Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Jake the Snake says: (12:06:40 PM)
how's the garage look

Teresa S. says: (12:06:50 PM)
you mean the new slab?

Teresa S. says: (12:06:53 PM)
looks wonderful

Jake the Snake says: (12:06:53 PM)

Teresa S. says: (12:07:04 PM)
I'm gonna take pictures as soon as the mason leaves

Jake the Snake says: (12:07:28 PM)
i saw some of the drainage tile under the family room extension

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

I'm reading an old book by Packer, "Fundamentalism" and the Word of God, and enjoying it so far. Naturally, parts of it make me laugh out loud.

I'll share those:
Evangelicalism, however, seeking as it does to acknowledge in all things the supremacy of Scripture, is in principle Christianity at its purest and truest.

We would not, indeed, deny that Evangelicals often fall below their principles, just as Roman Catholics and Liberal Protestants are themselves sometimes inconsistent and give to Scripture a position of authority which their principles would seem to disallow.
OK, sometimes, by mistake, non-Evangelicals get it right and sometimes, by mistake, Evangelicals fall short. But, wait, it gets better:
For we think that part of the reason, at least, why "Fundamentalism" impresses its critics as distorted Christianity is that their own conception of Christianity is, in fact, distorted ...
VoilĂ .

Could have guessed it. This sort of ad hominen goes back to Chesterton's Orthodoxy, in pardonable hypotheticals:
And then in a quiet hour a strange thought struck me like a still thunderbolt. There had suddenly come into my mind another explanation.

Suppose we heard an unknown man spoken of by many men. Suppose we were puzzled to hear that some men said he was too tall and some too short; some objected to his fatness, some lamented his leanness; some thought him too dark, and some too fair.

One explanation (as has been already admitted) would be that he might be an odd shape. But there is another explanation.

He might be the right shape.

Outrageously tall men might feel him to be short. Very short men might feel him to be tall. Old bucks who are growing stout might consider him insufficiently filled out; old beaux who were growing thin might feel that he expanded beyond the narrow lines of elegance. Perhaps Swedes (who have pale hair like tow) called him a dark man, while negroes considered him distinctly blonde.

Perhaps (in short) this extraordinary thing is really the ordinary thing; at least the normal thing, the centre. Perhaps, after all, it is Christianity that is sane and all its critics that are mad—in various ways.
And how would you know?

At any rate, I'm glad to see Packer relying on Catholic thought, at least a little.

This is my Lenten penance. Oh, goodness, I'm joking, of course.

You will NOT believe the story on Ella's social security card. I found it last night and the exuberance hasn't worn off yet!

I was helping Tim with his homework which, on Mondays, involves cutting pictures out of magazines that begin with the letter of the week. I reached into our junk mail recycling bin and pulled out a couple of magazines, one featuring upscale home furnishings ("Frontgate") and the other, a Lands End Kids clothing catalog.

I flipped through the latter flat and ripped out three or four pages for Tim to cut. I told him, "That's enough."

But, fidgety, I turned my attention to the Frontgate catalog. I didn't find any pictures there, so I went back to the Lands End catalog.

Tim said that he wanted more pictures but, thumbing mindlessly through the catalog, I repeated myself, "That's enough pictures."

And the catalog just kinda plopped itself open in the middle and something stiff like a business reply subscription card stuck up. Except it wasn't. It was a junk mortgage refinance envelope made to look important and ... Ella's social security card, in an unassuming envelope! I nearly fainted ... at the thought of how close I came to NOT finding it.
And I asked myself, "How many other important documents, stuffed unawares inside hefty clothing catalogues, have I thrown away?"

I mean, you never know when mail goes missing. Like two summers ago when our mail was stolen, we didn't know, except our neighbor returned the empty envelopes he'd found on his lawn several days later. What if he hadn't? What if the crooks didn't toss it so close?

So, I'll be shaking my catalogs from now on. And I might call them and ask them to cut back on my mailings. Christmas is long over but I'm still getting a catalog a week. I need to talk to my postman1 and find out whether he is intentionally stuffing my mail into magazines. He might be!

But, I got a certified letter from one of the medical practices involved in Ella's care. I mean, the letter was a bill. And I wondered, "Why can't the SSA send cards certified?" How much more does it cost? And what price privacy and security?

Jeff says, "All's well that ends well."

I can't be so sure. The emotional toll was huge.

And this was the very eve of my going over to the Neptune office for a replacement card. Which, you know, also comes through the USPS.

Proof of age, no problem. I have her birth certificate. But, proof of identity? I had planned on bringing some of her medical bills, we have plenty of those. I'm not sure if that would have been accepted. When this happened with Chris, I had his baptismal certificate already. But Ella will be baptized on Tax Day. And you know Jeff wants the tax deduction already without the hassle of refiling or getting an extension.

Well, now that I've found the card, he has to get to work, setting up her bank account and finishing the taxes.

1 Update: I just spoke with the postmaster. He said that they've been training a new carrier since the middle of last week. He didn't acknowledge that stuffing mail inside magazines was deliberate. Instead, he admitted that, due to how the mail is cased, mail and magazines could occasionally get interspersed. "It doesn't happen very often, but it can happen," he said. That's even worse, isn't it? I mean, I'll be shaking magazines for my mail with little potential payoff.
The comments here are more interesting than the article.

When I think I've "heard it all," I wind up hearing something new (the first comment).

There is no end of it, in fact.


Sunday, February 25, 2007

It wasn't a live show but, first-time listener, how would I know?

I've confessed publically to liking American folk music ( see my profile ) without liking country or jazz.

I was in and out of the car during the two hour period. I liked the first two songs by Adrienne Young. The banter between G. K. and Pat Donohue was entertaining:
"And, Mr. Donohue, you did not go to the University of Minnesota?"

"No. I did attend the university but not the one of Minnesota."

"No, not this, not this one. Not the Minnesota university. Another university."

"Right. And, it also has an 'M' as an emblem, but I won't even tell you which one it is."

"Well, now you have to, don't you?"

"Oh, OK, if I have to. It's not Michigan, either."

"Marquette. Marquette."

"It's Marquette. You got that right."

"You came from a good Catholic family, so they wouldn't send you to a place like the University of Minnesota where you might ... where you might come in contact with young Lutheran women."

"I was cautioned against that."

"You were sent off to Marquette and so you wound up marrying a young Jewish woman."

"And everything just works out, doesn't it?"
And then the rendition of the Springsteen song, "Highway Patrolman (lyrics)"

The "Perrineville" mentioned in the song is not us here, Jeff said, but a fictitious town in Ohio.

Then Wiki has it wrong. Not the first time.

Must admit that my heart skipped a little when I heard it. I mean, no doubt, he borrowed the name of an insignificant town west of Freehold and used it of a nonexistent town in Ohio.

Friday, February 23, 2007

I'll take her in next week. Chris needs his second dose of Hep A then also.

But I weighed her on my baby scale because even though she's gotten noticeably longer, she isn't feeling much heavier.

And she's ten pounds which, considering she was almost ten pounds when she was born, doesn't sound too great. But ten pounds puts her between the 25th and 50th percentile. So I guess I shouldn't worry. But mothers always worry. Nursing mothers always worry. It's our nature.
After two weeks of parking on the driveway instead of in the garage, I get a "low battery" message.

I already had an appt. for 45,000 mile service so I mentioned the message when I brought the car in.

They replaced the battery under warranty, well, sort of. I had to pay half. And I need to ask about this because it wasn't explained. But their warranty policy seems to have changed such that it doesn't always pay 100% anymore.

Like insurance or going "out of network".

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Last Thursday, when I went east, I told myself that I should have brought my camera.

The ice on the trees after the "Valentine's Day Storm" was so beautiful. Dangerous, yes I know, but must we be, to a fault, such real-world-practical killjoys and fail to appreciate the beauty? Alright then, it was beautiful. The ice on the trees was beautiful but you won't know how beautiful because I didn't bring my camera.

And, today, when I went east, again, I should have brought my camera.

Route 537 from Shrewsbury1 to Colts Neck was lined with men aloft in cherry pickers, wielding chainsaws. How goes that saying about the horse and the barn door? Well, that's what this is.

Some people there lost power for a week. 40,000 customers w/o electricity in Tinton Falls and Eatontown, etc. jetBlue is talking about compensating passengers and the utility company gets off. So they might shell out a few hundred dollars per person for spoiled groceries. BFD.

1 Someone will tell me that 537 goes to Eatontown, not Shrewsbury, and you're right. But I don't care.

References: "Communities coped in wake of nor'easter" Atlanticville, 2/22/07

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Last night we caught up our TiVo viewing in anticipating of the new system being swapped in.

Three as-yet unwatched episodes of 24.

And I found myself distracted by a particular character, trying to place his familiar gestures and features.

It's actually a game of mine: name that bit part player.

Turns out to be, you know, an un-cute version of Rob Lowe: same tone of voice, same mannerisms, same mouth and eyes. Not as much hair and, well, not cute.

When the next episode began, I caught his name in the opening credits. Jeff, laptop-computer-ever-on-his-lap, told me he had been married to Swank. At least I know who she is!
"Don't worry," I assured the struggling cable guy, "You'll be seeing more and more of these."

Jeff knows cable; I don't. But I'm not allowed to talk about Jeff & cable. He made me delete that post. So, let's change the subject.

Let's discuss how frustrated the kids are with an empty "Now Playing" list.

'Cuz that's what they have.

Until I add back the Season Passes. And I must remember to re-schedule the Borneo program for tomorrow night and Blue's Room on Friday morning ...

There may even be enough disk capacity in this thing for a program or two of mine!

Uh, but no, not. I see The Sopranos return.
I looked over the Catholic Blog awards winners and came across a timely post at NLM: "Should Catholics Blog?"

See also the original from last spring at Oriens.

I say "timely" because some conscientious Catholics have given up blogging for Lent.

On the question, every thoughtful person, Catholic or not, has likely weighed the effect of blogging. For myself, this blog began as a place to piece together scattered thoughts and work through charged emotions. No different from a personal journal. To satisfy the wannabe writer and tinkering techie. To not feel too isolated.

Obviously, those of us still at it have concluded that our immortal souls can withstand the damage. No hint of flippancy.

Some observations on the Oriens piece:

"(See the recent Oprah-like blog whining of one columnist, who is so upset by America’s Catholic sacerdotal scandals that he thinks he’ll join the Eastern Orthodox Church, so there.)"

A reference to the Crunchy Con, Ron Dreher? I just took a peek at his recent posts; he's rubbing our noses in it. I thought he promised to be more humble.

"It is impossible to imagine a more effective, or pernicious, method than these blogs of spreading, among foreigners, the false but understandable belief that American Catholics are merely American Calvinists who get drunk."

Can someone please explain that to me?

Lastly, anticlericalism?! This is America!! It was bloody founded upon anticlericalism!1 Give us a break.

Anyway, you might just as easily ponder, as some have2, whether Catholics should go to the cinema or watch TV or drive luxury cars or have internet access or take vacations or retire.

1 anticlericalism: opposed to clericalism or to the interference or influence of the clergy in secular affairs. Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary.

Doesn't mean "despising clergy".

2 "But the whole point is that he is abstaining, for a good reason, from something which he does not condemn and which he likes to see other people enjoying. One of the marks of a certain type of bad man is that he cannot give up a thing himself without wanting every one else to give it up. That is not the Christian way. An individual Christian may see fit to give up all sorts of things for special reasons--marriage, or meat, or beer, or the cinema; but the moment he starts saying the things are bad in themselves, or looking down his nose at other people who do use them, he has taken the wrong turning." Chapter 12, "'The Cardinal Virtues,'" Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Warm enough to pour concrete.

More pictures at flickr.
The King Tut exhibit at the Franklin Institute was a bust yesterday: no tickets available until 6PM. No-go because Jeff had an evening appt. to see a friend.

Instead, Jeff took Kenny to the Academy of Natural Sciences located right around the corner. Also crowded but less so.

Kenny liked the butterflies the best. Jeff said it was a smaller version of the Bronx Zoo. It would have to be, to be indoors.

Kenny wasn't as taken with the dinosaurs as Jeff expected him to be. At last, this is a place that Tim could also visit and do well. So, next trip, they both go ... with Daddy.

Photo: the "Scoop On Poop!" exhibit.
I am remiss because I said I would post this video ASAP ... and failed.

Miracle Garden Music Lesson
You might want to turn down your volume before clicking:

See all their videos.
This week's Catholic Carnival.


Sunday, February 18, 2007

The code for embedding a flickr slide show comes from Brian at The Blog of Brian ... go see his Thailand pictures ...

Another garage bay.

Great Room extension.

More pictures at flickr, friends and family only.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Born on Christmas Day, christened on Tax Day.

At least that's the plan.

I forgot that baptisms are verboten during Lent.

So we wait.
I've said it before, land ownership is a liability rather than an asset in New Jersey:

"Hunekes rescind fight to keep family farm" The Examiner, 2/15/07:
Today is a painful day for Millstone Township's Huneke family.

After spending more than $100,000 and a few years with an application for a subdivision pending in front of the township's Planning Board, Robert Huneke, 63, the owner of 21 Huneke Way, has decided to give up the fight to try to keep his family's farm.

Huneke had to contribute $10,000 to the township's road department for road widening and $5,000 to its Recreation Commission. He would also [have] to donate an easement for use as a bridle path.

[T]he state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) deemed his property suitable habitat for the endangered wood turtle, which tripled the necessary buffers from 50 feet to 150 feet.

"Fifty-six thousand dollars into it and the DEP changed the wetland classification, and that just killed me," Huneke said. "The entire property became a wood turtle habitat and buffer zone that would leave only a 200-foot circle around the existing house and a 200-foot circle on the property to be subdivided."

Huneke said he never saw a wood turtle on his property.

"I've got box turtles and snappers," he said, adding that the DEP did not offer any evidence that it had discovered wood turtles on his property either.

"It would be different if the wood turtle was here having babies, but they're basically saying that they're going to hold this property in case they show up," Huneke said. "They want to take care of the wood turtle, but what about Huneke?"
What frustrated Huneke even more was finding out that the properties surrounding his are not considered habitat for a wood turtle and would not fall subject to the same constraints if the owners wanted to subdivide. His property is considered such a habitat because of the pine trees his family planted there in 1977.

"That's our crop," he said. "The white pine is not a native tree to New Jersey. We planted them to harvest for lumber used to build houses. The wood turtle is millions of years old. If they haven't found Huneke Way in a million years, I doubt they ever will."

Huneke's son called the place "golden handcuffs."
Heartbreaking ...

Asbury Park Press, Saturday's Obituaries

Friday, February 16, 2007

Good gravy!

"Monmouth County to stockpile pills in Millstone: Bioterrorism plan begins to take shape" -- The Examiner, 2/15/07
In Millstone Township, the county-owned Charleston Springs Golf Course would serve as the depot where pills and emergency equipment such as generators, lights, trucks and forklifts would be kept.

The depot in Millstone would mainly serve as a place where Millstone residents and people from the surrounding areas could go to pick up pills such as amoxicillin and Cipro in the event of a bioterrorism attack or flu epidemic.

Grbelja, who was recently named OEM coordinator for the township, said Millstone shall assume a leading role in any potential disaster.

The mayor said the township will soon survey its residents to see what their talents are and which type of services they could provide in the event of an emergency.
Gathering residents' skill sets! Gosh, we recorded skill inventories for strike duty if the CWA walked out.

Read the entire article. There isn't a single aspect of this arrangement that makes sense.
I heard the following quotation on the radio1 and, Lewis fan that I am, it was new to me.

But typical of his thought.

I haven't the book from which it was taken, a collection, so I scoured the internet2 for snippets and pieced it together3:
The heart of Christianity is a myth which is also a fact.

By becoming fact it does not cease to be myth: that is the miracle. I suspect that men have sometimes derived more spiritual sustenance from myths they did not believe than from the religion they professed. To be truly Christian we must both assent to the historical fact and also receive the myth (fact though it has become) with the same imaginative embrace which we accord to all myths. The one is hardly more necessary than the other.

A man who disbelieved the Christian story as fact but continually fed on it as myth would, perhaps, be more spiritually alive than one who assented and did not think much about it . . .

We must not be ashamed of the mythical radiance resting on our theology. We must not be nervous about 'parallels' and 'Pagan Christs': they ought to be there - it would be a stumbling block if they weren't. We must not in false spirituality withhold our imaginative welcome.
1 "Media: Friend or Foe? (Part 4 of 5)", Stuart McAllister, guest speaker, "Just Thinking" Broadcast, Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, air date 2/15/07

2 My scouring turned up more delightful quotes at the ND Center for Ethics & Culture.

3 And then found the entire thing here, page 67.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

This announcement surprises me for a couple of reasons:
Catholic Charismatic Bible Study

Saint David The King is having their first ever Charismatic Bible Study this year.

Sundays, 6:30 – 8:00 PM

Dates: March 4, 18, April 1, 15, 29 and May 20, 2007

Topic: The Acts of the Apostles

Reading the Acts of the Apostles is like finding an ancient account of our earliest days together as church and as believers in Jesus Christ. We will explore the unfolding presence of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and beyond. Sessions will include charismatic prayer, study, and faith sharing.
I left off the contact information for reasons of privacy. If you are interested in attending, I can put you in touch with the right people.

So, what's surprising?

I have met both people listed in this announcement: the coordinator at St. David's and the Bible Study facilitator.

The faciliator is holy, devout, and intelligent, but I would have never pegged her as charismatic. Maybe she isn't claiming that. Maybe it's a case of "it takes one to know one" and I ain't one. Whichever, the charismatic tone of this study surprises me.

Now, years ago I tried to join St. David's Bible study.

At first, the coordinator was very eager for me to join. I asked what study materials she used and she replied a series from a Protestant study she'd completed recently, Life Application Series. She said that the materials keep things simple which was ideal as her study was aimed at Bible novices.

I cautioned her against using the Life Application Series because it's not a Catholic commentary series. I explained some known difficulties with the NIV translation and encouraged her to use the more familiar New American Bible instead. She deduced that I am not a newcomer to the Bible and suggested that I might be bored at her study and told me that I did not fit her profile of participant.

In all my years, I've never heard of anyone discouraging someone from attending a Bible study! I even promised her that I would sit there and not say a word. That I would listen only. She wasn't interested.

For the record, I'm not opposed to Protestant series and commentaries ... I read them all of the time. But Catholic newcomers to the Bible shouldn't, certainly not in a parish-sponsored program.
"There's a backhoe loader out front."


"It's clearing the snow from our driveway."

"Oh, that's nice. But our landscaper will be pissed."

I was wrong. I didn't expect the contractor today. Yet they put in a full eight hours. Their fourth full day in two weeks on the project.

When I told the boys that "Scoop" was outside, the four-year-old retorted, "That's not Scoop because there's a driver inside!"

We gave the mason our holly trees, the ones they dug up.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

"The New Intolerance", Christianity Today, February 2007:
In the past, atheists (or secular humanists or freethinkers) were often condescendingly tolerant of their less-enlightened fellow citizens.

While they disdained religion, they treated their religious neighbors as good-hearted, if misguided.

But now key activists are urging a less civil approach.
Jeff explained that it's because Christians in particular are getting uppity and forgetting their place, so they got it coming.

I've always counted on atheists being polite and tolerant and nice. I mean, I've come to expect civility because it goes along with high intelligence and varied experience.

So, if this "new intolerance" catches on, I'm going to be disappointed. I suppose it's a result of our society as a whole "coarsening" - even atheists are succumbing.
I read this letter to the editor from February's Christianity Today aloud to Jeff:
"Your 'Spoils of Victory' article [January] expressed my attitude and my vote. I have been a single-issue voter for years and a pro-life Republican, but in the last elections I voted an almost straight Democratic ticket.

If we as Christians vote lockstep, as I have done in the past, we limit our influence. There are many more issues [besides abortion] that demand our attention. ...

Much of my past political stance may have been evidence of my self-righteousness rather than my faith. It will take more than a reference to God, the sanctity of marriage, and the unborn to get my vote in the future."
And we both agreed that here's someone who has woken up. Humility is making inroads. Thank God.

Snow Day, d'uh.

Watching TV.

Watching the school closings on the 11 o'clock news last night flashed me back to cold, wintry mornings during my junior high school days, listening to a Batavia or Buffalo station for the name of my public school district on my old portable Emerson radio.

In those days, I marveled at the number of Catholic schools in the area. The "S's" were long but my school district came before them. Still I listened out of an immature pride about those Catholic schools.

None were familiar, not really. We might race against them at "big meets", invitationals and such. I didn't even know anyone who attended them.

Not much has changed. I still live in a part of the country with a myriad of Catholic schools. I suppose I always have.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Whenever I think to myself, "Gee, it's been months since the kids have been sick," I tempt fate.

Taking stock isn't a bad thing, is it?

Sometimes I am smart enough to utter "Thank God the kids haven't been sick." Giving credit where credit is due.

Othertimes, I can't help but add, "Not sick like so-n-so's kid, poor devil." Is that what does me in? The comparison, the superiority? Heh.

However it came about, whether by supernatural fate or natural germs, Christopher threw up a river of nasty earlier this evening. In the car, in his car seat. Actually, for good or bad, most of it fell upon his beloved yellow blanket. He cried and cried and cried.

To my knowledge, he has never thrown up. You could tell that he was uncomfortable about the whole business. I mean, it scared him, the unnaturalness of anything coming out of his mouth. His mouth: the hole that food goes in. Food, lots 'n' lots of food, goes in.

And we were out but heading for home, having just dropped off Kenny at CCD.

When I heard the noise that every mother knows, I reflexively and unnecessarily turned around to be sure. I was nearly through town but pulled off immediately into the synagogue's parking lot. The worst was over. And it was too cold to change his clothes then and there. We were so close to home that, even though he was crying and wanted me to fix it, I decided it was better to get him home.

I had two-thirds of the groceries in the car still from my afternoon shopping trip. I had planned to unload those during our brief stay at home before returning to pick up Kenny after class. I could see that wasn't going to happen.

I immediately changed Chris's clothes into his PJs. I would put his snowsuit on over it when we went out again.

I got his yellow blanket rinsed and into the washing machine asap because it had to be cleaned and dried and ready at bedtime, about 90 minutes later. I removed the fabric car seat cover ... it needed a wash anyway. What child's car seat cover doesn't need a wash?!

I cleaned the straps, placed a travel pillow in the seat area for comfort because the car seat cover would not be ready by the time we went out again to pick up Kenny. I considered replacing the entire car seat with a spare from the basement or at least swapping out the cover, but decided it was too much work in a limited amount of time. I placed a small towel nearby in case he threw up again as we are picking Kenny up.

Do I need any more reason to hate the inconvenience of weekday evening CCD? Maybe when I have more children in the program I'll feel better. But the chore of lugging three kids along for the sake of one doesn't add up.

Of course the blanket was ready in time. And he was so delighted. "My blankey!" My God, yes, he does talk that cute.
They resumed the jackhammering first thing in the morning, 8 AM sharp. I woke to the sound of the garage door opening directly underneath me, sleeping in the guest room with the baby. We had been up until 3:30 but it was ok. Actually, I liked it. She's very cute in the wee hours of the morning. And I knew that when she went down, she was down, so I could rest easy.

Jeff hadn't quite left with the boys to school when the contractor showed up to continue his demolition. Jeff got to hear the jackhammer for himself first hand.

I knew that, with an early start and a nor'easter expected, it would be a short workday for them.

And, in fact, by the time I got myself together for the grocery shopping trip, they were calling it a day. Unfortunately, I was out for the rest of the afternoon, so I wasn't home to enjoy the quiet. I don't expect them tomorrow ... and maybe not the day after. They might work Friday morning some but not much.
Kids still learn the cherry tree myth of George Washington.

Haven't we any relevant facts about him to teach?

Granted, most of what he is known for is related to the military, violent battles. How about learning the geography of those battles, since some were local?

And, during Black History Month, it might be important to discuss Washington's position on slavery. Or talk about the social and political circles he moved in, name-drop a little.

I don't understand idealizing Washington. We do it for schoolchildren but I don't understand it.

Sure he was great. But he wasn't the greatest man ever. And he probably wasn't the greatest man of his time.

He was great for us, for our country at its beginning. And not because, as a boy, he hacked a cherry tree and confessed it. What a nonsense story. Time on the annual cherry blossom festival would be better spent.
I saw this guy play, his team came to our hometown once.

The game was played at the firehall against, I guess, some local talent. I remember thinking of them as the softball equivalent to the Harlem Globetrotters, even though I had no idea what or where Harlem was!

Paul, did either of your sisters play in that game?

Monday, February 12, 2007

I accepted an open invitation to read Dr. Seuss books to my son's junior kindergarten class this morning.

Ella slept in her infant carrier and Chris played with toys in the back while I sat in the front with Timmy on my left (between me and Ella, what should I make of that?!) and the rest of the students sitting "criss-cross applesauce" around me.

I started with The Sneetches and asked whether anyone knew the story.

One girl said that they have the movie at home. I didn't know there was a movie.

A few children knew the moral already without my reading it: don't think being different means you're better. Or something to that effect. I know whose moms have had plastic surgery ...

Before the grand finale or punchline of the book, I asked, "What happens next?" The girl familiar with the movie answered, "They sing a song!" Yeah, in the movie version. I wasn't about to sing anything!

Then I read Fox in Socks which, if you don't know, is a bunch of tongue-twisters. Some of the kids understood that. I tried to act as if the lines were difficult to say so they would understand. But since I've had these books memorized for years, I can rattle 'em off pretty easily without looking.

Finally, they settled down enough for me to read a fairly long book, my personal favorite, The Lorax. Read my book review.

They understood the environmental message of the book.

I had a good time and Tim was glad to see me there.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Interest fading fast.

A two-year-old can't be expected to hold his crying sister for more than a couple of minutes.

But I captured some cute pictures of them and others, and put them at flickr.


"They are going to 'demo' the deck and screen porch this week."

"Is 'demo' like the scenes at the beginning of a video game?"

"No. That's 'demonstration'. This is like 'demolish.'"

I was almost sorry to see those eyesores go.

I placed my Valentine's Day order yesterday ... making the shipping deadline ... at our favorite candy shop.

I didn't order through the web site but called the 800 number. Because I wanted items that aren't on the web site.

And the Batavia accent on the woman who took my order ... oh, my heavens, it was like talking to my sister-in-law or something.

And I'm thinking, "Geez, do I sound like that?!" Or have I picked up a little Jersey in my time here?

Anyway, she assured me that the items would ship same day. And you know they will.
Valentine's came early.

Jeff brought home dinner from our favorite restaurant last night. What a treat!

I got the Farfalle Dasaro and he got the Steak Arturo. I usually ask them to make it hot but not this time for the baby's sake.

Friday, February 09, 2007

1,930 years, by a most generous estimate. ad orientem had a good run. It was time for something else.

Read the recent Weigel piece in which he quotes Fr. Lang. It's a good piece ... but he fails to persuade me ...

"Turning toward Christ, together", George Weigel, 1/31/07:
This is one of the primary purposes of the Eucharistic liturgy: it is meant to point “Christian existence toward Christ coming in glory.”

"It is more fitting that the whole congregation, including the celebrant, be directed towards the Lord, and that is expressed by turning towards the altar,” with the priest leading the congregation in the Eucharistic prayer as all face together toward Christ, whose coming is foreshadowed in his Eucharistic Presence.
Uh, excuse me, but everyone faces the altar with versus populum, too. Priest-and-people face Christ's Presence in the Eucharistic elements upon the altar. ad orientem adds no benefit vis-a-vis1 the altar.
"a classic example of confounding theology and topography"
Eh, perhaps, but it isn't remedied by confounding theology and geography.

I'm as eschatological as the next Catholic. I'd love to be buried in the Mount of Olives. But do we expect literally that Christ will come charging down the Mount of Olives2 through the Eastern Gate into Jerusalem?

And, if he does, can we hope to witness that ... from New Jersey?!

It makes just as much sense to look up (Acts 1:11; Luke 21:28) in expectation as to look east. We can't always act as if The Enlightenment never happened.

Orientation doesn't matter either way with modern people. We may as well keep things as they are and be consistent with, not only other Christian congregations but also with the culture at large. There's no spiritual advantage to being different here. In either case, it comes down the catechesis. Orientation needs to be explained to the faithful, regardless of whether it's ad orientem or versus populum.

1 I made a conscious effort to write this without saying "vis-a-vis" but I couldn't do it. Es tut mir Leid.

2 That goat from Daniel 8:5 invariably pops into my head, "crossing the whole earth without touching the ground," when I imagine Christ's Parousia. It's powerful and ludicrous at the same time.
"Oswego County Is Buried Under Six Feet of Snow, and More Is Expected" - New York Times, 2/9/07
"For the sixth straight day, powerful squalls of snow pounded a string of towns and villages along eastern Lake Ontario yesterday, burying parts of upstate New York ...

"One of the hardest-hit areas was the city of Oswego, a community of 17,800 people about 40 miles northwest of Syracuse that as of last night had been buried in more than 72 inches of snow.

Whiteouts forced the state police to temporarily close a 15-mile stretch of Interstate 81.

Lake-effect storms are caused by subzero winds that pick up heat and moisture as they blow over Lake Ontario."
Buffalo has the reputation but Syracuse may in fact be worse. In college, Jeff used to shovel snow off his frat house roof.

The six-year-old, "My homework is to do some stargazing tonight."

"Be my guest, it's 20 degrees outside!"

"I have to find Orion."

"No problem. He's right outside the front door."

"And Betelgeuse."

"Can't help you there."

"It's Orion's right shoulder."

"Ok, no problem, then."

Their school has one of those portable planetariums ("STARLAB") which they used yesterday to talk about Harriet Tubman using Polaris to lead people northward.

It's a good instance of "teaching across the curriculum" I think.
It ain't Niagara Falls but it's all we got.
"Water cascades into the lake located off Perrineville Road and Sweetmans Lane in Millstone Township on a cold Feb. 6 morning." The Examiner, 2/8/07

Thursday, February 08, 2007

I used to pass my drive time counting Jaguars.

On any given outing, I'd tally between six t' twelve of 'em. Like shootin' fish in a barrel. Must be everyone has one.

So, I'm uppin' the ante: I'm gonna count Rolls Royces instead!

Saw one yesterday. Saw another today. My friend said they cost as much as our houses.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Homework for 100 Days of School: bring in 100 things.

Last year, I thought 100 playing cards was clever. But it really wasn't.

This year, I went with smileys.

I printed out an MS Word page of them on the color printer. Stuck contact paper on the front and back. It's the frosted variety, so it shimmers in the light. Mostly, I cut out the individual smileys using a paper cutter but I had to use scissors for some fine work.

I thought about using the head of a penny instead of smileys ... I thought that would be funny ... but copper is rather dull.
While watching a fantastical voyage to Jupiter on The Science Channel1, Kenny asked what 100 g's feels like.

"You couldn't stand it," I said.

"How about 8 g's?"

"If you are trained for it and have the proper equipment, you could get through it."

"How about 1 g?" he continued.

"Well, that depends. How do you feel?"

G-force - Wiki
Genesis 18:22-33 - Abraham Pleads for Sodom & Gomorrah

1Voyage to the Planets and Beyond

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The new TiVo just arrived.
A month back, the first mailing from their summer camp arrived with health forms and other important information. It will soon be time to start buying summer clothes. Thing is, Kenny has outgrown the Carter's outlet store that runs up to size 7. He's an 8, or will be this summer. Where do I go now?

My friend suggested Land's End. Geez, I would love to, but why spend $20 on a T-shirt that I could get for $8 at the outlets? Truth is, I just ordered a bunch of sandals for them from Land's End, from their overstocks catalog. $10 for a pair of Land's End sandals is pretty good, I think. I couldn't do any better at the Stride Rite outlet.

The only uncertainty is what size shoe they will be wearing in a few months' time. I can't guess that. Tim just got into a 10, so he may stay there through the summer. But Kenny's been in a 1 since the fall. Their feet don't grow as quickly as they used to. Well, I bought the sizes they had, anyway, in the overstocks.
A deer hit Jeff's car again this morning as he was taking the boys to school. I tell him, they just can't see the light grey color and they run right into it.

Everyone is ok but he said the boys were pretty shaken up. Tim was on that same side, the driver's side, and Jeff said he was silent. At least he didn't need to return home and change anybody's pants!

So, I'll be taking his car in for an estimate later this week. He says the driver's door is pretty dented but still closes.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

"Yessir. I'm a sucker for this country. I'm a sucker for the Star Spangled Banner—and I'm a sucker for this country.

"I like what we got here! I like it! A guy can say what he wants—and do what he wants—without having a bayonet shoved through his belly. Now, that's all right, isn't it?

"All right. And we don't want anybody coming around changing it, do we? No, sir. And when they do I get mad! I get b-boiling mad. And right now, I'm sizzling!

"I get mad for a lot of other guys besides myself—I get mad for a guy named Washington! And a guy named Jefferson—and Lincoln.

"Lighthouses, John! Lighthouses in a foggy world!"
"Hard-boiled" Henry Connell in Meet John Doe
Doing the math:

3 Kids X 2 Feet X 7 Days = 42 socks / week. Is that right?!

No wonder it seems like I am forever washing, sorting and folding socks.

I am!

That is, when I can find them all.

I have one boy who leaves them wherever he happens to remove them.

The other two are good about putting them near the washer and dryer at the end of their day.
Jeff said that Phil Zimmermann of PGP fame called yesterday in reply to Jeff's inquiry about licensing some software.

I was so tired last night that I could barely piece together in reply some PGP trivia I had read at Wiki's page on A Prairie Home Companion:

"Ralph's Pretty Good Grocery ('If you can't find it at Ralph's, you can probably get along without it', the inspiration of the name of the Pretty Good Privacy cryptographic software)".

We had watched the movie a couple of Saturdays ago. Jeff was familiar with the radio program but I have never caught it on NPR.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

The print version has a different title that I like better:

"Supercomputing's best-kept secret found in ... Buffalo?" - NETWORKWORLD, 1/15/07:
That’s why the university’s CCR also is the hub for a regional grid that connects 18 other research and educational institutions across New York.

CCR also provides the compute power behind research at the University at Buffalo's School of Management’s into the buying habits of customers at the local Tops supermarket chain.

CCR is crunching out the visualization for civic projects such as
  • returning vehicle traffic to a downtown section of Buffalo’s Main Street (which was made into a pedestrian mall in the 1980s as a new light-rail system emerged);
  • building a new bridge across the Niagara River between Buffalo and Canada1;
  • relocating a New York State Thruway toll plaza farther out into the suburbs to relieve congestion coming into the city
CCR has the potential to play a key role in turning around Buffalo’s fortunes. It could help bring people back to a city that’s lost more than half its population in the last 50 years.

Furlani believes the raw compute power located in the medical campus corridor could attract life sciences companies to set up their headquarters in Buffalo.
Now, here's a guy who works with computer networks and yet he believes that companies will feel a need to locate themselves close to his computing services?! Hope indeed does spring eternal in the land of endless winter.

Hope against hope, the indelible virtue of Buffalo's progeny; we're all infected. Kyrie eleison.

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