Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Stimulus: Picture Version


The Final Written Words of Father Neuhaus

Neuhaus' last essay, found in the Public Forum portion of the latest First Things magazine, was a long meditation on...



HIBERNATION is so exhausting. Honestly, we thought that we ate enough fish skins and blueberries and beehives to last the winter. We even spent some quality time in a dumpster behind a McDonald's. That afternoon of bliss was good for a few weeks of winter sleep, and our lips still feel greasy. They haven't chapped once, and that's typically a problem. But the winter is far from over, and here we are, venturing out from our den, wondering why the snow keeps piling up, wondering why the globe hasn't warmed. All those people driving cars, all that exhaust, wasn't it good for anything? Our bearish hopes had been so high, our bearish dreams crowded with thoughts of eternal spring. But no. The winter seems only to have grown in strength and length. And now we're awake and hungry again. Thank God for trash cans.

Found on the inside cover of the latest issue of Credenda Agenda.

Friday, January 23, 2009


Through the use of a time machine, you are traveling back to the year 1850. You may take with you one, and only one, product or invention from the modern era. What would you take with you to impress and awe our forebears?
(Assume that whatever you take back with you will have full functionality, e.g. cell phones will be supported fully. Which is a weird idea.)

The Chat Pack from Questmarc Publishing

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Thursday, January 15, 2009

"...Everyone started, to be honest, to say prayers."

A quote from a passenger on the flight that took off from La Guardia, but landed soon after in the Hudson.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Chat Pack Question #4

Here we go. And because I have a lot of Bible readers on my blog, we'll exclude that as too easy. But DO memorize your Bible cover to cover!

"If you could have any book instantly memorized cover to cover, which book would you choose?"

Come to think of it, the Bible WOULD be the best answer...

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Chat Pack Question #3

My favorite:

"If you were an airline pilot and were told to choose any route that you would have to fly for your entire career, what two cities would your flights connect?"

from Questmarc Publishing:


Jay Nordlinger has a great interview with the vice-president.
A set-up:

“So it’s been a difficult environment in which to portray yourself as somehow warm and fuzzy. Hillary Clinton referred to me as Darth Vader. I joke that I asked my family if they were offended by that, and they said, ‘No, it humanizes you.’
Read it if you want to know why he's been silent while his critics have gone off a very deep end publicly despising him. I have wondered why a man who had so much widespread across-the-aisle admiration eight years ago (Do you remember when Bush named Cheney as veep? There was a certain sigh of relief that the Idiot Boy* would at least have at his elbow The Great Advisor) was over this space of time turned into a punching bag for every mystical evil imagining that the lefty bloggers could conjure. A little insight is therein provided.

*For the record, I am not one of those who think George W. Bush is an idiot.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Richard John Neuhaus

Father Richard John Neuhaus, of FIRST THINGS fame, has died in New York.
Anthony Sacramone has this tribute.

I met Fr. Neuhaus once, at one of the famous Fort Wayne Seminary symposia where he was the featured speaker. He was also the uncle of a woman in our church, and my friend Don Morrow and I approached him during a break at the symposium, thinking to bring our greetings to him from his niece. We broached the subject, using her married name, and he very politely said hello, how nice it is to meet you. As we were walking away, Don turned to me and said, "I don't think he has any idea what we were talking about!"

A few weeks later we heard that he'd contacted his niece to tell her about these two very nice young men he had met at the symposium, but he didn't realize who they were talking about until much later, when he recalled her married name. Ah well.

If you haven't been acquainted with FIRST THINGS, I recommend it. While it tends to err on the side of Roman Catholicism, it does offer up some really great articles concerning Christianity and the Public Square. Fr. Neuhaus' contribution for years has in fact been called The Public Square, a prodigious quantity of writing on all sorts of interesting topics that always was found at the back of the magazine. His voice was unique, and like the loss of WF Buckley for National Review magazine, I don't think it will be easily replaced. I'll miss his insights and intellect.

Wisdom, Virtue, and the Lack Thereof

My wife just read me this interesting snippet from a book she is reading,
LIVING THE 80/20 WAY by Richard Koch.

Thinking about lunch, the vacationing businessman stared at the calm, blue sea. A small boat, laden with large yellow-fin tuna, docked near the pretty Mexican village. A lone fisherman jumped ashore.
"That's a great catch," said the tourist. "How long did it take you?"
"Not so long," replied the Mexican.
"Why didn't you stay out longer and catch more fish?"
"That's enough to keep the family provided for."
"What do you do with the rest of your time?"
"Sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, have lunch, take a siesta with Maria, my wife. Stroll into the village each evening, sip wine, play guitar and cards with my amigos--a full and rich life, senor."
"I think I could help you," the visitor said, wrinkling his nose. "I'm a Harvard MBA and this is the advice you'd get at business school: Spend more time fishing, buy a bigger boat, make more money, then several boats until you've got a fleet. Don't sell the catch to a middleman, sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You'd control the product, production, and distribution. You could then leave this small town behind, move to Mexico City, then Los Angeles, perhaps eventually to New York City to run your expanding firm."
"But senor, how long would this take?"
"Fifteen, twenty years."
"But what then, senor?"
"That's the best part," the businessman laughed. "When the time is right, you could float on the stock market and make millions of dollars."
"Hmm. Millions you say. What then, senor?"
"Then you could retire and go home. Move to a pretty village by the sea, sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take a siesta with your wife, stroll to the village evenings, sip wine, and play guitar and cards with your friends."
Pp. 128,129.


BEFORE flying to La Guardia on Friday, I had breakfast at the Jet Restaurant on the wrong side of the Dane County Airport, with Evan of The Bi-Coloured Python-Rock-Snake blog, one of my favorites.

Evan turned out to be not too shabby hisself. A fellow Lutheran, a classicist, and serving his country at Fort Army Central (Bragg), he was on his way back from "leave" (what we schmugs call "vacation") and we hooked up over eggs and coffee.

I can't tell you what we talked about, or he'd have to kill me. But it was very interesting. You want a piece of it, go check out his blog.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The New Yawk Trip

Seems like, every two years my sister Elizabeth finds some frequent flyer miles in time to fly me to her town, a little place on an island on the east coast. Not far from the corner of 86th and York Ave.

This time, the trip went like this:

Fly in Friday night.
Dim sum Saturday morning, down in China Town! I scored two cashmere scarves and the coolest hand-folded dragon from a street vender. The dim sum consisted of a sticky rice dish baked in a seaweed wrap, with mystery meat. Then some other unknown Chinese dishes that we grabbed from the various carts that came past our table. The place was packed. We sat at a large round table and were the only non-Chinese there. A man at the table gave us advice in Sino-English, some of which we understood. Nice practice for the guy.
Later, coffee and pastries at Cafe Roma in Little Italy.
Two--count them!--two Broadway shows on Saturday. Theater gluttony.

Sunday morning early we caught a double decker bus from Penn Station to Washington D.C. The plan was to surprise another sister, Rebecca, with my glamorous presence. The surprise worked to perfectio--sans glamour-- complete with her husband snapping photos of the look on her face when her baby brother showed up. Very cool. Parties. Long languid evening with family, just goofing around.
Monday morning, off to the new museum exhibit of Vesuvius and Pompeii. Very cool. Lunch with two sisters, then off on the double decker bus back to New Yawk. I sat on the second level, up front exactly above where the driver sits. Nothing but sky and road! Too cool. We grabbed beers and a pizza from Arturo's on York Ave, and watched IRONMAN. Again. It is still fun to watch.

Tuesday I begged off. I mean, I'm flying home tonight. Let's not plan anything. So. A late breakfast at Popover's on the west side, then a long walk across Central Park, marvelling at the way the city's character changes from block to block. Every block of New York City has decades of tales to tell. This morning I was focused on the Old Ladies of New York, these small, wrinkled, interesting-looking lifelong NYers. Very intent upon what they are about.

We stopped at Barnes and Noble for our traditional Spend- Elizabeth's- Gift- Cards splurge. I picked up a couple; she picked up a couple. We had a mocha latte at Starbucks upstairs. Too cool. Home, a nap, and we wandered out again to check out the East River park a few blocks away. There is a special small, tiled playground for little dogs. Then there is a larger playground for big dogs. Medium-sized dogs are out of luck. The little dogs wrestled with the little dogs. The large dogs gloried in the presence of the large dogs.

The East River in January is not very pretty, but the whole thing is still eye-candy for me. What a rube. I take a picture of a corner vegetable stand. The guy's asparagus is freezing, what is this? It's New York.

We dine in style at Arturo's on York Ave.
I fly back out Tuesday night.