Thursday, August 31, 2006

What makes Seuss’ The Lorax a favorite? Something more than the environmentally concerned message. It’s how the main characters defend their positions.

Both are protagonists. Both have integrity. One is oblivious to something important, something the other can’t shut up about.

The Once-ler: he’s ingenious, resourceful, entrepreneurial, successful, and meets a basic consumer need. He easily disproves rash generalizations.1 He listens to opposition and dismisses it politely, confident in his own rightness.2 Even when forceful3 he remains lucid. Finally succumbing to anger at the story’s climax, the Once-ler’s first and only comeback4 would have held up nicely had not the Lorax’s case been made immediately thereafter by the felling of the last Truffula tree without another word.

The Lorax: he’s reactive, strident, incessant, opinionated, and insulting.5 He’s emotional from the start.6 His blunt words lack appeal.7 His message repeats verbatim, ad nauseam.8 He calls attention to the escalating, concrete fallout of the Once-ler's industrial expediency.

The Once-ler prevails. He gets his way. He wins, yet both lose. The Lorax knows the loss immediately, for he's been watching it unfold all along. The Once-ler understands the loss only gradually,9 over time, for time is all that remains. Time … and regret.10 It was about the issues for both of them. It was never just about winning the argument.

Let’s assume that we don’t know who’s right in the above. Who’s more credible? Whom would you believe? Be honest. And be wrong.

Because we discredit people like the Lorax reflexively. They fly off the handle, and their credibility flies out the window. Why? Why do we esteem the dispassionate ones? Because an absence of emotion facilitates discernment. Emotion, theirs and ours, confuses us, and we turn off. We are inept at dealing with emotion but not surprisingly, the less we permit it, the worse we handle it. We mustn't forget that the delivery of the message has no bearing on its truthfulness. Something about not judging a book by its cover.

More than that, we discount people entirely who are wrong on a single point. We short-circuit, bypassing everything from them, not just the point of error. This also simplifies discernment and comes from being intellectually lazy. We never allow, “You are right on this but wrong on that.” Rather, their brain is completely misfiring. A blog with a few typos drives me on. Why should I listen to an illiterate? And yet, who's 100% correct on everything? In this way, we aren’t bound to listen to anyone but ourselves because, well, we are always correct.

Chesterton from Orthodoxy: "it is not the right method to tell him to stop doubting. It is rather the right method to tell him to go on doubting, to doubt a little more, to doubt every day newer and wilder things in the universe, until at last, by some strange enlightenment, he may begin to doubt himself."


  1. “There is no one on earth who would buy that fool Thneed!” But the very next minute I proved he was wrong.
  2. “I am doing no harm. I’m being quite useful.”
  3. “Shut up, if you please.”
  4. “I have my rights, sir …”
  5. “You dirty old Once-ler man, you!”
  6. “I’m asking you, sir, at the top of my lungs …”
  7. “You are crazy with greed.”
  8. “I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees.”
  9. “Whatever that meant, well, I just couldn’t guess. … But now, now that you’re here, the word of the Lorax seems perfectly clear.”
  10. “each day since that day I’ve sat here and worried and worried away. Through the years, while my buildings have fallen apart, I’ve worried about it with all of my heart.”

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Earlier in the week, today's forecast looked good.

All that changed yesterday morning.

Still, a plan is a plan.

With the holiday weekend approaching, full of other happenings, and school starting next week, this was our last chance, especially as a family.

I like the beach no matter what. Jeff is less enthusiastic about overcast skies, a little rain and a strong, cold wind.

We sat there with our books. The boys played in the sand. We had the place to ourselves, for the most part.

The waves at high tide were spectacular.

A few, brave surfers out there. We had our picnic lunch. There were lots of boats to see.

I don't think that the day was wasted. What's the alternative, be at home?

More pictures at Flickr.
Walking into the hair salon, I was met by a lively discussion of women who are comfortable with their body type. My stylist was quick to exonerate me and admit me to the conversation with the disclaimer that I'm not fat, I'm pregnant. Bless her.

The gist was that one could tell who was comfortable by the clothes they wore, the more risqué, the better.

"For instance," one lady began, "you know the Pan-Am motel there in Eatontown? I once saw this humongous woman come out of there and wait for a bus. She wore this short-short skirt that wouldn't stay down and a midriff! She was hanging out all over the place!"

I do know the Pan-Am motel. I had a student whose family lived there. The mother walked the girl and her younger brother to class on Monday nights but was often unable to pick them up. On those occasions, I drove them home. They probably could have walked without any worries, but it was quite literally the least I could do.

So, I said, intended as a gentle rebuke, "The clothes were probably donated and the woman was happy to have them. So think about that the next time you donate clothing. Think about who might be wearing them."

And my stylist announced to the others, "Did you hear what Teresa said? The clothes were probably donated, ah-ha, ha, ha!"

Too gentle, I suppose.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Ha, I noticed yesterday that it's been two weeks since I've had a functioning cell phone.

What jogged my memory wasn't an instance of needing to make a call and not being able to. I mean, my cell phone service was so bad that I was already very used to that scenario!

It was in thinking about monthly bills, end of month stuff, and realizing that I continue to pay for a service that I am unable to use. But, if I want to keep my number, and I do, then I can't cancel my agreement until I get a new one.

I thought that Jeff was going to pick a phone and service for me, for us, but he said he wants my input. I guess I thought it was (1) pick a service and then, (2) pick a phone. You can see it's been seven years since I've done this. I'm ok sticking with Cingular 'though I've always liked Motorola equipment. Maybe Jeff's trying to figure a new BlackBerry into the deal, 'though i don't see him using his much anymore. A while back, the spin wheel broke and he got a used unit cheap for spare parts.

I have more of an idea of what type of voice mail interface I would like than of what type of phone. Except I know that I don't need a camera phone. Or MP3 player, probably. Of course, I would like AUDIX ... but I don't think that's an option! :-) From my working days, the soothing voice and powerful interface ... but maybe the call flow has changed in all these years.

How many of you could go two weeks without a cell phone? Be honest ... is it glued to your ear? Well, I would like one once school starts again because I need to be reachable in case of trouble.
Does anyone complain about their school uniform supply company? May I? I might complain enough for the rest of us.

There's a long history of discontent but the following bumblings stand out in my mind.

To begin with, at the end of May, the company came on campus to measure students and take orders. I explained my blank order form to the measuring tape-holding representatives by saying that I would order online during the summer ... as always. Maybe they didn't believe me. For whatever reason, they didn't bother actually to measure my boys. They made some guesses, perhaps educated guesses, but guesses nonetheless about my sons' likely sizes in their company's clothing line come fall. And I'm finding that their guesses are wrong!

Measuring growing boys not an exact science, you say? Yeah, but they never held tape to waist or inseam!

Even with perfect measurements, the clothing has incorrect or missing labels! Last year I received khaki slacks labeled "6 Regular". Holding them up to the other 6R pairs in the same shipment, it was obvious that these were not 6Rs. Some sweats have no size labels sewn anywhere, not in the neckline, not in the side seam, not in the waistband. I compare these with articles of known size and mark with my laundry pen accordingly.

Maybe the shortcomings are more noticeable to me now with two children in uniform. I mean, I need to sort between them, whereas in the past, everything was Kenny's.

After Kenny's first year in uniform, I gathered what he had outgrown into a single storage container, the dress clothes. Last year, he reused about half of his uniforms, the gym clothes, but I ordered larger sweatshirts. This year, except for the sweatshirts, he needs everything new. Fortunately, with so many people not returning to school this year, I received from others things for Kenny to get him through the first week of school until the stuff that I ordered last night arrives.

Tim is different in that he needs XS gym pants and shorts. Kenny wore S at the same age, so I haven't any XS on-hand. Even for Tim, then, I ordered a few things.

The online ordering system is easy to use and I prefer it to their confusing paper order form. But, the first year that I ordered online, I noticed on my receipt that the leading '0' of my zip code was snipped. I tracked my shipment across the country ... to Somerton, AZ ... and back, as a result. As soon as I noticed the error, I called and told them that their online ordering system has a problem of striping leading zeros. I could not believe that I was the first to encounter this glitch! But they seemed quite unaware of the problem and didn't really seem to understand what I was telling them. Now, this company operates in some six East Coast states and has certainly mailed shipments to NJ! Does everyone else order or shop in person at their stores?

Sunday, August 27, 2006

He had a DVD of The Office a couple of weeks ago and got another one yesterday from NetFlix.

It's the BBC version, the original, and the dependence of the American version is obvious. I can usually imagine Steve Carell doing the same as David.

I like both but probably prefer the American because I saw it first. Those in the Beeb version tend to mumble. Part of the charm? The slang is difficult to pick out, like "bender," which I had never heard before (yes, I know Futurama, little help) but managed to figure out from the context ... and from thinking about the word just a little bit!

There's more vulgarity in the British version, I mean, profanity. And it's racier, including full-frontal male nudity which was (surprisingly) blurred out.

All 'n' all, entertaining, funny, makes me glad that I don't work anymore.
John's presentations start with music and yesterday it was the old standard "Our God reigns" that I remember from my Campus Crusade days.

The brief prayer service included some Scripture readings and quotations from church documents or public addresses on Evangelization. The words of JPII at the World Mission Day in 1991 are very clear: "Either it is a missionary community or it is not even a Christian community." And, from the American Bishops' booklet, Go and Make Disciples, "Its essence is the proclamation of salvation in Jesus Christ and the response of a person in faith, both being the work of the Spirit of God."

The man seated next to me was from the Archdiocese of Chicago.
He gave me a copy of their archdiocesan plan for evangelization from 2002. He is charged with implementing the plan among the 630 permanent deacons in the archdiocese. After listening to John speak, he and his friend from the Camden diocese were scheduled to visit Paulist Father Frank DeSiano, some expert in the field. He also wanted to get John to come out of Chicago.

The ladies on the other side of me were from Philly. They had recently attended the School of Evangelization at St. Veronica's in Howell.

I recognized a few others from the year-long training who, like me, were making up a missed session. There were many others that I couldn't account for.

Since I am more than half-way through the year-long training, the morning was review, good review. The afternoon material was new to me and I look forward to resuming the year-long program next month to contemplate the new material in greater depth. There's lots of depressing statistics that John puts out in the first hour: less than 20% of registered Catholics attend weekly Mass; since VCII, the annual net attrition rate in the US has been 1 - 1.5%; the number of unchurched in NJ is growing faster than any other demographic, and the largest Christian denomination in NJ is "inactive Catholics".

Personally, I could relate to the information about parish evangelization teams. John said that in 1995, 59 parishes in the diocese of Trenton had evangelization teams. By the time John arrived in the diocese in 2000 (at the bidding of the bishop, I'm sure), there were three! I joined ours in '95 and beyond reading Evangellii Nuntiandi and the American Bishops' booklet mentioned above and some other training, a shortened version of Listening Lab I, for instance, we did nothing. After two years of attending weekly meetings, I told the team leader that I was starting my second masters program and would not have the time for anything else. And that was that. Yawn.

Probably the most important aspect of the training is acquiring an awareness or sensitivity towards those around us and recognizing the needs of others. And prayer helps a great deal in developing this skill. I mean, in prayer, God can reveal to us whom he's calling and it's usually not the people that we think! And meeting those needs also requires prayer because we rarely have at our disposal naturally sufficient resources to address all of the issues.

It was a long day but good to get back after a month off.

I'd like to say that it has been ten years since I've been to the diocesan pastoral center in Trenton but that's misleading. Truth is, I've never been there, except for a brief tour shortly after the building opened. My memories from ten years ago are actually of Notre Dame High School which is on the same grounds as the diocesan center. I have attended many, many training sessions at NDHS over the years. More recently, 'though, about three years ago, I made a visit to St. Ann's just south of Rider when I was trying to find a school for Kenny.

Yesterday morning, I had to blindly follow the directions to the diocesan center because I am always tempted to take the first exit for route 206 and that's wrong, somehow. 295/95 around Trenton confuse me so much, even after all these years. I mean, how much sense does the coupling of 295 N with 95 S make? Yet, that's what the signs say. Coming home, I had to follow 295 S / 95 N, New York /Camden, instead of 95 S Philadelphia and I'm thinking, "I just want to go east!"
I thought I would follow up the post on popular songs with a list of sacred songs:
  1. “Alleluia, Sing to Jesus”
  2. “Amazing Grace”
  3. “Ave Maria”
  4. “Exsultet”
  5. “Hail, Holy Queen Enthroned Above”
  6. “Jesus Christ Is Risen Today”
  7. “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee”
  8. “Just A Closer Walk With Thee”
  9. “It Is Well With My Soul”
  10. “On Eagle’s Wings”
  11. “O Come, O Come Emmanuel”
  12. “We Remember”
  13. “Where Charity and Love Prevail”
If I could tell the difference - and I can't - I would list out Catholic-only songs vs. Protestant songs, but in our case there's much crossover these days.

I could include more non-English songs, like Tantum Ergo, but decided not, even though an English version exists and is often used.
I saw this last week over at Mikey's Wilderness Voice thing blog for Thursday Thirteen, songs we never tire of hearing. It looked fun, so I did it.

Some of these may be weak.

If I took more time, I could do better.

In alphabetical order, more or less:
  1. “American Pie” - Don Maclean
  2. “Bridge Over Troubled Water” - Simon & Garfunkel
  3. “End Of The Line” - Traveling Wilburys
  4. “Heaven” - Live
  5. “I Believe In Father Christmas” - Emerson, Lake & Palmer
  6. “The Long and Winding Road” - The Beatles
  7. “Only the Good Die Young” - Billy Joel
  8. “(Sittin’ on) The Dock of the Bay” - Otis Redding
  9. “Solsbury Hill” - Peter Gabriel
  10. “Son Of A Preacher Man” - Dusty Springfield
  11. “The Spirit of Radio” - Rush
  12. “Walking In Memphis” - Marc Cohn
  13. “Wish You Were Here” - Pink Floyd

Friday, August 25, 2006

Teresa S. says: (11:17:04 AM)
kenny got over to sam's

Teresa S. says: (11:17:11 AM)
it's a heck of alot quieter here now

Teresa S. says: (11:17:20 AM)
tim & chris are coloring at the kitchen table

Jake the Snake says: (11:17:20 AM)
so you and tim can play a game

Teresa S. says: (11:17:22 AM)
with markers

Jake the Snake says: (11:17:28 AM)
each other

Teresa S. says: (11:17:29 AM)
and tim is opening markers for chris

Teresa S. says: (11:17:32 AM)
very helpful

Teresa S. says: (11:17:39 AM)
each other? not yet

Teresa S. says: (11:17:52 AM)
but it's all i can do to keep him out of his school supplies
"Moving a piece of ecumenical history" - CNS, 8/25/06
As workers wrapped up the last of the furniture, still hanging on the wall of the old conference room was a gilded icon showing the embrace of Sts. Peter and Andrew -- the patron saints of the Western and Eastern churches. It was a gift of Patriarch Athenagoras to Pope Paul.

"Don't worry, we're taking that with us," said Fabrizi.
Gotta have a sense of humor when you're a Catholic ecumenist.
"No progress on reconciliation with Vatican" - CNS, 8/25/06
The group had sought as a "sign of good will" the restoration of the Tridentine rite ...

Bishop Fellay made clear that the society's differences with the Vatican were broad. In the society's view, he said, the church has experienced a "great, great decline" over the last 40 years -- in liturgy, discipline, faith formation and education.

"We have pointed out to the authorities that a big part of the problem may come from the novelties introduced with the council," he said.
"Novelties"? 'at's a good one.
This is gossipy, but I came across the MySpace page of a former high school classmate who recently registered with the alumni web site. I always scan the weekly newsletter for classmates joining and this week saw one.

The MySpace page is nicely done, very sharp, but my initial thought was that people our age don't use MySpace.

Although, from the picture, this classmate looks about ten years younger than me, so ... I dunno, looking through the material made me feel so homespun and, married with children, I guess I am homespun a little. My rationale as I contemplated attending my twenty-year HS reunion this past July was that (1) I haven't done myself in yet and (2) I've never been arrested, so by local standards, I am a success and shouldn't hesitate to show up.
At a friend's house on Wednesday afternoon with another family whose daughter is one week younger than Chris. She is a talking machine, speaking in full sentences. At the age of twelve months, she uttered single words and proper names, even agua for "water" (her nanny was from Mexico) which she continues to say.

Chris's entire vocabulary consists of about six words, including his frequent "u-huh" for "yes". He says the usual stuff, "momma", "dadda", "hi", "bye-bye", "no" and "uh-oh". He communicates very effectively through gestures, just now showing me that he wanted to color with his markers. Of course, he understands absolutely everything that I say.

None of my boys talked much before their second birthday and Kenny had the most language exposure of the lot: I read to him several books a night from the time he was three months old and he spent a year in a regular child care setting. He talks alot now! But he didn't start putting words together until after he was two years old. I haven't thrust language upon the others as hard as the first child but we still read regularly and, of course, have conversations.

The parents of the talkative girl credit her home environment but I think such credit is misappropriated. I mean, the differences are too striking to be attributable to environment alone. She exhibits very strong inter-personal behavior and is much more interested in hanging with grown-ups than running and playing. IOW, Chris fell in with the older kids on the playset, up the stairs and down the slide, and she stayed on the patio with her parents, talking - bonding in her own verbal way.
Kenny asked me why an apple is called an apple yesterday on our drive to the doctor's office.

I admitted that I am only vaguely familiar with the word's origin (I said "etymology" instead of "origin"; shame on me for showing off in front of my kids!) and that "apple" is an English word (I should have said "Anglo-Saxon" because "English" could mean "American" in his mind) and comes from the German word, Apfel, which I pronounced and spelled for him. Beyond that, I said that I didn't know what the word meant.

I should have reminded him of New York City's nickname, "The Big Apple," or some other fun trivia like that. But, honestly, all I could think of was Apple Records which would have been meaningless to him.

I find the word association involved in answering his questions entertaining and certainly makes driving the country roads around here enjoyable.
Is this how they plan to power the new middle school?

"Millstone explores going solar" - The Examiner, 8/24/06:
The Township Committee and the Millstone Township Board of Education are currently working together to explore solar power opportunities and to see if solar systems would work for the township and its schools, according to Abilheira.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve scheduled the older boys’ annual checkups at the same time for my own convenience and for the practical reason that their birthdays are only two weeks apart.

Now that both are in school, the checkups are complicated by the state and school health forms. Last year, the doctor’s staff did a piss-poor job completing the paperwork, including recording the results of Kenny’s TB screening test on Timmy’s form! They corrected that error this year by not recording the test results at all! Nice.

So, on our way out yesterday, the nurse handed me their forms, supposedly completed.

I flipped over the first page and checked the second page to see that nothing had been filled out. I returned the form to her and told her that we would be in the waiting room while she finished the paperwork.

After a few minutes, she gave us the forms and we went to the car where I checked the paperwork a second time. She had not recorded the results of the vision and hearing tests on Tim’s form.

I entered the office again and showed her what was missing. She took the forms again for a few minutes and when she returned them, I didn’t want to insult her, so I didn’t stand there and check them again in front of her. Still, in the car again, I noticed that Tim’s blood pressure was not recorded even though it was taken as a part of the exam.

I decided that if the school wants to make a big deal about it, I’d call the doctor’s office and get the information over the phone. I just want to spare myself another trip out there to Cream Ridge.

Of course, the physical results were fine. Everything checked out for both of them: vision, hearing and other vitals. My sister-in-law had warned me that her six year old received a newly recommended Hep. A vaccine, so I asked the doctor about it and she said Kenny is up-to-date without it. There’s not even a spot for it on the state’s health form.

Tim needed his final polio and DPaT dose and making that happen was pretty tough. It took me and two nurses to hold him down. But, as painful as a shot may be, the fear of it is worse. Tim’s medical experiences have not been very pleasant in his short life.

We've been concerned about Tim's chronic weight problem and his illness in April when he lost two pounds in two weeks didn't help. But, comparing last year's results with this year's and also with Kenny's from the same period, Tim is doing alright, registering between 50-75th percentile on weight (depending on how accurate this site is, he's in the 64th percentile), when not too long ago he was below the chart, below 0. Tim grew two inches over last year and measures an inch shorter than Kenny at the same age, rather remarkable, I think. He gained four pounds since last year and weighs just 1.5 pounds less than Kenny at the same age, which if you take into account the height difference, might work out to no difference at all.

The frustrating thing about the state form is that some versions of it do not include a spot for recording the varicella (chicken pox) immunization, yet my school cares about knowing that information. I have told the school nurse, “Look, if you want that information, request it on the form,” to no avail.

As in years’ past, when I dropped off their tuition payment a month ago, I picked up blank copies of the state health form. Just last week, the school mailed their “welcome packet” with school calendar, emergency contact forms, uniform guidelines and the mandatory health forms. The form that they sent is different from the one that I picked up a month ago, most significantly in leaving off a spot for varicella! I probably should call the school nurse about the Hep. A series because I don’t want any surprises.

Two years ago, the school required the MMR booster for four-year-olds, a big surprise; I don’t know whether they are going to require that again. I should ask her that too. But, then, in my experience, when I try to be proactive in such matters and ask such questions, they answer in the negative because frankly they don’t know for sure and they change their mind later when they find out the facts. So, I end up wasting my time and getting a false sense of alles in Ordnung followed by surprise trips to the doctor's office.

This story in the local paper, “Discovering a community’s history from a holy place” – The Examiner, 8/24/06, reminded me of a childhood friend whose family’s “summer house” was an abandoned church in East Shelby.

While she was there, the only way that I could visit was to ride my bike, a journey of about ten miles one way. If memory serves, the route went out of town along Albion Road, through the federal wildlife refuge, then left onto East Shelby Road. I mapped the southern portion of Orleans County that summer using data collected from my exploratory bike rides.

Their church wasn’t very renovated, as I recall. The pews were pushed up in a huge cluster along one wall on the lower level. There was a choir loft upstairs and several meeting rooms along one side of the sanctuary. And, of course, there was a kitchen, like good churches have.

About all I remember doing during my visits was weeding their garden and going for more bike rides. There wasn’t much else to do. Certainly no cable television.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Yesterday, we went to Belmar at low tide. Tim isn't interested in the water, preferring toys and the sand. But Kenny went into the water up to his neck and when a wave came in, he jumped over it, usually.

A couple of waves went over his head but, at low tide, everything is pretty gentle: the waves themselves aren't very strong and in between the waves is very calm allowing space and time to catch one's breath.

I managed to take Tim out once into waist deep (for him) water and I think that he liked it but he was more interested in the things on shore, especially because one kid had a huge beach pail full of tiny crabs! Can't compete with the attraction of living animals.
I talked a friend of mine into attending a Bible study with me at her church this fall. It meets every other Tuesday morning and they are studying Isaiah right now. She knows of the study leader from other dealings in her church.

We talked yesterday about the first date and time, and she said, "Oh, well I guess I had better bring a Bible, huh?" And I was like, "Well, I planned on bringing two just in case you forgot yours." And she was like, "Well, I do have one or two of them around the house, believe me."

Then she went into her garage (!) and came back in with a brand new Bible, still in its shrink wrap, explaining that it had been given to her step-son and he didn't want it! When she asked her husband about his devil-may-care attitude towards the Bible, he said, "Well, that's his mother's responsibility." But, with no trouble, she opened to Isaiah (I know, I know, one of the easier books to find!), so I was duly impressed. I mean, she went to Fordham, so she must know something!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Since January, I've been attending monthly training on evangelization sponsored by the diocese. It's my attempt of getting back into ministry after five years off. But, in May, due to family obligations, I missed a session. So, there is a make-up session this Saturday that I just signed up for:

EVANGELIZATION: The Mission that the Church Has—Ministry In-service Day
Evangelization is the fundamental mission of the Church. How can we let the call to evangelize shape everything we do as Catholics, as ministers and as parish communities? Includes: Sent on Mission, Steps in the Evangelization Process, Conversion Theory, Who Do We Bring to Jesus? Practical Ways to Reach Out to Inactive Catholics, Effective Whole-Parish Evangelization, and Witnessing to Christ. Speaker: John J. Boucher, Director of the Office of Parish Life, Evangelization Ministry, Diocese of Trenton. Date/Time: Saturday, August, 26, 2006, 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM (with lunch included). Place: Diocesan Pastoral Center, Trenton, NJ. For more information and to register at no cost (lunch is provided): contact ...
With some birthday money, Tim bought a couple of snap-together models at the local craft store. I think that putting models together is good for them, but so far they aren't able or interested in doing it. The task falls to me without fail.

The selection of styles includes military aircraft and boats which I have allowed them to pick on occasion. Some of these models include snap-on missiles and bomb clusters. Leaving them off results in a noticeable hole in the vehicle. If they desire a military machine, I try to steer them towards nostalgic versions.

Tim picked a P-51 Mustang. It doesn't come with guns or missiles or any weapons. As a treat for Kenny, Tim chose the F-14 Tomcat which comes with three missiles hanging underneath. The sweep-back wings and super-Mach 2 speeds excite him more than the missiles at his age.

I'm torn because I want to celebrate the technology and human ingenuity of all motor vehicles including those of the military without glorifying war making.
The Catholic Carnival is up at TJTM and, like last week, I had to get the tip from My Domestic Church.

Wed. morning and I still haven't received the email notice with the carnival URL. Humph. And no Amazon books yet. Double humph. DHL tracking says "out for delivery" this morning.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

I can't find the video of this story ("Boston Massacre, Part II: Yanks Edge Sox To Earn Huge Sweep") from last night's 6pm news in which key Yankee players are asked the tempting question of whether Boston has been put away.

Jeter is an old pro at not talking trash and A-Rod is learning the ropes. They even got Damon to say the right thing but you can see him struggle.

A man at Sesame Place yesterday had a Red Sox jersey on, Ortiz. I thought he was crazy.

Monday, August 21, 2006

During a time of open sharing in a study, the sweeping generalization that Catholics are not Christians was made. Such discussions are confidential, so this post isn't about the one who made the comment or the comment itself at all, as common as it is. It's about my reaction, or rather, my lack of reaction.

I didn't have one. I didn't flinch. I didn't bat an eyelash. If anyone looked in my direction for even a hint of discomfort, they were disappointed. If any were even aware of my affiliation, and many weren't. I am not uptight about it and don't want anyone else to be either.

And I have wondered occasionally since that time, many years ago now, about my lack of reaction. Did I do the right thing in keeping quiet? Should I have tried to tell her what just about any Catholic and most non-Catholics would, that she's mistaken? Should she expect to be able to express herself in a study in her own church without having someone jump all over her? I suppose that last consideration made the most sense. Everybody needs a place to be themselves and churches have enough eyes looking out and about already.

On my way to my car afterwards, in the parking lot, the study leader chased after me to apologize for the other's comments. She admitted to being embarrassed both for the other and also for her need to apologize. In doing so, she was being obedient to an impulse she didn't understand as was obvious to both of us. But her apology was somewhat motivated by a crisis situation in her personal life: some close friends were seriously contemplating joining the Catholic Church. They were scared about it and she and her family, as close friends, were also scared for them. All I could say was, "It's a scary thing to come to see that something you have always thought false is, in fact, true." Not to mention leaving things behind. It's nothing that I would wish on anybody.

It isn't fair to say that I wasn't bothered deeply by the original comment. Obviously, I still remember the incident after all this time. I am a little thankful to God that I didn't lose it or make some cutting retort. Our relationship, such as it is, hasn't been impacted. I mean, I don't feel any hostility - she's a sweet, self-absorbed lady just like the rest of us. I think I'm showing her a good witness and she probably thinks she's showing me a good witness. You know those games. Maybe I'm the only one playing.
"What's inside the ravioli?" "Ri'kot."

"Huh?" "Ri'kot."

"Oh, alright, I'll take a dozen. And some Fra Diavolo sauce."

I'm hooked on fried ravioli since the Colts Neck Country Fair on Thursday night. I made my own on Friday for lunch but the ricotta cheese inside frozen ravioli is just awful.

I think that they used mozzarella cheese at the fair. I can't remember the name of the restaurant vendor but it might have been Angelotti's from Morganville. I'll have to check 'em out but the stuff that I picked up at the Italian market today hit the spot. And the Italian market is closer to my house than Morganville.

I made Kenny some wings and, afterwards, just plopped a serving of ravioli into the fryer for a few minutes to heat through.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Summer camp is over, did I mention that?

While undressing on Friday night, Kenny accidentally removed his red wristband which identified his swimming level (per Amer. Red Cr. guidelines) at camp.

I said, "You want me to throw this away or you want to save it?" He said, "Throw it away. I can get another one from the camp lifeguard on Monday."

"But," I said, "Camp's over, you know that." He did.

A couple of weeks ago, the paperwork came home for next summer and I returned it completed right away. There's a price incentive for paying in full in advance. I noticed that the checks cleared on Friday.

Next year will be Kenny's third year and Tim's first. It's something to look forward to, I guess. And knowing it's only temporary eases the pain of saying "good-bye" at summer's end.
"Sinister & Rich: the evidence that lefties earn more." - Slate Mag., 8/16/06:
About 11 percent of the American population is left-handed (with slightly more men than women).

But the tendency toward greater aptitude in divergent thinking holds only for male lefties.

If you're at a college mixer or alumni reunion looking for a mate with high earning potential, you might keep an eye out for the guy who wears his watch on his right wrist.

"Left-handed men see better paychecks" - Reuters, 8/10/06:
The researchers did not find a similar effect among women.

"Britain Celebrates the Left-Handed" - CNN transcript, 8/13/01:
"Both of my parents are lefties. I don't know. I just always -- like, whenever I watch TV or anything, I always notice who's a lefty."

"It's only scissors really that were problems."

"Oh, yes, the elbows. That's the big problem."
Pastor is on vacation this week. He told us last week but I forgot.

A visitor, Fr. Jacob, from my friend's parish, St. Aloysius in Jackson, celebrated with us today.

The weekday morning services will suffer pastor's absence as he could not arrange for a substitute. He blamed the shortage of vocations but that seems irrelevant. Not that I deny any shortage, it's obvious. I just doubt that with an abundance any would be sitting idle, waiting to be called. I mean, I imagine that these men book their days with an eye towards fulfilling their Christian duties and not merely lounging around. As a result, they may not be readily available for redeployment.

Weekday service attendance is probably low in the summertime and nearby St. Anthony's in Hightstown offers two services on weekday mornings. So an alternative may be easily found for those so inclined.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

A couple of weeks ago, Jeff enabled TiVo's KidZone on our system.

The problem was that Kenny was watching episodes of The Office and My Name is Earl which, even though they aren't obscene, certainly aren't appropriate.

I wonder how long it will take for Kenny to figure out the simple, four-digit password. But, then, we can just change it, I guess.

In the meantime, when he tries to surf to his favorite channel, The Science Channel, an excerpt from the TiVo start-up sequence displays, you know, with the chutes and the colorful balls and the TiVo mascot swinging around. The four-year-old loves seeing "where TiVo lives" and yet, he doesn't think that TiVo lives inside the TV. I suppose if he did, he'd have to come out once in a while and, in more than four years, hasn't yet.

Now, there is supposed to be a way for Kenny to click out of KidZone to approved channels, like The Science Channel. But the system seems to allow only Up-Channel and Down-Channel surfing and not channel number input, in this case, channel 170 for The Science Channel.

Since the station is usually set to 33 (Nickelodeon) or 123 (Noggin), it would take a lot of effort to Up-Channel to 170.
Ho-boy, as usual, some fun over at Commonweal's blog:

Crossing the Tiber - 8/18/06.

Some highlights ...
So why not join the Catholics? He [Stanley Hauerwas] prefers loyalty to one's church of origin.

At the theological level, Hauerwas cites Cardinal Kasper that "the ecumenical aim is not a simple return of the other into the fold of the Roman Catholic Church nor the conversion of individuals, even if this must obviously be mutually acknowledged when based on conscience.

In the ecumenical movement the question is conversion to Christ. In him we move closer to one another."

Hauerwas is sympathetic with friends and students who become Catholic, but at the same time he wants to say to them, "Don't do it. We need you!"
Comments keep pouring in, but one commentator wrote:

I hope they will make Catholicism more enriching and do not follow the restoration fixation of Neuhaus.

From the Christian Century article itself, which is at once sympathetic and incredulous, as if these men do this in spite of themselves:
Reno maintained that orthodox believers should not leave their home churches.

The proper scriptural response to living in ruins, he said, is to follow the example of Nehemiah, who dedicated himself to living in a devastated city.

To flee institutions in search of something supposedly better elsewhere would be to simply replicate the modern tendency to favor a posture of ironic distance over one of dogged commitment.

In a February 2005 article in First Things, aptly titled "Out of the Ruins," Reno announced that he had changed his mind.

He had come to agree with John Henry Newman, the archetype for any Anglican converting to Rome, that the Anglican via media, its prizing of the middle path between extremes, is a mistake.


Mattox thinks the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification (JDDJ) should have worked. Once both Catholics and Lutherans concluded that they have no substantial disagreements on the doctrine of justification—the doctrine on which Lutherans have long said the church stands or falls—then there is no reason why they should not reunite under the bishop of Rome.


Marshall says he long ago came to the conclusion that "there is no doctrinal reason why a Christian of the Augsburg Confession cannot be a Roman Catholic."

The Catholic "extras" were not a barrier to conversion, but a bonus: "I would rather—far rather—live with the possibility of excess that accompanies Catholic understanding of Mary and the Church's teaching authority than with the complete absence of the former—and, it now generally seems, of the latter—in Protestantism.

"If disenchantment with my denomination had been the decisive issue, I would have stayed where I was." Indeed, he says, "I could not see that I had any right to leave the community in which I was baptized ... He adds, "except that right which Christ alone can give—and did."


For is not Anglican existence in a place like Montreal (where Farrow teaches) a relic of a previous poaching effort into Roman Catholic land?

"If Episcopal disunity and competition is wrong between Anglicans, it is wrong full stop. Perhaps the crew of the good ship Anglican needs to put in at the nearest Roman harbor."


"God has allowed us to come to faith and to practice our faith within divided Christian communities so that, forced to follow Jesus where we have been placed, we might learn repentance."

Radner continues, "No Jew . . . is ever asked by God to 'choose' between Israel and Judah." Jewish writers of scripture did not even consider such a move—rather they stayed where they were and tried to help the people be more faithful to the law of the Lord.

These converts have all been captivated by a catholic vision of the church—a vision they have come to believe is best realized in the Catholic Church.

Braaten worries that "the very persons who ought to be troubled by this phenomenon will say to themselves (perhaps not out loud), 'good riddance, we won't be bothered by those dissenting voices anymore. We wish more of their ilk will leave.'" A more widespread response might be that genuine catholicity is best promoted by the approach that Hauerwas describes, in which one refuses to despair over the church of one's baptism, believing that the Spirit can always renew the church.

Even though these six and many others have not, the fundamental principle advocated in The Christian Century piece is "stay put," a position I wholly endorse as a working premise.

And, you might read one of my classic posts related to this topic of "staying put".
I saw this somewhere for Friday and it looked fun:

Five things in my freezer:
Half-eaten ice cream birthday cake
Ice cubes
Re-freezable cooler packs
Frozen pie crusts
Brown&Serve sausage

Five things in my closet:
Softball cleats
Three academic gowns and two hoods
Ankle weights
Two inflatable air mattresses (deflated)

Five things in my car:
Sand, lots of sand
Season beach badge for Belmar (hence, the sand)
Maps: three states, six counties, two local
Tire air pressure gauge
Can opener

Five things in my purse:
Crumbs, lots of crumbs
Loose change
Matchbox cars
Personalized calling cards

Five things on my mind:
My new cell phone model and service plan
What’s for dinner tonight?
I’m late writing Thank-you cards
Back-to-school checklist
To you -- is it movement or is it action?
It is contact or just reaction?
And you -- revolution or just resistance?
Is it living, or just existence?

"The Enemy Within" Part one of 'Fear' - Rush
For Jim's two fall studies, I had to order only one book. The other required books I already have.

The one book is actually a book that I suggested to him, but it's such a classic that he probably had already planned to use it without my input. He's never used any of my suggestions in the past, so there's no reason to think so now.

Amazon said it shipped last night and I'll receive it on Tuesday. It's Cohen's Everyman's Talmud. I'm more than a little intimidated but I don't think that I'm alone in that, so hopefully we'll all get through it together.

Of course, the real question is whether he'll have enough people interested in an afternoon study or if he'll cancel it.

Friday, August 18, 2006

FAITH. Well, I was not so fond of his company at first, but I am as sick of it now. What shall we do to be rid of him?

CHR. Take my advice, and do as I bid you, and you shall find that he will soon be sick of your company too, except God shall touch his heart, and turn it.

FAITH. What would you have me to do?

CHR. Why, go to him, and enter into some serious discourse about the power of religion; and ask him plainly, (when he has approved of it, for that he will,) whether this thing be set up in his heart, house, or conversation.

FAITH. Then Faithful stepped forward again, and said to Talkative, Come, what cheer? How is it now?

TALK. Thank you, well: I thought we should have had a great deal of talk by this time.

FAITH. Well, if you will, we will fall to it now; and since you left it with me to state the question, let it be this: How doth the saving grace of God discover itself when it is in the heart of man?

TALK. I perceive, then, that our talk must be about the power of things. Well, it is a very good question, and I shall be willing to answer you. And take my answer in brief, thus: First, where the grace of God is in the heart, it causeth there a great outcry against sin. Secondly-

FAITH. Nay, hold; let us consider of one at once. I think you should rather say, it shows itself by inclining the soul to abhor its sin.

TALK. Why, what difference is there between crying out against, and abhorring of sin?

FAITH. Oh! a great deal. A man may cry out against sin, of policy; but he cannot abhor it but by virtue of a godly antipathy against it. I have heard many cry out against sin in the pulpit, who yet can abide it well enough in the heart, house, and conversation. Gen. 39:15. Joseph’s mistress cried out with a loud voice, as if she had been very holy; but she would willingly, notwithstanding that, have committed uncleanness with him. Some cry out against sin, even as the mother cries out against her child in her lap, when she calleth it slut and naughty girl, and then falls to hugging and kissing it.

TALK. You lie at the catch, I perceive.

FAITH. No, not I; I am only for setting things right. But what is the second thing whereby you would prove a discovery of a work of grace in the heart?

TALK. Great knowledge of gospel mysteries.

FAITH. This sign should have been first: but, first or last, it is also false; for knowledge, great knowledge, may be obtained in the mysteries of the Gospel, and yet no work of grace in the soul. Yea, if a man have all knowledge, he may yet be nothing, and so, consequently, be no child of God. 1 Cor. 13:2. When Christ said, "Do you know all these things?" and the disciples answered, Yes, he added, "Blessed are ye if ye do them." He doth not lay the blessing in the knowing of them, but in the doing of them. For there is a knowledge that is not attended with doing: "He that knoweth his Master’s will, and doeth it not." A man may know like an angel, and yet be no Christian: therefore your sign of it is not true. Indeed, to know is a thing that pleaseth talkers and boasters; but to do is that which pleaseth God. Not that the heart can be good without knowledge, for without that the heart is naught. There are, therefore, two sorts of knowledge, knowledge that resteth in the bare speculation of things, and knowledge that is accompanied with the grace of faith and love, which puts a man upon doing even the will of God from the heart: the first of these will serve the talker; but without the other, the true Christian is not content. "Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law; yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart." Psa. 119:34.

TALK. You lie at the catch again: this is not for edification.

FAITH. Well, if you please, propound another sign how this work of grace discovereth itself where it is.

TALK. Not I, for I see we shall not agree.

FAITH. Well, if you will not, will you give me leave to do it?

TALK. You may use your liberty.

FAITH. A work of grace in the soul discovereth itself, either to him that hath it, or to standers-by.

To him that hath it, thus: It gives him conviction of sin, especially the defilement of his nature, and the sin of unbelief, for the sake of which he is sure to be damned, if he findeth not mercy at God’s hand, by faith in Jesus Christ. This sight and sense of things worketh in him sorrow and shame for sin. [Psa. 38:18; Jer. 31:19; John 16:8; Rom. 7:24; Mark 16:16; Gal. 2:16; Rev. 1:6.] He findeth, moreover, revealed in him the Saviour of the world, and the absolute necessity of closing with him for life; at the which he findeth hungerings and thirstings after him; to which hungerings, etc., the promise is made. Now, according to the strength or weakness of his faith in his Saviour, so is his joy and peace, so is his love to holiness, so are his desires to know him more, and also to serve him in this world. But though, I say, it discovereth itself thus unto him, yet it is but seldom that he is able to conclude that this is a work of grace; because his corruptions now, and his abused reason, make his mind to misjudge in this matter: therefore in him that hath this work there is required a very sound judgment, before he can with steadiness conclude that this is a work of grace. [John 16:9; Gal. 2:15,16; Acts 4:12; Matt. 5:6; Rev. 21:6.]

To others it is thus discovered:

1. By an experimental confession of his faith in Christ. 2. By a life answerable to that confession; to wit, a life of holiness-heart-holiness, family-holiness, (if he hath a family,) and by conversation-holiness in the world; which in the general teacheth him inwardly to abhor his sin, and himself for that, in secret; to suppress it in his family, and to promote holiness in the world: not by talk only, as a hypocrite or talkative person may do, but by a practical subjection in faith and love to the power of the word. Job 42:5,6; Psa. 50:23; Ezek. 20:43; Matt. 5:8; John 14:15; Rom. 10:10; Ezek. 36:25; Phil. 1:27; 3:17-20. And now, sir, as to this brief description of the work of grace, and also the discovery of it, if you have aught to object, object; if not, then give me leave to propound to you a second question.

TALK. Nay, my part is not now to object, but to hear; let me, therefore, have your second question.

FAITH. It is this: Do you experience this first part of the description of it; and doth your life and conversation testify the same? Or standeth your religion in word or tongue, and not in deed and truth? Pray, if you incline to answer me in this, say no more than you know the God above will say Amen to, and also nothing but what your conscience can justify you in; for not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth. Besides, to say I am thus and thus, when my conversation, and all my neighbors, tell me I lie, is great wickedness.

Then Talkative at first began to blush; but, recovering himself, thus he replied: You come now to experience, to conscience, and to God; and to appeal to him for justification of what is spoken. This kind of discourse I did not expect; nor am I disposed to give an answer to such questions, because I count not myself bound thereto, unless you take upon you to be a catechiser; and though you should so do, yet I may refuse to make you my judge. But I pray, will you tell me why you ask me such questions?

FAITH. Because I saw you forward to talk, and because I knew not that you had aught else but notion. Besides, to tell you all the truth, I have heard of you that you are a man whose religion lies in talk, and that your conversation gives this your mouth-profession the lie. They say you are a spot among Christians, and that religion fareth the worse for your ungodly conversation; that some have already stumbled at your wicked ways, and that more are in danger of being destroyed thereby: your religion, and an ale-house, and covetousness, and uncleanness, and swearing, and lying, and vain company-keeping, etc., will stand together. The proverb is true of you which is said of a harlot, to wit, "That she is a shame to all women:" so are you a shame to all professors.

TALK. Since you are so ready to take up reports, and to judge so rashly as you do, I cannot but conclude you are some peevish or melancholy man, not fit to be discoursed with; and so adieu.

Then up came Christian, and said to his brother, I told you how it would happen; your words and his lusts could not agree. He had rather leave your company than reform his life. But he is gone, as I said: let him go; the loss is no man’s but his own. He has saved us the trouble of going from him; for he continuing (as I suppose he will do) as he is, would have been but a blot in our company: besides, the apostle says, "From such withdraw thyself."

FAITH. But I am glad we had this little discourse with him; it may happen that he will think of it again: however, I have dealt plainly with him, and so am clear of his blood if he perisheth.

CHR. You did well to talk so plainly to him as you did. There is but little of this faithful dealing with men now-a-days, and that makes religion to stink so in the nostrils of many as it doth; for they are these talkative fools, whose religion is only in word, and who are debauched and vain in their conversation, that (being so much admitted into the fellowship of the godly) do puzzle the world, blemish Christianity, and grieve the sincere. I wish that all men would deal with such as you have done; then should they either be made more conformable to religion, or the company of saints would be too hot for them.

John Bunyan - The Pilgrim's Progress (Part I, Section 3)
Finish the summer carnival season with a blowout!

That's what Colts Neck Country Fair is. Usually. This year, about the only thing that got blown out was my wallet, $80 in food and fun. And I want to go back tonight for more! A fool and her money ...

No, really, it was a good time last night.

I rounded up some of Kenny's soon-to-be former classmates and we met there around 6ish.

Shortly after we arrived, a friend confessed to me that he had already gone through $50 worth of tickets in the 30 minutes prior to us hooking up. Whew!

I had my kids using the $10 wrist bands for the inflatables. He got his kid one and when others arrived, they did the same. Our kids played on the inflatables with those pay-one-price wrist bands for 2 1/2 hours! It was great. We adults stood around and gabbed. I found out a bunch of things about the first grade school supply list in the Manalapan public school and at St. Rose in Freehold. They need tons more stuff than my kids, and not all of it is directly academic: wipes, paper towels, incidentals like that. Does the school provide anything beyond a chair and desk?! Seriously. What's next, BYO toilet paper? And would boys have an unfair advantage in that?

Another thing that we adults did was eat. One of our party came back to our area with cheese fries. Those were one of my favorite foods way back when but they don't make them very good around here, too soggy. These looked good, however, and I was going to try some but decided against it even without my husband's watchful eye. My friend was encouraging me otherwise, "Go on, you're pregnant, you can eat whatever you like." Eh, after three or four kids, that mentality starts to backfire.

All of the vendors' offerings looked good. The Colts Neck Reformed Church was serving up both kinds of clam chowder. I've been to enough Lunch & Learn programs at Reformed Churches to know that those ladies know how to cook! If Kenny had been with me, I would have bought a bowl because he loves the NE style, but I couldn't pull him away from the inflatables, so I sadly took a pass. Instead, I got fresh fried ravioli which I love to make myself. It was very good. I'm really craving it now and I need to check whether I have any cheese ravioli on hand to make my own ... for lunch?!

All evening, I waited for Jeff to join us. He had a late meeting in Newark which he tried to move up. He teased that he might arrive by the time of the fireworks (9:30PM!) and I said, "I hope you aren't that late!"

He called around 8pm (I had his phone because mine is kaput) to say that he was still at work and would probably just go home. I was ready to go home too, having stood in virtually one place for 2 hours. But the kids wanted to "ride rides". So, I bought 20 ride tickets.

There was a close call at one point: Kenny went on some kind of boat ride with his friends while Tim took to the super trucks. I gave Tim his two tickets, then dashed over to the boat to give Kenny his three tickets. The baby in the stroller threw a fit. Kenny's ride started up but Tim's was being double-checked by the operator. I could not calm Chris down, so I unbuckled him and saw that the seat next to Tim was open.

I dashed inside the ride area to the caution of the operator who was checking belts (she had not reached Tim yet but was making her way around to him), so I said, "Look, he wants to ride, he's tall enough, here's two tickets, he can sit next to his brother." I'm usually not so pushy and she was nice about it but I knew that I would not get another chance ... I mean, everything was in place except that I was just a little slow in making up my mind. And, of course, Chris had the biggest smile on his face during the ride ... he was so loving it. What a silly kid.

So, we ran through the tickets and people in our party gradually left. I tried to catch the eye of an acquaintance whom I half-expected to see there because of her husband's involvement in the Colts Neck FD but she looked tired and had her hands full with more kids than usual (cousins? neighbors?), so we never made eye-contact.

On our way out, Kenny wanted cotton candy. I picked up some cinnamon almonds for Jeff, his favorite. I loaded the kids into the car just as the fireworks were getting started. We watched them for about fifteen minutes ... theirs is consistently one of the best displays I have ever seen. The kids hate the loud noise of fireworks, so they watched from the car with the windows up. Tim even covered his ears while inside the car! But I stood outside the car to enjoy them; the muffled sound of fireworks heard from inside the car is just not right, you know?

I got them to bed and even though Jeff slammed closed the front door as I was kissing Kenny goodnight, neither boy had enough energy to notice that Daddy was home. Both fell asleep almost instantly.
In waiting for Fick&Oz to return from their busy summers, I was rereading old conversations on their blog.

Their last full-blown podcast dealt with Catholic topics, in the news or otherwise of interest ... to them! :-)

I don't remember listening to the entire podcast but I was able to pull together a rather coherent comment that, imho, still holds up as informative and witty. So instead of letting my stunning synopsis languish in the com box of a lightly visited blog, I thought I would repost it here, on my lightly visited blog!

Their podcasts are funny. They are funny guys, much funnier than me:

I'm too young to have ever heard of the feast of circumcision. I was all of two years old in 1970 when the calendar changed to celebrate something else on Jan 1.

In the East, the feast of circumcision may still be observed on Jan. 1 along with the Feast of St. Basil.

Now, wouldn't a feast on basil be a very Roman thing? Tomatoes & mozzarella? Ah, just wait until Jan. 2 for it in the West!

In the middle ages, Jan. 1 was not only the feast of circumcision but also the feast of fools, especially in France. Disney's animated The Hunchback of Notre Dame, not a bad movie, features this event.

And, before we get all down on France, just consider what sociologist Andrew Greeley said about them: I am not inclined to believe that France was ever a Christian country.

The Christian octave was modeled neither on Judaism's seven-day feasts nor on The Beatles' Eight Days a Week. As a custom, octaves developed spontaneously in the 4th cent. CE.

I am happy that Jan. 1 is a holy day. I make resolutions ... but not revels!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Thirteen Bible Verses to memorize

  1. Romans12Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.
  2. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
  3. For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.
  4. For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function,
  5. so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.
  6. Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith;
  7. if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching;
  8. or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.
  9. Let love be without hypocrisy Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.
  10. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor;
  11. not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;
  12. rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer,
  13. contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Tonight's IM:

Teresa S. says: (8:59:26 PM)
i thought you were on your way home

jake_the_snake says: (8:59:40 PM)
cant find my way home

Teresa S. says: (8:59:55 PM)
yeah, well my cell phone battery cant hold a charge

jake_the_snake says: (9:00:16 PM)
ok - we'll replace this weekend

Teresa S. says: (9:00:29 PM)
oh, that's sounds really good

jake_the_snake says: (9:00:50 PM)
so,should i come home

Teresa S. says: (9:00:57 PM)
why not?

jake_the_snake says: (9:01:01 PM)
or just stay here tonight

Teresa S. says: (9:01:09 PM)
do you need to stay there tonight?

jake_the_snake says: (9:01:27 PM)
well i need to come back tomorrow

Teresa S. says: (9:01:38 PM)
so long as they want you back tomorrow

jake_the_snake says: (9:02:04 PM)
well, i'm both a loved and hated guy

Teresa S. says: (9:02:36 PM)
that's the Libra in you

jake_the_snake says: (9:03:06 PM)
libra in me, libra in you
Just over a year ago, I spent 45 minutes opening several new bank accounts in reaction to our mail being stolen.

During my time in the bank branch, I let the baby play with my Nokia 5165 cell phone to keep him quiet. He slobbered all over it. Well, I suppose animals "slobber"; babies drool. Whatever it's called, the phone got soggy, severely soggy. And he chewed the power button, pressing it beneath the faceplate and breaking the support ring on the underside.

When it came time to call my husband at work for his fax number, my cell phone would not power on. No matter, a faxed signature wouldn't really do, so I would return the following day with the paperwork all signed by him for the joint accounts.

I thought that the baby had ruined the phone for good. How to retrieve all of the numbers in my address book, most of which aren't stored elsewhere?

Overnight, the phone dried out and I was able to power it on reliably. I had to do some fiddling under the faceplate to make the rubber power button stand up to pressing.

In a panic and a flurry, I jotted down all of the names and numbers in my address book onto a few pages in my Franklin Planner. (I've been a tediously neurotic Franklin Planner user for more than ten years. I'm at the stage in my life where I must design my own pages and layout, and Franklin Covey makes it easy online!) Then I used the phone without incident over the year.

A fortnight ago, I received my next 12 months' supply of custom pages, starting in Sept. I spent a few minutes shifting things around in my compact-sized planner, out with the old, in with the new.

Part of "the old" was that list of names and numbers that I had jotted down last summer. And today I find that my cell phone's battery will not hold a charge. The saving grace, I suppose, is that I had decided to shred my list of names and numbers. Therefore, the pages rest in the "to-be-shredded" bin and were not discarded last, last weekend during the major recycling trip. Even so, the phone powers on when plugged in, so I jotted down my names and numbers a second time just to be sure because I have "expectant mommy" brain cells right now. IOW, maybe I just chucked 'em after all.

Is this a good time to prune people from my address book?

We've talked about getting new phones for about a year now. I signed up for this particular service about seven years ago when AT&T Wireless (AWS) was aggressively enrolling AT&T employees. I thought that the employee discount resulted in a decent plan for me. But now I see that Cingular will charge $5 / month service fee for non-GSM customers.
Catholic Carnival

Usually the announcement email arrives early on Tuesday morning.

My Domestic Church and ... and ... well, I saw it only there, had it up early on Tuesday. I could have just copied from Elena but I was curious whether I'd been dropped from the mailing list again.

I received the announcement email at long last around 7:30 last night and since I still had a fresh, Marian-themed post, I didn't want to put anything else up right away.

True, I should have put it up first thing this morning but I didn't get to it. And I haven't had a chance to read anything there. Obviously I haven't posted anything for this week. Enjoy.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Since I wasn't blogging when this document was released, I feel compelled to reference it again on this Feast of the Assumption of the BVM:

Mary: Grace and Hope in Christ

A year ago May, I boldly emailed a link to the Catholic News Service article announcing the document's release

Agreement on Mary's role in Christian life

with a copy of the document to a number of non-Catholics whom I know from Bible studies.

I wouldn't dream of such recklessness these days since misunderstanding and offense seems commonplace in the blogosphere.

The ARCIC document itself is consonant with my personal take on Marian matters. I wish that other Christians could open themselves up to at least considering whether such statements might find room in their own theologies as well.

Some quotes from the article:
"It is impossible to be faithful to Scripture and not to take Mary seriously," the document said.

While Anglicans may object to the way the dogmas [Immaculate Conception & Assumption] were proclaimed [invoking papal infalliability], ARCIC members said the teachings make sense when seen in the light of a scriptural pattern through which God prepares those he has called to fulfill a special mission and rewards those who wholeheartedly cooperate with him.
It seems to me that Mary’s life is a shining example of some very Protestant beliefs, namely, predestination, effectual calling, irresistible grace and perseverance of the saints.

She, of anyone, was “eternally secure”, could not lose her salvation. So, then, on the contrary, she ought to be a stumbling block for Catholics because Scripture portrays her as docile, as “being” rather than “doing” and Catholic tradition remembers her in contrast to (SAINT!) John the Baptist who does - preaches, fasts, baptizes, etc.; the "Mary" to his "Martha".
Humph, watched Shopgirl last night. Is mere complexity synonymous with excellence? I'd rather hear him sing "King Tut"!

Maybe the novella is better; I haven't tracked it down. Someone else cast in his role would have been preferable, imo. Claire Danes is absolutely excellent. Otherwise ... L.A. Story this is not.

I sensed some kind of "generation envy / revelry" from the movie. The clumsy, young guy who can only think of himself and the suave, old guy who can only think of himself but is savvy enough to convince others that he's thinking only of them.

About an hour into the movie, I considered giving up and going to bed, but I stuck it out, hoping for some enlightenment. I was disappointed and should have listened to my earlier instincts.

Someone at IMDB put this movie in the same class as Lost In Translation. Not even close, nice try to redeem Shopgirl, but the only commonality is the April-December romance.
Since my brother has visited only two or three times, I shouldn't expect him to remember, but I do. So I am always dumbfounded by his perennial request at some point during his visit for "some good pizza". My husband and I reply to him in unison without fail, "There is no such thing as 'good pizza' in New Jersey!"

But he expressed his desire for "good pizza" over the weekend when we were at the shore. I asked another mother at the playground to recommend a place and she said Attilio's in Ursula Plaza, up Ocean Blvd. a bit. It's been years since I had eaten at Attilio's, weekly after company softball games in Lincroft. It's typical Jersey pizza - soggy, burned crust, sour sauce and the sparsest of toppings.

I guess my brother and his wife caught a gander of the pizza on our way through the restaurant to our tables because they ordered calzones! Chickens! My husband and I dutifully ordered pizza. There are plenty of excellent Italian dishes in New Jersey ... pizza is not one of them.
I had to track down a charge receipt for contacts ordered last June at my eye doctor's office yesterday or else the insurance company would suspend our reimbursement account. Should I have expected the office to mail me a copy of the receipt when I placed the order?

I hate the poor service that I get when I call, so I went to the office in person to pick up a copy of the receipt. My biggest gripe with professional offices in New Jersey is that their business hours are erratic and completely discretionary. Would the eye doctor's office be open mid-morning Monday? What were the chances?

Approaching the closed door, I saw two huge notices: "Office closed Wednesdays" and "Office closed select Saturdays in summer". Neither applied and no other information was displayed. I tried the doorknob and it turned, so I went inside.

No one was waiting, not unusual, really. A staff person was seated at a computer behind the counter; the glass window was open. I went up to the window and waited to be acknowledged. She quickly asked what I wanted and took the date from me and hastily flipped through computer screens. Then, removing the dust cover from her printer, she confided, "We aren't really open yet" and printed out the receipt. It was 10:40 AM. I asked, "Oh, do you open at 11?" and she said yes. If I had called, would she have answered the telelphone?

I had a postcard reminder to schedule my annual eye exam, so I asked to make my appointment at that time. The initial set of dates I was able to dismiss because the times were too close to school release. I wanted something early afternoon since my mornings are more or less booked. She said, "Well, we are closed for lunch from 12:30 - 1:30 and close by 3." What is this, a bank? Is this the merry ol' Land of Oz?

In fact, I mind less trying to squeeze my schedule into theirs than the frustration of convincing them to reveal their schedule at all! Whenever I start at a doctor's office, I ask the staff for a business card with their hours printed or written on the back to faciliate scheduling appointments. If they honor my request at all, and they usually try to dodge it with a "Oh, just call and we'll schedule the appointment for you," it is done so grudgingly. They are really only interested in me coming in when it's convenient for them. In many cases, they just tell me when to be there or else. There is no negotiation when a specialist is involved.

Am I the only one who has noticed this shift? Is this characteristic of New Jersey only or are most doctors' practices run this way?
Jeff picked up managerial responsibility for a group of people in Piscataway and so headed out to his new office this morning. That makes three offices for him. I don't know how he manages to keep things in sync, dividing his stuff between offices. He was told that Piscataway is "God's country" which means that if he arrives too early, there might not be anyone there to let him in. So, he left well after 10 o'clock this morning which helps on commuting traffic. Just one more place for me to call when I'm looking for him in the evening!
I'm a terrible patient. My body still aches from laying on my back for 'bout an hour yesterday morning. The upshot is "It's a girl, Mrs. Walker! It's a girl!" Jeff said, "That'll be a change." Indeed.

The results from last week's blood work came back all normal. The EOB reported the real cost of the lab work at almost $2,000. I tend to think of people without medical insurance when I read such breathtaking statements.

A woman in the waiting room yesterday remarked, "I had six children and didn't do any of this for any of them!" Those were the days. Some of it is for the better and some of it is just a hassle. For better or worse, it all costs money.

I started an antibiotic last week for an infection. I'm very forgetful about taking it. I'm supposed to be finished with it by now but I have about four pills left. So, somewhere during the last seven days, I've missed two days! It's not the remembering that's hard, it's the actual doing. The actual walking into the kitchen and taking the prescription bottle down from the refrigerator, etc., etc.

Merely remembering it causes me to think that I've done it. Had I known that I would have this much trouble, I would have divided the pills into a weekly pillbox that the kids used to use for their daily vitamins. If this round of antibiotics doesn't do the trick and my doctor assigns another dosage, I'll self-administer it in a more foolproof manner, now that I see that I can't be trusted!

Monday, August 14, 2006

Figures that I have problems at the beach while I'm hosting company.

Jeff was by the water watching our stuff. My brother and his wife were watching their six-year old. I was watching the baby mostly on the playground designed for 2-5 year olds. The equipment is very familiar to him and he does fine on it.

Timmy had just run from that playground to one nearby for older children, 5-12 year olds. He ran up to the top. There was a toddler seated at the beginning of a covered slide, no doubt working up the courage to go down. Timmy eased his decision by giving him a deliberate, reflexive push and the toddler went down the slide crying.

The crying attracted my attention. I had not seen the push but I recreated the likely scenario in my mind after the fact. The toddler's mother ran to comfort him. She wasn't aware of what had happened either.

I tried to locate Tim from a distance. I suspected that he was involved. I started to walk towards the other playground mindful not to lose contact with the baby who could easily walk into the nearby parking lot.

I saw two boys, probably aged 7 and 6, punching and kicking someone at the top of the playground.

My six-year old ran towards me crying, "Mommy, something is wrong!" and I ran to the scene.

I heard the boys yelling, "He pushed that kid. Let's push him!" and I reached the top in time to see Tim turn towards these boys, trying to deflect their punches and kicks. But they succeeded in pushing him down the slide, head first on his back. I put my arms around them so that they could not get past me and I asked them, "Where are your parents? I don't appreciate what you have done."

They glanced in the direction of a group of adults, about a dozen, standing 30 yards away as the crow flies. I looked in the same direction and saw some men start towards us. Tim was crying very, very loudly, so I made my way down to him at the bottom of the slide. My baby had followed me and was making his way up as I passed him. I scooped up Tim and also grabbed my baby lest they attack him too. The father had some words for the boys, trying to ascertain what had happened. I said to him in passing, "Just a little vigilante justice taking place here." But he was a foreigner and probably could not understand my sarcasm.

The adults and the boys apologized again and again and again. They explained that the older one has "mental problems." He appeared to me to have Downs Syndrome. I repeatedly told them that it was ok, that Timmy was fine; he had it coming. I also apologized to the woman whose boy had been pushed initially. My Timmy is compulsive sometimes and takes advantage of the vulnerability of others. In other words, never turn your back on him.

It would have been alright except it was Timmy's birthday. So, I didn't think it was nice that he got beat up at the beach on his birthday.
"Wagner Farm Lane residents say no to utility poles" - The Examiner, 8/10/06

This story just gets better and better. If you missed the previous installments, don't worry. This article gives the complete picture:
Despite not having spoken to township, school or JCP&L officials, both families report having had trees cut back and/or down on their land.

"[But] now there's a big gaping hole, [and] I can see the construction workers at the school having their morning coffee."

"It's funny how someone else can do something to our property when we can't even build or put a temporary structure up on it because it's a wetlands easement," Steve Sacchetti said.

Eileen said she spoke with a township employee who was cutting back some of the trees on her property. She said she asked if the person had received permission to do so.

"He said that he did because it was an easement," Eileen McDonald said. "I told him that I didn't think he could because it is my property. So, I asked him if we could discuss the matter just to see if some of the trees could stay if others had to go.

"It wound up that he just chopped things down," she said, "and we didn't really find out the extent of it until after it was all done."
And the kicker line here:
Township Committeeman Elias Abilheira said the township, JCP&L and the county do remove trees from easements if they are dead or dying, or if they endanger power lines.
Rather difficult to prove after the fact whether the trees were "dead or dying" but even he admits that the residents should have been notified.
Alright, I had company for a few days but they left this morning. So, as long as I can think of things to say ... shouldn't be too hard ... I'm here again.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The Catholic Carnival is up here.

I put something recent in this week. You might have to be Catholic to "get it". I don't know for sure. Let me know if you're not Catholic and you "get it".
"Board of Education still not sure how to power school" - The Examiner, 8/3/2006
According to Abilheira, the best location for the poles is on the Waters property, which is located on the corner of Baird Road and Waters Lane.

"I know the Waterses refused to allow the pole on their property a few weeks ago," Abilheira said.
You see, I told you that it was the Waters family. Good for them.
When asked if she thought the matter was an oversight that should have been taken care of earlier on in the planning process for the new middle school, Board of Education President Mary Ann Friedman said, "I won't speculate on who is to blame and who should have taken care of this. Obviously, we did not anticipate this and [we] hope it will be resolved without causing a delay in the project."
Our tax dollars at work.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Upon coming out of Princeton Alliance Church for probably the last time, Timmy saw the huge tent erected in the parking lot. He was drawn to it, as he should be, so I humored him and we went underneath.

Rows and rows of folding metal chairs were ordered facing "front", towards a raised wooden platform. Timmy took a seat near the back. "Properly conditioned," I thought approvingly. But he wasn't satisfied. He asked permission to approach closer. Perfectly alright with me. He exclaimed, "This is a church!" And I agreed but corrected him, "A tent church!" He was enthralled to be under its bright white cover.

Their VBS program draws more than 800 children and starts this coming week. I was asked whether my children would attend and I replied that they would not. "But it's free!" I was told, quite incredibly. My friendly inquisitor nearly led me coercively towards the front office so that I might sign up my children. She wondered how I could refuse.

VBS at my parish ran last week. They had 118 children. The VBS coordinator died suddenly in March, so the program had some obstacles to overcome. Still, my oldest is not old enough to attend. Last summer, I sent him to St. Veronica's but this year, I didn't receive any information about the program. Just as well. He's in camp every day and told me that he didn't like VBS at St. Veronica's.

But, coming home from the Outlets tonight, I saw the sign outside DeBows Methodist Church about their VBS, held in the evening. I wonder whether Kenny would have the desire and energy to attend. It would be nice if I could get one of his friends to attend with him. I'll try that.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

We ran low on milk, a regular event.

Jeff volunteered me to run out and pick some up, taking his car to fill up his gas tank. I believe that's the proverbial "two birds with one stone" at least from his perspective.

The low-gas indicator was on, so I switched off the A/C - doesn't work anyway - and set the cruise control. By the time I'd reached the gas station, the indicator light had switched off and my mileage-to-empty number had jumped 10 miles. I have never trusted the trip computer in that car.

The nearest place to get gas and milk on a Sunday afternoon is a super-convenience store just down the road from a major amusement park. I try to avoid the store during peak morning and afternoon hours, if not altogether during the summer. But, without the kids in tow, I decided that I could manage the hustle and bustle of hungry, thirsty, tired, sun-baked folks who wonder whether they just wasted their hard-earned wages and precious free time waiting in line for rides at a worthless rip-off.

I hit the ATM and received my $100 in tens, a clear indication that the machine was dipping low into its cash reserve. The unusual denomination flashed me back to several years ago when I pulled money from my bank's ATM on a Friday night.

We were going to the Colts Neck Fair, an annual event in mid-August (coming up!), and I requested my usual amount, $100. I received the expected five bills however, to my surprise, not all of the bills were twenties. One bill was a one hundred dollar bill. In all of my years using automatic teller machines ... and I used to work for NCR, ironically! ... I have never received an amount different from what I requested. I thought, "Well, the bank probably owes me this in one way or another anyway" but I couldn't keep my unbelievable good fortune from Jeff upon returning to the car.

He told me that the best thing to do, on the next business day, was to return to the bank branch and report the error and make an exchange. I had no choice but to follow his advice.

I tried to talk with someone at the counter about it but I was directed to speak with someone at a desk.

"I encountered a problem with your ATM on Friday night. I did not receive the amount of money that I requested."

"I see. Well, you'll have to sign this paperwork and wait until we run an audit. By how much was it off?"

"Eighty dollars. I requested $100 and the machine gave me $180."

"Oh, I see! You don't have to sign anything. Do you have the one hundred dollar bill? Yes, well, let me just exchange it for you."

And that was that. Maybe she pocketed the difference, I dunno.

Actually, I hear some very shady things happen at banks these days. One of the reasons that we bank online and use electronic funds transfer for just about everything.
It was slow-going this morning because some major cleaning and rearranging kept us up until 3AM. Rolling out of bed, then, at 8:30, I thought to myself that most people function on 5 1/2 hours of sleep, why can't I?

The next hour was spent in two trips to the recycling station in town with complete carfuls of material, mostly cardboard boxes.

It was as if we had been storing them for the past six years, running the gamut: stroller boxes, computer boxes, furniture boxes, stereo boxes and toy boxes - galore. Don't forget AMAZON boxes! Two years as "Prime" customers of pay-one-price shipping has translated into not only more frequent ordering but a more cavalier attitude towards the economy of "grouping items into fewer shipments".

On top of this, Timmy put up a fight about coming with me this morning. Not that I was late on account of him; I was already late. He just made me later. So, by the time I got myself settled and collected in my seat, the Alleluia was being sung.

Placing my ribbon ahead at the end of the service to the following week's Scripture readings is my habit. However, there's always some doubt, because my little boy likes playing with ribbons ... even holding my missal by its ribbons! ... with the result that there's the possibility my marker has been moved.

The mere fact that I had trouble matching up the minister's words with the Gospel text in my handbook wasn't much of a clue, then.

I looked a week back and a week ahead but couldn't find my place. I had unconsciously recognized the reading as Mark's account of the Transfiguration of Jesus without realizing the full implications on my attempts to find my place.

This is where Timmy helped me with his exclamation, loud enough for everyone to hear, "Mommy, the man in the green shirt is wearing WHITE!" And I said reflexively, only to quiet him, "Yes, dear, because it's a holiday." And my own words flipped a switch in my own mind. Then, quick to my calendar which expired two years ago ... but I can extrapolate! ... to see that August 6th, between the 18th week and the 19th week, is the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord.

Lulled by a summer of Ordinary Time, these holidays sneak up on me! I know all about August 15th, be sure of that!