Sunday, November 6, 2011

Silver Certificates - 1934-1957

The teller was whipping through dollar bills during our conversation, and I asked her, "do you ever come across old money... silver, reds?"

"Oh sure, yeah the old folks bring 'em in".

"What do you do with them?"

"We hold them aside, there are people who come in and ask for them.  Here [flip flip flip flip, lays out a 1934 silver certificate One Dollar bill], like these".

I reached into my purse and pulled out a single, promptly slapping it in the well underneath the bulletproof glass.  "Can I have that?"

In the early '90s, I started holding on to $2 bills and checking with the bank for silver certificates.  It's been almost twenty years since I asked for them, and today as I was cleaning, I added it to my existing collection.  Surprisingly, the $2's are very crisp and mostly 1976 issue, but I noticed some very interesting things about the silver certs.  Je vous presente les certs.  You can click on them for the large size photos.

I hope that you can see how vibrantly green these bills were.  Look at the three bills pictured together in the above photo (series 1935), compared with the bill in the top of the picture (1957).  In person, these '35s almost emerald... Greenbacks.  How cool is that one at the bottom of the picture, series 1934.

Sometimes I hate cleaning, but then I see what kinds of cool things I've collected over the years.  These are from some relatively prominent times... the Great Depression, the Golden Age of the 50s, the bicentennial in 1976, and some of the $2's are from the Reagan era, which to me is prominent because my family was lifted out of a dire financial state through his policies.

I love this country.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

On Ten Years Since 9/11

In my mind today, no time has passed since 9/11.  There is no memory, no moment in my life as seared on my thoughts as the moments that transpired that morning as I watched the towers in smoke and then hit again by Islamic terrorists.  I had just turned 30 and was downsized from my position at the time, so unfortunately I was at home, watching every moment of 9/11 occur.  It was the most traumatic experience of my life.

Everyone has been through something in life.  I grew up in an unsafe environment and I have some pretty big issues with the feeling of safety. My safety is my first priority so to wake up and watch my country being accosted took the cake.  Luckily my roommate - my brother who I can always depend upon to look after me - was at home so I didn't have to go through the horror of September 11th, alone. The day changed me forever and frankly, traumatized me.  It made me very angry to watch the greatest country on earth get attacked. This is America - it wasn't supposed to happen.  Not here.

I have never been the same since that day.  This is something I need to address with therapy, I realize.  But something is different this year compared to all of the other anniversaries.  Maybe it's been so painful that I've blotted it out all these years and this year, something in me won't.  In the wake of all these resurfaced emotions, I can't watch the 9/11 recaps on TV because they make it worse.  They bring up feelings that are so raw that I can't do anything with them.  The event itself was also... so raw and horrible that it can't and maybe shouldn't be reconciled.  We can't do anything to really "make it all better".  9/11 will never be made better, never be soothed, it can only be ignored and denied by some because it's simply too painful to look at head on.

God bless the people who can look at it head on.  God bless the people who fight terrorism and have taken up arms on behalf of all of us to sustain the freedom and grace that is America. 

There is some comfort in knowing that I can't possibly be alone in feeling this way.  I'm angry about my country being attacked and I don't ever want to pretend that I'm not.

Here are my posts from 2006
That day
New York, Ground Zero

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

On Suffering

The following passage on suffering was posted on Facebook (The Teachings of Jesus Christ).  It's a cut and paste of an article from Matthew Gene Santos, and a very thoughtful read on Suffering. 

The reasons for our suffering are very simple, I'm sure, yet as self-centered, surviving humans we need it to "make sense". Lucky for us, God is patient enough to rephrase the concept of suffering in multiple ways until we understand it.  Once we do (if ever) understand it, we circle back to ourselves and our own needs soon enough so as to forget it and start looking at suffering from a new angle.   
If we're lucky, we start "getting it". We quit using our heads, start using our hearts, and obeying God's wisdom in all it's sophistication.

Of all the challenges thrown at Christianity in modern times, perhaps the most sinister is explaining the problem of suffering. How can a loving God allow suffering to continue to occur in the world which He created? For those who have endured massive suffering themselves, this is much more than a philosophical issue, but often becomes a very deep-seated personal and emotional issue. How does the Bible attempt to address this issue? Does the Bible give us any examples of suffering and some indicators on how to deal with it?

The Bible is startlingly realistic when it comes to the problem of endured suffering. For one thing, the Bible devotes an entire book to dealing with the problem. This book concerns a man named Job. It begins with a scene in heaven which provides the reader with the background to Job’s suffering. Job suffers because God contested with Satan. As far as we know, this was never known by Job, nor by any of his friends. It is therefore not surprising that they all struggle to explain Job’s suffering from the perspective of their ignorance, until Job finally rests in nothing but the faithfulness of God and the hope of His redemption. Neither Job nor his friends understood at the time the reasons for his suffering. In fact, when Job is finally confronted by the Lord, Job is silent. Job’s silent response does not in any way trivialise the intense pain and loss he had so patiently endured. Rather, it underscores the importance of trusting God’s purposes in the midst of suffering, even when we don’t know that those purposes are. Suffering, like all other human experiences, is directed by the sovereign wisdom of God. In the end, we learn the lesson that we may never know the specific reason for our suffering, but we must trust in our sovereign God. That is the real answer to suffering.

Another example of suffering in the Bible is Joseph in the book of Genesis. Joseph was sold into slavery by his own brothers, where he was ultimately indicted on false charges and thereby thrown into prison. As a result of Joseph’s suffering and endurance, by God’s grace and power, he is later promoted to governor of Egypt, second only to Pharaoh himself, where he finds himself in a position to make provision to the nations of the world during a time of famine, including his own family and the brothers who sold him into slavery! The message of this story is summarized in Joseph’s address to his brothers in Genesis 50:19-21: “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.”

Romans 8:28 contains some comforting words for those enduring hardship and suffering: “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” In His providence, God orchestrates every event in our lives—even suffering, temptation and sin—to accomplish both our temporal and eternal benefit.

The psalmist David endured much suffering in his time, and this is reflected in many of his poems collected in the book of Psalms. In Psalm 22, we hear the sound of David’s anguish: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning? Oh my God, I cry out by day but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent. Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the praise of Israel. In you our fathers put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them. They cried to you and were saved; in you they trusted and were not disappointed. But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by men and despised by the people. All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads: 'He trusts in the Lord; let the Lord rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.'”

It remains an unfathomable mystery to David why God does not intervene in the midst of his suffering and pain. He sees God as the one who is enthroned as the Holy One, the praise of Israel. After all, doesn’t God lead a pretty sheltered life? Isn’t God lucky to live in heaven where all is sweetness and light, where there is no weeping or fear, no hunger or hatred? What does God know of all that humans go through? David goes on to complain that “Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet. I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me. They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.”

Did God ever answer David? Sure enough, many centuries later, David received his answer. Roughly one millennium later, a descendent of David named Christ Jesus was killed on a hill called Calvary. On the cross, God endured the suffering and shame of his forefather. Christ’s hands and feet were pierced. Christ’s garments were divided among his enemies. Christ was stared at and gloated over and derided. In fact, Christ uttered the words with which David opens this Psalm, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” thus identifying himself with the suffering of his forefather.

Because Christ, the eternal Son of God in whom the fullness of God dwells, has lived on earth as a human being and has endured hunger, thirst, temptation, shame, persecution, nakedness, bereavement, betrayal, mockery, injustice and death, He is in a position to fulfil the longing of Job, “If only there were someone to arbitrate between us, to lay his hand upon us both, someone to remove God’s rod from me, so that his terror would frighten me no more. Then I would speak up without fear of him, but as it now stands with me, I cannot” (Job 9:33).

Christian theism is, in fact, the only worldview which can consistently make sense of the problem of evil and suffering. Apart from the fact that Christians serve a God who has lived on this earth and been through trauma, temptation, bereavement, torture, hunger, thirst, persecution and even execution, the cross of Christ can be regarded as the ultimate manifestation of God’s justice. When asked how much God cares about the problem of evil and suffering, the Christian God is the only God who can point to the cross, and say “that much.” Christ experienced rejection from God, saying, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” He experienced just the same suffering as many people do in many parts of the world today who are feeling isolated from God’s favor and love.

The Christian worldview is thus the only worldview which even makes an attempt at addressing this paradox. How can God be just and still forgive wicked men such as ourselves? The answer lies in the cross of Christ and that alone.

Matthew Gene Santos- Global Scope Ministries

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Prayer of the Unknown Confederate Soldier

I asked God for strength, that I might achieve;
I was made weak, that I might learn humbly to obey.

I asked for health, that I might do greater things;
I was given infirmity, that I might do better things.

I asked for riches, that I might be happy;
I was given poverty, that I might be wise.

I asked for power, that I might have the praise of men;
I was given weakness, that I might feel the need of God.

I asked for all things, that I might enjoy life;
I was given life, that I might enjoy all things.

I got nothing that I asked for, but everything I hoped for.
Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered.

Author Unknown,
(Attributed to a battle weary C.S.A soldier near the end of the war)

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The UPAF Ride for the Arts - Success!

Before I get into the ride review... I want to thank all of my wonderful supporters, your support for the arts in Milwaukee is extremely appreciated. The arts don't pay well or make a lot of money as a profession, but they round out our lives and fire our synapses. Also thanks to everyone for listening to me as I ran my mouth (daily) about the ride. My temperament is an anxious one, and that's when I run my mouth the most. Anticipation of an event is always worse than the event.

First and foremost, I was against a bike path on the Hoan before I was for it. Other cities provide this access but in most cases, the bridges were designed to accommodate bikes and pedestrians. The Hoan bridge was not. We'd be hard-pressed to widen the bridge at this point for many reasons. First is that the steel used in the bridge is not a pure alloy and it was heated to a very high temperature to create the curves of the bridge. It's more brittle than that of a train trestle, for example. Widening the bridge just isn't going to happen.

I support the idea of bike and pedestrian access on the bridge, but I don't think there is room for it.

Either way, riding that bridge was damned fun. I'd do it over and over again if I could. The grade is gradual and is a blast when the wind is coming out of the northeast. Now, turning around and riding the other way would be another story. Riding into the wind with the grade would be incredibly challenging in a good way. It's realistic to actually bike the Hoan.

An event like this ride reminds me that I'm a closet Type A. I'm a quiet person but incredibly competitive. I won't be outdone, unless it's by someone who is clearly elite in their training. That's when I give the thumbs up, and pick up my pace and try in vain to stick with them. I'm very motivated by competition and get ultra impatient when someone is in front of me - that goes for driving, too.

We rode south along the lake through Bay View, St. Francis, down to the turnaround at Grant Park. The roads in Grant Park were atrocious and I worried about my tires and I worried about my assbones. My seat has next to no padding. It's all about clearance, Clarence.

Riding north for the last half of the race became tiring because we were facing a strong headwind off the lake. I kept the bike in high gears for much of the ride, which made it easier to hit the hills and grades as well as generally kick ass. It wasn't a race, but I wanted to make good time. Plus I firmly believe that if you don't keep the right speed, you'll tire out faster and enjoy less of the ride. My riding style isn't to get out of the saddle either, I prefer to become more compact and use the leverage of my short legs.

There are bikes for all sizes of people... I saw some very tall people on some very tall bikes. It was like getting passed by a giraffe.

I got everyone's name on my person, so you all went over the bridge with me :) Some pictures I took in the daylight and unfortunately they did not turn out. If you don't see your name, please know that you were there!

More rides are in my future, and maybe a race or two. If today's ride taught me anything, it's that I most definitely have a need to let'r snap. And compete. And generally, kick ass.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Why Do My Prayers Go Unanswered?

Our regular priest is on a medical leave. Knowing the good Canon there was probably some kicking and screaming involved. We're very fortunate to have him and in fact, I credit him in many ways for saving my soul. I wasn't always this humble, you know.

He wouldn't leave us in the hands of amateurs. In his place, we've been treated to masses and lessons from many great priests from the Institute of Christ the King, Sovereign Priest. One of my favorite is Canon Talarico from the Chicago apostolate. He's deceptively young in appearance, yet enormously strong and wise. I've waited all week for them to post Sunday's homily focused on why our prayers sometimes go unanswered. Why did I wait so diligently? I wanted to share it with you, of course.

This recording includes the epistle and Gospel translations prior to the homily. But don't skip over them, they're good for you. And it will all make sense.

Dominus Vobiscum

Homily - 5th Sunday After Easter

Friday, June 3, 2011

Coming In To Focus

I'll be 40 in just under two months. Regrettably, 40 isn't what it used to be, not like it was for the Greatest Generation and other generations. For me, I'm still letting go of perceptions that I formed about life in my 20s. That's something I welcome - I don't want to miss the good things that come from the wisdom of age and an ever-developing lens of the soul.

Here's a neat little song that I heard last night. For me, it lightheartedly captures what we part from with age, while keeping the lightness of heart.

Through the corridors of sleep
Past the shadows dark and deep
My mind dances and leaps in confusion.
I don't know what is real,
I can't touch what I feel
And I hide behind the shield of my illusion.

So I'll continue to continue to pretend
My life will never end,
And flowers never bend
With the rainfall.

The mirror on my wall
Casts an image dark and small
But I'm not sure at all its my reflection.
I am blinded by the light
Of God and truth and right
And I wander in the night without direction.

So I'll continue to continue to pretend
My life will never end,
And flowers never bend
With the rainfall.

Its no matter if you're born
To play the king or pawn
For the line is thinly drawn tween joy and sorrow,
So my fantasy
Becomes reality,
And I must be what I must be and face tomorrow.

So I'll continue to continue to pretend
My life will never end,
And flowers never bend
With the rainfall.

Friday, May 27, 2011

On a lighter note...

About two months ago, I started changing my diet again. Some of the things either no longer in the mix or only in true moderation are: Sweets/sugar, wheat products, and dairy.

Of course this is restrictive, but there are many, many great things you can still eat. In fact, it forces you to think about other foods that have been crowded out with "norm" foods: things that we're conditioned to think we should have every day because they're the most available (and frankly not the healthiest options, they're just what's for sale). While sweets are out of the mix, I still eat fruit and small amounts of dried fruit.

What's so great about this? Well, weight loss isn't one of them to be honest with you. Here's what I've noticed:
  • My blood sugar is much more stable which translates to better energy throughout the day (mental and physical).
  • Skin issues are also long gone - no pimples whatsoever.
  • My mind is clearer
  • No more heartburn
  • I get to go to the bathroom every single day.  Yes, that's a big deal.
This is very "no-mores" focused, but let's face it, when you're banging your head against the wall to fix a lot of seemingly unconnected, nagging issues, you notice their absence. For me, that absence is met with relief - I can focus on many other things.

Nobody's been able to explain some of the metabolic/energy issues I've had throughout my life, but it's good to get to this point.  Getting people to fixate on themselves is really, really big business.  I hate that about our culture, by the way. Google "Googlechondria" and you'll see what I mean.

I don't need any magic fixes or diets or pills or fancy diagnoses.  I'm just thankful to have found what works enough.    

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Well, I was with Pat Condell, Until...

I realized how incredibly anti-Christian he is. I can't support or repost material from someone who calls Jesus the Greatest Lie Ever Told.

Now, I don't think it's necessary to go into all the reasons that he's wrong. That would crash the internet. And thankfully, it's above my pay grade.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Islam and Bedbugs

Here is all you need to know about Islam and Islamist societies. You don't have like it, in fact nobody should, but for the sake of all human society, acknowledge what we're up against. Yes, we.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Bibi Netanyahu and Barack Obama in Their Early 20s

So many conversations can be started with this photo comparison of Bibi and Barack in their early 20s. Here are a few quick hits that came to mind for me:

- Bibi is gorgeous.

- The difference is startling: One photo demonstrates manliness, responsibility, courage, wisdom, adulthood, purpose, confidence in oneself, and intelligence. The other represents running away from oneself, fitting in, sloth, siphoning, waiting, childhood, skating by.

Who would you rather have standing next to you in a crisis situation. Who would you rather have standing next to you if you had been in NY when the Twin Towers were collapsing. Who is going to stand by your side when times get tough. Who is going to run or look to you instead and expect you to take care of things for them, instead of setting themselves aside so that both of you can survive?

Who has the will? Who has the strength to lay down their life for you?

I believe we should all be willing to rise to the occasion and sacrifice for and with one another, through the grace of God. Without that grace, we're shells... we're the guy on the right side of the pic.

Where do you want to stand? Or sit...?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Ave Maria, Gratia Plena

Courtesy of Jimmy Bice, @jimmiebjr

Well worth your time..

Monday, May 9, 2011

Wouldn't you like to support a cute little ballerina like this?

Who can say no to this little dancing queen? Nobody? That's what I said!

Okay, the little girl is me, many moons ago at Milwaukee Montessori school on 45th and State. But the news is good because you can still support me as I raise $500 for the United Performing Arts Fund. UPAF provides financial support to 34 performing arts groups in our community, like the Milwaukee Youth Orchestra, First Stage Children's Theater, and the Tap and Mad Hot Ballroom classes at Danceworks. For more information about UPAF's mission click here.

Every little bit helps, and I would be enormously grateful for your support if you can swing it. Knowing you've supported me will provide the extra motivation as I bike across the Hoan bridge. How so?

Donations through the blog will earn you the best advertising money can get. Well actually it's not advertising per se...

If you donate through the blog - I will write your name and donation amount on my very own limbs on the day of the ride. Just enter "Go Phel!" in the comment section for your donation and "Whallah!", you're a write-in for race day. Prime real estate such as quads and forearms go to the highest donations.

Here is the link to my donation page. Or cut and paste the URL:
And thanks for your support!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Cannot Haz Cheezburger....

Just on Fridays, kitteh. Pat pat pat.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Photos from the Carolinas Road Trip

I'm back, y'all. Hopefully for just one more year or so, and then get myself moved to Charleston.  The purpose of the trip was to see if Charlotte, NC was a fit for me, and if you read my prior post you know that it's not.  Is Charleston heaven?  Well, not especially, but the quality of life can't be beat.  I felt very much at home in the south and I believe in my heart that I've found... my home.

Here is the route that I drove, I clocked just under 1400 miles:

Part of the joy of the trip was taking pictures, and both Carolinas have great subject matter.  South Carolina more so, in my opinion.  Would you like to see the pictures?  I can't lie, I'm extremely happy with the way they turned out.  Lucky for me, I chose to be in Charleston during the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War, and I took many pictures of the "soldiers" that made the pilgrimmage.

Here is my general Carolinas set:

And the set of the Soldiers - which I highly recommend:

Stay tuned for another post on my observations from the trip. I made many mental notes, and you all know how that goes: great brilliant thoughts while you're driving that don't usually make it to paper. It's a lot like waking up in the middle of the night with the cure for cancer. What? That never happens to you? I must be special :)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

So What Happens When You Have a Brand New City?

Everything is so nice that it's boring.

I checked out Charlotte, NC today. My deep dark secret is that I want to move to the southeast, so this is my way of taking off the rose colored glasses to be sure of what I want. This would be a big move for me if I decide to do it.

The first thing that struck me about Charlotte is that it looks like the entire city was built at the same time - within the last ten years. There had to be a time when every city block was under construction. Everything is new, I was hard pressed to find anything old, at all. Because of that, I surmise that this is a very nice, successful city with no personality. Everything is new, mostly chain, and highly functional. People from most walks of life and all races carry themselves in a much more honorable manner than I'm accustomed to. And people are very friendly, they look you in the eye. Technically it's everything I've looked for, but I can't put my finger on why I'm not completely sold on it.

It's upscale, too. I appreciate upscale. You can buy very nice things here because they sell them. Clothing and furnishings and other services are not "catalog" and the same old... boring styles made of crappy material.  And all cultures and races are well dressed - families are intact and look cohesive - not dragged around. Kids aren't bitchy, you don't catch hell for making eye contact with strangers.

There is no litter. Charlotte is clean, even in the lower income areas. The roads are all intact.

There is no water and it's completely landlocked. I have to wonder if that's part of what strikes me as off. The lack of historical areas is also strange to me. Outside of downtown there are older buildings from the 60s and 70s and much of that is still functional, just not flashy and well planned like downtown and the city.

I don't know. Maybe I was expecting Chicago but south. And I know it's only been one day and I'm probably not giving it as much of a chance, or let it sink in yet. I'm sure I could make my home here, but I worry that I might feel understimulated. I'll be back here later on my trip and I might feel very differently once I get a chance to see more of the state.

What would I miss?  Aside from my family and life in Milwaukee?
Bay View, Rockabilly, Honky Tonks, fun Americana shows.  I might even miss some of the hipsterness of Riverwest, but I wouldn't miss the disposable scene of east Brady street and being aggressively hit up for change. I'd trade that for people who actively care about their lives, anyday, regardless of how vanilla.

Friday, April 1, 2011

JoAnne Kloppenburg Re-Victimizes Sex Abuse Victims

Yes, she does.

And there is a special place in hell for people like her, right next to sex abusers.

Miss Kloppenburg, do you have any idea how much sexual abuse destroys a child's life?

Completely. Children don't have the capacity to understand and navigate the shame they feel, they don't sort that out until many years later. And guess what! Child sex abuse is a gift that keeps on giving - the victim is never free - and they are left holding the bag. There is no magic bullet to healing, they have to clean up the situation and many of them never can. There is no full recourse for sex abuse victims. They are some of the most vulnerable of all victims.

Because their perceptions are damaged, many victims go on to be re-victimized. That is how life can align itself for the abuse victim. No, that doesn't make sense to the non-sexually-abused, but victims understand it completely. On top of this, abusers can smell the formerly abused from miles away.

So to have Kloppenburg running this ad and deliberately NOT asking for the ad to be pulled only says one thing: she condones it. She condones reactivating all of the emotions, messed up perceptions, shame and feelings of filth in two victims and quite honestly - in many victims. I hope that the victims SUE THE SHIT out of her for emotional damage.

She should be fully ashamed of herself and go hide in a cave, forever, for compelling a sex abuse victim, who just wants to get on with his life, to publicly refute her ad and proclaim the truth about being victimized. Now that, is pure evil.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Nothing Like Being Harassed by Your Own Employer

Since when does a Marquette harass it's own employees, let alone a law professor?

Well it's happening.

Marquette Warrior: Marquette Warrior Blogger Harassed by Provost John Pauly

It's a lengthy read for those of you who are faint of heart and focus. So if you're not into proof or facts and only understand hearsay, you can skip this reading exercise altogether. So just remember this instead: if your employer is John Pauly and you agree with his politics (instead of the other way around), you're probably just fine. Until you change your mind. And someday, you will.

Dear God;

Thank you.


Monday, March 28, 2011

I Wasn't Planning to Post This to the Blog... but....

Since I've given up Twitter and Facebook for Lent, I'm left with fewer options to promote my participation in the UPAF Ride for the Arts. You see, I'm going all in. Not only am I going to finish my route - starting with biking across the Hoan bridge - I'm going to raise an additional $500 for UPAF.

I'm still pretty new to cycling, so this will be very challenging for me. I'm also about as new to fund raising as I could be, but I'm ready to put myself out there and ask you for your financial support for my ride. Even if you can make a small donation, it will be very appreciated. Not just for me, but for kids and young adults in the community who like me, derived much benefit from the arts while growing up.

Knowing you've supported me will provide the extra motivation as I bike across the Hoan bridge. How so?

Donations through the blog will earn you the best advertising money can get. Well actually it's not advertising per se...

If you donate through the blog - I will write your name and donation amount on my very own limbs on the day of the ride. Just enter "Go Phel!" in the comment section for your donation and "Whallah!", you're a write-in for race day. Prime real estate such as quads and forearms go to the highest donations.

So don't let me down... help me give back to the community :)

Here is the link to my donation page. Or cut and paste the URL:

And thanks for your support!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Lent, Unplugged

Like last year, I gave up Twitter and Facebook for Lent. A couple of weeks ago, I wasn't sure how I would spend the time (yes, I do spend a lot of time on both). My random thoughts couldn't be shared via text... I might actually have to say it to another person.

I'll admit that social media has influenced the way I think and communicate, and not necessarily for the better. For as shy as I can be, I have always been a people person, and my social skills have atrophied as a result of social media. Now, social media isn't all bad. Do I know more people as a result of social media? Yes. Am I close with all of them? No. It's networking in the classic sense. Perhaps my biggest complaint is my tendency to default to social media instead of turning around and saying hello to the person next to me, or cracking a joke in my Monty Pythonesque way. My inability to turn to the person next to me and make eye contact or say anything is wreaking havoc on my life, and I don't like it.

These thoughts have been winding around in my head at least for the past year. The loss of creativity, flexibility and spontaneity I had not so long ago, are a true loss to me. When I came across this article by Fr. James Schall, SJ, I thought that someone finally understood what I had been experiencing. As human beings, we are made for relationship. If we don't have relationship, the part of us that is able to bond to another person will suffer. That part of us that bonds can never be written out of our code... it will always come back to remind us.

Fr. Schall captures this very well...
"The truth of Christ is the full and authentic response to that human desire for relationship, communion and meaning which is reflected in the immense popularity of social networks." But the limits of friendship and finiteness remain. "He who is a friend of everyone is a friend of no one," as Aristotle said. And I suppose that he who communicates with everyone knows no one in any meaningful sense.
Something else that is interesting about social media... real everyday relationships are full of ups and downs and moments we can't control. In the virtual world, we actually have more control over our interactions with other people. We can think of something clever to say, cite our positions with google searches and links, shut down the conversation or delete it entirely. Nobody would ever know that we disagreed with someone, been incorrect, said enormously stupid or vile things. And the people we hurt or hurt us can never see our facial expressions, hear the changes in our voices, or truly know the impact of the interaction with the other person.

The exception to this, is the group of folks that I have met via blogging since 2006. We are a very close group, see each other often, and are a part of each others lives. Damn, I miss them lately too... So much is lost in the digital age.

Including time that we can be spending with people in real life. So I gave up Twitter and Facebook for Lent so that I could do a few things:

- clear my mind
- focus on priorities of my life (which are conveniently forgotten when you're getting attention at will online)
- to spend time with people, in person

And how could I not put at the top of my list....focus on faith. Lent is my favorite season. I'm very fortunate to belong to a parish that is gentle and instructive. Every year I learn more about what it means to have faith and what God asks of us. It's not always fun to educate your conscience, but it sure makes life more satisfying (albeit challenging).

So it has been good so far... I have more work ahead of me, and more brain space at my disposal.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Everybody needs good neighbors

I got home a little late this evening and noticed that my neighbor Tony's door was open.  I figured he might step out and say hello. But as usual, I rushed in and got settled. 

I thought of Tony a few times today.  How I call him "Mr. Tarantino" even though he's my neighbor, this morning I wondered if the alarm I set in the kitchen to keep me on schedule ever wakes him up in the morning.  His parking spot is near the back entrance to the building, and I recalled when one of the windows fell off the building and smashed the back window.

My garbage.  Man, it stunk.  Snuggy pants and a sweatshirt are not the way you want to be seen in your building on any given day, but the stinky stuff had to go.  At the elevators, my neighbor peeked out of her door and said that my neighbor Tony had died... the coroners were there at that very moment tending to his body.  I took the trash out so that I could get back upstairs and talk with my neighbor.  The door to Tony's apartment opened and I was about to see what I really didn't want to... the suited coroners bringing out the gurney with his body in the bag.  Police.  My apartment manager Mark, who is a sensitive soul and is also who received the call from Tony's daughter that he hadn't answered the phone. He opened Tony's door for her today, and thus there when his body was discovered. 

The coroner said that he collapsed in the kitchen, probably after hanging up the phone with his son. I've said this many times, but they always wait until they've been able to say goodbye or otherwise touch base before they sneak away.

I think of Tony as a man the way men used to be.  He carried himself like an adult and had a good sense of humor, you always felt valued around him.  He was a gentleman.  So much so that I called him "Mr. Tarantino".  He said, "please, call me Tony."

Monday, February 14, 2011

Moral Rigidity

"If you can't be perfect, why bother being good".

I heard this on a sitcom, of all places.  It easily explains ...and rationalizes at the same time.

I'm glad I made a different decision, which wasn't the easiest decision, but nobody can take it away or discredit it.  No matter  how hard they try.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Best Comment Text, Ever

This about sums it up. Best comment text, ever, from The Big Picture:
"Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data, ability to repeat discredited memes, and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Also, be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor even implied. Any irrelevancies you can mention will also be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous."
The only thing I'd add is, "Please feed the trolls. Arsenic."

Monday, January 10, 2011

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Dear Dogs and Cats

The following was found posted very low on a refrigerator door.

Dear Dogs and Cats: The dishes with the paw prints are yours and contain your food. The other dishes are mine and contain my food. Placing a paw print in the middle of my plate of food does not stake a claim for it becoming your food and dish, nor do I find that aesthetically pleasing in the slightest.

The stairway was not designed by NASCAR and is not a racetrack. Racing me to the bottom is not the object. Tripping me doesn't help because I fall faster than you can run.

I cannot buy anything bigger than a king sized bed. I am very sorry about this. Do not think I will continue sleeping on the couch to ensure your comfort, however. Dogs and cats can actually curl up in a ball when they sleep. It is not necessary to sleep perpendicular to each other, stretched out to the fullest extent possible. I also know that sticking tails straight out and having tongues hanging out on the other end to maximize space is nothing but sarcasm.

For the last time, there is no secret exit from the bathroom! If, by some miracle, I beat you there and manage to get the door shut, it is not necessary to claw, whine, meow, try to turn the knob or get your paw under the edge in an attempt to open the door. I must exit through the same door I entered. Also, I have been using the bathroom for years - canine/feline attendance is not required.

The proper order for kissing is: Kiss me first, then go smell the other dog or cat's butt. I cannot stress this enough.

Finally, in fairness, dear pets, I have posted the following message on the front door:


(1) They live here. You don't.
(2) If you don't want their hair on your clothes, stay off the furniture. That's why they call it 'fur'-niture.
(3) I like my pets a lot better than I like most people.
(4) To you, they are animals. To me, they are adopted sons/daughters who are short, hairy, walk on all fours and don't speak clearly.

Remember, dogs and cats are better than kids because they:
(1) eat less,
(2) don't ask for money all the time,
(3) are easier to train,
(4) normally come when called,
(5) never ask to drive the car,
(6) don't smoke or drink,
(7) don't want to wear your clothes,
(8) don't have to buy the latest fashions,
(9) don't need a gazillion dollars for college and
(10) if they get pregnant, you can sell their children ....

Saturday, January 1, 2011