Monday, July 30, 2007

A Spirit With A Vision . . . Is A Dream With A Mission

Kudos to my friends' eldest son Michael, who is leading a missionary team from my parish to Tanzania later this week. Most of their time will be spent taking care of youngsters and infants in an orphanage. He, by the way, is the same son who accompanied his mom to Liberia to collect his newly adopted brother, Gabriel.

I wouldn't be surprised if Michael is considering a life in the priesthood or similar religious vocation. Of course, this would crush the hearts of many a teenage girl, with whom Michael is quite popular; like his dad, he's a good-looking guy.

I'm a bit jealous of Michael, because I never really got to go away for missionary work, even here in the States. I wanted to go to New Orleans last year and help rebuild, but I couldn't afford the airfare. The teens from our parish usually go to Appalachia every year.

Part of that was because my High School (Christian) Group really didn't believe in such things, and neither did University Christian Outreach (where I met Michael's mom, on whom I had a major crush; and his dad, who obviously had even more of one). Those groups were way too introspective, just like the covenant community that sponsored them.

Now I do recall working with inner city kids for my high school service project, tutoring them and otherwise helping them to stay out of trouble. I remember playing basketball with them, and even before there was a Michael Jordan, they all thought they were his Second Coming, running down the court shouting encouraging things like, "I got something for your FACE!" Later on, I much preferred playing basketball with the kids from my friend's church in the city than with the men from my covenant community. The kids had fun; the guys took the game, like they did any athletic activity, WAY too seriously.

But maybe it's not too late for me to do some work like Michael's doing. It's not like there aren't any needs around.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Yes, Again

Operation Number Three on my right elbow has been scheduled for Thursday, August 16.

My CT scan shows that there indeed is still a bone fragment lodged in the joint (circled in the image); that's why the elbow keeps getting locked up. And this procedure will not be arthroscopic; it will involve a full incision, because the fragment can't be reached any other way.

Arrrghhh. But if left untreated, my pain will only get worse.

My left wrist still needs surgery too, but I'm waiting until next year for that. It's not as crucial; I have full use of the wrist. It just hurts after some periods of overuse.

Guess what arrived this past Wednesday?


Our passports! *does happy dance*

Guess that extra help that the folks in Foggy Bottom (that's the State Department, for those of you in Dundalk) obtained to process the passport backlog has started to pay off. We were told that we might get our passports before we left for Buffalo and Ontario in early September.

Well, we got 'em for the next ten years! Ontario . . . consider yourself warned!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Thoughts on the tragedy in Phoenix

Two news helicopters collided today while covering a police chase in Phoenix, and all four occupants died in the ensuing plunges into a park. God rest their souls, and thank God no one was killed on the ground. It's an accident which doesn't happen much.

On Tuesday, I climb back into the traffic plane after a few weeks of doing mostly office work and beach drives. When I arrive at the airport, I see the red helicopter of Channel 9 emerging from its hangar, and after its engine sputters to life not unlike Jack Benny's Maxwell, its two-person crew takes off to bring back live images of traffic tie-ups and incidents. They always wave at me, and I wave back. My job is similar, but all I send back is my voice reports to the producer in the studio. Of course, the pilot is flying the Cessna where I tell him to go, communicating with various controllers, looking for air traffic, etc.

Now when there's a major road accident, it's not uncommon to find as many as four helicopters there (Channels 4, 5, and 7 also). The pilots talk to each other and stay out of each other's way as much as possible. Normally, our plane winds up going above them, because while they can hover, we have to circle. It's a delicate dance. Also, our plane sometimes has to dive or peel off suddenly if another aircraft has clearance in a given area. That sure wakes me up!

Last week, there were vehicle chases just after the morning rush hour on consecutive days. As far as I know, no news helicopters followed them (probably because had the vehicles gone into DC, that's restricted airspace). I guess I don't get the point of following car chases; it must have been the O.J. low-speed chase that started things. Don't get me wrong; the four who perished in Phoenix were doing their job. Nonetheless, I wonder whether car chases are really worth the effort for anything beyond "Cops." Ratings, I reckon.

Believe me, I'll be thinking about those reporters and pilots on Tuesday. But it won't keep me grounded.

Your thoughts welcome; I'll especially want to hear from Bigbro and Mom2BJM.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

I've come around on Wal-Mart

I have long been at odds with labor and leftist organizations that have bashed Wal-Mart for refusing to unionize or for the amount of medical coverage it provides its employees. See, I never thought Wal-Mart was "exploiting its workers" per se; if they don't like the salary and benefits that Wal-Mart is offering, they can just go offer their services to another employer. I have also called for those who hate Wal-Mart to either find a way to beat Wal-Mart at its own game, or invent a game in which the retailer cannot compete.

Now? I have my own reasons to hate Wal-Mart.

Speaking before the National Conference of La Raza ("the race"), Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott all but admitted that he needs open borders and lots and lots of illegals to prop up his business. (Hat tip: Michelle Malkin.)

Closing his speech, Mr. Scott said that Congress needs to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill now, and he is disappointed that it hasn't happened yet.

He said that his concern about social and economic issues impacting Hispanic consumers is far from intellectual. "Having a Mexican-American granddaughter helps me to understand that this is not a cerebral exercise; that this is emotion and real people we're dealing with," Mr. Scott said.
Why? Well, Scott wants to separate more illegals from their money:
Wal-Mart recently took steps that Mr. Scott said will make it easier for Hispanic consumers who lack checking and savings accounts to shop at the retailer. In June, Wal-Mart announced plans to open 1,000 MoneyCenter in-store financial service centers by the end of 2008. The centers allow Hispanics and other customers to acquire the Wal-Mart-branded MoneyCard debit card, cash checks, transfer money and pay bills.

The card will be a big help to Hispanics because they are three times more likely than non-Hispanics to be "unbanked," Mr. Scott said.

Collectively, Mr. Scott noted, all of Wal-Mart's customers will save up to $320 million this year by using the MoneyCenter locations. Consumers will save money because the centers make it easier for them to spend more at Wal-Mart instead of other retailers, thus incurring savings, Mr. Scott said. Since Hispanics account for 14 percent of the chain's consumers, that could mean that they would reap millions in savings through the centers.
Do you think for one second that Wal-Mart is doing this just to be charitable to illegals? No. Scott and company are not doing this to lose money, not that there's anything inherently wrong with that. Still, I'd love to see what sort of finance charges are involved in some of these programs. After all,
The fast-growing Hispanic market will continue to fuel Wal-Mart's retail sales, Mr. Scott said. "From 1990 to 2011, if the trend continues, Hispanic buying power will have grown by more than 450 percent. That's compared to a growth rate of only 176 percent for non-Hispanic buying power over the same time period." He added that Hispanic buying power will reach $1.2 trillion by 2011.
And oh by the way, Wal-Mart was forced to cough up $11M for hiring illegals as janitors.

Now I believe in Wal-Mart exploitation. Hello, Target and Costco.

Monday, July 23, 2007

New Look

I tweaked the colors for the upcoming Ravens season. What do you think?

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Two Dollars!

Remember the 80s movie Better Off Dead, and the paperboy who took his job just a little too seriously?



Now you know how much we made at our second yard sale today. I guess coming off the success of our first one last month at our church, we didn't have nearly as much curb appeal.

Ah, well, at least it was a gorgeous and cool day, and we had fun talking with our neighbors (who fared much better, with lots of kids' clothing) and the folks who trapsed through. And it didn't take long for us to clean up. :-)

We were supposed to have a neighborhood cookout afterward, but no one felt like it. Least of all LC, who's been sick. :-(

Business has been rather steady, however, on Freecycle as we endeavor to get rid of the stuff. Who knew so many people in my town wanted a snorkel set? Or a computer desk? And where were they when we were SELLING this stuff?

We also donated a number of VHS videos to the library.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Not again!

I may need a third operation on my elbow, as it keeps locking up. I can still use it, but I never know when it'll lock on me. It could be picking something up, turning a door knob, or whatever; I can't replicate it. The infection must have been worse than I thought.

I'll be getting a CT scan to see if there are any latent bone fragments left to remove.

Such an operation won't occur immediately. Still, will this never end?

As the smoke clears . . .

My father-in-law has had his share of health problems lately. I had long noticed that his fingers and hands were getting purple. It turned out that he had Raynaud's syndrome, and he was advised under the strongest terms to stop smoking because of the lack of blood and oxygen getting to his extremities. This cost him part of one of his fingers, which was certainly a wake-up call.

Considering that he had smoked up to 2 1/2 packs a day for over 50 years, quitting was going to be no easy feat; I know how powerful a drug nicotine can be. But by the time we saw him, he was starting to taper off and going to a smoking cessation support group.

He had his last cigarette just over a few weeks ago. I called him to congratulate him, but he replied, "Thank you, and the subject is over." He also apologized in advance if he became cranky over the next few weeks or months. My FIL has never been the sort to attract attention to his accomplishments, but I'll gladly do it for him.

He still visits the casinos, but not as often because of the presence of the smoke which may entice him. He's gotten into volunteering at the local hospital where my MIL has been active for quite some time. BRAVO ZULU for my FIL!

While I still have a problem with the government telling its citizens where and when they can smoke for however much a "sin tax" it throws atop cigarette prices for the supposed purpose of anti-smoking programs instead of just banning the stuff altogether, I'm the first to cheer on someone who gives up smoking. I remember getting cartons of Lark for my mom in the PX as a kid; she's been smoke free for nearly 35 years. And smoking may have had something to do with my uncle's untimely death in 1991 at age 47.

Me, I have one or two cigars a year. I just wish they didn't leave a bad taste in my mouth, which neither LC nor I enjoy. That's a good part of the reason why I don't even think about smoking more.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Help an inmate lose his job!

Make your own license plate! (Gacked from RTVW.)

Here are mine:














Sunday, July 15, 2007

I'd go see it

Great idea by Baltimore Sun columnist David Steele. We need a movie to tell the story of how the Baltimore Colts became the Indianapolis Irsays in the middle of a March 1984 night, and all the hooey leading up to it.

I'm thinking Brian Dennehy to play the usually drunken Bob Irsay. Look upon the owner, at the left, ye mighty, and despair.

(BTW Cleveland, you DON'T need a movie. Thanks to Mike White and his PR machine, you had more publicity than the Dodgers and Irsays relocations together.)

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Tolerating the Intolerant

"Tolerance" is the most over-used virtue today, and according to this excellent article from This Rock, the term has strayed far from its original usage:

The contemporary understanding of tolerance is that it means suspending moral judgment. This is a dead end, because it is impossible to suspend moral judgment. After all, even the idea that we ought to be tolerant reflects a moral judgment. A person who denies that preferring tolerance is a moral judgment is left without a coherent explanation for why he tolerates some things (say, abortion) but does not tolerate others (say, rape).

The classical view of tolerance, on the other hand, doesn’t mean suspending moral judgment. It actually requires moral judgment.

Here is the classical view in a nutshell: To tolerate something is to put up with it even though we believe it to be bad or false. But the virtue of tolerance doesn’t mean tolerating everything bad or false in every way; it means knowing which bad and false things to put up with, in what ways, to what degrees, and on which occasions. The paradox of tolerance is that when we rightly tolerate something bad or false, we do so not because we don’t love truth and goodness enough to defend them but because we love them too much to defend them in the wrong way.
I might have gone further and said that tolerance, as expressed today, is no virtue at all. Or, as the great G.K. Chesterton put it, "Tolerance is the virtue of the man without convictions."

At any rate, this article gives me courage to fight on against what I know to be immoral.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Wha-wha-wha-whaaaa?

I find this difficult to believe:

Online Dating

Apparently my use of the words "sex," "abortion," "hurt," and "murder" contributed to this "rating." Good thing I didn't show anyone smoking, or it would have been rated NC-17.

(Gacked from Arkie.)

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Minor league baseball rules

Tonight is the All-Star Game. I could not care less. I've been uninterested in MLB for years now; I've never forgiven them for the strike in 1994.

As for minor league baseball, that's still a lot of fun. We live very close to Harry Grove Stadium, home of the Class A Frederick Keys. Finances have restricted how often we go to the games in recent years, but then again, we don't have to. We can see the frequent fireworks shows from our bedroom window. When I still had media credentials, I would often stroll up to the stadium and hang out in the press box to watch a game and chat with then-PA announcer Victoria Gordon and her husband.

The proximity to the field and the players makes allows me to hear the calls of the umpire . . . even a balk. The marketing staff does a lot of fun things during and after the game to make the experience even more memorable than the game itself. One of them once said to me, "If we've made you forget what the score was, we've done our job."

What I didn't forget was some of the names of players who came through the Keys and went on to the majors: Val Majewski, Brandon Fahey, Adam Lowen, and Nick Markakis, for four.

Oh, and then there's the hokey but fun "Shake Your Keys" song, highlighted in a recent Baltimore Sun article. A night at a Keys game is a nice night out.

Before moving to Frederick, we also took in many a Bowie Baysox game.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Thank you, Lord. That? Was close.

Whoever is the patron saint of auto parts, he intervened on my behalf tonight.

I was driving to a shopping center in Greenbelt to get dinner, but I noticed that the Cygmobile was very hesitant and sluggish. After shutting off the air conditioner, I then figured that the spark plug wires might be to blame (the same ones I replaced earlier). They could have become unseated from the plug or from the distributor cap.

Indeed, the wires had come out of the plastic spacer that holds them together and were starting to be fried on the engine block, which accounted for the sputtering. At any time, I could have had a Cygmobile-becue. Fortunately, there was an auto parts store in the same shopping center, and I got a set of better wires (the kind I should have gotten in the first place) and, after some trial and error installing them, got the car running safely again.

Whew. Thank you, Lord.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

On to more serious topics

Like:

How will you get THIS earworm out of your head? *evil laugh*



BTW, it appears the correct title for this song is "Ma na ma na." Steve Czaban uses it for his weekly "show within a show," "This might be a dumb question, but . . ." Also, it's been the bed for Kim Komando's "Tip for Komando Kids" section of her program.

BigBro: Show it to the girls. It won't corrupt them quite as much as Homestar. I promise.

What's the big deal about contraception?

Oh, just STDs, abortion, "single" motherhood, etc. Nothing important.

And I was in the 15-18% minority here:

The results of a recent CDC survey reveal that approximately 96 percent of adults aged 20-59 have had ever had sex. Of all those surveyed, almost 82 percent had sex before or at 20 years of age. Of those who ever had sex, approximately 85 percent did so before or at age 20 - most of which was premarital. (An earlier Guttmacher study found that by age 20, 77 percent of respondents had sex, and 75 percent had premarital sex.)

The numbers are even higher for the younger subgroup - approximately 91 percent of those aged 20-29 had sex, and 91 percent of them had it by or at age 20.

This isn't surprising in a culture that promotes hook ups, cohabitation, contraception, and abortion. What is surprising is that 100 percent of adults haven't had sex by age 20.

Some might argue that there isn't anything wrong here, that this is normal and healthy behavior.

The problem with that argument is that this behavior is not healthy - it results in disease transmission, demand for abortion, out-of-wedlock pregnancy, broken hearts, and unhappiness.

Read the whole thing. It shows why we Catholics aren't opposed to contraception because we don't want anyone to have fun. We're opposed to it because God knew unmarried people couldn't handle the intimacy of sex that is reserved for the Sacrament of Marriage, and because it just. doesn't. work.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Now could you give me my right arm back?

Health update:

At physical therapy today, I thought I was having a half nelson put on my injured right arm. The PT was trying to stretch the tendons that had been rendered weak by the surgeries on my elbow.

That. Hurt.

He said left untreated, my arm may have become untreatable. So I guess I'll have to get used to having it ripped out of my socket every so often.

At least I don't get quite as fatigued anymore, and I can ride a bike with a little pain in the right shoulder. But the PTs can't address the shoulder until the arm and elbow are back on the right track.

At the pool party I attended last week, I found out many of my relatives have been injured lately: my one cousin had her gall bladder removed; another had a boot on his foot because of plantar fascitis; and our hostess was limping. And my older sister is recovering from some surgery as well.