Thursday, December 31, 2009

Review of 2009

On New Year's Eve, I enjoy making a small list of the positives and negatives of the outgoing year. It makes for a nice reflection on the year which is about to leave us, and gives one something to ponder when anticipating the new year. I often remind myself that even though the negative events of the year may have brought some amount of pain, emotional and or physical, they give the opportunity for personal growth.

Negatives of 2009
  • Aunt Karen dies at the age of 53 from Multiple Symptom Atrophy
  • Flat tire on Niagara Falls Blvd.
  • Multiple Car repairs (general maintenance, but still costly)
  • One of my Fall courses was anything but enjoyable.
  • The death of an old friend of the family.
  • The summer course from HELL.
  • I couldn't even get ONE interview for a teaching position.
  • Anne breaking her pelvis and having to stay in the nursing home.
  • Another holiday season at Walmart (shudder)
  • The death of Mrs. Piskor
  • Dad struggling with his insurance to get his full comp money from disability (which is still going on)
  • My weight gain.
Positives of 2009
  • The birth of my nephew Collin
  • Getting a job as a substitute teacher in two districts to add to my teaching experience for my resume.
  • My Dad getting a good report from the heart doctor.
  • Getting to share another year with my best friend Anne.
  • Surviving another Walmart holiday thanks to some great friends/co-workers
  • The numerous happy hour visits to Q with Bob.
  • With the exception of some nagging colds (which is standard for me), I have been in good health, and have avoided the swine flu... even though there have been cases in the schools I was teaching in. Deo Gratias!
I am thankful for the graces I have received in this past year, and even during the rough times, I am thankful for the family and friends who helped get me through them. I look forward to 2010 and all the possibilities it holds!

Return to Normalcy


I used to always promise I would keep the Christmas decorations up until the Epiphany (Three Kings Day) which is January 6th. This marks the official end of the Christmas season according to the Church's Liturgical calendar. I have never once made it to January 6th.. in fact... I don't think I have ever left the decorations up past New Year's Day.

This year was no exception. I took down the tree and packed away the decorations tonight (or late late last night depending on the time stamp of this entry). As much as I look forward to decking the halls, I equally dread the looming tasking of un-decking them. Un-decking the halls holds none of the excitement of it's counter-part, and thus makes it much more work-like. Knowing I have this daunting task to perform, I'm eager to get the job over and done with as soon as the time presents itself.

There is a certain sense of refreshment that comes along with packing up the holiday decor. I like to steal Warren G. Harding's campaign slogan for this time of year, which I refer to as our "return to normalcy". Harding used the term to refer to a returned focus on American isolation from European affairs immediately following WWI... I use it in reference to our recovery from the Holiday hurricane which sweeps through our homes and lives. No more baking, shopping or dealing with nasty people in the stores. It's a time when we can kick back and enjoy the calm of the ordinary. I always find it quite a refreshing change of pace.


As I put the joy, excitement and headaches of this holiday season behind me... I enjoy the calm and comfort of the everyday.... the return to normalcy. New knick-knacks gifted to me on Christmas are slowly finding their ways to the shelves and tables while old things get packed away or discarded. New clothes get put in the dresser and closet as old ones get donated or thrown out. It's an interesting transition really... perfect for New Year's.... examining the old, incorporating the new, and adjusting to what change there is while clinging to the reassurance of the familiar.

One of the many nice things about living in Western New York is the change in seasons. By the time you are sick of one season, the next is on its way. The same can be said for holidays. Just when you've had enough of one holiday season, there is a little down time before you get all excited for the next to arrive. It mixes things up a bit... keeps life from getting stale.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Too casual??


One of the things I love about the time immediately following Christmas is trying out all the new clothes I got from "Santa", or perhaps the ones I may have purchased with gift cards or from the many sales that occur this time of year. I was gifted with a beautiful new peacoat (I love a good double breasted coat!), as well as several button down shirts, and even a few vests for work. I just love getting "dressed up", and will use any excuse to do so... in fact, when I was a kid, I used to say I wanted a job where I could wear a shirt and tie everyday... and teaching gives me that opportunity... though sadly, many in my profession (mostly the lucky full time bunch) have opted for a much more casual attire.

As I look around during holidays at what people are wearing, I have to ask myself the question, when did we become so casual? It wasn't long ago that women would not dream of going outside without a pair of gloves on, or a man without a button down shirt and hat (note I said hat.. not cap.. there is a difference). It seems that almost over night, we as a society have moved from one extreme to the other. As my Grandmother used to tell me, "I wouldn't have even walked to the mailbox without a girdle on", and now people go to the store in their pajamas. It's quite sad really. We seem to have lost the appreciation for presentation, and confused sloppiness with comfort.

When I was a wee lad in the late 80's, men still would don a tie at least for special occasions such as attending Church, weddings, Christmas and Easter. Even those rare occasions for "dressing up" have declined in importance. Blue jeans are the standard uniform for any and all occasions, and ties are seen as mostly obsolete and oppressive. Dresses on women? Archaic.

There are a few of us who don't mind bucking the system, and still ponder "what to wear?" when going out. The professional and formal are still part of our attire, as is the relaxed and informal. I am always delighted to see someone in my age group (late 20's) who has the guts to wear a suit, and even a hat (the guy in the photo is from a chat group I belong to... and though I don't know him personally, felt this photo proved I am not alone in the world). I once heard a similarly minded priest (in his early 30s) refer to such people as "young fogeys". That title still makes me laugh.

Perhaps to many I sound arrogant or worldly, but I would have to ask the question, "What's wrong with making everyday a bit of a special occasion?". Have we "progressed" so far that pajamas and hoodies are the hallmarks of American street wear? I don't know.. I'm certainlly not Queer Eye or Joan Rivers... just a young fogey. I doubt it has little to do with the cost of clothing... whether you're on a budget or not is irrelevant. -- When was the last time you looked at the price tag of decent hoodie?

Regardless of where you are in the casual versus formal debate, there is something to be said for the craftsmanship and quality of the styles of yester year and the disposable nature of today's garments.

Maybe I have simply watched the Harry Potter movies one too many times, and become obsessed with the neat robes that the adult characters and teachers wear, that when I head off to work, I'm snapped back to reality that a tie can make me seem grossly out of place. Oh well, if I ever get a job teaching at Hogwarts, I'll know what to wear!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas


As I write this post on Christmas Eve, I am thinking of all the loose ends that need to be finished before tonight's festivities.... preparing food for tomorrow, wrapping last minute packages.... There is a lot of excitement about the approaching Christmas celebration, but I'm trying to keep in my heart the real meaning of this feast day.

I am all for beautiful Christmas trees, and a modest gift exchange. It's fun and exciting... it is a celebration after all.... but it's not the trees and the gifts and the dinners which we celebrate. We celebrate the fest of the Incarnation... the word which was made flesh and dwelt among us.

Working in retail during this season makes one too aware of how hectic and chaotic Christmas has become... how worldly, selfish and secular. Think for a moment how you would feel if it was your Birthday and all the people you loved were busy buying presents, decorating and making fancy meals..... then forgot to include you in the celebration. You'd probably be heart broken. Imagine how much more Our Lord feels when we have turned His Birthday into just another reason to shop and get frustrated.

Enjoy your celebrations with your family and friends, but don't forget to include the very special guest of honor this year. Don't just visit Him at Church to "get it over with" then go on with the holiday as if He didn't matter. Keep Him in your hearts, and have a very Merry CHRISTmas!!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Fiesta continued...




So I was browsing online and noticed that the discontinued color of Fiestaware that I had my heart set on was selling for WAY too much money to ever realistically get a complete set. One or two dinner plates sells for over $20. I stopped by the Bon-Ton today and fell in love with the Shamrock color.... and guess what... they were 50% off!!!!

So.. as a surprise, my Mom offered to buy me the set for my Birthday and Christmas of NEXT year... hahahaha. So, I went back to the Bon-Ton, and picked up a basic 5 piece serving set for 12 people. Ooooo yea! Opening a Bon-Ton charge saved me.. well, Mom.. an extra 10%.

So, from now on, Mom will be drawing little green dishes inside blank cards for the next few holidays as a reminder of what she bought me. :) But... when that magical day happens... I'll have dishes ready to serve meals to my guests... oh... and to myself too!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Fiestaware


Anyone who knows me well knows I am obsessed with all things vintage. I had been debating starting to stock pile dishes for the magical day I get a full time teaching position and am able to finally move out on my own. I always dreamed of having a green and white kitchen... mint green... jadite... shades like that. I do have a few pieces of Fire King jadite tea cups and saucers but have recently fallen in love with the Fiestaware Chartreuse color (who came up with that name???) which is pretty close to the lighter shades of green that I love so much.

Of course, the color I love was retired back in the 50s, and was remade for only two years in the late 90s which makes finding pieces hard, and the pieces one can find... pricey. I found a teapot online and am seriously holding back from buying it..... with the expenses of the holidays, I can't justify the purchase.

Eventually I think I will start buying a few pieces here and there... starting with the teapot which I can actually use... then when and if I ever can move out on my own.. I will have some dishware to use when company comes to visit. :)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Prayer Request

If I may, I'd like to ask any of the readers out there to please say a prayer for my dearest friend, Anne. Though we are far apart in years (she is 81), she has been my closest friend and confidant for over a decade. She has been suffering lately with heart problems, and has to make an appointment for an angiogram to see just what is going on.

Thank you!

I survived!


Yes, I made it through the blackest Friday of the year unscathed. It was not easy getting up at 3am to be to work at 4am, but I managed... and thanks to some green tea pills, I got a boost of energy with which to confront the onslaught of customers I knew awaited me.

I was stationed outside my little world in the Photo Lab to sell laptops in Lawn and Garden. I had no idea how this whole thing was going to work.. few of us did. To my relief, I found some of my good friends were stationed back there with me.. safety in numbers!

Since the store was open for 24 hours to avoid the massive rush of people at 5am which resulted in the death of a NYC employee last year, shoppers were able to line up in the store for their designated big sale item, and were given tickets to ensure them they would be getting said product. I had the distinct pleasure of cashing out laptops and various other items they had picked up in their many hours in the store waiting for the magical moment of the 5am sale time... I cashed for over an hour. Yea, good times.

Thankfully, I spent the rest of my shift in Lawn and Garden, directing customers and making sure no one escaped through our back doors.. with unpaid merchandise. It was fairly quiet back there.. especially in comparison to the insanity of the rest of the store. Since there were SO many associates scheduled to work from 4am to 1pm, I was not in danger of being pulled from my black Friday sanctuary.

The worst part for me was how cold and damp it was in that department, especially with the freight doors open. It ended up really messing up my lower back (I have sciatica)... and by the time I got home, I needed my Mom to bring my cane out to me so I could get out of my car. I still get shooting pains every now and then... but that should pass.

Thankfully, I survived yet another black Friday!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Turkey Day


Wishing all of you out there in Cyber-land a very happy and healthy Thanksgiving. Remember, as we over eat today, to take time to be thankful for the bounty of food we have, the family and friends in our lives... those with us around the table, and those in our hearts.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Head. Wall. Ouch.


So what have I been up to? Let's see. I've been working quite a bit, and yet still in debt. Still subbing twice a week... and working the retail Hell that is Walmart.

Today was a nice cross section of my life as a whole. I woke up rather sick, and missed morning Mass, so went to Mass at the other Latin Mass location at 1:30pm (an example of just not being able to get moving). Started typing my 20 page paper on the National Association of Colored Women, and had to walk away after one and three quarters pages because I just don't have the stamina to sit and pound out a paper like I used to. I was rejected for a date, and failed to secure a sub position for tomorrow (this being Thanksgiving week, I only have two days to try and get sub work).

So I'm a wee bit frustrated with the current state of affairs... Normally I would have the holiday to look forward to, but dinner doesn't start until 6pm, and I have to be UP at 3am to work a 4-1pm shift on the worst day of the year... Black Friday.

Oh yes. Good times.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Pray for Priests Kit


Pope Benedict XVI has designated this year as "the year of the priests". After all the reported abuses by the clergy, I think it is an excellent idea to commit more of our prayer time for the intentions of priests, as well as for more HOLY vocations. The scandals of the past years have hurt not only countless lay people, but also the clergy themselves. There are many many good men in the priesthood who now suffer from the constant attacks, jokes and criticisms by the popular culture because of the errors of others. I know many priests who have been verbally assaulted in public for wearing their Roman collars, and called all sorts of names... for something they never did.

I was made aware of this "prayer kit" from another blog that I follow. It contains a reminder to us to pray for priests, as well as a simple card you can send to your local priest/pastor telling him that he is in your prayers, and that you support him. Believe me.. now more than ever, they can use the encouragement!

The kit can be purchased at: Pray for a Priest -- Naturally though, you could come up with your own card or token of affection for that special spiritual Father in your life... this is but one option.

The "priest jokes" not only are hurtful to those of us who are Catholic.. but should be hurtful to those of us who are gay. These jokes are only a stone's throw away from gay bashing, which is indeed the undertone of such jokes about the "priest and the altar boy". A reminder to my gay readers out there: People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. Discrimination, hate and cruelty should never be accepted... even if it's against a group with whom you do not agree.

*steps down from soap box*

Monday, November 2, 2009

All Soul's Day


Today is the feast of All Souls. A time to remember our friends and loved ones who have died. As we remember and pray for those who have gone before us, let us also be mindful of those departed who have no one left to pray for the repose of their souls. It is a great spiritual work of mercy to pray for the dead, especially those for whom no one remains to remember.

If possible, visit your local cemetery and pray for those buried there. There is a beautiful custom of volunteering to help clean up and preserve graves which have been neglected. True, the deceased soul no longer resides in the shell buried in those graves, but it is out of respect for life and the dignity of the person that we honor their memories, and the body which was once the temple of those souls.

Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon them. May they and all the souls of the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in preace. Amen.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween


Wishing you all a frightfully fun Halloween!!!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Future of Holidays

Every October there seems to arise some controversy as to whether or not public schools should be permitted to celebrate Halloween. While it's true that Halloween has roots in religious belief systems, some coming from older "pagan" cultures, and some traditions coming from older Christian traditions, to the majority of the American people, it is nothing more than a quirky secular holiday. (Click here to see my previous post on the history of Halloween)

It's sad that schools where children are supposed to be taught about multiple cultures, perspectives, and learn about appreciating diversity are now the places of forced sterilization of culture. If something is seen as different from one local ethnic or religious group, protests begin that "it".. whatever custom "it" might be.. should be purged from the school calendar and from practice. This means that everything from Jack-o-lanterns, Christmas trees and Carols to Easter eggs are going the way of dinosaurs in our public schools. Is this a positive or negative trend? Are we helping or hurting our children?

Coming from a Social Studies teaching background, I'm a big fan of multiple diversities and customs being expressed within the classroom. Many of our schools have become a mini United Nations over the past few decades, with multiple ethnic and religious groups merging in districts that were once quite ethnocentric. As teachers, we are encouraged to celebrate all cultures and traditions when possible, rather than just reserving diversity to the "little blue box" in pages of the text book.. separating that information from the mainstream text, or by having "multi-cultural days" spread out throughout the school year.

Instead of eliminating these holidays and observances which have been part of the traditions of our schools and country for so many year, let's use these holidays to educate the students about the origins and history of these observances, tracing their roots back throughout the history of our country, and the countries from which they came. Instead of removing holidays like Christmas because of the religious undertone, why not add MORE holidays and festivities to the calendar? Celebrate Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Yom Kippur, Ramadan, and any other observances that may reflect the cultural make up of the students in the school. Holidays are wonderful ways to TEACH children about different cultures and the people who celebrate them. Having a Christmas tree in a school doesn't mean the children are forced to worship in a Christian Church, but serves as an example of another cultural aspect that makes up our nation.

How can we teach diversity and respect for other cultures when we constantly protest to have the very expressions of those cultures removed from public life? Appreciate diversity, and celebrate it!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Discouraged

When I talk with other substitutes, I realize how truly desolate the job arena is here in WNY, especially for teachers. It's a depressing and frightening reality to face. :(
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Saturday, September 19, 2009

Respect

What gives anyone the right to talk to strangers the way they do? When did society become so uncharitable as to act like it does on an everyday basis? "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" seems to be nothing more than a cliche.

Maybe it's road rage, a death in the family, loss of a job or sickness that has people in such a foul mood... giving them the excuse to curse and hollar at the cashier who is only trying to do his or her job and make a living. Maybe that person feels powerless in their own life and needs to dominate someone else, and put them down so that he or she can feel in control of life.... if only for a moment. Is this right? No.. it's not.

For all of societies advances in science and technology, our morality and compassion has taken a collective leap backwards. Perhaps someone, somewhere, will read this post or something like it in Dear Abby, and stop to give pause to reflect on their own actions. I hope that reflection is more than just a passing thought before returning to the callous world of human interaction.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Gay Education


This should seriously be shown in school classrooms so we can perhaps hinder raising more close-minded bigots who can only spout the same old rhetoric we hear time and time again. I think people in general need to be better educated on homosexuality... there in lies the REAL gay rights movement.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Diocese of Portland Controversy

Yes... I have read about the Diocese of Portland (Maine) asking it's parishioners to donate money to help repeal the allowance of gay marriages in the state... and YES, I disagree with their stance. HOWEVER... this is what I mean about my separation of Catholic prayer and Catholic politics. No where in Mass this morning (in the missal itself) was homosexuality condemned. If any one does say something negative about it, it is from individuals.. not from the Gospels.. or from the Roman Missal.

Also... let's not forget we live in a Democracy/Republic.. not a dictatorship. Those people who disagree with gay marriage have just as much right to lobby against it as supporters do for it. Otherwise, what rights would we really have?? You can't take away some one's right to vote, lobby, and petition just because it does not coincide with your political position. Be very happy my vote/opinion is not the only one that matters!

Enough said. Hopefully.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Thought Bubble


It's amazing how a simple tune brings back so many feelings and emotions.... and/or brings us back to another time and place.

It wasn't all that long ago really, but when I stop and think about it... it's seems like a whole different life time. Perhaps it was.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Bipolar Disorder

I have had some friends and even family members who suffer from Bipolar disorder. Like any mental disorder, it's not an easy thing to live with. Meds help, but there is still the daily struggle the person faces each day.

I personally am Bipolar II.. A less severe version. I still have the mood swings, but thankfully, not to the extreme of full blown sufferers.

In addition to the mood shifts, I have found the fixation aspect of the disorder to be extremely difficult. Did you ever hear the expression "once you get something stuck in your head, it stays there"? That would be me. Once I have a concept I'm interested in (good or bad), I HAVE to figure it out before I can really relax. This means loss of sleep, constant re-examining, and day dreaming trying to work the situation out. I can lead to being productive, but the real problem is when you can't turn it off. Talk about annoying.

The human mind is an amazing thing. No matter how we try to convince ourselves to think and feel one way, our minds tend to win in the tug of war of emotion.
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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Back to School

I started back to grad school last week. I have two classes a week, both back to back on Tuesday. Ugh.. what was I thinking??? I'm in class from 4:10-9:45 at night. Talk about tedious!

I'm taking an African American Women's Studies course to fulfill one of my history requirements, and an Adolescence Lit class for the lit/tech/special ed. requirement. I'm not impressed with the African American Women class, as the syllabus was not completed past this first week (meaning she doesn't have the whole course planned out), she decided the books last minute IN CLASS, and all the many articles we will be reading are not on course reserve, which means we have to scour the Internet for the journals which each individual article is located. Some people just make things more complicated than they need to be. Still though, the topic of the course interests me, and should be enlightening.

The Lit course is a relief.. it doesn't seem to be high stress at all. It deals mostly with Children's books for an age level below what I am/will be teaching.. though she does try to angle aspects of the course to the secondary teachers in the class. It will be a bit outside the box, which may prove to be a refreshing change.

The little angels start back to school this week in the district in which I substitute. I'm still waiting to hear from the district closer to home which I applied to sub in three weeks ago. It would be nice to walk into a classroom without wondering if the kids (usually 6th grade) will cuss me out.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

An Inspiration


Yesterday I decided to take a drive out to Hamburg to the Mother House of the Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph. I felt a visit to my esteemed 4th grade teacher, Sr. Symphronia, was long over due. Sister and I have stayed friends all these years since I was in her class, and have corresponded mostly through letters. I kept saying I was going to drive out and see her, so yesterday I decided to call her up and go.

When I arrived at the Mother House, an aid from the hospital wing where Sister now lives came down to get me (since it's been at least two years since I was last out there, and didn't remember my way). She told me that Sister had been sitting in her doorway (in a wheelchair) waiting for me to arrive... her "former pupil". One of the nurses asked if she wanted to go outside for some fresh air, and Sister promptly told her, "No, I have a date coming to see me.". "Just to give you a heads up", the aid informed me, "she is hoping you'll take her for a walk outside in the wheel chair". That was fine with me.

There she sat, waiting for me. Except for the wheel chair, she looks the same to me as she did back in 1991-1992 when she taught me. She is now celebrating her 67th year in Religious Life, and was in the classroom for 50+ of those years.

She asked if I would take her outside to the grotto of the Blessed Mother, where they have a statue of Our Lady of Lourdes, so we could sit, pray and talk. I was more than happy to enjoy the nice afternoon outside, so I told the nurses I was stealing her for a little bit. As we walked past some other nurses and sisters, she made sure to show me off to all passers-by.

We had a great talk, and it was a wonderful treat for me to catch up with her face to face instead of in a letter. She was very interested to hear about my teaching experience, and shared in my eager hopes and prayers to get a job. I also got to learn more about her career as a teacher, learning for the first time that she had been a principal (I'm assuming in the early 60's) at the Church and School where she grew up in Buffalo, Corpus Christi. She had 12 nuns under her as superior of the School and Convent. Laughing, she told me some of the nuns were much older and ready to retire, having "given their best years already in their youth". They used to go into her office to nap, and she (the then principal) would cover their classes! She was always so kind hearted.

She is very happy in her retirement, though wishes she was in better health to be able to physically do more for her community. Because of her health, her motion and energy are limited, but she likes to keep the other sisters company, and she prays... a LOT... for her sisters, her former "pupils" and for the world. I never saw someone so content to be in such constant prayer. I told her that her prayerful contribution was a great gift to the world, and never to think for a second she isn't "doing something" worth wild!

She had a small package to give me... and I had totally forgotten about Sister's gifts. She doesn't have much of her own, but what she has.. she gives. She had a small brown bag with some pens and pencils in it, some sugar free chocolate (she is diabetic), and a small plastic statue of St. Francis. She told me to use whatever I could (figuring a teacher could always use more pens and pencils!), and anything I didn't need or want to "you know what to do".. her code for "throw it away". She was always like that. "Here, you like it? Keep it!". She has so little, and yet gives so much.

It was great to spend the hour and a half with her, and perhaps I will go to see her again in October when the leaves change. She will be celebrating a birthday on September 1st. She never would tell me (or anyone) how old she is. Guessing by the number of years she has been a nun, I'm guess 85, if those 67 years start when she first entered... maybe closer to 90 if they only count the years since their final vows.

Regardless of her age, her face still radiates love and kindness. She was one of the strongest inspirations in my life for wanting to be a teacher. She is the exact opposite of all the mean, hurtful nun jokes and stereotypes. To me, she has always been the personification of the motto of her order's founder, Mother Hilbert: "In all things, charity."

Monday, August 24, 2009

Following Directions

From the day we begin school, we are constantly told to read and/or listen carefully to directions. We're not supposed to just plunge ahead, assuming we know what we are doing. This concept is a basic life lesson, applicable to more than just a Regents exam.
Working with the public in retail, I see on a daily basis how people of all age groups refuse to pay attention to directions. The end result is usually a product they are not happy with, as well as the embarrassment of having to be corrected by an employee for something they will later find was right in front of them.
Don't be one of those people. Remember the advice of your teachers: READ and/or LISTEN to directions carefully. Save yourself the time and embarrassment.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Catching Up

Wednesday I had some friends over for "game night". Joe and Rich both went through "teacher boot camp" with me last year. We had a few classes together, and became friends. Rich, his girlfriend Jamie and I have been going to Joe's apartment about once a week to watch a movie and hang out. I wanted to have them over here for a change. It's always nice to have visitors, and my small living room holds only up to four comfortably. It was a snug but quaint visit.

We played an old game called "party lines", and our own version of "win lose or draw" using dry erase boards. Wine, wine coolers and some beer made for some fun moments while playing. It was nice to have people over again, and have some sense of having an independent life of my own... even though I still live with my folks, and have yet to get a permanent teaching position.

Joe is one of the few from our group that has been successful at getting a teaching job in the area, though I do know of one guy who managed to get a Social Studies position at his old high school here in Western New York. I've only been certified for a full year now, but it seems as if I've been searching for a permanent position for ever. I know I have to be patient, but with the prospects that are out there, each passing day makes the concept of having to move away all the more real.... and all the more frightening.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Drive Thru Faith

I was recently talking with a family member of mine whose baby grandson is being baptized in a Presbyterian Church. She (my cousin) told me that since her daughter and son in law never made their Confirmation, or were married in the Catholic Church, their local parish (which I'm assuming neither is a member of) declined to do the baptism. "The Catholic Church is not very welcoming", was my cousins response. The Presbyterians will baptize the baby "no questions asked".

This is not the first story I have heard of people who have been "turned" down by a priest for special occasions such as weddings and baptisms.... though every story has a common theme. The person or persons in question are not active members of the Church, and perhaps only go to a Church for a wedding or funeral.

People forget that when you ask to receive a sacrament, it is a commitment. Take the sacrament of baptism, which happens to be the center of the controversy with my cousin. Baptism is not just pouring water over the baby's head, it is a commitment on behalf of the parents to raise their child in the Christian faith, according to the teachings of the Church. Most couples today, however, over look this vow that they make on behalf of their child. They are focused on having a quaint ceremony..preferably short.. in a pretty Church, and then an elaborate party afterward. I too would turn people like this away. They aren't ready yet or are not serious about the pledge they are making. They want an excuse for a party, not to enter into a covenant with God and His Church.

There is a crisis of faith, especially in America today, and the last thing we need is more "Catholics" in name only. "Catholics" who only show up to Church for weddings and funerals, who see the sacraments as something they "have to do" because of a parent or grandparent, and or because they get a party afterward. This is an abuse, and these people are simply using the Church for it's buildings and special occasions. If you have no intentions of really practicing the faith, then don't insult those of us who do by using our buildings and expressions of faith for the sake of a photo op.

I have to admire our more orthodox Jewish brothers and sisters. They have a custom of refusing a convert three times before they will accept them into classes to become Jewish. The Rabbi wants to make sure the person is committed to the journey they are about to take, and serious about the covenant in which they are about to enter. If you are not ready, come back when you are.

People will spend hundreds of dollars on gym memberships, and hours at the gym exercising in order to take care of their bodies. They will follow the meticulous rules of diets and nutritionists to get the body they desire. When it comes to their immortal soul, doing the bare minimum seems like a brutal task. Giving a small weekly donation is asking too much, and is "proof" to them of a money hungry Church. Having rules and regulations on how to live your life is infringing on your freedom. The emphasis is on the physical and temporary, on the self, not on the Divine, and the eternal. A sad commentary on the mentality of our times. These people wouldn't think of eat from a drive thru window menu, but want a drive thru faith... keep it fast, simple, and keep it moving. My life is too busy to stop.

For anyone out there who has encountered a similar "problem" where they were "turned away" for some special occasion within the Church, I have this piece of advice for you: Learn your faith, practice your faith and live your faith. Then you will be ready to understand the commitment these sacraments ask of us, and to go through with them properly. If you just want a pretty building for your wedding or baptism, so you can get the formalities out of the way before your guests come over for cake, I hear the Presbyterian Church is open for business.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Donations needed

Yes.. it's that time of year again. I am helping my friend Jim raise money for the yearly bike marathon he participates in to help raise money for aids research. Instead of me rambling on about it, I have posted a letter from Jim as well as the link where you could donate.

I know I tend to plug these events quite a bit, but the cause is near and dear to my heart. Every little counts, so give what you can, if you can!!!

---------------------------------------------------------
After a great week last week of 123 miles total riding I am setting my sights on making this the best Braking the Cycle ever. After years you would think I have this down to a science but it still takes tons of hard work.

For those of you that do not know Braking the Cycle is a 3 day 300 mile bike ride across 4 states to raise money and awareness for HIV/AIDS Services. A lot of people think that the AIDS crisis is over, or that AIDS has become a manageable, chronic illness. That’s simply not true. Living with HIV is hard. The medications have all sorts of horrible side effects. Even worse, AIDS still kill – over 1,400 people last year in New York City alone. I think that’s tragic and unacceptable. That’s why I’m getting on the road to do something.

So, from September 11-13, I’ll ride. It won’t be easy. At least one day I will be riding more than 100 miles. I’ve already started training, and I’ve got a lot of work to do. In fact, every weekend and on weeknights, I’m in the gym or on the road getting in my practice miles. I’m determined to ride every single mile.

On this ride each rider raises a minimum of $3500. This money directly goes to HIV/AIDS care and prevention services. I am telling you this because this is where you come in. I am hoping you will be generous as to make a tax deductible donation. At this time I know money is tight, but your donation is so vital. To make a donation please visit http://gaycenter.kintera.org/btc09/trek984 if you need more information please feel free to contact me

Thank you in advance for supporting me. And be on the look out for more updates.

Jim

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Blah


I have no idea what's gotten into me, but I've been SO lethargic lately. Actually, it seems to be getting worse as time goes on. Most of my energy is invested in trying to keep up with the summer course I am taking, which is taught by the instructor from Hell. All I do is read.. read.. read.. and it's not enjoyable in the least... always wondering what minute fact she is going to drill us on, and be-little us if we don't know the answer.

Other than school, Walmart has really worn me down. Despite the fact I only work 20 hours a week, the drama of the idiots that work at the store, coupled with the growing hostility of the majority of the shoppers has split my last nerve.

I've found that when I'm home, I find little enjoyment in small activities I used to, and have little to no ambition to much of anything. The fact that I dusted my sitting room today is an impressive accomplishment for me. All I do is lay on the sofa, and nap. I am always tired these days.. not sure why. It's quite aggravating.

I've tried energy drinks, tea, I eat plenty of fruits and veggies.. nothing seems to help. I've even gone to the doctors to see if I'm diabetic or hypoglycemic, but nothing.

I know I should get my fat ass out on the elliptical machine, but it seems like a mile away from the sofa right now. Ugh.. I need to snap out of this!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Time Flies!

Wow.. I haven't updated this blog in a while!! I do apologize to the three people out there in cyber land who actually read this thing. I have been swamped with the summer grad class from hell.. so I have not had much time for leisure activities.

After almost a month's absence from blogging, I wish I had more exciting personal thing to write about, but alas, I don't. I have been sending out numerous resumes online to local school districts, but have yet to get a single interview. I even applied to two positions at my old high school, and had a friend of the person in charge of personnel put in a good word for me... still nothing. Ugh. It's a sad thing when your old alma mater doesn't even call!

I have become beyond burnt out with Walmart after 8 long years working retail with that company. Our customers are some of the trashiest people out there... who seem to delight in throwing red-neck hissie fits over the smallest matter simply because they feel they have the right to do so. I never saw my parents or grandparents treat store employees the way in which we are treated by customers every day... and it is a very sad commentary about society that things are becoming so bad. It started with the way people dressed, not caring how they looked or having any respect for their appearance, and now, it is no surprise, that their attitudes have become just as ugly. When the fall semester starts up and I begin subbing again, I will be dropping down to three days a week, 15 hours total. Anything beyond that, couple with the responsibilities of grad work and subbing, I would crack.

So that's it.. nothing really new. I hope to be back with more interesting news of soap box speeches in the near future. :)

Monday, June 29, 2009

Job Search

I have sent out numerous resumes to local districts, both electronically and through the mail. I haven't received so much as a "thanks but no thanks" form letter. I often wonder if the districts are even getting my electronic applications that they INSIST we use instead of sending through the mail or inquiring over the phone.

I'm starting to think I have a better chance of winning the lottery than I do getting a teaching job here in the area. SOMEONE HIRE ME!!!

Tuesday begins my summer course as I continue working for my graduate degree, part time. Whoop-de-freakin-do.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day!

To all the Fathers, Grandfathers, Great-Grandfathers, and Reverend Fathers out there, I wish you all the happiest Father's Day! Your contributions to your families (or parishioners) is greatly appreciated. You have the duty to guide, protect, teach, inspire and love the children entrusted to your care.

As I celebrate with my Dad today, I also remember fondly my Grandfathers who are now in their eternal home. I fondly recall my Gramps, Vince, who did everything for my family and I. His simple sense of humor, quiet demeanor, and large heart are greatly missed, but his love and legacy can still be felt in my heart and mind.

To the Reverend Fathers across the globe: Thank you for your spiritual care and guidance!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Good Read

For those of you who think "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is a good policy, or think "sexuality isn't part of the military, it's about the group, not the individual", I have a book for you to read. Ask and Tell: Gay and Lesbian Veterans Speak Out by Steve Estes. It chronicles the achievements of gay and lesbian veterans during their time in the military from WWII to present day service in Iraq.

So many, including many gays, are content with this idea of staying in the military closet.. after all, you were there to serve your country, not to have "relations". This book explores just how profoundly the military's homophobia has impacted countless men and women who have loyally served, and yet have been dishonorably discharged or harassed because of their sexual orientation. If the military was not the place for discussing sexuality, then hold EVERYONE accountable, not just homosexuals. All men and women, heterosexual included, should be banned from discussing any sort of relationship and or sexual activity. Imagine if heterosexuals were not allowed to discuss their families, spouses, or even have them live in military housing. There would be protesting in the streets, but for some reason.. we accept it as a fair compromise for gays and lesbians since the military is not about "sexuality".

This country has a long way to go before it finally grows up.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Pride Day (for Buffalo)



Because a powerful and influential portion of the majority try to deny us our basic rights, we celebrate our pride today. Because there are so many who try to ridicule us into obscurity, we celebrate our pride today. Because there are those who claim we are not really God's children and worthy of his love the way we are, we celebrate our pride today. EVERYONE deserves to be treated with dignity. Happy Pride Day! - M.V.L.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Ongoing Debate on Gay Marriage


With the recent passing of Prop. 8 in California, banning gay marriage, there has been quite a bit of discussion in the media about whether or not gays should have the right to marry. The most staunch opponents to gay marriage seems to come from strict Christian conservatives and Bible fundamentalists. While I personally do have a deep rooted faith in the Catholic-Christian tradition, as well as being a staunch traditionalist in the Liturgical sense, I do differ greatly from my heterosexual counterparts on the topic of gay marriage.

We often hear the rhetoric that we need to preserve the "sanctity" of marriage as seen in Scripture, as well as what has been handed down to us through the generations. Namely, that marriage is a union between a man and a woman, developed from a deep seated love for one another. I'm very much in favor of marriage being about a committed and monogamous love, but the rest seems to be a bit fuzzy, especially from a historical perspective.

First, let's deal briefly with Scripture. While I make no claims to be a great Bible historian or a theologian, I can read. The only passage that I want to deal with in this entry will be from the book of Leviticus, which seems to be the most quoted. Opponents to gay marriage use this Old Testament book to show God's disapproval of same sex relations. Man shall not lie with man as he would a woman. It would be an abomination. Ok, pretty simple enough. If we interpret this literally, and believe that social and historical context of the time in which this was written (WELL before the birth of Christ -- when Moses and Aaron were taking the Israelites out of Egypt) make no difference, AND we impose those cultural norms and standards on the 21st century, then yes.. I agree... gay relationships are an abomination.

Let's however look at what else the book of Leviticus has to offer us. In this book (feel free to look it up.. I suggest reading the ENTIRE book, it's rather interesting), men are forbidden from "rounding the edges of their beards", or trimming them in the modern sense. So all of us who have goatees, we are committing a big "no no". Scarring of the body by any means, namly tattoos is strictly forbidden in this verse. Oddly enough, I know some Evangelical ministers with tattoos. Even though tattoos are no longer seen as marking ones self as belonging to a particular cult religion as it was in Old Testament times, since we are taking everything literally, these people have condemned themselves. I feel bad for the tattoo artists... God must not like them much at all. Lastly, for the brides and wives out there, if you were not a virgin on your wedding night, expect to be stoned to death. It's the law.

I find it ironic that fundamentalists use Leviticus to push their anti-gay agenda, and yet ignore the well-spring of other do's and don'ts that society has seemed to move past as our understanding of human nature and the world around us has evolved to a greater comprehenshion over time.

Now, as to the sanctity of marriage, and its traditional role model, I suggest we go back to the Medieval and Renaissance time period. After all, the 20th century was not a good time for marriages as divorces became more common, and even accepted by many Christian Churches, even though they are strictly prohibited by the Bible. In the late Medieval and Renaissance period, a woman was either married off or sent to a convent by the age of 12. Her husband would have been at least 30 years old, since they felt it took a male that long to mature. Women had no choice in whom they married, and love had nothing to do with it. It was a business contract between two families, usually to make a profit or merge power. In fact, most marriages were not even performed in a Church until much later.

Based on this model, I'd say our exemplar of heterosexual marriage resembles nothing of what we think of acceptable marriage today. Really, how many brides and grooms do you know are 12 and 30? How many are even virgins? Say what you will about the lack of morals in our day and age... Churches still marry these people and bless their unions. Tisk Tisk.

Since we obviously do not take EVERYTHING in the Bible literally (otherwise I know a few wives who need to be stoned to death, as well as a few tattoo wearing men), and have learned a wealth of information about human nature, sociology and psychology since the hundreds of years B.C., I think it's time to apply this updated thinking to EVERYONE, not just the heterosexual majority. For those out there who will forever believe that homosexuality is a choice, not a born condition, and will forever chastise those who want to publicly and legally solidify their union, I leave you with this popular slogan: "If you don't want gay marriage, then don't get one!"

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Defenders (2009)

I agree.. let's save the "traditional" definition of what marriage means. But how far back do we go???

Monday, May 18, 2009

Alive and Kickin'

OH yes, I am still alive and out here. Subbing has kept me busy, and while it does take its toll on me, I can't help but be thankful for the extra income... especially in this economy.

Subbing has been an interesting experience to say the least. There are days I love working with the kids I'm with, and feel great about the career I have chosen, and then there are other days I want to run away screaming, and never look back. I will say, it has been great practice in classroom management, allowing me to see what works and what doesn't, as well as learning how to adjust my approach and personality to best suit the classroom environment I'm in. It is definitely not something I want to do forever, but it has been and continues to be a learning experience.

The job search has not turned up much in terms of finding a perminent position here in the WNY area. We are flooded with new teachers, and lacking in retirees. Even when the occasional teacher does retire, they may not be replaced due to budget cuts statewide.

I have seen a glimmer of hope however.... a teacher's assistant here in the district I sub in has told me about an online teacher recruitment site for New York State (excluding WNY which already uses a similar program). There were some jobs posted for areas like Syracuse and Albany, leading me to believe that while I may have to leave WNY, I may still be able to stay in the state, making the commute home for holidays much easier than if I were states away. One never knows what the future will hold... and I do have another year of grad school to complete before it is time to start applying out of the area. Any hope however is a welcomed change.

Yesterday was Collin's Christening, which was done in the Lutheran Church where Katie grew up and went to school. I must admit that I was very uncomfortable with the whole idea. I struggle with the fact that the faith passed onto us from our family is dwindling faster and faster, and was hoping that some of that faith which was instilled in Joe through our time in Catholic school would have grown stronger as it became time for him to raise a child of his own. While I celebrate the baby having been initiated and baptized into a Christian community, I lament the fact it is a denomination, which, like the other Protestant groups, came into existence because of their staunch opposition to Catholicisim.

Joe makes me laugh in his approach to faith and religion. He is obsessed with family traditions and upholding them, even creating his own quirky traditions he observes every year. The rich traditions of Catholicism he tends to reject, mostly out of ignorance of what they mean, and laziness to do his research to find out what they are about and where they come from.

Despite my parents and I being a bit uncomfortable, we had a great time at the Christening dinner that evening, and shared a great meal with Katie's family, and some friends of Joe. Collin is such a joy for all of us, and we have all taken to our roles as uncles and aunt. :)

Saturday, May 2, 2009

A Note about the film: "Angels and Demons"

(Take from Fr. Z's web-blog- his comments in red. He does such a good job, I didn't feel the need to add)

Golly. I thought ANGELS AND DEMONS by Dan Brown would turn out to be just an ordinary run-of-the-mill Catholic-bashing hate-fest. But, no, the whoppers told strain credulity. Do people actually know that little about history? It seems that they do.

Here is what I picked up here and here.

Brown claims: Copernicus was murdered by the Catholic Church. [No… really… he does… stop laughing…]
Fact: Copernicus died quietly in bed at age 70 from a stroke, and his research was supported by Church officials; he even dedicated his masterwork to the Pope.

Brown claims: “Antimatter is the ultimate energy source. It releases energy with 100% efficiency.”
Fact: CERN, the lab which plays an important role in his story, actually debunked this claim on their website: “The inefficiency of antimatter production is enormous: you get only a tenth of a billion of the invested energy back.” [Oh yah? Tell that to Scotty!]

Brown claims: Churchill was a “staunch Catholic.”
Fact: Any history buff could tell you that Churchill wasn’t Catholic, he was Anglican; nor was he particularly religious. The only things Churchill was staunch about were cigars, whiskey, and defending the British Empire.

Brown claims: Pope Urban VII banished Bernini’s famous statue The Ecstasy of St. Teresa [ROFL!] “to some obscure chapel [?!?] across town” because it was too racy for the Vatican.
Fact: The statue was actually commissioned by Cardinal Cornaro specifically for the Cornaro Chapel (Brown’s “obscure chapel”). Moreover, the sculpture was completed in 1652 — eight years after Urban’s death.

Brown claims: Bernini and famed scientist Galileo were members of the Illuminati. [You have to love anything with the Illuminati!]
Fact: The Illuminati was founded in Bavaria in 1776. Bernini died in 1680, while Galileo died in 1642 — more than a century before the Illuminati were first formed. [oooops]

The idea that Copernicus was murdered by the Church is just too stupid for words. I mean, I have a pretty low threshold when it comes to Illuminati fiction. I love that ‘secret-history’ stuff.

I am not a hard sell. If you want to put in your book that Atlantis was a superhightech civilization destroyed by the extra-dimensional Eddorians in order to thwart Arisian attempts to breed mankind to create the Kwisatz Haderach, child of the Lens and the father of the race that will rule the Sevagram, I will suspend my disbelief like it was bouyant with helium.

You want to establish that a race of robots hidden in a secret base in Mount Ararat has been guiding human history since the time of Enoch, I am your man.

You want to say the Freemasons (who built the temple of Solomon) are the archenemies of the Slavemasons (who build the Great Pyramid of Cheops) have been fighting a duel to place or remove feng-shui-significant stonehenge, monuments, and Cathedrals at goethermal accupuncture points across Europe, Asia and the New World since the Bronze Age, and that all major wars and architectural firms are under their control, and involved in a secret aeons-old Cold War to prevent the telluric current from destroying this world as unwise abuses of the geomancy of the canals of Mars did that remote, dying world? Sure!

Shiwan Khan is actually a time-travelling alien from planet Mongo, granted eternal youth by the powers of alchemy, and he long ago replaced the royal family of England with Life-Model-Decoys which he controls with the ten magic rings he found in the wreckage of a spaceship from planet Maklu IV? Why not?

Lord Byron was a vampire? You would have to pay me money not to believe that. [I hope they never find out about the secret order of Vatican Vampire Assassins I have been researching… ]

Queen Elizabeth ran of coven of witches whose stormcrafty drowned the Aramda of Philip of Spain, after he had secretly adopted the practice of mass human sacrifice from his wife who was secretly an Aztec princess in order to gain magical control of an entire hemisphere’s worth of demon-cursed Mexican gold? Not only possible, but likely!

The entire Middle Ages is an elaborate fraud perpetrated by the Roman Empire, which never fell but simply went into hiding once Virgil the Magician discovered the tunnels leading to Pellucidar in the Hollow Earth? Seems reasonable to me!!

The US Congress killed and replaced by shape-changing seals from the Dreamlands who talk like movie pirates? Brother, I wrote it!

But the Catholic Church MURDERED Copernicus? Oh, my aching back. He was a churchman himself: why not simply order him to recant his findings?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Donation Time!


Hello friends,
Yes, I am hitting you up for money yet again! May 30th is the annual WNY Aids Walk. People in the marathon will be accepting donations from sponsors to help raise money for local individuals and families with Aids. This includes medical treatment, case management, counseling, housing assistance and nutritious meals. It also helps to fund prevention education for teens and other at risk groups throughout Western New York.
This year, I am helping to sponsor Dion Johnson, and through your generosity, he will hopefully be able to reach his goal. Every little bit helps!!!

In Memoriam


Yesterday, April 25, 2009 - actress Bea Arthur died of complications from cancer at the age of 86. She was best known for her role as ultra-feminist Maude on the series by the same name, as well as her role as the sarcastic-divorce-substitute teacher Dorothy on the hit 80's sitcom, The Golden Girls. Arthur also won a Tony for her role as Vera Charles on the Broadway musical, Mame in 1966.

While growing up in the late 1980s and early 1990s, I was obsessed with the show The Golden Girls, and especially the character of Dorothy plated by Bea Arthur. She was a strong individual who was a great friend to the others, and faithful daughter to her often difficult to deal with mother. For some reason, I idolized the strength of character she portrayed as well as her dry whit, her intelligence, and related to the insecurities she sometimes hid beneath her strong stature.

I honestly do feel a sense of loss at her passing, as I did with the late Estelle Getty who played Sophia on The Golden Girls. That series and those characters have been so much a part of my life, showing me various aspects of human nature and relationships, as well as being a source of familiar comfort and laughter when I needed it most. Though I never met the gals from Miami, in my own imagination, they were my friends.

I have often joked that I have become the Dorothy of my group of friends. Tall, sarcastic, the advice giver, substitute teacher... who just can't seem to get a date! I often find myself asking "What would Dorothy do?"

"While very much saddened by this news, I find comfort in the thought that Getty is now with open arms and a "Come here, pussycat," welcoming her TV daughter into the great lanai in the sky." (taken from the gay.com editorial)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!!!


A very Happy and Blessed Easter Season to everyone!!!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Reminiscing

I was watching an old re-run of the Lawrence Welk Show tonight... No No... I'm that much of an old fart.. I usually can't sit through the old show, but tonight I kept it on while I worked on other stuff around the house. Every time I catch a glimpse of that show on Sundays as I flip through channels, I can't help but think of both sets of grandparents, who loved the show up to the end of their lives. I can fondly recall sitting with each of them watching a performance or two.

The show tonight happened to be an old Easter show. I used to look forward to Easter so much growing up. I think those of us growing up in the late 80s and early 90s were the last generation of kids to really experience Easter as a major holiday. Sadly, like many other things, it has fizzled out to just another day, perhaps with a dinner, and maybe a cheap basket with candy. It seems to have lost any religious zeal it once had as well as an occasion to get dressed up and celebrate the beginnings of spring.

We had quite a turn out for Palm Sunday Mass today, and since the weather held out (it was actually quite nice), we had the blessing of the palms outside and then a procession into the Church. I sat behind a young married couple who just had their baby baptized last week. The baby didn't make a sound... she (I think it was a girl) looked so sweet... it's always nice to see kids at Mass. Maybe one day I can sneak my nephew to Mass with me, though his mother will be raising him Lutheran.

This Easter is going to be a rather quiet occasion. I'll be going to Mass alone as usual, then to Dad's side for brunch. Going to Dad's side is a bit of a downer for Easter.. no one gets dressed up, no one really celebrates the holiday except to eat, so it's just a formality now. With my mother's parents both gone, and now my Aunt Karen, our numbers have dwindled considerably. Uncle Vinny will be joining us.. so at least it won't be just my tiny immediate family. Joe and Katie and Collin will be having dinner at Katie's folks, but stopping by for desert. -- I miss going to Mass as a family, the big dinners at Grandma's, the egg tree and egg hunts (I always wanted to have an egg hunt like in the final scene of Steel Magnolias), people getting dressed up, and the corsages the ladies would wear.

I'm a bit nostalgic today.. as you can tell. HaHa.

Yet another TV crush..



Ok, why is it that I keep watching tv and finding these hot guys that I can't have??? Oh.. and why are they always involved with FOOD??? Ugh.

Yes, as I was channel surfing yet again, I came across a new television hottie... Adam Richman, from Travel Channel's, Man V. Food.

I think I need to move out of Buffalo to find a mate, because the single life got old fast.. and it's been over a year since my last relationship!! Maybe I can lure these guys to Buffalo by promising them food. I don't know.. it's worth a try.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Do you like cake???



I like cake, but it seems I like the bakers better... especially when they are featured on the Food Network. Chefs Buddy Valastro (Food Network Challenge) and Duff Goldman (Ace of Cakes) are as yummy (in my opinion) as the cakes they make.

I think I'm going into the wrong field. I should be a pasty chef.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Chick Publications - Christian Hate?

Using religion as grounds to justify hate and stereotypes is nothing new. It has been the part of human history for centuries. Alas, even as the 21st century rounds out its first decade, radical fundamentalists have kept the fires burning.

Chick Publications, a supposedly "Christian" group prints small "comic book" style pamphlets for mass distribution. I have picked up numerous copies of these in retail men's rooms, of all places. Ironically enough, it's exactly where they belong, flushed down the toilet like so much other waste.

It is not my place to tell someone else what to believe in, but it hurts me to see people use God to justify the type of rhetoric used in these pamphlets. This "Christian" group attacks in direct and vicious ways, Roman Catholics, Muslims, and Gays.. to name a few. Basically, anyone who does not follow their own interpretation of Scripture is depicted as going to Hell.

These "tracks", as the publication refers to them, use stereotypes and offensive characatures to get their points across. Some how, as long as you are working for the salvation of souls, you may be as offensive, rude, judgemental, or hateful as you like.. provided you have a neat and tidy scripture passage after each slogan or illustration. I must have mistakenly been under the impression that it was wrong for us to slander others, or judge them.. leaving judgement up to God Himself.... I guess it's not in Scripture, since this "Chick" publishes every other quote they can twist except the one about "judge not lest ye be judged".

Using the Bible for this type of extremist agenda has a long and sad story. Protestant fundamentalists even used their own interpretations of the the Bible to justify slavery and segregation. Since these "ministers" and "pastors" feel they are filled with the Holy Spirit, and thus have the only correct interpretation of Scripture, then only their understanding is to be believed, and all others cast into the flames.

How sad Our Lord must be that people use His name and His message for such causes.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Blackberry Bold


With my tax returns, I bought myself a new toy... a Blackberry Bold! I primarily use a cell phone for text messaging and sending pictures to family and friends.. I rarely make regular phone calls on it, preferring to use the house phone for long calls (clarity is much better). I had been wanting a phone that offered a full key board to making the texting easier. I had considered a Blackberry, and decided it was finally time.

This smart phone is AMAZING! It's like something right out of Star Trek.. remember those PADDS they had to read files and download information? How about the tricorders that seemed to be able to do anything and everything while being clipped to their belts when not in use? That would be a Blackberry.

I can text so much easier, surf the web (for an additional monthly fee added to my plan -- but well worth it!), use AIM, have all my e-mails forwarded to it, type up Word documents, and it even has a great camera... you name it. I think it could even make other cell phones explode, if I can only find the option. :)

It makes for a nice distraction during my free periods subbing. Needless to say, I'm hooked, and have no intentions to going back to a basic cell phone any time soon.

There are numerous smart phones (or PDA's) offered, depending on your provider. My brother has a touch screen Blackberry from Verizon, mine is the Bold from AT&T, which also offers the Apple IPhone. I'm not a fan of touch screens, preferring to standard keyboard, but to each their own. It amazes me to think how far we have come with technology!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!


Hail Glorious St. Patrick, dear saint of our isle.
On us thy poor children bestow a sweet smile.
And now that art high in the mansions above,
on Erin's green valleys, look down in thy love.
On Erin's green valleys, on Erin's green valleys,
On Erin's green valleys look down in thy love.

Thy people now exiled on many a shore.
Shall love and revere thee till time be no more.
And the fire thou hast kindled will ever burn bright.
It's warmth undiminished, undying it's light.
It's warmth undiminished, it's warmth undiminished..
it's warmth undiminished, undying it's light.

Ever bless and defend the sweet land of our birth,
where the shamrocks still bloom as when thou were on Earth.
And our hearts shall yet burn wheresoever we roam.
For God and St. Patrick and our native home.
For God and St. Patrick, for God and St. Patrick,
For God and St. Patrick and our native home.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Explanation of Lenten Practices

In an era when most people no longer set aside time for God, let alone Church, it is no wonder why certain traditions have lost their meaning. While I have mentioned before that Lent seems to be the most anti-Catholic time of year in particular, it is also odd to notice how many people, especially laps Catholics, still observe some of the Lenten traditions. That being said, it bares explaining the meaning of some of these traditions and practices.

Ash Wednesday - Ashes were a traditional sign of penance or atoning for one's sins, even for the Jewish people. Since Lent is a time of penance, preparing our hearts and souls to celebrate the memorial of Christ's passion and Resurrection, we mark the start of this season with this ancient symbol. When given the ashes by the priest, the traditional saying to the recipient was (and is): "Remember man that thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return". It is a sober reminder of the shortness of life and the small importance of all things material, even our bodies which will one day return to the dust of the earth from which they came.

Fish on Fridays - This is where Catholics especially come under criticism, after all "it doesn't say to do that in the Bible." Fasting is no stranger to Judaism or Christianity. It is a very ancient practice for many religions to help a person subdue their earthly appetites. Jesus himself fasted in the desert for 40 days and nights, being tempted by the devil to break the fast and eat. Originally, meat was seen as a luxury, especially in the sea communities of the Mediterranean. To give up meat was to do without such a luxury, and to humble ones-self before the Lord. I don't think it is a coincidence that the no meat policy is on a Friday. Jesus died for us on a Friday, and the small sacrifices we make are to remind ourselves of the ultimate sacrifice He made for us on the cross. Note: It is not mandatory to eat fish, which has now become the luxury food. Simply abstaining from meat and eating only vegetables would suffice.

Giving up something for Lent - Like the meatless Fridays, this too is an act of sacrifice during a season the Church sets aside to remember the ultimate sacrifice Jesus made for us on the cross. It is not a sin not to give up something for Lent. These are pious practices which the universal Church practices together to keep the spirit of sacrifice which Lent is all about... which ushers in the celebration and festivities represented by the Easter holiday.

Purple Vestments - Again, penance. Purple is a sign of mourning, penance, and even waiting. We are mourning the suffering Christ went through on his way to the cross, and his death. We await the feast of the Resurrection. Purple also reminds us of the royalty of Christ as King of Kings. Remember the purple garment Pilot put on Jesus as the people mocked him as "King of the Jews". Sometimes (especially in more traditional or Latin Mass parishes), statues and crucifixes will be veiled in purple. This is a custom referring to how some of Jesus' closest friends abandoned Him (Judas' betrayal, and Peter denying knowing Jesus) during his time of need. Also, it takes away the ornamentation of the Church, setting a more somber mood until the festivity of Easter.

Easter Bunny and Easter Eggs - This isn't about Lent, but I thought I'd throw it in anyway. You're right, they have absolutely nothing to do with the Christian concept of Easter, and were actually pagan traditions for spring. Like anything else though, they were fun traditions, and we assimilated them. Eggs, baby chicks, and the ever reproducing rabbit are symbols of spring and rebirth... concepts not too far from the ideas of the Resurrection and new life of Christ.

So there you go folks. Everything you wanted to know about Lent, and didn't care to ask about.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Life as a substitute

Last week I began substitute teaching. It can be a bit overwhelming, especially being the new kid. There was no orientation, no tour of the buildings, just a call at 6:20 in the morning telling me where to report, and what subject and grade I was teaching.

I have to say it's been an interesting experience so far, having only subbed three times. The faculty and staff have been wonderful, and more than friendly, which is a huge plus. It's awkward walking into someone else's classroom, trying to implement their plans and classwork when you don't know the students, the sources you are using, and much of the time, don't even know the subject matter. Part of being a substitute teacher is making things up on the go, and just surviving the day without total chaos erupting in your classes. So far, I've done that.

I guess the biggest obstacle for me is not having a routine. I'm very much a creature of habit, and breaking into something new was never easy for me. At Walmart, I know the ins and outs of my job well, and can fill in at a moment's notice and not bat an eye. Now, I get lost in the building I'm working in, let alone my lack of confidence in what I am doing in the classroom. I will learn the ins and outs of the school and how the kids operate, but like all things, it will take time. Until then, I will keep puttering along and praying for the best.

Friday, February 27, 2009

In Memoriam

Yesterday, at 9am, my Aunt Karen passed away. She entered a coma like state the day before. We received a phone call around 6am that she had taken a turn for the worse. When my parents and I arrived, she was struggling with her breathing, sounding much like a coffee maker or percolator.

My mother was at her side the entire time. My Aunt had made my mother promise that she (my mother) would tell her when it was time to go. After getting permission, the breathing became less strained. As her pulse began to grow fainter, we prayed around her, and I traced the sign of the cross on her forehead. She took three gasps of air, squeezed my mother's hand tightly, and died.

According to the nursing staff, by the smooth and calm look on her face, she was not in any pain. Thankfully, she had a rather peaceful end to a horrible disease. She was 52 years old.

Hospice is a wonderful organization, and the staff there have been wonderful to my Aunt and family. They have a policy of having their patients leave through the front door, just as they entered, not sneaking them out the back, but letting them leave with dignity. The staff who knew my Aunt washed her and prepared her to be transferred to the mortuary. When the undertaker arrived (old schoolmates of my Aunt and Mother), my Mom, Dad, God Mother, and childhood friend of my Aunt's escorted the body outside, along with the nursing staff in procession. My mother thought it suiting that she was being taken back to Riverside-Buffalo (the section of Buffalo they grew up in) in an old Caprice Station Wagon... just like the type my grandfather used to drive.

It's been hard at times for us, as we lost a remarkable woman, full of kindness and generosity, but we also feel a great sense of relief. Her long and painful journey is at an end. Aunt Karen died on my Grandmother's (her mother) birthday. I'm sure the party she arrived to in Heaven was like nothing we ever experienced here on Earth.

Eternal Rest grant unto her O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her. May she and all the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, Rest in Peace. Amen

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Documents show Pius saved Jews from Nazis

(Taken from the British Catholic Herald)

Documents discovered in the Vatican Secret Archives prove that Pope Pius XII helped to save thousands of Jews during the Second World War and firmly opposed anti-Semitism before he became pope, it emerged this week.

The 300 pages of documentation, posted online last week, suggest that Pius saved 80,000 lives by persuading the Hungarian regent to prevent deportation of the Jews, and that he saved a further 12,000 by securing visas for them to leave Europe for the Caribbean.

The documents, discovered by Dr Michael Hesemann, a German historian, show that, as Archbishop Eugenio Pacelli, the future pope intervened with the German government to assure that their Turkish allies would not harm the Jews living in the Ottoman province of Palestine.

As nuncio to Bavaria, Pacelli personally helped World Zionist Organisation representative Nachum Sokolov to meet Pope Benedict XV in 1917 to discuss a Jewish homeland in Palestine. And in 1926 Cardinal Pacelli encouraged German Catholics to join the Committee Pro Palestina, which supported Jewish settlements in Palestine.

Other documents include an entry written by a nun detailing Pope Pius XII's order of 1943 to hide the Jews of Rome in religious houses, and listing the names of Jews sheltered.

Furthermore, they show that Pius's anti-Nazi tendencies went back to before the war. A 1939 US Foreign Service document in which the US Consul General to Cologne reports to Washington on the "new Pope", stating that he surprised him by his hatred of Hitler and the Nazi regime, and how Pope Pius supported the German hierarchy's opposition to Nazism, even if it meant losing the support of German Catholics.

A 1938 document, signed by Cardinal Pacelli during his last months as Vatican Secretary of State, declare the Vatican's opposition to a planned Polish law to make Kosher slaughtering illegal. The anti-Semitic bill was defeated. Other documents show that Pius XII convinced the Brazilian government to accept 3,000 Jews and helped to forge baptismal papers to allow Jews to pass as "Aryans".

The Pave the Way Foundation, invited by Yad Vashem to carry out research into the conducted of a man vilified as "Hitler's Pope", has also posted several video interviews on its website (www.ptwf.org), including an interview with an elderly priest who describes how Pope Pius helped 12,000 Jews to escape to the Dominican Republic.

Pius XII died in 1958 but his wartime reputation became a source of controversy five years later, when German Communist Rolf Hochhuth wrote The Deputy, a fictional play that indicts Pius for his failure to speak out against the Holocaust.

Pave the Way now has testimony from Lt General Ion Mihai Pacepa, the highest-ranking KGB agent ever to defect to the West, that The Deputy was financed and edited by the Soviets, and sustained by doctored Vatican documents as part of a KGB plot to discredit the Vatican.

Gary Krupp, the president of Pave the Way Foundation said: "Personally, as a Jew, I find that correcting this revision of history according to documented proof has really nothing to do with the Catholic Church. In the interest of Jewish justice we must acknowledge the efforts of one man during a period when as a people we were abandoned by the rest of the world. It's time to recognise Pope Pius XII for what he really did rather than what he didn't say."

Some scholars, including Pinchas Lapide, the Jewish diplomat and historian, estimate that the Catholic Church under Pius saved between 700,000 and 850,000 Jews from the Nazis, mostly by either providing sanctuary or passage to safe countries but also by intervening, when practicable, to stop their round-up in occupied countries.

But John Cornwell, author of Hitler's Pope, a critical biography of Pius, said: "If Pius is to take credit for non-Aryans given safe passage to Brazil via Rome during the war, then he should take responsibility, by the same token, for Nazis given safe passage via Rome after the war. It could well be that he was ultimately responsible for neither."

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

I'm Dorothy!


I have officially become Dorothy from the "Golden Girls" sitcom. I'm tall, sarcastic, witty, dateless, and am now a substitute teacher.

I got a letter in the mail from a local district that I applied to, and it seems I have been hired without even an interview. I only applied to do it part time, as it's not really the money I'm looking for (Walmart pays my health insurance), but I want to keep my resume active.

I am excited, but I have to admit I'm extremely nervous. What I'll be doing in the classroom isn't very intimidating.. let's face it, I'm a glorified baby sitter, but I'm nervous about learning the schools I'll be working in, and getting to know the staff there. I HATE being the new kid on the block. I also don't like going into a new place blind... an orientation to the school would have been nice. HaHa!

This district might be having openings for teachers for the next academic year.. so I'm hoping I may land a permanent job while subbing. Like I said, it's experience, and there is always something to learn from every job!!

I'll keep you posted as I start actually working in the schools. I'm sure I'll be asking myself, "What would Dorothy do?" :-)