Thursday, May 29, 2008

Yet another meme.

Beats actual posting, some days. Paul is tagging all those who feel like playing along with this personal trivia meme:

What time is your alarm clock set to? Alarm clock? No need. My kids have me up bright and early.

What is the first thing you notice about the opposite sex? Um...hurmmmm...I refuse to answer this question on the grounds that she will exile me to our couch, which is nowhere near big enough to be comfortable.

Do you think people talk about you behind your back? The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about. So, I hope so. I think.

What movie do you know every line to? Army of Darkness or The Big Lebowski. Or at least enough of both to make me a menace.

What is your favorite movie? The Fisher King.

Is anyone in love with you? Yes, and thank God.

Do you sleep on your side, stomach or back? Side.

Who was the last person to make you mad?

Are you a lover or a fighter? Depends on the circumstances.

Are you a morning or evening person? Evening.

Are you a cuddler? She would argue not enough.

Are you a perfectionist? No.

Have you ever written a poem? Yes, and it would have worked OK with Boris Vallejo illustrations. As actual poetry on its own merits--not so much.

Do you have more guy or girl friends? Guy.

How many tickets have you gotten? Hard to say--I've been to see The Who, Monsters of Rock (Featuring Van Halen, Scorpions, Metallica, Some No-Talent Hair Band), Ted Nugent and a lot of sporting events.

Piercings? Excluding innoculations, no.

Do you have a tattoo? No.

Are you patient? When will this end?

Do you miss anyone right now? Several someones, actually.

Tea or coffee? There is no bean but Arabica, and Juan Valdez is Its Prophet. See Person, Evening, supra.

Regularly burn incense? Lord, no. I mean, I didn't date much in high school or college, played a lot of D&D/other RPGs and still listen to Rush, but I'm not weird.

Ever been in love? Yep, and I finally got it right this time.

Best room for a fireplace? The room with the overhead sprinkler system.

What do you do when you’re sad or upset? This too shall pass.

Afraid of heights? Sterling Heights, yes.

I see white people--all the time.

Can you change the oil in your car? Yes, but why? More seriously, they are making it harder with each generation of vehicle.

Favorite flower? Roses or peonies.

We have both in our flower box. The peonies are more spectacular, but the roses have a better bloom duration.

Favorite hangout? Probably Casa del Price. If not there, then Dragonmead.

Middle name? Roy. It's Old French for King.

Hail to the king, baby.

Most romantic sounding language? English. At least when I'm using it....

Ever been overseas? Yes. England, France, Belgium, Holland, West Germany (pre-reunification), Austria, Italy, Switzerland, Spain and Scotland.

I tag the Espoused One, Zach and Terry the Prodigal.

"The Last Day of the World."

On this day in the year of Our Lord 1453, Constantinople fell to the Janissaries of Sultan Mehmet II, and was given over to slaughter, rapine and pillage. Though it is likely that the last was over quickly, given that the city was quite poor and thinly populated by the mid-fifteenth century. After taking the Second Rome, Mehmet's forces came within a hairsbreadth of taking the first in 1481, but withdrew after being delayed by fierce resistance and the subsequent death of the Sultan.

Contrary to the consistent anti-Byzantine twittery espoused in this tome, the 50,000 inhabitants of the city fought bravely during the siege despite having few allies (Genoese and Venetian mercenaries), being outnumbered in fighting men by more than 10 to 1 and being equipped with inferior arms and technology. They might have lasted longer, or even seen the siege fail, had not a sally port in the walls of the city been left unsecured.

The Greek-speaking world still calls it Black Tuesday, or "the Last Day of the World."

[Thanks to Steve Tirone for the link to the article on the Martyrs of Otranto.]

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Friday, May 23, 2008

Because life cannot have been lived to the fullest...

until you've played a game where a yeti whacks a penguin with a baseball bat.

You're welcome.

BTW: 322.9

The secret is to hit bouncers.

Interesting article about the spread of Turkish Islamic schools in Pakistan.

Touting an alternative to the "kill, fight, shoot" (to quote one of the Turks) approach of a lot of Pakistani madrassas.

The Turkish schools, which have expanded to seven cities in Pakistan since the first one opened a decade ago, cannot transform the country on their own. But they offer an alternative approach that could help reduce the influence of Islamic extremists.

They prescribe a strong Western curriculum, with courses, taught in English, from math and science to English literature and Shakespeare. They do not teach religion beyond the one class in Islamic studies that is required by the state. Unlike British-style private schools, however, they encourage Islam in their dormitories, where teachers set examples in lifestyle and prayer.

“Whatever the West has of science, let our kids have it,” said Erkam Aytav, a Turk who works in the new schools. “But let our kids have their religion as well.”

That approach appeals to parents in Pakistan, who want their children to be capable of competing with the West without losing their identities to it. Allahdad Niazi, a retired Urdu professor in Quetta, a frontier town near the Afghan border, took his son out of an elite military school, because it was too authoritarian and did not sufficiently encourage Islam, and put him in the Turkish school, called PakTurk.

It's the work of Turkish Sufi Muslim Fethullah Gülen, currently in exile in the U.S. after clashing with the then-Kemalist government. Not without controversy, Gülen has been a voice of reason for the most part (assuming the alleged quotes are true), and this looks like a welcome project.

Thanks to Terry for the heads-up.

OK--I *have* to see Kingdom of the Crystal Skull now.

Roger Ebert gave it his thumbs up, and won me over with this section:

The Indiana Jones movies were directed by Steven Spielberg and written by George Lucas and a small army of screenwriters, but they exist in a universe of their own. Hell, they created it. All you can do is compare one to the other three. And even then, what will it get you? If you eat four pounds of sausage, how do you choose which pound tasted the best? Well, the first one, of course, and then there's a steady drop-off of interest. That's why no Indy adventure can match "Raiders of the Lost Ark" (1981). But if "Crystal Skull" (or "Temple of Doom" from 1984 or "Last Crusade" from, 1989) had come first in the series, who knows how much fresher it might have seemed? True, "Raiders of the Lost Ark" stands alone as an action masterpiece, but after that the series is compelled to be, in the words of Indiana himself, "same old same old." Yes, but that's what I want it to be.

Exactly. Gotta go.

But The Self-Propelled Boy™ and I are seeing Speed Racer first. He passed his spelling test with a perfect score (after much, much, much, much study and drill). Given that I grew up on the cartoon, I'm only slightly less interested than he is.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Prayers for Edward Kennedy.

A malignant brain tumor. That's what killed my grandfather.

Yes, I know--I have my problems with Ted Kennedy's career and behavior, too.

But he's also a terminally ill old man in his 70s, and several someones' father and grandfather.

As the man leading the Rosary at St. Aloysius today said:

"O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of Hell, and lead all souls to Heaven, especially those in most need of Thy mercy. Amen."

Last time I checked, I remain in need of the same mercy. And so do you.

It worked out pretty well for my ancestors.

Two million Brits have left Ol' Blighty in the past decade.

Actually, the figures may conceal more than illuminate, but it's still interesting.

Still getting my sea legs back underneath me.


For some reason, work failed to dematerialize off my desk while I was enjoying my spa weekend at the hospital.

The lawn needs to be threshed and bailed.

Heather and I are making baby steps toward putting the fridge box on the market.

Our stimulus payment has been delayed by a TurboTax glitch.

Our church study history group met for the first time in a couple of months last evening.

I managed to beg off (barely, citing my health excitements) being elected Grand Knight of my Knights of Columbus council. Next year for sure.

I am trying to get Madeleine prepped for her First Communion in June.

Heather and I (and a bored-to-sleep Louis) saw Iron Man on Friday. Go see it--excellent action entertainment.

Oh, and I have a fistful of books I'd like to finish.

So, there you go. Accept what blogging I can gives ya.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

I hate hospitals.

So I'm back home.

Anyway, what did I miss?

Not so BTW, thanks for the prayers and good wishes. The battery of tests all came back "positive" in the sense they detected nothing wrong. So, a semi-clean bill of health. Another appointment in late May, and surgery beckons sometime after that.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Our sparkler.

Dinner was finished, and the kids went outside to play in the backyard. Rachel was the last to leave. She walked out on the deck, then paused and said "Oh."

It's an all purpose word for her--declaration, question, understanding, discovery. This time, discovery. She'd found the ready-to-seed dandelion left by her older brother at the door.

As I watched her through the screen door, she breathed on the dandelion, scattering some of the fluff into the air. A delighted giggle, and a pause as she watched the fluff go skyward. Another puff, more dandelion seeds scatter, and more giggles. Eventually, the seeds are gone and she moves on to something else.

But a quiet, magical moment is etched in my memory. I'm so happy and honored she is a part of my life.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Something more positive.

Sunday was a red letter day. D3 and I attended a father-son breakfast sponsored by one of the parishes in our K of C cluster. Every year, they have prizes and every boy walks out with something. This is our second year going, and we had the pleasure of sitting with the same group of guys from last year: Frank, Ronald and respective sons.

You have to buy raffle tickets to win the big prizes, which are the bikes.

Frank's ten year old son Josh has some kind of energy field around him which bends probability in his favor. For the previous four years, he's won a bike. A good kid. Ron's is a nice guy too, but older--about 18 or so.

Anyway, the drawings start and I'm gazing intently at my 18 tickets. Time passes, prizes are doled. Josh gets a 3D kite, a $20 gift card to ToysRUs, and a basketball. Nada at our end, but Dale's holding up well.

Josh walks over and gives Dale the basketball, which Dale thanks him for. Like I said, Josh is a good kid.

The bikes vanish, one by one.

"Now we'll have another drawing for a bike." He reads the numbers. I blink.

Yep--Dale wins a bike! He barely blinks as he gazes at the sleek blue mountain bike. One problem, though no one is complaining: Dale won't be able to ride it for another four years, at least.

So be it--he's delighted.

The drawings continue and Josh wins another couple of things, but his bike streak is broken--to the open relief of Frank.

Near the end, another father walks up and whispers--"Do you think your son would be willing to make a trade?" An eleven year old won a much smaller bike (16 inch wheels) which he isn't going to be able to do much with. "Bring it over and I'll ask," I say.

It's nice--a BMX-like Magna, red and mean looking. And much more likely to be a steed within the next couple of years.

"Dale, would you like to trade yours for this one?"

No hesitation--a dazed nod of delight. A big smile and thanks from the 11 year old. Everybody goes home happy.

Heather has to pick the bike up with the minivan, though, but she's almost as happy as I am.

Wars and rumors of wars.

The Republic of Georgia warns that it is teetering on the brink of war with Russia.

Oh, and soft plastics used for kids' toys mimic estrogen, with all that entails for young children who handle them. A rare thumbs up to the Governator for putting the kibosh on this latest parental nightmare.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Happy Birthday, Doug!

My little brother turns 36 today. He looks much, much older, but chronologically, he's 36.

Memed yet again.

The Seven Things You Don't Know About Me meme, from Shelly.

Fair enough, since I am a dusty, forbidding ancient codex of obscure lore and mystery.

Or something.

1. I was nominated to attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1986 by then-Congressman Bill Schuette.

2. I was previously engaged when I was an unready 23. She broke it, not me. We were the very definition of Doomed To Divorce, showing once again that He knows far, far better than I. I'm much happier now, and I hope she is, too.

3. My MSBE score was 157.

4. I owned a Camaro. 1978, forest green with the inline V6 and a Kraco cassette deck. I got it up to 105mph once, southbound on Alger Road heading for Ithaca. It was floating at that speed, and if I'd had the slightest control problem, they'd have been hosing what was left of me and my buddy into Dixie cups for burial purposes. Drunks, little children, the United States of America and certain favored young idiots with pony cars, as Otto von Bismarck might say.

5. I was voted "Most Sophisticated" in my high school graduating class, for reasons which escape reason. After all, I did spend a couple of years occasionally screaming "I got what you need!" out of the windows of that same Camaro, cruising the Alma Gut during my high school weekends.

"Least Likely to Re-offend," perhaps. No, I did not attend Ostrogoth High.

6. It is a source of enduring, if perverse, pride that my law review article featured the phrase "vomited on a screen door."

7. I double-majored in history and political science in college. Though I suspect that seems rather obvious by this point.

Friday, May 02, 2008

You Don't Mess With The Johan.

Another game, another Franzen hat trick.

9 goals in 4 games. The dude's fusion, breaking the playoff series goal scoring record held by some guy named Howe.

The Avs actually fought pretty hard in the two close ones, but they were severely outmanned by game four. It started to feel like watching the Jimmy Johnson-era Miami Hurricanes taking on Yale.

I think the boys in red are focused. And kicking like the Mule.

Truly Abrahamic.

Just when you might be tempted to despair, along come men like Sheik Ahmed Abu Risha, protector of the Chaldean Catholics:

After hearing Sheikh Iyad's account of the suffering that the Chaldean Catholics have endured in Iraq, Sheikh Ahmad publicly declared that from this time forward they would be under his protection, that anyone who killed a Chaldean will be regarded as one who has killed in a member of his tribe (under the medieval Islamic concept of qisas this is a capital offense), and money will be provided from the Sahawa al-Iraq treasury to rebuild the churches and cemeteries that al-Qaeda destroyed. He justified this by quoting from the Qu'ran and stating that there should be no compulsion in matters of religion because truth stands free from error.

And the man who started the "Anbar Awakening," his late brother, Sheikh Abdul-Sattar Abu Risha, demonstrates that many seem to have drawn the right lesson from Vietnam:

"He says, yeah, so, Vietnam beat the Americans, and what did it get them? You know, 30 years later, they’re still living in poverty.”

God bless them and all those like them.

A rough stretch.

  Forgive the vagueness and ambiguity, but I am going through a tough patch at the moment. July was full-stop awful, and August, while bette...