Monday, March 24, 2008

And then there were two (at least)

Got an e-mail last week that was something new and interesting.

You see I heard from DaYouthGuy.

After some 7 years of doing this blog my "clever" (and it has been pointed out grammatically incorrect) title has popped up somewhere else.

Youth Ministry author Josh Coverett got in touch with me after launching his new website Seems that if you google dayouthguy you get all these links to some lunatic youth minister in western New York. Josh and I exchanged a couple very nice e-mails and have agreed to just march along side by side. Dayouthguys have to stick together.

Take a look at Josh's book "God's Nobody". The excerpt from the book shows a great touch and a real feel for talking with youth. Take a look at his comments and see reviews from youth and adults who've read the book from Washington to Wales (yeah, THE Wales).

So I'll be adding a link over on the right hand side here for the latest DaYouthGuy. Check out Josh and God's Nobody.


Thursday, March 20, 2008

For the Record

Because it comes up so much this time of year:

I do not like basketball.
I do not watch basketball.
There are only a few things about which I care less in American culture than who is in, out, on the bubble or is going to win the NCAA basketball championship.

March Madness is something I simply endure.
Tight lipped.

Go on, get it out of your systems and come back when you're rational again.

I hate this time of year.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

R.I.P. Arthur C Clarke

Scientist, author, visionary, scuba diver, Oscar nominee, President of the International Space University and knight of the realm. Only a few of the words to describe the man best known for writing "2001 - A Space Odyssey".
As a science fiction fan Clarke stood among the elite, the very top echelon of the genre. Isaac Asimov certainly out produced him (of course Asimov wrote more books than some countries), Robert Heinlein probably out sold him. It's hard to imagine anyone else at this level. (I can hear the SciFi fans getting wound up. Bring me anyone else that had this level of production, this kind of sweeping vision and who profoundly altered the landscape of the genre and we'll talk)

Clarke came up with the idea of communication satellites at a time when no one would even consider such ideas (he was turned down by at least one publication because the idea was considered too "fanciful"). Geo-synchronous orbits are referred to as Clarke orbits.

My favorite books of his include - 2001, Rendezvous with Rama, Tales from the White Hart(sci-fi and mystery and wordplay!)and Childhood's End.

A great loss.

Clarke was undecided on the subject of God in his lifetime but not a fan of religion. I hope that God will take Clarke's good sense about religion into consideration when they meet.

Rest in Peace and thank you for the adventures you led me on.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Thoughts on the Cart and the Horse

Periodically I'm invited to preach/speak at the time of the sermon. It's something I truly enjoy and for which I believe God has given me some gifts. The challenging part is that I'm restricted to a single subject - youth ministry. Finding a way to connect the readings to the subject is sometimes difficult!

I've never shared a sermon before because I'm not sure how interested anyone would be in what a diocesan youth missioner in a small diocese has to say. I've recorded several of them mostly as a check on how I did just like the old days on the radio.

With this one from earlier this month I think I pulled together some ideas that have been rattling around for some time. The worst that can happen is that no one listens (and unless you tell me I'll never know). My hope is that folks will feel free to let me know what they think so I can continue to refine my thoughts and ideas. This one is a little long by my standards. I try to keep in the 12-15 minute range and this one is just shy of 20.

I'm trained as an actor and have 19.5 years experience as a radio personality so I'm fairly confident in telling you that I'm not a bad speaker by most standards. Whether or not I know what I'm talking about is something else.

Listen to sermon

If you'd prefer to read the copy it can be found here.


Monday, March 17, 2008

Ummm, well, I guess...

Saw this over at Marko's blog and thought "Gotta try this one!". Then like Marko I got an answer that isn't quite what I was expecting. In the spirit of transparency I offer the answer (but PLEASE don't read too much into it! It's just a silly web thing)
What Book Are You?

You're Love in the Time of Cholera!

by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Like Odysseus in a work of Homer, you demonstrate undying loyalty by sleeping with as many people as you possibly can. But in your heart you never give consent! This creates a strange quandary of what love really means to you.
On the one hand, you've loved the same person your whole life, but on the other, your actions barely speak to this fact.
Whatever you do, stick to bottled water. The other stuff
could get you killed.

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

What a Weekend!

I'm so tired from this weekend I'm looking forward to going to work tomorrow!


Thursday we went and saw the taping of "Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me" from NPR The tickets were a birthday present to me from my lady wife. Great fun, good show. The guest for the "It's not my job" segment was PA governor Ed Rendell. Amazingly the category for him was "Madonna's movies" and he knew a LOT about them. I'm sure you won't be surprised to discover that New York's governor was the topic of much conversation during the show. 'Nuff sed.

Stayed in a great hotel just south of Pittsburgh which was very relaxing. Then went to see the "Bodies" exhibition at the Science Center. This exhibit is a bit controversial I know and to be honest this was more my lady wife's idea than mine. I'll say this while I found the exhibit a little disturbing I also found it fascinating and educational. The really great part were the several high school groups there on field trips. The kids were really into the educational aspects of what they were watching. Their attitude was focused and respectful. Listening to their teachers and them interact made the trip well worth it for me.

A quick visit with the in-laws which went fairly well. (My father in law has a habit of trying to get an argument started - he's very conservative and I'm, well, not. But I've gotten pretty good at dodging that. Just no profit there) Then back home in the evening.

Up the next morning to go deal with one of the more annoying aspects of my daughter's university. Easter break begins, dorms close at noon. So the cafeteria was only open for about an hour on Saturday. They do this all the time close the food service at very inconvenient times. Since the kid is on crew (follow spot) for the a play which had its last performance that evening at 7:30 we couldn't just go home.

So my lady wife got her ears pierced. Call it her mid-life crisis.

Then we went to Canada and gambled at the Niagara Falls Casino. It was kind of weird having my 20 year old daughter explain the way the casino works but we had fun, lost a little money and wandered through the shops.

Back for dinner, then saw the show ("Life is a Dream" by Pedro Calderon de la Barca) The set was fabulous and the student actors did some very nice work. We finally packed up and came home arriving at 12:30 AM on Sunday.

That would be PALM Sunday. So we were up and going to church this morning.

I'm so glad this weekend is over.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A big milestone

As I continue to try and whip myself back into shape I keep looking for new goals to achieve. In my swimming I've actually managed to do it.

Last week I'd hit 30 lengths and then realized that I'd been very close to a half mile swim. So this week I decided to go for it. Because I'm still not a competition class swimmer I knew I wasn't ready to do the whole thing non-stop so I broke it down. I needed to make 36 lengths so I decided on 4 sets of 9. I knew that 9 was doable (I did 20 last week at one point)so I felt pretty confident.

Well what I actually did was 3 sets of 10 (so that I could take my breather in the shallow end)and one set of 6. It was a challenge but didn't feel overwhelming.

So what's next? I'd like to get the time it takes to do this down some (took most of 40 minutes)and to try and stretch the number of lengths I do in a set till maybe I CAN do the whole thing in one long session. Heck I can drop it to only three sets by just doing two lengths more per set! So 12s and then 15s ought to come pretty quickly.

Hard to imagine that just a short time ago (18 months) I could barely do a single length.


Mary Ann in drug bust

This is just really sad. I will confess that in the great "Ginger or Mary Ann" debate I was ALWAYS a Mary Ann guy. It's hard for me to imagine that she's almost 70 now.
I'll hope she gets through her probation without any trouble.

Here's the Mary Ann of my boyhood dreams.


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Feeling Stupid

Just got back from a lightning trip down the hill to my bank. Earlier today I'd run down to take out some money and to get a couple rolls of quarters. I have no idea what the quarters are for, my lady wife requested them and I, her humble servant merely do as he is told. As I walked back out the door I thought, "I forgot to grab my ATM receipt!"

So veered over and grabbed it.

Completely overlooking the fact that my ATM card was ALSO still in the machine!

That was at 12:30. The dawn of realization (a harsh, critical light I might add)rose at 4 PM. So after a quick moment of mental self flagellation I walked quickly down the block and a half to my bank.

As it turns out I was one of TWO folks who managed to get their cards swallowed by the machine (apparently the default position for the machine is if you leave the card there long enough it assumes you're stupid and puts the card somewhere safe)

My card has been restored to its proper place.

My ego is sulking in the corner.


Monday, March 10, 2008

Yes it was utterly amazing. We were just five rows behind the stage (which are GREAT seats for a Springsteen concert) I won't rant and rave too much more. Here's the set list, it's the longest on the tour so far. If you enjoy a great rock show you'd have loved this. Songs in bold are ones that were especially good

The Ties That Bind
Radio Nowhere
Lonesome Day
Be True
Gypsy Biker
Reason to Believe
Because the Night
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
The Promised Land
I'll Work for Your Love
Working on the Highway
Devil's Arcade
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
* * *
Buffalo Gals
Girls in Their Summer Clothes
Thunder Road
Detroit Medley
Born to Run
Dancing in the Dark
American Land

On the weight loss front I lost just a single pound. But that's actually not too bad considering I went out to eat and had a couple beers before and after the concert. Hope to kick that up this week. I'm about half way through the contest but less than half way to my goal. Down 15 pounds out of about 35.

In other news apparently my governor is an idiot. You can decide for yourself. Need to check and see who the next person in the line of succession is. I'm not sure how you survive when you're supposed to be "Mr Clean" and then do this. Moron.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

I am SO excited!

For the Springsteen fanatic (How did I ever not know about this site?)
Check out Backstreets

Here's the encore set from Monday's show in Hamilton
Girls in Their Summer Clothes
Thunder Road
Kitty's Back
Born to Run
Dancing in the Dark
American Land

I've got chills just thinking about it.

Some catching up

I'll toot my own horn and recommend that you check out the next post down too. I think it's one of my better ones.

Busy, busy, busy.

I had the chance to preach again last Sunday. I must admit I enjoy the chances I get (with a background in theater and radio I guess that's hardly surprising). Based on the reactions I get I'm not too bad at it. I don't usually post the scripts (I write out the full sermon. It's helpful in shaping exactly what I want to say. Then I go over it several times till I'm very familiar with the copy. I do NOT read the script. I've tried other ways and I'm just not happy with them. I try to be a bit of a "wordsmith" and that great phrase of two days ago too often slips my mind on Sunday)but I did a digital recording of this one. I think the message is important enough that I may post the file. Still debating on that one.

My weight loss contest is kind of stuck but in a good place. For the first time in probably close to 20 years I looked down at the scale and it did NOT tell me I weighed 200 some pounds! There was a 1 leading the way. Very nice. Add in an absolutely great workout today (I swam 750 yards, 30 25 yard lengths - a new personal record) and I'm feeling pretty good.

Oh yes and then a plug for the world's two best brothers (your siblings are probably wonderful people but I got the best). Tomorrow I cash in my Christmas present from the other "boys" a pair of tix to see Bruce Springsteen! This is going to be just amazing!


Are You Ready?

This is my column from the March issue of our diocesan newspaper

When I was in college a group of us discussed “What do you want to be when you grow up?”. There was one answer that puzzled me. A young lady in the group said she wanted to be a “star”. That puzzled me then and it puzzles me now. Based on the lives of some of our current generation of “stars” the concept looks greatly overrated. Then and now what I hope for IF I ever grow up is that I'll be good enough at what I do to earn the respect of the people around me. Maybe someday I'll get a shot at being a star (I'd do it right of course) but if I don't that's OK too. I want to be ready to do the right thing when the moment arrives.
I was thinking about that concept after this year's Super Bowl. Going into the game we knew who the “stars” were. Brady, Moss, Manning, Strahan. We expected them to do their star thing, to lead the way, to be the “story” of the Super Bowl. Instead we got David Tyree. Caught the first of the two Giants' touchdowns and made that incredible, holding-the-ball-against-his-helmet catch. David Tyree is going to be on NFL highlight films for the next 20 years.

Coming into that game David Tyree was about as far from a “star” as you can get.

For the season Tyree was the 12th most productive receiver on the team. He caught 4 passes. Four. None of them for touchdowns. He played in 12 games out 16 in the regular season and caught four passes. Two rookies caught more passes than he did.

But at the moment when he was needed, David Tyree was ready.

Sometimes it feels like the “star” game works its way into Christianity. We hear Christians who talk about being “Prayer warriors”, how strong in the faith they are, about what great mission work they're doing, how many souls they brought to Jesus. I'll admit that I even buy into sometimes. I look at them and think “Wow, I can't do that. They're accomplishing so much more.” It makes me feel bad. On really bad days it makes me wonder if I shouldn't just pack it in. I can never be a “star”. Sainthood is beyond my grasp. Besides St. Jay of Jamestown just sounds silly.

When I stop and think about it I realize I don't need to be a star. I need to work on being the best possible me I can. David Tyree showed up for practice every day. He worked hard. Most days no one other than his teammates looked at him twice. Until Super Bowl Sunday.

I don't know when my Super Bowl Sunday of faith may arrive. So I have to prepare every day, work on being the best child of God I can be at the moment. It's possible I'll never be a “star”. The day may come when I get the chance to show what a life in faith should look like. The day may come when I need to be a vehicle for Christ in the world. In fact those days probably come a lot more often than we realize.

Are you ready?