January 31, 2014

7 Quick Takes Friday - Vol. 58 (Boots, boo-boos, booboisies and more)

--- 1 ---

I could call this 7 Slick Takes and bore you with an entire post about how we had two ice storms just four days apart from each other which is unheard of in this part of Texas. And I could mention that there's a possibility of yet another ice event next week. But I'll only use up a few quick takes on the ice storms and then bore you with other things.

 

--- 2 ---

It's not as much fun as snow for the kids, but the first ice storm did provide some good entertainment for the little ones in the neighborhood. The highlight for my daughter was sledding down a neighbor's icy driveway in a box from Costco.

 

--- 3 ---

It's been more than 15-years since I lived in Detroit. But I still have my ice-worthy boots which are usually buried somewhere in the closet. I've only had to pull them out a handful of times since living in Texas. It's strange that I've needed them twice in the past few days.

 

--- 4 ---

This was the third week we had to delay our backyard patio expansion project. Three weeks ago we pushed it back due to the concrete supplier's delay. Last week it was called off due to ice storm #1. And this week it was ice storm #2's fault. Our construction guy says the weather has thrown the entire concrete industry into dissaray.

 

--- 5 ---

I'm happy to have Martha on my side. I attended the annual retreat for my parish's pastoral council last Friday and Saturday. Each room is named after an important person from the Bible. I was in the Martha room, but didn't even notice there was a small framed print of her on the wall until the next morning. I can relate to Martha. I'd rather serve quietly and stay out of the spotlight.

 

--- 6 ---

I had visions of Curt Schilling while attending Mass at the end of the retreat. Before heading to the chapel, I put my small suitcase into the car and somehow banged it against my shin. It hurt during Mass, so I covertly slid my hand up my pant leg to find out what was going on. I pulled my hand out, and there was a little bit of blood on my finger. I pulled up my sock as a temporary clotting measure until Mass was over. I figured that by that point I would look like Schilling and his famous bloody sock in the 2004 World Series. But I'm not as heroic. Turns out all I had was what I doctors would call a little boo-boo.

This is not my sock. Courtesy: USA Today

 

--- 7 ---

I just learned a new word, thanks to autocorrect. When I tried to type "boo-boo," my iPad suggested "booboisie" instead. No, it's not the capital of Idaho. According to dictionary.com, a booboisie is "a segement of the general public composed of uneducated, uncultured persons." That's how I feel for not knowing what the word meant!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary.

 

January 27, 2014

30 Minutes of What?

Any type of physical fitness is good for you, even if it's something you've never heard of. My employer linked up with a website where you can track your daily fitness. There's a drop down menu where you can select the type of activity and then add the date and duration. I think the goal is at least 30 minutes a day for five days per week.

I perused the list, and, of course, it has many common forms of exercise like walking, jogging, running, swimming and aerobics. But not everything on the list is what I would call mainstream.

Some examples:

Body Pump - I don't know what this is, and I'm not sure I want to know.

Capoeira - Never heard of this one either. Sounds like a restaurant menu item. Turns out it's a Brazilian dance which includes martial arts moves.

[Photo courtesy: Wikipedia.com]

Cricket - Of course as a baseball fan I'm familiar with cricket, but I've never played. The closest I ever came was several years ago when I was walking in a city park and there was an informal game of cricket taking place in an adjacent field. Suddenly, an errant ball rolled all way up to the path where I was walking. My first instinct was to grab the ball and throw it back, but I didn't want to create another Steve Bartman incident. So I waited until it beccame obvious that the ball was no longer in play and then tossed it back to one of the players.

Curling - People love to make fun of curling during the Winter Olympics. But certainly there's some skill and physical fitness involved in skating and sweeping. However, I can't imagine that I have any corowkers herein central Texas who curl in their spare time.

Foot Bag - When I was a kid some of my friends had hackey sacks. But I've never heard of them being called foot bags before.

Jai Alai - I'm quite familiar with this sport since it was popular in south Florida when I was growing up. In the commercials they used to call it something like, "the fastest sport on two feet." But I never actually saw Jai Alai in progress. As I recall, there was a lot of gambling involved.

Orienteering - No clue on this one. According to dictionary.com, it's "a competitive sport, originating in Sweden, that tests the skills of map reading and cross-country running, in which competitors race through an unknown area to find various checkpoints by using only a compass and topographical map, the winner being the finisher with the lowest elapsed time." Sounds like one of the many reality TV shows that I've never seen.

[Photo courtesy: Wikipedia.com]

Snowshoeing - I know what snow shoes are, but I never knew there were competitive races. I don't think this is too popular in Texas.

Tennis - Of course tennis is on the list. The only reason I'm mentioning it here is so I can tell a bad joke: I don't like playing tennis because I can't stand the racket.

Water Jogging - I've heard of water aerobics and water polo (they're both on the list too) but not specifically water jogging.

I've been trying to fill out my log on the website, and there are three other forms of fitness I'd like to suggest:

Gratuitous Jogging In Place - This is when you wear a Fitbit (or other pedometer) and jog in place needlessly just to hit a step milestone.

Driveway Ice Sledding in a Box from Costco - This is what the neighborhood kids got to do last Friday. Ice storms are rare here.

Walking Rosary - A Catholic sport that builds spiritual and physical fitness. Trying saying an entire Rosary while walking at a brisk pace without having to stop and catch your breath!

 

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January 24, 2014

7 Quick Takes Friday - Vol. 57 (Elbow mystery, no self control, heavenly haircut and more)

--- 1 ---

I'd like to hire a private investigator to follow my left elbow and see what it does all day long. This week I had to retire a dress shirt for an annoying problem, and this is probably the seventh time this has happened over the past year:

 

Each shirt developed a small (but rapidly growing) hole in the exact same spot on the left sleeve. Suddenly I've become very self-conscious about what I do with my left elbow, even while I'm sitting here typing this.

 

--- 2 ---

My brave seven-year-old daughter needs to have a tooth pulled. She was very worried about this until she saw the pediatric dentist's tooth-pulling accommodations and learned that she'll be asleep during the procedure and can even wear her pajamas if that makes her more comfortable.

 

--- 3 ---

We've been trying to teach her the 12 Fruits of the Holy Spirit. The other day she said she wanted to learn self control because it sounded easy. I told her that self control is like when there's a whole plate of delicious cookies in front of you, but you only eat one even though you wish you could eat them all. Then she said, "I don't want to learn self control now that I know what it means!" [Keep reading, I'll have another funny line from her later. Of course, that's a blogger's way of saying that I wrote things out of order and didn't feel like going back to fix it.]

 

--- 4 ---

Our home is now in good hands. No, this is not an Allstate commercial. We had one of the priests at our church come over and bless our house on Saturday. When he was done we tried to get a photo of him with our kids, but the baby was not too pleased. And before you ask: Richard Karn from Home Improvement did not become a priest.

 

 

--- 5 ---

Since I didn't get to post a picture of our completed patio expansion project last week, I saved a spot for it here. And now I'll be saving another spot for it next week. This week's delay was due to wintry weather. So now the concrete is scheduled to be poured next week if there aren't any earthquakes, volcanic eruptions or locusts.

 

--- 6 ---

It's well documented that as an introvert, I don't like getting my hair cut out of fear that the person cutting my hair will force a lot of conversation on me when I'm a captive audience. But this week I had an amazing and almost miraculous experience at the local quicky haircut place. The employee and I exchanged our polite greetings, talked about how I wanted it cut, and then she pretty much never said another word to me until she was done. That's my kind of haircut!

 

--- 7 ---

Now, back to my daughter. She washed her hands, came out of the bathroom and said, "I wish the walls were made out of towel so I could dry my hands on the wall." Interesting idea. But I like mine better: I wish my shirt were made out of towel so I could justify drying my hands on my shirt.

 

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary.

 

 

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January 20, 2014

It Was His Time

One of the deacons at our church just returned from Nigeria with an amazing, albeit sad, story to tell. He was there to attend the funeral of his father who died at the age of 101. At his first Mass since returning, the deacon explained this remarkable experience in his homily. (Unfortunately, here you're only going to see my super-short, un-remarkable summary.)

His father seemed to know that it was his time. He'd been making a concerted effort lately to try to contact the people he had wronged or offended throughout his life to apologize and ask for their forgiveness. Just the same, he tried to contact those who'd wronged or offended him so he could forgive them.

Apparantly, he reached a point where he felt he had done all he could do. One night he gathered his family by his side, gave them all a blessing and told them that if he wasn't there in the morning not to worry. Sure enough, he passed away in the middle of the night.

Most of us probably won't have this kind of foresight when our time comes. Shouldn't we be living our lives each and every day the way the deacon's father did before he died?

 

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January 18, 2014

Flexing My (Fitbit) Muscle

I've been a Fitbit pedometer user for several years now. Recently I received my annual stats for 2013, and now I'm trying to figure out if or why they make sense Here's a sample:

My single most active day of the year was Thursday, February 7. What was it that made me so active on this day? I have no idea. I looked at my blog archives for some clues. I didn't post anything on that exact day, but I did post Quick Takes the next day. Unfortunately, nothing in that post referred specifically to February 7. But I did hear some funny comments from priests that week:

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.
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.”

My most active weekday throughout the year was Monday. Sounds reasonable that I'd be more active following the weekend, especially whenever it was a relaxing weekend without too much activity.

My most active month of 2013 was August. I posted 10 blog entries that month, but once again there's nothing in them that gives me a good idea why it was my most active. In fact, we took a mini-vacation in late August, and it wasn't an overly active trip. I would have thought maybe September would have been more active since I upgraded to a Fitbit Flex that month.

The stats show that my least active month of the year was June, and my seven blog entries that month don't give me any indication why.

And finally, my least active day throughout the year was Saturday. I'll accept that one. After a long exhausting week of work, I'm usually not interested in impressing my Fitbit on Saturday. After all, I'm sitting here writing this on a Saturday when I could be out enjoying life and doing something more active.

 

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January 17, 2014

7 Quick Takes Friday - Vol. 56 (Patio patience, glitter phobia, fun nun and more)


--- 1 ---

This is where I thought I'd unveil a photo of our first (and only) big home improvement project of 2014. Our house has an existing 10 x 10 patio outside the back door. So we're expanding it into something much bigger. Our concrete guy said he was planning to pour this week. But alas, his supplier won't be available until next week. So you'll have to come back next Friday to see a picture. This was actually going to be an end-of-2013 project, but our homeowners association didn't approve the plans until after the holidays.

--- 2 ---

Our concrete guy is seriously old school, and that helped keep the costs down. He doesn't even use email and had to snail mail the estimate to us after taking measurements of our back yard. Interestingly, one of the other contractors who gave us an estimate was a former Major League Baseball pitcher who now runs a construction company. His estimate seemed outrageously high. As my wife described it, he wanted to charge us major league money for our minor league yard.

--- 3 ---

I'd love to know more about the science of traffic. Why does it take so much time for the traffic flow on a highway to recover after an accident? I've been on the job in the same workplace for the last two years, and on Tuesday of this week I set a new personal record for the slowest morning commute. My 22-mile drive took one hour and 45 minutes (about an hour or more longer than usual for this time of year). There was an accident blocking one lane of traffic several miles ahead. The scene was cleared long before I got up to it, but the traffic flow never seemed to recover.

--- 4 ---

You'd think an introvert would be happy to skip a lot of hand shaking in a crowded room. But actually I felt kind of lonely during Mass last Sunday when it was time to offer the sign of peace. You see, in addition to the temporary flu-prevention measures that our church is taking (as I mentioned last week), we've also been asked to not shake hands during the sign of peace when serving as an extraoridnary minister of holy communion which I was that day. It felt awkward to keep my hands clasped while everyone else was shaking hands, like I was getting cheated out of peace.

--- 5 ---

My feelings about glitter are starting to affect my family life, sort of. I already mentioned in Quick Takes right after Christmas how I feel about glittery holiday cards. Well now my 7-year-old daughter has a little notebook that's completely covered in glitter on the front and back cover. It's been on our kitchen table a lot lately, and I think the tablecloth is now permanently engraned with specks of loose glitter. One day when I used a paper towel like a potholder to move the glittery book out of the way, my daughter said, "Daddy, why do you have glitter phobia?"

 

 

--- 6 ---

I think the pizza restaurant where we ate on Saturday night made a little mistake on the front window:

 

 

--- 7 ---

I'd love to have a little divine intervention if I played football. I was looking through the catalog of Catholic schools in our diocese, and one school included this photo:

I wonder if she calls all the plays?

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary.

 

 

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January 10, 2014

7 Quick Takes Friday - Vol. 55 (Kings for a day, dangerous decorations, holy cat and more)

 

--- 1 ---

I felt sorry for the three kings in our nativity scene. To keep things liturgically sound, we didn't actually move them into the scene by the manger until the Solemnity of the Epiphany of our Lord which was celebrated last Sunday. But every year we always take down all of our Christmas decorations on Epiphany. So basically the kings only get 15-minutes of fame each year. At least that's long enough for a photo op. Sorry, fellas.

 

--- 2 ---

Whenever I think of the three kings, I always regret that for most of my life I misunderstood the lyrics to the song We Three Kings. As everyone except for me has always known, the first line is, "We three kings of orient are bearing gifts we traverse afar." But I always used to sing, "We three kings of orient are bearing gifts we traveled so far." Go figure.

--- 3 ---

Taking down the Christmas decorations isn't usually a bloody affair. But I realized last weekend that it was a bad idea that I had strung some of our outside lights across a thorny rose bush. Dang, that bush got me good!

--- 4 ---

My 14-month-old daughter is even smarter than I thought. One of her Christmas gifts was a really cool Noah's Ark with lots of wooden animals to stick inside. The other day she somehow got her hands on a small Bible we had in the kitchen and wisely shoved it inside the ark with the animals. Good thinking, kid!

 

--- 5 ---

The flu is taking its toll on religion. By recommendation of our diocese, our church suspended the distribution of the Blood during communion at Mass. Normally I only receive the Body at communion (except when I'm serving as an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion) since receiving one way or the other fully "counts." But still, it's a shame to have to shake things up during such a powerful moment of the Mass.

 

--- 6 ---

Wow, that St. Francis of Assisi knows what he's doing. He really can talk to the animals. That seems to be what was happening during the deep freeze the other day. We have a statue of St. Francis in our backyard. And a couple of different times, my wife spotted a cat we've never seen before hanging out by the statue as the bitter cold winds howled.

 

--- 7 ---

Does Jay Leno still do funny newspaper headlines? If so, someone should send this one in. The headline itself is not funny; in fact it's quite scary. It's the automatically generated ad, appearing in the worst possible place, that caught my attention:

 

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary.

 

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January 6, 2014

Above My Reading Level

Since I've already recommended that you should read a book that I haven't even read yet, perhaps that gives me license to recommend that you not read another book that I also haven't read (or at least have barely read).

Confused? So am I by the book I've been trying to read. In fact, after reading only about 30 pages, I gave up, at least temporarily. It's a book with a serious topic, but I was actually quite amused while attempting to read it because of the style of writing.

It's called The Three Marks of Manhood: How to Be Priest, Prophet and King of Your Family by G.C. Dilsaver. If you didn't already know that he had a PhD, you'd probably make that assumption about the author if you read the book. In fact, according to his bio on Amazon, he has several degrees:

"In addition to Dr. Dilsaver's doctorate in clinical psychology he also has a master in the theology and ethics of marriage and family and a degree in philosophy."

Suffice to say, he incorporates every bit of his expertise in each of his fields of study into every single sentence. Feast your eyes on this maximum verbosity:

"Used by the state as fulcrum against the unacceptable non-govermental authority of the family, it is a powerful and pernicious movement indeed."

"Such a patricarchy must be imbued with the witnessing militancy of the Church, and, like the Church herself- which lost its temporal power and now finds herself reduced to her essential and indefectible nature as a spiritual power- the seminal new Christian patriarchy finds itself without societal, cultural, or even, in many ways, natural structures to facilitate its establishment."

"Indeed, as the Church expanded into gentile society she found herself in a morally decaying milieu much like that of the twentieth-century West, where an atmosphere of paganism, a tendency toward hyper-egalitarianism, and an ascendency of feminism pervaded." (I think the last person I heard use the word milieu was Diane Chambers on Cheers.)

"Just as the truth of the matter is quite the opposite of the contention that Christ's restoration and elevation of marriage did away with patriarchy, so too is it a diametrical falsehood that the nascent Church was merely aping the culture of her times when she advanced the teaching of patriarchy."

Pretty much every sentence in this book its like that. I get what he's saying, I think, but he could've said it much more simply. Many sentences require a little extra time for digestion.

Another thing that humorously bugs me is any time that a footnote takes up more space on a page than the main text itself. Check out this one:

And that's not all. This footnote actually continues on the next page! If you need that much space for a footnote, perhaps the point should be incorporated into the main text itself. Don't make me jump around.

In reality, I'm not trying to bad mouth this book and tell you not to read it. (Note the "humor" tag attached to this post.) But I really did have to put the book down and move on to something else for a while. The author is obviously very knowledgeable, and if this topic interests you then perhaps you'd like it. If you have a PhD and/or are a professional theologian, that would probably help too.

 

 

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January 3, 2014

7 Quick Takes Friday - Vol. 54 (Marble run, desperate dish, check me out and more)

 

--- 1 ---

The one Christmas present that's gotten the most mileage (literally) in our household this season is my 7-year-old's Marble Run. As the manufacturer says, you can, "Build a Marble Run track that twists, turns, and spins marbles at incredible speeds! These colorful chutes, tubes, drop-throughs, merry-go-rounds and spinners stack and click, with clear pieces for extra fun." Check it out in action, courtesy of my wife's phone:

 



 

--- 2 ---

I did some very profound thinking over the Christmas break. For example, it's never worth it to eat a candy cane. The effort it takes to peel off the plastic wrapper and the little crumbs that fall when you break off a piece just don't justify what you get in the end.

 

--- 3 ---

I have finally cut the cord. We watch so little television in our household that it seemed like a waste to keep paying for our Dish Network service. So I gave it the old heave-ho despite Dish begging and pleading for me to stay. The company even sent me an email a couple of days later saying that, "We belong together." No we don't! Our Roku streaming device and Amazon Prime subscription are enough to meet our limited viewing needs.

--- 4 ---

The first thing I was thankful for when I woke up on New Year's Day was that nobody's illegal fireworks started any brush fires in or around the neighborhood. I always feel the same way when I first wake up on July 5 too.

--- 5 ---

As planned, our family celebrated on December 31 by being asleep before Dick Clark's replacement rang in the new year. It was a quiet night of family fun at home, just the way an introvert likes it. But in a cruel twist of fate, the next night I wasn't able to fall asleep until 12:30 a.m.

--- 6 ---

I'm getting to know my new randomly generated patron saint for 2014. Conversion Diary's Saint's Name Generator came up with St. Cajetan for me, St. John Neumann for my wife, St. Peter Orseolo for my 7-year-old daughter and Blessed Margaret of Castello for my 14-month-old daughter. Eventually we'll figure out why these saints were assigned to us.

--- 7 ---

The self-checkout lanes at stores are so unpopular that some retailers have to beg you to use them. I was last in line (not a particularly long line) in a regular checkout lane at Home Depot the other day when a cashier tapped me on the shoulder and said she could help me in the self-checkout lane. Sure enough, she scanned my three A/C filters and one toilet tank flapper in the lane that isn't supposed to offer human help. One day I'll have to write about the time several years ago when I bailed out on an entire cart full of groceries (prior to paying) because of an incident in the self-checkout lane.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary; and don't forget to move the three kings into your nativity scene on the Feast of the Epiphany of our Lord on Sunday (and then put it away until December).

 

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January 1, 2014

When the (patron) saints go marching in

Happy new year. My randomly generated patron saint for the new year is...

 

St. Cajetan. You can have a patron saint of the year selected for you too with Conversion Diary's Saint's Name Generator.

I had never heard of St. Cajetan, and the first thing I thought when his name and info came up was uh oh because he's the patron saint of the unemployed. Hope I don't need him for that this year! Perhaps this is a call for me to pray for the unemployed throughout the year.

St. Cajetan did some remarkable things. In the 1500s when the Church was in rough shape, other people got fed up, quit and formed their own religions. But St. Cajetan was a reformer and worked hard to help strengthen the Church. He was so dedicated to helping the sick, poor and unemployed that he founded a hospital for "incurables" and a bank so people woudn't get ripped off by loan sharks. Pretty cool.

I had also used the Saint's Name Generator at the beginning of last year and came up with St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi for 2013. As I found out a year ago, this was not such a random choice after all since her feast day "coincidentally" happened to be the day we had already selected for our baby to be baptized. Once again, pretty cool!

 

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