Monday, March 26, 2012

Put Your Hands Down!

Oh, do I wish I had a montage of Judge Judy saying, "Put your hand down!" to play after the Prayer Over the Gifts and during the Our Father.  And since my parish relies heavily on its Power Point presentations on the Big Screens for the missal changes [1], it'd be easy to put there.  One problem: too many of the uncatechized would think I was advocating for wymynpriests.

I'm so done with everyone assuming the orans position with their hands, which is supposed to be reserved for the priest.  I blame the Charismatic Renewal, which popularized the practice; I hope I never have to endure another charismatic Mass.  I submit this sort of hand raising is an act of Sneetches-esque self-righteousness in which the practitioners say, "Look at how holy I am!" 

HT: Dymphna's Road

[1] I love our pastor, but for some reason, he never, ever says the Confiteor.  Another priest saying the Mass this past weekend said the Confiteor, but because the pastor doesn't do so, the new wording wasn't on the Big Screens.  I can live without those screens also.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

I'm so tired - Part Something

It's been nearly three years since I gave an update on my struggle for sleep.  In that time, I've still never felt rested.  Working the graveyard shift during that time didn't help much.

Now my sleep specialist, Dr. Michael Lucia, thinks he knows why.  He believes I was misdiagnosed years ago with depression, when it was really narcolepsy.  And that's on top of my sleep apnea.  Makes sense in that sleepy people aren't usually happy people.  My most recent bloodwork lends credence to this theory, but I'll need (you guessed it) another sleep study to find out for sure.  This one will even extend into the daytime.

As a result, I've had to stop taking Celexa, and I'm feeling the withdrawal effects (I said my use of Celexa and Ambien was like, as Steven Wright put it, putting a humidifier and a dehumidifier in the same room and letting them fight it out).  Dr. Lucia also prescribed for me the stimulant Nuvigil, but that too has side effects that forced me to stop taking it.  Frankly, I wouldn't mind getting off as many meds as I can; Lucia even wants me to dump the Ambien eventually.  That usually makes me feel hung over, so I approve of that also.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Perhaps The Most Interesting Birthday I Ever Had

Last year for my birthday, LC and I decided to spend a long weekend in northwest California, along the Pacific coast.  We wanted to see the redwoods north and south of Eureka, as well as check out the historic town itself.

After I finished work Thursday morning, we picked up our rental Chevy HHR and headed north through Susanville, then turned west on Highway 36 past Lake Almanor.  At the higher elevations, it snowed, but we carefully made our way over toward Red Bluff, where we stopped for lunch.  Then for the next several hours, we wound across the rest of 36 toward Eureka.  I've never driven on a road with so many hairpin turns, sharp dropoffs, and changes in elevation all rolled into one.  Oh, and rain and fog that made me feel like I was back in the British Isles (although I was way too young to drive then!).  Worn out from the trip, we checked into the Best Western Plus Bayshore Inn, had dinner at the nearby Marie Callender's, and headed to bed.

Before we fell asleep, we noticed on the Weather Channel a report of a powerful earthquake having struck off the northeast coast of Japan. 

About 5 AM Friday (my birthday), we heard something in the room, but couldn't figure out what it was.  At 6 AM, we heard it again, and finally discovered it was the telephone.  It was the Bayshore Inn's front desk, telling us the hotel was closed and we were under mandatory evacuation because we were in a tsunami zone.  Some things you just don't mess with.  We threw on some clothes, gathered a few of our possessions, and climbed in the HHR.  Now . . . to where?

We decided to head south on Highway 101 to the town of Fortuna, which had a ridge between it and the sea.  We figured if the tsunami made it over that, we might as well just report to the closest house of worship.  Pepper's Restaurant sufficed quite nicely for breakfast, and the tsunami was the dominant topic of conversation; we weren't the only Eureka "refugees."  It turned out the warning was quite valid, as the surge caused more than 25 million dollars in damage to the Crescent City harbor to the north.  One person was killed, and we would not get to see the redwoods north of Crescent City, as 101 was closed there.  Eureka's harbor was relatively unscathed, but a small wave did roll up the nearby Mad River.  (Note: All this, of course, paled in comparison to the thousands of Japanese who perished in the devastating tsunami.)

Rather than just wait around for the hotel to reopen, we decided to start playing tourist.  We ventured further south along 101 and drove through Humboldt Redwoods State Park along the Avenue of the Giants.  We spent a lot of time looking up, ooh-ing and ahh-ing.  I'll spare you our umpteen dozen tree pics.  That afternoon, we came back north and found the hotel had reopened, and everything was OK.

We had a nice pizza lunch at Don's Donuts, Pizza, and Deli in Arcata, the college town just north of Eureka.  From the square in the middle of town and those in it, Arcata looked like it could give Berkeley a run for its money in the liberalism department.

As the sun began to set, we headed north along the coastline through the fishing community of Trinidad.   Whether it was the normal tide or remnants of the tsunami, most of the fishing boats at mooring were listing violently from side to side.

We stood on a cliff overlooking the beach, and it's a good thing we didn't try to go down there as some tidal surges out of nowhere swept over the sand.  A plaque on the historic lighthouse reminded us many fishermen never made it back from the sea.

With the tsunami warnings expired on Saturday, we decided to head south again and drive along the Lost Coast.   After passing through the Victorian town of Ferndale, the small road turned sharply downhill through farmland toward the rugged coastline.  We braved intermittent rain to admire the waves from a closer viewpoint than the previous day.

Instead of turning back through Ferndale, we decided to press on south.  We were hoping to find someplace good for lunch, but there wasn't much of anything.  Sections of the road were poorly maintained, and on one downhill stretch, we heard and felt a WHAM! on the HHR's front tire.  Sure enough, we had hit a pothole.  I then realized we were entering the same section of Humboldt Redwoods State Park that we'd been in just 24 hours ago, and that the tire was losing air.  We limped to a clearing near Highway 101 and changed the tire, putting the "donut" in its place.  Then we went back north on 101 at only 50 MPH, getting glares from those unfortunate to be behind us in the right lane.

I recalled seeing a Les Schwab store (a West Coast tire chain, for those of you east of the Rockies) in Fortuna, but I wasn't sure how late it was open.  We arrived just past 5 PM . . . when it closed.  But one of the technicians saw us and said he'd take a look at the tire.  He quickly determined the rim had been bent from the pothole, but the tire wasn't punctured.  So he bent the rim back into place, inflated the tire, put it back on . . . and didn't charge us anything.  "And that's our Les Schwab story."  I wrote a most appreciative  letter to the store manager the following week.  So we didn't get to go to Mass before the DST time change that night, and were quite hungry, but also grateful to have our rental in one piece.

That night we had a nice birthday dinner (one day late) at Cafe Waterfront in historic downtown Eureka.  On the nearby pier, someone was riding one of those 10-foot-tall, multi-frame bicycles.

We lost an hour of sleep, but still managed to get to 8 AM Mass.  Unfortunately, the priest showed up about 10 minutes late as he'd forgotten to reset his clock.  We had to be the only people in there under age 70.

LC drove home as we took the not-nearly-as-winding Highway 299 east to Redding, then we went north of Lassen Volcanic National Park on Highway 44 to Susanville, then down 395 back home.  We told the rental company what had happened with the tire, but they didn't have a problem with it, especially since it was fixed.

We would like to go back and see more of the area north of Eureka that we didn't get to see this time.  But this short trip was an unforgettable one for us.

Friday, March 02, 2012

Trade Test Films

I admit it; as a kid, I watched WAY too much television.  Naturally, I blame my parents, although they eventually kicked me out of the house when they thought I had enough.

When we lived in England, colo(u)r TV was still a relatively new phenomenon, and our set was only black and white (it wasn't until the late 70's that we got a color TV).  At the time, BBC2 spent most of the daytime hours running what were known as "trade test films," "trade" because most of them were produced by industries or companies, and "test" because they were used to test BBC2's color broadcasts.

These short films fascinated me to no end, and a surprising number have made it onto YouTube.  One covered an annual science expo in the Netherlands called "Evoluon."  Naturally, I thought it was quite futuristic back then, but parts of it appear quite campy now.  The music seems to be a mashup of Up With People and early Emerson, Lake, and Palmer.  See and hear for yourself.

 Long before I ever saw "The Graduate," I knew about plastics, thanks to a film called "Prospect for Plastics."

"Maria!  Franco!"  Romance and all sorts of other stuff at an Italian autostrada rest area in "Cantagallo."

"SIDE: Switch off - Isolate - Dump - Earth."  Electrical plant safety in "On the Safe Side."

A strange look at a few Canadian Maritime parks in, oddly enough, "Atlantic Parks."   I always remember the map at the end and noticing how the Gulf of St. Lawrence looked like the head of a wolf.

You'll be tapping your foot to the tune of "Cattlemen'" from "The Cattle Carters," set in Western Australia, a place that makes Nevada look like an oasis.  What is it with Aussies and the accordion?  That was the primary instrument in "Skippy the Bush Kangaroo" also.

I first learned about powerboat racing from "Ride The White Horses."  I remember the music more than anything else; it sounds like it came from a Folk Mass someplace.

I wonder whether the Top Gear guys remember "Home Made Car", with some pretty nice guitar work in it?

The travelogue "Britain" includes two semi-bickering narrators ("Tintern's an abbey, not a castle") and some places I got to see for myself, including Edinburgh and Coventry.

And if you watched all those videos (and their Part 2's and 3's), you must have less of a life than me.  Still, it's a great reminder of my childhood.