Thursday, March 31, 2005

Thus said the Lord:

"A voice was heard in Ramah,
 lamentation, bitter weeping;
 Rachel weeping for her children,
 refused to be comforted for her children,
 because they were not."
- Jeremiah 31:15

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Why do they call it a "living" will?

Amid fears that Terri Schiavo may not last through the weekend without intervention, it is worth knowing that the courts aren't the only ones ignoring laws on the books against euthanasia.

For the January 1998 edition of Homiletic and Pastoral Review, an experienced nurse from the Minneapolis-St Paul area named Mary Therese Helmueller wrote a chilling essay entitled "Are You Being Targeted For Euthanasia." The piece is making its rounds again in Catholic pro-life circles, and is definitely worth reading:
Your life may be in danger if you are admitted to a hospital, especially if you are over 65 or have a chronic illness or a disability. The elderly are frequently dying three days after being admitted to the hospital. Some attribute it to "old age syndrome" while others admit that overdosing is all too common. Euthanasia is not legal but it is being practiced. Last year the New England Journal of Medicine reported that 1 in 5 critical care nurses admit to having hastened the death of the terminally ill! I believe the percentage is much higher. I have worked with nurses who even admit to overdosing their parents...
There are three things to keep in mind. First, this was written seven years ago. Second, it gets much worse. And third, if you're still stupid enough to make out a Living Will after reading this... you've been warned.

(A tip of the Black Hat goes to publisher Fran Griffin, as well as pro-life activist Frank Kelly, for bringing this to our attention.)

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

"I read the news today, oh boy..."

•  For those following the Terri Schiavo story... MWBH can't compete with Amy Welborn of Open Book, especially with her links to the today's commentaries (including the entry of the Rev Jesse Jackson -- "faith an' b'gore," another miracle!!! -- on Terri's behalf). You might slide on over there, after checking the lighter side of the news.

Now then...

•  Roll over, Rapunzel... A woman in Tongxiang, China, hasn't cut her hair since she was fourteen. She's forty now, and her "crowning glory" checks in at nearly fifteen feet. (Me? Jealous?)

•  Diddy get a real job, you ask... Rapper Sean "P Diddy" Combs is lending his name to a line of custom aluminum tire rims. At a high-end price of $3000 each, you could buy a decent used car (excuse me, "certified pre-owned vehicle") with one complete set. Just what this country needs.

•  Look who's getting their Irish up... Ireland has begun a program of removing their bi-lingual English/Gaelic highway signs, in favor of those displaying only Gaelic. This is one more step in a long program of restoring the language that was all but supressed by the occupying British in the 19th century. Eventually, anyone traveling in Ireland (or rather, "Eire") looking for a sign pointing to Dingle in County Kerry, will have to seek out "An Daingean" in "Contae an Ciarrai." Consider yourselves warned.

•  Now we know why everyone called him "Bill"... Richard Milhous Nixon was the first USA president whose name contains all the letters from the word "criminal." The second was William Jefferson Clinton.

(From the wires of the Associated Press, and various other unmentionable sources.)

Monday, March 28, 2005

And speaking of spring cleaning...

Some of you may have noticed the comments left by an anonymous person identified only as "Source" on my post of the 25th. I have long realized the limitations of this particular template design which I originally chose for MWBH nearly three years ago (non-user-friendly comments box, restrictive links section, unworkable archive function), as well as the (lack of) technical support from Blogger.com. If all goes according to schedule, the third anniversary of MWBH on June 21 2005 will be greeted by a completely new format, and possibly a new provider, if upgrading to Blogger Pro doesn't ensure an improvement.

In addition, I will be able to effectively erase the kind of comments that do not lend themselves to intelligent discourse, but are too sick and depraved even for what little time it takes to easily refute them. (No, this is not a democracy. I am omnipotent in this little corner of the blogosphere.)

The Morning After

The weekend was spent much as it was last year; the final rush of preparations, the hours into the night at Liturgy singing praises of the Risen Christ, the blessing of Easter Foods. Then the next morning, Sal and I went into town to pass out the goods to the children who look forward to seeing me every year. Afterwards we went to the All Saints Convent near Baltimore, which is home to an order of Anglican nuns that I've known for many years. Finally, we went to the restaurant where my son works, only to learn that, with the light crowds expected, he got the day off. We stayed and ate anyway.

The rain keeps pouring down, as if the world continues in sorrow. I keep thinking about Florida, and Terri. It's all over the news. What doesn't get told is that, in our system of government, the executive branch can ignore the judicial when the prospect of a breach of established law exists. It begs the question: why do we need a bunch of pundits on TV with law degrees, when the law has little to do with what's going on?

I keep wishing for spring, and new life. But first, there is the rain...

Friday, March 25, 2005

The View From Golgotha

Today is the 25th of March. In the Roman Calendar, it is usually the Feast of the Annunciation, when the Angel Gabriel came to Mary, and she conceived by the Holy Spirit. Since it falls on Good Friday, the usual practice in the Western church calls for its remembrance to be moved to the first available day after the Octave of Easter.

Tradition also held (and this is not actually verifiable, but a matter of pious belief), that the original Good Friday was indeed on that date of March 25, exactly nine months before "Christ Mass," and that Our Lord died on the same day he was conceived. Life and death were thus seen as coming full circle through Christ.

Today, at a hospice in Florida, a woman is dying on the cross of modernity. In complete violation of State and Federal law, a woman whose brain functions have all but ceased is being starved to death. The media has trotted out their own straw men, to assure us that she will feel no pain -- as if that makes her executioners any more human.

Were I the Governor of the State of Florida, I would order a special force of state police in riot gear to storm the facility, and take Ms Schiavo into custody, where she would be well cared for as long as she lived. Furthermore, I would equip myself along with these men, and personally lead them to their appointed target. Let any judge's sheriff or Federal marshal try to shoot a Governor of a sovereign State. I would dare them to their faces!

There are no other posts today, nor are any planned, until the Resurrection is upon us.
"All under the leaves and the leaves of life
   I met with virgins seven
And one of them was Mary mild,
   our Lord's best mother in heaven.

"Oh what are you seeking, you seven pretty maids,
   all under the leaves of life?"
"We are seeking for no leaves, Thomas,
   but for a friend of thine."

"Go down, go down into yonder town
   and sit in the gallery
And there you'll see sweet Jesus Christ,
   nailed to a big yew tree."

So down they went into yonder town
   as fast as foot could follow
And many a bitter and a grievous tear
   from them virgins' eyes did fall.

"Oh peace mother, oh peace mother,
   your weeping does me grieve,
But I will suffer this", he said,
   "for Adam and for Eve."

"Oh how can I my weeping leave,
   my sorrows undergo,
While I do see my own son die
   and sons I have no more."

He's laid his head on his right shoulder
   and death ha' struck him nigh,
"The holy ghost be with your soul,
   sweet mother now I die."

Oh the rose, the gentle rose,
   the fennel it grows so strong
Amen, good lord, your charity
   is the ending of my song.
Jerusalem, Jerusalem, return to the Lord, your God.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Jebbies on the Loose

Dom Bettinelli reports on an interview with a Jesuit bioethicist named Father John Paris out of Boston College, who in an interview at Salon.com, maintains that Terri is being used by the "Christian right" to advance their agenda, and that Catholic moral teaching affirms Terri Schiavo should be allowed to die.

Guys like this are yet another reason why the Jesuits need to be suppressed every two hundred years. Obviously, the first attempt didn't get the point across. And as of now, they're overdue for another one.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

From our bulging "Nice Work If You Can Get It" files...

Concerning the matter of Terri Schiavo, it apparently hasn't occured to anyone on the State or Federal bench that there may actually be a LAW involved here. But, son of a gun...

Florida law (765.309) currently prohibits euthanasia. Maybe that's why all those retired people move down there. But regardless of where they end up, Federal law (Title 28 35.130(e)(2)) prohibits the refusal of food and water. But hey, when you get to be a judge, you can obviously do whatever the hell you want; tear up traffic tickets, cheat on your income tax, rob a bank -- the possibilities are endless. Apparently.

This is one reason why, in recent years, I'd concluded that being a lawyer can't be all that difficult. Think maybe that might also apply to being a judge?

Holy Week at MWBH

Come Friday, the submissions here will be at a minimum, to allow for the contemplation of the viewing audience (especially the part at this end). Until then, we have some food for thought in the next few days.
The Cowboy's Ten Commandments
1   Just one God.
2   Put nothin' before God.
3   Git yourself to Sunday meetin.'
4   Honor yer Ma an' Pa.
5   No killin.'
6   Don't take what ain't yers.
7   No foolin' around with another fella's gal.
8   Watch yer mouth.
9   No tellin' tales or gossipin.'
10 Don't be hankerin' fer yer buddy's stuff.
Thanks for "JW," our printing specialist and NASCAR slave, located just across the hall, for this item.

For more inspiration, stay tuned...

Somebody say "Amen!"

He'll be not mocked, nor be deceived
He sees the ace that's up your sleeve
So be up front, in all you do
And then just in general woopty-do

Come on and wake me, wake me, wake me Lord
Turn my head around
Shake me, shake me, shake me Lord
Thunder to the sound...Ooooh

Monday, March 21, 2005

Monday Morning: Ad Random

• Terri Schiavo's feeding tube was removed last Friday, and Congress is on top of it. Meanwhile, the news media is showing video clips of Terri's facial expressions, responding to her mother's presence, all the while referring to her as still being in a "persistent vegetative state." And they wonder why people are more dependent on weblogs to get their news. Duh! (Update: An eyewitness account of an apparently "talking vegetable" can be found here.)

• While attending Mass at the Cathedral Parish yesterday, I learned that on Holy Thursday, there would be a canned goods collection instead of the Washing of Feet. A call to the diocesan office this morning revealed that Bishop Loverde issued this as an acceptable option for the foot-washing in all parishes of the diocese, and that otherwise, the current discipline was to remain as stated in the liturgical books. For background, see "Clean Livin' and Fancy Footwork," below.

• I have my final critique for web design class, as well as a final comprehensive, during this week. Then I'm on break for two weeks. For spring quarter, I have a "computer illustration" class, as a prerequisite for "concepts in motion design," which marks my return to classes in my area of concentration in the fall. Meanwhile I'm taking the opportunity to fine-tune my thus-far completed projects. I'm also hoping to take on a volunteer project.

• Now then, back to working for a living... I've got a major publication to complete during that time at the office, starting with a meeting this afternoon to go over all the material and draw out a detailed thumbnail of each page. This project is unique for me, in that it is a "tri-lingual" edition of an agency periodical, being specially prepared for a conference in May. I persuaded the Powers That Be, that I was uniquely qualified to design this book, inasmuch as I knew enough of both French and Spanish to match their layout page-by-page with an English translation.

• Next weekend, of course, is the Sacred Triduum, culminating in Easter Sunday. Sal and I agreed that partying was out of the question. We'd spend Friday night in a prolonged discussion about the Great Questions of Life -- accompanied by a glass of wine, and cheese and crackers, not to mention a decent recording of sacred music for the occasion. Then come Saturday evening, we'd take our baskets to my son's Byzantine Rite parish for three hours of billowing incense, continuous plainchant in English and Slavonic, and shouting of "Christ is risen, indeed He is risen."

• Spring is here, as of yesterday. I did not have an opportunity to balance an egg on the table at the precise moment of the vernal equinox, as had originally been my plan. Barring a shift in the earth's axis or orbit around the sun, there's always next year.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Peggy Noonan on Terri
"Bill Frist and Tom DeLay and Jim Sensenbrenner and Denny Hastert and all the rest would be better off risking looking ridiculous and flying down to Florida, standing outside Terri Schiavo's room and physically restraining the poor harassed staff who may be told soon to remove her feeding tube, than standing by in Washington, helpless and tied in legislative knots, and doing nothing..."
The whole world is watching... not to mention Heaven.

Terri

Terri Schiavo could be effectively sentenced to death today, when her feeding tube is removed at 1:00 pm. Her high crime, as determined by the court, is that she is in a "persistent vegetative state," a fact which is unverified by any competent doctor or neurologist. On the other hand, the press can't stop saying it, so people start believing it. As a result, she is being denied even basic medical care, such as bed turning to avoid sores, and physical therapy to prevent atrophy. She will be starved to death, and thus will be a process without mercy. All this, on the orders of a husband who already has a woman on the side, and who wouldn't want anyone to find out that Terri's condition might be the result of any physical abuse on his part. (The guy didn't come off looking too good on Larry King, so you know he's a scoundrel for that reason alone.)

Congress is getting into the act. It's an eleventh-hour fight. Here's where to learn more:

http://www.blogsforterri.com/

Remember -- your Grandma could be next. What the hell, YOU could be next.

UPDATE: The hour is upon us, and we're watching CNN, Fox News Channel, and MSNBC. It seems the Republicans in the House of Representatives are acting to subpoena Terri and her parents to Washington. They intend to send the bill to the Senate forthwith. Terri and her parents could end up in Washington so they can see for themselves that she's not a "vegetable." Also, the Terri's Fight website gives the latest on motions to delay in the courts. Also featured here are videos on Terri's "vegetative state," and detailed testimonies from those who have visited her. As of now (2:30 pm Eastern time), Judge Greer has re-ordered Terri's execution, in total defiance of Congress. Anything could happen in the next 72 hours.

Meanwhle, click on the above, pray hard, and stay tuned...

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Obligatory Saint Paddy's Day Stuff

I was in school this morning, so not much to write today. And frankly, I did a pretty bang-up job last year:
"Growing up in a postwar Catholic environment, we were told that there were two kinds of people; those who were Irish, and those who wish they were. There were even Irish nuns who favored the Irish kids, and weren't above calling some miscreant a 'jackass.' Of course, my family fell into neither category, and I came to dismiss the whole notion of St Paddy's Day -- indeed, the whole notion of being Irish -- as an excuse for obnoxious pretense... Then a few years ago, I was interviewed for a writing job by a priest who edited a major Catholic periodical. A native of Dublin, he reminded me of what really mattered: 'Patrick was not Irish, and on his Feast Day, we do not celebrate being Irish; we celebrate being Catholic...'"
Besides, how can I top the Irish-American patriot and fellow St Blog's parishioner Mark Sullivan, who gives us a fitting tribute at Irish Elk?

For those who want to join the action, msn dot com provides a listing of various cities in the USA, where this feast can be celebrated with suitable vigor. Washington DC is not one of them, which is unremarkable; Cincinnati is not on the list either, which is inexcusable.

We will close with my own tribute:
"'Twas an evening in October, I'll confess I wasn't sober,
   I was carting home a load with manly pride,
When my feet began to stutter and I fell into the gutter,
   And a pig came up and lay down by my side.
Then I lay there in the gutter and my heart was all a-flutter,
   Till a lady, passing by, did chance to say:
'You can tell a man that boozes by the company he chooses,'
   Then the pig got up and slowly walked away."
Now... back to work!!!

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

JP2: You da man!

There is a movie clip of a team of breakdancers performing for the Holy Father, which can be viewed by clicking HERE. They also pay His Holiness the proper respect at the end of the performance. Nevertheless, the bozos at this site have a problem with it.

They'd probably want the legendary Juggler of Notre Dame run out of church as well.

The Ides of March

The admonition to beware of the "ides," or 15th day of March, appeared in William Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar. According to the Old Farmer's Almanac:
"The Ides of March has long been considered an ill-fated day. The ides were the 15th days of some months in the ancient Roman calendar. The word ides derives from a Latin word meaning 'to divide.' The ides were originally meant to mark the full Moon, but because calendar months and lunar months were of different lengths, they quickly got out of step. In fact, the ancient Romans considered the ides of any month unfavorable, as well as the calends (first of the month) and the nones (ninth day before the ides). The concept of unlucky days survived Julius Caesar (who was assassinated on March 15, 44 BC -- talk about bad luck) and calendar reforms."
Mine's been pretty good... so far.

Monday, March 14, 2005

This week's tip of the Black Hat goes to...

...this guy:
"Tommy Robinson didn't sell his 12-by-10-foot patch of dirt to the developers of a 292-unit luxury apartment complex. And he didn't leave, either. Perhaps they'll just have to work around him."
Attaboy! Thanks to Dave Jamieson for this cover piece in the Washington City Paper.

Friday, March 11, 2005

From Across the Pond

We've got two developments from across the pond in the British Isles. First, Saint Blog's is opening a mission there, so to speak. James Peerce is starting a weblog domain for Brits in the Catholic blogosphere. His site is http://uk.stblogs.org/, and James can be reached at "j dot preece at gmail dot com."

Second, and sadly, the Telegraph reports that "Alice Thomas Ellis, the novelist and columnist who died on Tuesday aged 72, wrote drily ironic and acutely perceptive domestic tales which drew on her own family life and her devout Roman Catholicism, and evoked comparisons with Muriel Spark..." She was also a regular columnist of The Latin Mass magazine.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

"I read the news today, oh boy..."

• One more time: "Courage."
Dan Rather said goodbye to us all on the CBS Evening News last night. With sagging ratings against the others in the "Big Three," still smarting after that bogus exposé about Bush's military record, and in the wake of Walter Cronkite's admission that he should have been replaced by Bob Schieffer long ago, Rather signed off as he did for a time some years before, with the word "courage." This time, it went out to the heroes and victims of 9/11, and the tsunami disasters, among others besides himself (for once). The one-hour special about his career was interesting, especially the ground-breaking coverage behind the lines in Vietnam -- a feat which, besides setting a precedent for similar coverage of armed conflict, prepared him for getting roughed up by security goons at the 1968 Democratic Convention. Guess who's taking over the anchor chair for awhile. Film at eleven...

• "You say to-may-to, I say to-mah-to." On to the bigger issues of the day. Is the tomato a fruit or a vegetable? In 1893, the Supreme Court ruled that it was a vegetable, in the course of imposing a tariff on the tomato, along with the cucumber, the squash, and the green bean. (Apparently, it was reasoned that the tomato was served with the main dinner, as opposed to dessert, so...) The New Jersey legislature wrestles with this question, in declaring the Jersey tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum) the official state vegetable. However, it has traditionally been botanically classified as a fruit. But it gets more complicated; the tomato is in the same botanical class as the potato, the pepper, and the eggplant, all of which are commonly considered to be... Well, you get the idea. Besides, New Jersey already has a state fruit -- the highbush blueberry.

• Happy trails, Chris, until we meet again. Country singer-songwriter Chris LeDoux died yesterday after a long battle with liver ailments. He was 56. LeDoux was an extremely prolific artist, recording 22 albums on his own label before signing on with Capitol (which eventually reissued all his titles), where he recorded 15 more albums. His close friend Garth Brooks recorded his "Much to Young (To Feel This Damn Old)" in 1989. Others also recorded his songs. Unfortunately, LeDoux only achieved modest success as a celebrity in his genre. In commenting on his death, Capitol Records President/CEO Mike Dungan said, "In a world of egos and soundalikes, he was a unique artist and a wonderful man." In other words, pard'ner, LeDoux was the "real deal." In 1976, he became a world champion bareback rider from the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. At the time of his death, he and his family lived on a ranch near Kaycee, Wyoming.

(Based on wire reports of the Associated Press, along with numerous other sources.)

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

"There's no place that I'd rather be than right here..."

"The barmaid is mad 'cause some guy made a pass
The juke box is playin' there stands the glass
And the cigarette smoke kinda hangs in the air
Rednecks, white socks and Blue Ribbon beer."


(Thanks to Johnny Russell, and to Radio Louisiana, my office companion of late.)

Clean Livin' and Fancy Footwork

"Mandatum novum do vobis: ut diligatis invicem, sicut delexi vos, dicit Dominus. Beati immaculate iin via: qui ambulant in lege Domini..."

("A new commandment I give unto you: That you love one another, as I have loved you, says the Lord. Blessed are the undefiled in the way: who walk in the law of the Lord...")


For most of the Christian world, Holy Week is fast approaching. As with every year, the Mass of the Lord's Supper on the evening of Holy Thursday (this year on March 24), will be highlighted by the Washing of Feet.

The traditional number of participants with the priest is twelve, and the rubrics are specific that they be men (in Latin, viri selecti). Since most liturgical functions of the laity are open to both men and women, the significance of this restriction is lost on the general Catholic public. What's more, the exception is difficult to justify or explain at the parish level, and even "conservative" parishes are known to allow women to have their feet washed.

Defenders of the practice, in addition to underscoring the need for fidelity to Church discipline, are quick to point out the significance of the apostles' all being men, thus the connection with the institution of the ministerial priesthood is reinforced by only men's feet being washed.

While such an opinion is worthy of merit, it may suffer from an error, given the present developments in liturgical law.

It should be pointed out that the sanctuary, or presbyterium, as the place of presiding, was traditionally limited to men only. Since a typical parish church did not have the benefit of a complement of minor clerics, men and boys of the parish would act as legitimate surrogates. (Some can still remember when a layman would be pressed into service at a Missa Solemnis as a "straw subdeacon.") Strictly speaking, and in the present ceremonial books, this is still the case. It is only by legitimate indulgence in certain parts of the world (including nearly all of North America), that women perform liturgical functions -- such as reader, acolyte, and so on -- within the sanctuary. These indults were not instituted all at once, but on a case-by-case basis over the last few decades of liturgical reform.

Once exceptions were made (beginning with women as lectors, at the celebrant's discretion, in 1971), it was only a matter of time before others would follow, whether at the initiative of the Holy See (as in the case of extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist, where a female Religious is actually preferred over an unconsecrated male), or an acquiescence to prolonged disobedience. What some defenders of the current directive fail to recognize, is that the connection to the ministerial priesthood was the traditional justification for all liturgical functions being restricted to men. This even applied officially to choristers until 1925, and ushers until 1969. (By the way, how often do we see female ushers at the more "enlightened" parishes?) The only significant exception that has not been made, is a practice that occurs only once a year, on Holy Thursday.

As to why the current practice of washing only the feet of men is still recognized as proper, the reasons vary. One is the perception that a change would be one more reinforcement of "caving in" to those who violate liturgical directives in Catholic worship. This sends the wrong message to those who endeavor to be compliant, whatever the discomfort. The allowance of female altar servers in 1994, which is said to have occured against the Holy Father's privately expressed wishes, is a case in point.

There is also a matter of propriety. Depending on the setting, even the age of the priest, it may be considered inappropriate for a man to wash the feet of a woman with whom he is not on sufficiently familiar terms, let alone in public. Again, the sensibilities of those assembled may vary from one region to another, even one parish to another.

Meanwhile, some parishes apparently feel the need to prove something to the world, and will substitute the men-only footwashing with a Washing of Hands amidst the entire assembly. This is rather troubling symbolically, when you consider that it was Pontius Pilate who ceremoniously washed his hands in the presence of the crowd, to declare his resignation of Our Lord's eventual fate.

If symbols are to have any enduring power, their meaning must be inherent, as opposed to being subject to whatever spin their manipulators wish to impose on them. Or have we forgotten what happened to the Emperor who listened to his tailor, at the expense of his own good judgment?

Discuss.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Shall we gather at the river...

Where bright angel feet have trod,
With its crystal tide forever
Flowing by the throne of God?

Non-Anon

The issue of anonymous weblogging has come up in the press recently. A Delta Air Lines employee was fired after posting a photo of herself in her flight attendant uniform -- post wardrobe malfunction. Even though all this was done on her own time, and on her own computer, the thought that getting her employer involved in her personal business could pose some difficulty for them failed to occur to her.

Don Jim of Dappled Things has brought our attention to Laudator Temporis Acti, and his defense of anonymous weblogging.

Now, it's no secret that I'm an employee of the Federal government, with my duty station in what is politely referred to as "the Nation's capital." But you'll notice I have never mentioned who my employer is, even though I make no secret of it. The way I see it, when a man puts food on my table and a roof over my head, the least I can do is show him enough loyalty not to reflect poorly upon him through my public conduct. In addition, he does not interfere with my personal life, and I don't involve him in it on my own volition. In return, when the weekend's over, he has my job waiting for me when I return.

Ask me privately who I work for, and I'm not ashamed to admit it. Do a search of my weblog, however, and you won't see my employer mentioned.

Not even once.

Monday: Ad Random

We went to see Schultze Gets The Blues on Friday night. We fell asleep halfway through the movie, and woke up during the credits. I'm going to be sure to get the DVD, so I can see it while I'm awake. Since it's a subject in which I'm interested, I can at least enjoy the commentary on making the movie.

Saturday night we went to Cecilia's for Latin dancing. Sal has been bugging me to go to Zanzibar's for months now, but... well, let's just say I like the parking in South Arlington better. Besides, with all the press in DC about Latino gang activity, I can honestly say I have yet to meet a Latino dude who wasn't a perfect gentleman -- including Salvadorans, and they've been getting the worst of the rap.

Yesterday, we went to Mass at the Cathedral of St Thomas More. Depending on where I move later this year, that could end up being my parish. The Mass is conducted reverently without being stodgy about it, and the acolytes actually know what the hell they're doing.

And somewhere in between, I kept trying to fix my current website project. Those who do code for the web know that developments in standardization and sophistication have accelerated in the last two or three years. Try going to a class and being told at the beginning of each new term, that what you learned last term will be obsolete before the end of this term. Worse than that, try teaching that class.

That's why I'm glad Jeffrey Zeldman came out with a book entitled Designing With Web Standards. It's the least someone could do to give the rest of us fair warning:
"You code. And code. And code. You build only to rebuild. You focus on the making your site compatible with almost every browser or wireless device ever put out there. Then along comes a new device or a new browser, and you start all over again."
Actually, you don't have to wait until that happens. Just build your site in a Windows environment, then open it up with the same d@#n browser on a Mac platform.

(Can I get an "Amen???" SOMEBODY!!!!!)

Some of you geeks out there know what I'm talking about. I'll just put it on the front shelf, for a wee bit o' light readin' during spring break.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Tom Kreitzberg...

...Dominican party boy!

Further Misadventures in Cyberspace

If you check my menu on the right where it says "Homework" (or "Portfolio," depending on the mood I'm in), you'll see my latest web design project:

Shall we gather at the river? An anti-tourist's view of Cincinnati, Ohio

Ultimately, it is required to be optimized for all major browsers, in both MacOS and Windows platforms. At this point, however, it works best in Microsoft Explorer for Windows. It works worst in either Opera or Foxfire for MacOS.

So far, the project I've done that's worked best on all browsers, and in both platforms, is this one:

Things With Strings: Musical Instruments I Have Known

It's a great feeling when, in mid-life and mid-career, you get a new lease on life. I've wanted to be involved in multimedia from my college days, when I sought an academic minor in multimedia, and was told that it basically didn't exist at UC at the time.

My son wants to go to the Art Institute of Washington someday, which is where I am now, only he wants to study Game Art and Design. In our discussions about the state of the art, we are coming to the conclusion that, in five or ten years, there will be very little difference between what each of us is doing. It'll all be interactive media, whether on the internet, or on a disc. And it won't just be fun and games.

One can only imagine by the end of this decade, being equipped with a personal multimedia player, the size of a notebook. Equipped with wireless e-mail, internet, and productivity tools, the user can put in a disc, and watch a movie, read a novel, or complete a training course, complete with recorded video lectures. The technology exists now, but it's still too expensive, still not readily accessible for the Average Joe, or others who are intimidated by computers. But someday, it will be as easy as taking a good book to read on a train or a plane.

There was a time when my profession of graphic design was considered rather arcane. Then came the nineties, and the collective raising of a nation's design consciousness to the equivalent of the average European. It gave my way of life a new respect, and things started to look up. One of my schoolmates from college, Michael Beirut, is now a world-renowned designer out of New York. I was told that he once commented that "what we do all turns into landfill eventually." That being said (and I trust I did justice to my former colleague), I believe there will always be a need for the print environment. But as the world moves slowly to the electronic media, I'll still be able to work for a living.

And you can't criticize a man for enjoying an honest day's work, now, can ya?

Thursday, March 03, 2005

"Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men..."

I've always said it; if the Church can only allow men to the priesthood, it would help if more of them knew how to be men. It applies all the more to bishops.

I met the best of them once.

It was at their annual conference in Washington, back when I used to have press credentials. I was meeting Father Peter Stravinskas for lunch, and he introduced me to Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver. A pleasant enough fellow, quick with a smile and a joke, Chaput is a Capuchin, which is a historically reformist branch of the Franciscan tradition. But over the years, I've read transcripts of his remarks at bishops' meetings, and interviews in the press. His discourse has a precision worthy of a Jesuit of the old school, or a Dominican of the Thomist tradition.

Those who assembled for Denver's City Club luncheon got a taste of the same the other day, as reported by the Rocky Mountain News:
"One questioner observed that the Catholic Church doesn't appear to care about protecting women hurt by unwanted pregnancies.

"His voice rising, Chaput replied, 'That dear baby who gets aborted is who I'm protecting. Somebody doesn't just get hurt with abortion - they get killed.'

"'Who will take care of the unwanted children?' another asked.

"'I'll take any child that's unwanted and find them a home and take care of the mother,' he said. 'You have my personal pledge on that.'"
The whole piece is full of good comebacks like that. Check it out!

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

"Martha, Martha, Martha..."

With her impending release from "service to the state," Martha Stewart is said to be making a comeback. A recent piece on MSN.com was entitled "10 Business Lessons From Martha Stewart," with some very good advice for budding opportunists everywhere. Of particular note was this:
"At a time when record numbers of women were working outside the home, Martha was one of the first to see the opportunity that existed in providing them an escape back into the domestic details of life..."
Imagine that -- the role of homemaker as a legitimate aspiration!

Discuss.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Everything I need to know about life...

...I learned from Noah's Ark.

1) Don't miss the boat.

2) Remember that we are all in the same boat.

3) Plan ahead. It wasn't raining when Noah built the Ark.

4) Stay fit. When you're 600 years old, someone may ask you to do something really big.

5) Don't listen to critics; just get on with the job that needs to be done.

6) Build your future on high ground.

7) For safety's sake, travel in pairs.

8) Speed isn't always an advantage. The snails were on board with the cheetahs.

9) When you're stressed, float a while.

10) Remember, the Ark was built by amateurs; the Titanic by professionals.

11) No matter what the storm, when you are with God, there's always a rainbow waiting.

(No, not that rainbow, a real one.)

This just in...

The press continues to maintain that this woman is in a "persistent vegetative state," and is living on life support.

Being a journalist can't possibly be that hard.

"On Saint David's Day,
Put some oats and barley in your clay."


This day commemorates the patron saint of Wales, St David, who was born in the sixth century at Henfynw, Cardigan. His symbol is the leek, which is said to have protected him in combat and was worn by his countrymen to distinguish them from their Saxon enemies during battle. In honor of St David, plant a bulb of aromatic leek as soon as the ground can be worked. (from the Old Farmer's Almanac)