Saturday, December 30, 2006

Blet.

I won't be going over my 'rents' house tonight for Christmas, Part 2. I'm sick. X-p

It started yesterday afternoon at work, and I've slept and ingested fluids, but it hasn't helped. I'm just completely wiped out.

I'll especially miss seeing my brother who just got out of the Army. But I'll give him a call.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Weather Bimbos

One of my jobs at work is to monitor the Weather Channel for any developing stories that folks need to know about. When they're not busy trying to ram the global warming scare down our throats, TWC has been busy lately pushing what I surmise is their version of ESPN's "Pardon The Interruption," known as "Abrams and Bettes."

Now Stephanie Abrams is not unattractive, but she's not just out of meteorology school either. So why does TWC insist on sexing her up for this show? It's. Not. Her. She doesn't make a good "tart," as Seana puts it. For comparison's sake, check out her media portrait.

Recall if you will that former TWC meterologist Marny Stanier filed a lawsuit against the network charging age discrimination. She apparently dropped it, and may have been given some compensation in exchange for never bringing the matter up again; I guess we'll never know for sure.

I know that TV is a visual medium, and women are generally held to a different standard than men (how else do you explain Jim Cantore?). But this isn't necessary for the Weather Channel. And I'm not sure the idea of presenting the weather in bathing suits hasn't been proffered in some TWC back room.

BTW, when's the last time you saw a pregnant meteorologist on the air? Used to have them all the time on TWC (Jeanetta Jones -- whom, I admit, has eyes to die for -- and Kim Perez, for two). Is that now also part of the template?

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

A Sense of Proportion

Last week was our company Christmas party, held on the upper parking lot (a nice concession by the higher-ups). Unfortunately, I had to work 2-10 PM while it went on.

Normally, by 3 PM the parking lot starts clearing out with folks on regular shift starting to leave. But because of the party, no one left! I had to park in the residential neighborhood and moved my car once because it was in a 2-hour zone. When I went to move it the second time, it had a revenue enhancement solicitation parking ticket on it.

I was furious. I was all set to demand that my company reimburse me, which of course they will not do. But at least they did admit they didn't plan the use of their limited parking resources very well; they forgot about folks like me.

Now. Before I came to work that day, I stopped in to see my friend Tony. All that has happened to him recently is that he changed careers, had his wife leave him for reasons that completely puzzle me, and developed non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. He was about to undergo his fourth round of chemotherapy.

You imagine for a moment that he would mind swapping problems with me and having a $30 ticket as the worst part of his day? It's sobering -- but necessary -- to have things put into proportion sometimes.

Monday, December 25, 2006

How I Spent My Christmas

Mostly at work. Had to work 10 AM -- 6 PM on Christmas Eve, then 2 PM -- 10 PM on Christmas Day. Fortunately, both days were pretty quiet. Lots of good food too; my one cow-orker makes killer chocolate chip cookies.

Saturday night, we had a nice dinner at Mexicali Cantina, one of the better Latino restaurants in town. Then we played golf on our computers and turned in.

Sunday morning, we went to Mass together at our home parish (for a change), then came home and had breakfast before I left for work. While I was gone, LC cleaned off the top of the buffet and turned it into the location of our nativity scene. How nice!

She went over to get a hotel room in Columbia, where she watched the Ravens dismantle the Squealers (see separate post). Then we met up at my aunt's house in Laurel. Not quite as many relatives came for the traditional Christmas Eve prayers and wreath-lighting ceremony, but it was still good to see those who were there. Dad showed some footage of us from years ago doing a dramatic reading of "Go, Dog, Go!" and my sisters singing "Ao Haoly Noight" in Bawlamerese.

We then opted to go to a 10 PM Mass at a parish near the hotel. Last time we had been there was when our friends DB and DQ (Dittoboy and Da Queen) had gotten married 8 years ago. It was a pretty nice Mass all in all; the congregation actually sang, and pretty well. But there were a couple quirks; the ensemble sang some weird, disjointed song at the offertory, and the priest dedicated a large portion of his homily to The Wizard of Oz and "there's no place like home." I was waiting for him to start playing Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon in the background, but it didn't happen.

We spent the night at the hotel where we watched (on TV) an impressive choral and orchestra performance from the newly renovated Basilica of the Assumption in Baltimore. Just before turning in, I got a surprise call from . . . Seana! She just wanted to wish us a Merry Christmas and thought I wouldn't have my cell phone on. But we both got to talk to her. Very sweet of her to do so.

On Christmas morning, we headed to LC's aunt's for an elaborate lunch (not brunch, as in prior years) spread with some of her relatives. It was nice to see Sandy's cousin's kids get their gifts. One of them got a Nintendo GameBoy which was no bigger than my minidisc player.

After work, LC and I swapped our gifts. I got her The Little Mermaid on DVD, a thumb drive for her puter, and a Todd Heeeeeeeeeeeap Ravens replica jersey. She got me a nice long-sleeve polo shirt and two DVD packs: Animaniacs and the Looney Tunes Golden Collection Volume 4.

All in all, a nice Christmas. I look forward to not having to work some year, however.

Ravens - Week 16

This one was pretty much never in doubt, although I wish we'd have held onto the ball better. What a thumping of the Squealers on their home turf. That means we dusted the "defending Super Bowl champions" 58-7 over two games this year.

Merry Christmas, Squealer fans. Sit down. Shut up.

Very good. Now stay that way.

And all praise and thanks be to the Houston Texans, who handed the Irsays another loss. Now we control our destiny for the #2 seed, and still have a longshot for the #1 (see the scenarios here), but I seriously doubt Sandy Eggo will lose to Arizona at home. Have I mentioned lately how I wish we'd beaten the Bungles?

Buffalo is out of the playoff hunt, but they're no gimme. Still, we can and should beat them.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Ironic Photo

I came home from work one day a couple months ago and could not pass up this picture. I only just got the software installed to upload it:


Obviously, it didn't work! :-D

(BTW, anyone know what sort of unremoved bug that is?)

Friday, December 22, 2006

Two And A Half Hours

That's how long it took me to get home from DC this afternoon. It's a drive that normally takes an hour or slightly less.

The first hour was wasted spent just getting out of downtown DC. It was gridlock the like of which I'd never seen before. I thought I got smart and took a little-known route . . . only to find it wasn't so little-known.

Yeah, I know this is what I do for a living. But I still have to deal with it. Maybe next year, I'll work the 2-10 shift instead. Or do what I was originally going to do: have the day off.

And now to unwind for a few minutes before I have to zip out again. Then again, Joseph and Mary had a pretty rough commute of it.

Anyone else run into pre-holiday traffic?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Mishmash

Got the Christmas cards sent today. Hope most arrive before Christmas; otherwise, most will get there early next week.

My Christmas shopping is done, except for one item I'll grab tomorrow.

We hope to have the tree up tomorrow night.

I'll be delivering a gift to my Secret Santa recipient tomorrow at our Christmas party. And getting one from my SS.

More on my health/sleep: Woke up really groggy today, and just wanted to fall over after trying a muscle relaxer prescribed for me. So I did nap for a couple hours. I'm now attending physical therapy, getting new glasses, having my third sleep study, having a second opinion on some colon issues, and getting my teeth cleaned. Good thing LC has a good health plan!

We're going to be godparents again for little Samantha, our friends' little girl. That's quite an honor. Third time for me; I'm a godparent of my brother, and we're godparents of my niece.

I Will Not Submit

And neither will William Kirkpatrick, in this devastating essay on the fallacy of multiculturalism and how it's been exploited by Islamofascists.

Quite simply, I'll die before I become dhimmi.

Ravens - Week 15

Maybe not as impressive as others, but still a good win for the Ravens over a feisty Browns team. Although I don't like how well the Browns were able to move the ball on the ground against us, the telling statistic was that they converted no 3rd downs. And we had six sacks. Kyle Boller did well filling in for Steve McNair, who had his throwing hand stepped on. Boller tossed an impressive 77-yard TD pass to rookie Demetrius Williams, who hit Ludicrous Speed as he outraced the Browns to the end zone. (No, Ludicrous Speed is not a Browns safety.)

We're safely in the playoffs, and beating the Squealers at Heinz this Sunday will give us the AFC North and keep us in the driver's seat hunt for a first-round bye (we got the AFC North last night when the Irsays beat the Bungles). The Squealers have been playing better here of late, but if we can keep Willie Parker in check, we can put the pressure on Ben Toothlessberger.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Not me!

Michelle Malkin puts Time's publicity stunt Person of the Year Award in its proper perspective.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Introducing

Steph's World, a blog about the adventures of my co-worker's little girl, Stephanie!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

I'm so tired - Part II

(A continuation of this post.)

I have spent the last few days in a perpetual state of sleep deprivation. I have a CPAP, but it's not working very well. I must be snoring even with forced air.

I hate this. I don't feel like doing much of anything, except sleeping, until I wake up exhausted. Small wonder why a physical therapist told me last week that I feel majorly tense and have numerous pressure points that hurt. She even asked whether I've been diagnosed with fibromyalgia.

So I'll be getting another sleep study. I can take all the sleep aids I want, but if this doesn't get taken care of, I'll be one exceedingly grumpy swan.

Christmas Songs I Can Live Without

I don't dislike all secular Christmas songs, but I will be perfectly happy never to hear these again:

  • Santa Baby
  • Jingle Bell Rock
  • Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree (which I think is the same song as Jingle Bell Rock)
  • Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer (it was funny when it came out, when I was still a kid. A few million times later, it's NOT FUNNY.)
  • Happy Xmas (War Is Over) (Yoko Ono. 'Nuff said.)
  • A Wonderful Christmas Time (so Macca can't write a decent Christmas song either.)
  • Christmas Is The Time To Say I Love You
  • Do They Know It's Christmastime At All? (I think if those starving had to choose between death and this song, 9 out of 10 would opt for death.)
  • And when did "My Favorite Things" become a Christmas song? I think I've heard 45 covers of it in the last month.
So before you think me a Grinch, what songs do I like?

  • Anything by Mannheim Steamroller (still hasn't gotten old)
  • Vince Guaraldi's A Charlie Brown Christmas (ditto)
  • The Joy of Christmas with the New York Philharmonic (and Leon!Ard! Bern!Stein!) and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir
  • The Christmas Song by Nat King Cole
  • Any good rendition of the Messiah
  • Salvation Is Created (especially when sung in Russian)
  • Mary, Did You Know? (*I* know it's a collection of rhetorical questions, but Kathy Mattea's rendition is especially moving)
  • Lo, How A Rose E'er Blooming and Coventry Carol (my church choir sang both when I was a kid; both gave me goose bumps)
  • And for the completely silly side: Bob and Doug Mackenzie's Twelve Days of Christmas, Jeff Foxworthy's Redneck Christmas, Bill Engvall's Christmas version of Here's Your Sign, and the Twisted Tune version of "A Billy Idol Christmas": "Cause it's a /nice day for a / White Christmas", "In the midnight hour, he cried 'Ho, Ho, Ho' / With a Jingle Bell, he cried 'Ho, Ho, Ho'"
How about you?

Monday, December 11, 2006

Ravens - Week 14

Nice 20-10 victory over the Cheeves, a game the Ravens pretty much controlled from the kickoff. Thus endeth an 18-game home winning streak for the Cheeves in December. The defense held Larry Johnson in check enough, although he did get over 100 yards. More importantly, Trent Green was spooked just about the whole game. And what an impressive pass from Steve McNair to Mark Clayton for an 87-yard TD.

With the Ravens being 10-3, I would really really love to have that Cincy game back. We'd then be the #1 seed in the AFC, owning the tiebreaker over the Chargers whom we beat. But they're up a game. Still, we're in the hunt for the first-round bye.

We have three very winnable games to finish out the year; against Cleveland, at Pittsburgh, and against the Bills. 13-3 is not out of reach. But. Whoda thunk Peyton and the Irsays would get steamrolled by the Jags? (Prediction: the Irsays are getting nowhere near Miami.) Or, speaking of Miami, they tossed a shutout against the Patriots! Anything can happen. No one can be taken lightly; I mean, if the Titans make the playoffs (and it's still possible), they'll be The Team No One Wants To Play.

Let's just beat Cleveland and see what happens.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

I'll pray for you

This was neat: at Mass tonight, the priest (this wasn't my normal parish) had us not only say hi to the folks around us, but get their names AND . . . at the end of Mass, ask them for something they wanted prayer for over the next week. So I'll be praying for the health of Kevin's mom. He'll be praying for Ladycub's dad.

What a great idea.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Immaculate Mary

I'd love to see a bumper sticker that says "Love your MOTHER" and has a picture like this on it.

December 8th is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Many (including Catholics!) mistakenly believe that this feast refers to the conception of Jesus in Mary's virgin womb (and that, in fact, is the Gospel reading from Luke). Actually, it refers to the immaculate conception of Mary in her mother's womb; she was saved from the stain of original sin so that she could bear the Son of God. Here's an excellent article on the basis of this feast; the Genesis reading is also part of today's liturgy.

I went to Mass for this Holy Day of Obligation at the National Shrine Grotto of Lourdes in Emmitsburg, MD. St. Elizabeth Anne Seton used to spend time on "Mary's Mountain," and her shrine is nearby. It's a gorgeous, serene place to connect spiritually. On one path are the 14 Stations of the Cross done as mosaics, and on another are mosaics of the 15 original mysteries of the Rosary (the new Luminous mysteries have yet to be added). Masses can be held in an ampitheater near the actual (replica) grotto, or in a gorgeous glass chapel near the bell tower.

Today, the Mass was said by Father Bill McCarthy, who challenged us during the homily to consider what Christmas really means; the coming of Jesus Christ incarnate within us, as we receive Him through baptism. He said for us to see everyone as Jesus does, since we too are all sons and daughters of God thanks to Jesus. That's a toughie for me; I can get so hung up on being right over being loving. Finally, he said we are all healers just as Jesus is, because we received all of Him.

After Mass, Fr. McCarthy prayed over me. Unlike some others that he prayed with, I wasn't overcome by the Holy Spirit. I wondered whether I missed something, but I still felt closer to God than I had in a while. I followed up by receiving the sacrament of Reconciliation.

Mary, I take refuge in you.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

New Summary Posted

I've been incommunicado the last few days because of my latest 5,000-word summary for the wreckage of a Season 10 of The Amazing Race. This one dealt with their visit to a market in Casablanca and then adventures with a maze, giant women, and a bunch of tomatoes in Barcelona.

More of my summaries here. (This link will also contain the above summary after the link above expires.)

Friday, December 01, 2006

A Question of Faith

I sometimes wonder whether I really walk my spiritual talk.

I get so into the issues and fighting the culture war, I wonder whether I'm a loveless "noisy gong" that Paul talked about in 1 Corinthans 13.

I lusted big-time today on this computer. I was a zombie for nearly an hour.

I was rude back to a rude caller earlier this week.

I reamed my co-worker earlier this week for leaving a drink in an unapproved container in the studio, which I spilled when I tried to remove it.

I don't pray or read Scripture nearly enough, and I'd like to receive the Body of Christ and the Sacrament of Penance more often.

I wonder if I was arrested for being Christian whether there'd be enough evidence to convict me.

I wonder whether my faith makes any difference to anyone else.

I need a spiritual retreat sometime.

I've been thinking about this as I listen to the Tim LaHaye best seller Left Behind, which is a compelling work of fiction about the chaos that ensues when the "Rapture" takes away all the Christians suddenly. As a Catholic, I find it theologically flawed, but it still makes for an interesting read. At least it calls me to consider where I am spiritually.

Here's another Catholic critique of the Left Behind series. As I suspected, LaHaye's wife Beverly founded Concerned Women for America; I heard of her long before I did her husband. I also remember hearing a talk based on LaHaye's The Battle of the Mind. I'm going to be a sport and finish this book, but I'm not going to read/listen any further in the series.

In the coming weeks I hope to document here my spiritual walk to date. Much of it has been tied up in an ecumenical Christian community called the Lamb of God, which is where Ladycub and I met.