends-justifies-the-means.]

Embryonic stem cell research is controversial because human embryos are destroyed in order to obtain the cells capable of developing into almost every tissue of the body. [Right. ESC are capable of developing into the whole tissue of the body, because they come from babies!]

Oy! For a more complete treatment about the different kinds of stem cells and their permitted moral use in medicine see Father Tad Pacholczyk, Director of Education at the NCBC (National Catholic Bioethics Center), is the author of a column called Making Sense out of Bioethics that appears in various diocesan newspapers across the country.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Know Your Meme: Om Nom Nom

Mrs. Nod made chocolate chip cookies today, and so after dinner I did what every red-blooded American dad would do: Om nom'd some major cookies.

What's that? You don't know what nomming is? Didn't you watch Sesame Street? Cookie monster is only the best Muppet ever!

Never fear, WBN is nothing if not a public service on Teh IntarWebs. It's time to listen up to: Know Your Meme.

Monday, December 6, 2010


On this edition of Me and the Homebrews, we at WBN finally get to taste our long awaited Patersbier (F.G. 1.006?).

It's been on deck since about April of this year, but we had weddings, cross-country trips, job responsibility shifts, and a host of other distractions before we could get to it - you know, important stuff.

When this beer was originally put in the carboy it seemed a lot darker than a pils-based beer ought to be. In terms of color I was thinking: Coors Extra Gold and getting: Boston Brown Ale. However, after settling for six weeks, it came out Golden Hefeweizen. It's a bit cloudy due to a last minute sediment disturbance by our rookie auto-siphon crew, but it doesn't change the taste any.

The taste is light and refreshing, with a hint of pear in the taste and bouquet. I served the inaugural pints to the Homebrews with a slice of fresh pear and a bit of Swiss cheese. Ah! Taste delight!  What amazes me is the simplicity of the ingredients and the complexity of the result.

I used the same basic ingredients as Budweizer (pils), but achieved a much superior product. Mine is an ale, theirs is a lager; mine uses a delicate Belgian yeast, theirs uses some industrial strain; mine has a refreshing taste and citrus bouquet, theirs taste like it came from the wrong end of the Clydesdale.

Patersbier: Stan Hieronymus (author of Brew Like a Monk) and Kristen England (BJCP Continuing Education Director) bring you this very special kit. "Brouwerij'ed" on the left side of the Belgian town Malle solely for consumption by the reverent Cistercian brothers. This ale is not served or sold to the public, making it one of the rarest beers in the world. Made only from pilsner malt, hops, and yeast, the complexity that results from these simple ingredients is staggering: perfumey floral hops, ripe pear fruit, sour apple, spicy cloves, candied citrus and a slight biscuit character on the drying finish ... a monks' session beer.

My Favorite Thing

I've had the same shirt for about 20 years, and it's safe to say that it's one of my favorites.

It's a rugby with 4" vertical stripes of blue and green. Yes, I know that traditional rugby shirts have horizontal stripes, but that was part of the appeal of my jersey being a little different. It has survived football games, wrestling, bleach, yard work, children yanking on it, improper washing, you name it.

Only now, twenty years later it has started to develop a tiny hole in the sleeve near the cuff.  I'd say that was one tough shirt and that I definitely got my money's worth out of it. The children's clothier Carter's had a slogan "If only they stayed young until their Carter's wore out."  If every piece of clothing lasted like my rugby did, I'd never have to buy new clothes unless I wanted them.

So for my birthday I went ahead and ordered a new rugby to take the place of my old one. This one is the official Unites States rugby team colors: dark blue with two white stripes on the arm and a white side flare and collar. It sports the U.S. flag and the official World Rugby logo. These rugbys from Barbarian via American Rugby Outfitters (no, they're not sponsoring me, but they should) are super heavy weight cotton, reinforced stitching under the arm and the back of the neck. There are no sleeve seams, since the traps are sewn directly into the collar, rubber buttons, and quality stamped all over it.

It's sharp, it's durable, and well fitted. In short, I love it.  You should have something that you love so much.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival #86

This week on Sunday Snippets, WBN presents: Waiting On Advent.


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.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Wynken Lashing

What kind of parent sends his child to sleep outside in the 25-30 degree cold? The parent of a Boy Scout, of course.

Wynken's Troop is doing their first winter campout this weekend. They had a shakedown event on Thursday to make sure that every Scout was packed properly for the cold: boots, long underwear, wool socks, hats, gloves, sleeping mat/bag/fleece, and so on.

Since it's their first cold weather camp, the boys will actually be sleeping in unheated cabins, so that should take the sting out of the elements at least while sleeping.

While in the woods, they are working on their camping skills, including fire making and lashings. The picture shows how to lash a cross piece to a tree to hold a 20 pound ruck.

Ah, boys and their sticks in the woods ...

Friday, December 3, 2010

Who'da Thunk?

It's beginning to look a lot like ... well, Advent really, but we'll give retailers a pass now that it is at least past Thanksgiving.

I've been alive just long enough now to know what I like and what I don't like and to get downright particular about it. (Insert curmudgeon/old fart comments here.) A source of irritation is people and/or retailers who want to wish me "Happy Holidays" or "Season's Greetings". Just which holidays did they wish me to be happy about -- could you be specific? And just what IS the season's greeting: do you know?  Instead of some lame pass-by-reference, howzabout you just come out and say it: MERRY CHRISTMAS.
[EWTNews] A new survey says that most Americans prefer that stores use signs that say “Merry Christmas” instead of generic greetings like “Happy Holidays.”

Well duh. Almost everybody who is actually shopping for "holiday" gifts this time of year is celebrating -- you guessed it: Christmas. If retailers are so smart with their advertising they should be able to mention the thing being celebrated by the demographic they are targeting.

If you can't, then I can't be bothered to buy anything from you.

This video is a reprise from 2008, but it still applies: Merry Tossmas.

Surgery Update

Mrs. Nod's father has been in the hospital since before Thanksgiving with congestive heart failure. They scheduled surgery yesterday, but pulled him off the table at the last minute (literally) to make way for an emergency surgery.

The surgery was successfully performed today with only minor complications. He had a band placed around his mitral valve and chordae repair. This valve had moderate to severe leakage. The doctors also replaced his aortic valve with an organic valve from a pig. If he'd opted for the mechanical valve, he'd be required to be on blood thinners permanently.

Apparently, the calcium build up in his aortic valve indicated several years of problems. The doctor claimed his aortic valve was worst he has ever seen. Unbeknownst to everyone he had a congenital defect of only having 2 flaps instead of 3. As a result his heart muscle has swelled inordinately and his pulmonary (lung) blood pressure is sky high.

Somehow the echocardiogram from six months ago missed this very obvious defect. But it's all corrected now. Mrs. Nod's dad is going to have one heck of a sore chest when he wakes up, but he'll regain his strength and energy by being able to breathe and get some oxygen into his blood. It may take six months before he makes a full recovery.

Thanks to all who offered prayers.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

24:15 Shoot Of Jesse

Now that it's Advent, the Nodlings asked when we were going to put up our Jesse Tree. The Jesse Tree draws out in readings and symbols the fulfillment of the promise of Jesus, who is of Jesse's line, while linking the Old and New Testaments.

The idea is to decorate a tree or picture of a tree with symbols from the Old Testament stories that illustrate the narrative of Salvation History and the coming of Christ. Christmas trees celebrate Christmas, but a Jesse tree celebrates Advent.

How better to celebrate the waiting associated with Advent?

Jesse was the father of King David. The Israelites begged God to give them a king after the pattern of the people whose territory they had conquered in the Promised Land. After the ruinous reign of King Saul, whom God rejected, the Lord raised up David, “a man after my own heart”. David’s united kingdom lasted only until the death of his son, Solomon. After that it was fractured and Israel and Judah were deported by foreign powers and the royal line seemingly broken. However, when God establishes a thing, it endures despite all other things. God promised Solomon in  2 Samuel 7 that his kingdom would last forever. Isaiah prophesied:

But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom. On that day, The root of Jesse, set up as a signal for the nations, The Gentiles shall seek out, for his dwelling shall be glorious. (Isaiah 11:1,10)

Continue reading >>>

Subscribe to As For Me And My House (Jos 24:15), Thursdays at Catholic Dads Online!   

Prayer Request

My father-in-law is currently undergoing open heart surgery to correct a failed aortic valve and problems with his corotid artery.  Recovery time may be on the order of six months.

Prayers appreciated.

Monday, November 29, 2010

One Up, One Down

Mrs. Nod took Nub in for his follow-up appointment to the neurologist following his reported seizure. After examining him and viewing the footage taken by his teacher, the neurologist concluded that Nub was not, in fact, having seizures.

We got corroborating testimony from the eye doctor who dilated his eyes and looked at his optic nerve, and said it looked fine. Apparently, you can see damage there if there have been serious seizures. So that is a big relief. I don't blame his teacher for reacting the way that she did, even though it was incredibly stressful at the time. We had told her that Nub had taken a tumble down the stairs and to look out for anything unusual. Well, rolling your eyes up and shaking is definitely unusual. However, the way he was doing it was -- well, entertainment to him. Weird, yes; dangerous, no.

That's the good news. The bad news is that Mrs. Nod's father is in the hospital with congestive heart failure -- a little something we know about. The echocardiogram shows his aortic valve has become defective and will have to be repaired with open heart surgery.

The prognosis is good; after this he will regain the energy he's lost over the last two years and no longer suffer the severe shortness of breath he's been struggling with. Of course, he has lots of complications as you might expect (he's 70, diabetic, gouty, bad back, severe allergies, tons of medications). As with any surgery, there is risk; Mrs. Nod and her mother are understandably worried.

But God is good, and we submit all things to His divine providence. The doctors want to do the surgery soon -- within the next few days perhaps -- so any prayers would be appreciated.

Bayou Benedict

For family brunch this week I decided to try out a new dish: Eggs Benedict - bayou style. I had something similar once at a restaurant called Eggspectation and thought I'd recreate it in my own image. Ok, this isn't my picture, but it kind of tasted like it.

Plus I had some leftover turkey from Thanksgiving (who doesn't!) that I wanted to re-purpose. 

First I baked some bacon in a stoneware dish and set aside. I re-used the bacon grease to bake medallions of red potatoes in the oven. I used those as my "base" on the plate.

Then I diced up the leftover turkey and heated it up on my griddle and laid it over the potatoes. This is the unusual part: I cooked polenta on my griddle (3 minutes a side) and layered it on the plate.

Finally, I added the poached eggs and Hollandaise sauce and served with a side of toast and an orange garnish. Yum!

I've never cooked polenta before, but it's apparently made out of cornmeal. I had no idea it was so tasty, especially with a hot runny egg yolk mixed in.

Filling and pleasing and novel to boot. What's not to like?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival #85

This week on Sunday Snippets, WBN presents: Thanksgiving is a Verb.


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, November 26, 2010

On Stalking

Sounds provocative, which is why it has been changed to Tracking.

Tracking is one of the original 57 Merit Badges issued by the Boy Scouts of America in 1910/1911. Tracking is one of four Historic Merit Badges to be reintroduced during 2010 for the BSA Centennial celebration.

Some additional restrictions include:
  • Scouts must start and complete all merit badge work after April 1, 2010 and before Dec. 31, 2010.
This means if you don't earn it this year, you never will.

Wynken and I have been working together to knock out this Historical Merit badge before the end of the year. We've been out in the woods several times tracking the various wildlife that lives out here. Fortunately, for us we live on the border of a preserve and a watershed.

We successfully tracked or located deer, black squirrels, gray squirrels, red-shouldered hawks, Canadian geese, green mallard ducks, bats, a fox, and several varieties of smaller birds. Wynken even discovered some bones from an unfortunate goose who failed to escape its predator.

Animal tracks are impossible to find once the leaves have fallen, even if you are staring at your quarry. We should have cast the perfect deer track we found on our second outing, but failed to do so. Wynken finally bagged his final requirement of making a plaster cast of wild animal tracks this past week from a raccoon who --ahem-- volunteered to hold very still for us.

We had a blast traipsing through the woods together. I'm very proud of the boy for persevering through these requirements; he's going to be one of the only Scouts in his Troop to have earned this badge, which won't be offered again for another 50 years.

On Celebration

If a holiday can be well celebrated by Scripture reading, dedication of the human race to God, paper crowns, a procession, honored guests, and 8 pounds of steak, then I'd say that Christ the King was well celebrated in my house this year.

It's only fitting for an end-of-year celebration (liturgical year, that is). Mrs. Nod has been wanting to celebrate this feast in high style for many years, so she finally got her wish.

From Wikipedia:
Christ the King is a title of Jesus based on several passages of Scripture and, in general, used by all Christians. The Anglican Church and The Roman Catholic Church together with many Protestant denominations, including , Presbyterians, Lutherans and Methodists, celebrate, in honour of Christ under this title, the Feast of Christ the King on the last Sunday of the liturgical year, before a new year begins with the First Sunday of Advent (the earliest date of which is 27 November). The Feast of Christ the King is thus on the Sunday that falls between 20 and 26 November, inclusive. Originally, the liturgical calendar had this feast on the last Sunday of October prior to All Saints Day, where it is still celebrated in the Extraordinary form of the Roman Rite.
[] Pope Pius XI universally instituted The Feast of Christ the King in 1925 in his encyclical Quas Primas. Pope Pius connected the denial of Christ as king to the rise of secularism. At the time of Quas Primas, secularism was on the rise, and many Christians, even Catholics, were doubting Christ's authority, as well as the Church's, and even doubting Christ's existence. Pius XI, and the rest of the Christian world, witnessed the rise of dictatorships in Europe, and saw Catholics being taken in by these earthly leaders. Just as the Feast of Corpus Christi was instituted when devotion to the Eucharist was at a low point, the Feast of Christ the King was instituted during a time when respect for Christ and the Church was waning, when the feast was most needed. In fact, it is still needed today, as these problems have not vanished, but instead have worsened.
Pius hoped the institution of the feast would have various effects. They were:
1. That nations would see that the Church has the right to freedom, and immunity from the state (Quas Primas, 32).
2. That leaders and nations would see that they are bound to give respect to Christ (Quas Primas, 31).
3. That the faithful would gain strength and courage from the celebration of the feast, as we are reminded that Christ must reign in our hearts, minds, wills, and bodies (Quas Primas, 33).

Overheard In My House

Nod-girl asks:
We had relatives in the Civil War?
Why didn't you tell me for Veterinarian's Day?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

24:15 Thanksgiving Is A Verb

When you marry someone, in one sense, you marry the whole family. Families have a lot of traditions -- some unspoken. Mrs. Nod and I found that out over the years on both sides of the family. Some things you didn't even know you cared about until they don't happen.

Thanksgiving is like that a lot. Mostly, it's about family, being together, and giving thanks to God for all his benefits; but also, it's about food. Sometimes, it's just not the same without your favorite food.

This year, we're hosting Mrs. Nod's side of the family for Thanksgiving and there will be changes. For instance, due to allergies, there will be no broccoli and cheese dish, no frozen cranberries, and other seasonings may be "light".  I had to rescue the butternut squash from table banishment, too. If it wasn’t there, I’d miss it.

Continue reading >>>

Subscribe to As For Me And My House (Jos 24:15), Thursdays at Catholic Dads Online!  

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Non-Newtonian Fluid

This just speaks to my inner geek: non-Newtonian fluid. See Adam Savage "walk on water".
Note to Adam: Jesus didn't use corn starch.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival #84

This week on Sunday Snippets, WBN presents: Say what?


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.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Selective Hearing (Reprise): Pope and Condoms

I love reporters. Well, actually I wash my hands very carefully after dealing with anyone from the fourth estate. I know they've got newspapers to sell, headlines to titillate, and everything, but it really doesn't excuse their collective hearing problem.

If you'll remember Pope Benedict XVI's trip to Africa, he gave many speeches, blessings, teachings, and encouragement while he was there. There were also some off the cuff remarks regarding the proper way of responding to the African AIDS crisis through a "double effort [...] to renew the human person internally, to give spiritual and human strength to a way of behaving that is just towards our own body and the other person’s body."

Reporters' collective response was: "I'm sorry, did you say 'condom'?"

Here we go again. Headlines everywhere are screaming: "Pope says condom use OK sometimes".  This is disingenuous to say the least and scandalous to boot. The context of these quotes is entirely lacking. Of course, if you're the kind of Catholic who gets his theology from headlines, you've already got other, more serious problems.

Contraception is always and remains gravely evil regardless of the means. The Pope was saying that a prostitute who decides to use condoms as a way of preventing infection was taking "a first step in a movement toward a different way, a more humane way, of living sexuality" although the Church "does not regard it as a real or moral solution".

Furthermore, he said it in terms of specific cases, not as a generalization.  The full quote from Reuters:

After the pope first mentions that the use of condoms could be justified in certain limited cases, such as by prostitutes, Seewald asks: "Are you saying, then, that the Catholic Church is actually not opposed in principle to the use of condoms?"

The pope answers: "She of course does not regard it as a real or moral solution, but, in this or that case, there can be nonetheless, in the intention of reducing the risk of infection, a first step in a movement toward a different way, a more humane way, of living sexuality."
Anyone who knows anything about moral theology knows that things get murky quickly. Although there are objective standards of right and wrong, a person's intention can mitigate some of the culpability of an otherwise sinful action.  But can we expect our press to actually deliver accurately on such nuance and fine distinction?

Reporters: "I'm sorry, did you say 'condom'?"

Dragonhead Stout

When you think Viking brew the first thing that leaps to mind is mead, a sweet wine fermented from honey. On the opposite side of the Viking drinking spectrum is black stout. I'll admit I'm a sucker for beer that is "5000 years in the making".

The Orkney Brewery, Quoyloo are the artisans behind Dragonhead Stout. Described as "an exceptionally smooth stout with a full malt flavour", it is hand crafted in small batches. It pours out dark and smooth and forms a creamy, oatmeal textured head.

Dragonhead is a legendary stout: dark, intense and fully-flavoured, it is our tribute to the Vikings and their cultural legacy in Orkney.

On the nose, this black stout has a smooth roasted malt aroma giving bitter chocolate, dark roasted coffee and Smokey notes balanced by hints of spicy Goldings hop.
On the palate, the dark roasted malts combine to give a rich, rounded palate with chocolate, toast and nut flavours, with a satisfying spicy hop finish.


A black stout, with a deep copper-brown tint, displaying a tight, smooth, tan-coloured head

Bitter chocolate, roast coffee, smokey flavours, moderated by spicy dark fruits

Dark roast malt flavours with hints of chocolate, coffee and toast; a big, rich, sweet, round mouthfeel balanced by a lasting hop bitterness

Key Ingredients
Roast barley, chocolate malt and wheat give this beer its smooth, full-bodied roasted character; Goldings hops combine with the malt flavours to deliver the lasting almost smokey bitterness

It comes in a generous 500 ml (1pt 0.9oz) bottle that is the same near black color as the beer itself. The taste of bitter chocolate, coffee, and toast predominate but with enough richness to enjoy all the way down. It's full flavor lingers long in the mouth, giving plenty of time to savor. At only 4% ABV, Dragonhead delivers an intense rich flavor that will make you want to put up your feet and just contemplate.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

I Know What It Is But ...

For some reason I looked at this and thought: Cool. The Pope has a light saber.

24:15 Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep

Kids thrive on ritual. Repeated, predictable, routine. It gives them a sense of security and well being, of being grounded and safe. It also dovetails with the way their brains are developing; repeating the pattern makes sure the brain gets wired up correctly. One of our most cherished rituals is the litany of bedtime prayers.  This is the crowning act of the day; a time to settle body, mind, and spirit in preparation for sleep; a time to reflect on the day’s events and offer thanksgiving and contrition to God, who is the Author of Life.

We have a long sequence of prayers that we say nearly every night. We settle the kids in their beds and turn out all but the night lights. I stand in the hallway between the boys and the girls rooms and lead them in prayer. When the first Nodlings were very little we used to read Little Prayer Series: Bedtime Prayers by Tommy Nelson, which is a cute little board book in the shape of praying hands. After a while I had the whole book memorized and just recited a dozen of the prayers from off the top of my head.

Continue reading >>>

Subscribe to As For Me And My House (Jos 24:15), Thursdays at Catholic Dads Online!   

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Baby Abandoned At Church

This is a local story that is generating a lot of buzz.
[WaPo] A newborn girl was left in the parking lot of a Springfield Catholic church just before Mass on Sunday, and police were trying to find the mother.

The baby was found about 6:30 a.m. when a patron of St. Raymond of Penafort Roman Catholic Church, at 8750 Pohick Rd., noticed a [duffel] bag in the parking lot. The infant, thought to have been just hours old, was inside. The patron called for help, and the baby was taken to Inova Fairfax Hospital. 

It was unclear whether the mother would face criminal charges. Broderick said the baby was left outside and unattended, rather than in the church or another safe location. Virginia law allows parents to leave a child who is less than 14 days old at a hospital or rescue squad as long as the baby is left "in a manner reasonably calculated to ensure the child's safety." 
There are a lot of things that could be said about this story. As a parent I find it shocking and outrageous that any parent anywhere would abandon his or her child. It makes my blood boil that anyone would intentionally endanger a child. Do you really think that putting a newborn baby in a duffel bag and ditching it in a parking lot is "a manner reasonably calculated to ensure the child's safety"?!!

After taking a few deep breaths, I realize that it is a compassionate thing to have sanctuary laws that allow children to be cared for when their parents don't want them. I don't understand the reasoning that would lead a parent to actually do such a thing, but I do understand the need for such a law. People can and do get into some pretty messed up situations. Plus, the alternatives are worse: abuse, abortion, dumpsters, soylent green (yes, get angry about this one!).

Clearly the mother of the child needs help and I hope she gets it. Looking at this from a slightly different angle and a more positive one, I find a note of hope that the baby was abandoned at a Catholic church. Why? Because there is still the understanding that Catholics, especially church-going Catholics, are defenders of the "least of these" and will actually do something to help.

Real Catholics don't kill babies and for all the Church's personal and institutional mistakes of late, her doctrine and basic respect for all human persons isn't one of them. We still have the guardian of the deposit of the Faith and Jesus himself -- and therefore real Hope. "So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love".

Adventures In Neighborhoods

I hate to think badly of anyone, and I'll usually go out of my way to make excuses for others, but I've got to admit my neighbor runs a very ... unorthodox household.  The more I  try not to think about it, the weirder things she does, and the more the creeping suspicion grows that something Just Doesn't Add Up.

Here we are in a down economy, and she's actually expanding her house. During the housing and economic boom, this was completely unremarkable in our neighborhood. Now, it's a cause for pause.
She doesn't have a job and is currently taking school classes for something-or-other. So just where is the money for all this coming from?

She rents out her house, which she also lives in, on a month to month basis. She got a maximum 3 or 4 renters and I doubt she's getting top dollar, but who really knows? When she initially moved into the neighborhood, I was first on the Welcome Wagon. She is supposedly married, but her husband doesn't live here, and I've never laid eyes on him. When I confronted her about this, she waved her hands and gave a vague "it's better to just let him go do whatever" kind of answer.

Who buys a house with a wife that you don't intend to live with? From what I've pieced together her "husband" owns a construction company and lives with his girlfriend. Yet, there has been continual interior construction going on from Day 1. The implication is he's doing it -- but why? She is neither young nor beautiful, and she is not native born USA.

I smell green card fraud and a money making scheme. I can't figure out the angle though. We've had ICE staking out the house during the Troubles. It's gotten lots quieter since then, but no less weird.

Incidentally, this picture shows the whole "house on stilts" effect that comes from turning your deck into an enclosed room that I hate. I refused to do this to my house, although I have a split level. I spent the few extra bucks and dug out the basement for future expansion. 

Can you imagine someone walking under your house and knocking on the floor?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival #83

This week on Sunday Snippets, WBN presents: According to the Book.

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.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

24:15 What's In A Name?

In a few months Mrs. Nod and I will have to name our sixth Nodling. This is difficult for a number of reasons, not the least of which it will be the 12th name we will have to agree on, if you count first and middle names.

Naming is hard, but it is more than just a label to call someone by. Names are signs and symbols that point to a greater reality. Names have power; names have meaning; names point to essence. Names are, in fact, fantastically important.

Continue reading >>>

Subscribe to As For Me And My House (Jos 24:15), Thursdays at Catholic Dads Online!   

Nonsense Rhymes

I love a good nonsense rhyme. Here are some I remember from my childhood. I think everybody knows a variant of these.

Ladles and Jellyspoons
Ladles and Jellyspoons, hobos and tramps,
Cross-eyed mosquitoes and bow-legged ants,
I come before you to stand behind you,
To tell you something I know nothing about.
Next Thursday, which is Good Friday,
There will be a Mother’s Day meeting for fathers only;
Admission is free, so pay at the door,
Pull up a seat and sit on the floor.
It makes no difference where you sit,
the boy in the gallery’s sure to spit.

One Fine Day
One fine day in the middle of the night,
Two dead men got up to fight, 
Back to back they faced each other,
Drew their swords and shot each other,
One was blind and the other couldn’t, see
So they chose a dummy for a referee.
A blind man went to see fair play,
A dumb man went to shout “hooray!”
A paralysed donkey passing by,
Kicked the blind man in the eye,
Knocked him through a nine inch wall,
Into a dry ditch and drowned them all,
A deaf policeman heard the noise,
And came to arrest the two dead boys,
If you don’t believe this story’s true,
Ask the blind man he saw it too!

And of course ... Flea Fly Flo - Vista!


Related Posts with Thumbnails