Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Reviews, Movies and Otherwise

It has occurred to me that I haven't reviewed a movie or a book in a long while.

Right now we're in the pre-Oscar movie drought.  All the blockbuster and "important" films were released in December; now we have the studio backlog of films that will be forgotten by next year's Oscar season.  Hubs and I have caught up with some films at home On Demand, and a couple of them were good.

As for reading, I'm about a third of the way through a biography of Bruno Bettelheim, which covered his early life, including his incarceration in Auschwitz and Buchenwald.  He's divorced from his first wife, is establishing himself at the University of Chicago, and has married his second wife.  There's an interesting discussion of what it meant to be a secular Jew in Austria during the 1920's & 1930's that I found interesting because, of course, it affected Dr. Bettelheim's outlook on life and, therefore, his philosophy and methodology.  I'm also reading San Francisco Noir, a collection of short stories set in--where else?--San Francisco and the Bay Area.  Kind of Dashiell Hammett with dames, booze, and guns stuff.

But, truly, I'm waiting for How to Train Your Dragon.  I mean, dragons and Vikings and 11th Century geeks--how cool is that?

Prayer Request

This one is for a colleague (Debbie Z.) at work who is undergoing numerous medical tests because her doctors and specialists can't figure out what is wrong.  Kind of like an episode of House, except its happening for real.

Her spirits are holding up; she is able to work from home, which helps keep her from self-pity.  Still, she is getting tired of it all and wants it to be Over.  Please pray that she is able to maintain strength of spirit and that the doctors find out what's going on sooner rather than later.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

St. Peter as the Patron Saint of Lent

Back when Cardinal Timothy Dolan was Archbishop of Milwaukee, he had a series on EWTN of weekly reflections for Advent and for Lent (there may be more--so far these are the only two I've seen).  For Advent, he chose the Blessed Mother--okay, that one's obvious.

For Lent, he chose St. Peter.

My parish is sponsoring the series and last night was the first one.  I've always been fond of St. Peter--as one of the participants pointed out, he's the most human of the Apostles, yet he's the one to whom Christ entrusted His Church.

Rather reassuring.

Cardinal Dolan started with the story of Peter walking across the water to Christ.  But Peter becomes distracted by the wind and the waves and sinks.  Jesus rescues him and chides him for having so little faith.

The lesson for us is that we, too, are beckoned by Christ to come to Him.  But we become distracted by the wind and the waves in our lives and lose our focus.  Lent is our opportunity to identify those winds and those waves that distract us.  And Lent is the time for us to focus on the sanctifying grace--the presence of the Trinity--that resides in our soul.  Cardinal Dolan gave some great examples of prayer, not elaborate, but short sentences that his second grade teacher (Sr. Mary Bosco--great name!) taught him:  dedicate your morning to God, offer any challenge during the day to Him, and apologize for offending Him at night.

Okay, Cardinal Dolan--and Sr. Mary Bosco--was much more eloquent.

The session, including small group discussion, was only an hour.  I'm planning to attend all six in hopes that I can keep my focus.

Olympic Junkie

Hi, my name is March Hare and I'm an Olympic junkie.

I never watch ice skating, ice dancing, ski jumping, speed skating, aerials, or bobsledding during the regular winter season.  But put up five rings and a flame and I Am There.

While Al Michaels and Cris Collingsworth are not Jim McKay, I don't care.  I'll listen to them anyway.  I like hearing all the technical details about sports I know nothing about--what the judges are looking for, how the physics works, the strategies involved.  I love the human interest stories:  how the athletes got to the top of the mountain, the obstacles they overcame merely to compete on the ice, on the track, in the snow.

I enjoy cheering for my country.  But I also enjoy watching the underdog win (Go Canada!  Go Jamaica!  Go Finland!), watching how, in a split-second, hopes for a gold can turn into a major wipeout.

Fie, however, on NBC, who decided to show the Olympics on tape delay on the West Coast.  Vancouver is in the Pacific Time Zone, folks.  And it's disconcerting to watch competition happening in the sunshine when it's dark outside here.  Not to mention that I know the results of the events before watching the competition, thanks to the Internet.

No matter.  I'm glued to my set, staying up way past my bedtime just so I can watch.  Life will return to normal soon enough.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Happy Ash Wednesday!

The post title is courtesy of DD#2 who asked, a couple of years ago now, if we were have cheese tortellini to celebrate Ash Wednesday.  Apparently serving cheese tortellini on Ash Wednesday had become a tradition--without my being aware of it.

So, yes, we celebrate Ash Wednesday here at the Warren with cheese tortellini and ashes and discussions of what we are doing for Lent--which usually means what we are "giving up."  I encourage them to think of Lent as a time to "do," and I know they've heard that message in school and during the two years of Confirmation Prep.  For some reason that message is a more difficult concept.  

DD#2 and I are going meatless.  I will add Bible study, return to saying the Rosary daily, and take the class on Lenten Reflection offered by my parish.  More prayer is a good thing, right?  I'm not sure what DS#2 is planning.  I'll have to check.

Hubs is not thrilled with the meatless thing.  But it will be good for him, too.  He needs more veggies in his diet.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Why Working From Home Isn't Always Such a Good Idea

I had a MUGA test this morning followed by a Herceptin treatment, so I was going to be a good girl and work from home this afternoon.

That was before DD#2 woke up sick this morning.  Actually, she's been in her room, working on a project for the "Me & My Guy" Sweetheart Ball that our Girl Scout Association/Service Unit is holding this weekend.  Still, I needed to help her find the pieces of the project, which meant I had to remember which pieces were in which tote bag.  Fortunately, the bags are underneath the horizontal filing cabinet (also known as the dining room table).

DS#2 just came in.  He and a friend were going to practice driving a stickshift, using the truck.  However, the key is now stuck in the ignition.  He asked if I knew where the WD-40 was.  To our mutual surprise, we had some and it was where I suspected it would be.

I am currently sitting on the couch with a cup of tea, listening to classical music.  My keyboard for my Tablet PC is on my lap, with the monitor/CPU carefully balanced on brackets on the keyboard.  Two of the cats are helping me by laying across my arms while I try to type.  One of them is nuzzling the crook of my elbow and kneading it, trying to nurse.  Yet, it could be worse:  one of the cats like sit on the back of the couch and chew my hair.  Although my hair is growing in fairly quickly and thickly, I still would prefer it to remain on my head.

Well--I did check my voicemail and most of my e-mail messages.  I flagged the issues to deal with tomorrow, when I'm in my own cat-and-child-free office.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Happy Birthday, Boy Scouts of America!

Today is the 100th Anniversary of the incorporation of the Boy Scouts of America by William D. Boyce.  On behalf of my family, I'd like to thank him and the other men who gave of their time, their talents, and their treasure to build this organization that significantly impacted the life of my family.

How significant?  Hubs and I met while chaperoning a Sea Scout Bridge & Ball.  

Our boys are Eagles; we've welcomed Japanese Scouts into our home; we've traveled there.  There's been a lot of camping--in sun & snow, by car and by backpack--since.  And we've made some great friends along the way!

The Saints Came Marching In!

Okay, apparently for the second half.

On Friday, I trained customers located in Baton Rouge who said between Mardi Gras and the Saints just being in the Super Bowl, the area was nuts.  "Imagine if they win!" they said.  "The nation won't see anything like the party that will happen!"

So to those in Louisiana:  no, it's not a dream; yes, it is real; of course you drank too much; I imagine your boss will be calling in "sick," too.

(I'm sure glad training wasn't scheduled for today!)

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Abstinence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

Or something like that. Unless you believe that everyone has a right to free-fettered sex with anyone, anytime, no matter what the cost.

Not only did Pam Tebow chose not to abort her son, Tim; Tim is a virgin and proud of it.

Well, well, well. Lucky for him he's an outstanding football player. (Remember the time in the not so distant past when athletes were encouraged to abstain from sexual activity before a game on the theory that sex depleted their energy?)

Bookworm finds Tim's virginity refreshing and hopes that her daughter dates someone with the same values. At 23 and 16, my daughters are of dating age--and I hope they bring home someone like Tim, too! :)

So Time comes out as a virgin and respecter (respector?) of women and The Washington Post reluctantly reports that "Abstinence programs might work" in preventing teen pregnancies. Hmmm.

But mental and physical health aside, there's another reason to encourage teens and young adults to abstain from non-marital sexual intercourse: practice.

We encourage our children to practice a lot of things with the advice that they'll need it when they're older. Kids shoot hoops for hours, do wind sprints, throw footballs and baseballs at targets, write reports, do problems. Why shouldn't we use the same argument for abstinence? I don't know of many marriages where a partner has been available sexually 24/7/365. Life intereferes: business travel, pregnancy (and post-partum), serious illness. Had some famous men practiced sexual abstinence as teens and young adults, their marriages might not have fallen apart so spectacularly and so publicly.

In fact, John McCain admitted--and accepted responsibility for--the breakup of his first marriage due to his acting like a randy 25-year-old out to score rather than a mature husband and father. (One of the many things I admire about Senator McCain, BTW.)

Abstinence not only prevents unwanted pregnancies and STDs, it also keeps your name out of the front page when you're famous. Perhaps that's a message that's more understandable!

Technology and the Culture of Life

First it was Lennart Nilsson with his beautiful intrauterine photographs documenting the development of the fetus into a baby in A Child Is Born.

Now, 3D sonograms capture the fetus sucking its thumb, swimming, and even smiling.

Today there is a story on AOL: Study Finds Traces of Thought in Vegetative Patients. Using the latest fMRI technology, five patients previously thought "vegetative" showed signs of thought and awareness. That's five out of 54--not terrific odds, unless that happens to be your kid, your spouse, your sibling.

No discussion about the quality of the lives of those five, although one of the researchers did acknowledge (in an article about the same study on The Fox News website:

Monti and Laureys said it is not clear whether such patients have the mental capacity to answer more important but complicated questions, such as whether they wish to go on living.

"I'm trying to figure out what is the best way to tackle this," Laureys said.

Both articles stress that the responsive patients suffered traumatic brain injury, rather than oxygen deprivation, which is what caused Terri Schiavo's brain injury.

Still, I see this as yet another argument for choosing life. And that maybe the Catholic Church might have learned a thing or two about the mysteries of life in the last 2000 years.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

R.I.P., Kage Baker

I discovered her stories in the pages of Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine. My favorites were those of "The Company," a group of immortals sent back in the past charged with locating and hiding artifacts to be "discovered" in the future they could not return to.

The detail that won my heart, though, was that the transformation from human to immortal cyborg made the operatives especially sensitive to chocolate: hot chocolate made them drunk.

The Company stories became novels. And there were other short stories--I always looked forward to reading them in Asimov's.

Ms. Baker was my age, which is scary. She died of uterine cancer that metasticized to her brain.

Rest in peace, Ms. Baker. And may you continue to tell your stories.

(H/T: Julie D's sidebar over at Happy Catholic. Author photo from her website,, by Den'Al Damron-McElhiney.)