Monday, October 29, 2007

Am I a Pharisee?

This past Sunday's Gospel reading (Luke 18: 9-14) featured Jesus' parable of the two men praying in the temple: the Pharisee who was most proud of his being a stickler for rules and regulations as well as not being like the other man in the Temple, a tax collector.

I can so identify with the Pharisee. I spell anal-retentive with a hyphen. :-) I definitely err on the side of going by the book, which is good and bad. And if there's any area in which I've been checking things against the book, it's been in my recent practice of checking everything that occurs at a Mass to see whether it conforms to the rubrics, the GIRM, or canon law.

Here are the ten most common liturgical abuses, according to the apologetics magazine This Rock. Many of these are spread through ignorance of both the clergy and laity, especially in this post-Vatican II era. But . . . is it my job to point out these abuses everywhere I go? Writer Kevin Orlin Johnson says yes.

For example, LC and I no longer join hands during the Our Father, and as the above document says,

The official publication of the Sacred Congregation for the Sacraments and Divine Worship, Notitiae (11 [1975] 226), states the practice "must be repudiated . . . it is a liturgical gesture introduced spontaneously but on a personal initiative; it is not in the rubrics." And anything not in the rubrics is unlawful, again because "no other person . . . may add . . . anything [to] the liturgy on his own authority" (ibid).

But let's be honest. Name me one pastor who will tell his flock not to hold hands during the Our Father, after it having been done all these years.

Still, if I have a problem with the way this is done . . . might it not be as much my problem as the pastor's? Is checking my "scorecard" bringing me closer to experiencing the transforming power of the Body and Blood of Christ? Or is it getting in the way?

And, as our pastor (whom I really like) pointed out to us the other day, are these hills we really want to die on? Is it worth it? Is it that big a deal, for example, that a priest in another parish comes off the altar for the Sign of Peace when the GIRM says he's not supposed to?

To be fair, I have never been to a Byzantine-rite Mass, nor a Traditional Latin Mass. I would love to experience either or both someday; I've only known the post V-II Novus Ordo (N.O). But should I throw out the N.O. with the holy water (which, of course, shouldn't be "thrown out") just because not every last thing conforms with what Johnson says above, or because the music is too laden with the usual GIA-OCP V-II tripe, or whatever? Thoughts from my Catholic friends?

Maybe I just need to be more like the tax collector in the Gospel who simply said, "O God, be merciful to me, a sinner." I fail God's rules and regulations all. the. time. And I could stand to practice a little more mercy.

Sorry

But having been spammed by "Adam" who has all sorts of bogus links to send me to, I am forced to re-enable word verification for my posts.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Another Nice Wedding

LC and I got to attend another wedding yesterday, this one of my cousin. He and I were very close as kids; we spent nights at each other's houses and saw a lot of each other (and our sibs) at the Northeast YMCA. We got to meet his gorgeous wife back at a pool party at his brother's house this past summer.

Some quick vignettes:

  • The wedding was a Catholic service officiated by my uncle, who also officiated for us although we had a complete Mass. He did a good, tactful job of announcing who could and could not receive the Eucharist.
  • During the Psalm response, a number of us cracked up when the cantor sung, "If today you SEE his voice . . . ." Many years ago, my aunt had gotten my cousins to perform the (quite theologically incorrect) Christmas tune "Do You Hear What I Hear?" on reel-to-reel tape to send to us in the UK. But she kept correcting them and getting them to start over again and sing . . ."Do You See What I Hear?" Then when she finally realized it, she went, "Oh, my Gawwwwd . . ."
  • My cousin performed the Tim McGraw song "Amazed" for his bride after the Eucharist. That got applause, as did the Gospel acclamation. We refrained, believing it inappropriate.
  • The reception hall allowed smoking. Somebody tell the state legislature.
  • The wedding favor was a little bell to ring to get the couple to kiss. Seemed like the kids used these more than anyone else.
  • I actually danced the Macarena, helped LC to do so, and my cousin Marcie got the whole thing on video. I offered her money to keep it off YouTube.
  • We also partook of the apron dance with the couple.
  • My mom brought cake to help celebrate LC's birthday, which is Monday.
  • LC has rarely looked lovelier. *swoon* *thud*

One other thing: After seeing my cousin and his bride do the garter bit, I neglected to mention that my brother Thom and his wife Colleen did not even have the bouquet or garter ceremony at their reception. Good for them. We had it, but we didn't make the couple do anything about putting the garter on; instead, we had them dance with each other. Each would up married within a couple years.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Cell Phone Deathwatch

My cell phone is on life support this evening.

It's been raining pretty much nonstop for the past few days, and when I left my office in Fashionable Downtown Silver Spring this morning, it was pouring especially hard. Not having brought an umbrella, I decided to run for it across Georgia Avenue.

I forgot that I had my cell phone clipped to my belt, and my running jarred the phone loose. I reached the other side and prepared to cross Wayne Avenue, but then a kindly soul waiting northbound at Georgia beeped her horn and pointed to my phone lying in the street and getting soaked. Of course, it took a couple beeps of her horn for me to realize what was really going on. I estimate the phone had been there for 20-30 seconds by the time I got back and picked it up. Good thing no vehicle ran it over while it was in the road!

Unfortunately, the phone must have gotten rather waterlogged, because it won't turn on properly. It looks like it's about to initialize, but then it shuts itself off. The battery isn't to blame; it's recharging okay. I'll leave the phone alone for a night and see whether it dries out enough to work.

The thing that would really stink? Losing my contact list. :-P

UPDATE 10/29: Verizon will replace the phone, which is still under warranty. Apparently it showed no signs of being waterlogged on the inside; there's a telltale dot that changes color when it becomes wet enough. But I have indeed lost all my phone numbers, so I'll be e-mailing some of you to get your numbers back (for crying out loud, don't post them here!).

Thursday, October 25, 2007

I just hope I don't get picked last

I have so got to play on one of these adult kickball teams before I get too old to do so (if I'm not there already!). It looks like a lot of fun.

Art (and Art) belong in the HoF

Almost as much of a joke as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (motto: "See the special Progressive/Art Rock wing 5 miles north and 30 feet down in Lake Erie") these days is its neighbor to the south, the Pro Football HoF in Canton. It's a traveshamockery that neither longtime Redskins great Art Monk nor Ravens minority owner Art Modell are enshrined therein.

I don't know why membership is being denied to Monk, the former wide receiver who left the game as the all-time leading pass catcher, and I'll let Skins fans carry that torch for him. But the reason why Art Modell is not in the HoF is simple: Cleveland still hasn't gotten over The Move. Never mind that their team name, colors, and history didn't leave.

I will accept Clevelanders' assertion that Modell and Robert ("If I had any intention of moving the $%##@*& team, I'd have told you") Irsay (guffaw) should go into the HoF at the same time . . . as soon as they can name even ONE good thing Irsay did for the game of football. Getting the NFL on TV, instituting Monday Night Football, making Ozzie Newsome the first black general manager ever (you Clevelanders gonna try to keep him out of the HoF too?) . . . it should be a slam-dunk for Modell.

But it's not, solely because Cleveland isn't over its self-righteous hissy-fit. We Ravens fans are over ours, although we would have loved nothing more than to beat the Indy Irsays last January.

So Cleveland, may you and your snit be very happy together. But Modell has a spot waiting for him in Canton, and you know it.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Rain!

Lovely, soaking, delicious rain!

And two words: Stationary front.

Thank you, Lord. Bring it on! And send some to Southern California.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Snipers, Five Years Later


I was just hitting stride in my radio news reporting job when the news came in early October 2002 about this sniper--or snipers--killing five people in one day in DC and its Maryland suburbs. One of the shootings, in Aspen Hill, MD, was very close to where my next-door neighbor sells motorcycles. Ultimately, John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo would gun down 13 people, from Ashland, VA to Aspen Hill, from Bowie, MD to Manassas, VA, killing 10 of them.

Here in Frederick, everyone was certain that the snipers were going to make their way here. Like elsewhere in DC, MD, and VA, the area was literally terrified:
  • Gas stations offered full service at self-serve prices because customers were afraid to get out of their cars.
  • One gas station had police tape around it and a police car sitting in front of it. The station was located next to US Rt. 15, a busy north-south expressway. It turned out that the station's computer system was down, and it just happened to be where the police filled up their vehicles.
  • The Frederick Keys had to cancel their new "Field of Screams" Halloween production because of the stadium's proximity to I-70, making the attendees an easy target for the snipers.
  • Police had pulled over hundreds of white box trucks because that was what witnesses thought they saw leaving the scene of the shootings.
  • I kept looking over my shoulder one night as I walked from my house to the Giant Food store in the dark.

Then late one night, it seemed like something was going to break in the case. I stayed up and watched the ubiqiutous Montgomery County Police Chief Charles Moose announce the car that was really being sought: a blue 1990 Chevy Caprice.

Not four hours later, I was awakened by a phone call from the lady who did the morning news for our country station. She had sent me on wild goose chases before, but I had a feeling that when she told me about a news conference at the new Frederick County Law Enforcement Center, this was the real deal. I fell out of bed, got dressed, and left without eating, shaving, showering, or brushing my teeth. Indeed, at 5:30 AM, the Maryland State Police announced that Muhummad and Malvo had been captured at the westbound rest area on I-70 between Myersville and the summit of South Mountain. My BIL in Connecticut told me he saw me in the crowd on CNN.

I raced back to the station with my audio and began to edit it and write up the stories to be put on the air. Next thing I knew, the phone began ringing off the hook. Our stations were part of the Clear Channel empire, and many of those stations looked and saw that we were right near the scene. I spent much of that morning on the phone with radio shows in Tampa, Albany, New Haven, Denver, and other cities.

Meanwhile, LC had come home from her night shift at the hospital. She and her cow-orkers knew something big was up, although they weren't sure what. When she pulled into our driveway, she found that Fox 5's news helicopter was hovering right over the house, making it impossible for her to sleep until it moved on!

Once I was done with the other stations (well, almost; I had another stint later with Denver on my cell phone), I headed up to the scene. I-70 was reopened in both directions, having been closed when the arrest was made. But the actual rest area was off limits while the State Police and the Frederick County Sheriff's Office searched the car and the area for evidence. So I turned at the next exit 5 miles to the west and came back to the eastbound rest area, where the media was encamped (those without helicopters). I interviewed several onlookers, including Myersville Mayor Wayne Creadick, who was tired of his town getting notoriety for all the wrong reasons; the year before, a truckload of missiles had overturned nearby. As I spoke to them, truckers heading downhill on eastbound I-70 blew their horns in gratitude to the police.

Only around noon did I get to eat anything, and I had been running on pure adrenalin. But my boss still had me work on another story before I could go home about 4 PM, having worked a 12-hour day. That wouldn't be my last 12-hour day, but that's another post.

The story continued to evolve in the coming days, as we learned about:

  • The Goodwill employee who, along with another motorist, notified the police that the snipers were at the rest area. I got to interview his boss, since he wasn't doing any himself.
  • The trucker who followed police direction to block the exit with his rig. More about him in a bit.
  • The shocking discovery that Muhummad and Malvo had been seen casing the town of Myersville, even driving near the elementary school. During one of the trials, one of them admitted they planned to shoot someone at the Frederick Outback Steakhouse, where they could slip onto Route 40.
  • The tying of the snipers to unsolved murders elsewhere in the nation, and discovering their weapons cache in Washington State.

On the first anniversary of the arrests, I got to interview the above-mentioned truck driver, Ron Lantz of Kentucky, who had since retired. He said he really didn't give any thought to any danger when the police asked him to move his rig across the exit ramp of the rest area after he spotted the Caprice. Muhammad and Malvo were caught while asleep, and without a shot.

But that wasn't the first time Lantz had run across the snipers. The week before, he had helped them change a tire on northbound I-270 . . . in Frederick! At the time, no one had a description of the two, and everyone was still looking for a white box truck and not an old blue Caprice.

As if that weren't enough, Lantz was part of an impromptu prayer meeting later that week at a truck stop on eastbound I-70 near Mount Airy. A group of truckers prayed together* that the snipers would be caught. Never underestimate the power of prayer!

That helped make October 2002 a month I'll never forget. I saved my tape with all the raw sound from that day.

*Side note: Truckers are useful folks. It was a trucker who helped capture the former business manager of our parish. He had stolen over $100,000 from the church, left his family, and started seeing someone else on the sly in Dover, PA. The trucker heard the story on the radio and happened to know of a relative that was starting to see someone new; it turned out to be our business manager.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

An Evening With Colin And Brad

We laughed our akkek off last night with the nonstop improvised comedy of Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood at the Weinberg Center for the Arts. Their show consists of longer-form sketches that were often seen on Whose Line Is It Anyway, plus a few that weren't. And yes, the audience participates!

For example, one couple helped them move around as Belgian detectives, where the windows only go down instead of up. Another couple did a great job of using sound effects to turn them into a pair of incontinent (and incompetent) pirates. The audience also came up with Colin committing the Ultimate Crime: pinning insects to his wife and cleaning his hubcaps with a hamster using a club in Assateague (I doubt Brad knew that was a real place) but leaving behind his raspberry toupee. The folks on stage for the Change Lines game (they honked a horn when they wanted C&B to change the last thing they said) could have made them work a little harder. And it's too bad someone couldn't have vetted the audience suggestions for the "Whose Line" game into which C&B insert random lines as written by the audience into their skit.

The game "Torture" combined a number of Whose Line bits, including Questions Only, If You Know What I Mean, Scene to Rap, and Letter Substitution (K in place of S, hence "akkek").

And finally, two words. Mouse traps.

If you're a Whose Line fan, and you like improv comedy, see them. I just hope they don't get bored with carrying on the tradition anytime soon! Recommended for teens and up.

Wait 'till next year!

We would like to thank the Baltimore Ravens for their participation in the 2007 NFL season.

They managed one offensive touchdown this week, courtesy of Willis McGahee in his former home stadium, but the defense didn't come up big enough, the offense sputtered, too many passes were dropped, Billick made questionable play calls, and too many penalty flags were thrown at the Ravens.

They lose to Buffalo, 19-14, and fall to 4-3. Kyle Boller actually had a pretty decent game.

The Ravens are on bye next Sunday, and I think they'll find a way to get called for 8 penalties for 93 yards nonetheless.

Here's the rest of the schedule, with my predictions:

Nov 5, at Picksburgh Monday night: Loss.
Nov 11, vs. Cincinnati: Win, but a loss wouldn't be impossible.
Nov 18, vs. Cleveland: Loss.
Nov 25, at Sandy Eggo: Loss.
Dec 3, vs. New England Monday night: Loss.
Dec 9, vs. Indianapolis Sunday night: Loss.
Dec 16, vs. Miami: Win.
Dec 23, at Seattle: Loss.
Dec 30, vs. Picksburgh: Loss.

That would make 6-10. I can't see them turning four of those losses into wins to go 10-6 instead. But it ain't gonna happen; the Ravens will be watching this year's playoffs from the comfort of their homes.

And have I said lately that Billick must go?

Colorfest

Last weekend, Ladycub and I got to help our friend Tim with his jewelry stand at Catoctin Colorfest, a huge juried arts and crafts show in the shadow of the mountains where Camp David lies. His wife Diane makes their jewelry, although she hasn't made quite as much lately since she gave birth to their first child back in August.

After work on Friday, I met Tim in Thurmont and helped him set up his tent and tables, joking all the while. We then had lunch at the Shamrock, a wonderful Irish restaurant just north of town. The food was excellent; I had a crab cake while Tim had fish that he couldn't finish, there was so much of it. But what really makes the Shamrock is its atmosphere; the decor makes it feel like you're having dinner in your grandparents' dining room. We found it incredibly relaxing. In the background, a Celtic Led Zeppelin album was playing. Never heard "Black Dog" done in that style before.

On Saturday, Tim and Diane staffed the stand as the crush of people came through. Well over 100,000 people attend Colorfest, with the majority of them coming on Saturday. Take your pick: come on Saturday and experience the crush of people, but find the best stuff among the vendors; or come on Sunday and find Colorfest much less crowded, but much of the good loot gone. A lot of crafters have found that NFL merchandise sells well, but we found that by Sunday, there was very little Ravens stuff remaining. Deadskins and Squealers swag is also popular.

After we toured the festival on a more fall-like Sunday morning, we joined Tim at the booth. It was fun learning a thing or two about earrings and bracelets, and despite the smaller crowds, we did a fair amount of business. Procuring some scrumptious pulled pork sammiches from our church's stand a short distance away didn't hurt any!

Over dinner at Pizza Rut, Tim told us that he was going to be baptized into the Greek Orthodox Church, in which he and Diane had been married. He felt that the spirituality at his Catholic parish was dead, there was no reverence among the parishioners, and there was too much feel-good-ism going on. In the Orthodox Church, he said he felt more of the mystery of God's presence. We really couldn't argue with him much, because so few Catholic parishes are worth going to these days. (To get a sense of what it's like now, check out the Spirit of Vatican 2 blog. It's satire, folks.)

It was nice to spend time with a close friend.

A tragedy

You absolutely hate to see stories like this: Trooper shoots self. LC ran into the blocked-off streets near the scene yesterday.

Unfortunately, according to a MSP spokesman, "Police suicide occurs more often than we would certainly like." I learned about that when I was in the Frederick Police's Citizens Police Academy back in 2004. Not too long before, a prominent sergeant in their force took his own life; in fact, I'm pretty sure I'd interviewed him before. I also learned from the academy that the divorce rate for police officers is a staggering 86 percent. Makes you almost wonder who would want to become a police officer, but believe me, I'm grateful for those who do.

In the news business, there's an unwritten rule that suicides aren't news because they give attention to the one who committed the act, which was what he wanted. But there are exceptions, such as this one and a grisly scene on an elementary school field where a man hanged himself from a soccer goalpost.

I can't say I never have had any thoughts of suicide, but I've been way too chicken to go through with any of them. But I can't imagine that taking one's own life gives them any peace in the next. In any event, God have mercy on their souls.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

The last waltz, polka, and chicken dance

Add to the parade of Disappearing Places From My Childhood: Blob's Park in Jessup, MD. It's closing this winter after more than 70 years.

Yes, for those of you not from the Greater Laurel Co-Prosperity Sphere, I said Blob's Park. It has nothing to do with '50s B-movies, and everything to do with a German family's hall for traditional Bavarian cooking, oompah bands, and dancing. And beer. It was founded by one Max Blob in 1933. It was kitsch all the way, but a great place for a family night out.

The resident band, the Rheinlanders, had a rather good drummer who enjoyed going off into a solo during the rhumba. He also blew the whistle during the "Paul Jones" dance, in which you started off polka-ing with your partner, but when he sounded the whistle, all the men and women had to form circles until another tweet had you dance with whomever wound up in front of you. Couples who wouldn't uncouple for the dance were booed. The band's bass player had two multiple bypass surgeries and had to be into his 90s when last I saw him. These guys would play the Beer Barrel Polka, the Pennsylvania Polka, and the chicken dance. If you didn't dance, the owner or his wife would come and drag you out onto the floor.

I took more than one date to Blob's, including Ladycub. Our Christian singles group had more than one fun evening there. The food was so-so, but you didn't go there for the food. I had a blast dancing (as best I could) to a perpetual Oktoberfest.

Maybe we'll sneak down there one more night before it goes bye-bye.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Niagara/Canada Pictures!

The ones we were able to salvage, anyway. Some of the wedding ones were taken by my new sister-in-law's friend Danielle, and a couple by my widdle seester.

At the rehearsal dinner in Buffalo, I'm showing everyone my "bionic arm," including LC.

Before the wedding, my Uncle Gene models the socks I bought for him at Family Dollar earlier that morning. If you access the pay-per-view section of my blog, you can see me model the undershirt that I bought.


Colleen was--and is--a beautiful bride.

Thom is all hers now, and vice versa. How he talked her into joining *our* family, we'll never know.
Bigbro's Angels! Plus their cousin, my sister's girl (standing directly behind Bigbro's youngest). A little fun while all the other wedding pics were being taken.

I can think of worse places to have a reception than Top Of The Falls Restaurant, where you get views like this:


The fifth time my mom and dad have entered one of their offspring's wedding receptions, and the first since Ladycub and I tied the knot 12 years ago.

My youngest brother (and best man) gives Thom and Colleen a lengthy, but hilarious, toast.

Mom joins her granddaughters in a "New York, New York" chorus line.

The happy couple.
He's so stylish.

Another pretty happy couple, although I wasn't smiling for some reason.

Sadly, the pictures of us from the Maid of the Mist really didn't turn out well enough to post. :-( Here, however, is Bigbro and his blue-clad brood, whom we joined on MotM:


On to Canada, eh?

The resplendent Seana, with that infectious Mary Lou Retton smile. The three of us spent four hours together over dinner.
The three of us, as best as I can make it.

How can you visit Toronto for the first time and not visit the CN Tower?

The view of SkyDome the Rogers Centre from the CN Tower.

Looking out to the island airport.
That semicircular building is a brewery.

LC's feet on the glass deck, 1100 feet above the ground.

Either that's my silhouette on the glass deck, or the aquarium has some strange new shark.
This amusement game at the base of the tower has a sign, "LOONIES ONLY." At least I'm qualified to play it.

The Torono (as the natives say it) skyline from the water.

Among the islands, I got to commune with a few Cygni.

I guess that's a reviewing stand of some sort, or perhaps races get held on the water there. Has almost a Florida feel to it.

I like this shot of us. Thanks to the Chinese guy who took it! We took his photo also.

BYoffer and I. He didn't want a shot in front of his office building for anonymity's sake, so we had it taken in front of this tractor-trailer instead.

At the famous (to Rush fans) corner of Danforth and Pape in Toronto's colorful Greektown.

There must be 50 ways to leave your lover a few billion photos of Niagara Falls out there. Make it a few billion and five. These are from the more scenic and more visited Can'tadian side.



And a view of what the falls look like from behind:

That's enough for now; hope you liked them!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

A couple good bumper stickers

"Caution - Unsocialized homeschoolers on board"

"Welcome to Northern Virginia. Expect delays."

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Update Post

Time to update a few of my previous posts:

Niagara/Canada: The pictures arrived, but many of the ones we got from York Photo came out so grainy that they're unusable, including the shot of us with Seana. Either that, or we shouldn't rely on disposables so much. The one roll we got developed by Kodak through Giant Food came out better. In any event, we so need a new digital camera. I'll salvage what I can "septel" (as we used to say in government, meaning by separate transmission, or in this case, post).

Ravens: The worst 4-2 team ever, and they'll likely be 5-2 and just as bad after beating Buffalo this week. When the foremost offensive weapon is kicker Matt Stover, something is definitely wrong. Oh, did I mention that Brian Billick is an Offensive Genius? I can't wait to see how the Ravens handle New England, Indianapolis, and two games against Pittsburgh, all after their bye week. Billick is the problem, and yet he was rewarded with a 5-year contract extension. Macy's would be jealous of the quarterback parade under him.

Lust: One thing that has definitely helped me when the temptation to check out some image that I know I shouldn't crops up is for me to say a Hail Mary. I find it impossible to lust after her.

Airborne: Here are a few more photos from the air. I'm currently grounded because our contract with the aviation company has run out and a new one hasn't been signed:

I was hoping that the plane outside the shelter here at Andrews AFB was Air Force One, but I believe it's one of the other official planes, perhaps Air Force Two.

This is the campus of Georgetown Prep in Rockville, the high school that my late friend John attended.

And this? Is the Mystery Picture. I'm sure the reason I took it was to emphasize the delay you see below, but I can't for the life of me remember where this is or exactly why I took it. My best guess is I-66 at Rt. 28 in Centreville, VA.

So now you're up to date.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Majoring In Dr. Ruth

So Hood (motto: "We put the 'liberal' in 'liberal arts'") College has a student sex columnist, Mal Lamont. Oh, joy.

"Sex with Mal" — no, it's not an invitation — has been running in The Blue and Grey Today since March.

Lamont has used her space on the paper's editorial page to broach topics including pregnancy prevention, sexually transmitted infections and rape.

In what she calls the "racy one," published in April, Lamont explained how to find a woman's G-spot — believed by some to be a myth cooked up on the pages of Cosmopolitan magazine.

"My goal is ultimately to educate people, to give them honest straightforward answers," she said. "... I don't try to make it anything more than honest answers because I've met a lot of people who are afraid to ask questions."

(usual disclaimer: the article link may become inactive. The school paper has a website, but I couldn't access it.)

Lamont goes on to ask, "I don't understand why we can't talk about it." Um, do you realize that there was a time when people didn't talk about it? You might say that was a "repressed" time, and I'm sure hanky-panky did in fact go on, but the difference was that it wasn't encouraged like it is now. Someone try to tell me that Sex Anywhere, Anytime, Anyplace, With Anyone And With No Complications Or Consequences Whatsoever isn't encouraged now! Ah, what "do-me" feminism hath wrought. There's no mystery left to sex, mainly because it was ripped from the sole sanctuary of the marital bed long ago.

I'm also not naive enough to believe that sex doesn't go on in the dorms and elsewhere on college campi, and I certainly had my opportunities as an undergrad. But I knew that sex would complicate things and violate my moral and religious convictions, so I didn't do so, even if it hurt the feelings of the girl. Does Lamont think no Hood students are in such a position? Does she ever advocate the virtues of abstinence, chastity, and saving oneself for marriage? I doubt it, given what else she talks about.

Finally, as the article says, Lamont is hardly alone with her column, and I believe Loveline is still a popular show with young folks. Can Lamont write such a column? Of course. Should she? No way.

But there I go, using pejorative words like "should." I guess it's a far better thing to be promiscuous than judgmental.

Gambling: A Tax on the Poor?

Financial consultant Dave Ramsey seems to think so:

Gambling is a tax on the poor and people who can't do math. Don't get mad at me for saying that. This is not a moral position; it is a mathematical, statistical fact. Studies show that the zip codes that spend 4 times what anyone else does on lottery tickets are those in lower-income parts of town.

He cited the long lines for Powerball and Mega Millions tickets. But guess what? There isn't one single campaign anywhere to get rid of state-run lotteries. Why? Because, simply put, as revenue-raisers, they work. That's why first Bob Ehrlich, and now Martin O'Malley, are so desperate to have slots gambling put in place in Maryland, especially since West Virginia, Delaware, and (soon) Pennsylvania lure Maryland taxpayers into dropping off some of their disposable income into Little Green Men and the like. (Disclaimer: I have done so too, but never beyond my means.)

But is gambling the panacea for states' coffers? Jim Kunstler (pardon the name of his blog) doesn't buy that:

Plans are on the table all over the US for ever more casinos. In New York, campaigns are underway to put a big new one in the depressed Catskills, and another on the site of what is currently the squalid Aqueduct racetrack in the borough of Queens. We have a video-slot-machine operation here in Saratoga in what used to be a harness racing track, and every day it is filled with retirees pissing away their grandchildren's college tuition (in exchange for "excitement"). Next door in Massachusetts, new governor Deval Patrick is working tirelessly to set up casinos in the de-industrialized cities of Springfield and Brockton (and Boston, too) -- as a painless substitute for productive work. The Illinois state senate just passed a bill that would put casinos in downtown Chicago and allow additional "riverboats" along the Mississippi River -- really just barges moored in fixed locations.

And if it wasn't for tourists, no one would be hitting the Niagara Falls casinos except the down-and-out'ers. It doesn't make much sense to me or Kunstler to put casinos where the money isn't. Whereas Charles Town, WV has seen some economic impact from its ever-expanding slots parlor, the next-door town of Ranson is rather impoverished.

I don't reach quite the same conclusion as Kunstler, however. What I feel is more likely to happen is that so many casinos will open that the gambling revenue from slots will eventually become a declining source, not unlike taxing the hell out of tobacco. And it's not as though we haven't seen this happening already: remember when people used to flock to horse and dog tracks to gamble? How's that working out?

All the while, the poor will likely become poorer because they expect gambling to take them to the land of impossible dreams. Maybe Ramsey is wrong. Gambling isn't really a tax on the poor. It's a tax on the stupid.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Boycotts and Conviction

I was reading through the Southwest Airlines blogs and comments (see link to the right) and saw where one commenter declared he would no longer fly Southwest because it had a link for Gay Travel. I must say that bothers me too, as homosexuality is not an acceptable lifestyle to me and I don't want to support it knowingly. But I LUV flying Southwest, and I was glad to see an employee have the courage to tell a skank that her skirt was too short, although SWA management eventually capitulated. And I also know full well that there probably isn't any airline which would dare not welcome homosexuals.

So which side wins out?

Some boycotts are pretty easy to do. I don't buy anything from Levi's or Eckerd, or support the Susan Komen Foundation, because of their support of abortion, and I have plenty of alternatives to them. I don't shop Wal-Mart because of their support of open borders, but that's been a little more difficult; most other stores (*cough*Target*cough*) don't have the prices or selection that Wal-Mart does.

But at what point does boycotting become an exercise in futility? I wonder whether, if I researched hard enough, I could find something about almost ANY company to boycott them over. Where would that leave me?

Thoughts to my philosophical dilemma?

Monday, October 08, 2007

More friends on TV

More on our Sunday lunch:

LC and I met with Ashley, a friend of mine and former broadcasting school classmate (at 18, she was the youngest class member, and I was the oldest); her adorable, pigtailed daughter Sophia; and her friends Alex and Kristie. We decided it was worth the wait at the Cracker Barrel down the street, and as usual, CB didn't disappoint. Both LC and I took home an extra chicken breast that we couldn't finish!

Anyway, before you ask, "Who cares, Cyg?":

Ashley, Sophia, Alex, and Kristie all came up to check out a local pumpkin patch, take a hayride, and get lost in the corn maze. But they didn't tell us that Fox 5 was there doing a story on the pumpkin crop and the troubles therewith. You'll need to keep a sharp eye out: Ashley is in a red shirt holding Sophia as they come off the hayride; look for Sophia's pigtails.

(Sorry if the video link has a short shelf life.)

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Lust

I want to thank Ignorant Redneck for his honesty in disclosing the struggles he has with pornography. I've had my share as well, although what I choose to watch technically isn't pornography (there's usually no nudity involved). But it's definitely lustful.

What it consists of doesn't really matter; what matters is how I use it. And when I get started gorging myself on certain images of women, I can't stop lusting after them; I can sit and stare for hours. Porn is what I make it. When I use these images, I'm expecting them to take me away from myself, relieve me of my stress, and make me whole. One small problem; they never do, even though I keep expecting them to. When I'm done, I still have the same things to face that I did before.

I think it's demeaning to the women involved, whether they're "asking" to be ogled or not. They aren't the problem; I'm the problem. I render them as objects for my enjoyment and completely remove any concept of personhood or creation in God's image. It goes against everything I believe as a Catholic, a Christian, and a moral man. And it certainly doesn't reflect my love for LC very much.

I go to a 12-step group to help deal with this, and I believe that recent problems I've had in this regard stem from my reluctance to get gut-level honest about where I am with my lust. I post this in the hope that it may help someone else who reads it. I don't want to be a slave to my lust anymore, but I need God's help to accomplish this a day at a time. I will be accountable to others in recovery, I will continue to pray, and I will look to help others who have this problem.

Mary, Mother of God, pray for us.
St. Augustine, pray for us.

Life Chain

After meeting some friends for lunch on this Respect Life Sunday, LC and I had the pleasure of joining the Frederick version of the Life Chain on West Patrick Street near West Frederick Middle School. About 60 of us stood silently on each side of the street with signs saying "Abortion Kills Children" and "Abortion Hurts Women."

Many cars drove past, some drivers and passengers supportive, some upset, some indifferent or not reacting. I made sure that I prayed for mothers contemplating murdering their children in the womb, for men who pushed their partners into abortion, for healing for those who already chose to abort, and for myself for not being bold enough to defend the unborn.

It felt good to have spoken my views by not speaking at all. Who knows what work the Holy Spirit may have done in those who drove by?

After the demonstration, we gathered for a closing prayer and singing of "We Shall Overcome" with Pastor Luke Robinson of Quinn Chapel A.M.E. church. He was one of the better-received speakers at this year's March for Life in DC. The presence of activists from several denominations and from various backgrounds was heartening.

This is the sort of thing that I'd definitely consider doing again, and with the 40 Days For Life campaign underway, I'll have my chance.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

How's that working out?

Another idea untimely ripped from the Czabe:

Remember when Maryland voted in a comprehensive gun ban in 1988? How's that working out?

Remember when the income from the Maryland State Lottery was supposed to go only to education? How's that working out?

Remember how Jack Murtha accused the Marines at Haditha of murdering civilians? How's that working out?

Remember when Brian Billick took over the Ravens' offensive coordinator duties late last year and still has them now? How's that working out?

Remember when slots in Maryland was an eeeevil plan of Bob Ehrlich and the Republicans to rob from Maryland's poor? How's that working out?

Remember when Masses started allowing guitar-based "folk" music with such inane lyrics as, "To be alive and feelin' free / And to have everyone in our family / To be alive in every way! / Oh, how great it is / To be alive!"? How's that working out?

Remember when Peter Angelos started micromanaging the Orioles in 1997? How's that working out? (Redskin fans may ask the same question about Danny Boy Snyder.)

Remember when O.J. said he'd find the real killers? How's that working out?

Remember when smoking taxes were first imposed, there were a lot more smokers than there are now? And now the state wants to raise smoking taxes again? How's that working out?

For that matter, remember when Martin O'Malley promised "One Maryland"? How's that working out?

Britney Spears' job of mothering. How's that working out Why should I care?

And finally . . .

Remember when I left the government? How's that working out?

In The Street

There may well have been record crowds for this year's In The Street festival in downtown Frederick, which LC and I attended. After a cloudy and foggy morning, the skies cleared up and the temperatures shot up well into the 80s, much warmer than last year!

The city promised shuttles from Harry Grove Stadium and Frederick High School, but folks sat there waiting . . . and waiting . . . and waiting. It turns out that there may have been one shuttle running at all; some organizers told us that the other company contracted out to run the shuttles never showed up! So after driving to both the stadium and the school, and finding all the parking garages full, we decided to walk from the school through Baker Park to the festival.

We made our way to the newly revamped Carroll Creek and decided to take in Five Guys for lunch. (Actually, it was only the two of us.) Five Guys specializes in hamburgers and fries, and not much else. But they do such a great job with burgers and fries! It's not the sort of thing we can get all the time, but their burgers and fries are out of this world. And don't bother getting the large fries; they'll give you plenty of extras in the bag.

Once again, the skateboarders proved to be most interesting to watch. A number of the older ones tried to jump over a trash can at the end of a ramp and still land on their board. Several actually succeeded, including one boarder who was much taller than I. We also took in a bluegrass band for a while on one of the many music stages.

I found it ironic that Planned Parenthood planted their table right in front of Fifty-Four Roses -- a Catholic store. NARAL Pro-Choice (the group that's too ashamed to have the word "abortion" as part of its name anymore) was also well represented. Number of pro-life groups at the festival: 0. >:-(

As with the fair, the Democrats were much better organized than the Republicans; while there were plenty of Clinton and Obama stickers and buttons, the only ones the GOP was handing out were those of State Senate Minority Leader David Brinkley . . . who's not even up for re-election for another three years. Looks like the Republicans in this county have been taking their voters for granted, and they need an overhaul.

Even so, it was a great time and well worth all the walking off the fries that we did.

(Here's what I wrote about last year's festival.)

Thursday, October 04, 2007

With a church like this . . . who needs hell?

The Church of Perpetual Anger "Westboro Baptist Church" (if you can stomach their website, you're far better than I) will be in Frederick this weekend to spew its collective vitriol at St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church and All Saints' Episcopal Church. Story. This will be only steps away from thousands of folks reveling at Frederick's annual (and most enjoyable) "In The Street" festival. The next day, the "church" plans to "picket" the annual ceremony for fallen firefighters at the National Fire Training Academy in Emmitsburg.

The "church" seems to consist of Fred Phelps and his extended family, all of whom have a major-league ax to grind against homosexuals. While I disagree with the homosexual activist agenda, see the homosexual act as sick and disordered, and do not support "gay marriage," I have no desire whatsoever to do any homosexuals harm as Phelps and his minions do. Only Westboro could get homosexual activists and social/political conservatives on the same side. And yet, they WANT onlookers to be upset with them, even to the point of provoking assault so that they can sue (h/t: Arthur).

So maybe we'll go to Mass to show that they can't stop us, but otherwise ignore them and not give them the satisfaction. Ultimately, I feel really sorry for them, and pray that the Holy Spirit would touch their hearts and heal them of their ills, and help me to have the proper compassion for them.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Cover Letters: Why?

I have never understood the point of a cover letter when applying for a job. I have yet to get a job through the use of a cover letter, and if I were a hiring manager, I'd have a hard enough time plowing through all those resumes, much less cover letters.

Is it because the company wants to see that I'm interested? Then why would I have bothered sending them a resume in the first place?

If the hiring manager isn't impressed with my resume, why should he/she be any more awed by my cover letter?

I think cover letters are about as useful as the "Excellent" ratings we all used to get in the Defense Department.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

I'm so tired - Part V, or is that Z?

I think the 3:30 AM start to this job is really getting to me. I never feel rested, even after taking naps when returning home. And taking naps doesn't help my job hunting all that much. I'm putting all sorts of feelers out and sending out applications and resumes.

Maybe there's more to my sleep problem than just apnea.

Wha--Huh? No, I was listeningfdhrgrwmplwstdx . . . . *Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz* *wump*