Friday, January 30, 2009

The Cat Ate My . . . Earbuds

Today, I strolled over to Target and bought my 4th set of earbuds since I got my MP3 player. Reason? My cats keep eating the wires on the other ones! They think anything resembling a string is a mouse tail. Never mind that they've never seen a mouse, except as a toy.

But? I love 'em to death. Gregory has taken to attacking my feet and laying on his back in the process. If I didn't know better, I'd think he was in heat. Basil is getting huge, and his coloring is deeper and richer by the day. They'll be six months old on Feb. 8. Photo here.

Monday, January 26, 2009

West Coast Walk For Life 2009

Only a few hours after Barack Obama decided we needed to export tax dollars to groups that know better than anyone else that abortion is the only way to save the rest of humanity from itself, LC and I boarded a bus in Reno that took us to San Francisco for the Walk for Life West Coast. It was about a four-hour ride, and we began reciting the Rosary as we approached the Bay Bridge.

It was a gray, overcast day, but it didn't rain. We joined about 30,000 peaceful but enthusiastic protesters on the east end of the Embarcadero and heard some great speeches, including from Karen Shablin of Feminists For Life whom we would later meet on the walk. The new archbishop of San Francisco ws there, while Cardinal Mahony of Los Angeles was conspicuous by his absence. Singer Diana Nagy gave her powerful testimony of how she chose (there's that word) to bring her son into the world . . . and then she introduced him to us! But the most stirring testimony was that of Reverend Clenard Childress, who told us of the impact abortion was having on the black community; over 1/3 of all abortions are African-American babies. Think Obama realizes that?

Sadly, there weren't that many blacks in the crowd; we'll need them on our side to carry the message to the victims of abortion who wouldn't hear it from us. But there were plenty of Latinos and Filipinos, and a huge number of teens. I was really encouraged by that, and I pray their fervor doesn't get plucked off in college or otherwise.

So the march began, and we crammed into the MUNI walkway on the Embarcadero accompanied by a group of young bagpipers and drummers. In the march were Latino groups sing songs and playing drums, as well as several groups praying the Rosary.

I only saw about a hundred or so counter-demonstrators, mostly chanting the same sing-song chants their mothers and grandmothers were singing in the 60s, although there were more of them back behind us during the rally. They? Were exclusively white and between college-age and mid-30s; so much for diversity. I was more amused than rattled by them, and I pray that somehow, in some way they never imagined, their spirits were touched by our quiet resolve, by God's love operating through us. They're not bad people; God loves them every bit as he does LC and me. They're just misguided and committed to a lie. I just wish some of them could express their opinion without profanity, but I guess that's a bit much to ask.

Signs of the day:
"Women Deserve Better Than Nancy Pelosi" (of course, I'm originally from her hometown)
"Your Ovaries NEED Our Rosaries"

It was a long walk that took us about three hours, going all the way up the Embarcadero past Pier 39 and Fisherman's Wharf where tourists looked at us somewhat curiously. Then we headed up and down several short hills as we marched through Fort Mason and then disbanded at Marina Green. We opted not to partake of the various vendors and headed back to our bus, whuch wasn't a short walk either. Props, by the way, to the San Francisco Police, who were most cooperative and helpful all the way through the walk, even to our buses.

It would be about another hour and a half before our bus set out across the Golden Gate Bridge. As I've said before, San Francisco is a gorgeous city, but the biggest problem with it is that it's in San Francisco.

We worked our way north through Marin County, then headed east on Route 37 across the North Bay to hook up with I-80 again in Vallejo. We passed through Sacramento, then the fun started as we headed up into the Sierra Nevada in a decent snowstorm. The bus driver didn't have to put chains on, but he did have to go slowly to keep us from skidding. He couldn't get back to normal speed until after Truckee. The return trip took five hours.

LC and I were exhausted from the walk, the bus rides, and the excessive heat on said bus. We had dinner at Straw Hat Pizza, then went home. I was in bed by 10:30 and didn't wake up until 11 Sunday morning (we went to 5 PM Mass, which will be a separate post).

Props also to KTVU Channel 2 which gave a pretty fair report of the day's proceedings.

I've rarely felt more proud to be a pro-lifer, but I know I have to do more.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Sorry, We're Closed

When I look back over the jobs I've had, I find a disturbing trend: Most of the places I've worked for no longer exist.

I thought about this especially when I learned that XM Satellite Radio (now Sirius XM) showed all its Traffic and Weather reporters the door last week. I worked for XM Traffic and Weather for two years, and really enjoyed my time there; we had a lot of fun together, and the facilities were great, for the most part. I certainly hope the reporters can find new jobs, although I doubt there's much of a future at Sirius XM, which at last check was trading at 12 cents a share. I love the concept of satellite radio, but I'm just not willing to shell out $13 a month for it, especially when my commute is now too short to warrant it. Satellite radio could be a distant memory within the year.

Anyway, let's look back over my career. I'm not counting temporary jobs:

  • Baltimore Sun collections and delivery for Gene Slater, a subcarrier. He gave up the business in 1981.
  • Dishwasher for Blue Bowl Bakery. Closed after the ovens blew up, and was a laundromat last I knew.
  • Bus boy for La Fontaine Bleu. While the franchise still exists, its East Baltimore locations where I worked are long gone.
  • Vendor, Memorial Stadium (I got to see the Orioles in their last World Series appearance, as well as the last Baltimore Colts game ever!). Torn down in 2001.
  • Sales assistant, Clover Furniture. Now a bingo hall.
  • Sales, Watson's Bull Roast, Harborplace. Closed maybe a year after I left.
  • Sales and parts associate, Montgomery Ward Automotive. The store closed in the early 90s, and the chain went under in 2001, although it still exists online.
  • Computer consultant, Loyola College. The school may still have consultants, but I bet its VAX 11/780 has long since been recycled.
  • Insurance representative, Eastern Aviation and Marine Underwriters. Underwent a couple of reorganizations and buyouts, and otherwise no longer exists.
  • Defense Department. Somehow, it exists without me. :-)
  • Keane Federal Systems, government contractor. Still exists, but the Columbia, MD office I worked out of is no more.
  • Gateway Country Store, Annapolis. All Gateway stores closed in 2004, and the company is a shell of its former self.
  • WJRO-AM 1590, Glen Burnie. Was a Gospel station, but is now known as WFBR and plays ethnic programming.
  • WSBA-AM 910, York, PA; and WFMD-AM 930, Frederick, MD are both still in business.
  • XM Traffic and Weather. Closed up shop last week.
  • Traffic.com, Silver Spring, MD. Still in business.
  • Luke's Pizza Company, Frederick. Closed the week after I left.
  • Vocelli's Pizza, Frederick. Still in business.
I hope my current job doesn't find out! =:-o

Pittsburgh Has Our Number

I'd like to see a Baltimore team win just ONE postseason game or series over a Pittsburgh team. Since 1971, we're 0-6.

  • 1971: Roberto Clemente's home run proved to be the difference in Game 7 as the Pirates beat the Orioles in the World Series.
  • 1975: Bert Jones was leading the Colts deep into Steelers territory late in their playoff game at Three Rivers Stadium when he was sacked. Andy Russell ran the ensuing fumble back 95 yards for a touchdown in a 21-10 victory.
  • 1976: At Memorial Stadium, the Steelers blew out the Colts, 40-14. In a strange way, it was a good thing they did so, because shortly after the game, a single-engine plane crashed into the upper deck of the stadium. Had the game gone into overtime or the Colts had won, there could have been many more injuries or fatalities. As it was, only the pilot was hurt.
  • 1979: Up 3 games to 1 over the Pirates in the World Series, the Orioles would score only two more runs over the last three games. Like Clemente, Willie Stargell hit a home run in Game 7 to wrap it up. I remember crying in my bed at age 14 over that one. I still hate the song "We Are Family" to this day.
  • 2002: Having beaten the Dolphins, the Ravens came into Heinz Field for the divisional playoff and were thoroughly outplayed by the Steelers, 27-10.
  • 2009: Troy Polamalu's interception of Joe Flacco and return for a touchdown snuffed out the Ravens' comeback bid in a 23-14 Steelers win.
I mean, it's just not FAIR!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Ironic quote of the day

"Isn't it wonderful to have a president who will put women and children first?"

--Nancy Pelosi, at a pre-coronation inauguration dinner hosted by the pro-abortion group EMILY's List (HT: LifeNews.com)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Congrats, Squealers Fans

Dear (oh, all right) Steelers Fans,

Well, you beat us three times this year (one of which I still question), which I guess qualifies you for a Super Bowl. But, let's face it, Ben Roethlisberger made the plays, and Joe Flacco didn't. Troy Polamalu made his plays, while Ed Reed was nowhere to be found (off covering the rest of the world, I guess). And we turned the ball over more than you did.

You will have your hands full with Arizona, although I never thought the football gods would let a Bidwill-owned team into the Super Bowl. Kurt Warner knows how to win, and Larry Fitzgerald will give you fits. It should be a good game. Hope so, anyway.

Yeah, you have your blessed National Following; there's even hordes of Steelers fans here in the Truckee Meadows, while LC and I are still looking for another local Ravens fan. Well, we Ravens fans neither have, need, nor want a National Following. (Don't tell sports talk radio hosts about the fact that almost any road game is a home game for you guys because of your fan base in every NFL city; let them all think 40,000 of you travel from Pittsburgh to every game.)

One thing is for sure: We'll be playing you twice every year. Maybe we'll split. Maybe you'll sweep us like this year. Maybe we'll sweep you like 2006. But. We'll beat the tar out of you one way or the other. And you will to us.

That's what makes this rivalry great.

See you next year,

Cyg

P.S. WTG Ravens on a season no one expected from a rookie coach and a rookie QB. Least of all, me.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Pro-Life Rally and President Bush

LC and I attended the annual Reno Choose Life Rally and Life Chain today. It was great to hear the encouragement of those who are organizing the grass roots pro-life effort here in Nevada. The keynote speaker was Olivia Gans of National Right To Life. We then stood along South McCarran Blvd. with our pro-life signs. The only thing I'd change is that I wish it was silent, like the life chain we attended in Frederick. The ladies "woo-hoo"-ing every time a car honked was a bit intolerable after a while. If the unborn's voices are silenced, can't we be silent too?

I'm looking forward to next week's West Coast Walk for Life.

This coming week, we swing from the best President the pro-life movement ever had in George W. Bush to perhaps its greatest adversary ever in Barack Obama, who owes his election in no small part to Catholics who were either ignorant of his anti-life credentials or just didn't care about them in the voting booth. I'll say it again: despite his overspending and his lack of knowledge about the illegal immigration problem, had Bush been running against Obama, I'd have voted for him.

Thank you, President Bush, for keeping us safe after 9/11, for taking out Saddam Hussein, and for standing up for life.

And I pray for a change of heart in Barack Obama.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Oh, No, They Didn't!

We went to the 5 PM Mass yesterday, which I guess is the LifeTeen Mass. I kid you not, this was the OFFERTORY song. Well, if Marty Haugen can write liturgical music, so can Garth Brooks (or whoever wrote it for him):

You know a dream is like a river
Ever changin' as it flows
And a dreamer's just a vessel
That must follow where it goes
Trying to learn from what's behind you
And never knowing what's in store
Makes each day a constant battle
Just to stay between the shores...and

I will sail my vessel
'Til the river runs dry
Like a bird upon the wind
These waters are my sky
I'll never reach my destination
If I never try
So I will sail my vessel
'Til the river runs dry

Too many times we stand aside
And let the waters slip away
'Til what we put off 'til tomorrow
Has now become today
So don't you sit upon the shoreline
And say you're satisfied
Choose to chance the rapids
And dare to dance the tide...yes

I will sail my vessel
'Til the river runs dry
Like a bird upon the wind
These waters are my sky
I'll never reach my destination
If I never try
So I will sail my vessel
'Til the river runs dry

There's bound to be rough waters
And I know I'll take some falls
But with the good Lord as my captain
I can make it through them all...yes

I will sail my vessel
'Til the river runs dry
Like a bird upon the wind
These waters are my sky
I'll never reach my destination
If I never try
So I will sail my vessel
'Til the river runs dry

Yes, I will sail my vessel
'Til the river runs dry
'Til the river runs dry
"Hey, it mentions the Lord! Let's sing it!"

The communion hymn wasn't much better, Twila Paris' "Make Us One" (last I checked, she wasn't Catholic either):

Make us one, make us one
Make us one, undivided body
Make us one, make us one
For the sake of Your name make us one
Make us love, make us love
Make us love so the world will know we love You
Make us love, make us love
For the sake of Your name make us love
Make us pure, make us pure
Make us pure and righteous. make us holy
Make us pure, make us pure
For the sake of Your name make us pure
Make us one, make us one
Make us one, undivided body
Make us one, make us one
For the sake of Your name make us one
For the sake of Your name till You come
For the sake of Your name make us one
I was singing to myself, "Make it STOP!"

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Bowled Over

This morning, I decided to visit the National Bowling Stadium here in Reno for the PBA Tour's -- er, make that the Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour's -- NBS Championship, shown live on ESPN.

The NBS is, well, a bowling stadium. Instead of looking down on a basketball court or hockey rink, the seats overlook 78 bowling lanes. I wound up in the nosebleed seats, but I could still see just about all the pins except the 7 on either lane. Plenty of folks in the stands had their NFL gear on; I would have had my Ray Lewis jersey, except it needed a wash from my wearing it in a smoke-filled room the night before.

The only bowler I had heard of before was tournament leader Walter Ray Williams, Jr., who was going for his 46th PBA title . . . far and away the most in PBA history. As it has done so for many years, the televised finals are a stepladder format featuring the top five bowlers. Numbers five and four square off head-to-head, then the winner plays number three, then that winner plays number two, and then that winner plays number one for the championship.

So in the battle of five versus four, Patrick Allen beat Bill O'Neill in a not too interesting match, 218-200. Then Allen beat Chris Barnes in a strikefest, 267-236. Barnes had a chance to beat Allen, but in the 9th frame, he whiffed a 7-pin spare shot right into the gutter. Game over, man, game over.

In trouncing Wes Malott 268-215, Allen started off with seven strikes in a row, winding up with ten in all. This brought him to Walter Ray.

Allen jumped ahead, but the crafty 49-year-old Williams (who is also a master horseshoe player) kept up, and had a chance to win in the 10th frame with a strike working in the 9th. If he struck on the first two balls, it was over. If he went strike-9-spare, they'd be tied.

Williams threw a strike. Then in the first of his two extra rolls, he unbelievably left an 8-10 split. He fell on the floor as if he'd been shot. Allen ran halfway down the rest of the NBS. Even if Williams managed to convert the split (which he didn't), he'd have lost by one pin. The final read Allen 225, Williams 223. Allen took home $25K and a one-year tour exemption.

Oh, did I mention each lane had a different oil pattern, requiring different strategies for each one? That was a challenge, but the pros made it look easy.

I enjoyed it, and would go watch a PBA tournament finale again.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Pease Porridge In The Pot Pourri

  • When we named Basil and Gregory, we knew we were naming them for saints. What we didn't know at the time was that they shared a feast day, which was last Friday, January 2; thanks to Bigsis and others who informed me! Furthermore, St. Basil had a brother who was also a St. Gregory . . . of Nyssa, which is the name of a cat owned by our friend, Da Queen! In this picture (which LC took with our brand new camera!), Gregory and Basil are now five months old.
  • If you're passing through the Truckee Meadows, we recommend John Ascuaga's Nugget as a fine place to stay after we spent a couple days there last week. The rooms are quite comfortable, the food selections are scrumptious (we enjoyed the champagne brunch on Saturday), and it's one of the few area resorts with a sizeable INDOOR pool!
  • I alluded below to how we spent last Saturday afternoon tooling around Virginia City. We especially liked two shops: one was a leather store in which everything was $20 or less, where we picked up a new hip pack and a belt; and the other was a retro candy store, where they had everything from root beer barrels to B-B-Bats to Zotz to SweeTarts. Mmmm.
  • On Thursday evening, we enjoyed a study of the Cathechism of the Catholic Church at our new parish. It's geared toward those becoming Catholic, but it's open to anyone in the parish. We read through the sections on the Sacraments of Confirmation and the Eucharist. One thing I couldn't reconcile: the CCC says confirmation is to be done by priests only for "grave reasons" (CCC 1313), so why is it that candidates for acceptance into the Church at the Easter Vigil are confirmed by the priest? I know the bishop can't be everywhere on the Vigil, so why not have him confirm the new candidates at a ceremony sometime during Easter?

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

You've Got Guts, Lady

I HATE how people spend their time before Mass shooting the breeze just because they can. Hey, the Blessed Sacrament isn't exposed, so why don't we just go ahead and yak? Too often, the ushers are a big part of this problem of not keeping Holy Silence before the start of Mass.

On Saturday, following a nice afternoon in Virginia City (aside from one of Storey County's finest warning me about my tail light; bless you for not giving me a ticket, and we promptly replaced the light), we went to Mass at St. Thomas Aquinas Cathedral in downtown Reno, newly renovated and retrofitted against earthquakes. We sang the Mass parts in Latin (!), although it would have been better without the organ.

Before Mass started, a couple of ushers were chewing the rag in back of the cathedral. A woman a few rows ahead said "Shhhh!" rather loudly, but that failed to silence them. So she went back and (I trust) politely told them to Please Shut Up.

As she walked past, I whispered, "Thank you." May I be so bold as not to tolerate disrespect of the Mass. I'm sure she went home blessed, and I hope the ushers felt properly chastised.