Month: November 2015


Miscellaneous Rambling

Another whirlwind holiday weekend: Black Wednesday, followed by a (mostly) hangover-free Thanksgiving, then a 40-hour trip to Detroit that entailed a lot more driving once I was there, then over to Portage (a Kalamazoo suburb) to get my son to his high school basketball scrimmage, then to the Kalamazoo Cathedral for the start of Advent, then home for my family’s Christmas-tree decorating party. * * * * * * * I can’t state this too clearly: I hate weekends like that, even when they’re spent with people I enjoy (like this one was). Ten parts driving, plus ten parts activity, poured over 48 hours makes a terrible drink. Some people find them exhilarating. Good for them. Such weekends make me want to crawl inside my study and spread a book in front of me and just read and read and read. I would pray, but that presupposes a level of peace, so I opt for its intellectual parallel. * * * * * * * And before I forget: Welcome to the Year of Mercy. I saw my Diocese’s door get blessed with holy water Saturday evening, instituting it as the door through which we can walk as the first step toward an indulgence. It was not immediately clear to me, however, which is the “official” door. The priest seemed to be blessing an ordinary-looking side door, which struck me as a odd, but maybe the goal is to distinguish it from the main door that everyone uses anyway. * * * * * * * Interesting piece about the trappings of fame and the crushing of a Catholic man: “1956: … Read the rest



From Bill Kauffman’s Poetry Night at the Ballpark and Other Scenes from an Alternative America: “Joseph Smith ran for president in 1844, at least until a mob killed him in Illinois. He was thus the first U.S. presidential candidate to be assassinated. (Those in the best position to win this toughest of all bar bets, however, are usually absent from the bar.)”

Read the rest



Seen at a Reddit thread. Funny stuff, and even though I think the Western policies since the fall of the Ottoman Empire have contributed to this problem, the attempt of the multiculturalists to absolve Islam is ridiculous . . . as outlined in this clever piece.

The Jihadists are tired of not getting credit.

It must be incredibly frustrating as an Islamic Jihadist not to have your views and motives taken seriously by the societies you terrorize, even after you have explicitly and repeatedly stated them. Even worse, those on the regressive left, in their endless capacity for masochism and self-loathing, have attempted to shift blame inwardly on themselves, denying the Jihadists even the satisfaction of claiming responsibility.

It’s like a bad Monty Python sketch:

“We did this because our holy texts exhort us to to do it.”

“No you didn’t.”

“Wait, what? Yes we did…”

“No, this has nothing to do with religion. You guys are just using religion as a front for social and geopolitical reasons.”

“WHAT!? Did you even read our official statement? We give explicit Quranic justification. This is jihad, a holy crusade against pagans, blasphemers, and disbelievers.”

“No, this is definitely not a Muslim thing. You guys are not true Muslims, and you defame a great religion by saying so.”

“Huh!? Who are you to tell us we’re not true Muslims!? Islam is literally at the core of everything we do, and we have implemented the truest most literal and honest interpretation of its founding texts. It is our very reason for being.”

“Nope. We created you. We installed a social and economic system that alienates and disenfranchises you, … Read the rest


“Thanksgiving Day originated in New England when the Puritans realized they had succeeded in exterminating their neighbors, the Indians, instead of getting exterminated by their neighbors, the Indians.” Mark Twain

“Gratitude is a fruit of great cultivation; you do not find it among gross people.” Samuel Johnson

“Beggar that I am, I am even poor in thanks.” Shakespeare, Hamlet

“Gratitude is characteristic only of the humble. The egotistic are so impressed by their own importance that they take everything given them as if it were their due. They have no room in their hearts for recollection of the undeserved favors they received.” Fulton Sheen

“Gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” G.K. Chesterton

“Giving thank is not weakness but strength, for it involves self-repression.” Fulton Sheen

“How wonderful it would be if we could help our children and grandchildren to learn thanksgiving at an early age. Thanksgiving opens the doors. It changes a child’s personality. A child is resentful, negative—or thankful. Thankful children want to give, they radiate happiness, they draw people.” Sir John Templeton

“Gratitude is a species of justice.” Samuel Johnson

“If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, “thank you,” that would suffice.” Meister Eckhart

“When the stomach is full, it is easy to talk of fasting.” St. Jerome… Read the rest

BYCU Special Edition

Black Wednesday

Far out. Here we are again: Black Wednesday.

The hardest part about writing about Black Wednesday from a Catholic perspective is the, um, Catholic part.

Let’s face it: Black Wednesday is occasionally referred to as “black out Wednesday.” It’s not exactly a celebration of moderation. Chesterton’s famous quote from Orthodoxy about drinking is especially relevant on Thanksgiving Eve: “[T]he proper form of thanks . . . is some form of humility and restraint: we should thank God for beer and Burgundy by not drinking too much of them.”

Tonight is, first and foremost, the beginning of the thankfulness season, and if you’ve ever spent a moment thinking about thanks, you realize it implies God, and if there’s a God who cares enough to bless you, the proper response is humility and the restraint that comes with it. Of these things, entertain no doubt.

But those lofty things whirl ferociously with some powerful mundane things that create a vortex of drunken celebration: college kids converging on the local bars scene, the four-day weekend, high spirits, the holiday season kicking off.

The challenge as a Catholic is to embrace all of it without falling with it. That’s quite a challenge, and one, I fear, I’ve flunked on more than one occasion. It no doubt doesn’t help that I start drinking at 3:00, but that’s what my traditional itinerary calls for. I might need to keep my Breviary in my pocket to remind me about what’s truly important, but from that 3:00 tradition, I cannot–and will not–depart.

I will, however, strive to start slowly this afternoon. I have a growing reason to keep myself sober and … Read the rest


My final “outdoor” (i.e., “non-coldframe”) harvest of the year. I brought it in Thursday evening. Big batches of lettuce, kale, and spinach. It’s probably more than we can eat.


I took these two pics of some of my coldframe spinach Sunday afternoon, after the sun had heated them up for two hours. It looks like they survived the light snow dusting they got Saturday morning before I got the cold frame lids on:

spinach in cold frame

spinach in cold frame 2Read the rest


Miscellaneous Rambling

Whew. Quite the storm on Saturday. That was one of the top 5 weather turns in my lifetime. And now it’s supposed to melt away. * * * * * * * Even though I forgot to put the cover on the cold frames Friday night, I got them on Saturday morning after only a bit of snow had fallen. The spinach was coated with snow, but hopefully they’ll be fine. Those spinach greens are supposed to get us through to Christmas. * * * * * * * This might be my favorite week of the year (it battles with Christmas week for that honor). I will bust my hump today at the office, probably working over ten hours. I’ll work an ordinary day tomorrow, but laid back and peppered with light errands out of the office. Older kids start arriving home that evening. On Wednesday, I start to screw off: stop in to check mail, go to morning Mass, deal with a few client calls, leave at noon to take older kids out to lunch, then join my friend Mark for our annual tradition of drinking at a client’s in a neighboring village then heading to the Hillcrest for an evening of friends, family, and drinking. * * * * * * * Speaking of which, expect the Black Wednesday BYCU in two days. I’m not sure what I’ll write about, but it’ll be good (relatively–by TDE standards–speaking). … Read the rest