Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Please pray for the parishioners at St. Gregory the Great in Hamilton Square who have just learned that their beloved pastor, Fr. Rich, has been reassigned.

I sat with some women from that parish Wed. morning for the first time in more than a year. My swim aerobics class conflicted with their meeting time and exercise was more important. Exercise is still more important but I can't swing it presently.

These women are a hang-over Renew group from years ago. St. Greg's is big on "small groups". Only the extremely large parishes can support "small groups" ... or need to, for that matter.

Thinking about the usual suspects who participate I determined that I may be the only one with children. This group is designated "kid-friendly", at least used to be so. And, as it turned out, one of the women, the leader, adopted a boy since our last meeting, so my Christopher was not alone.

The purpose of the gathering is to read and discuss the upcoming Scripture readings, using questions printed in the weekly church bulletin. You know, those "there's no wrong or right answer" type questions. Shiver. In previous years, they used a five-dollar workbook out of the archdiocese of Hartford but pastors strive to minimize participants' costs ... to a fault, sometimes. So, no workbook.

I limit my comments to correcting their pronunciation ... of biblical names and locations: "Cephas" and "Gennesaret". I handled "Uzziah" myself. Fifth Sunday in OT.

Over a year ago, when I left the group to take up swimming, I made a gift of a vernacular Sunday missal to the woman in whose home we usually met as a way of saying "Thank you for your hospitality." My frustration is that some Catholics are so attached to their Bibles ... they think that they are supposed to be attached to them ... that they don't notice how inconvenient they are for studying the Sunday readings. Or, rather, they don't know how convenient a missal is! With a missal, there's no flipping around from Old to Psalm to New to Gospel. Everything is laid out on a couple of pages. And there's no jumping around from week to week. Start at the front and work towards the back.

Honestly, when I gave her the missal, she didn't know what it was. She certainly had no idea how to use it. She said, "Oh, this is one of those books that you use each week." The others routinely eyed me with suspicion for using a book that clearly wasn't a Bible to study the Sunday readings. If someone forgot their Bible, I would let them look on, but the format confused them.

I told her that the best way to learn is to just work at it. And, so here, a year later, she's leading the group and using the missal. If only she had convinced the other ladies to get themselves missals. One poor woman sat the entire time with her Bible open to the Prophet Haggai. She couldn't be bothered looking up the readings.

As things were wrapping up, the ladies were complaining about their children's religious ed. homework. Even they didn't know the answers. So, I offered to help them. They needed to know the name of the first pastor of St. Greg's, why the parish was named St. Greg's and what "Mater Amabilis" is.

Now, all my books, and I mean all my beloved books are packed away due to the impending construction. But I wandered into the basement looking for a history of the diocese book from ten years ago. The first container that I opened had the book. And I popped the book open directly to the parish's article. So, I had the answer.
I've more or less recovered from a tumble down the stairs last Wednesday morning. It's the second time that I've fallen down the stairs in this house however, in this instance, I wasn't carrying anyone. I don't think that I broke anything either. Even so, the outer part of my left heel is still sore enough to force a limp.

The tumble itself hurt.
I was barefoot and lost my grip on the railing as I slid. My right knee is gimpy to begin with and its stiffness may have contributed to the fall. Certainly the carpal tunnel of my right hand has weakened my ability to hold onto anything firmly. As comfortable as my Dutailier glider rockers are, hours spent in them cripple folks my age. As does cuddling a baby, no matter how pleasurable it is. I remember the carpal tunnel with my first baby: my hands and arms were useless after a month of caring for him. And I thought, "Why doesn't anyone tell you this?! I would have paced myself for the long haul!"

And, honestly, for a couple of days after the fall, my body was as sore as after Ella's delivery. I'm serious. I must have really tensed up, especially to protect my head against bumping on each step. It's like the aftereffects of a car accident, I suppose. All that intense bracing.

And to think, our new floor plan calls for a second staircase in the back of the house. That's just what I need.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

This mid-January episode of the Journey Home on EWTN with a former C&MA Christian appealed to me because I’ve had a couple of brushes with them1.

I expected some explanation of C&MA theology, at least relative to Catholic theology. But, no.

For all my interaction with them, I can’t say that I have a good grasp of their distinctives. I think that, primarily, they are just straight fundamentalists: inerrancy of Scripture, virgin birth, substitutionary atonement, etc., with a heart for missions.

I transcribed some lines from the podcast that I think are pivotal realizations about the practice of the Catholic faith for a non-denominational Christian.

The first quotation and some of his later comments really upset me, actually:
It was really an eye-opener to me, to see, first of all, a very normal person who was Catholic, a very intelligent person, a very articulate person, a person with a deep faith … who was Catholic.

Suddenly I began to notice that all those things that I had wanted – the sense of sacred space, the sense of sacred time, um, uh, silent, contemplative prayer – all these things that I had wished Christianity had, I found out Christianity did have. It’s just that my particular brand in which I had been educated and raised didn’t have it. And that was a real, opening moment for me.

Growing up in an evangelical background, there are no liturgical seasons. There is no lectionary. There is Christmas Day, there’s Easter Day and any other time in there it’s whatever the pastor wants to preach on.

And then he asked me, "Well, why don’t you come with me to Ash Wednesday Mass at the cathedral?" And I had this sudden, interior revulsion at the thought. … I swallowed that revulsion and went there.

I don’t know if, growing up, anyone had actually said it quite so baldly, but the impression I got growing up was that there was about 300 years of Christianity and then along came Constantine and then there were 1200 years of nothing and then suddenly there’s Martin Luther. There’s this huge gap where there’s no church, for all intents and purposes. And I had this sense, walking in there, that there was no gap. And this was exactly what I wanted.

I had been introduced to St. Francis of Assisi earlier in the year and he was a very impressive figure to a nineteen year old boy and I thought, you know, St. Francis is part of this. It’s all one piece.
But Deacon Nathan made some very troubling comments as well.

"If I really was being called to be a Catholic, if this really was the church that Jesus Christ founded, I was going to be a Catholic’s Catholic." The convert's zeal. St. Paul, MN is the new Steubenville.

And, this may sound funny, because some consider EWTN the bulwark of authentic Catholicism, but I wish they would curb the Catholic-bashing:

"And I’d go to the local Catholic parish with those God-awful camp fire songs and, you know, these insipid, jelly donut sermons that didn’t tell you anything, you know they were just pure sugar and I thought, Oh I hope that I can find the Catholic Church in Anglicanism."

The joke’s on him.

What he says about Episcopalian preaching … well, I can’t repeat it here. You’ll have to listen for yourself. I’ll just mention that he own wife is Episcopalian … so he hasn’t unlearned his religious bigotry one iota. He refers to the Protestant Reformation as "the great shipwreck of Christendom in the 16th century. It starts with Luther and continues with Calvin and Zwingli and so forth." His contemptuous spirit remains; he’s simply substituted the rest of Christendom for Catholicism.

Sts. John the Baptist and Mary Magdalene, ora pro nobis.

One of Marcus’s comments is significant:

"I remember the first time, though that I was in, I was sitting in Mass and the priest finished the homily. Went and genuflected before the altar and then went and sat down and sat silent for about thirty seconds. And to me it seemed like eternity because in Presbyterian worship, there’s never a silent moment. We’re usually going, we’re moving here, we’re doing this, we’re saying that, but this uncomfortableness with this silence.

And even Vatican II calls us, the importance of silence in worship, that’s an important part of settling down and experiencing the reality of God. And so much of worship is so different, but like you said, it makes sense."

So, it's a good program, if you can look past the religious bigotry and arrogance.

1 A separate post.

Monday, January 29, 2007

It's difficult to figure out the story here because neither side is talking to the press.

But the placards I saw near the cemetery in mid-December announcing an upcoming "town meeting" for plot holders piqued my interest ...

"Dispute over Old Tennent Cemetery divides church" - Asbury Park Press, 12/17/06:
"This letter is notice that your continuing refusal to comply with the polity of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the Session's orders ... leaves the Administrative Commission with no alternative but to find that you have renounced the jurisdiction of the Presbyterian Church (USA)."

"Therefore, you are being removed from the Membership Rolls of the Old Tennent Church effective with the date of this letter (Dec. 1)."
It may be over a deal with developers. But I'm not sure which side wants to sell.

The group suing the church suggests in the article that the church needs money, perhaps hinting that the church wants to sell. But who'll take the word of the excommunicated who may only be attempting to deflect attention from themselves?
Ella at one month.

More pictures at flickr.
A fund-raising "winter carnival" at the kids' school on Sat.

The poor new principal who commutes to his family in Ohio every weekend had to stay in town. He's recently discovered cheap fares out of Philly ... No cheap NJ housing for him, 'though.

The school itself could use the funds, but the money brought in goes to the "parents' association" which springs for all the social events during the school year. "Corporate" is carrying the school financially for the next three years.

The day was also an open house for prospective students and their families to tour the facilities.

Our middle son welcomed one smiling family with his gracious "Shut up, you idiots!" Their alien presence provoked him, I suppose. The kid needs therapy. I dressed him in a school sweatshirt in an effort to demonstrate school spirit! Remember, this is the one who I fear will get kicked out for bad behavior. As if to ward that off, I've already registered them for next year!

The "carnies" were familiar, from the birthday party last weekend.

I bought 30 tickets per child for the price of 20. I wasn't sure how many tickets things would cost, but everything was one ticket: games, food, etc. But Jeff said, "It's about the fund-raising." And it is. So what if I have 60 tickets leftover. Especially since the kids spent most of their time in the bounce house. Chris absolutely loved it.

The silent auction had over 30 themed prize baskets. Jeff gambled on three but didn't win any. Last year he won two. The kids saw some of their teachers and some of their classmates and it was a fun time, I guess.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Thanks for tagging me, Matt. It's a pleasure:
  • I've been a hard core, diehard Beatles fan since watching A Hard Day's Night on TV at the age of ten.

  • I taught myself to sing the first verse and chorus of the French national anthem in high school and still remember it ("Allons enfants de la Patrie ..."), long before I learned it was featured in Casablanca.

  • My only trip overseas was two weeks in Israel.

  • My first name is typed entirely with the left hand ... and I'm left-handed.

  • One of my most memorable intercollegiate competitions was taking third place in the indoor 1,000 meters (timed 3:05) to earn an East Coast Athletic Conference (ECAC) scholar-athlete award ("mens sana in corpore sano") at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD the weekend my father died of lung cancer at the age of 47.

Friday, January 26, 2007

I can't remember whether he won the silver award before the gold award or after.

I suppose logic would suggest "before".

But we went to Washington for the silver award.

Rather, he took me there. I mean, we met there. At the Ritz Carlton for a long weekend. Far and away the fanciest hotel I've ever stayed in. I was easily impressed in those days: a fully-stocked mini-bar, swoon. I'm much more sophisticated now.

But the clearest memory, apart from sight-seeing, was "the dinner". Six or seven courses, three hours. The organizers provided us with keepsake Asian-themed costumes to be worn to dinner. We were mystified but complied.

Most of the honorees were salespeople. I suppose he was in Federal Systems at that time, just years after the break-up, the only business unit lucrative enough for such a celebration. Maybe most were local but I flew into Dulles.

During dinner, we were treated to a performance of select scenes from a hot, new stage musical. Neither of us were particularly savvy about live theater, back then. Even though, ironically, my favorite movies were screen-adaptations of popular plays: Arsenic and Old Lacy, Auntie Mame, Our Town - you know, all those corny ol' shows the high schools put on.

We were somewhat blown away by what we saw.

And all this comes to mind because Kenny needed to bring in Asian articles for their study of Japan this week. I gave him my costume for their classroom display and he wore Jeff's costume, with the sleeves rolled way up, today as they toured around the school visiting other "countries" in different classrooms.
This is neat:
"American's donation lets pope peruse oldest copy of St. Luke's Gospel" - Catholic News Service, 1/23/07:
The Bodmer Papyrus XIV-XV, handwritten in Greek around the year 200, contains "about half of each of the Gospels of Luke and John."

"Come in person to the library to meditate, if I may say so, in front of that which can be considered a true relic, given that the church has always venerated the divine Scriptures just as she venerates the body of the Lord."

Before the Bodmer documents were discovered in Egypt in 1952, biblical scholars relied on references to the Gospels in the writings of the early church theologians to assert that by the year 100 the Christian community had accepted only four Gospels as inspired texts.

The Bodmer Papyrus XIV-XV, containing the last two Gospels, provides concrete evidence that the four Gospels were circulating among Christian communities as a complete set by the year 200, although the twin papyrus containing the Gospels of St. Matthew and St. Mark has not been found.

Experts have been working to restore the rough binding, which was placed as a protective covering around the papyrus in the early 300s, when the text was already too fragile to use in the liturgy.

"The research on an ancient manuscript can never be said to be finished."
Before I read Dr. Ehrman's Misquoting Jesus, I would have been very excited about the availability of a "pristine" third century manuscript. It is still pretty exciting but I've learned that even those early manuscripts weren't all that pristine.

via Michael Barber at Singing In The Reign
No, not the Millstone middle school. Not yet ...

"School to cost millions more than budgeted for" - The Examiner, 1/25/07
Even though a shovel has not yet been put into the ground, the new Upper Freehold Regional School District's middle school project is $10.7 million over budget.

The unprecedented escalation of construction costs since 2004 has inflated building costs.
Tell me about it.

And you can bet that UF will ask to bus their overflow students to us this fall.

Actually, they already have asked and we offered to sell them our old trailers ... as soon as we're done using them.

"I think you've made your point now"

And he gives 'em all the penetrating "follow thou me" glance.

As fine as the Magdalene's voice is, I like Peter in this one.

If you just can't bear to view a segment of an early 70's film - or you believe that any physical representation of Christ violates the First Commandment - then look away and listen to the perdy music.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

This is for Kim from Hiraeth whose blog I've been neglecting ....

And let me start by saying that I share Dr. Mohler's concern over a loss of literacy in our time.

A crucial question is how one defines literacy. As Dr. Ehrman explores in his recent book, Misquoting Jesus1:
"And what does it mean to read? Are people literate if they can manage to make sense of the comic strips but not the editorial page?

[T]he ancients themselves had difficulty defining what it meant to be literate."
And Dr. Ehrman cites an example to illustrate the problem of defining literacy from second century Egypt. Villagers complained that a local scribe was illiterate. His superior refuted their charge by asserting that the scribe was literate: he could sign his name! The superior himself was inconsistent at that very task!

With the present quiz, a couple of us were unable to grasp Kim's intent on at least one question ... plus ça change ...

Has reading Christian blogs increased your desire to tackle weighty Christian tomes?


Have you learned of Christian authors and theologians that you might not have otherwise known or read?


Have you purchased or borrowed books that were recommended by bloggers?


Have you read fewer "real" books as your blog reading has increased?


Has the availability/searchability of great Christian works caused you to rely upon them merely as resources?

I wouldn’t say so. I wish that more Christian classics were indexed online. I quote only books that I have read, and re-read and re-read! A small set, indeed. Having those classics online facilitates referencing the excerpts I want to share.

Do you think reading the great Christian authors and theologians is important and/or profitable?


Do you read them?

When I can.

If so, who do you recommend?

Mostly, I read biblical commentators and devotionals. But, within the discipline of Christian theology, my preference is for ecclesiology. And, to the same names repeated over and over again in the responses, I offer some different experts, most of whom I met initially in Ford’s Modern Theologians: An Introduction to Christian Theology in the Twentieth Century:

Avery Dulles
Beth Johnson
Hans Küng
Bernard Lonergan
Thomas Merton
Henri Nouwen
Karl Rahner
Edward Schillebeeckx
Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza
Francis Sullivan
Paul Tillich

Many of the links contain bibliographies at the end.

1 Bart D. Ehrman, Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why (New York: Harper San Francisco, 2005), 38-9.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

"Education in Christian basics is needed for Christian unity" - Catholic News Service, 1/23/07:
If ecumenism is based on unity in faith, then Christians must know and believe the faith they claim to share.

"How can you speak, for example, of justification by faith if there is no longer an awareness of God and of sin, an awareness that there is a need for forgiveness and redemption?"

Ecumenism has been based on a conviction that Christians ... share the same faith in the triune God and in Jesus Christ as savior.

Ecumenism assumed that "all Christians have this in common," Cardinal Walter Kasper said. "Do they still? The question is important."
I find it ironic that the folks most concerned about ecumenism resulting in "least common denominator Christianity" are themselves, in fact, in fundamentalist denominations.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

One gives paper on a first anniversary.

My son's first-grade class is studying Japan for international week this week.
He brought home information about cranes but said that his teacher doesn't know how to make 'em.

I do.

I used to show my CCD kids for many years ... many years ago. But it's like riding a bike. I made one last night rather automatically for the first time in six years.

So, I found my origami paper and printed some directions for his teacher.

But the best way to learn is to be shown. So, I'll ask his teacher if she wants me to show the class. It's very hard for young kids to do. I'll probably be doing it for them but I'm very fast at it, lots of experience, you know, so it's no problem.

Bottom line, kids just want a crane. They don't care so much about making it themselves.
In honor of my one-year blogging anniversary, here's a meme that I came across at R. C. Mommy, a great Jersey mom, by way of Mark Mossa, SJ, another great blogger who ... may be on modified sabbatical ....

Anyway, this was fun but took lots of time. Even though I had ready answers.

Consider yourself tagged and try one, feeling free to add/omit/modify as necessary:

[A is for apparitions - your favorite]: Medjugorje, Marlboro, NJ, and Cairo, Egypt.

[B is for Bible - the one you read most often]: New American Bible and English Standard Version

[C is for Charism - the one you would most like to have]: gift of healing

[D is for Doctor of the Church - your favorite]: Teresa of Ávila, without a doubt.

[E is for Essential Prayer - What's yours?]: The "Jesus Prayer": "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!"1; the popular version of Veni Sancte Spiritus, in English.

[F is for Favorite Hymn]: Alleluia, Sing to Jesus, Where Charity and Love Prevail, Amazing Grace

[G is for Gospel - your favorite author?]: Matthew

[H is for Holy Communion - How would you describe it, using one word?]: "T-R-A-N-S-U-B ..." just teasing my Protestant readers ... "Heaven-on-Earth" ...

[I is for Inspiration - When do you feel most inspired by God?]: Studying Scripture and reading Church documents.

[J is for Jesus - When did you first meet Him?]: Reading Mere Christianity.

[K is for Kindness - Which saint or person has most inspired you by their kindness?]: Dr. Jim Bridges

[L is for liturgical year - your favorite time in the liturgical cycle?]: Eastertide

[M is for Mary, the Mother of God - Your favorite term of endearment for her]: Mary, Help of Christians2; Mary, Queen of Ireland

[N is for New Testament - Your favorite passage]: Matthew 6:33 - "But seek first the kingdom (of God) and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides."

[O is for Old Testament - Your favorite Book here]: Daniel

[P is for Psalms - your favorite]: Psalm 11

[Q is for quote - saint quote]: "No wonder you have so few friends." attrib. Teresa of Ávila, addressed to Christ.

[R is for rosary - your favorite mysteries]: the Sorrowful mysteries

[S is for Saint - the one you turn to in time of need - not including the Blessed Virgin Mary]: blank

[T is for Tradition - your favorite Catholic tradition]: Exposition

[U is for university - Which Catholic University have you attended or are currently attending?]: Georgian Court College (now University), graduate - theology; College of St. Elizabeth, audit summer graduate - theology

[V is for Virtue - the one you wish you had]: Prudence3

[W is for Way of the Cross - Which station can you most relate to?]: Third Station, First Fall

[X is for Xaverian Brothers - Do you know who they are?]: No, but I know about St. Francis Xavier.

[Y is for your favorite Catholic musician]: Bruce Springsteen4

[Z is for Zeal for the faith]: Zooey Glass5

1,5 Two excerpts from Salinger's Franny & Zooey:2 "Mary Help of Christians to close",, 1/21/07.

3 C. S. Lewis on the "Cardinal Virtues" . On the theological virtues: Charity, Hope, Faith [1], Faith [2].

4 America article, references the earlier one by Greeley.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

"To keep up their morale, a Marine walks the walk" - Asbury Park Press, 1/21/07
Craig Breiner addressed those who supported his passionate second attempt at walking the American flag from 16th Avenue in Belmar to the Statehouse in Trenton.

The Howell resident [held] the flag over his shoulder, as he paced toward Freehold along Route 33, a quarter of the way into his 50-mile trek early Saturday morning.

Saturday's long trek ended at the Statehouse around 9:30 p.m. after more than 14 1/2 hours.
I saw this man walking on Saturday morning.

Jeff asked me whether I offered him a ride.

I didn't because he had a car in front of him and a car behind him ... and he was going the opposite way, into an incredibly strong headwind.

Professional pictures from The Press.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

What a party!

First, how we got there: two weeks ago, I stored the address into TomTom as a favorite under the title "1/20/07 party." Clever, huh? Then I forgot about it
... until the appropriate time.

Of course, a "party morning" is always a mad dash. I had all week to shop for a present but, like a mini-version of the Christmas rush some people crave, I wait til the last minute. My gifts are generally the same simple item, party-in, party-out: books. Books don't break or need batteries, they take up little space and are a good value.

Anxiety is generally high on party mornings. Get the party-goers bathed and looking handsome. Get the gift and get it wrapped. The last thing I need to stress over is how to get to the party. Usually I'm calling the place for directions or looking at Google maps. But, today, I just blindly followed TomTom's soothing voice. Actually, the best part is that I don't have to worry about driving past the place by mistake. That's the best part. It really is.

Upon arriving at the party, the four-year-old didn't want to go in. Hmmm, perhaps he was frightened by the tall clown girl on stilts standing right by the door. She encouraged those entered to pass between her legs. Or maybe it was the loud music, do five-year-olds listen to hip-hop? Or just the huge crowd of guests.

One after another, Tim's friends arrived and entered the party after greeting us in the lobby briefly. I put on a faint smile and explained, "We are working up the courage to go in." He told me again and again that he wanted to go home. In truth, the party looked to me like too much fun to skip, so I waited him out. And ultimately, scooped him up in my arms and brought him in. At that moment, Spiderman arrived - a little late! - and helped me with the door. Tim was really terrified, telling Spiderman that he hates him. Inside, we met Dora the Explorer, Cinderella and Ariel the Little Mermaid. Not to mention the lady on stilts and another juggler, unicycle rider. Actually, Tim thought that the unicycle was cool.

I carried him around for a while. He saw the bouncy room (inflatable) and tried it but got ticked off by something (or someone) and quickly jumped out. We did some sand art which I don't think he's ever done. I got him a balloon sword which he liked. The buffet was to die for. And an open bar which one doesn't generally see at birthday parties. They even had that NYT bread! But Jeff's is better!

There were a few carnival type games, ring toss, that sort of thing that Tim tried. There was a magic show but Tim stayed in the bouncy room with his friend from school the whole time. He enjoyed having the room to himself. The "dessert cart" was every child's dream: mounds and mounds of candy, cascading like a waterfall from bags and piling up on the shelfs of the cart. As kids helped themselves I thought, "What a fairy tale party! And, if they changed the candy to money, parents would enter the fray!" Actually, I saw a few parents eating candy too!

After parties like that, I always feel as if I should send them a thank-you card. Since most of the glamour parents have left the school, the parties have been pretty modest. But, there are one or two left who like to throw blow-outs like this.

Friday, January 19, 2007

"A peek inside the new Millstone middle school - The Examiner, 1/18/07.

This goes above and beyond what is required or needed in middle school public education:
The $3.1 million auditorium is "one of the school's highlights," though not just for its size.

"The amount of sound and theater equipment being purchased is very impressive. The sound quality will be like that on Broadway or in Madison Square Garden," Skillman said.

"All the seating is like that in a movie theater," he said.

And other expenses, one-time and recurring:
To furnish the new school, the district will use a lot of the furniture it currently has at its other facilities, according to Superintendent Donahue. "Not everything will be new," Donahue said.

The opening of the new middle school will have an impact on the next budget.

Donahue said she could not speculate yet as to how much of an increase the school district would need to begin operating the new school.

"I have decided not to hire a full administrative team," Donahue said. Donahue said she will not look to hire another assistant principal.

Donahue said new costs will also entail having to hire additional custodial staff, an extra grounds person and another maintenance person for two shifts. New expenditures will come as well as a result of just operating the building, she said, as the district will have to pay for electricity, energy costs, etc.

Donahue said the community should start hearing more information regarding the new budget in March. She said taxpayers should support the next budget "for the education of the children."

"We're doing extremely well as exhibited by our test scores," Donahue said. "We would like to keep that caliber up, and we would like to keep class sizes down."

"It's a beautiful building," she added, "and I'm so excited for the students and the community. They really deserve it."
Not to mention what the traffic will do to my commute since I drive right past the new middle school on my way to my sons' school.
All school traffic will flow onto school grounds from Baird Road.
Oh, and this, poor babies:
"We will no longer have offices in the basement," Donahue said
My favorite office at the Holmdel building was in the basement. I was in it for several years. I had a huge window next to my desk; it looked out onto the huge lab that I administered.
The snow can mean only one thing: our building permit has been approved.

And, sure enough, the contractor called this morning with that very news.

Here we see "Troublesome Tim" using the ice scraper to clear the driveway. He has no sense of proportion.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer, and he was given much incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne, and the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel.

Revelation 8:3-4
Just a dusting of snow.

I'm more taken with the fact that daylight is lasting longer and longer into the late afternoon.

Ugh, what an eyesore that ol' deck. Can't wait for demo to occur.

I've got the 30th anniversary of the Blizzard on my mind.

Here are some pictures.
It's like the 400 meters, you know, in that you don't hit the wall at 100 meters. You don't even hit the wall at 200 meters. But, in coming 'round that second bend, you hit it and hope there's something left to finish strong. But only if you've run it right, smart. Like a distance runner tackling the classic sprint.

Analogies aside, it's week three, approaching week four, and ... the wall is there.

But, I must say that, in all fairness, part-time graduate school coupled with working (nearly) full-time is more tiring than a new baby. The fatigue was chronic in those days ... and I was younger then!

Thursdays are particularly tough, in an ironic way: my housekeeper gives me a hand - which is great! - but, I can't nap while she's here. I mean, napping is complicated. Certainly I can sleep through anything ... but the kids can't.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Stephen Colbert explains the whole AT&T thing!

And I can follow completely, not only because I worked for AT&T but also because I had an AWS phone for seven years, was migrated to Cingular, gave up and got Verizon.

Previous posts on the cell phone switch saga of late sumer:
I earned my keep last night, I'm sure. It was triple witching, most definitely: a parents' evening meeting at school, the eve of a two-day bake sale and the night of a project due date.

The parents' meeting was worthwhile, running from 6:30 to 8:30. Jeff and I didn't have to stay for both sessions, one session per kid enrolled, but we did.

Jeff had a particular question to ask of the new principal regarding the school's planned use of technology. Specifically, the principal announced capital improvements to the school including more computers per classroom. Most parents (and truth be told, most administrators) are satisfied with a general, vague description of such a plan without delving into how the computers would be utilized for the sake of maximizing the school's return on investment. Trouble is that computers are so inexpensive these days that it isn't necessary to give their use much serious consideration.

So, when Jeff asked how the new computers would be integrated into the curriculum, it broke as a novel idea upon the administrators and other parents. I don't think that Jeff expected a direct answer - although that would have been nice - but rather he sought to convey a desire for a plan more comprehensive than merely upping the computer-student ratio, especially as a means of differentiating the school from other schools, public and private. The problem is that the computer-student ratio is an easy metric for parents to compare between prospective schools without any real regard to how those resources are utilized. And most parents don't really have an idea anyway. Just like most teachers don't.

This ignorance nothing new. Like so many of his generation, Jeff was completely self-taught on computers in high school. And, the sad truth is that our kids will be, as well. Adults, teachers cannot stay ahead in this area. They cannot challenge children. They cannot keep up. To try would handicap the children. Jeff actually sees the weekly computer class that our kids have as a waste of time at this stage. They can do more at home in their free time than in a weekly class. But, again, a curriculum must communicate a certain amount of exposure to technology or else parents feel quipped.

Anyway, the principal spent so much time trying to understand Jeff's question that he ultimately wasn't in a position to answer. I think that Jeff waited too long to ask his question. The principal had a feeling that his presentation and evening was over and wasn't prepared for such an intense bombshell. It isn't an unreasonable question. It isn't an unique question. It was the timing of the question more than anything, in my mind.

The school isn't conducting entrance exams anymore for transfer students. That news surprised me, even though I suspected as much. I mean, the "new kids" that Kenny had in his class last year had a difficult time doing the work. Some of them never got caught up and are actually elsewhere this year. I think that they ought to perform some assessment, even though the school isn't claiming to teach a grade ahead as they used to. But I guess the child's ability doesn't matter since they claim to tailor instruction to each individual child.

The official word is that the school will be in business at least another three years. After that, who knows. It all depends on student recruitment which is directly impacted by that projected outlook! I mean, what parent would want to start their child at a school that might not be around much longer. If we weren't already here, would we? Too many questions, too many concerns. Our children's education should not be this complicated.

Second thing: baking cookies. I knocked out a couple of dozen of my irresistible peanut butter cookies after the parents' meeting. Doesn't take me long. Too bad for the kids allergic to peanuts - thems the only cookies I can make.

Last thing: the overdue project. International week is next week. I reused the dolls from last year. Tim's needed a little repair but Kenny's was good to go. I won't repeat the verbose description.

All that and I was still in bed by 2. Nobody told me there'd be days like these ...
I watched most of V for Vendetta last night while folding clothes. It came by NetFlix. I thought it would never end. All the explaining and explaining.

I suppose if movies such as Independence Day can blow up 1600 PA Ave., the Brits can blow up Parliament on film. But, on a certain level, blowing up vacant legislative facilities as a protest and call for political reform is like shooting yourself in the foot. I mean, where is this new government you're calling for going to meet?

I like the film better thinking of it in terms of the early 80's, Margaret Thatcher, etc. I'm uncomfortable thinking of it in terms of the present administration. Whether that was intended or not1. It's a better movie without "going there". In fact, I found those present-day parallels cheap, distracting, discrediting.

Sure, I've heard of Guy Fawkes. What Anglophile hasn't? But I didn't know what he looked like. Of course, if they burn him in effigy every year, they must have some idea of his appearance. Unless they just paint a face on a burlap bag. And I never would have guessed that the dictator was supposed to bear some resemblance to James Stuart. I tend to think of him, I mean, of the king, as a younger man than in the film because he assumed his thrones at young ages.

I was glad to learn that Guy Fawkes Night isn't a sectarian thing anymore, for the most part, and that other, more contemporary enemies are also remembered. And that, as this movie hints, there are occasions when Fawkes is something of a hero, in a British root-for-the-underdog way.

I think that I was capable of appreciating the movie intellectually and artistically even without being British, without having that milieu. And there were times that the direction was smart, stylish, beautiful. I read online that the dominoes were genuine. I hope so but I would have thought otherwise. I would hope that people are still willing and able to do such clever things.

Sure, it's Orwellian. But, if you can stomach the violence and torture (of a woman) ... which I can't and had to look away ... then it's worth seeing, I think. Oh, the Mengele allusion was also very disturbing, especially as carried out by a female doctor. The memorial to the children killed in the St. Mary's incident is too faintly reminiscent of The Children's Memorial at Yad Vashem.

1 Moore remarked:
"[The movie] has been "turned into a Bush-era parable by people too timid to set a political satire in their own country.... It's a thwarted and frustrated and largely impotent American liberal fantasy of someone with American liberal values standing up against a state run by neoconservatives — which is not what the comic 'V for Vendetta' was about. It was about fascism, it was about anarchy, it was about England."
Also, The letter V, the number 5.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Belated New Year's Eve Celebration in the Spare Bedroom, complete with homemade confetti!

At least $100 in damage!

"Thing 2" and "Thing 3" got into the paper shredder and, well, tossed the contents around the room. Now it's pretty much around the house!

Our standard, household vacuum could not cut the clean up without smoking, so Jeff bought a shopvac. Hence, the $100 one-time charge. I suspect that Jeff wanted a reason to buy a shopvac anyway. An agenda he denies.

This tops the time that Kenny opened a spice bottle of caraway seeds and sprinkled them around. At least the seeds smelled interesting!

Monday, January 15, 2007

"I can hear the ocean!"

From Sea to Shining ... River?

Jeff took Kenny to the Franklin Institute in Philly.

I took Tim and the other two to Jenkinson's Aquarium.

Polar opposites. Happens sometimes in a state as narrow as NJ.

Actually, I wondered how our day trip would go, knowing that Tim likes to bounce back and forth between floors. With the stroller and no elevator, climbing up and down stairs could be clumsy if not dangerous.

But, the convenient news is that the seals were due a meal on the hour, so the upstairs was packed with spectators. Tim took one look around and returned to the vast and vacant downstairs.

Jeff and Kenny arrived in time for the noon IMAX which Jeff said is "very worth seeing." He had planned to stay for the six o'clock movie even though the museum closes at 5pm, but they came home instead. Kenny had had enough.

Frankly, I wondered how Jeff was going to catch the second half of the 24 premiere if they stayed so late.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Julie: "What are you doing here?"

Randy: "It's a party, isn't it?"

Julie: "Well, sure, it's a party, but who invited you?"

Randy: "Oh, you have to be invited. Well, that explains it. You see, if I had been invited, I would have known it was a costume party."

Valley Girl

There's a 20th anniversary edition that I probably need to get.

A review.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

(Sung to the tune of
When The Saints Come Marching In):

"Oh when the bills
come pouring in
Oh, when the bills
come pouring in ..."

Don't have a baby at home at Christmas time. You can't afford it. A cab to the hospital would have been cheaper.

Well, the ambulance bills haven't been submitted to the insurance company yet, so there's a chance that the $3,000+ might be reduced.

Our first child cost $10, from start to finish. Everything was completely covered. Oh, I think the epidural cost $150. Alright.

After 9/11, insurance companies went through major changes and our second child cost about $800. I remember telling my friend and coworker who was expecting his third after a gap of five years, "Kids don't cost $10 anymore."

I can't remember how much Christopher was, maybe the same as Tim, maybe more.

The final tally for Ella should be interesting.

Actually, one of the bills had an incorrect zip code on it and went to the "other" NJ Millstone, Hillsborough, at the far end of the Millstone River. I think that I get a lot of hits for people looking for St. Joseph's in Hillsborough. Must be some humdinger of a parish.
You know what I'd do? Between now and let's say, Christmas, when he's gonna jump, I'd run a daily yarn starting with his boyhood, his schooling, his first job! A wide-eyed youngster facing a chaotic world. The problem of the average man, of all the John Does in the world.

So! So he writes me a letter and I dig him up. He pours out his soul to me, and from now on we quote: "I protest, by John Doe." He protests against all the evils in the world; the greed, the lust, the hate, the fear, all of man's inhumanity to man.

Arguments will start. People will write in pleading with him. But no! No, sir! John Doe will remain adamant! On Christmas Eve, hot or cold, he goes! See?

Ann Mitchell, Meet John Doe

Friday, January 12, 2007

"Books highlight spiritual dimension of the Beatles phenomenon" - J. T. Keane, Catholic News Service, 1/8/07.

The second book sounds more interesting to me because it gets into the music more. I mean, the lyrics.

I had trouble finding the book at Amazon but found it at the publisher's web site, Continuum. I've bought books from them before, eggheaded theology books. After getting the ISBN, I was able to find the book at Amazon1 too. $65 for hardcover!! And only $18 for soft. Gosh, I gotta have hardcover. I just gotta. Oh, well, no one gave me an Amazon gift card for Christmas.

The CNS review recalls Lennon's boast that the Beatles are bigger than Jesus. And, a few days ago, I was killing time, waiting for another show to start, by watching a segment of Tommy. The segment was a favorite part, or rather, a favorite song, "Sally Simpson".

And it occurred to me that The Who got away with it. They put skin on Lennon's comment and, barely ten years later, no one batted an eye anymore about it.

1 From an editorial review (Publishers Weekly) on the Amazon page: "Allison finds 'more than a trace of anti-Catholicism' in his (Harrison's) music." Gee, ya think?!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

I'm about three-fourths of the way through Bart Ehrman's Misquoting Jesus, a treatment of biblical textual criticism for non-specialists.

I'm distracted only by its apparent repetitiveness on the main point. But I suspect that writing styles these days must acknowledge that few read from cover-to-cover anymore. Or even necessarily remember what they've read. So, to drive home a main point, it must be stated and restated periodically throughout a work. I hope that's all it is. I'd hate to think that he's underestimating me.

And Ehrman's main point is that we don't possess the autographs of the biblical texts. Claims that the Bible is the inerrant, inspired word of God mean little without those very original, inspired words (page 7).

As an evangelical, Ehrman had reasoned that if God inspired the original words, then God could preserve those words, across copies, through the centuries. To discover that the words were not entirely preserved called into question his belief that the original words were inspired (page 11). His understanding of inspiration was challenged.

The most intriguing part of the story begins on page 113 regarding 1 Timothy 3:16. Compare the verse across these five English translations, especially the KJV.

A scholar examining the Codex Alexandrinus in the early 18th century made a startling discovery. He noted that the Greek word that begins what is believed to be an early hymn, ΟΣ1, was erroneously turned into an abbreviation for "God" (ΘΕΟΣ) by a later hand using a slightly different color ink. The abbreviation is formed with a horizontal line across the top of the letters, the initial letter and the final letter of ΘΕΟΣ.

In addition, a horizontal line from the reverse side bled through to form the middle part of the first letter, turning an omicron into a theta.

So, instead of the hymn describing Christ as "God made manifest in the flesh," the hymn says of Christ, "who was made manifest in the flesh." The passage no longer explicitly calls Christ "God".

Only the New American Bible has the balls to comment on this textual variance plainly:
"who": the reference is to Christ, who is himself "the mystery of our devotion."

Some predominantly Western manuscripts read "which," harmonizing the gender of the pronoun with that of the Greek word for mystery.

Many later (eighth/ninth century on), predominantly Byzantine manuscripts read "God," possibly for theological reasons.
1 The Codex Alexandrinus is written in capital letters.
Jeff's got some good pictures at flickr:
"Speedo had better have some symbols for four-letter words."

The "First Lady of the American Theater," Miss Vera Charles
Auntie Mame

Jersey traffic patterns are unique, especially where urban meets rural.

I've discussed the intricacies of jughandles before on this blog.

And it's funny, the gyrations that TomTom must go through to describe an upcoming jughandle. It looks something like the above.

'Though I haven't any firsthand experience, I imagine depicting the manoeuvres in Europe is even more of a challenge.
When I first heard this story on WNBC's late news, I thought it occured near the county fairgrounds. And I was baffled as to how cars could be going fast enough in such a congested area to cause such damage.

But, looking at a map, I see that the accident took place in the wide-open section of the Kozloski Road Extension north of 537. That's easier to understand, although still a tragedy.

Not long ago, I avoided two speeding sports coupes on that road, neither of which had license plates. I guess they had to get to where they were going before the cops spotted them.

So, I imagine that the kids left school on Robertsville road on the northeastern outskirts of Freehold and drove along route 79 north towards Marlboro or along Dutch Lane Road to Kozloski.

How does a Cadillac CTS burst into flames after a crash? Does that mean that the boys were smoking? And what kind of a school vehicle is a Dodge Caravan? I wouldn't want my kids driving around in one of those.
Days like yesterday remind me that the baby has not settled into a schedule yet. And that first week Jeff told me, "Trese, you know, you have to get her on a schedule." Easier said than done.

But at least I have experience as to what that schedule is likely to be. I mean, I know what to expect, plus or minus an hour here and there. So, she wakes up first thing in the morning. I change her and feed her and she goes back to sleep while I help Jeff get the kids ready for school.

For the past week and a half, he's been dressing them, or at least pulling out their uniforms. And yesterday he said to me, "You know, you need to write down someplace which days they wear what." And I'm like, "Well, it's been posted on the fridge since September."

But it's actually quite simple: M-W they wear the same uniforms, gym the first two days and dress the third day. Then, R and F, they are opposite each other and Tim wears dress two days in a row. Well, that's how I remember it anyway.
A picture of Tim's favorite activity: "calendar". He wants to be a teacher when he grows up. Didn't we all?

A note came home last week announcing who Tim's teacher will be once his current teacher goes on maternity leave.

It wasn't the person that we had hoped for.

He likes his current teacher so much. I hope that the change isn't too much for him. And I really want his new teacher to emphasize reading as much as his current teacher does. I mean, Tim is really on his way to reading and I hope that the switch doesn't disrupt that progress.
Kenny's class size is down to nine students now after two left since the Christmas break. One of them is switching schools next year and has to repeat the first grade, so her parents see little reason to continue this year. Instead, they plan to travel for the remainder of the school year and through the summer. Her parents see this as a golden opportunity to educate their children in "real world" experiences. It sounds like an expensive plan.

The school that they are switching to held an open house on Saturday and I had planned to attend. Just to see what my kids are missing. I mean, there's not a chance that my kids would switch to that school, an hour away and twice as much in tuition. Besides, I think that the school is a little overrated.

Kenny told me that a new kid is starting soon. So, that's good news. Not that I mind small class size. But, at some point, small becomes too small.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Small, yellow flags appeared in the front yard yesterday afternoon between the time that I came home from grocery shopping and when I drove over to school to pick up the boys.

I figured that the flags marked a utility, probably the gas line, a straight shot from the road to the front corner of the house. I told the kids that the flags are associated with our construction project and to not touch them.

I described the flags to Jeff and he speculated that it could be the cable company completing the laying of fiber through the neighborhood. He remembers the project starting at the far end of our street shortly after we moved in and stopping two-thirds of the way down the street. I remember them completing the project at a later date, actually.

When he arrived home, he confirmed that the flags are utility line markers.

Our general contractor called this morning about coming out and walking the property with his excavator. Jeff told him that the utility markers appeared yesterday and the contactor was impressed because he had called them yesterday.

There are so many construction projects around town. I watch their progress as I drive from here to there. This can't go fast enough for me.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Life with TomTom

Kenny's CCD class resumed this evening.

He's the most vocal advocate of my new TomTom. He wants it on, calling out directions. Maybe because the grass is greener ... and the water bluer ... on its touchscreen than through the windshield. I'm sure his eyes are darting back and forth between the DVD player in the 2nd row and the TomTom screen on my dash.

I hadn't stored a route to the church hall because, well, like so many places, I already know how to get there. And I wasn't about to enter a route while driving, no matter how loudly Kenny begged.

But, after dropping Kenny off, I sat in the parking lot for a minute and stored the GPS location as a favorite. Then we nav'd home.

When it was time to get him, I called up the favorite and TomTom said that it had no route to the destination. Hmm, ok. And as I approached the church driveway, TomTom displayed nothing but lawn, that "greener" grass.

The church is almost ten years old, at its present location. I'll have to tinker with it, I guess, because I remember flipping through "points of interest" and finding the church in there.

Monday, January 08, 2007

The Orthodox Churches are not alone in their collaboration with communism, apparently:

"Polish archbishop resigns, says contacts with communists hurt church" - Catholic News Service, 1/8/07
he acted as an informer for Poland's former communist secret police
"Warsaw archbishop's resignation prompts Vatican embarrassment" - Catholic News Service, 1/8/07
Vatican officials expressed irritation that the archbishop had apparently not been fully frank about his past from the beginning.

They also questioned how the Vatican's normally exhaustive vetting process broke down in one of Eastern Europe's most important episcopal appointments.

"When Msgr. Wielgus was nominated, we knew nothing about his collaboration with the secret police."

Sunday, January 07, 2007

I'll attempt to redeem my 666th post by blogging on a religious topic. How unusual ...

This article appeared in this week's diocesan newspaper. My name appears towards the end, listed alphabetically by surname.

The third column of copy is truncated; my scanner is too small to capture it all. If you read that much, I'm impressed. Oh, same goes for the left side: right up against the edge.

So, yeah, I followed through with the monthly training from last January.

I missed two sessions but made one up in August. And left early twice to take a son to an afternoon birthday party. I did some homework and field work.

My attendance record was not perfect and John wrote me that it would be better if I could make up the November session. I had skipped it because the prospect of sitting in a plastic chair for six hours did not appeal to me. Maybe I'll make it up this fall.

But, through the goodness of his heart, and he has a very good heart, John gave me a certificate of completion just the same. That, and $3 will get me a cup of coffee.

Office of Parish Life, Evangelization

Spent some time at the beach today as a family. See the pictures at flickr.

Only Tim went down to the water. The others played on the playground closer to the boardwalk.

Jeff mounted the TomTom that he gotten me for Christmas on my windshield.

He entered "Freedman's Bakery" as our destination in Belmar. I suggested the cross streets of 10th and Ocean Ave., where the playground is.

When we reached the Parkway, I was advised to take exit 35 A towards Brielle. But that's not how I get to Belmar. I wondered how TomTom would react to flagrant disobedience.

And, unlike a human navigator, TomTom kept her cool, offering suggestion after suggestion to get me back on track. "Next right, exit 35 B."

Nope, I'm not going that way, either. No frustration. The kids in the back were like, "Uh, Mom, don't you think that you'd better do what she says?!" Rise of the Machines. As if I haven't traveled this way a hundred times before. Wonder how those poor chums got lost in Oregon.

Then, home, something similar: trying to send me up route 18.

I'll have to tinker with the preferences but it's good to try it on familiar routes first before going somewhere new. Not that I'll be exploring much anymore. And I'm not ready to throw away my county and state maps, just yet.

In town, where they moved Schoolhouse Road this summer, I noticed that TomTom still had the old intersection. And a new road in a development from a year ago did not display.

At night or in bad weather, when street signs aren't very visible or in neighborhoods without street signs, I can see the advantage of this GPS, certainly. I'm sure that I'll use it.
"Where the heck is winter?" - Asbury Park Press, 1/7/07.

I've stopped looking for it.

I'm happy to walk around in short-sleeved shirts, more concerned about sunburn on my newborn's face than frostbite.

Sure, I bought snow pants and boots and gloves and hats and heavy coats for the boys.

Sure, it would be great if they could wear them.

Maybe they will. Last year's snowstorm was in February, so there's plenty of winter left. Was the early snow Upstate merely a fluke?

Tim asked yesterday whether we could go to the beach but I had other plans. He still wants to go, so even though it's cooler today, we'll try to go. Of course, I think that the "beach" means "Jenkinson's Aquarium".

Saturday, January 06, 2007

"A look back at 2006 in Millstone Township" - The Examiner, 1/5/07:
Despite its rural nature and seemingly lack of drama on the surface, Millstone Township has lots of stories to tell.

1. Space invaders:
The bagworm was noticed throughout the town in 2006.

2. School's out forever: Millstone Township officials got more than they bargained for when they bought the former school for $1 in 1999, as the ensuing renovation project cost more than some people ever expected.

3. Barking up the wrong tree: Area residents complained that she might be operating an illegal kennel on her property.

4. A Performing Arts Center? Setaro started the year by saying that the arts center would operate as a theater but could be rented out as well for other performance acts.

5. Leaving the district in the lurch: Setaro announced his resignation when residents started questioning the need for a performing arts center at the new school.

6. Mystery horse: Although Pascale said she would take care of the mystery horse for the rest of her life, she was diagnosed in June with Grave's disease. Pascale's health problems ultimately forced her to find a new home for Buddy.

7. A tornado touches down: Vandals caused $2,500 in damages after trashing the Little League field house.

8. Fire starter: A security guard who was hired to protect the new middle school under construction had set a few fires there.

9. Can you smell it? Ahh, victory: The Millstone Mighty Mites finished its season undefeated with a 10-0 record.

10. Tying into the nation's history: Halka Nurseries in Millstone made national headlines in November after being chosen by the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation as the holding facility for more than 400 trees.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Jeff emailed this snazzy announcement to his coworkers yesterday.

He pointed out to me, "See, I said 'first' daughter."

And I'm like, "I'm ok with that."

He was shocked.

"Let me take you back ten days ..." he began.
My friend's daughter had a half-day at St. Rose today and my friend couldn't figure out why. She found it all very inconvenient.

"Whenever Sister Pat wants a long weekend, she gives the kids time off," she protested. "I thought Catholic schools were supposedly strict!" Coming from a woman educated by Jesuits.

I suggested, "Maybe it's for the Epiphany1 which is this weekend. You know, in some cultures, it's a big deal. Almost as big as Christmas.2"

"Oh, is it?!" she asked.

1 Epiphany - Wiki
2 Little Christmas - Wiki
"Roof pierced by mysterious rocklike item" - Asbury Park Press, 1/4/07:
Speculation of what did fall into the single-family house in the Colts Pride development off Route 537 between the Colts Neck and Freehold Borough boundaries turned out of this world.

Neighbors' curiosity was aroused by the convergence of emergency vehicles and news media.

"I was wondering what went on because nothing ever happens here," said Danielle Choi, 16.

"Crazy," said her friend, Banke Ogunkanmi, 17, when told about the incident.

"It's very interesting," Choi said.

"Of all places, it lands here," Ogunkanmi said.

"It could be some substance from outer space," said Iris Orengo, 49.

When Orengo was a teenager, she saw an unidentified flying object in New York City, she said.

"I saw a plate-like figure, with lights — and there were other witnesses," Orengo said. "It rotated for awhile, then disappeared."

I think The Onion ought to follow-up on this story. Maybe use these teens' quotes in their man-on-the-street polls.
Come fire and flood ... to Cranford, NJ:
Saturday evening on December 9, 2006 in downtown Cranford a fire erupted inside Emerald Cottage.

A bystander spotted the fire and quickly ran to the Cranford Fire Department.

Several fire departments responded for support, including Linden Fire Department, Westfield Fire Department, and Clark Volunteer Fire Department.

No one was hurt or displaced because of the fire.

So far, there is no cause for the fire.

Water main break detouring traffic on Route 28 in Cranford - Home News Tribune Online - 01/3/07

CRANFORD: Two lanes of Route 28 (North Avenue) continue to be closed at Springfield Avenue because of a water main break that occurred during today's rush hour.

Westbound traffic is being detoured at Centennial Avenue to South Street to Route 28. Eastbound traffic is being detoured at Walnut Avenue to South Street to Route 28.

Repairs are estimated to take until 4 p.m.
Marcus Grodi had a former "Willow Creeker," Steve Smith, on a re-run episode of The Journey Home that I watched Wednesday.

You can listen to it here, in RealAudio.

Smith's story isn't atypical: Catholic-school Catholic from Chicagoland caught up in interdenominational Evangelicalism for ten years at Willow Creek, active in youth ministry.

As unremarkable as the outbound journey may be, the trigger for his return trip is as astounding as it is unique. And personally tailored. Should we expect anything less from the Hound of Heaven, the tripersonal God?

The defining moment, described beginning at 25 minutes, 32 seconds into the RealAudio file, was a sermon on 1 Cor. 11:27-29 together with Matthew 5:23-24 in which the preacher, Bill Hybels, exhorted the thousands in the congregation to rectify broken relationships before approaching the Lord's Table for communion.

In response to the sermon, Smith watched hundreds of people leave the assembly to deal with these personal situations. Those who remained knew that they had witnessed something powerful and of the Spirit. It was the talk of the church for days if not weeks and, the next time that communion was held the following month, Smith expected the same exhortation with similar results.

However, the sermon was on another passage in 1 Corinthians and no exhortation came and people approached for communion as always.

And the contrast from one month to the next struck Smith as utterly arbitrary.

Listen to it for yourself. Give me comments. The various aspects of conversion stories affect us individually in different ways, so something that impressed me about Smith's experience might leave you flat. But there might be some other aspect that really resonates with you.
Tonight's IM:

Teresa S. says: (5:06:05 PM)
will you be as late tonight?

Jake the Snake says: (5:06:26 PM)
no, not tonight

Teresa S. says: (5:06:42 PM)
early is better than later

Teresa S. says: (5:06:46 PM)
as far as i'm concerned

Teresa S. says: (5:06:52 PM)
but i'm not tired

Teresa S. says: (5:06:56 PM)
i got good sleep last night

Jake the Snake says: (5:08:38 PM)
i heard :)

Teresa S. says: (5:13:06 PM)
i repeat myself when under stress

Teresa S. says: (5:13:11 PM)
i repeat myself when under stress
Our ped saw the baby for the first time yesterday.

She's lost a pound since birth which is higher than average but typical for my kids.

The doctor ordered another CBC1. I concur.

She's still rather ruddy, especially her torso. My others are pasty white.

But her breathing is fine, completely fine.

1 Polycythemia


Your blog has been reviewed, verified, and cleared for regular use so that it will no longer appear as potential spam.

Thanks for your patience, and we apologize for any inconvenience this has caused.

The Blogger Team

And there was much rejoicing.

If the rain comes

they run and hide their heads

They might as well be dead

If the rain comes

If the rain comes

Rain - The Beatles

Thursday, January 04, 2007

I'm in good company, it would seem.

When Kenny broke his hand the last day of summer vacation, it was somewhat amusing how the story grew into something severe, practically life-threatening.

In no time, mothers approached me at school to confirm the ridiculous tales: "Kenny broke his arms and legs while downhill skiing in the Swiss Alps and had to be rescued during a blizzard by a St. Bernard?!"

Stuff like that.

OK, now I'm exaggerating. But this happens, you know it does.

So, should I be surprised 'bout the things going 'round school on Ella's birth?

I am, all the same. Not only by the stories but by who's swapping them. Former classmates who now attend St. Rose in Freehold are passing them along!

A classmate's mother said to me yesterday, as she admired Ella, "So, she was born in the garage?"


"Oh, oh, you know how kids talk," she recovered.

How to get more earthy than a home delivery by the baby's father with a still-sleepy two-year-old looking on and meekly asking if he can watch "Thomas"?

Apparently by placing the birth ... in a garage.

Why not a lowly manger?

All right, all right, I see it happens to the best of 'em.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Blogger identified my blog as a "spam blog" which means that each post I create (and modify) requires "word verification".

How inconvenient, not to mention insulting, to have one's blog associated with a spam blog. I was in a comfortable rhythm of create, edit, post items and the extra step of word verification throws me off.

Spam blogs, according to Blogger Help, are characterized by irrelevant, repetitive, or nonsensical text, along with a large number of links, usually all pointing to a single site. Hmmm, could that single site be Wiki or Blogger's own photo host?

When this word verification cropped up a few days ago, I thought that my husband had enabled something. He's been tinkering with my blog, trying to figure out how to migrate it to typepad because he got me an account there for Christmas.

So, I sent word to Blogger that I am a real person, not a robot or a clone or a droid. Maybe they'll unlock my blog before I get migrated or maybe they won't. But, hopefully, in the end, it won't matter for much longer.
Last year's "Mix-Match Day" get-up

I did a better job last year with "Mix-Match Day," a part of school-spirit week.

This year, I dunno, Kenny isn't interested in doing anything too overt. The results were not worth photographing.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007


Please consider the orphanage at Miracle Garden for tsunami children.

My close friend from high school, the white chick on the left in the blue shirt, just returned from a few weeks in India at the orphanage, run by her husband.

It's a good cause and I hope that you seriously consider it.

However, please keep in mind that, if you make a donation, they will pray for you. Even the little orphan children will pray for you.

If this sort of Christian charity disturbs you, please be cautious.

In fact, be especially cautious, as they will likely pray for you in tongues.
"Preserving the natural character of Millstone" - The Examiner, 12/28/06:
People who have moved to Millstone often cite its rural atmosphere as one of the reasons they chose to live there.

Pat Butch, who moved to the township for that very reason, has been working hard to keep it rural.

Butch moved to Millstone 17 years ago from North Brunswick in Middlesex County. Back then, she had two horses that she boarded.

"“We wanted a more rural setting, with open space," she said. "“Exactly what Millstone is."

What became their Bright Meadows Farm on Prodelin Way was previously owned by a developer. Butch said the real estate market was not good in 1990 so the owner sold to her family all but a relatively small part of his approved subdivision.

Butch lives in a farmhouse that is more than 200 years old on the 80-acre farm consisting of two adjoining properties. There are 36 horses on one parcel and 30 on the other, she said. Fifteen of the horses, including lesson horses and broodmares, belong to Butch, while the rest are boarders.
I met Pat last year at the YMCA.

Her grandson and my boys were in the same swim class.

I mentioned that I wanted my oldest to start horseback riding lessons. She thought he was too young.

So, I held off because of that and the new baby and whether or not we really could afford it.

I mean, I don't want to start something that I can't keep up, one way or another, especially if he likes it. I also thought it might be nice if his younger brother could do it with him.

When the time is right, I need to check out her farm which is just down the street. In fact, I think that my neighbor takes her older daughter there to ride. Yeah, the one who just put her home on the market. Sigh.
See what can be had when the pastor isn't embezzling millions of dollars?1,2

New-look Holy Cross ready - Asbury Park Press, 12/31/06:
"We've been talking about it for a decade. We had children who, when they were going into the fourth grade, were told they'd be in a new school."

Under the $3.5 million project, a new gymnasium / auditorium was built, which allowed for a two-story classroom wing for seventh- and eighth-graders.

Each classroom is set up for wireless computer access. Laptops are brought into any classroom as needed.

The room originally planned as a computer lab was changed to a presentation room with a state-of-the-art sound system, video projection and filming capabilities. It will be used for everything from student presentations to adult seminars.

Each classroom has an interactive center with screens and projectors hooked up to video and DVD systems.

"The next project is the church, but it will be a good year or so before we start."

1 "Rumson priest faces 27-count indictment" - The Hub, 6/23/05
The alleged theft of more than $2 million has resulted in a 27-count grand jury indictment for the Rev. Joseph Hughes, former pastor of Holy Cross Church, Rumson.

2 "Hughes released early, must make restitution" - The Hub, 12/14/06
Hughes was released on Nov. 29 after serving 180 days of a five-year sentence related to his conviction for filing fraudulent tax returns, failure to pay taxes and theft by deception.

Although Hughes did not admit to misappropriating more than $2 million of church funds between Jan. 1, 1997, and November 2004, he pleaded guilty to the charge.

Hughes had given much of the unaccounted-for money to others in need, such as David Rogers and his family.

Hughes reportedly paid for vacations for Rogers and his family, on which Hughes went along.

Hughes allegedly spent the money on expensive cars, lavish vacations, pricey dinners and jewelry.

The audit by the Diocese of Trenton, which led to the subsequent discovery of the financial discrepancies, was a result of Hughes’ decade-long plan to expand Holy Cross Church.

Hughes is still a priest but that he currently is not assigned to a parish.