April 29, 2014

JP II tears

With the canonization of Pope John Paul II (I need to start remembering to call him Saint John Paul II) last weekend, I'm reminded of a short but very touching conversation between a little boy and a priest after Mass soon after the pontiff's death.

I was a newly minted Catholic at the time, having received my sacraments at the Easter Vigil just a few days before Saint John Paul II died in 2005. A week or so after that, my wife and I were walking out of Mass, and I saw a little boy around five years old step up to our pastor who was greeting people out front.

The priest was a tall and intimidating looking guy (but very nice) and towered over the boy. The kid said, "Fr. Sam, did you cry when the pope died?" Without needing a moment to think, the priest responded, "Yes!"

[Photo courtesy: usccb.org]


April 25, 2014

7 Quick Takes - Vol. 69 (Insurance humor, arthritic Elmo, iPad licking and more)

I always appreciate a server with a sense of humor. After lunch at a restaurant with the wife and kids recently, I placed my credit card into the little bill portfolio, and right as the server walked up to take it, my almost-18-month-old daughter reached out and grabbed the credit card. I said, "My daughter's trying to take my credit card." The waiter replied, "Get used to it, sir."

Too bad the auditors at my insurance company don't have a sense of humor.  They sent a letter asking for verification that I actually do have children/dependents. Obviously the insurance company has never seen the inside of my house! 

Isn't it exciting when you see the UPS truck pull up out front? Yes, unless the UPS guy is teasing you. Look what happened at our house. 

At least he noticed he had the wrong address before actually delivering the package.

As I parent I find myself saying things I'm sure I would never need to say if I didn't have children. Here's an example from the other day: "Hey, don't lick the iPad!" I don't have any pets, but I suppose this something a dog owner might say too.

I decided that it's time to bring Elmo Live back to life, but it didn't go well. He's been a good sock holder on the top of my dresser for a few years (see Quick Take #7 over here), but now I thought my younger daughter might enjoy him. So I charged up his batteries (took about two hours) and turned him on. Unfortunately, Elmo seems to have developed arthritis and osteoporosis. My daughter was not amused and didn't want to go anywhere near him. 

And speaking of scary robotic toys that might get you in the middle of the night, check out this creepy Easter bunny we saw last weekend.

We're off to an all-day conference this weekend to celebrate Devine Mercy Sunday, courtesy of Fullness of Truth Ministries. If you're Catholic, don't forget about the opportunity for a plenary indulgence. Go for it.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary.
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April 18, 2014

No Quick Takes

No 7 Quick Takes Friday for me on Good Friday. Have a blessed Easter.

[Photo courtesy: My wife]


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April 11, 2014

7 Quick Takes - Vol. 68 (Cold printer, Pop Rocks, Harangenstein and more)

--- 1 ---

I have a great idea for an invention. Feel free to run with my idea, create the product, and then we'll split the profits. The brilliant invention: a large office printer/scanner/copier that doesn't need an exorbitant amount of time to warm up. It's 2014. I can do just about everything from the palm of my hand on a smartphone. But when I print something, I have to stand there like a moron and wait forever for the copier to warm up. I even hugged the copier at work the other day to see if that would help it warm up faster. It didn't.

How can it be ready and warming up at the same time?


--- 2 ---

Ernie Banks would be proud of the double header my family endured last Saturday. No, not baseball. I'm talking about the kid birthday party circuit. My seven-year-old (and her loving parents!) attended back-to-back birthday parties: one from 2-4 p.m., and the other from 5-9 p.m. We all had a good time, but you can just imagine how cranky everyone was when it was time to settle down for bed.


--- 3 ---

Whose idea was it that every kid who attends a birthday party should go home with a goody bag? I don't remember this from when I was a kid. But it seems to be the norm nowadays. And yes, when we host parties for our kids, we give out goody bags too. I did about 30-seconds of internet research to find the origins of this custom. But mostly I just found advertisements for businesses that will sell you pre-filled goody bags to buy for your kid's next party.


--- 4 ---

One of the goody bags had an interesting candy inside: Pop Rocks. It wasn't actually the Pop Rocks brand, but it reminded me of the urban legend when I was a kid that said if you put Pop Rocks in your mouth and then took a swig of Coke, the candy would explode, and you'd die.


--- 5 ---

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas. My daughter received these sparkly red pencils in her goody bags from both parties. Of course, little girls love anything glittery. As for me, well, I kind of have a thing about glittery Christmas cards. But I'll put on a happy face about the glittery pencils, because I appreciate the kind families who gave them to our daughter.


--- 6 ---

I'm not usually one to complain about the weather. But could things be any crazier around here? We actually had to turn the heat on the other day in April -- in Texas.


--- 7 ---

There were a couple of celebrity look-alikes on the mound during the Braves home opener the other night. My daughter thought Braves starter Aaron Harang looked like Frankenstein's Monster, and she drew a funny picture of him. Meanwhile, I thought Mets starter Bartolo Colon looked like Andre the Giant.

Frankenstein's Monster = Aaron Harang
Bartolo Colon = Andre the Giant

[Baseball player photos courtesy: mlb.com; Andre the Giant photo courtesy: wwe.com]

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary


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April 7, 2014

Is It True? - Vol. 4 (Driver's License Edition)

I can't believe it's almost been a year since my last Is It True? post. What took me so long? Here's how this works. I'm going to tell you two stories about me, but one is fake.

I had a rather unusual (and unlawful) experience one time when I was getting my driver's license. However, only one of these stories is real. Can you tell which one?

#1 (Un)Licensed to Drive

During my first year of college about 25-years ago, I needed to get a new driver's license because my current license was from another state. I didn't own a car at the time, but a friend agreed to drive me to the driver's license place and wait with me in the long line.

Since I already had an existing license, all I had to do was take the written test. I passed the test after a long wait and then had to wait even longer until they called my name when it was my turn to get my picture taken for the license.

Here's where things got a little crazy. And keep in mind that security back then was not nearly as strict as it is today, especially when it comes to ID cards. We waited and waited and waited, but there still seemed to be many other people ahead of me. Nature was calling, and I couldn't take it anymore. Actually nature had been calling ever since we arrived, but I reached the point where I had to go, or else. So I handed my paperwork to my friend and told him to listen for my name so I wouldn't miss my turn.

I won't go into the dirty details, but I must have eaten something that really upset my stomach because I was in the bathroom for a long time. And sure enough, I missed it when my name was called.

You'd think my friend would've just said I was in the men's room and would be right back. But, no. When he heard my name, he daringly handed my paperwork to the clerk, and she took his picture and put it on my driver's license!

He got a big kick out of it and was laughing hysterically when I came out. Many of my other college buddies thought it was funny too. But I was pretty mad at the time. If I handed that license to a police officer, it would have been obvious that I wasn't the guy in the photo. But since I didn't have a car anyway, there was no immediate need for me to drive.

About a month later I figured the best thing to do was to go back to the license office (someone else gave me a ride this time) and apply for a replacement because I had "lost" my old one. Actually, I cut it up with scissors and threw it away.

Is it true? Did I really have someone else's face on my driver's license?

#2 Caution: Student Driver

I obtained my first driver's license when I was in high school. My school had an agreement with a state-certified driving instructor where he would teach a driving class for part of a semester and then administer the official written test to the class. Everyone who passed would then have the opportunity to take the driving test right there on the school campus and get a license.

On the first day of the class, the classroom was overly packed. The driving instructor was a rather ornery fellow. One of the first things he did was complain to all of us that our high school allowed way too many students to take the class, and there was absolutely no way he would have enough time to give everyone the required amount of instruction and behind-the-wheel practice for people our age to qualify for a driver's license.

The classroom fell silent when he said this because we were all teenagers and were immediately terrified that we wouldn't be able to get our first driver's licenses. But then Mr. Ornery offered us a deal. I don't recall his exact words, but he said something like this:

"I'll give you all a choice right now. I will either randomly select 15 people to cut from the class so I can instruct everyone properly, or I'll let everyone stay on one condition: you have to keep your mouths shut about not getting enough instruction and practice time behind the wheel. I will verify that you had enough training, but it'll be up to you to pass the written and driving tests to get your license."

Obviously everybody wanted to get a driver's license no matter what. So the quick consensus of the class was that we'd keep quiet about the lack of instruction. And so we did. I passed the written and driving tests and have been a licensed driver ever since.

Is it true? Did I really get my first driver's license without the state-mandated instruction?

Only one of these stories is real.


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April 4, 2014

7 Quick Takes - Vol. 67 (Sinful words with friends, waspinator, carrot on the brain and more)

--- 1 ---

I always cringe when I hear someone's cell phone ring at church. And after what happened at Mass last Sunday I need to make an amendment to my classifications of people whose phones ring during a religious service. From the row directly behind me I heard the distinctive sound that a mobile device makes when you play a word in Words with Friends. If you're going to play a video game during Mass (for shame!) please at least remember to turn your sound off.


--- 2 ---

I have a warning for all wasps: don't mess with me in my backyard. You see, I have a thing about wasps. And now that we've expanded our back patio and are finally experiencing some warmer weather, we've spotted a few wasps flying reconnaissance missions while we've been out back trying to have some family fun. So I'm keeping the wasp killer (with a spray range of 20 feet) close by, and I found an un-opened Waspinator in the garage that I bought and forgot about a few years ago. It's now hanging on our patio. This thing better work!


--- 3 ---

This is totally an introvert thing: I can't stand aggressive sample peddlers at grocery stores. They were especially loud during our (brave) family trip to the Costco last weekend. Some people love the idea of being able to eat and drink free samples all over the store. For me, I try to make extra wide turns with the shopping cart to avoid the sample tables. It just makes me uncomfortable to have someone calling out to me as I walk by trying to mind my own business.


--- 4 ---

If grocery stores are going to offer samples, at least use products that are somewhat interesting. The Costco had some poor guy offering samples of plain old Hellmann's mayonnaise. Who doesn't know what mayo tastes like?


--- 5 ---

I think children's brains are wired to crave junk food, even when they don't like it. While we walked through the bakery at the Costco, my seven-year-old daughter pointed at a fancy-looking carrot cake and excitedly said, Oooooh, carrot cake!" My wife said, "Oh, do you like carrot cake?" My daughter responded, "Not really."


--- 6 ---

I live in a part of Texas where cycling is especially popular. Around here you see people on bikes (legally) riding in the main lanes of city streets with vehicular traffic all the time. But I spotted something the other day that I rarely see: a happy-looking couple on a tandem bike. The brand of the bike was Co-Motion. Clever, huh?


--- 7 ---

It's good to teach your kids good dental habits while they're young. But not this young. This is what happens when your baby accidently gets a hold of the dental floss. Time to go the store and buy more.


For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary.


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