This is the image of Christ the Light that greets you as you enter Oakland's new cathedral.
I was not impressed by the outside of the Cathedral. It's dwarfed by the office buildings that surround it, so you really can't get a good look at the glass exterior. The shape is supposed to suggest flames and/or the bishop's mitre, but then there are these spikes on top. I'm not sure why.
The plaza surrounding the Cathedral is cement with minimal landscaping. Hopefully the Diocese will eventually add some trees, plants, benches, maybe a fountain or two to make the plaza more appealing.
Lake Merritt is across the street, which does offer some visual relief. However, there's a very busy four-lane street between the lake and the Cathedral.
I was pleasantly surprised by the inside, though. I think the use of Douglas fir and natural light warms the otherwise cold concrete. (The Newman Center/Holy Spirit Parish in Berkeley is almost completely concrete and resembles a large cave.) The interior reminded me of Noah's Ark, turned upside down and re-purposed as church, which kind of tickled me.
The holy water fount at the entrance is also the baptismal fount, which I thought was another nice touch. The water is recirculated to become wall fountains in the mausoleum under the Cathedral.
Thousands of tiny holes allow sunlight to come through the rear screen and project the image on the front. Once the sun goes down, the image is still there, but is very subtle: black dots on a gray background.
Along the sides of the church are several small rooms--I'd call them chapels, but there are no altars. Each room is designed for prayer and one can light a candle. There is a single image in each room, done in different styles. Below is my personal favorite of the group: the Crowning of Mary, Queen of Heaven.
Other images included an empty tomb with a white cloth and a large sculpture of the Crucifix, which I didn't care for.
Underneath the Cathedral is the Mausoleum. You can also get to the meeting rooms which are under the plaza. Under the stairwell is this mobile of fish made by a local Catholic school. The floor plan of the Cathedral is shaped like a fish, so there is a lot of fish symbology (is that a word?) going on.
I can't remember what grade/s contributed the fish. Judging by the fanciful colors, they were in the K-3 range. :)
Overall, I'm happy with the design. According to the seating chart we received for Confirmation, it's supposed to hold close to 2,000 people. But it doesn't feel that big, which is a good thing, I think.
The sound system, on the other hand, stunk. Part of the problem, is learning to adjust the system from a nearly empty Cathedral to a full one in the space of 15-20 minutes. At least, I hope that's the problem and not that the system itself is inadequate!
Thursday, May 28, 2009
This is the image of Christ the Light that greets you as you enter Oakland's new cathedral.
I must admit, this story about the Minnesota teen whose parents were ordered to have him treated by chemotherapy bothers me. I would definitely have my child treated; however, this is not my child.
And that's the point: parents used to get to make the decisions about medical treatment for their minor children. And while the greater community might have disagreed, strongly, with their position, as long as the parents were acting in good faith, their decision about treatment was accepted.
Today, it's parents who initially declined treatment in favor of some "Native American/naturalistic" type treatment. Next it will be Jehovah's Witnesses who refuse human blood transfusions or Christian Scientists who bring in faith healers.
Contrast this with the decision made to end Terri Schiavo's life. Her husband decided to let her starve to death and his decision was upheld because he was her husband. He was not compelled to resume rehabilitation or to move her to a more stimulating environment. The state did not take custody of Ms. Schiavo. In fact, Congress and state legislators were condemned for interfering in a "family decision."
But it's okay for the state to interfere in a family decision in the case of the 13-year-old.
I recognize that the cases are medically different. Hodgkin's Lymphoma is treatable (one of DS#2's close friends is recovering from it); Ms. Schiavo's brain damage was permanent. Still, most family decisions should be left to the family, no matter how strongly we disagree.
For Joseph L., who went to an "end-of-season" party for the local rugby club and didn't come home. He was found, drunk and unconscious, in a hallway by his friends. They called 911, but Joseph died later that night in the hospital of alcohol poisoning.
He was 16 and a member of DD#2's class. They were in PE together last year and what she remembers is how Joseph could make anyone laugh. He was a member of the football team and the track team.
For P.J., who was also at the party and arrested for supplying alcohol to a minor. He just turned 18 and is a junior at the same high school. He's well-liked, one of those kids who would never deliberately hurt anyone. (He was in study hall with DD#2.)
For the third teen, who was arrested for supplying the hard liquor and the keg. Because he is a minor, his name was not released. But DD#2 and DS#2 will know who it is by lunch time through the campus grapevine.
Please keep their families in your prayers as well. I can't imagine what they're going through.
Friday, May 22, 2009
Okay, I admit it. I just don't understand people who claim they "can't afford to take a vacation." Unless you are self-employed or working for an employer who doesn't offer paid vacation days, there is no reason not to take some time off.
Or do people mean that they can't afford what the travel industry deems as a vacation? You know what I mean: the ads that imply that if you don't take your kids to Disneyland/Disney World/whatever you are almost guilty of child abuse or that you can only relax if you go to Hawaii/Jamaica/Mexico or on a cruise.
Yes, it is nice to be waited on. To have someone else make the bed and entertain the children. On the other hand, we have taken the kids to Disneyland (and Disney World) and what I remember mostly is the stress and the meltdowns (we were guilty of trying to do it all in too little time).
The best vacations, the ones the kids really remember and still talk about?
They got to wear old clothes. They got to get dirty. They got to fish and swim in creeks or lakes. They got to ride bikes and burn marshmallows. They got to watch yellowjacket wasps eat a dead golden mantle ground squirrel over the course of a week. They got to play with Play-Doh (not in the tent, though). They got to play outside in the rain.
We explored ghost towns and volcanoes, visited small local museums that looked like everyone just cleaned out their attics, fed the fish at hatcheries, watched the festivities at "pioneer day" celebrations, and explored lava caves. They kissed banana slugs.
And I let them.
Why? Because my parents decided to go camping one summer, 50 years ago, instead of staying home. My parents were city folks and Bro#1 was in diapers--cotton ones, since disposables were expensive and didn't work well. But my siblings and I survived. More importantly, so did our parents. We went camping almost every summer after that.
The other option is a "staycation." We explore our local parks and beaches. Rent (or borrow from the library or exchange with friends) DVDs and make popcorn for a family movie night. Stargaze in the backyard. Make Christmas presents. Learn a new hobby or craft or practice an old one. Let the kids cook. Visit local historical sites (you know, the ones you pass every day on the way to work and you think that maybe, someday, you'll visit). Play games with the kids like Sorry! or Monopoly or Go Fish.
Unplug the phone and the computer. Tell work you're unavailable, that you won't have cell phone service or Internet access. Forget about meetings for a week.
It's about rediscovering my family. And myself.
I can't afford not to take vacation!
Today is National Maritime Day, intended to honor all those who work in the maritime industry.
Since I've worked either in the industry or in companies closely allied with it, I have a special appreciation for it. The Port of Oakland used to sponsor Maritime Day/World Trade Day at Jack London Square, hoping to increase public awareness of the importance of shipping to the local economy. Most of California's agricultural exports (and a lot of frozen poultry from Arkansas and Georgia) move through the Port of Oakland, due to its proximity to the Central Valley. Sadly, as shipping lines consolidated, moved their offices out of the Bay Area, and trimmed their advertising budgets, Maritime Day disappeared. So most people have no clue how their cell phones, computers, DVD players, Wiis, automobiles, and other gadgets get here.
Nor do they realize how important California's agricultural exports are to the U.S. balance of trade.
Or how many jobs ultimately are dependent on the maritime trade (and not just Wal*Mart, although they are probably the nation's largest maritime customer).
I wonder if President Obama and his people have a clue?
(Picture of the APL Singapore heading to the Port of Oakland. Taken by me from Pier 14 in San Francisco, July 2008. APL--formerly American President Line--is now a wholly-owned subsidary of Neptune Orient Lines of Singapore. But that's a subject for another day.)
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Julie D. over at Happy Catholic was kind enough to nominate me and four other outstanding bloggers for this award, demonstrating out "great attitude and gratitude."
Per the rules, I must pass this award on.
***Mimi, at Bigger Than A Breadbox
***Karen, at The View From My Chair
***Deb, at Ukok's Place
and, last but not least:
***TBG, at Listen to Uncle Jay
Now, spread the love!
The Most Reverend Salvatore Joseph Cordileone was installed as the fourth Bishop of the Diocese of Oakland on May 5, 2009.
Our new bishop is young (52--younger than me!). He's a native of San Diego and is a product of public schools, and his dad was a fisherman. He's smart, reputed to be theologically conservative, appreciates the Latin Mass, and is fluent in Italian and Spanish.
His resume is impressive; what I thought was significant is that he asked to be a pastor. He was assigned to a parish in Calexico, which sits right next to the border between California and Mexico. Not an easy parish assignment!
When Bishop Cordileone's appointment was announced, my pastor, Fr. P., wondered how long he would be with us. Fr. P doesn't think it will be long, because of the Bishop's youth: Oakland is but a stepping-stone. (Hmmm... how long before Roger Cardinal Mahoney of Los Angeles retires?)
Oakland is a challenge, covering many ethnicities, many economic groups, spanning urban, suburban, and agricultural communities. Cultural and political clashes are common and unavoidable. We have a new Cathedral (more on that later--but I was surprised, given the negative reviews I've heard, at how warm a space it is inside) and the bills that come with it. A new high school has been promised to those living in the fast-growing Tri-Valley area (Livermore-San Ramon-Pleasanton), which has been deferred over and over again and the faithful there are becoming restless. Meanwhile, there are those who want the Diocese to focus more on social justice issues in the inner cities of Oakland and Richmond.
Bishop Cordileone--whose name means "lion-hearted"--must shepherd us all.
Please keep him in your prayers.
picture courtesy of The Catholic Voice
Monday, May 11, 2009
DISCLAIMER: Way back in 8th Grade, my BFF told me about this cool new series on TV that took place in space and featured a captain, a doctor, and a pointy-eared alien who was completely logical.
"I can't describe it. You have to watch it," she said.
So I did. And I was hooked. As was Sis#1 and Bro#1, since the rest of the siblings were way young at the time. Or hadn't been born. Dad must have enjoyed it as well--or there was nothing better on--because he didn't object when we turned it on. And Dad was the final authority on what we watched in those days of one b&w TV!
When NBC threatened to cancel it after the second season, I wrote a petition and collected signatures from all my fellow nerdettes in high school. This was not as brave as it seemed as it was an all-girl Catholic high school, so the social stigma of being a nerdette was minimal.
The same BFF bought tickets for me to attend one of the very first Star Trek conventions, held at the Oakland Convention Center. We were out of college by then. Hubs, who was then merely Serious BF, came with me.
But I don't consider myself a "Trekker" or a "Trekkie," although I do have a copy of the original Star Trek Concordia and blueprints for the original Enterprise somewhere in the boxes of books in the attic. And we did take DS#1 and DD#2 (who was a preschooler) to the "Science of Star Trek" exhibit at the California Academy of Sciences many years ago, where I bought a rubber stamp with the logo of Starfleet Academy. But I don't own a costume or pointed ears or a tribble. And I can't repeat the dialogue from past episodes word-for-word.
I'm just letting you know, up front, that I was well-disposed to like this new re-imagining of Star Trek from the get-go.
REVIEW: The movie starts with a bang--literally. The U.S.S. Kelvin is transmitting information about an anomaly they discovered back to Starfleet (and are being told that their readings "don't make sense"), when there is a flash and what looks like black icicles emerges from the center of the "storm." After firing at the Kelvin and nearly destroying her, she is hailed by the captain, Nero (Eric Bana) of this strange-looking vessel, who tells them he wants to know where Ambassador Spock is. The captain of the Kelvin protests he doesn't know anything about an "Ambassador Spock." Nero then demands the Kelvin's captain shuttle over for a "discussion." The captain agrees--he has no choice, really--but not before leaving the con in the hands of his XO, Lt. Kirk, along with instructions to abandon ship if things go wrong.
And go wrong they do. The captain is killed shortly after boarding the black ship.
Kirk issues the order to abandon ship and everyone races to the pods, including his wife, who is in labor with their first child. He reassures her that he will join her. But, of course, Things Go Horribly Wrong, and Lt. Kirk ends up piloting the Kelvin into the black ship in an attempt to blow it up. But not before he hears the cry of his newborn son and tells his wife to name the baby "Jim."
Next scene is Iowa where a very young Jim Kirk has taken an antique muscle car for a joyride that doesn't end well. Jim is established as a wild child.
Contrast that with young Spock, taunted at school for being half-human. He calmly handles the taunts and jeers until his mother is insulted. He completely loses his cool, going after the three bullies who are older and bigger. Later, Sarek tries to explain to his son that it's not that Vulcans don't have emotions; in fact, their emotions are too strong, so they have had to learn self-control for the sake of survival.
Back to Iowa. It's several years later and the young-adult Jim (Chris Pine) is at a bar frequented by Starfleet types. He tries to pick up a hot young Starfleet cadet who is not buying any of his lines, and gets into a fight with a male cadet who is trying to stop Jim from harassing his fellow cadet. A bar fight ensues. Jim fights gamely, but is overwhelmed. The fight is finally broken up by Captain Christopher Pike (Bruce Greenwood).
Capt. Pike sits down with young Jim and challenges him to make something of himself by joining Starfleet. Jim accepts the challenge and off we go.
The new actors channel their predecessors quite well, in particular Leonard McCoy (Karl Urban) and Montgomery Scott (Simon Pegg). The dialogue includes some favorites from The Original Series (TOS), which caused laughter in the theater among those of us in the know. And there are sly references to characters from Enterprise and First Contact. However, this is NOT Your Parents' Star Trek. As Spock Prime (Leonard Nimoy) tells the young Jim Kirk, this is an alternate reality. And because it is, the writers will have the freedom to move away from the Original Canon. With that freedom, however, comes an awesome responsibility to write well and to keep the stories consistent with this new canon.
DD#2 came with us. She claims she has never seen TOS, although I don't see how she missed the re-runs. She enjoyed this movie and is urging all her friends to see it. She was able to follow who the characters were and their relationships. Her questions afterwards were kind of interesting, for example, why is Star Fleet Academy headquartered in San Francisco? (When I told her that I thought it was because San Francisco was where the U.N. was founded, which was Gene Roddenberry's model for the United Federation of Planets, she was amazed. She didn't know that. Somehow that fact was glossed over in U.S. History in 7th Grade. I was more interested in whether the Golden Gate Bridge would end up destroyed yet again.)
The movie is fast-paced, which helped me ignore the plot holes. Yes, I want to see this again. In fact, I want to see it in IMAX so I can really appreciate the special effects. And, no, this movie doesn't depend solely on the special effects. The relationship of the characters is given equal weight. The story isn't as clever as the best, but it's acceptable.
The fights are physical and the combatants don't magically lose their bruises and cuts the next day. There is one seduction scene that implies Jim and his green-skinned female companion are going to have sex, but they are interrupted. That same scene features young females in bra and panties. There is some heavy kissing. I think it deserves its PG-13 rating.
On the March Hare scale: 5 out of 5 Golden Tickets
(crossposted at Catholic Media Review)
Friday, May 08, 2009
Based on the popular novel of the same name, this series was co-produced by the BBC and HBO and is currently running on HBO in the States.
If you have read the book, you can jump right into the middle of this series. If you haven't, well, then you might be a bit confused at first. Or wait until HBO recycles the series from the beginning.
Filmed on location in Botswana, the series centers on Mma Precious Ramotswe (Jill Scott). (Note: Mma, pronounced "ma," is a term of respect, like "Ms." or "Mr.") After her father's death, Mma Ramotswe sold her father's cattle and moved to the city to open up the first (and only) Ladies' Dectective Agency. She solves cases not by brute force, but through observation and her own understanding of human nature.
Assisting her is Mma Grace Makutsi (Anika Noni Rose). As big and open and relaxed as Mma Ramotswe is, Mma Makutsi is skinny, uptight, and nervous. Even their hair is different: Mma Ramotswe's is a bushy "natural," while Mma Makutsi's is usually pulled tight and pinned to the top of her head. Still, Mma Makutsi was the top of her graduating class at the Botswana Secreterial College and is very efficient. She is also very loyal to Mma Ramotswe, who, in turn, mentors the younger woman.
Mma Ramotswe drives an old right-hand drive truck that needs frequent repairs at the shop of Mr. JLB Matekoni (Lucien Msamati). He is falling in love with Mma Ramotswe, but she has been hurt badly by her first husband and is reluctant to commit. She also has to prove herself as a dectective in a community that is still strongly paternalistic.
Each episode features at least one investigation that's resolved and the continuing storyline of Mma Ramotswe and crew. The series is filmed in Botswana, so there is lots of gorgeous scenery, and the dialogue is in English. What I especially enjoy is that the setting is treated as "every day" (which it is to the inhabitants), rather than as some exotic locale. For example, in one episode, Mma Ramotswe goes to the "market plaza," rather than the mall.
One of the subtexts of the books is how the traditional mores of the community are changing and the conflict this brings between the older residents and the younger. That doesn't seem to be as obvious in the series.
Currently, there are only seven episodes. Anthony Minghella was the director and co-adapter, so I'm not sure if the series will continue.
As a fan of the books, I'm enjoying this series. Hubs, who hasn't read them, will watch the series with me, but it's a bit too "quiet" for him. (No chase scenes, no gun battles or stand-offs.)
On the March Hare scale: 4 out 5 Golden Remotes
(crossposted at Catholic Media Review)
Thursday, May 07, 2009
Today is Peter Tchaikovsky's 169th birthday. He is my all-time favorite classical composer, due in large part to Walt Disney's Sleeping Beauty, which took much of its score from Tchaikovsky's Sleeping Beauty Ballet.
Sleeping Beauty the movie introduced me to classical music and to ballet as well as to the fact that the film often takes liberties with the book (in the original story, there were 13 fairies, not 4). (Yes, Maleficent is a fairy. An evil one, to be sure, but a fairy, not a witch.)
Walt Disney also featured a short biography of Tchaikovsky on his television program around that time.
I did finally get to see a live production of the ballet, performed by the San Francisco Ballet Company, about 19 years ago. In the first half of the ballet, the company wears Russian-style clothes. Once Aurora is awoken, after 100 years, the costumes are Western European, to symbolize Russia moving from isolation to joining the Western world. I wonder what Peter would have thought of this interpretation?
You never know what's going to spark a child's interest. I was very lucky to have parents who encouraged us to "follow our fancy" wherever it led us. (And it has led to some pretty interesting places!) Because I was so taken with Sleeping Beauty the movie, my parents bought me an album of suites from the Sleeping Beauty. I near wore it out and kept it until it got irreparable warped when our garage flooded--some 30 years later.
I've since branched out in taste. But Peter has--and always will have--a special place in my heart.
(photo courtesy of Wikipedia)
Would gays (and lesbians) still push for "marriage" if there were no tax advantages to being married? At the Federal level, as of now, that is an advantage married couples enjoy that civil unionized couples don't. There are other benefits as well: Social Security Survivor benefits, immigration sponsorship, and others I'm not aware of. (Health benefits, pensions, and health care directives are matters of private contract.)
I'm beginning to lean more toward abolishing marriage as a state institution altogether. The State would sanction only civil unions; if a couple wants to get "married" (however they may define it), they can, in a church or other organization.
I read one gay commenter who whined that his friends and family didn't celebrate his civil union with his partner, but did celebrate their "marriage." I wonder if the couple sent out announcements, registered at local stores, and had a party when they received their civil union? (You want presents? Host a bash!) The expectation of receiving presents, as Miss Manners would primly inform him, is not why you get married and have a party. But that's another subject.
When the City of San Francisco decided that all employers had to offer family health benefits, including to "registered domestic partners," the Archdiocese of San Francisco objected. They lost. So the Archdiocese decided that their employees could designate any one adult to include under their health insurance. A parent could include an adult child. An adult child could include a parent or a grandparent. You could cover your roommate. I thought that was a brilliant solution. In fact, I would love to include DS#1 under my insurance, since he is a student and has "aged out" of the "Dependent" category. There are a lot of other parents in my situation: their adult children, for whatever reason, are currently without medical coverage. I don't expect it to be free; I expect to be charged, much as I would be under any Family Coverage plan.
When Hubs and I were first married, we actually paid more in taxes than we would had we been single. It was known as "the marriage penalty tax." And no one was beating down the door demanding to be able to join us (except other old-fashioned, heterosexual couples).
From their rhetoric, gay marriage proponents want equality. Fine. Let's eliminate marriage all together and reconfigure the tax code to suit. Is that what they really want? What will they demand next?
Update: See Doc Zero's thoughtful post, The Tyranny of False Choices, over in the Green Room at Hot Air
Over in the comments in Hot Air--I think it was in one of the articles about Mr. Lauria's accusations that President Obama's administration threatened some of Chrysler's secured credit holders--the question was asked: Where are our next Woodward and Bernstein?
The question had been on my mind as well. Where is the next generation of investigative reporters (not journalists) eager to expose the abuse of power? However, I think that might be the wrong question. The reporters might be there but their editors are not publishing their questions.
Woodward and Bernstein wouldn't have had an inch of copy in the Washington Post if Ben Bradlee hadn't given it to them.
And Mr. Bradlee had to justify his decision to Mrs. Katharine Graham, the publisher and owner.
I wonder if the fact that most newspapers are now part of media conglomerates has cooled the ardor of publishers and editors to go after stories that buck the current, politically correct meme-du-jour? My local paper was part of a family-run enterprise for many years; now it's part of a larger chain. Most of the stories are off the AP wire or other features--so we get stories about "religion in America" that are about Baptists in Arkansas or urban churches in Chicago and nothing about how the local congregations are doing. Wil Hearst is ostensibly the editor of The San Francisco Chronicle; however, most of the stories in the Chron are also newswire stories. Is Mr. Hearst going to gamble his family's multimillion dollar media empire to see if the Emperor has no clothes?
No--Mr. Hearst reports to a Board of Directors, who are very, very nervous about the bottom line.
Extraordinary courage will be needed to blow the cover off President Obama and his administration. Perhaps this is a job for the "New Media" who are not beholden to a publishing/media empire
The morning DJ on my favorite radio station mentioned this, otherwise I would have missed it: today is one of those rare occasions when the date is three sequential odd numbers.
(I love stuff like this. I also like puns.)
Update: Apparently, I'm not alone. Michelle Malkin also mentions "Odd Day" on her blog!
This story is a nice change of pace from politics, war, and the economy, isn't it? Restores my faith in folks, too.
picture courtesy of The Contra Costa Times
Wednesday, May 06, 2009
So much to blog about, so little time in the day.
Yesterday was the first day since my third chemo session on April 24 that I felt like myself. While that's good for me and reassuring to Hubs, I don't know if the kids at home appreciate it. ;)
Sunday was the nadir for me, physically. I really understood Jesus's prayer in Gethsemane: "Abba, Father, all things are possible to you. Take this cup away from me, but not what I will but what You will." (Mark, 14:36) I hate being sick, not because I am normally an active person but because I have a tendency to sloth. I don't need an excuse to be a couch potato; indolence is my natural state. So I have spent a great part of my adult life trying to overcome that tendency.
Call it a legacy of Catholic education or Catholic guilt: the idea that no matter how good I am at something or what I do, I can always do better or do more. When I stand before God and give an accounting of how I spent the time, talent, and treasure He gave me, will I have done well? Will it be good enough?
I don't know.
Like most people, I've had to make choices--some difficult, some less so. I've had to compromise. I've taken shortcuts, sometimes necessary ones. Breast cancer is my own personal Gethsemane, my own Way of the Cross, except that it affects my family and friends as well. And how I cope (or not) also affects them.
Odd things are a priority for me. I find it very important to me, personally, to get DS#2 and DD#2 up on school days and to pack their lunches. If I get nothing else done, they have that. And Monday, I couldn't do it. I warned them Sunday night that I wouldn't, so they knew and they reassured me they would be okay.
DS#2 appreciates my efforts now: typical young male, he decided he didn't need lunch and by 3:00 p.m. was starving. :)
Apparently, my body has decided it wants to wait to experience the side-effects of chemo. Instead of nausea, vomiting, and a rash immediately following chemo, it wants to wait about a week or ten days. When I called the oncology nurse, her first response was, "Oh, that can't be because of chemo!"
"It's happened the same way after my last two sessions."
"Oh." Silence. "What do you want me to do?"
Like I know? "Would you mind documenting it? And can I have more anti-nausea meds?"
What did I expect? My surgeon called in a colleague because she could only find one lymph node draining my left breast. Her colleague couldn't find any more either. Why should my body's reaction to toxic chemicals follow a normal pattern?
More proof I am a unique individual.
But y'all knew that. ;)