Monday, September 29, 2008

Monday update - September 29

The Weekend That Was
- I guess it was OK. My lady wife was at a Happening teaming then went to visit the kid at college so was gone basically all day. So did a few chores around the house and goofed off. Then Sunday was church and an ordination (Yay, Mother Cathy!) at the Cathedral. Then I dropped off something at the kid's apartment too. Didn't get home to a little late so that was basically the whole weekend. Did watch the Formula 1 race in Singapore. A first ever night race under the lights. Just amazing. Even more amazing was Ferrari's TERRIBLE day (they scored ZERO points). Really weird.

The To Do List - The video stuff remains at the top of the list. I started work on the big video last week only to have my computer develop some kind of brain cramp. I spent the weekend trying to massage that out. We'll see if that changes anything.

What Am I Procrastinating About?
- Just stuff in my personal life. I need to buckle down.

What Am I Watching/Reading/Listening To? I've pretty much given up on "The Ice Diaries". Don't know why but it's not grabbing me. I am reading "Storming Las Vegas" a real life story about a Cuban, Marielito refugee who had been trained in his previous life as a Soviet era special forces "Spetznaz" trooper who robbed a string of Las Vegas armored cars and casinos (including the Bellagio) back in 1999 and 2000. It's been fascinating so far.

I haven't listened to much music nor seen any movies this week. Depressing. Did bump off three "Speaking of Faith" podcasts over the weekend. They were "The Business of Doing Good" which looked at businesses that are trying to change the world and thrive as businesses. Which was very interesting. "Brother Thay - A Radio Pilgrimage with Thich Nhat Hanh" This is a well known Vietnamese Buddhist teacher who is very interesting. Sadly the show eventually became a lot of interviews with his students who all said what a great teacher he is. Got a bit boring. And finally "Evangelical Politics - Three Generations". How about Chuck Colson, Greg Boyd and Shane Claiborne on the same stage talking about the relationship between church and politics? All three had great things to say but it was Claiborne that really spoke to me the most.

Next Up The videos! The videos. The videos. Oh and another weigh in on the new weight loss contest is tomorrow. I'm not sure I've lost anything this week. Oh wait! I start playing volleyball with the parish team tonight. Last time I played volleyball I was in high school. (Yes, volleyball's been around THAT long!). So I may post tomorrow from a hospital room.

How Am I Doing Meh. I've had a sore throat all weekend. I woke up all froggy voiced this morning. I've tons of things to do. So I'm feeling a little stressed right now.


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Bits o news

Been a strange week so far:

A very dear friend at church passed away yesterday. It was not unexpected in any way but it's still sad. She was a special lady and will be missed. Funeral tomorrow.

Had to take our older cat to the vet yesterday because she had pretty much lost all interest in anything. She barely flinched when the kitten would jump on her and gnaw on her head rather than growling and hissing per usual. And she wouldn't even budge when my lady wife came into the house. This cat has always treated her as the "goddess" and needs her undivided attention for at least 20 minutes at the end of every day. The last three days? Didn't even turn her head. The early word is not good -liver damage, kidney damage. She's a very sick kitty with a very poor prognosis. She's in the animal hospital for the time being.

In news of lighter note and less importance -

My first weigh in on my new contest put me in the top 5. I doubt I'll stay there. Lost just over 2% of my initial weight. I would really love to drop below that next 10 pound milestone. Just four pounds away.

Dropped out of the top 10 in the football pool. It was a wretched week. Come on the Dolphins beating the Patriots? And a serious case of tail whoopin' at that. A couple other teams let me down as well. So I fell to 11th place. Still picked something like 10 out 16 games last week but got several high point games that I missed. Need a better week this week. Only 13 games to pick.

I've spent most of the day waiting on a software download that I need for the big project I'm sitting on. So everything has been on hold. Doing lots of little things.


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

On being disliked

It came up again the other day.

Some people don't like me.

That's always kind of, well, puzzled me. I suppose it shouldn't. I know for a fact (because she's told me so) that my lady wife didn't like me much at all when we met in college. I know also that my academic advisor was hoping I'd transfer preferably to a different college (He actually got his wish for a semester). As a young man I protected myself with an facade of nearly unbearable bravado. I behaved as if I were supremely confident to cover my utter lack of confidence.

Do I still do that? I don't think so. Many, many people seem to like me. I've worked hard to lower my guard and be myself. It's taken years of work but I do believe that I'm pretty good at several things I do.

So why don't people like me?

My thoughts would include:

1: Because I am a confident person. I've been fairly successful at several things over the years. I know what I'm good at. I don't brag about it (any more) but I'm not going to be falsely modest either.

2: Because I'm smart. No, I don't think I'm bragging. My IQ has tested consistently well above average. I'm fairly well read and I read widely. Consequently I know a bit about a great many subjects. I know, like and use big words sometimes. Because they're the best words for the moment I believe. Traditionally American culture doesn't like smart people. The anti-intellectual strain still runs deep. You can be a second rate jock and be a "regular guy" that everyone loves. A brilliant nerd will always be the butt of jokes.

3: Because I believe what I believe. I try not to hold opinions without some basis. Because I do try to get a deeper understanding before I take a position I'm not likely to give up that position easily. I am open to having my mind changed. You will need to have a COMPELLING argument to do it and you can expect that I will challenge the basis for your argument and question you on the details. People don't like that.

4: Because I expect people to work as hard and care as much as I do. Not about everything. If baseball bores you, more power to you. But if we work together, I work hard. I expect a lot of myself and I don't see any reason why you should get paid to do half ass work. Now I acknowledge that we need to be judged by the quality of our gifts. I don't expect you to match me in areas where you are not as gifted as I am. Or vice versa. But I expect you to work hard to achieve whatever level you are capable of achieving. You'll have my support and I expect yours. I once told a group of my former co-workers that the company had given us everything we need to succeed and if we didn't they should fire us all. They complained to the boss who, astoundingly to me, TOOK THEIR SIDE!!! I was told I expected too much of people. I don't think so.

5: I don't kiss butt. I avoid playing office politics whenever possible. That cost me a job once. I'm not going to pretend just to make you feel better. When I've been a supervisor I've tried to be as gentle and caring as possible when I have to chew someone out. But they get chewed out.

As a younger man it bothered me tremendously that people disliked me. I will admit it still bothers me a bit. But I am who I am. I am flawed but I'm working on those flaws. Otherwise I'm comfortable with who I am. I'll take whatever comes because of it. I walked out after losing my last job with my head held high. I left honorably and without compromising on what I felt was important.

In the end I need to look at myself in the mirror, I need to face my family and friends and be able to say I did what I thought was best. I did what I believed was right.

And if you don't like me? I sincerely ask that you sit down with me and tell me why. Offer me the chance to explain or change. I will listen as openly as I am able. If our differences are too great then at least we can part with honest understanding between us.


Monday, September 22, 2008

Monday Update - September 21

The Weekend That Was
- Fairly quiet weekend. My lady wife was away on Saturday (she's on Happening team for the next weekend) so I cleaned. Don't know why but when she's gone I have an uncontrollable desire to clean. She finds that odd but a perfectly acceptable odd. Sunday was our first Youth Commission meeting of the new program year. The big news was the beginning of our camp re-examination process and the first of a set of recommendations for change. All of which was met very positively. Which was cool. Then the Steelers game. We shall not speak of that.

The To Do List - The video stuff goes to the top of the list (you mean it stays at the top of the list you slacker!) plus a few other smaller chores.

What Am I Procrastinating About?
- Nothing at the moment.

What Am I Watching/Reading/Listening To? I'm reading two books right now - The Ice Diaries - written by Capt. Wm. Anderson, the second commander of the nuclear submarine Nautilus. Nautilus was the first ever nuke sub, went under the artic ice cap and a bunch of other cool stuff. I will admit that what grabbed my attention first was that the dust cover on this book only covers the bottom half of the book itself. Never seen one like it before.

The other book is "Free For All" by Don Borchert. This is about one of my favorite places in the world, the public library. Written by a Los Angeles area librarian (be warned, librarians know a lot of "naughty" words!) Borchert pulls no punches about some of the folks who use the library and how they are run. As I checked it out the librarian told me she had read it and loved it so I'm guessing it's not far from the mark even in my little corner of the world.

The movies for this week were:

- caught this on AMC. An all-star cast in a really creaky WWII film about one of the great naval battles of that war. The dialogue was truly wooden. But it's a fun movie to play spot the stars on. It was OK.

Garden State
- This was a much better movie! Funny, kinda quirky, fun cast (Zach Braff, Natalie Portman and Ian Holm) about a New Jersey boy who comes home for his mother's funeral, faces some of his personal demons, re-discovers the ability to feel and, oh yeah, falls in love with Natalie Portman. Some guys have all the luck. Another great little indie film.

Next Up The videos! Must make progress on the videos! Plus get the camp stuff rolling. Oh and the first weigh in on the new weight loss contest is tomorrow.

How Am I Doing Better. The meeting went well, I have an excellent weight to report, the sky is blue and the sun is shining. Which means I've forgotten something.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Aaaaaarrrrrr! It's talk like a Pirate day!

I first came across this bit of silliness years ago. It's just too much fun to pass up.

So Ahoy mateys! Welcome aboard my Pirate ship the "Poison Sabre of Hell", (name generator)

I am your captain: Iron Sam Kidd
"A pirate's life isn't easy; it takes a tough person. That's okay with you, though, since you a tough person. Even though you're not always the traditional swaggering gallant, your steadiness and planning make you a fine, reliable pirate. Arr!"

Get your own pirate name from

The original "Talk Like a Pirate" website.

So greet the day with an Arr or I'll have the lot of ye keelhauled!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Something for the middle of your week

Really, this was just too much fun to pass up. As someone whose personal piety balances between the catholic and protestant this just cracks me up. then I think about it and realize how sad it makes me. The number of people in America who have no real understanding of the language they speak each day just appalls me. I had a co-worker back in the day who insisted in substituting the word 'mute' for 'moot' which drove me bonkers. The list is endless. I will confess that upon occasion I misuse a term, we all do. It's folks who insist on using words about which they don't have the slightest inkling of comprehension that makes me crazy.

By the way this is from the site "Not Always Right" which is now a regular vice for me. If you've ever worked in retail you'll love. And you'll probably love even if you've NEVER worked in retail.

Football pool update - I'm up to NINTH place after this week! I got the same number of games right but got more of my high point games so I improved by a handful of points. Top 10. We'll see how long that lasts. Next weeks Steelers game isn't going to be fun to pick.

And the weight loss thing - Matthew McNutt is firing up another weight loss challenge and I'm in. The Biggest Loser debuted the new season last night and I was moved as always. It makes my goal of losing 20-30 pounds seem pretty pathetic. They have TWO contestants who are medically restricted to only 30 minutes of exercise a DAY. If they can lose the weight surely I can too. My official starting weight is 198 pounds, which is actually a couple pounds heavy. I had my photos taken to start the competition then realized I had omitted something and had to re-take them at the end of the day after dinner. So I'm going to get a first week boost of a couple pounds. But I've been losing and re-gaining those 2-3 pounds all summer. And I'm being honest about it here. I did in fact weigh that much at the time I had to get the weigh-in photo. That's about 5 pounds above my ending weight after the last one.

Same plan, eat smart, eat less, exercise. We'll see.


Monday, September 15, 2008

Monday Update - September 15 2008

The Weekend That Was
- Well my adventure in self injury is detailed elsewhere. Went to the ordination and installation of a new priest just down the road. Got a great turnout from all over the diocese which was cool. Over 150 packed into a pretty small church in Randolph. Quiet otherwise. Steelers, Bills and astoundingly Pirates all came up winners. Watched some TV and relaxed. Nice weekend actually.

The To Do List - Still have video work to do, I have a very important fax to send, some calls to make, and prepare for Youth Commission on Sunday.

What Am I Procrastinating About?
- Pretty much all of the above. I'm pathetic, lol!

What Am I Watching/Reading/Listening To? Still working on the Sci-Fi collection, watched an episode of Foyle's War a British mystery set during WW II. I love the characters and the acting and oh yes, there's Miss Honeysuckle Weeks (that's her REAL name NOT the character!) who I much enjoy watching as well.

Do not expect me to be ashamed of enjoying God's good work. She is easy on the eyes AND can act. Even my lady wife agrees.

Next Up The next big thing is Youth Commission. But there's also a car appointment too. Oh yes and as of tomorrow I begin the next weight loss contest. As of today I've gained back 5 of the 25 pounds I lost in the spring. Yes, it feels good to be this light. How much better will it feel after the next 20? Oh and I've decided to play on the church volleyball team at the YMCA for exercise too.

How Am I Doing I'm grumpy about those returning pounds.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

How embarrassing

I'm afraid I've done myself an injury.

It's really rather embarrassing.

You see I've given my big toe on my right foot a rather solid whack. Hurt like blazes. It's swollen a bit and turning rather black and blue.

How did I do it you ask?

Well that's the embarrassing bit I'm afraid.

I dropped a pound of frozen hamburger on it. From chest height. Slid out of the freezer. And I don't wear shoes around the house much.

It is absolutely amazing how much that hurts.

So I'm icing it down, taking some aspirin and hoping for the best. Doesn't appear to be broken, which is the good news.

I get injured in the most ridiculous ways.



Friday, September 12, 2008

Oh where to even begin!?!


Here's the headline:

Dad chases nude boy from daughter's room with pipe

I'm the father of a daughter.
My first reactions were - amusement and understanding.

Yes, if I'd ever caught a naked young man in my daughter's bedroom I would have reacted badly. I readily admit it.

And yes, this seems funny at first blush.

Here's what's not so funny:

Dad didn't even know darling daughter HAD a boyfriend.
Dad didn't know this had been going on for a year.
Dad opened up naked boy's scalp with that pipe.

On the last one I have to give him a partial pass. He heard a noise and found a naked stranger standing in his daughter's bed. My first reaction to that is "Daughter in danger. Must kill person putting daughter in danger". I'm sorry if that's not terribly PC, or evolved or whatever. If I think you're hurting my family you're in mortal danger. Period. End of sentence. Discussion over. I'm willing to bet that it's the same for the vast majority of guys.

No the real problem is that Daddy and daughter clearly have a communication problem. Daughter doesn't feel like she wants or can share with Daddy. She also feels safe enough that Daddy's not going to wander by while she and naked boy get on whatever form of whoopee they favor. There's a year's worth of evidence to support that point of view.

Since I don't know anything about the family I'll pass on trying to judge who's at fault. In my experience it's usually a bit of everyone.

In the end the lies and the lack of connection between parent and child ended up putting a young man in the hospital and may put Daddy in prison.

Call it a cautionary tale.


Thursday, September 11, 2008


From last year.
Nothing new to add.

Today I Remember

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

And the latest update is...

Had a little adventure today trying to leave Binghamton.

The car I drove doesn't have a functional "dinger" (warning chime I believe is the correct terminology but everyone I know says "dinger") for leaving the lights on. When I got to Binghamton yesterday I'd had them on for visibility but it was a bright shiny day and I never noticed. So they got left on.

For 20 hours.

Can you say "dead battery"? Oh, so very dead.

Bad words, bad words, bad words.

So my very good friend Debi Clarke from the Diocese of New Jersey agreed to give the battery a jump. Actually Debi said I could use her car for the jump because she knows nothing about cars and in many ways would be perfectly happy if cars didn't exist. That was fine because routine stuff like jumping batteries was something I learned early from my dad.

First problem - Debi has never actually popped open her own hood and isn't sure how to do it. Now this may sound like I'm picking on Debi but the truth is I looked at the owner's manual, looked where it was supposed to be and I didn't see it either! A black plastic handle up against a black plastic wall just kinda disappears. Eventually we figured it out together.

Second problem - The battery in her VW (Jetta I think) is actually HIDDEN! It's in a weird place (behind the engine compartment just below the passenger side windshield) and it's actually covered with a sliding panel! There is a symbol for the battery impressed into the panel but again - black on black. We figured it out.

Third problem - Note I said it's on the PASSENGER side of the engine bay. The only available slot next to my car was on MY passenger side. Yep, jumper cables came up about 18 inches short.

At this point I began to laugh. I sent my lady wife a text telling her my departure was being delayed and why. I could hear her laughter right across the state.

So now my good friend Kep Short, also of the Diocese of New Jersey, pulls his car up. The hood pops open, the battery isn't hidden and IS on the traditional side and all is good. As my battery charged a little Kep took a second look at his own engine bay and discovered the last tech to work on it left one of those rechargeable flashlights sitting just behind the air filter. Had probably been riding around that way for a couple weeks maybe?

All this as Binghamton drizzled on our heads.

Car started. Deb and Kep headed east. I headed west. The rest of the trip was wonderfully boring.

On another front I've hooked back up with the football pool I did last year. I won't bore you with too many details but the first week went OK. I got 11 out of 16 games right. I picked the Colts, Chargers, Lions (against a rookie QB!), Titans, and Bengals. The Colts, Chargers and Titans are probably anomalies (not positive about the Titans) and the Bengals and Lions are probably going to be just awful this season.

After week one I'm listed in 20th place although places 18,19 and 20 were all identical. But 20th is still much better than where I spent most of last season. This coming week looks like a complete field of landmines. Maybe I'll get lucky.

Good to be home.


Morning in Binghamton

On the road for the Province II youth network meeting. I really enjoy meeting with these folks. Being a diocesan youth minister is a very small "club". There are fewer than 100 of us so a chance for us to get together and share. Plus looking at doing some great things on a provincial basis. The plan (I'll have more details soon) is to do a provincial youth mission trip down to Gulf Coast to continue the process of rebuilding post-Katrina. I'm very excited about the possibility.

One of the traditions of these meetings is dinner out. We laugh and eat and just have a fine old time. These are really special people. It's worth the time invested.

The drive from home is about 4 hours and yesterday was a great day to drive. I popped a book on CD into the player (Robert Louis Stevenson's "Treasure Island" - which I'm REALLY enjoying). I'll finish it up on the ride home. Which will be in the rain. Sigh.

Well back to the office tomorrow. So much to do.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Monday morning update

OK this was not intended to become the entirety of this blog. Can't believe that I only posted once last week. I'll do better I promise.

The Weekend That Was
- I suppose I should include all of last week too. Truth be told that not much happened. Work began on some of the video projects but was stalled because the computer was being stupid. Things cleared up by the end of the week. The weekend was very quiet, stayed at home with my lady wife. Caught the F1 race at Spa, watched the Bills put a whupping on Seattle, Steelers were great, the Pirates were awful. Watched some movies. Very nice.

The To Do List - I have some e-mails to respond to, I MUST get some serious video work done, Diocesan Council meeting, oh yeah and the Provincial youth network meeting which starts later today in Binghamton.

What Am I Procrastinating About?
- Creating my To Do List actually, still.

What Am I Watching/Reading/Listening To? Gonna push all these into one category. Not listening to much this week. I finished the 1919 book, pretty good. I'm onto the Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year Volume 2. Been a while since I really dove back into SF, a lifelong passion. So far so good.

Two movies this weekend:

The Whole Nine Yards - This is a silly, very funny movie about a hit man moving in next door. Matthew Perry does great physical comedy and Bruce Willis is a great borderline nuts but kinda heart of gold hit man. And Natasha Henstridge is just glorious to look at. We really enjoyed it.

Under The Tuscan Sun A wonderful romantic movie that I really loved. I love the look of Tuscany and the looks of Diane Lane (so shoot me). Funny, poignant, all about love of many different kinds. Makes me want to run off to Tuscany with my lady wife, cook and bask in that wonderful light.

Next Up I have to get out the door here very soon to head to Binghamton for the Province meeting. Then back for a day, the D Council. OY.

How Am I Doing Feeling a little stressed actually. I'm tired of feeling stressed.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Monday update - delayed

The Weekend That Was Actually pretty quiet. The end of last week was no fun. We went to get a key made for my lady wife's car which has the Ford Passive Anti-Theft System (PATS) which means duplicate keys are very expensive (cost us $75). And the key doesn't work. Took hours to get it done (much longer than normal) and now it doesn't work. Ford is going to "take care of it" for me today. Plus my doctor's appointment was no fun. My blood work was bad (good cholesterol down, bad up, etc) and my BP was up. My doc (who I like a great deal) wanted to change and add medications. I got her to agree to a 3 month waiting period to see if my summer "lifestyle" was the culprit. She admitted it was likely. So I will be creating a new regime both food and exercise for camp next year.
So a quiet holiday weekend was cool. I did install a new motion sensor light on the garage that works perfectly!

This week's To Do List Um, never did get to really making my to do list last week and the computer was messed up so no video editing got done. So this week.....

What Am I Procrastinating About? Oh, most things.

What Am I Reading? Knocked off John Grisham's "The King of Torts" which was pretty good although the ending was TOTALLY predictable and safe. Working on "The World on Fire - 1919 and the Battle with Bolshevism" by Anthony Read. It's an interesting time in history (and not one of America's brightest since it includes the Palmer Raids). The book's tight focus on a single year feels a little constraining however. Interesting so far.

I'm also working through Krista Tippett's book "Speaking of Faith" with a book group. Deep but interesting. See more below.

What Am I Listening To/Watching? I'm listening to mostly podcasts at the moment from "Speaking of Faith" with Krista Tippett. I started with the podcasts a long time before the book. She ranges VERY widely in the world of faith covering everything you can imagine - prayer, voodoo, all the major religions to the poetry of Rami and more. I really enjoy them.

Watched the movie "Failure to Launch" which I generally enjoyed. My question is why do some movie makers insist on adding something stupid? There's a story line about how Matthew McConaughey's character's lifestyle is "rejected by nature" which is shown by some really stupid interactions with animals. The rest of the movie is realistic in style and then the animals are out of some kid's movie. Dumb. Two particular thumbs up to Cathy Bates who has a small role but is wonderful as the mom and Terry Bradshaw, yes #12 from the Pittsburgh Steelers, who is hysterical as the dad. Oh, and naked. You get several really good looks at his naked butt. It's gonna take a long time to get that image out of my brain.

Next Up? Gotta get some stuff done this week before next week's trip to Binghamton for the provincial meeting.

How Am I Doing? Feeling pretty good. Took my BP at home last night and it was wonderful. The sun is shining and I feel pretty good.