January 27, 2013

Two Thumbs Down

Don't ask me who's going to win at the Oscars this year. In fact, don't even ask me who is nominated. I have no business whatsoever talking about movies. But Having recently opined about my lack of interest in -- and knowledge of -- prime time TV shows, I am now going to demonstrate an equal ignorance when it comes to films. I don't think being an introvert has much to do with it (although I am happy not to be in a crowd); I think it's just that I'm not a big movie person in general. And neither is my wife, so that makes us a great match.

How rarely do I watch movies? Let me put it to you this way: I had to do some serious internet research to think of the last time I actually saw a major movie in a theater. I'm pretty sure the last one was was that Narnia movie with the lion (wife wanted to see it). Checking online, I see that film came out in 2005. Wow, it's been a long time since I've graced the clean, comfortable, quiet confines of a movie theater (is there font for sarcasm?).

January 25, 2013

7 Quick Takes Friday - Vol. 6


--- 1 ---
Seriously?
This is one of the most ridiculous products I've ever seen. How would you like to wear this stylish "Nubrella" the next time it rains? Do people really buy these things? Not that I want to drive traffic to their site, but check it out; the photos are too funny. If this guy in the ad rides his bike in the rain, he's going to get soaked anyway.



--- 2 ---
Have you ever noticed that people on social media always try to outdo each other when it comes to bad weather? You know what I mean. If you mention that you are cold because it's in the 20s, someone else will chime in and say the 20s would be nice because where they are it's in the single digits. It's kind of funny, and sad, that people like to one-up each other. For the record, today in the Austin area it's supposed to be in the 70s.

--- 3 ---
I recently finished a great book: A Worrier's Guide to the Bible: 50 Verses to Ease Anxiety by Gary Zimak, published by Liguori. It's a quick and easy read, and something helpful to refer back to whenever times are tough.

--- 4 ---
My wife recommended this homily from EWTN (starts at 7:57 in the clip below). The priest's story about how parents protect their babies from any and all sun or cold exposure is hilarious and absolutely on target.


--- 5 ---
The other day my six-year-old daughter said, "Daddy, close your eyes and come over here. I want to see if you're a sensitive man." I was worried she was going to pinch me. But instead she had me sit on a chair where she'd placed some "craft pom poms" (or what I call colored cotton balls). It was a modern day version of The Princess and the Pea. (I covertly peeked at the chair before sitting; that's my right as a parent.)

--- 6 ---
I always think it's cool to see the little wave that motorcycle riders give when they see another rider on the road. But not cool enough to actually get on a motorcycle -- I'm too chicken. The closest I ever came to riding one was in the 80s when I used to pretend my bicycle was a motorcycle after watching CHiPs on TV every week.

--- 7 ---
And now, a lesson about telling the truth from Al Bundy. Yes, the Al Bundy from Married with Children. I bet you thought there'd be nothing in that show you could use to educate your kids. But this scene is an excellent and hysterically good lesson about how a simple lie can quickly spiral out of control. Al and his buddies planned to tell what they thought was a simple lie in order to sneak off to Washington, DC. The clip is appropriate for all ages. Really!

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January 21, 2013

Thank Heaven for Little Girls

All children are a blessing, but sometimes I'm especially glad that we have two girls. Am I stereotyping inappropriately, or is it safe to say that little girls seem to be drawn less to violent toys and games?

We had quite a laugh as we took our daughters (a six-year-old and a three-month-old) to the playground yesterday. Soon after we arrived, a few little boys from the neighborhood walked over to play amongst themselves. They were probably a year or two younger than my oldest kid. (Not sure where their parents were; I wouldn't recommend sending your kids to the playground alone at that age.)

Here's the funny part. One little boy said to his friends, "Who wants to buy my weapons? I have a meat cleaver, a bow and arrow, a musket..." and something else I can't remember. As he rattled off his list of weaponry, he pulled each one out of his shirt. Yes, of course, they were all plastic toys. But still, it was quite a display. The first thing I thought was, It's a good thing this kid isn't going through a TSA checkpoint at the airport! (I would have taken a picture of his cache for fun, but it's not appropriate to photograph other people's children).

Thank heaven for little girls! 
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January 20, 2013

Confession, Interrupted

Fr. Mulcahy (courtesy: IMDB)
The Catholic sacrament of reconciliation (confession) is no laughing matter, but I can look back on a recent experience and chuckle. After all, as Fr. Mulcahy said on M*A*S*H, "The good Lord did invent humor."

While going to confession can feel like the most difficult of all the sacraments, it's also one of the most rewarding. I can't quite explain the amazing feeling I always experience as soon as I've done my penance.

On a Monday a few months back, I felt a pretty urgent need to go to confession. My own parish only does confession on Thursday and Saturday afternoons. But thankfully the cathedral in our diocese offers confession each weekday from 11 a.m. - noon, and it's only a few miles from work

Sometimes I've gone to confession at this time and gotten right in; other times I've had to wait. On this particular day, I ducked out of work for an early lunch break and arrived at the cathedral around 11:30 a.m. I noticed a sign near the confessional that said because there was only one preiest hearing confession, he would have to stop at 11:55 a.m. in order to prepare for 12:05 p.m. Mass. I looked at the long line and thought, oh no, I'll never make it. But you never know how quickly the confession line will move. So I tried to bury my mind in prayer and trust in whatever was going to happen.

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January 18, 2013

7 Quick Takes Friday - Vol. 5

--- 1 ---
Someone should start a Facebook page where people can submit pictures of what they're wearing, or planning to wear, and get instant feedback on whether it matches. Sometimes for fun in the morning I'll ask my six-year-old daughter if my tie matches my shirt. Once when we asked for her fashion advice she said, "Those colors don't match, but they look good."

--- 2 ---
She had a frightening experience the other day but was able to immediately look back and laugh. While I was changing her younger sister's diaper (it was a blowout!), I asked her to run to the pantry and grab a plastic grocery bag. Our washer and dryer are in the pantry, and at the moment she walked in, the dryer ended its cycle and buzzed. Let me tell you, that thing is LOUD. My poor daughter screamed and hit the floor. But now she thinks it's funny to go back in there and do a reenactment of what happened.

--- 3 ---
Speaking of plastic bags, I suppose I should be glad I live and usually shop outside the city limits of Austin, TX since a plastic bag ban takes effect there soon. I'm all for recycling and taking care care of the planet God created. But like most babies, my three-month-old is a prolific pooper. So when there's a diaper emergency, it's nice to have some grocery bags handy for wrapping up a big steamy mess.

--- 4 ---
No one drinks eggnog this time of year, unless you find a great deal on clearance. At the end of Christmas time we tried a bottle of Coffee-Mate Eggnog Latte Cream. Wow, that stuff is great in coffee, so we just had to rush out and buy more. Luckily, Target had moved all eggnog products to the easy-t0-find clearance fridge, so we stocked up and bought several bottles. Don't worry, the "sell-by" date is April 2013.

--- 5 ---
In other eggnog news, this warning label on a carton of Silk Seasonal Nog cracked me up (even more so than the humor of calling a product "seasonal nog"). Did someone really think it would be a good idea to give eggnog to an infant?



--- 6 ---
Take a look at the wreath that's now on our front door. I guess it's supposed to be an early-spring wreath. But will our neighbors think we're lazy and haven't taken down all our Christmas decorations?

Not a Christmas decoration


--- 7 ---
A former coworker of mine from my previous life in TV news posted on Facebook that a drunk person called his newsroom and wanted to know who invented the word "wedgie." Immediately, I thought of Reinhold Weege. Remember the guy who created the sitcom Night Court?

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary.
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January 15, 2013

The Case of the Missing Tree Trimmers

Tree trimmers in the Austin, TX area are disappearing at an alarming rate. Or at least the ones I call seem to vanish. Introverts always prefer  conducting business online rather than talking to real human beings.  So after the honest company we've used many times for various services suggested we could get a better estimate elsewhere for a tree and bush trimming job, I hit the internet.

Not long after submitting three online requests for estimates last Friday, I received voicemails from two of them offering to schedule a time to come to our house and give us estimates. At this point I neither want to slam nor endorse anyone. So I'll refer to the three companies' contacts as Mr. Anytime, Mr. Whataburger (I'll explain) and Mr. Better Late than Never.

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January 12, 2013

A Saint not so Random

Conversion Diary's random saint generator isn't so random. There's something far more powerful at work here (you know, the Big Guy upstairs). As I mentioned in 7QT on Jan. 4, the saint generator gave me Saint Mary Magdalene de Pazzi as my patron saint for the new year.

I wasn't previously familiar with her, so I read her bio and have been asking for her prayers. But I didn't pay much attention to my saint's dates of birth, death or patron saint day. Here's where the non-randomness comes in.

Today we were looking at our parish's schedule for baptism prep classes and baptisms for the baby. Based on a number of factors, we determined that May 25 would work best. After deciding on that date, on a whim my wife looked up the patron saint for May 25. Guess who? Saint Mary Magdalene de Pazzi, of course!
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January 11, 2013

7 Quick Takes Friday - Vol. 4


--- 1 ---
Sometimes prayer packs a powerful punch. Last Saturday, we finally let our six-year-old host a sleepover. We knew that getting these two little girls to settle down and go to sleep would be challenge. They were in their beds by around 9, but the giggling, laughing and playing dragged on. Finally around 10:30, my wife went into the room, sat down and started praying the Rosary. That's what finally knocked them out!


--- 2 ---
Courtesy: Diocese of Austin
We had the honor and pleasure of attending an ordination mass for a seminarian at our parish last Saturday. Now he's a transitional deacon. Wow, what a powerful experience to see a couple of dozen priests up there concelebrating Mass with the Bishop.




--- 3 ---
I really appreciate people who do business honestly. We needed some tree and shrub trimming done (beyond the capability of me and my trusty Black & Decker electric trimmer). We called a business we've used several times for various household needs. The guy gave us an estimate and said we could probably get a better price from other businesses that just do lawn work. (His business offers a wider variety of services.) Thank you, sir, for your honesty.


--- 4 ---
From my introvert archives: I don't like people knocking on the door trying to sell things. Normally we try not to answer the door when someone's disobeying our "No Soliciting" sign and/or violating city ordinances. But if I do answer, I try to be polite. Usually. But one time a few years ago I must have been in a wiseguy mood when a solicitor rang the doorbell. I answered, and she said, "Hi, are you the man of the house?" In a sarcastic voice I said, "No, I'm the woman!" She didn't think it was funny.


--- 5 ---
An ambiguous Amber Alert
I think the process of sending Amber Alert texts to cell phones may need some enhancing. On Tuesday my phone vibrated and said, "An Amber Alert has been issued in your area, please check local media." A quick look at a few of the local media websites showed nothing. After some additional searching, I found a site where you can access all active Amber Alerts and discovered this one was issued about 350 miles away. I knew this wasn't likely to be a high priority for the media here. It would be great if the Amber Alert text messages included a link to the actual alerts. Anyway, I prayed for the missing kid in this case.
 
--- 6 ---
I play Words with Friends on my phone and have often wondered why the game sometimes accepts profane words and sometimes doesn't. No, I'm not actively seeking profanity. But when I'm getting my *** kicked and am desperate for points I'll try anything.

--- 7 ---
From an employer's email: "The cafeteria is closed due to unsafe conditions." Some emails just beg for a humorous response. Mine was, "They finally tested the food!"

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January 7, 2013

Epiphany Haste Makes Thanksgiving Waste

It's my new catchphrase: Epiphany haste makes Thanksgiving waste. (Should I put this on a t-shirt?)
 
The same thing happens every year. We always wait until Epiphany to take down our Christmas tree and other decorations because, liturgically speaking, it's still Christmas until that day. And our older kid likes to gradually move the wise men closer to the manger in our nativity scene day-by-day.

As soon as we get home from Mass on Epiphany, I'm overly anxious to decommission the ol' Christmas tree. But I always start by taking down the outdoor lights from our bushes and trees in the front yard. Here's where my problem begins. I'm always in such a hurry that I yank the lights off the bushes in a rush and shove them all into one big box with little regard for organization.

Now fast forward to November. The Saturday after Thanksgiving is when we haul the Christmas boxes out of the garage and put up the tree and other decorations. Sure enough, as soon as I open the box with our outdoor lights, I have to spend extra time untangling them and seriously regretting not having done a better job putting them away on Epiphany.

So I save time at Epiphany and waste time at Thanksgiving. It's a family tradition.
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January 4, 2013

7 Quick Takes Friday - Vol. 3


--- 1 ---
I saw the most ridiculous commercial on TV for a product called the Password Minder. The ad showed people, mostly older folks, sitting in front of their computers frustrated about having to keep track of all their passwords. So I figured the Password Minder would be a convenient, encrypted, in-the-cloud service that securely stores your passwords. But, no. The Password Minder is a SPIRAL NOTEBOOK where you can write down all your passwords. $10 for a spiral notebook that you can insecurely leave on the desk next to your computer! Do people fall for this stuff? I hate to drive traffic to their site, but you have to see it to believe it: Password Minder.

--- 2 ---
One URL I refuse to link to is the You Tube video of the South Dakota mother trying to teach her eight-year-old son a lesson about playing with her iPad. While recording the whole thing (and later posting it on You Tube), she lied to him and told him he accidentally purchased a $50,000 car on eBay. He was terrified, devastated and crying for a little while until she told him it wasn't true. I know parenting isn't easy and we have to teach our kids right from wrong; but I think humiliating your child and posting the video online for the world to see is disgusting.

--- 3 ---
I'm trying to ignore this
As a lifelong Atlanta Braves fan, I'm not quite sure what to think of the longtime controversy about using Native American names and images for sports teams. A recent ESPN article says the Braves will be using the previously-retired "screaming Indian" logo on their batting practice hats this season. I'm trying to ignore this latest dust-up with the Braves, but I know that's not the best answer. Being a Florida native, I always thought it was interesting that the Seminole tribe enthusiastically supports Florida State University's use of the Seminole name and imagery for its teams. But many teams don't have that same support.

--- 4 ---
On the Saturday after Christmas, someone from Dish Network had to come out to replace our satellite receiver since we were having some technical difficulties. As an introvert, I always try to have a situation-appropriate joke ready when I need to interact with strangers. I was going to say to the Dish Network guy: “So, in your line of work I bet the last thing you want to deal with when you get home after a long day is doing the dishes!” Fortunately, the bad joke filter in my brain snagged this one before I said it out loud. So I stuck with regular small talk instead.

--- 5 ---
As predicted last Friday, everyone inour household was asleep when the proverbial ball dropped on NewYear’s Eve. So whoever it was who rang in the new year in Times Square on TV now that Dick Clark is dead (probably one of those young, famous people I've barely heard of), we're not sorry that we missed you.

--- 6 ---
I used Conversion Diary's saint name generator to randomly select a patron saint for the year. I got St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi. Interesting.

--- 7 ---
Check out this photo I snapped while getting gas at a Murphy USA station a couple of months ago. I love the juxtaposition of the signs on top of the gas pump. Which sign should I have obeyed: the safety warning that urges me to leave my cell phone in the car, or the advertisement directly in front of it that tempts me to pull out my phone and scan the QR code? Out of curiosity I tweeted Murphy and asked whether I should leave my phone in the car or scan the QR code. I guess I should give them credit for their honesty. They tweeted back and told me to scan the QR code. Profit trumps safety, apparently.





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