Sunday, April 27, 2008

Shake, Rattle, and Roll

Our soon-to-be new home of Reno, NV is being besieged by a series of moderate earthquakes. Fortunately, all these have done so far is cause some scattered damage with no injuries.

Of course, all that happens where we are now is that pieces of I-70 suddenly disappear via sinkholes (the "four-lane suburban road" at the end of the article was within walking distance of our house).

I remember being flipped out by the warning of what to do if an earthquake hits when I read it in an Orange County hotel room the first time I was in Southern California; I laid awake for about two hours. Of course, earthquakes are not like hurricanes or tornadoes; you get at least SOME idea of when those are coming.

Then again, to paraphrase a church sign not far from our house, I guess earthquakes remind us that we're not in charge.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

And Now For Some Own Goals

Don't like soccer because there isn't much scoring? Here's a compilation of beautiful goals scored . . . by defenders against their own team.

(I have no idea what music this is, but it sounds rather Taco-esque. As in "Puttin' on the Ritz.")

*yawn*

And that's the extent of my Earth Day celebration.

In other news, Oprah (who scares me more and more every day) has decided to forget running for president. She's running for God instead. (HT: Karin.)

Friday, April 18, 2008

Liturgy of Multiculturalism and Horrid Music

I've been listening to the Papal Mass from Nationals Park on my XM Radio. I'm really grateful for the Holy Father's message of hope, holiness, and healing from his homily. I think his visit to Washington achieved everything he hoped for, and more.

That being said, I'm glad I wasn't at the aforementioned Mass, for two reasons:

1. The focus got taken off the Eucharist and placed squarely upon multiculturalism. Is the Catholic Church multicultural? Of course. But is the purpose of the Mass to showcase multiculturalism Because We Can? I think not. I found the decision to have the First Reading in Spanish disquieting, and the numerous languages of the petitions even more so. When His Holiness visits, say, Brazil, I doubt anything is read in English.

Why not have all such celebrations before the Mass, just as happened at Camden Yards with Pope John Paul the Great in 1995? The focus is upon Jesus and the Eucharist, not How Great Are We Who Celebrate It.

2. The music ranged from the overblown to the ridiculous. The Psalm response had very few square chords, which might be nice in a Steely Dan song or a Dave Brubeck piece, but has no real place in liturgical music. One offertory song sounded like "Cecelia" by Simon and Garfunkel, while another resembled the theme to the reality show Survivor.

It's important to note that I am NOT criticizing the efforts of the singers or other musicians; they were only doing what they were supposed to. I'm criticizing the choice of material, as well as the settings of various pieces. After the Mass, EWTN took calls from those who felt as I do and those who loved the music, such as one tearful music minister. Sadly, so many music ministers have been taken for a ride by the GIA-OCP Haugen-Haas cabal that they genuinely think there's nothing else for liturgical music.

It was nice to hear Placido Domingo sing Panis Angelicus, although the applause wasn't appropriate, not for a Mass.

And how must Pope Benedict have felt on the altar, biting his tongue while noticing the planners of this liturgy paid no attention to his writings on liturgical music? Obviously, they also didn't read De Musica Sacra.

(For a dissenting view, check out what the lovely and gracious Ladycub wrote. For a concurring view, check out Fr. Z,
and note closely how much regard the USCCB (one of the biggest problems with the Catholic Church in the U.S., IMO) gives feedback on the Papal Mass. Scandalous.)

Monday, April 14, 2008

Meaning What?

I fully expected claptrap articles like this in the run-up to the Holy Father's visit:

U.S. Catholics Support Benedict In Poll: Respondents Critical of Church Priorities and Handling of Abuse Cases

Still, I cannot get over how vapid these poll questions are, likely written by those who neither know nor care about Catholicism. To wit:

(ASKED OF CATHOLICS) In general, do you think the Roman Catholic Church is in touch with the views of Catholics in America today, or is it out of touch?
34% In touch; 62% Out of touch; 4% no opinion

As if it's the Vatican's job to take its cues from the laity. Wouldn't a better question be, "In general, do you think American Roman Catholics are in touch with the Roman Catholic Church today, or are they out of touch?" I think the "out of touch" numbers would be higher still. Wake me up when the Church becomes a democracy.

Currently, women cannot become priests in the Roman Catholic Church. Do you favor or oppose that policy?

You can protest, you can whine, you can whip up dissent, but guess what: That will not change, because it cannot. It is simply impossible to ordain a woman a Catholic priest. So why even bother asking the question? You want women priests? Try the Episcopal Church, thank you very much.

Do you approve or disapprove of the way the Catholic Church has handled the issue of sexual abuse of children by priests? Do you approve/disapprove strongly or somewhat?

This is a begging question. Yes, the scandal brought shame on the Church as it should have, but what more should be done? Resurrect dead predatory priests so that we can kill them again? Put Cardinal Law back in Boston and get him dismissed again? Hang him by his thumbs until dead, dead, dead? Whom does that satisfy?

The abuse of young men (*not* children for the most part, although it's still wrong in any event) by priests never should have happened, but it did. There has been appropriate punishment where needed, and over $2 billion paid in compensation to victims. When is it enough? And what of priests who are accused unjustly, but are declared guilty just by accusation?

I look forward to what the Holy Father has to say, and I'm sure he doesn't waste any time reading these polls.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Technology vs. Spirituality

After reading the following from Fr. Jack Lombardi of the National Shrine Grotto of Lourdes in Emmitsburg, I stand guilty as charged (maybe this whole blog is evidence of that!):

Technological Entrancement or Supernatural Amazement

The whole article is excellent, but what really jumped out at me was the following:

Busybodyism is one of the Devil's main tricks to get us to always be busy and burned out so we don't want to believe or make special efforts toward the Supernatural.
I'm part of the problem here. I've bought into the belief that if I Only Stay Busy, I won't sin. Trouble is, I find no room for God either. I don't think spirituality means that I keep my mind and body so occupied that I can't sit still. And, surprise, I have a hard time sitting still and being quiet to this day.
Avoid media mediocrity: did saints watch a lot of TV, fixate on news or gawk at gothic novel-reality shows?
"Media mediocrity." What a great term. And I do admit to using it as a substitute for closeness to God. I'm not a big TV watcher, but (as evidenced by my blog links) I do consume a lot of news from various sources. Maybe it's time to back off.

Good, challenging article; thanks, Fr. Jack!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Nice to have lofty goals

Reminds me a bit of AquinaSavio:
8-year-old says he will be Pope
(Well, AS is a *little* bit older.)

Since his first communion on Oct. 6, 2006, James has attended Mass every day.
That? Is a young man who knows how important reception of the Body and Blood of Jesus really is, unlike so many Catholics today. I think I might be apt to attend daily if I had access to the TLM.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Tito Santana vs Greg "The Hammer" Valentine - Cage Match

Oh my heck; I was here for this (and several other dates) with friends of mine in college! We were all into pro wrasslin' at the time.

The date was July 6, 1985. Greg Valentine had defeated Tito Santana for the WWF Intercontinental Championship the previous year. Now, at the Baltimore Civic Center (later called the Baltimore Arena, and now the First Mariner Arena), Santana had the chance to get his belt back in a cage match.

Okay, it's all scripted, and blood flows easily from the forehead; just check a wrestler's scar tissue sometime. But it was thrilling to see a title match in person. Gorilla Monsoon narrates after the fact. Note: there are a couple PG-13 moments.



The place went nuts. So did Valentine, who somehow got hold of the IC belt and trashed it against the cage. Santana would later get a new belt, which he would lose to Randy "Macho Man" Savage later on.

I lost interest in wrasslin' a number of years ago, once the action became subservient to the story lines. But I did get to cover the first night that the WWE (its new name after a lawsuit from the World Wildlife Fund) came to Frederick at Harry Grove Stadium back in 2002. One wrestler who was there, the diminuitive Spike Dudley, is a real-life descendant of Harry Grove; he got frog-splashed by Eddie Guerrero.

From yearbook to Facebook

MySpace and Facebook are apparently making college yearbooks obsolete. I probably shouldn't have bothered doing so, but I bought a yearbook for each of my years in high school and college. Perhaps I should have been like Ladycub and just gotten senior year instead.

Speaking of MySpace and Facebook, would someone tell me why I need a MySpace or Facebook account, especially if I have a blog? Why do I want to have "friends" who really aren't (no offense intended to those whom I have met through the Internet)? At 43, aren't I a little past the age for that sort of thing?

I don't see the point of digg or del.icio.us, either. What the heck is "social" about them?

Stress

As I alluded to earlier, this impending move is kicking up a lot of stress for LC and myself. I find myself wanting to avoid what's happening and what needs to be done. I can "check out" through many ways:

  • Sleeping
  • Eating
  • Too much time on this thing watching stuff I know I shouldn't
  • Chewing gum (I've become a compulsive gum-chewer here of late)
Some of my friends would say to me, "Where's God?" Good question. I need Him more, not less.

I find it interesting that my time of sorting out stuff in the physical world of our house comes as I'm also dealing with a lot of issues internally, things that I've not dealt with for way too long.

I pray for courage to do the next right thing, and not to avoid what God wants to accomplish in my life, not only for myself, but for what I can do for others.

Can you relate to avoiding looking at yourself for fear of what you might find?

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

In the meme-time . . .

From Dymphna comes this:

These are the rules:

1. When tagged place the name and URL on your blog.

2. Post rules on your blog.

3. Write 7 non-important things/habit/quirks about yourself.

4. Name 7 of your favorite blogs.

5. Send an email/comment on their blog letting them know they have been tagged
.

Hwokay . . .

  1. I can't stop chewing my fingernails.
  2. I've worn glasses ever since I was 6.
  3. I still have the championship sweatshirt from when my high school soccer team (for which I was a manager) upset a juggernaut team for the championship. (No, it doesn't fit anymore.)
  4. I carry my wallet in my front pants pocket, never in the rear one.
  5. For manly bonding, I used to throw darts with several of my cow-orkers on Thursdays at this dive of a bar not far from where I used to work.
  6. I won speaking contests in back-to-back years in grade school.
  7. On video tape of questionable quality, I have seasons 2 through 5 of Mystery Science Theater 3000.
Seven blogs:
  1. Dymphna
  2. Silvergirl
  3. Steve Czaban (note: sometimes more PG-13 than PG)
  4. Seana
  5. Frederick, MD Online
  6. Wife and Mom of Two
  7. Jill Stanek

The Book Meme, from Silvergirl

The directions:
1. Pick up the nearest book (at least 123 pages)
2. Turn to page 123
3. Find the 5th sentence
4. Post the 5th sentence on your blog
5. Tag 5 people

Well, there aren't many books around because we've packed them, so . . .

*goes off to next room*

Ah. Here's Dr. Bob and the Good Oldtimers from AA. Sentence 5 on Page 123:

"I can't remember whether you had your violin with you then or not, but you would manage to get one if you didn't bring it." (referring to Bill W.)

I tag . . . oh, forget it.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Why I Will Never Live In Canada, Reason #486

Intolerance disguised as tolerance.

Happy 61st Birthday to . . .

. . . one of the best friends the guitar has ever had, Steve Howe!

Haven't heard of him? Well, if you've ever heard the Yes song "Roundabout," he's the guitarist! He's spent his career playing with Yes, Asia, GTR, and solo. He can crank it up, such as on songs like "Going For The One" or "Tempus Fugit" (below, with Chris Squire on bass, Alan White on drums, and former Buggles members Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes on vocals and keyboards respectively).



But it's his classical, country-tinged, and rag-esque work that really wins me over; he spans all sorts of genres. Here's Steve playing the Lute Concerto in D Major and his own "Mood For A Day":



And here's a nice montage of Steve to the tune of his gorgeous "From A Place Where Time Runs Slow":



Finally, here's Steve's signature piece, "Clap," which he wrote for his son Dylan (mistakenly called "The Clap" when it debuted on The Yes Album in 1970):



Dylan has played drums on a couple of Steve's solo albums, and his son Virgil has played piano as well; both played in the band Steve Howe's Remedy, according to his site. Virgil's song is called "Ram." Steve wrote "Georgia's Theme" for his older daughter, but the name of the one he wrote for youngest Stephanie eludes me at the moment.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Better Late Than Never


At last, a wrong has been righted: 49-year Mount St. Mary's basketball coach Jim Phelan is in the College Basketball Hall of Fame. He only won 830 games (still fourth on the all-time list), and it was my privilege to cover the last of those wins a few years ago. Everyone (even the women!) wore bow ties in his honor, as did I.

He's a classy coach who mamaged to take the Mountaineers to the NCAA tournament twice, and his exclusion from the HoF was inexcusable. Kudos to ESPN's Fred Carter (arguably Phelan's most famous protege) for leading the campaign to get Phelan inducted.

CLARIFICATION: This is not the Naismith HoF in Springfield, MA, from which Phelan is still excluded. So the campaign continues.

The Sierra Club *heart*s OPEC

If gasoline prices come down anytime soon, don't blame the Sierra Club. As Debra Saunders writes:

Sierra Club Deputy Executive Director Bruce Hamilton defended the House vote on the marine sanctuaries by noting they are home to important fisheries and that the amount of oil from the sanctuaries is so modest it would not affect the pump price. He argued the solution to high gas prices is more efficient cars and energy use. Got it.

But when I asked Mr. Hamilton where it is OK to drill in California, he could only accept pumping "existing" oil fields. No new drilling. Anywhere.

While the Sierra Club no longer calls for high European-style gasoline taxes to reduce energy consumption, that's where its no-new-drilling policies lead — to European-style gas prices. Existing oil wells are becoming depleted and, because most people aren't walking to work, more oil has to come from somewhere — or prices will continue rising. While the greenies tout new technologies as the answer, that's a someday solution. It's not a real solution for today.

So not only does the Sierra Club not know anything about supply and demand, I guess it's in league with the Saudis, Iran, and Hugo Chavez. Nice.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Ummmm . . . yeah.

I hope Jaime Sneider of the Weekly Standard was kidding here when he comented on female bloggers who wouldn't date liberals. Please tell me he was, because I doubt it:

If only all the featured ladies were just as enthralling. Consider Dawn Eden, the author of The Thrill Of The Chaste:

It’s easy for a man to keep this illusion of being a great, sensitive romantic if he knows he’s just going to sleep with you and then say good-bye. Anybody can be Mr. Love God for one night or one week or one month.

I have no doubt that a date with the author of The Thrill of the Chaste would be exhilarating--wait, actually, I do doubt it. Hence the conservative proverb, "Be right, live left."

Lefties love to bash us because of our social conservatism. Yielding to their immoral behavior doesn't make such behavior right, nor will it make them Not Hate Us. Sadly, though, Sneider is far from the only conservative who uses his principles just for his account balance and nought else.

If I were single, I'd love a date with Dawn Eden.

UPDATE: Turns out Sneider was kidding after all; he told Dawn his comment was supposed to be tongue in cheek. Actually, it was a lame attempt at humor . . . not that I've ever had any of those.

Is this irony or what?

From the UPI:

Editing required for Ernie Banks statute


CHICAGO, April 2 (UPI) -- The Chicago Cubs agree that a punctuation error in the inscription on a new statute of Ernie Banks will have to be fixed.

A team representative assured the Chicago Tribune that the missing apostrophe in Mr. Cub's beloved motto, "Let's Play Two" will be added at a later date.

The bronze statue outside Wrigley Field was unveiled Monday with the words "Lets Play Two" cast for perpetuity on the base.

Wonder if UPI has an opening for an editor?

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

All The Way To Reno


We're moving west. 2,556 miles west, to be exact. That's the distance from Frederick, MD to Reno, NV.

This move is something we've wanted to do for years, even before we were married. There's an obvious connection with Ladycub's parents having retired out there over 15 years ago, but it goes beyond that. (BTW, it was LC's invitation to join her in visiting her folks later that year that got our relationship started for good!)

Why are we doing this?

We love the wide-open feeling of being out there. The mountains surrounding every side of the Reno-Sparks area is a sight to behold. It makes what we call mountains to the west of us seem like pimples.

Lake Tahoe, one of our favorite places on Earth, is barely an hour away.

There's no state income tax in Nevada, nor any tax on retirement benefits.

It's not California.

The sun shines over 300 days a year, and on many winter days we can get away with wearing sweatshirts. But the climate is not nearly as extreme as Las Vegas; a summer day could have a high of 90 and a low of 47. (Vegas, BTW, is 420 miles to the south. And it's in the same state!)

There's just about no humidity.

If we don't do it now, we may never do so, and then go to our graves wondering "If only . . ."

And did I mention it's not California?

So, we're in the process of getting our house ready to put on the market. As we're getting our house painted, we've discovered just how much carp we've acquired. We've kept the recycling center, Goodwill, Freecycle, and the local e-waste place rather busy. And we STILL have boxes of stuff to be dealt with.

We plan to sell off most of our furniture so that we don't have to lug that across the country, and get new (or, more likely, used) stuff out there.

When is this going to happen? We'll know better when we get the house on the market . . . and under contract. Stay tuned.