Sunday, March 30, 2008

Shut Up And Play

I had a lengthy argument with a cow-orker about the following.

This Baltimore Sun article features a number of former Baltimore Colts and former and current Baltimore Ravens getting to meet at an autograph-signing show. I had to work when it was going on, and it was a bit pricey.

Anyway, what caught my attention in the article was this:

For Lou Michaels, a rugged defensive end who played for the Colts in the 1960s, the event affords him a chance to grill today's players:

"Why, after he makes a great hit, does a defensive guy dance around for five minutes? He uses up all of his energy and never makes the same play twice in a row.

"I never did that. Gino [Marchetti] never did that. I don't understand it," said Michaels, now 72. "I just hope [ the Ravens] don't get upset when I ask them."
Michaels, BTW, also served as the Colts' kicker for a time.

I agree with Michaels, whereas my cow-orker doesn't. I'm so done with all this celebration on both sides of the ball where players go ga-ga for the cameras after making a first down, a sack, a catch, whatever. And yes, that includes players on the Ravens. My opposite says it's just their way of psyching themselves up, and maybe even positioning themselves for a career after football.

Whatever. As if the Bungles' Chad "Ocho Stinko" Johnson made gobs of friends with his "Future HOF" jacket stunt.

Perhaps my favorite Raven is Todd Heeeeeeeeap, the tight end who celebrates his TD catches by handing the ball to the referee. That's the way it should be. Let your play do the talking.

My counterpart also says that trash-talking has gone on since time immemorial, and he's right. But lines uttered across from each other at scrimmage or at the bottom of a pile are different from all this animated showboating. For example, Sam Huff (one of the Worst. Color Announcers. Ever, IMO) of the NY Giants sneered at Browns running back Jim Brown, "You stink." Brown's next carry took him 65 yards for a touchdown, after which he asked Huff, "How do I smell from here?"

Just shut up and play.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Down time

I'm rather busy and don't have complete use of my computer because we're getting our house painted and are moving stuff from room to room. I'll elaborate later.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter Mass: They tried hard, but . . .

I went to my mom and dad's parish for Easter Mass today. The choir performed . . . sort of. They really had no leader to speak of, and as a result they sounded something like this classic Carol Burnett Show sketch:



Not that they should be sounding like the Vienna Boys' Choir, but still . . . you get the idea.

Side note: Unlike some other older shows, much of the Carol Burnett Show material doesn't hold up well through the years. Not all of it (like this), but much of it. Still, my family and I watched it every Saturday night.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Good Friday Memories

Remember when Good Friday was an actual legal holiday? It was in Maryland, at least. Surprisingly, Frederick County had the day off this year.

In sixth and seventh grade, I remember being a soprano in the choir at the Shrine of the Little Flower. Our director (who wasn't Catholic!) had us sing all sorts of pieces, such as a couple Latin Glorias that only got as far as the line Filius Patris ("Son of the Father"), the "Gloria of the Bells," the fiendishly difficult "He Watching Over Israel" from Mendelssohn's Elijah, Brahms' "How Lovely Is Thy Dwelling Place", "The Heavens Are Telling" from Haydn's Creation, Adoramus Te, and various parts of the Messiah (including, inexplicably, the Hallelujah Chorus at Easter!). So he loved the classics and Latin, and I think that's where I started my appreciation for the "dead language."

For Good Friday, the choir sang at both the 3 PM and 7:30 PM services. I recall every year I sang, the temperature would be in the high 80s or even low 90s, and I had to walk uphill to church (I know, both ways :-)). This made things brutal up in the choir loft; we had to get an Igloo dispenser of water put in. I liked the Good Friday services as we got to sing the Reproaches, something I don't hear at too many Good Fridays anymore. I also loved singing the chant version of Pange Lingua, although that's more often a Holy Thursday tune.

Then we had the Easter Vigil Mass, where we had to stand in the aisles through all the readings (ouch!), and we usually sung the Gloria of the Bells. Finally, the 10 AM Easter Sunday Mass rounded out our Holy Week.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Four more wins and they're in the Final Four

Mount St. Mary's had to travel 500 miles to Dayton, OH to beat a team that was 60 miles away. But they did eliminate Coppin State, 69-60, to win the play-in game and earn the right to meet North Carolina, on Friday, in Raleigh. Bring it on!

Any room on the bandwagon for another Mount Maniac?

UPDATE: If you had The Mount and 38 points . . . YOU LOST!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Kind of like a Yes song

You've probably heard Carl Orff's Carmina Burana (O Fortuna, to be exact) many times without realizing it (and I so want to sing it someday). He wrote it in Latin, but now there's a fascinating translation with musical accompaniment for you to enjoy! (Takes a little while to load.)

And here's a slightly more conventional rendition:



(HT: Steve and Maggie.)

Friday, March 14, 2008

Angie!


I had the privilege of helping to train Channel 9 traffic reporter Angie Goff when she first returned to the DC area. She's a delightful lady who is getting married very soon (sorry, fellas). Check out her blog!

Oh, one of the things I love about Angie: She looks really good on camera, but she doesn't have to unbutton her blouse to get more attention, like Some Traffic Reporters (*cough*allisonoakley*cough*).

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Joy and Sadness at the Mount


Within just over 24 hours, the following two events happened at Mount St. Mary's University in Emmitsburg:

Talk about mood swings.

UPDATE 3/16: Prayers were offered for Dustin at Palm Sunday Mass today at the Grotto, uphill from the campus. There were more students there than usual; they generally attend Mass on campus.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Served on a 1/2-ton saltine cracker


The world's largest crab cake weighs in at 235 pounds. Made in Maryland by a Crisfield, MD company for folks in Dover, DE.

It's accompanied by a 2-story bottle of Worcestershire sauce and a silo of Old Bay.

(Drat, it's already been eaten.)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Crappy Birthday to Me

I got to spend my birthday resting here at home, and then visiting the doctor with my third or fourth upper respiratory illness of the winter. LC thinks I might be more susceptible to these things because of the blow my immune system took last year with the infection.

I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired.

*blows another Kleenex*

New "Deadly Sins?"

Such as "environmental degradation, "social injustice" and being too wealthy? From the Holy Father himself?

Not so much, according to LifeSite News and NewsBusters.

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Winter Of My Displacement

It was eight years ago this week that I returned from a three-month contractor stint (or TDY, for you military folks) in Tampa, FL. That's me looking over Old Tampa Bay from Bayshore Boulevard, and that's the longest unbroken sidewalk in the world at over 4 miles. It seemed to be the place to see and be seen! I often enjoyed a stroll there after work.

I was hired away from the government by a contractor to do Y2K work. Ah, those were the salad days in which all you needed to work in the IT industry was a pulse. Just before Y2K, I was sent to MacDill Air Force Base to help U.S. Special Operations Command with their Y2K remediation efforts. Turns out I was one of only two employees who hadn't served in the military, and the other one was a young lady whose father was a full-bird colonel.

My initial lodging wasn't so good; despite a nice view of the bay, the Sailport had a strange room layout with my bed right near the parking lot, and I could hear everything going on. So, after only a couple weeks, I moved across the street to a Residence Inn (it would later become a Chase Suites Inn) which met my needs much better. I opted to make many of my meals at the room and stretch out my per diem.

The tough part about this was being by myself for those three months; LC stayed at home in MD. Getting through the weeks wasn't so bad, but I so did not know what to do with myself on weekends. I know many an unaccompanied, married guy would treat himself to one or more of the Gentlemen's Clubs nearby (there were four down the street from my hotel alone), but I didn't do that. So, what to do?

Fortunately, I didn't have to pay for gas or my car rental, so I started going on day or weekend trips of my own. Twice, I visited people I knew on the east coast of Florida, once in Cocoa and once in Daytona Beach. I didn't go to Disney because I figure that would probably be about as appealing as playing miniature golf by myself; I could, but what's the point?

So I started doing volksmarches all over the place:

  • A walk through downtown Tampa took me along the Hillsborough River, through the University of Tampa (above), and along some of Bayshore Boulevard.
  • Just after New Year's, I went on a walk in St. Petersburg through the marshes near the Howard Frankland Bridge.
  • Walking on the beach of Honeymoon Island SP (above), I called a friend of mine in Annapolis. While I was stripped to the waist, he was busy chipping ice out of his driveway. LC had to dig out from a foot and a half of snow, but fortunately, some of her neighbors helped out. Temps did get below freezing for a few nights, but once the transplants have gotten used to Florida temperatures, they even consider 65 degrees cold. And nobody swims in the open water outdoors during the winter except for northerners.

  • At Oscar Scherer SP near Venice, I rescued a Michigan family that had gotten lost, encountered some aggressive scrub jays (above) that feared nothing or no one, and talked to a snowbird from my county in MD (the huge Maryland flag hanging off his camper was a dead giveaway). P.S.: Venice is a wonderful place to watch a sunset over the Gulf:

  • Wekiva Springs SP north of Orlando is a great place to escape the summer heat. Nobody was swimming in the clear, 72-degree waters in February, but it was still a nice walk through different sorts of terrain.
  • On one of my weekends in Daytona, I took a walk at a wildlife refuge to the north, then did a group walk through Lake Helen and the spiritualist village of Cassadaga (don't walk there at night!). I was surprised to see farmland that looked much like northern or western Maryland.
  • During my last weekend in Florida, I drove down to Sanibel Island near Fort Myers and did a volksmarch there. What a gorgeous place; I could see myself retiring there.

    I just wished I could have shared it with LC. So I brought back a few shells instead.
The only downside of these walks was that I strained the muscles in one of my feet; many of the trails were made of sand.

If I had been kept on my project for the duration, I would have been able to perform with the (Creedence) Clearwater Community Chorus. By far, I was the youngest male singer there. It was going to be a great show, with selections from Jekyll and Hyde, John Rutter's "When the Saints Go Marching In," Duke Ellington's "Satin Doll," and more. Also, I was to sing a duet of "Sixteen Going On Seventeen" with a 17-year-old cashier at Publix. Well, the show went on without me since I got sent home three weeks earlier than originally planned.

Oh, I should mention President's Day weekend when LC came to visit (I got to go home and see her on a couple weekends). I never saw any manatees at Safety Harbor, but when she was there, they all appeared! We attended a nice arts festival in Tampa, spent time on St. Pete Beach, and saw a concert with a Sweet Adelines group and a barbershop chorus.

But here's the funniest thing that occurred that weekend when she came down: We were driving around St. Petersburg looking for a place to go to church. Seeing folks file into a Catholic church, I asked if we could still make it. The usher said, "Sure, come in!"

I quickly noticed two things: 1) We were by far the youngest people there, and 2) the opening song was in French. So was the entire Mass! We were at a French-Canadian Mass. Many Quebecois and other Canadians call Florida home during the winter, especially the west coast; I recall how many Toronto Maple Leafs fans there were at a Tampa Bay Lightning game. I think I picked up on about 1/4 of the homily from my high school French (thank you, Mrs. Carter).

But hey, that Mass counted.

Oh, one more bit of Catholicism: I got to see the image of the Blessed Mother in the windows of a Clearwater office building, and a shrine built in the front of it.

Vandals have since destroyed the window. :-(

After getting back, we went away to Shepherdstown, WV for a few days to get reacquainted. Ten days later, I was laid off. :-( That laid to rest any thoughts I would have had of flying back down for the CCC concert.

All in all, my stint in Florida was the best of times and the worst of times. I hated being so alone, but I was forced to get the heck out of my hotel room and find life outside of it. And having 80-degree days in January and February didn't hurt much.

Kudos to Bob and Bob (my project managers) and Gina and Shannon for having me over for dinner; yet another Bob for sharing more than one meal with me; and Eric, Bubba, and Bert for their hospitality on the Atlantic coast. Also, John and his g/f invited me to their most excellent Millennium Concert at a Catholic church in Sarasota; I still have the CD.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Do as we say, not as we do

Montgomery County, Maryland, a.k.a. The Most Liberal County In America, just installed gobs of all-knowing, all-seeing, impartial speed cameras all over the place. Remember, they're only for speed limit compliance and not for generating revenue (keep telling yourself that).

Well, there's a big problem with these cameras: A large segment of the population is blowing off their fines. Anti-camera folks like me? No.

Try Montgomery County police officers.

I think it's hilarious that these officers have been photographed telling the cameras that they're No. 1 as they pass. What's more, the FOP is telling its members to ignore the fines because the ticket is issued to the vehicle's owner, not the driver (utterly shtoopit, in my opinion; a car cannot no more speed than a gun shoot someone, because only the people involved do so). And who owns MontCo police cruisers? MontCo, of course!

I couldn't ask for a better argument against these stupid 6th Amendment violation machines if I tried.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Vignettes

A couple strange things from the past week:

Two Dollars, Again

On Monday morning, I knew I had a teeth cleaning appointment right after my work shift, which ended around 10 AM, so I had to beat feet out of the office. As I was leaving, my boss called me into his office so I could sign a card and make a gift contribution for my cow-orker who became a dad a couple weeks ago. So I gave him a small sum of money, knowing that my boss said some time ago that we were going to do something like this.

I hustled off to the parking garage. At this garage, you get a ticket when entering, and then when you return, you pay the fee before you return to your car. Then you stick the validated ticket in the gate and go on your way. If you arrive before the garage is officially open (as I do at 5 AM), the gates are up, and you get your ticket from the attendant when you return.

I got my ticket from the attendant, inserted the ticket which prompted me for two dollars, reached into my pocket, and . . . found I had only one dollar. I had shortchanged myself with my contribution! D'ohhhh!

It was a three-block jaunt up to the ATM to take out a twenty, then three blocks back to the garage before I could leave. This made me late for my appointment. But I could at least call on my cell phone and let them know I was running late, right?

Wrong. I didn't have my dentist's number, and since this was only the second time I had been there, I didn't even remember what name to use if I called 411! So I got there a half hour late and had to rescheduled. Fortunately, they didn't charge me for a missed appointment, and I go there again this Wednesday.


Out In The Cold


No one likes to have this happen: I locked my keys in the Cygmobile.

I had stopped in Ollie's Bargain Outlet in beautiful Hagerstown (or, as it is also known, "Hagerspatch") to see what Maryland Terrapins gear was there. All I wound up getting was some microwave popcorn, which I returned to the Cygmobile. I was going to check at the K Mart next door, and didn't want to take my Ollie's bag in there.

So I laid it on the passenger seat of the Cygmobile along with, for reasons that I'll never know, my keys. Then I habitually hit the door auto-lock and shut it. Locked out. And the key isn't really the type that I can make a copy of and carry in my wallet.

It wasn't brutally cold that evening, but the temperature was dropping as a cold front moved through. I didn't have my coat, only a sweatshirt. Fortunately, the K Mart didn't close until 10 PM, not 9 PM as I feared, so I didn't have to shiver outside.

I called Progressive (my insurance company) and tried to arrange for roadside assistance. The first rep I got didn't understand a dang thing I said, so I hung up. The next one was much easier to work with, although it was difficult to determine my exact address.

The tow truck came in about 25 minutes. Within two minutes, the driver had gotten it unlocked. Whew, although it points out how not long it can take some low-life to swipe a car also!

Even if Ladycub were in town, which she wasn't, I wouldn't suffer her to drive that far to unlock the door. I drove off happy, and took a nice hot bath back at home.

Oh, and while waiting at K Mart, I scored a nice Terps hoodie and a Ravens cap for a total of $17.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

What Business Plan?

I admire Craig Newmark, who has singlehandedly put classified sections of newspapers out of business. Yep, he's the Craig of craigslist.org.

What I love about Newmark: He has no business plan. As he says, "We do one thing well. Not screwing it up is good." I can't imagine how process consultants, TQMers, or Six Sigma-ists would make craigslist so unworkable! (I SO hated hearing about all that improvement junk when I was with the government.)

The only thing I don't like about craigslist, which isn't much: Lose the "peace" symbol, the upside-down broken cross. Other than that, it's an incredible innovation.

And the only thing Newmark needs to worry about is the 15-year-old who, even now, is coming up with something we haven't even thought of yet which will make craigslist obsolete.

So Sad

Last night I took home a young lady from my pizza place for the last time, as that was her final night working there. She noticed the pro-life stickers I had on my rear window.

She repeatedly asked me questions about why I would support bringing a child into the world where it could be abused by his or her parents. I replied that it would shortchange the ability of the child to overcome his or her upbringing (and, by extension, God's ability to heal those hurts).

But by the time my co-worker left the car, she stunned me by saying that she would rather have been aborted. Wow.

Please pray for this young lady, about 18 or so. She obviously has been hurt quite a bit in her life. But just as obviously, she can't be alone. How many others do I meet every day, be they Christians or atheists, hetero- or homosexual, from intact or broken homes, etc. who are in just as much pain?

As another friend of mine once said he prayed, "God, please help everyone everywhere."