February 22, 2013

7 Quick Takes Friday - Vol. 10


--- 1 ---
I don't care who was buried in Grant's tomb, but how many wheels does an 18-wheeler have? On the drive home from an overnight trip this weekend, we made one of many stops at convenience store/truck stop so my wife could feed the baby and we could all use the facilities. While staring at all the tractor-trailers getting gas, our six-year-old insisted that 18-wheelers only have ten wheels. She valiantly argued her case for a couple of days until I finally showed her a picture online and explained about the double wheels.

Count the wheels (courtesy: flickr)

--- 2 ---
I have a theory about taking long car trips with babies. For every one hour of travel time, add about fifteen additional minutes. That's about how it worked out for our weekend trip. The three-hour drive ended up taking nearly four hours. But my theory depends on the specific feeding and pooping needs of your baby. If he/she can be fed while driving then you can probably save more time than we did. Someone should come up with a smartphone app that shows which convenience store and rest stop bathrooms have diaper changing tables.

--- 3 ---
While on this trip I remembered a funny story a priest once told us. It was late on a Saturday night, or maybe even early on a Sunday morning, and he was quickly driving home home from a trip because he had not prepared his homily for Mass. Something caught the attention of a police officer; maybe the priest drifted over into the other lane or perhaps he was speeding. Anyway, the cop pulled him over, and the priest admitted that he was trying to read the Bible while driving. Yes, he received a citation. Is DUIP (driving under the influence of prayer) a crime?

--- 4 ---
Why is it that sliced apples in kids meals at fast food restaurants always taste sour? It's great that restaurants have healthier options for children. But serving apples that taste like lemons isn't going to encourage little ones to eat fruit. 
--- 5 ---
I don't remember how old I was when I learned how to ride a bike. My six-year-old hasn't grasped the concept yet. We're trying a method we found online where you remove the pedals and let the kid scoot along with her feet like she's on a scooter. This is supposed to be an easier way for children to get comfortable with balancing. And it's more compassionate than the way most of us learned as kids where your parent gives you a big push on the bike, says "I won't let go" and then lets go and wishes you luck.

--- 6 ---
I'm convinced the world's population can be divided into two groups: baby sniffers and non-baby sniffers. Now that we're parents for the second time, I am once again perplexed by the people who hold our baby, sniff her head and say they love "that new baby smell." Apparently I'm not one of the sniffers. I love our baby, but I don't spend all day sniffing her (and I try not to inhale when I'm changing diapers!) A coworker suggested -- jokingly, I assume -- that's a gender thing: Women love to smell babies but men don't.   
--- 7 ---
I saw on the news that office supply stores Office Depot and OfficeMax are going to merge. I wonder what they will call the new company? "DepotMax" sounds cool. Or maybe "Office MaxPo."

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary.

February 20, 2013

A Priest in My Pocket

There's no excuse for not practicing your faith. Technology makes it too easy. A few months ago I discovered an amazing free app called Laudate. It has just about everything a Catholic-on-the-go could possibly need. It's like having a priest, the entire New American Bible, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, a Rosary, the Order of Mass, the new Daily Roman Missal and the Code of Canon Law in your pocket.

The features I use most often are the daily readings, the daily reflections (I wonder if any priests ever peek at these for homily ideas), the lengthy list of prayers and the confession aid. No, this app won't absolve you of your sins; but it has a handy, albeit not terribly indepth, examination of consicnce tool that I've used from time to time before confession. Yes, I keep my phone in front of me in the confession booth so I don't forget anything.

With great tools like this available, I wish more parishes would embrace technology. At ours, the opening announcements still include a warning not to "use your phone" during Mass. Sure, they probably mean talking on the phone. But I would like people to be more open to the concept of holding your smartphone or tablet during Mass if you are following the Order of Mass or the readings. I think it's a lot more convenient than flipping through the pages of a missalette. I'd love to get an e-book version of the  hymnal that our parish uses.

Search for the Laudate app on your device so you can carry a priest around in your pocket too!
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February 15, 2013

7 Quick Takes Friday - Vol. 9



--- 1 ---
Once the surprise wore off about Pope Benedict's resignation announcement this week, I immediately began looking forward to the fascinating  Papal Conclave process. I was a newly-minted Catholic the last time the College of Cardinals elected a pope, and it will be really neat to see this happen again. This time I hope news organizations will not embarrass themselves by incorrectly speculating whether the smoke coming out of the Sistine Chapel is black or white.

--- 2 ---
Jay Leno had a really funny joke back in 2005 a few months after Pope Benedict was elected. Willie Nelson was recording a reggae album at the time. [Yes, you can insert your own marijuana joke here.] So Leno said something like, "There was so much smoke coming out of the recording studio that people thought they were electing a new pope in there!"

--- 3 ---
Back to more serious papal memories: On the next Sunday following Pope John Paul II's death in 2005, a little boy walked out of our former church after Mass and asked the pastor, "Father, did you cry when the pope died?" Fr. Sam replied, "Yes."
 
--- 4 ---
Last weekend I attended an overnight retreat with my parish's pastoral council. Above all the toilets at this retreat center, there's a little sign that says, "For the sake of our septic system, please do not..." and then it goes on to warn you not to flush anything other than toilet paper. Since this is a Catholic retreat center, I thought they should have thrown a little prayerful humor into those signs by saying, "For the sake of our sorrowful septic system, please do not..." (If you aren't familiar with the Divine Mercy Chaplet then my joke won't make any sense.)

--- 5 ---
About four or five years ago, a brand new little tree in our backyard was in big trouble. The poor thing couldn't stand on its own and looked like it was on its deathbed. Whenever we had gusty winds, the string that attached the tree to support stakes would come untied, and the tree would bend over all the way to the ground. After my futile efforts to properly re-stake it, we called an arborist for help. He said he doubted the tree would survive and suggested we dig it up and get rid of it. We discarded his advice, and today the tree is happily standing on its own and is more than 10-feet tall. I guess you could call this a pro-life message!

Photo: The little tree that could

--- 6 ---
Spring is in the air, and it's always exciting when baseball players first report to spring training. As an Atlanta Braves fan, I love this picture from the CNN website highlighting that the Braves and the Washington Nationals will be tough rivals in the NL East this season. For the record, he was OUT!

Photo courtesy: CNN


--- 7 ---
The Google Images reverse search feature has been getting a lot of media attention following the Manti Te'o fiasco. For fun I plugged my blog profile photo into Google Images, and it said I look like these people:


This is the first time I've ever been accused of looking like Elvis or a woman! Thank you very much.

 For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary.
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February 14, 2013

My Queasy Valentine

This week marks the solemn three-year anniversary of my most memorable Valentine's Day weekend. Advertisers tell us this holiday is all about flowers, candy, jewelry and love; but my family's V-Day experience in 2010 was a gastroenterological nightmare.

Yes, indeed, I call it the Great Valentine's Day Stomach Virus of 2010 (hereafter cited as GVDSV-2010). Brace yourself-- here's the most graphic sentence in this entire post: Imagine two adults and a four-year-old child all suffering from simultaneous uncontrollable diarrhea and vomiting.

The 14th was on a Sunday that year, so a few days in advance we bought a nice bottle of wine (and some sparking apple juice for the little one) and planned to spend a quiet weekend at home for some family fun. Little did we know that it would be many weeks before we popped the corks on those bottles.

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February 13, 2013

Lent 2013

I attended Ash Wednesday Mass at a parish very close to my workplace. I said some extra prayers on the way as I drove on the same stretch of road where my wife's former coworker was killed in a violent car accident yesterday.

Remember, you are dust, and unto dust you shall return.

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February 8, 2013

7 Quick Takes Friday - Vol. 8


--- 1 ---
Don't you love a priest with a sense of humor? On Monday I went to daily Mass at a parish near my workplace. It was supposed to start at 11:30 a.m., but the priest didn’t get up to the altar until about seven minutes later. He said, “I’m sorry for being late, but I was talking to Sister Joan, and she wouldn’t shut up!” Don’t worry, he said it in a jovial voice and received a good round of laughs.

--- 2 ---
I heard some more priestly humor on the drive back to work. Someone called Go Ask Your Father on Relevant Radio and asked whether the Super Bowl halftime show was a near occasion of sin. The priest said something like, “Well, for one thing it was a near occasion of exhaustion.”

--- 3 ---
For me one of the best things about Super Bowl Sunday is that it means we’re one step closer to baseball season. Football’s okay (I’m a Dolphins fan), but nothing compares to baseball. Whenever spring training draws near, I always recall the many fond memories of growing up in the (now former) spring training home of the Atlanta Braves and being able to watch so many games all season on TBS. At the time I never would have dreamed that all these years later I’d be able to watch every single Braves game on a cell phone.

--- 4 ---
One more quick take related to the Super Bowl: I always take my older daughter to school each morning and hang out with her in the lobby until the bell rings. On Monday morning, one of her little first grade friends walked up to us and said, “My mom and dad didn’t pay any attention to me last night because they were watching the Super Bowl.” Poor girl. But it’s probably a good thing that she wasn’t watching with her parents since the Super Bowl and its commercials aren’t exactly wholesome family entertainment.

--- 5 ---
Last Saturday we took my daughter to a friend’s birthday party. Over the past six-and-a-half years, my wife and I have become regulars on the kid birthday party circuit. But this was the first time we ever saw touchable bubbles. Have you ever heard of these? You blow them just like regular kids’ bubbles. But you can catch them in your hand. Even the adults at the party had fun with them.

Photo courtesy: Sensory Toy Warehouse

--- 6 ---
Yesterday morning my daughter and I ran into her P.E. teacher at school. This teacher hadn't seen me in a while. She looked at me and said, "Hey, have you been working out?" I said, "No, just carrying a 15-pouond baby." Maybe she says this to everyone just to build their self esteem and encourage them to work out more!

--- 7 ---
Photo courtesy: Royal Canadian Mint
So I read that Canada is saying adios (just kidding) to its penny since it’s too expensive to make. Will the U.S. penny be next? I’ve never been a fan of carrying change, and I rarely even have any cash on me anymore. If I’m ever in charge, I will outlaw change altogether. Come to think of it, do we even need paper money? Let’s live in a cash-free society and pay for everything with plastic or by smartphone. I have no idea what effect this would have on the economy. I’m neither an economist nor a financier.


For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary.
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February 2, 2013

Thank God for Christian Brothers

Have you ever had a spiritual experience while getting your car fixed? It happened to me on a cold (for Texas) fall day while staying home from work since both kids were sick. Something else was sick too: my car. It was one of those lingering problems/noises that likely would have turned into something worse if I had let it go.

For some reason, on this day when my wife and I were juggling two sick kids, I suddenly became inspired to do something about the car again. I had already taken it in just a few weeks earlier, hoping to get it fixed before our baby was due. However, the car problem seemed to stump the first auto shop I went to. They couldn't find anything wrong.

So at a moment when both kids were under control, I headed out to another mechanic I was aware of but had never used before, Christian Brothers Automotive. (No, this is not an advertisement.) One of reasons I chose this place was because they'd be able to give me a quick -- hopefully -- ride back home after dropping off the car.

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February 1, 2013

7 Quick Takes Friday - Vol. 7


--- 1 ---
We spent part of our day Saturday at the Texas Rally for Life at the State Capitol. As an introvert, I'm not usually one to seek out large crowds, and I'm certainly not a political activist. But we had a good time, and what started out as a cold and drizzly day evolved into a sunny, comfortable and prayer-filled afternoon.

--- 2 ---
About halfway through the rally speeches, our three-month-old pooped. So we had to be resourceful and find a spot away from the crowd to change the diaper. We ducked between two Texas State Trooper cars that were parallel parked next to the Capitol, a little bit away from the crowd. Don’t worry, the cars were empty and this was far away from any vehicular traffic. Plus, my six-year-old and I were standing guard (while my wife graciously did the dirty work) to provide a little extra privacy and make sure nobody got into either car. But of course I couldn’t pass up the photo opportunity. I call it, “A pooper and a trooper.”
 

--- 3 ---
Somehow I’ve managed to get myself involved in yet another non introvert-like responsibility. As if it weren’t enough that I spent a decade working in TV news and even longer working in public sector media relations, now I’ve been elected to serve as the chairman of our parish’s pastoral council. Yes, I’m happy to serve and will do my best, but it isn’t exactly conducive to my personality. Sometimes I wonder if God chuckles when he puts me in situations like this. 

--- 4 ---
One of the associate pastors at our parish always reminds me of that guy from Home Improvement, Richard Karn. What do you think?

Photo: The priest and the Home Improvement guy
 
--- 5 ---
During the baseball playoffs last fall, I actually started feeling sorry for Alex Rodriguez when he was taking quite a beating in the sports tabloids and other media. Suddenly with the new round of allegations this week, I'm not really feeling sorry for him anymore. But still, there's a path to forgiveness for everyone (not just professional athletes). Telling the truth is always a good first step.

--- 6 ---
I will be moving office buildings soon, and the moving company's instructions for how to label certain items were hilarious. Check out the photos. I wonder how often they move typewriters and telex machines these days.




--- 7 ---
So, Barbara Walters has chicken pox. I had chicken pox as an adult, and let me tell you, it was awful. Of course, Babs is in her 80s, and I had them in my 30s; at her age, everything is serious. I wish I had known about the newer chicken pox vaccine that was released in 1995 so I could have avoided the misery. But no doctor ever mentioned it to me. In fact, a few years before I got the chicken pox, a doctor suggested that I probably had them as a kid but it was such a mild case that maybe nobody noticed. Wrong!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary.
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