Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Year of Living Catholicly

The title of this post refers to my planned New Year's Resolution. I intend to spend next year trying to truly live my Catholic faith. This could be a bigger undertaking than any I have thus far tried.

The idea sort of germinated for me from a few places. One of them being Matthew Kelly's wonderful book Rediscover Catholicism. In it Kelly declares that one of the major reasons for so much of life's problems being a largely listless, Godless world. A world seeking, but not knowing what to truly seek.

Another germination point for me was the realization that I want my kids to grow up as more than Cafeteria Catholics I want them to understand the Why's and How's of our faith.

After a recent difficult patch at work, I really turned to the Lord and the Saints. I knew I needed help to break past the things that were holding me back. I wasn't meeting my weekly production standards and didn't know where else to turn. I started a novena to the Sacred Heart, and to St. Joseph, and I started just praying to Therese of Lisieux. It worked I suddenly started exceeding my standard and doing much better at work.

I never do manage to pray nine nights in a row on my novenas, the weekends come and I am always too tired or distracted to say my prayers. That's a bad thing it is one of the things I want to fix.

So I have been developing a five point plan: Rosary, Fasting and Abstinence, Mass, Confession and Scripture.

I plan to start saying the Rosary, at least once a week for starters, with an intention to increase the number of days I say it.  I picked the Rosary because I know it is a devastating weapon in the Holy war those of us in the Church Militant are engaged in. I didn't want to just commit to a certain amount of time in daily prayer I wanted a meaningful prayer life.

I am going to return to the proper tradition of fasting and abstinence on Fridays, in honor of the Lord's Passion. I might just be an "early adopter" here as there is wind that Cardinal Dolan as head of the USCCB might just return all US Catholics to the proper Friday rules. Bully for him I hope he does.

As for Mass I don't think my work schedule will allow me to make daily Mass too often, but I need to desperately improve my overall attendance. I also am going to (for the first time ever) make it to Mass for all of the Holy Days. After all why shouldn't I pay proper reverence to my creator. Besides frequent reception of Communion will help strengthen me for the rest of my plan right.

Confession is good for the soul they say right. Well I know mine always feels better after a visit to the "Sin Bin". Confession can be a very nerve racking experience. But it is so nice to walk out afterwards, perform your penance and know that the Lord loves you and forgives your misdeeds.

And the final point in my plan, I'm going to knuckle down and read the Bible. The whole thing. I made good headway a couple years ago but this time I'm going to do it. I will also try and push through the Catechism too.

I figure if I can do all of that, not only will I be a better Catholic, I will probably be a better husband and father, too. Which isn't a bad thing since baby number three is on the way. I should probably brush up on my husbanding and fathering.

If I can find a few spare minutes each week I intend to sort of post a weekly report card as I go... Gives me a year's worth of weekly blog posts right.

Friday, November 16, 2012

The R Word and the Day I Nearly Lost My Job

Let me start this post by saying I used to tell people I didn't have a problem with the R word. You know the one, rhymes with guard.

Well I found out a few days ago I have a real problem with it. I still say I don't have a problem with the word used in a clinical setting to describe the proper condition. Mind you I still bristle a little at it being used as for Tommy, because it won't fit properly once he can tell us what he knows.

Anyway on to the real story.... At work there is a young kid (well he told me once he's 25), but he's still a young kid. Let's call him Mumbles. He and I don't necessarily get along well, but he stepped way over a line. Before we start work we do a little stretching and whatnot.

We were doing that as our supervisor was handing out some of our daily paperwork. Supervisor guy said something that I felt needed a wise ass remark (hey it's what I do, especially at 5:30 in the morning). My remark led to some sniping back and forth between Mumbles and I. Fine whatever it's a warehouse this happens, no biggie. Well after our stretch and meeting are done I go over and bring some carts. Quick job overview basically what I do consists of filling big totes of food, putting the totes onto carts, which loaders then put on trucks.

So anyway I come into the cooler and see Mumbles peeling load stickers and filling his rate sheet. (That's how they track our productivity). I look down the aisle in the cooler and see that I won't be able to pull the carts where they need to go because there are six or so pallets of totes blocking everything. My mood of being a little aggravated shoots up a couple notches.

Still no big deal but since I am already angry I jump on Mumbles... "Why are you peeling stickers when we can't work until those pallets are moved. How stupid can you be to not notice them, or are you just being lazy."

He came back at me, funny thing I don't even remember what he said here just that it certainly didn't defuse my anger. We continue going back and forth only now I had to step off my tugger (The machine we use to pull our carts) and get the pallet jack and move stuff. Seriously angry now. Probably continuing to chew his ass out more than I need to, but I am pissed.

So I'm pulling a pallet along wondering aloud how he can breathe and walk at the same time, when he drops the bomb. The R word. Ok, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.

Why did he have to go there.

Verbatim this is what he said. "Mike, don't be a retard like your son."

I drop the handle on the pallet jack take about a step and a half to close the 10 feet between us to about two. "What did you say? What the F (Oh I used the whole word) did you just say?" He repeats it, thus ensuring I was right he had just laid that word down. "Don't ever let me hear you say that word, ever again!!!!!" I was hot.

My hands were at my sides but my fists were clenched and ready. "Mike are you going to stop trying to intimidate me so we can get to work. Because if you strike me you will be fired."

What kind of weasel says strike in that context, anyway. Say hit. Let me tell you it took everything I had to keep from "striking" him.

Even now a week and a half later my fists clench as I write the story. I almost wish I had hit him, if for no other reason than when I got home and told the story to Traci, Tommy became visibly upset. I let it go that day, should have turned around and went right to my boss, but I did tell him and HR the next day.

Mumbles still hasn't apologized, further proof he is a little boy not a man. A man would nut up and say hey what I said about your son I'm sorry. So ultimately, I guess I do mind the R word. I mind it very much.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Still Alive...

Just wanted to say, I'm not dead just been seriously busy. Have a post or two on the way soon.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

For Kelsey

Thirty-one year old's aren't supposed to die. They are supposed to be in the prime of life. Especially 31-year old former athletes. Lost one of the gentlest people I ever knew and one of the most genuine the other day.

We hadn't talked in years and we weren't necessarily all that close to begin with but this one has knocked me for a loop.

God Speed Kelsey, May you rest in peace. Here's hoping you are kicking around heaven's basketball courts in an old pair of sneakers with your mom watching from the sidelines.

Here's a link to my hometown paper's report

To An Athlete Dying Young
THE time you won your town the race 
We chaired you through the market-place; 
Man and boy stood cheering by, 
And home we brought you shoulder-high. 
To-day, the road all runners come,         5
Shoulder-high we bring you home, 
And set you at your threshold down, 
Townsman of a stiller town. 
Smart lad, to slip betimes away 
From fields where glory does not stay,  10
And early though the laurel grows 
It withers quicker than the rose. 
Eyes the shady night has shut 
Cannot see the record cut, 
And silence sounds no worse than cheers  15
After earth has stopped the ears: 
Now you will not swell the rout 
Of lads that wore their honours out, 
Runners whom renown outran 
And the name died before the man.  20
So set, before its echoes fade, 
The fleet foot on the sill of shade, 
And hold to the low lintel up 
The still-defended challenge-cup. 
And round that early-laurelled head  25
Will flock to gaze the strengthless dead, 
And find unwithered on its curls 
The garland briefer than a girl's. 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Five Years of Fatherhood....

"A child arrived just the other day..."  (If you are just tuning in start with this post)

Ok this won't be some weepy post on how I haven't been there for Tommy, or even Matty. Because I have, maybe not always well but I have been there.

I just can't believe Tommy turned five as we closed the page on July...Five years just seem to have gone by so fast.

I have seen so much from him in five years, I have learned so much: from how to advocate in a gently non-threatening way to meet his needs, to let go and trust the hands and experience of others, he has taught me so much.

He continues to bring everyone who meets him joy. He is such a happy darn kid all the time. I wish I could bottle and sale his positivity and happy nature.

I think most of what I have learned in these five years is that Tommy is who he is not because of anything Traci or I did. Seems like it should have been an easy thing to learn, right. It was surprisingly difficult. I still have a lot of times when I watch Matt do something and I start thinking how awesome and smart he is. Then I start feeling guilty because I am enjoying him doing something that his big brother can't.

I suppose that's probably normal some sort of survivor's guilt or something. It's been awesome since we moved to Minnesota though because the doctors at Gillette seem totally invested in finding ways to help Tommy achieve things.

Since we moved/started seeing docs at Gillette Tommy has really turned into a rolling machine he can roll onto his tummy, seemingly any time he wants. He is such a ball of energy and it seems like we might finally be starting to break his tone enough to allow him to do some things.

Seriously though its been five years. Seems like it was just yesterday. I still remember telling the helicopter crew there was no way I wouldn't be on that helicopter with him, weight be damned. I suspect a part of me was so terrified he might die or something I couldn't handle me or Traci not being with him.

I love you, Tommy...Here's to many, many more years of marveling at where the time has gone.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

About A Boy

I suppose it is natural to be thinking about fatherhood right now. After all Father's Day has just passed us by.

But I have been thinking about a story, one I have played with on this blog and have told you all a little bit of. It is the story of my son Tommy. It's really my story, but it began with him. After all for the last five years I have struggled to finally grow up and become the man I need to be to handle the awesome responsibility God has given me.

I guess a lot of my struggle continues to be how open to I let myself be to potentially millions, ok thousands, fine tens of strangers reading my blog. Truth is the story hurts. Sometimes a lot...sometimes just a little.

Here's the thing though, because of Tommy I am a better man than I was. Because of Tommy I am slowly becoming a better more faithful Catholic. Because of Tommy I am finally learning to truly Let Go and Let God.

It is hard, very hard, everything in my nature says I need to make it better. Then in the still small silence when I force myself to listen and accept everything I know about God I realize that isn't my job.

A fellow blogger actually told me a while back that I should tell Tommy's story and I said to her and myself yes I should but then I ran away from it again. The thing is part of me says Tommy is such a rare case who wants to read about a condition they won't likely ever see. But so many of his symptoms/issues are common to so many other things that I suspect many people could likely be helped or help us in ways I haven't even imagined.

So I guess I need to throw my heart open and let the world look at it in full. Who knows maybe I will help someone along the way, or maybe someone will help me.

Basically ever since Tommy's birth my one operating goal in life is to some day get to a point where I am a good enough father, husband and man that my kids will be proud of the fact that I am their dad.

It seems like I have come so far in five years, but I sure feel a long way off way too often still.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Is It Finally Time?

Well is it, finally, decidedly, time for Catholics in America to realize that the Democrats, are actively trying to destroy the Church?

Feel like that opening sentence is too harsh? I don't, just examine the evidence.

The Obama administration has practically had a bulls-eye on the Church from day one. They wanted desperately to get FOCA to the floor of the House and Senate, a bill that would have done what the HHS mandate is currently set to do. Force Catholic hospitals and health care to pay for, perform abortions and provide contraception. I'm not sure Obama has ever seriously considered actually living up to his oath of office. You know that whole part about protecting and defending the Constitution....Haven't seen a lick of that.

The thing is I get why a lot of people of my grandparent's generation found it comforting to be Catholic and Democrat. The two seemed like the right balance for (I hate the phrase, but it is what we all call it) Social Justice. After all President Roosevelt had just "saved" the country from the Great Depression while looking out for the little guy, right. Wrong actually, but it no doubt felt good to think it at the time.

Then we had JFK and my mom's generation had a reason to be happy being Catholic and Democrat. After all he was the hip, suave, young president whose untimely death was used by LBJ to pass another massive round of social reform.

But then it all started to change, the Supreme Court went wonky in 1973, granting women the right to slaughter a generation of Americans as they saw fit. Democrats started frothing at the mouth to protect those "rights" and the poor and the downtrodden became just another voting bloc to be coddled in an election year, and "women's health" suddenly became the be-all end-all issue.

And now we have a president who for some reason overwhelmingly won the Catholic vote four years ago and has done nothing but attack the Church ever since. Making it all the worse is that the head of HHS is a "Catholic." (My blog my rules, you openly thumb your nose at the Vatican you get the quotes).

The bottom line is that Obama has essentially pushed the Church into a corner in an effort to make it look like the enemy. He and his administration have grossly abused the first clause of the first amendment. The goal is to find some sort of solution that seemingly allows both to save face, yet ultimately turn religious freedom into something the president can control.


Here's hoping the current iteration of the Supreme Court realizes ObamaCare is an illegal power grab by the administration and overturns it in toto. Then the ridiculous mandate will be a moot point.

Further here's hoping Catholics and really everyone in the country stands up for our founding principles. Come on people, if we lose the first amendment we lose them all.

Monday, May 21, 2012

A Pilgrimage to St. Paul

Stone from St. Paul's tomb.
So I read on these here interwebs that the Cathedral of St. Paul was going to have a relic from the tomb of their patron saint on display Sunday. Needless to say I was somewhat intrigued. It's not everyday when you can see a piece of the tomb of the guy who penned nearly half of the New Testament.

I had planned to load Tommy up and take him with me to attend the 10 a.m. Mass and then to have a chance to venerate the relic. My little slugger had a rough night Saturday, though and I didn't want to deal with a crabby kid in a new church plus trying to find my way up there and everything else. So I flew solo.

First the Cathedral, wow, just wow. The most impressive building, not just church, I have ever seen, let alone been inside. Several small chapels off the main body of the building, including one with a massive replica of Michaelangelo's Pieta.

I was glad I got to the church early so I could take a few minutes to look around. Seeing the Pieta really put me in the right frame of mind for Ascension Sunday. Seeing the Pieta at life size really helped to bring home what happened on that hill outside Jerusalem so many years ago.

The Mass was very solemn, almost a High Mass, lots of Latin, incense, sung responses. Very nice. I was able to pay attention and tear myself away from trying to find a new statue or painting to admire so that was good.

I definitely want to go back to the Cathedral when I have some time and take some photos and really look around.

I've never been in any of the great cathedrals in Europe but the one in St. Paul is absolutely amazing. I think it could stand on its own merits against many of those in Europe.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Theology in Winnie The Pooh?

So Matty really loves to watch Pooh's Grand Adventure to wind down for bed. I noticed the other night that Rabbit sings a song that really sums up the Sola Scriptura position. His song stresses the importance of following exactly the map that Owl drew for the friends in their search for Christopher Robin who has gone to Skull (or School if any of the animals could actually read).

Now Traci was less than pleased that I made this connection but it seemed like the argument I have heard so many times in debates with Sola Scripturists.

Here is a sample of the lyrics from Rabbit's ode to the map.

Never trust your ears
Your nose, your eyes
Putting faith in them
Is most unwise
Here's a phrase you all
Must memorize
In the printed word
Is where truth lies

Never trust that thing
Between your ears
Brains will get you nowhere fast
My dears
Haven't had a need
For mine in years
On the page is where
The truth appears

Most proponents of SS declare the printed word of the Bible as the only acceptable rule of faith. However Catholics say that the printed word is merely one leg of the stool on which rests the rules of faith. Catholics see the many references to a continuing authority (Matthew 23:1-4 and so many others), and to the difficulty of the Scriptures Acts 8:26-40, 2 Peter 3:16) as proof of the Magisterium. We also see the continuing beauty of 2,000 years of Tradition.

Sola Scripturists insist in spite of mountains of Biblical evidence and history that Christ intended to teach their pet theory. Citing verses like Matt. 4:4 or 2 Tim 3:14-17 they find their theory defensible.  

In reality it breaks down with a mere objective look at it. Because after all if the Scriptures are so perspicuous why can't people within the Scriptures understand them clearly. After all isn't the Ethiopian eunuch merely Luther's plowboy in the first century. 

Now I don't intend to say that the Scriptures are completely out of the realm of understanding without the wisdom of Holy Mother Church and her office of interpreting and protecting them. It can however be difficult to discern their true meaning without the benefit of that wisdom.

Almost immediately after the proposal of the idea of Sola Scriptura faithful Catholics began to attack and attempt to defeat the heresy. However it lives on today and its fruits are evident in the ever growing number of Protestant denominations. After all if the perspicuous Scriptures lead your church into an error well, just move on, find another church that accurately understands the Scriptures (at least as you understand them). Instead of showing the errors of the papacy, all the doctrine has done is create as many papacies as there are heads to paraphrase Luther himself.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

WWE Unable to Tell Coherent Story....

For a long time I have defended my continued viewership and fandom of the WWE as it being a man's soap opera, well the writing has begun to suffer of late. To borrow a line from the Sports Guy at ESPN, I feel like none of this would have happened if Vince McMahon were still alive.

And yes I know Vinny Mac is still alive, but he may as well be dead. Last year when son-in-law Hunter Hearst Helmsley relieved him of his duties I was excited at the possibility of the story line. However they have continued to botch the angle.

For one thing the mysterious, anonymous Raw GM angle just died. Then we were saddled with Johnny Ace, John Laurinaitis is quite possibly the least skilled man with a mic in his hands in the entire company. They tried to write in a power struggle angle between HHH and Laurinaitis but it fell flat, and was rushed.

I will give them credit though for one thing building the Rock vs. John Cena match for a whole year, they somehow managed to mostly succeed there. However, even in success they still fell short. Watching the Pay Per View of Wrestlemania it lost all flow what with the nonsensical musical interlude, followed by the preening nonsense of the two men at the outset of the match.

Yes I am complaining about a match that went for more than 30 minutes, saying it was too short and far too mechanical. That complaint falls on Rock and Cena more than creative.

Another failure has been the tease, then backing away, then teasing of a heel turn for John Cena. It is time the goody two shoes act is tired. He needs a fresh start, a heel turn for the longest running baby face in the corporation is something that would show an ability to finish a story. And finishing a story would be a major improvement in creative direction for a federation that once more or less ridiculed its competition out of business for an inability to effectively finish a story.

Now I know Vince is still the man in charge but we need to see him onscreen again. He needs to be once again the face of his operation. Not Mr. McMahon heel owner, but Vince McMahon, story teller.

I've been watching the WWE for nearly 20 years now and can still remember the time when I was incredulous when my friend Andrew explained to me the thin, turtle-necked fellow in the WWF blazer calling the action on Raw was actually the guy signing the paychecks for everyone.

That Vince is the one who we need to see again. For one thing the announcing is dreadful. Michael Cole, who should be selling the angles WWE creative comes up with spends far too much time trying to be a heel and get heat. Jerry Lawler has been phoning it in since sometime in the late 90's.

Vince was always able as an announcer to let whoever the heel announcer was supposed to be get their heat and letting the good announcer build the major story, while selling the angles. No one calling the action can do that anymore in WWE. So even when creative has a solid story to tell it gets lost.

The WWE merrily rolls along retreading their past as they look for some magic formula to return them to their heyday in the late 90's. The problems are
  • they are now a monopoly having destroyed their competition
  • No one tries to sell the major story lines 
  • They think bringing back some of their previous Superstars will bring back their fanbase...Witness the return of Brock Lesnar, The Rock, Kevin Nash.....etc.
  • Their alleged authority figure Laurinaitis has no demonstrable ability to wield authority, let alone use it effectively
They can right the ship but it will take some soul searching and a willingness to work on their deficiencies.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Love of a Woman

Thirty years ago today, my world was significantly altered. I didn't and couldn't know it at the time. After all I was merely a year and a half old. But on this day 30 years ago my future wife came into the world. I look at the time we have known each other and the way we met and cannot help but see the hand of the Lord in it all.

We met when I was just out of High School. I was an online chat addict for all intents and purposes. I guess being unable to talk to a girl when she was in front of me in real life was just too hard. Talking to one through a computer was just so much easier. I started talking to her one night, she was friendly and easy to talk to, so we continued to seek each other out online and chat.

We talked about anything and everything, our chats extending into the wee hours of the morning quite frequently. I was hooked, when she didn't sign on on a given night I would get so bummed out. If she went out with friends I would get jealous. I was probably a tad irrational, but I loved talking to her and so missing out on that chance always made me a little lonely and sad.

I will always remember how I felt as my dad and I drove to the airport to pick her and her best friend up, when she came down to meet me for the first time. I was so nervous the whole ride there I wanted to puke. But once we got there I ran up to the gate (this was pre 9/11) and their plane had already unloaded. I quickly ran back down and caught my dad, told him they had gotten off the plane already. I turned and looked toward the baggage claim area and I saw the two of them sitting there. My heart must have missed about three beats. I got a little lightheaded, but I went over and said hello.

I knew then I was done. From then until forever I wanted to be with her. Well it took us a few stops and starts because one of us was in desperate need of some maturity. But fortunately she has stuck with me through some ups and downs.

It's hard to believe we have two wonderful kids and are where we are. We have a long way to go yet, but I keep telling her God must have something awesome in store for us and we just have to pay our dues.

I can't wait to see how her next 30 years turn out.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Peyton Manning is a Chump...and other random thoughts....

  • Let's start with my title complaint...Peyton Manning just signed with the Denver Broncos turning down among other teams my 49ers...Fine but Peyton be honest about why you chose Denver...Because you don't want to hurt Eli and Archie's feelings and potentially keep Eli from reaching a Super Bowl, so you stayed out of his conference. San Francisco has a better defense, more offensive weapons and would have made you a king if you took them back to their glory days of winning Super Bowls...
  • That being said I am glad Alex Smith decided to stay away from Miami and come back to the Niners...
  • Finally got around to reading The Hunger Games, decent book. Not life changing but good. Pretty excited to go see the movie. 
  • Been a pretty rough Lenten journey this year for me. I haven't been very good at trying to better myself and pray more. Course it got of to a rough start what with grampa's funeral right before.
  • Tommy lucked out this year his spring break from school has coincided with a nice warm spell here in Minnesota...
  • Saw The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo last night, as usual the book was better, :-). But it was a decent movie. They changed a few too many details from book to screen for my liking...
  • Things on the job front are looking good, I have been temping out at a cold storage place pretty steady and I guess they are looking to bring me that's a good thing.
  • Things are going pretty good on the family front too, Matty is doing more new things every day. I tend to get frustrated trying to get him to use words but I have to keep reminding myself he is only 19 and a half months old. 
  • His little cousin is on the verge of her first steps, she is at the point where she will occasionally let go of whatever she is holding onto to do something and as long as no one notices she can stand but if you notice she falls down...
  • Looks like Mitt Romney is going to be the GOP nominee for president. Sad I was hoping Rick Santorum could rise up and take it away from him. Romney is just Obama lite in my opinion. Santorum is a good man and a solid conservative.

Monday, March 5, 2012

A Brave New World

Sorry I ripped the title of this post off of a Disney song, but it seemed appropriate. Sorry also for the lack of updates of late. Been dealing with my grampa's funeral and just haven't had the time to write. My Lenten discipline really should be to force myself to sit down and write every night.

Anyway on to the reason for tonight's post. My sweet little happy Matty is entering his terrible twos a solid 5 months too soon. He used to run around all happy and would say yes to everything. Now he loves to say no. Every question you ask him he answers with a no. What's up with that.

I think it was the hair cut. He got his first hair cut a couple weeks ago and he started turning at that point. But this weekend he really picked up the whole no thing. He is such a little brat.

At least big brother is his usual happy self. Tommy is doing so good. We finally got organized and got him into outpatient therapy just to augment the stuff they can do at school, since they never get enough time with him. We finally got a PCA for him so I definitely feel a little better about the whole work situation if I find a permanent job.

Been nice to have a little more work, last week I was out at a place twice loading a rail car full of frozen turkey. Good, hard, work, I wouldn't mind a job like that for awhile maybe I could hustle my chubby ass into a little better shape.  

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Thoughts of Home...

Been sad all day, my Papaw (my mom's dad), is in hospice care and close to the end. He's 83, a nice long life. The last 14 and a half years lived without his one great love.

Memaw and he raised six kids, saw 11 grandchildren grow up and I have lost count at the number of great-grand-kids he has seen.

The thing I will always associate with my grandparents is stability, we moved around seemingly at the whim of my dad's work in the grocery stores, but Memaw and Papaw's house was always home. It was always the same. I think you could show me the daytime TV schedule for any year of my youth and I could tell you what shows Papaw watched and which ones he wouldn't have been caught dead watching.

I can close my eyes and call to mind so many memories of him sitting in his recliner working his crossword puzzle while watching The Price is Right or Scrabble or the Today show. I think a lot of the way I am about needing to know things came from his crossword puzzles. I remember he would sometimes get up and leave the paper folded by his chair I would sit down in his chair and look at the puzzle. I can't count all the times I would read a clue and have no idea, but he had it filled in.

He's also the reason I want to get on Jeopardy! He never did but he should have. I used to marvel at the knowledge he had at his command, and the ability to remember it and shout the answer at the TV. Well, okay, there was no shouting in his house while Jeopardy! was on, hell loud breathing could get you tossed out.

As I got older, we never kept any kind of score or had any official contest or anything, but I started noticing I was holding my own against him. One day I noticed I usually did better than he did, I never told him that, but it sure made me feel good.

I have him to thank for shaping a lot of my faith too. Once when I was a young pup we were at Mass in Carlsbad and I was not yet old enough to share in Communion. I remember hollering something about not wanting the stupid cracker anyway. I've never made that mistake again.

He always liked the wrong teams though. The Yankees and The Cowboys. I had to give him a pass on both though I mean he was sort of born into the Yankee thing I guess. And the Cowboys were his team from the first day of their existence.

But in the middle 90's when that Cowboy-Niner rivalry was boiling it was hard for me to accept his liking the Cowboys. In 1994 the Niner-Cowboy game coincided with deer hunting. I remember seriously telling my dad I might not go out that Sunday and instead watch the game.

If I would have had a little more faith in my team I might have. I was so worried I would be watching the game with Papaw and see the Niners lose. I just couldn't do it. So my mom and dad and I listened to it as we drove the boonies, whooping and hollering as San Francisco won the game, 21-14.

He always likes to remind me that I once told him he wasn't my Papaw anymore. He always did the grocery shopping and one morning I got to go with him as he collected the week's groceries. I decided I deserved and/or needed some piece of candy. He wasn't going to let me have it and I hollered at him in the store that he wasn't my Papaw anymore.

He always was and always will be my Papaw.

May the angels welcome him to Paradise and may Memaw be there with them.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Liberty, Tyranny and The First Amendment

In the years after America won its freedom from Great Britain the colonies drafted and eventually approved a Constitution. To secure ratification of the new founding document concessions had to be granted, including the addition of a Bill of Rights. These first ten amendments were intended to secure our basic liberties. Including the right of a person to observe their faith as they see fit.

The Obama administration has put that basic First Amendment right under attack. The Health and Human Services department, issued a mandate declaring that because Catholic social service programs don't serve only Catholics they aren't worthy of a conscience exemption regarding provision of contraception, sterilization and abortifacient drugs. So in essence the church is being punished for living out the words of Her founder....Matthew 25:34-36, tells us what Christ expects of us, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick. He didn't instruct us to only do those things for people who believe the same as we do.

In fact one of His most illuminating parables is the story of the Good Samaritan, a man who did all of those things for someone who was essentially his enemy.

The HHS mandate was for all intents and purposes crafted by the ACLU. The ACLU wrote a mandate that is in effect in only three states (California, New York and Oregon.). Even within that mandate there were ways that Catholic social service agencies could find relief. However the new mandate from HHS closes all of those avenues.

Secretary Kathleen Sebelius the head of the HHS is herself a Catholic, which makes the forcefulness of this legislation all the more disturbing. However it is heartening that Sebelius has been denied Communion both in Kansas and Washington, D.C.

All of this leads me to the thought that we once fought a war to ensure our freedom of worship, now it is under attack by our very own government.

So our government is now telling us how to practice our religion, how to live our faith. That doesn't sound very much like "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..."

The US Conference of Catholic Bishops has come out in force, with 169 of roughly 183 bishops issuing statements condemning the new mandate. The assorted Bishops, Archbishops and Cardinals all urge the faithful to action.

Indeed action is sorely needed. As most of the letters no doubt urge us as faithful Catholics to do we should fast, pray and contact Congress and the President as well as Secretary Sebelius. Urge them to reconsider and rewrite this mandate.

Support Marco Rubio who recently introduced the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 2012 to Congress.

These are the times that try men's souls...Words as true now as they were in late December of 1776. Thomas Paine was referring to the then months old War for Independence.

He might just as easily be describing another tyrannical act by a far more worrisome menace. Duly elected officials trampling on the rights won by the blood of the very people who Paine wrote to some 236 years ago.

Surely the great martyrs of the past, men and women who were fed to lions; or boiled in oil; or crucified; or burned at the stake, must be looking at this persecution and urging us to fight and defend the faith they died for; the Truth that cost them their lives.

THESE are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Settling In

Well the Minnesota experience is off to an interesting start. Still no steady work, but Tommy has gotten into school and we have begun the process of meeting a whole new village of specialists for him. In some ways I feel like God is trying to get us a little more settled before He opens the door for me on the employment front. Which is fine by me in some ways, but a little aggravating too. I would much rather be working.

My poor blog has been neglected, but I am going to try and dedicate myself to writing a little something every night. Especially right now with so much going on. Things like Obama essentially telling the Church to F off, the primary races, life with Tommy and Matty.

Tommy seems to have made the adjustment to his new school quite well. His classmates all seem to like him and miss him when he has been absent. Unfortunately he has been absent a lot so far as he adjusts to new germs and getting into a rotation with this new team of doctors.

Gillette Children's has been amazing so far (1 visit in). We met with a physical medicine and rehab doctor who gave us several prescriptions to get to a local facility for more in home therapy. She also referred us to the sleep doctor at Gillette and just generally had at least an idea for where to go for every time she asked a question and we had a negative answer. I like that.

So we might be able to solve some of Tommy's sleep problems and maybe start getting a full night of sleep. Wow. It seems overwhelming but once we get established and fit into the routine I know we won't be missing so much school with him.

Plus we will have an actual craniofacial team at Gillette, not just Dr. Peterson. Don't misunderstand I love Dr. P and she did amazing work putting a face that was once three parts together, but really a whole team just for this, wow.

Tommy's other big deal is whether we decide to send him to kindergarten next year or keep him in preschool for a third year. Personally I tend to lean toward letting him keep up with his classmates currently in preschool, but Traci and I will have to talk it over and see what we think.

So far both of the boys have adjusted pretty well, and I am thankful for that. We got to see just how well Matty had adjusted to his new life last week when we went to New Mexico for a week. All week he kept looking for his baby and his aunt, so he clearly likes it here.  Had a great time visiting the family and gorging on quality Mexican food.

Speaking of Matty, that kid is going to be smarter than me very soon if he isn't already. He loves being read to and anticipates things in stories he knows well. He understands fairly complex sentences for an 18-month old. 

Mother Nature has been gentle on us this winter only two or three really bad days so far and they weren't too awful. Limited snowfall and reasonable temps I can deal with, even if it will get rough sometime this first winter has been a nice introduction.

I need to apologize for the sparse postings of the last couple months but it has been hectic and I haven't had much time to think let alone write.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Seven Quick Takes Vol. 7 -- Forty Niner Friday....

A real deep quick takes here at the Musings. Seven things I love about being a 49er fan. Why not?
--- 1 ---

Joe Montana, the alpha and omega of my fandom. Someone I have only slightly ironically referred to as St. Joseph of the 2 minute drill. As a kid in Northern California in the middle-late 80's he was the leader of the best team around. Also didn't hurt he was exceedingly talented. Not going to lie to my readers I spent the rest of the day crying after the 1990 NFC Championship loss to the New York Giants. I have secretly been hoping that one of the Niner linebackers hits Eli as hard as Leonard Marshall hit Montana in that game. Without the intentional added breaking of his hand as he got dragged down. I see this game as payback time. I know this current team is a generation or two removed but come on.

Montana was invariably the athlete I most wanted to be when I grew up. Sadly I posses no athletic talent whatsoever.
--- 2 ---

Jerry Rice The GOAT. The greatest of all time. For my money, there has never been another football player better than Flash. He set so many records and did so many amazing things it is hard to comprehend the numbers he left behind. Even toward the end when it was getting a little sad to see him out there he was still playing every down harder than guys half his age.

I think he is the reason for the modern air it out warfare of the NFL. Teams all sought their own counterpart to his skill set.

Someone may break his records some day, but it will take a long time to do it. He had that same hypercompetitive drive Michael Jordan had.
--- 3 ---

Spending half my life being called a bandwagon fan, the other half a die hard. People called me a bandwagoner especially after we left California and I was still rocking my Niners gear. I was like how am I bandwagoning this is my team, the first football games I remember watching are Niner games, I have always loved that team. Then in the last decade or so seeing looks of pity when I had my Niners stuff. Looks like, really they suck pick a new team, but I don't roll that way. Paying off now, but I guess soon I will hear how I am a bandwagon fan all over again.

--- 4 ---

Ronnie Freakin Lott. Dude was pure scary. Made the Pro Bowl from every position in the defensive backfield hit like a truck, ran like a gazelle. Once had a doctor lop off half his pinky so he wouldn't miss a game during the season.
--- 5 ---

Possibly the NFL's worst stadium, but a tough place to play. Candlestick Park. I hated when the team sold the naming rights for awhile I never stopped calling it Candlestick. Place is a dump has been a dump for years and they are finally getting some new digs in Santa Clara, hopefully a winning season or two before the move will help the atmosphere at the new park.

--- 6 ---

Bill Walsh the brains behind it all. The only man to ever deserve to be called a genius who made his living as an NFL coach. Also the most completely unassuming man alive. Funny true story here: When I was at the U of Oregon, Stanford was hosting the wrestling championship matches. At the time Walsh was their athletic director, when we got in I asked the wrestling media director if Mr. Walsh might be around during the weekend. "Oh he might stop in Sunday during the finals."

Awesome, I might have a chance to meet a hero. Sure enough during the action Sunday he shows up. He was up on the stage area where all us media/sports. info types were. So now I am within a few feet of one my all-time heroes. I stand up to stretch/improve my vantage for the next match as it involves one of my guys.

Walsh and the person he was with saunter to about 18 inches from me and get engrossed in what was a great match. I find an opening politely inject myself in the conversation and discuss my wrestler with the two of them for the last few minutes.

Never once did I have the courage to say anything to him about the 49ers and what those teams meant to me. I chickened out. He passed away the day before Tommy was born. I thought about trying to get Traci to change the baby's name to William Walsh Morris, but I don't think she would have gone for it.

--- 7 ---
San Francisco in general. I don't know if it is my love for the team that caused my passion for the city or what. But The City by the Bay is my all-time favorite city. To be fair I have never left the North American continent and only seen about half the US, but still.
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Seven Quick Takes Vol. 6 -- Minnesota Winter Edition

--- 1 ---

Winter finally arrived in Minnesota after the first two months of our new life here with temps in the 30's and 40's the last few days have been in the teen's with subzero wind-chills. Fun times, but hey it's giving me a chance to break in my new Carhartt Flannel shirt that I got for Christmas.

--- 2 ---

The NFL Playoffs are in full swing. I will refrain from predicting any outcomes, because they would smack of rampant homerism and over exuberance owing to my 49ers being involved for the first time in a decade.
--- 3 ---

Found a great church here in Minnesota that I like. I walked in and the Tabernacle is front and center right behind the altar, confessionals on either side of the church, very pre-conciliar architecture. Makes me even more interested in hearing a Latin Mass sometime. Seems like they have a bunch of churches here that offer it at least once a month, perhaps I will have to check one out.

--- 4 ---

Watched Footloose today, the original. Kevin Bacon was so young and looked even younger than he was. One of my favorite movies from my childhood. I railed and railed about the idea that they remade it, but I will probably watch it at some point.
--- 5 ---

Going home in a week. It'll be awesome to be in New Mexico for a solid week, just getting to spend the time with the family and enjoying some good Mexican food. Yes, please.
--- 6 ---

The wife and my sister-in-law are both after my brother-in-law and I to read the Hunger Games books with them. Traci has finished all three of them and keeps bugging me to read them. I'd rather read the Millennium Trilogy (Girl with a Dragon Tattoo, etc.) books. In fact I started that one tonight.

--- 7 ---
Ok, fine I'll make predictions for this weekend's games:

New England - 44
Denver - 23

B'More - 38
Houston -7

S.F. - 24
New Orleans - 20
(Yes that is a homer pick, but it's a possibility)

Upset Special:
New York - 33
Green Bay 31
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!