Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Return of the Internets

Irene was here, Irene has gone, we got internet back this morning, power back Sunday late night. The only trouble is that a tree crew has not yet removed the giant pine in the back yard, and the stand a good chance of undoing all the good accomplished by the utility company in the last three days. Not sure how they're going to slice and dice it without taking the lines or poles out of commission.

Aaaaaand so, even though we were in Raleigh with good internet until Sunday morning, I'm days behind on all manner of things. Should be doing school....playing Civilization instead. Should be putting the books, papers, clothes, appliances, and other chattels back where they belong...sitting around reading instead. Not a good start to the week.

Oh well. But we're here, we're alive, no damage to life,limb, or property, other than (naturally) a freezer and refrigerator full of spoiled food. :( And, also naturally, not a loaf of bread to be seen for miles.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


It's like normal time, except that it gets completely away from you as you cruise lazily from one article to the next. Grain-destroying beetles? Most invasive species on earth? Common house cat? Genetic mutation? Deafness research? How did I get over here? Where did those two hours go? Is it a function of statistics that the random article always seems to be about an obscure Eastern European person or play, or is the random button biased?

We used to try playing a game, where Joseph would choose two unrelated things and I had to get from the first article to the second in only six steps. I never lost, so we quit playing.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Remedial TV

Because we don’t have cable, or anything approaching it, the best I can do is take a quiet weekend and watch 5-10 years worth of programming, primarily National Geographic specials and hippie documentaries about the overpopulation problem.

As a result, my brain functions in only one direction at the moment, which is wondering how to still enjoy Olive Garden and Taco Bell while knowing where and how they get their ingredients.  Ugh.  Oh well.

Check me out again at and hear me yak about this subject.  Or, better yet, go read the stuff written by other contributors, which is interesting and well-written and diverse and such.  And tell your friends!  Make a daily check of content part of your routine.  Become a slavish follower.  Bow down.

Friday, August 19, 2011

7 Long Quick Takes


These aren't "quick" quick takes at all, but rather really long diatribes that didn't seem important enough to put in posts of their own. They're also pretty much all political, which shouldn't surprise you considering the description of my daily life in #2...


I think my biggest obstacle to writing these days is titles. One of two things is going to happen. Either I think of a snappy title but have no brains whatsoever to write anything underneath it, or else I know what to write about but have no title with which to focus my efforts. Writing turns into either a Drudge headline or a epic novel about Something That Recently Occurred To Me. This is a problem if you want people to read your stuff, but it’s also a problem if you want to write at all. After a while, all-or-nothing syndrome makes you just want to throw in the towel.

In the meantime, I live life at the lowest possible ebb of individual effort. I teach four or five piano lessons a week (which is down from forty plus, so five feels like practically a negative number), I stay in bed until it’s just silly to do so any longer, I spend three hours a day just sitting on the couch listening to the radio because I “can’t do anything else while I’m listening,” and I occasionally will put dirty dishes in the dishwasher. This is the shape of summer at my house. It’s depressing, not really because the house has gone to heck, because it hasn’t, but more because I don’t feel good about how utterly unmotivated I am. If I felt like doing more, I would do it! But I don’t, so I don’t, and it ends up resulting in a cobwebby mental state that feels icky enough to be icky, but not quite icky enough for me to do anything about it.


I was fascinated to find, on network television, a paid and successful TV personality who appears to have a fairly pro-life outlook, at least on the “big issues.” Billy the Exterminator is an A&E reality series about a family who does pest control in Louisiana—and these ain’t spiders and voles, peeps. The guy jumps into lakes after alligators, traps possums, raccoons, armadillos, bobcats, exterminates wasp nests the size of a VW (not a joke), and all manner of Texas-sized animalia that are found in Louisiana. The show is “totally whack,” too, with the whole family in this weirdo semi-Goth style of dress and all the black-leather flair and ambiance that goes along with it. Joseph makes grand and royal fun of me watching this show. He’ll come in, stay long enough to see how disgustingly huge the latest infestation of roaches is, and say, “Oh, are you watching Billy Ray Cyrus Kills Bugs again?” No taste, that man.

Aaaaanyway. So, there’s a number of situations in the first three seasons where Billy goes into houses and the woman is pregnant. One of the company’s trademark things is how they use environment-friendly pesticides, which is probably not a bad idea when the nearest body of water at any given moment is 8-10 feet down the hill. Whenever he does his little voice-over for each job, he lists the products he’s going to use, and consistently says, “And these are much safer to use at this house, because they don’t pose any risk to Mary and her unborn baby.” And he always says “baby.” I like that! I like the show, too. It’s sort of Crocodile Hunter meets Dirty Jobs, messy and funny and sometimes you get to see a 23-foot snake. But anyway. I think it’s pro-life of him to speak that way, and I like that this is a prime-time reality show where people are hearing it. Certainly aren’t many other places you hear words like that in public.


In politics these days, it would possibly be educational for “evil empire” anti-military Americans to consider what’s happening in Syria lately. As is traditional and normal in Middle Eastern locales, large scale infighting and violence is on the table, and no one is able to deny that the latest round is directly at the behest of the current ruling party in Syria, headed by Bashar Assad. We are, please note, not in Syria right now. Thousands of people are murdered and tossed into mass graves, including women and children (who are often targeted), and we are not there. Stop whining that we're "everywhere," when clearly we are not.

Iraq is not a shining beacon of peace and accord, nor was the war in Iraq necessarily just (I’m on the fence on that one, still). However, there are NOT still people being systematically killed with chemical weapons, not still entire towns being slaughtered because of their religion or tribe, not still mass graves being dug and filled weekly at the direction of the regime. We were in Iraq, and now there's no genocide. Now please, the very last thing I’m suggesting here is that we should go to Syria! That's a very bad idea. But I’d like for people to do two things: first, stop Chicken-Littling your way through life going, “Omgz! We’re totally like involved in EVERY WAR on EARTH!!” Because we aren't. Sit down and shut up. Second, think of piles of dead children, and tell me whether “interference” on the part of a wealthy and capable nation might not, in the end, just possibly, be a net gain for humanity. I’m pretty sure back when Ignatius sent missionaries to Asia, there were plenty of European Christians who were in grave need of evangelization and ministry, yet he left the immediate sphere of influence and responsibility and traveled out to help those who could not help themselves. Stupid Jesuits, going abroad when clearly they could have done so much more good at home, guarding the borders against the insurgent Protestant Bible Cartels in France and Germany.


“God wants us dependent on Him, not dependent on the government.” That was Ryan Rhodes, the now-famous Tea Party member who made it his business on Monday to ask the President some pressing questions. Now he’s hit the big time, of course, with major news outlets searching for him, his name plastered across all the ubiquity of the mainstream media. Tuesday afternoon he made it through the lines of the Rush Limbaugh show, where he had great comments to make about individual responsibility, traditional liberty, the need for Faith. Once again, we’re getting to the bottom of all that is wrong with our country—people have abandoned God and faith (any faith!) and, knowing that their house must be build on stone, look for stability and protection from something else. Would the welfare state even exist, if our nation was still a people of Faith? I think not, or at least certainly not to the degree it exists today. Jesus said “the poor will always be with you,” but he didn’t say that “You should strive to always be poor and need someone else’s help.” We need to take back our country, be in charge of our own future, own responsibility for our decision. We need the resolve and determination to do so, for if “we the blessed” are no longer able to support ourselves or find prosperity, how will we find a way to help those who cannot help themselves?


We would do well, conservatives, in our quest to discredit global warming and combat Earth-worship hyperenvironmentalism, to keep in mind that “green” initiatives are not all bad. “Weatherization,” for example (upgrading insulation, improving heat/cooling retention) is not at all a hoax, nor a sham. It works. Insulate your house, buy expensive UV-reflecting windows, your energy usage goes down. Heck, put a windmill in your yard to power the well. It works! Use solar energy to run your water heater. It works. Recycle glass and plastics. It’ll save you three or four garbage bags per week, and those suckers are expensive. What we can’t do is replace a millions-of-megawatts-wide power grid with a thousands-of-megawatts-wide [and currently nonexistent] solar and wind grid. We won’t kill the planet in ten years by burning fossil fuels, nor will we run out of said fuels in that same time frame. We don’t need to sterilize humans so that the rain forests can live. There’s all kinds of nonsense out there, but don’t toss out common sense and actual money-saving investments just because they have a “green” label.


Be grateful I don't get riled up about all this stuff very often. Most of the time, I hear and observe political and philosophical wrangling and go "meh, I have a life to fritter away on the couch," but lately it's all coming to the surface again. Sorry. I've grown up around a very broad array of political opinions, I have extended family members who are quasi-racist, there are gay people in my family, there are people who carry guns in their cars in my family. I met all manner of nuts and normal people at work and at college, and now I live in a completely different social and political environment...probably the most uniform set of opinions I've seen in a while, but nevertheless different and hotly contested at the points of disagreement. NONE of those people, in all my life, have held their opinions because they're stupid, or because they shut their eyes to the truth (ok, well, maybe a couple). They either think as they do because they have always done so and are too lazy to reevaluate, or because they've been fed wrong information their whole life, or because some real, personal tragedy has driven them away from truth (and usually also Truth). It's offensive and frustrating to me, who has never made this assumption about others, to be assumed to be stupid merely because I hold firm to a political opinion that differs from someone else. That's the irritating part, and that's what brings out all of the loud, sarcastic, obnoxious, conservative in me.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Pennsylvania Outside

This morning, one of the little boys I teach asked me, "Have you ever been to Pennsylvania? It feels like Pennsylvania outside." So cute. He's right, though, it's a pleasantly warm kind of day, nice for the pool, but not so hot that it makes you want to actually move to Michigan.

Also, today at Virtuous Planet, I hold forth on World Youth Day and other things Popish. There's also totally fun tailgating ideas for those who are World Youth Daying from home...

Monday, August 15, 2011

Virtuous Planet

Ok, here we go! I mentioned a while ago that we met Stacy of Accepting Abundance while we were wandering amongst the wilds of Massachusetts. Thanks to that meeting, she decided that we were sufficiently verbose and Catholic to be part of a New Media project she was helping to start. A few weeks ago, Stacy asked both Joe and I to be part of a group that writes for this brand-new, utterly Catholic, fully awesome website:

It's geared at young adult Catholics, but of course everyone will want to read it. For one thing, we've got nuns. Who doesn't love nuns? As far as I can tell, there's nothing more fun or real that a good, faithful, Catholic nun. We have a priest, too, but priests don't knock each other down while playing soccer in dresses.

Also there's a number of writers on there who are professionals and already well-known in their own write. (Like, lol @ me, right!?!!!!!1!) It's cool to watch it come together, and here's hoping my own, blessedly infrequent, posts don't drag the bar down too low.

So, go check it out! Click around!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Deep Breath!

Well, amongst all the other things I find to do with my life, I've been involved (remotely) in a really interesting project, which goes live tomorrow. (Look for a link and fanfare then.) Also, of course, we make random trips to Virginia, get caught in rabidly ferocious rainstorms, and sit for hours at train crossings hoping for a glimpse of a Choo Choo.

So. Anyway, the project has brought me a great deepening of my Faith. Again I'm taking a leap, crossing a bridge, stepping out blindly in service of my Savior. I'm learning [the amazingly frustrating and still so high-brow] WordPress.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Really irritated, so pardon my French.

Before I begin, let me be perfectly clear. War is hell. We’re going to visit a young man this weekend who doesn’t have any legs. Any questions? Next time you do that, I’d be happy afterward to have a conversation with you about peace, war, and all the politics that surround those ideas.

In the meantime, it would be fabulously awesome if people would stop saying things like “if we’d just cut this ridiculous defense spending, our economy wouldn’t be in the toilet.” This irritates me, first because defense spending actually drives the economy in certain regions. Like, many of the major coastal cities in the United States. Kill the military, and you kill the economy and livelihood in a huge swath of the nation. (It’s already happened all around the country when bases are closed or downsized.) But more to the point, it irritates me because the military is experiencing (on average) a nearly 60% decrease in funding this coming fiscal year. Oh God, yes, let’s definitely do some more trimming there. Please. Let’s close more schools, end more bereavement programs, fire more chaplains, buy fewer helmets, and definitely stop spending all that useless, mindless money on intelligence. Let’s make sure our Marines and Soldiers and Sailors have to buy their own pens, pay for their own printers, and definitely pay their own travel needs to and from assignments. That would be a fitting sacrifice, considering how all they do right now is sit on their asses all day and occasionally drown kittens.

It would also be similarly fantastic if people would stop saying things like “all these useless wars,” “imperial aspirations,” or any of the other myriad, stupid comments I hear. What you don’t know about China, my peace-loving, innocent, insulated friends, might kill you one day. Last time you sat down and thought about the fact that 7th-Century nomads are shooting down helicopters in Afghanistian, did it ever occur to you that someplace like, oh, Iran, just might be helping them out? There are people in this world that want to kill us. Once upon a time, we had a ridiculously castrated, weak, and ineffective president in office, and 30 Americans were taken hostage in Tehran.

The time after that, they put a bomb in the basement of the World Trade Center. The time after that, they tortured and desecrated the bodies of 19 American soldiers outside Mogadishu. And after that, they flew airplanes into buildings and killed 3,000 Americans. Clearly, the way to stop all this is to turn the other cheek. We’ve got a whole West coast they haven’t destroyed yet!

I’d love for you to learn Arabic or Farsi, take a leisurely trip through the Fertile Crescent, and unburden yourself of this notion that they hate us “because we’re over there.” Nope. They hate us because we exist. Every time we fail to take a stand, every time we back down, turn away, or grab our ankles, attacks on innocents and assaults on non-combatants take place. Our weakness is an invitation. Being over there might not make them happy, but no amount of obsequious groveling would make it better. They want our country, in its entirely, overseas or not, to rot away into nonexistence. Why do you think the highest approval rating for our President right now comes from American Muslims? The demise of Western society is their aim, their goal, and (if we back down) their next Christmas present.

In 2001, we said “We’re coming to get you.” Now, has a terrorist flown a plane into your town lately?