Monday, September 30, 2013

That Little Gold Ring You Wear On Your Hand

Mrs. Nod and I attended a lovely Nuptial Mass of a family friend this weekend.

The liturgy was joyful, the bride was beautiful, and the young lovers were radiant with their love for one another. I confess to feeling a touch of emotion as I watched them profess their vows.

One of the things that I had forgotten after 17 years of marriage was the rings. It seems silly to say since I look at mine daily and have never taken it off.

Ok, I didn't forget about the wedding rings per se, what I was reminded about them is that they are blessed objects.  As Catholics we know that the thing that makes you married in the sight of God is the consent -- the words, not the rings. The couple is the agent of the sacrament; the Church is the witness.
I, (Name), take you, (Name), to be my wife. I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honor you all the days of my life.
The wedding can take place without the rings.  The priest at our wedding told us that if the best man lost the rings that he would just continue without them. The rings are the most visible outward sign of marriage. (I might argue that the six Nodlings tend to give that away.)

But we did have the rings and the priest did bless them.
Lord, bless these rings which we bless in your name.
Grant that those who wear them
may always have a deep faith in each other.
May they do your will
and always live together
in peace, good will, and love.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
The question arises: does this make the rings sacramentals? If sacramentals, does that give them special efficacy? Regardless if they are sacramentals or merely blessed objects we should regard them with the reverence and care they are due.

No one is kissing my ring like a holy relic, but all the same I am waving my sacramental around all day without realizing it.

That reminds me, after six Nodlings, Mrs. Nod can't fit her wedding ring on her finger comfortably and needs it enlarged slightly. Forget the diamond, I want that sacramental back on her hand!


Join RAnn for Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival,  for the Question of the Week :  Share a family sacramental memory.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Guess the Caption

In surfing my new Pope App, I came across this picture of the Pope visiting Centro Astalli.  While that's clearly a sports jersey, I'm not sure what the Monsignor is pointing at.

via L'Osservatore Romano
What is he saying? 
  • "Hey, it's not long enough to be a cassock."
  • "You have gum on your shoe."
  • "Number 3? Get out. The Pope is #1!"

Monday, September 23, 2013

Jewel Geometry Basis Of Reality?

Scientists have discovered that quantum jewels are quite possibly at the heart of reality as we know it.
Illustration by Andy Gilmore
"The amplituhedron looks like an intricate, multifaceted jewel in higher dimensions. Encoded in its volume are the most basic features of reality that can be calculated, “scattering amplitudes,” which represent the likelihood that a certain set of particles will turn into certain other particles upon colliding. These numbers are what particle physicists calculate and test to high precision at particle accelerators like the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland." - Quanta Magazine

WBN is picking up the story since AoftheAP is on sabloggital.

This is huge in the field of quantum physics. Before the discovery of the amplituhedron, scientists had to calculate millions of terms and fill 500 pages of algebra to figure out simple particle physics. Now they can just calculate the volume of an amplituhedron in a single function.

How's that for new math?

The article goes on to say that space-time and therefore dimensions may be an illusion created by properties of the jewel itself. Even gravity.

Sister Ilia, keynote speaker at the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) and  director of Catholic studies and visiting professor at Georgetown University in Washington, is quoted as saying:
“If we are to rethink in terms of religion, we have to think in terms of cosmology,” Sister Ilia said. “We have to understand the order of the whole,” adding, “There is no amplituhedrons without God, and no God without amplituhedrons.”
Sister Ilia has a doctorate in pharmacology as well as historical theology. [WBN is of the opinion that partaking of too much pharma has influenced the dogma in this case.]

WBN also asked Internet Princess and  relativism researcher Ms. Mimi Maker about the impact of the jewel on teh intarwebs. "Gravity an illusion?", she said, "Without gravity there is no weight. No weight means: I can haz cupcake?"

Her colleague, Dr. Adam Smasher has this to say: "On a personal note, I would like to say that men everywhere can relax a bit since the discovery of the amplituhedron since everything is just a consequence of quantum geometry. Now we can say 'No, that dress does not make you look fat, it's an illusion of your quantum jewels.'"

Dr. Smasher continued, "One thing is certain now, Schrodinger can get his cat back; the cat is neither alive nor dead, but existing in a higher bejeweled state."

WBN has learned that news of the quantum jewel is even affecting the Catholic blogosphere. Rumor has it that celebrated author Rebecca Frech is working on a Second Edition of her book Teaching In Your Tiara: Quantum Bejeweled.
Fixed that for ya.   
Popular blogger Terry Nelson of Abbey Roads fame is purported to have said, "Is this the line for the funnel cakes?"


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Avast, Mateys!

It's September 19, also known as International Talk Like a Pirate Day!

And we celebrate it because ... it's important to realize ... it's, uh ... Arrr! Because that's what it be, matey!

So shiver me timbers, swab the deck, and put yer feet up and enjoy some good old pirate nonsense wi' a pot o' ale or yer favorite grog!

From Talk Like A

The basics

Pirate lingo is rich and complicated, sort of like a good stew. There are several other sites that offer glossaries that are pretty good, and you can find some of them on our links page.
But if you just want a quick fix, a surface gloss, a "pirate patina," if you will, here are the five basic words that you cannot live without. Master them, and you can face Talk Like a Pirate Day with a smile on your face and a parrot on your shoulder, if that's your thing.

Ahoy! - "Hello!"

Avast! - Stop and give attention. It can be used in a sense of surprise, "Whoa! Get a load of that!" which today makes it more of a "Check it out" or "No way!" or "Get off!"

Aye! - "Why yes, I agree most heartily with everything you just said or did."

Aye aye! - "I'll get right on that sir, as soon as my break is over."

Arrr! - This one is often confused with arrrgh, which is of course the sound you make when you sit on a belaying pin. "Arrr!" can mean, variously, "yes," "I agree," "I'm happy," "I'm enjoying this beer," "My team is going to win it all," "I saw that television show, it sucked!" and "That was a clever remark you or I just made." And those are just a few of the myriad possibilities of Arrr!

Advanced pirate lingo; or On beyond “Aarrr!”

Once you've mastered the basics, you're ready to start expanding your pirate vocabulary. Try these for starters:

Beauty – The best possible pirate address for a woman. Always preceded by “me,” as in, “C’mere, me beauty,” or even, “me buxom beauty,” to one particularly well endowed. You’ll be surprised how effective this is.

Bilge rat – The bilge is the lowest level of the ship. It’s loaded with ballast and slimy, reeking water. A bilge rat, then, is a rat that lives in the worst place on the ship. On TLAP Day – A lot of guy humor involves insulting your buddies to prove your friendship. It’s important that everyone understand you are smarter, more powerful and much luckier with the wenches than they are. Since bilge rat is a pretty dirty thing to call someone, by all means use it on your friends.

Bung hole – Victuals on a ship were stored in wooden casks. The stopper in the barrel is called the bung, and the hole is called the bung hole. That’s all. It sounds a lot worse, doesn’t it? On TLAP Day – When dinner is served you’ll make quite an impression when you say, “Well, me hearties, let’s see what crawled out of the bung hole.” That statement will be instantly followed by the sound of people putting down their utensils and pushing themselves away from the table. Great! More for you!

Grog – An alcoholic drink, usually rum diluted with water, but in this context you could use it to refer to any alcoholic beverage other than beer, and we aren’t prepared to be picky about that, either. Call your beer grog if you want. We won’t stop you! Water aboard ship was stored for long periods in slimy wooden barrels, so you can see why rum was added to each sailor’s water ration – to kill the rancid taste. On TLAP Day – Drink up, me hearties! And call whatever you’re drinking grog if you want to. If some prissy pedant purses his lips and protests the word grog can only be used if drinking rum and water, not the Singapore Sling you’re holding, keelhaul him!

Hornpipe – Both a single-reeded musical instrument sailors often had aboard ship, and a spirited dance that sailors do. On TLAP Day – We are not big fans of the capering, it’s not our favorite art form, if you will, so we don’t have a lot to say on the subject, other than to observe that the common term for being filled with lust is “horny,” and hornpipe then has some comical possibilities. “Is that a hornpipe in your pocket, or are you just glad to see me? Or both?”

Lubber – (or land lubber) This is the seaman’s version of land lover, mangled by typical pirate disregard for elocution. A lubber is someone who does not go to sea, who stays on the land. On TLAP Day – More likely than not, you are a lubber 364 days of the year. But not if you’re talking like a pirate! Then the word lubber becomes one of the more fierce weapons in your arsenal of piratical lingo. In a room where everyone is talking like pirates, lubber is ALWAYS an insult.

Smartly – Do something quickly. On TLAP Day “Smartly, me lass,” you might say when sending the bar maid off for another round. She will be so impressed she might well spit in your beer.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Whither the Zither?

I love Old Time Radio. Love it.

As a kid I would lie awake at night listening to the old time radio shows playing on K-XYZ AM nowhere. I'm not old enough to have heard these in their heyday, or even the sons of heyday, but I loved these over the top radio dramas that allowed you to exercise your imagination and get some cheap thrills.

I learned at the ear of radio about conning the marks in The Lives Harry Lime from The Third Man, foiled dastardly plots with Chuck Morgan and Glamour Puss in Stand By For Crime, defended the oppressed with Paladin in Have Gun Will Travel, and rode the dusty trails of justice with the Lone Ranger and Tonto; and I got my fill of Sherlock Holmes and the Green Hornet alike.

Radio can be intimate in a way that television is not, especially in the wee hours of the night. It's just that million dollar voice, the radio dial, and you. Radio lets you feel like you were in on the action even though your body couldn't be there.

I played some of these old time radio recordings for the Nodlings and they just ate it up. Six kids piled up on the couch to "watch" an iPad progress bar slowly marching across the screen as their grandfather's fairy tales crackled in their ears.

It's magic. It's hypnotic. I wish I could find a modern radio drama that was just as captivating. Or perhaps the charm of the old time radio is best left in the myth of yesteryear. In either case, you can stream them for free from Yay, free!

I found this old video of Anton Karas playing the theme from The Third Man on the zither. It has a quaint yet upbeat sound that evokes old Vienna. The zither may be the most complicated string instrument I have ever seen: part harp, part bass, and part stringed guitar. Enjoy!

Monday, September 16, 2013

A Catholic In Every Church

This weekend the new Sikh temple that they have been working on for the last couple of years finally opened down the street.

I realized that I pass one Sikh temple, one Hindu temple, and three Protestant churches before I ever leave my neighborhood on my way to Mass. The Catholic church is only 5 miles away, but I pass two more Protestant churches before I ever get there.

Why so many churches? I often wonder what it would be like if every church or temple was actually a Catholic church. I'd be walking to Mass for one thing.

Our church is pretty typical for our area, which means 5 Masses of 1000+ people every weekend and only 500 parking spaces. (Since we have over 15,000 registered parishioners, I have no idea where the other 10,000 people are going.)

So, if every church were Catholic, what would the average density be? What is a good size for a parish anyway? A lot of people complain that they feel isolated in our large Catholic churches, that they don't know the people the worship with, and don't feel connected to the larger parish family.

Lots of things can help with that of course. Getting involved for one. We have dozens and dozens of ministries at our parish. We have a school. We have youth groups, old people groups, charitable groups, prayer groups, mom's groups, Knights of Columbus groups, scouting groups, and so on and so forth. We have so many groups, in fact, that our pastor is sponsoring an "International Festival" to help unite the parish and make us a more cohesive group.

So if you feel left out, you're probably not trying very hard. That being said, we have an obligation to reach out to those brothers and sisters to make sure they are a healthy part of our parish family. The biggest disease we are fighting is apathy amongst our own members (remember those 10,000 missing parishioners?).

On the other extreme, I once visited West Virginia for a funeral, and had to drive two towns away to find the nearest Catholic church which was tiny and miniscule. Everyone turned around when we walked in for Mass. "You're not from around here, are you? Welcome."

One Church. Two radically different experiences.

Looks like we got some work to do around here before there is a Catholic church on every corner, and a (bunch of) Catholics in every church.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Return of the Homebrews

On this edition of Me and the Homebrews, WBN chronicles the Return of the Homebrews.

There has been a renewed interest in ramping up the homebrew again from my posse, the Homebrews. We've cleaned the keg, ordered the goods, and the supplies showed up on my doorstep on Monday.

That makes this Saturday Brew Day. To prepare, I've got to activate the yeast from its dormant slumber by creating a yeast starter on Thursday. That will give it a few days to double in size and get raring to tackle the delicious malt sugar in the beer wort; 200 billion yeast cells is a beautiful thing!
We get all our supplies from the helpful guys at Northern Brewer. Stuff is always fresh, affordable, great quality, and delivered to our door quickly. Never had a bad experience with them.

They get my official Nod of Approval.

Fixed Gear is a big, bold American red ale. It pours a glaring crimson tone with a rocky white head and a brilliant floral-citrus aroma, thanks to an aggressive dry hopping. Its immodest, malty spine and intrepid caramel flavors blow in via gratuitous amounts of 2-row pale and dark caramel malts. A balanced citrus bite comes from Chinook and Cascade hops followed shortly by mild, fruity esters from the ale yeast.
 Just looking at this I'm impressed: six hops packets!

We are seriously considering doing a double brew day to maximize our available time and to get something extra in the tank so it can age properly. Giving your homebrew a few extra weeks to "finish" can make a world of difference from first beer to last. The additional time tends to allow the flavors to blend and to smooth off any "rough edges".  Also, since we always keg our beer instead of bottling, we know that it will age uniformly.

Next on deck:   La Petite Orange Belgian Double.

A Belgian Dubbel without the deep dark chocolate maltiness, the Orange is rich with caramel sweetness and a full body that hides the 6.1% ABV very well. A simple sipper that evokes warm summery memories with every sip, yet fits perfectly into the colder months' standard brewing repertoire.

Wyeast Trappist High Gravity Y3787 is a great alternative yeast for this kit; it ferments a bit drier with a rich ester profile, malty palate, and has a high alcohol tolerance. 

In the past, we had good success with our Belgian Dubbel, so I wanted to try something in the same vein, but just a tad different. The reviews on this beer are all raves, so I definitely wanted to get in on the action.

If you love beer, this is the one to watch!

Note: to see all the entries in this series click on the homebrew label at the bottom of this post! 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Overheard In My House

The 8-year old neighbor's kid was watching Nod-girl wash some pots and pans after a party.

Neighbor kid: Why are you washing all those pots and pans?

Nod-girl: Because I'm 10 years old and when you're 10 you have a lot more responsibilities. So you should enjoy being single digits while you can.

Overruled By Taste (Buds)

Sometimes I think there is something wrong with my brain. 

Mrs. Nod said we were going to have a cookout for Nib's birthday this weekend. That traditionally means hotdogs and hamburgers.  I immediately thought, aw, man, that sounds like work over a hot grill. I don't wanna do that.

So what did I do instead? Spent 4 hours in the kitchen making fruit kebabs with Blynken out of melon, grapes, strawberries, kiwi, pineapple, mango, and watermelon. 

Heck, as long as I'm standing here doing kebabs, we might as well have chicken kebabs with mushrooms, tomatoes, red onion, and peppers. That chicken looks good, but it needs some kind of marinade. Oh, but Grandpa is diabetic so he can't have anything with sugar in it. Or salt. Or garlic.

Better make two kinds: rosemary-lime and rosemary-balsamic vinaigrette with shallots. Oh, and another with Old Bay. Hey, this other experiment with honey-lime-sriracha peppers is dynamite, let's make that too.

Of course the little kids are just going to want hot dogs. So we'll throw those on the grill anyway. Hmm. And bratwurst. Gotta have brats. Oh, and those pulled pork sandwiches that need to be eaten.

So ... I didn't avoid cooking over the grill on one of the hottest days of the year and I went to 3 times as much effort. 


Overruled by taste buds. Yum.


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