Friday, December 19, 2008

Definitely not a Ninja...

Some folks think that they have super powers, some think that they are Ninjas at heart, and some are probably just desperate. So yesterday some dude apparently has some combination of the above three and goes into a chicken restaurant with a white rag over his face (classic Ninja) and a tree branch (not classic Ninja) and tries to hold it up. Yes, he threatened an employee with a tree branch "in what police called 'strike position'." Employee however, pulls out a broom, and Ninja-dom ensues, downtown FW style. The story in the paper quotes the police spokesman as saying "the two engaged in a battle of wooden swordsmanship." Employee hits dude with a chair (who knew that Ninjas were vulnerable to WWF moves?) and dude flees. They found him hiding in a dumpster. Methinks the employee is the true Ninja. Judge for yourself in the details at Star-Telegram.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Nite Hawk Lights, out of business? Yup

I'm sometimes concerned about stuff I buy for cheap, especially on the internets. You never know if the folks you buy it from are reputable or not. I felt pretty confident about my purchase of a Nite Hawk bike headlight last year though from my LBS (local bike shop.) It was on a huge discount (about what it would be on line) and I could see why. It was the last one, in fact, there were only two lights from that maker left in the shop. So I guessed the shop had decided to stop carrying the brand. Then I noticed that the light's battery had 0103 stamped on the side, which I took to mean the date it was churned out at the factory. That's OK, it's old, but it still worked fine. It's not as bright as I'd like, and it doesn't have a helmet mount though. So I thought I would place a call to the manufacturer and see if I could buy a brighter light (or just a brighter bulb) and a helmet mount. In their FAQ, they listed a 1-888 number. Today I finally found a spare minute and called them, but the other side of the line didn't pick up saying "Nite Hawk Lighting, how may I help you?" Instead I just got "Hello," with a slight Canadian accent. Hmmmm.... Well, maybe there's a newer number elsewhere. Let's check out their Contact Us page, hmmm... No number there. (Do you see where this is going?) They show pdf's for all their manuals, so let's check there. Hmmm... It's a number that gives me "the number you have dialed is no longer in service." I checked multiple pdf's, figuring that they might have changed their number, but nope, they show the same number. I also went to the wayback machine to check the Contact Us page and I can see a number there, but it's the same one that I've called before. There is an email. I tried that and we'll see if it bounces or if it dies or if someone emails back. I guess buyer beware. There are still online places selling lights from these guys.

Update: Either there have been recent developments or my email started something at the ISP level. The webpage now simply states that the company is out of business. I did some more digging and found that they are part of a parent company in Canada that produces batteries, Infinity Trading Company. When I called a phone number listed for the General Manager, the other side responded "GS Infinity." I asked if they were still associated with Nite Hawk lights or if I had a wrong number, to which he stated "Wrong number." I looked up GS Infinity and they seem to be a company in the same town in Canada making (surprise) rechargeable batteries. It sounds like they started up the bike light/ headlamp business to move batteries but it didn't provide as much as they wanted so they shut it down. I can't say when that happened but probably earlier this year. All of the links to the site have gone down so I replaced them with ones from the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine. And yes, I guess I do have too much time on my hands.

Update #2: There are still a few businesses out there still selling Nite Hawk lights. The only one I would really trust would be, and that's not from personal experience but just from noticing that they are selling them with a batterspace battery and charger.  They should be able to warranty that.

What brings folks to the blog

So what brings folks to this blog?  There are a precious few things attractive about it.  The most compelling blog entry seems to be this one where I rant about my dealings with Leader Bikes.  If you Google it, it comes up third on the list, right behind the Leader Bike Store.  Recently, another blog entry had generated some hits from Google searches.  It's also third on the page under "We have been blessed."  That's something unexpected, and something I'm quite thankful for.  It's almost as much as an achievement as when I was listed in the top ten for "Lame blogs."  Apparently the internets have gotten lamer, because the quality of this blog obviously hasn't improved.

Monday, December 15, 2008


As you may or may not know, I'm waaay Catholic (six kids, who woulda thunk it?). In the spirit of the season, I greet you with Gaudete! Rejoice! Yesterday is commonly referred to as Gaudete Sunday, coming from the Introit for this day which begins "Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say 'Rejoice!'" Typically, this day is also marked on the Advent Wreath with a pink or rose candle. Each Sunday, a new candle is lit. The first two and last are purple, but the one for the third Sunday, for Gaudete Sunday, is pink or rose. Of course, you don't have to use purple and pink colored candles. All four of the candles in the Pope's Advent Wreath are red!

Links to:

Gaudete Sunday Wikipedia entry
Gaudete Sunday Catholic Encyclopedia entry
The Papal Advent Wreath at Catholic News Service
Music to Traditional Christmas Carol Gaudete (I can't get that melody out of my head)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

We have been blessed with true genius in our family

Isabel, our three year-old, has been quite the artist as of late. She's still has some lessons to learn, like not to use glue to put her artwork on the refrigerator, but she's making great strides. An example:

(cue violins)
In this one, self described as "It's a hedgehog sitting in the sun."  One can feel the oppressive heat that the sun is pouring down upon the hapless hedgehog, who seems nonplussed, indeed, quite amused at the entire ordeal.  Or perhaps this is more of an observation of the Winter sun, vainly attempting to regain his prior Summer glory, impotent to the gentle insectivore. I look forward to further insight from this gentle and curious soul.  Perhaps an exploration of a second colored crayon? 
Sister Wendy

Monday, November 17, 2008

Boldness wins

This might not make sense, as some of the folks here know that I'm a really faithful Catholic (we do have six kids), but half of them aren't baptized. It's not that I haven't wanted them baptized as infants. I do. It's just complicated. I know, lame excuse. I'll get to it in a later post. Suffice to say, Jacob is seven and not baptized, and he wants to be baptized. He wants it in the worst way. Since he's past the magic number seven (the age of reason), he's not going to just be baptized, but he's going to be accepted into the Church in a full way. They call it the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA, also at Wikipedia). Of course, he's not an adult, so instead of calling it the Rite of Christian Initiation for Children, they call it the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults for Children. There are some things that the Church created beautiful names for (like theotokos) and then there are things like this.

Anyway, a couple of months ago we officially signed up in this parish and signed up for Religious Ed, including RCIA(C) for Jacob. He's the youngest one in the program I think. We went to an intro meeting, then completely forgot about the second. The third one we were late for, they had that one in the church and it was locked when we got there. So we missed out on everything. I had a schedule and noticed that they were having a Rite of Acceptance. It's the public introduction of the folks in RCIA to the parish, sort of a big deal. I knew it was on the calendar, I had wanted to call the church to say "Hey, we're still in this, don't forget us," but I let work get in the way. We showed up to Mass a minute late and the folks in the program were already lined up out the door. The program director walked right by me and didn't even recognize us. It was happening without us. It was just passing us by like we weren't part of the parade. I felt crushed. I didn't want Jacob to wait another year for this. I wanted it to be their fault (Why didn't they call this week? Why doesn't someone wave us over right now?). I felt intentionally left out (maybe they just didn't want to deal with us, we had missed 2/3rd of the meetings). I just wanted to slink away and be mad at what was going on, to be a righteous victim. I was already embarrassed that I hadn't had Jacob baptized yet. I'm a real Catholic, not just a "devout" Catholic, I don't want to be seen as someone on the outside. Like an adolescent, I was more concerned about appearances that I was about the task that needed to be done. I just stood there and stewed.
Kim had parked the van and had come in as the priest was handing around a microphone to all the folks, letting them be introduced. She noticed that the Bride's room was open and a table was set up therein. Ducking inside, she walked out with a name tag for Jacob. I felt mad. I kind of wanted to ruin their world by walking down there with my son, introducing him, and then showing them that I knew as much about that stinkin' rite as they did. I'd seen it a dozen times, I think I'd even done it as a sponsor a time or two. I told Joseph to "pin up" his brother, then I walked down there with my boy.
My heart was beating like I was racing Lance Armstrong. I smiled (probably smugly) at the coordinator as she (without much of a beat) smiled in return. I told her that we were ready and she told me to remind the priest that Jacob was a Catechumen (unbaptized), we were out of order. I spoke and told the parish that Jacob was our 4th of 6 kids, our second son, our record breaker, no one had had a second boy in a hundred years. The congregation laughed in approval. Jacob beamed. The rite went off without a hitch. You can read the general version here. There's a series of blessings read by the priest where the sponsor or parent then signs a cross over the catechumen's head, followed by their ears, eyes, lips, heart, shoulders, hands, and feet. After the first few, Jacob kept reaching out to embrace me. I had to tell him it wasn't over yet. Finally they released us to sit down. Jacob wrapped me up as much as a seven year old can, and we walked back to the rest of the family. They had a formal sending off halfway through the service as they went off for a class. I walked him over to make sure he was set up. I caught enough to see the light turn on in his eyes. Our kids are good classroom kids. They enjoy speaking up and sharing, and they aren't afraid to know the answer.
Teacher: Does anyone here know what Advent is?
Other kid: Even I don't know what that is.
Teacher: You set out a wreath, and you have candles...
(Teacher's daughter starts drawing an advent wreath on the chalkboard)
Jacob: Oh, so that's what it is. I know the song you're supposed to sing. O Come O Come Emmanuel...
Teacher: Do you know how many candles?
Jacob: Four.
Teacher's daughter: And the colors?
Jacob: Three purple and one pink!!! (almost shouting by now)

Afterwards, they had a small reception (cake, punch, mixed nuts), and the kids of course flocked to where free cake was. One of the leaders for the adult program is a friend of mine (his wife still works at St. John's) and told me "You guys did great. When I saw you come down late, I was startled, but I thought, if anyone can wing it, it's Bull."
I didn't want to attract attention. I didn't want to be bold. I wanted to be a victim, a whining baby upset that the world doesn't revolve around him. Instead I needed to step forward for my son's sake. It's a legitimate question as to "Why is there such a rigamarole just to get a kid baptized? Can't they just do it?" I guess my only answer is that this is a big deal. A really big deal. This is grace stuff, God stuff. You don't just jump into that with a "Yeah, that sounds fun" level of initiative. You have to want it. You have to be ready to be bold for it.

Saturday - great day for the eldest boy

Yesterday was a great day for the older boy.  We had the Last Race, a crit that was almost a road race but was sort of a crit.  OK, see, a road race is out on the road.  You might go from point A to point B, or you might ride a circuit one or several times, but usually it's at least ten miles.  Maybe seven, but that's pushing it.  On the other side you have a crit race, where you have a short circuit, from one kilometer to maybe mile and change.  This course, out near Decatur, was two and a half miles.  We ran it as a crit, but we had a follow vehicle like a road race.  On top of it being the coldest day since last winter, there was a north wind of about thirty miles per hour.  It added up to feeling AMAZINGLY cold.  On the observation tower, I had to lean into the wind to keep myself from being blown over.  Joseph raced with the adults for one race and with the juniors for another.  He got 20th out of 23 finishers in the adult race and 6th out of 11 in the junior one.  Not bad at all.  Since I was officiating, we had to be there early.  It's about an hour's drive, we had to be there an hour early, and the first race was at 7, so I was dragging the kids up at 4 am.  Did I mention that Emily decided that she wanted to come?  She ended up sitting in the snack bar the whole time while we were freezing out on the track.  Afterwards, we're a few miles down the road when I get a call, Joseph left something.  So back we go.  Then we went into town and ate lunch.  After leaving there, Joseph can't find his sunglasses, so we go back to the restaurant.  It turns out they were in the van the whole time. The races ended at 12:15 and we didn't get home until three.  Then we ran over to Irving to check out the last leftovers from another bike team.  They were selling off some of their used equipment.  Joseph picked up a nice saddle for $30 (used, but new it's $150 - $200) and I got a really nice helmet for $30 (not used, still in the box, and worth $150 new).  As we were leaving, Joseph leans back in his seat with his eyes half-closed in the lazy afternoon sun and mentions, "this is probably the best day ever."  Nice.  Glad I could help offer that to you.  I encouraged him to find out what would be the best day ever for each of his siblings and try to help those days happen.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Got some new lights

I got a new set of lights this week. It's funded by good old VZdubya. They had given me a nice award for my volunteering to help with Hurricane Ike, redeemable as cash or as gift cards. So gave myself a $30 budget at Amazon and I wanted a new set of lights. $30 doesn't go too far, I wasn't expecting to get a new Minewt or anything. I just wanted either a decent headlight (I was hoping someone was moving something nice cheap) or a really nice taillight, or a half-decent safety headlight and a taillight. I almost got another Planet Bike Super Flash, but I thought I might be able to get something close to it and a decent safety headlight. I looked at a bunch of the combo packs. Most of the headlights are not really high-power, but they wouldn't hurt along with my existing headlights. I wanted something that would blink, or maybe something that would attach to my helmet.
Well, in the end, I fell for this set. The MSRP lists for $54 but Amazon had it for less than $40. Yeah, MSRP was probably too steep, but the taillight looked OK and the headlight was potentially a nice light. It's hard to tell what 180 lux is but it seems to be what their other lights do on a low setting. Again, comparing lights is hard to do from manufacturer, expecially without picures. I saw another manufacturer with a significantly stronger light bragging about 14 lux. There weren't any reviews of this item anywhere, but I decided to try it anyway. Incidently, you can find some rather unbiased reviews of lights here and here. Of course, neither really reviews the Vetta. So, how did it do?

1st, I was only really looking forward to the headlight, figuring that taillights are pretty much all the same, unless you get a Dinotte. But the taillight was nicer than I expected. This thing is pretty sizeable, taller than my Super Flash. It's set up to attach to my seat post like most others. That's another thing I like about my Super Flash. You can attach it to your seat stay or clip it on a saddle bag or a messenger bag. The Vetta taillight looks like it will be OK. It's not as bright as the Super Flash, but it has a steady beam, a blinking one, and a running one, where the three LED's blink sequentially. That's the one I think I'll use the most, I think it will catch someone's eye a bit more with the movement.

2nd, the headlight isn't set up like a headlight. It's a triangular flashlight with a handlebar base. You can pull it off and use it like a flashlight. There are others like this out there, but I didn't expect it out of this one.

3rd, when I first turned it on, I was a bit disappointed at how bright it wasn't. It's a one-watt bulb, so it's right on the border of being something that will let you ride fast with it down a busy street. It's not going to throw out light farther than what I already have. But then I noticed that it is noticeably brighter than some other safety headlights I've seen and used. It looks to be on par with the Niterider Ultrafazer Max or the Cateye EL 530. So for the cash, it's not bad at all. It's NOT a $450 HID or even a $50 LED. I would not recommend this as a first light, or an only light for someone commuting. If you are riding only suburban streets or slowly on a paved trail in a park though, it might do the trick.

4th, it doesn't come with a helmet mount. Bummer. It kind of looked like a helmet mount in the pictures on Amazon. No such luck. Another $14 and I can order one from Vetta but I may get a helmet mount for one of my other lights.

5th, it only has one setting, on. No low, no flash. Another bummer. I would have liked to have something that flashes to go along with my Minewt.

The Eddy's site is a bit misleading. Check out how bright the MiNewt looks there, and then check out how dim it looks on the trail at the second review site. I think I may just have to save my pennies for something spectacularly priced if I ever get into riding trails at night. All in all, I was a bit more impressed than I expected, but I was also holding out hope that it would be special. It is what it is.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


Looks like Obama is going to win this one. Yuck. Not that I liked McCain any, but at least he wasn't intrinsically evil in a truly monstrous way. We need to pray hard and talk to our legislators about FOCA now.

And it's still Tuesday afternoon, but Ken Brimer will probably win as well. He's a local TX State Senator who opposed a 3-foot while passing a cyclist rule a couple of years ago. Actually, he's opposed it each time it comes up. Last year he proposed an amendment (that passed) that would have emasculated the bill, then he voted against it. Not on my Christmas Card list, and I can't vote against him as I'm in a different State Senate district.

NOTE: Ken Brimer lost. He was the only incumbent State Senator that lost his seat in TX. I'm kind of glad in that there's a higher chance that three-foot passing law will be passed. I don't wish him ill necessarily. Although Wendy Davis did make him out to be a scum bag with her negative ads. And his TV image of "I'm a really nice, confidant Texan" didn't jive with his continued attempts to have her thrown out for legal technicalities. Feh. I hope he has a long and happy retirement from public service. And never comes near me on my bike. I don't trust him.

Friday, October 31, 2008

And God is Soooo Good...

Not that I deserve any bonuses from Him, but I am thankful for a doting Father. This last week, I sat down and looked at finances and just hung my head. We moved into a bigger house last year and doubled the size of our living space, as well as doubling our mortgage payment. That wouldn't have been so hard but we also tripled the size of our electricity bill. Over the Summer that really hurt. Just about all of today's paycheck is spoken for with those two bills. Of course, we still need to eat, and there is a Holiday coming up that involves gift-giving. I was quite bummed about the prospect of what we would be able to offer the kids. Not that we're poor, I'm still paying bills, I'm just stretched out. There are lots of folks out there who would be quite envious of where we are today. If we had a little more room we'd just spend it on frivolous things like getting the car fixed, right?
But there just wasn't a lot of cash there until the next paycheck. And then Kim went shopping the other day (the cupboard was bare) and wrote a check that was for more than what I have left after mortgage and electricity. Then I bummed on her for it. I didn't raise my voice, I don't need to do that to crush her sometimes. And I just told her quietly that we didn't have that much money for groceries this month. Sux, eh? I guess I can pay a part of the electric bill now and a part later, but then that leaves less for later in the month. And then I started feeling bummed about Christmas. Our cards are maxed out and I'm not expecting much to show up between now and then.

Then God does his miracle thing...
So one of my credit cards decides that they haven't extended me enough credit and they raise my limit. Not that I asked or anything. It's not much, but it's a little bit for Christmas. (Don't tell Kim, I want it to be a surprise).

And then my boss puts in for me to get an award for going to Houston to help with Hurricane Ike recovery. Again, not a ton, but it's something out of nothing. I can take it as cash or gift cards. I'm going to go over it with Kim tonight.

I remember telling Him that I just don't have enough to do this on my own, but that I'll do the best with what He gives me. I don't deserve this but I'll take it. That's what the unworthy do with grace.

EDIT: Notes to mention, the week before, I was fretting about the bare refrigerator and I happened to the fridge in the garage to have a frosty, carbonated adult beverage. I peeked in the freezer to find a bunch of food that I forgot we had there. Garlic toast, cheese toast, fried fish filets, chicken tenders, frozen dinners. Exactly what we needed...
Last night (11/03), we went to our monthly bike club team meeting and, as they do each month, they have door prizes. Joseph had fallen last month and had cracked his helmet. Guess who's ticket they call when there's still a nice, new helmet on the prize list? Yup, Joseph.
Oh, and my folks sent us $200 out of the blue, "to help with school supplies."


I haven't weighed that since 1995. I expect to be on the light side after a long ride, but not that light the next morning. Today I rolled out of bed at 6:13 AM (can't wait for the end of Daylight Savings this weekend) and got on the scale and saw 229. Nice. I'm working for 225 by Christmas. If I could ride more I'd get there sooner, but I think I can only get away with one long ride a week. The night ride is pretty pedestrian (so I can keep up the whole time) so I think I'll stick with that one for a while as well as riding to and from work.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Comedy of Errors

The other night I came home to some sick kids.  Three of them were down with a stomach virus.  Mom was in high demand and short supply.  So she's up and down the stairs doctoring one kid, cleaning up another.  I'm in charge of dinner and we don't seem to have anything to eat.  Kim had already defrosted some chicken breast so that's what was to be cooked.  We didn't have much pasta, our normal default dinner, but we did have one can of red sauce.  I started looking up a recipe from the sauce maker and then I went over to the stove top.  Our stove has a microwave built into the vent hood.  Being as tall as I am, it kind of blocks my view.  Since I wanted to cut up something, I wanted to be sure that the burner wasn't on, or still hot.  Most of the kitchen space was cluttered up because of all the rush that three sick kids brings on so I had to use the stovetop.  Normally I check out the little light that says if it's hot, but I couldn't see it because I was too close and the microwave was in my way.  I'm just too tall.  So what did I do?  I felt the stovetop with my fingers.  The burners are under glass so you can't tell how hot they are.  I burned my three middle fingers on my left hand, burned them enough to blister them.  I'm surprised I still have fingerprints.  My oldest was trying to be a minimalist about helping for dinner as he had a really good book to read.  So in between cooking something new from a recipe at the last minute, helping out with three very ill kids, barking at my oldest to get off the couch again, and directing the older two girls to set the table, I tried to soak my fingers in ice water and then slathered them with burn cream.  We eventually did eat (those of us with stout enough stomachs) and it was pretty good.  I did have to ask for help cutting my meat though.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Joseph falls down

Not too bad.  He was going to practice, about 4 or 5 miles from the house, on a Sunday afternoon.  He says he was just looking down at his speedometer and his hand slipped off the bars and he went tumbling (note to self, adjust Joseph's bars).  Fortunately he wasn't near any traffic, he was on a trail.  A paved bike trail.  Some road rash, a cracked helmet, and lots of stickers that necessitated some benadryl.  I was also named "Not-Dad of the Year," because I was waiting for him at practice and left my phone in the car while talking to folks.  Then I never called until after the POLICEMAN gave Joseph a ride home.  Nope, I'm not the sharpest tool in the box, but some folks do refer to me as a "tool" often.

He's much better now, and the only damage to his bike is a scuffed up pedal.  I'll get him back on the bike next week.  And this time I'll be riding with him.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Working in H-town after Ike

I volunteered to go down to Houston to help my company with their clean-up after Ike. I work for VZ Wireless, and while I don't like to talk about work (that just spells trouble), I have to say that I'm pretty proud of how the folks down there did their jobs. Many of them still had no power a week after the storm, but were still coming in and working 12 to 15 hour days or nights. We got a ton of stuff done and we're now providing excellent cell phone service even to the few alligators and feral dogs that are left out in Crystal Beach. Seriously, we got our network up in a very short time, doing things that you know to do and then going back and thinking up new ways to get the job done. There were a lot of folks there from all over, Philly and Massachusetts and Raliegh, North Carolina. Most all of them were staying in RV's or maybe hotel rooms. My sister lives within five miles of the network offices and had power so I slept over there. My folks were there too, waiting for power to come back on at their place. I had night shifts most of the time so I didn't get to spend enough time with them, hopefully I wasn't a burden. Lots of trees down, traffic lights out all over the place. I did not see any lines at gas stations though. I got there Thursday after the storm on Saturday and I was staying on the NW side, so folks were adjusted to it by then and I'm sure I didn't see the worst of it. Some stores were open and some were closed. I saw a Walmart with no lights on in the parking lot or on the front of the store but the inside was up and they were open thanks to a portable generator.
In the end, I was there a week. I brought my bike but never even put on the wheels, too busy working or sleeping.

Still hurting, but not as bad

Lots of blogging to catch up on, probably lots of important stuff in my life won't make it here, because I'm too busy living life to blog about it.

Back on 8/30 I fell on my bike and hit my hip. It's still giving me issues, but at least I know that my doctor sucks. I went to my doc about five days after I fell and told him my concerns about the lack of swelling or bruising, the fact that it hurt significantly when I climbed stairs, and that it felt like something was slipping in and out. He assured me that my hip wasn't slipping in and out and that I should get an x-ray to make sure nothing's broken. I got the x-ray and the gal from his office (not him) said that while I am showing early signs of arthritis (or signs of early arthritis maybe?), I did not break anything. OK, I do qualify for an MRI though. So, since it still hurts from time to time, I get the MRI. Nothing from that, but I am allowed to come in and get a shot for the pain. That's not what I want. Now that the pain is subsiding, I'm still noticing something slipping. I have a feeling it's my Ilio-tibial band. It (or whatever it is) is riding forward when I pick my knee up. It feels like a knuckle that I need to pop. I can physically push it back into place with my fingers and I can feel it pop back. Yuck. I can ride on it, but not fast, and I certainly don't feel up to sprinting yet. Now the knee on my other leg is starting to ache. I've been favoring it too much and now it's squawking about it.

It could be worse. I've had time to spend on my bike. It now sports a new chain, a fantastically clean frame, and a rear fender to keep the muck off my backside on rainy mornings.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

You can always trust the Devil or a politician...

to be the Devil or a politician.  From Derek Webb's "A Savior on Capitol Hill."

So true.   Such a poor choice this year.  Do you want Greater Evil or Slightly Less Great Evil?

Go support Derek at  See the banner ad on the right.

Monday, September 01, 2008


This weekend I was scheduled to do 120+ miles on the bike. Not a ton for a regular rider, but a bunch for me. Saturday was the regular shop ride. They took the long way (80+) and I took the short way (50). Nice though. I got to ride with Andy a bit. He's an old salt of a rider. I think he pointed out (again) that he's been riding this one nasty hill for over 20 years. With him by my side, somehow the hill didn't register as all that bad.
The next morning, I got up at 5:45 to get me and Joseph to the start of another ride. Since it was Sunday and Kim wanted to take the kids to Sunday School, I had to leave by bike. Did I mention that the Suburban has a bad fuel pump? We're down to the blurple van. The only bad part about that is that it only seats seven and our family numbers eight. Oh well. The Suburban will be fixed by next weekend probably. So Joseph and I had to scrounge for some headlights and leave by 6:30 to get there at the start time of 7.
Then I fell. We took a shortcut through a concrete drainage ditch under the railroad tracks to a bike trail. It's the closest way. As I came down the ditch, I noticed that there was a tree branch blocking some of the first portal under the train bridge, so I took the second. Then I noticed the slick, black sheen of scum/mud that crossed the road. Actually I didn't notice it until my wheels had left the road and my right hip had joined it. Hard. Ouch.
So I get up and notice my chain fell off. Not a bad deal. I got on the bike and started spinning and turning the shift lever for the front derailleur. I got it back on and started out of the ditch. There's a sharp incline at the end, but it's really no problem, you just stand up on your pedals and you'll be fine. Of course, if you backside is barking from falling 15 seconds before, you might be tempted to get all the way up still in your seat. Bad idea. I tried that, got to the top, and fell over on my left hip. Ouch. Fortunately it was in grass, so not so much pain. Just shock. I don't fall. The last time I fell was over a year ago and it was because my cleat popped out of my pedal on a hill. So I take a deep breath. We haven't gone a half mile and I've fallen twice. There's still 40+ miles to go.
So I get back on and start across the grass for the sidewalk bike trail. As I get there, I notice that my wheels aren't perpendicular to the sidewalk, but fairly close to parallel. Actually, I didn't notice it until my rain and mud slick tires hit the sidewalk, bounced off, and dumped me over on my left hip. Fall #3. And this one really hurt. Truly an inauspicious beginning for a Sunday morning ride. Maybe Jesus doesn't want me skipping out on Sunday School any more.
The rest of the ride was fine. My hips both ached. My left palm is swollen a bit. I discovered that I can't quite climb stairs with my left leg, I have to push myself up with my right. In fact, I am a bit concerned. Near my right hip I'm getting a nice (or nasty) bruise. But on my left side, the side that hit the hardest, no bruise. The pain is actually coming out of the hip itself.
To top it all off, this morning I wake up with a stomach virus. Oh, the sheer, unadulterated joy.
I did get to see another step on my wife's path to sainthood though. Last night she juggled on nine year old with the stomach flu, today myself and the 18 month old joined her. Kim was able to get all of us settled, and make meals, and do grocery shopping. I've said it before, I won the lottery when I met her.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Leader Bikes

It looks like I've gotten a bunch of traffic for my posting earlier this year about my experience with Leader Bikes.  I kind of went off on them for what I consider to be bad customer service.  Looking back, I still feel that way, but their frames seem ok.  Yeah, I went with the cheapo low-end aluminum frame, but it serves it's purpose.  After riding about 12-13 hundred miles on it, I have no complaints.  It is a bit heavy, but I was told that it was before I got it.  It doesn't transmit as much road noise as my previous frame.  And the area that I had problems with on my previous frame, the rear drop outs, are really beefed up.  I don't expect the same issues.  I would recommend that you take it to your local bike shop to get it put together.  Both frames have had issues with paint in the bottom bracket shell and in the head tube.  Both had to be raced out a bit to accommodate the bottom bracket cups and headset, respectively.  I might get out the camera and take some pics to do a more thorough update on the frame, but it seems to be doing ok.  I can't say anything about their carbon stuff as I've never worked with any of their carbon stuff.  In fact, I don't think I've ever ridden an all-carbon bike, nor will I at my weight.  Of course, if Leader wants to fund something like that, I'm all ears.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

What a Birthday!

Yesterday was my birthday and I think I had a blast. Well, maybe I should say I had a memorable birthday. It actually started on Sunday night. I knew that I had a big day at work on Monday so I wanted to go to bed early. Instead, we stayed up in bed watching on my laptop. So around midnight, just as the last scene of Eureka is playing out, the dog downstairs starts barking. We keep her in a kennel at night. I walked downstairs to let her outside and decided to sit down in front of my computer downstairs and investigate the internet. Bad idea. Two and a half hours later, after I had delved into all sorts of news, sports, olympics, and theology, I let the dog in and went upstairs. But for some reason I couldn't sleep. Three am, no sleep. Three thirty, still no sleep. Four am, no sleep. I think I drifted off sometime after that and I got up at 7 ish.
So I get to work and start ingesting coffee. I missed breakfast. And I almost missed lunch with the stuff that had to be done RIGHT NOW! I didn't end up eating enough and by 4 pm, I had that "I've had too much sugar, too much caffeine, not enough real food, not enough sleep" feeling. It's a deep-down tummy ache coupled with a fuzzy head feeling. I haven't felt it since college. Yuck. I bumped off work a half-hour early b/c I knew that Monday night I had a Jr Bike team meeting and I didn't want to be woozy. I got home and went straight to bed. Kim wasn't there and when I asked where she was, Joseph responded with "She's gone to get... she's just gone to go do something." I recognize last second b-day shopping when I see it.
I got in a good hour or so of nap before I realized that the meeting would be starting in an hour and getting six kids there takes time and effort. I came out to see my wife taping HAPPY BIRTHDAY down the banister of the stairs. She'd only gotten as far as HAPPY BIRT. She shushed me back into my room for another 5 minutes before inviting me to come downstairs. The kids all hid (really poorly I might add) behind furniture and shouted "surprise!" On the wall, I finally notice, is a couple of clothes hangers with wrapping paper wrapped over my gift. Knowing that the only place in the world that we can afford gifts is on the Dillard's Card, I'm fairly certain that it's a couple of shirts. To my real surprise, it's a couple of Madden games for the GameCube, '06 and '07. Sweet. I've got '04, these sound cool.
Then off to the meeting. At the meeting, I discover that I am the only person that was nominated for Pres, so I'm in charge by default. Again. Then, after a lot of good discussion (too much, I only got one trip through the pizza buffet :-( ), Audrey trips over a chair leg and hits the floor with her skull. No bleeding, but then a friend and nursing student notices that one of her pupils is larger than the other. Aud also wasn't reacting in a typical fashion. She didn't even push away the ice pack. So I got to spend the remainder of my evening in the ER watching the Olympics with my other kids. Actually, for an ER visit, we might have had the best time ever. There was NOBODY else there when we arrived, so she got right in basically. The did an MRI and she's fine. There was a minimum of crying babies. Folks started to arrive as we were waiting and one person noted that she was the oldest of 12 and the her family looked like ours did when they would show up to the ER periodically. I take that as a high compliment.
All in all, we got home around 11 and I was asleep by 12. A long day, a memorable day. But I can't say if it was a good or bad day. Maybe it's best seen as something to survive, not to judge.

Monday, August 04, 2008

I'm now the parent of two, count 'em, two state champions

The last weekend of July was the Age-Based State Championship Crit. Joseph did ok, Emily got out there and worked hard. She finished last, but because she was the only 10-12 yr. old girl who pinned on a number, she's the State Champion. She's bashful about it, but that's her third race to win while coming in dead last. And those are the only races so far this year that have included a 10-14 girls competition, ok, until the TT this last weekend. She's done fine. It's hard for her to really feel like she's competing when there's no competition though. Next year, her younger sister will be turning 10, meaning that she will have that real competition. Allison is a skinny little thing (her 7 year old brother is only four lbs lighter) and has a power to weight ration out of this world. She could dominate if she has the determination. Emily really amazes me in that she can be very intense. A Sunday School teacher termed it "passionate." I don't think cycling is yet her passion (she doesn't practice much) because she has to do it on her own (nobody else there her age or gender). But if she gets going, zowie, I think she'll go whole hog. The competition thing from her younger sister might do the trick.
The race was on the north side of Denton. Nice organization. I sat down with the officials and went over the results for a good 20 to 30 minutes before we had something that I think all of the parents were OK with. Scoring a Jr. crit is probably one of the hardest things to do in cycling, something I think I've blogged about before. Very hot out there, over 100 for the later races. Joseph got 8th I think. About right for him, he felt OK out there. Special thanks to Christian Williams for following Emily on her first lap. At the last second, Joseph points out that he left his water in the car. I told Em to give him one of her two bottles, so she unclips both feet and pulls out a bottle for him. Meanwhile, another racer (hopefully a teammate) gives him a bottle and the official blows his whistle, starting the race. Emily has to put the bottle back in her cage and clip back in. Christian (the promoter) is there on his bike and rides next to her the whole first lap, giving her a little push to start and then watching over her to make sure she's ready. Props to you for being a thoroughly guy.
This past weekend was the State Time Trials down near Houston. We took seven kids from TBI plus one stowaway from another team. Got there late Friday night to my sister's house. They just had their fourth kid (their kids are 13, 3, 18 mo., and 5 weeks) and they let us crash on their floor. Thanks Leah and Chris. You guys rock. We got the kids late there on Sat AM. I parked at the old registration location instead of the new. I misjudged how long it would take us to get out of the car and get ready, and I also misjudged how many parking spaces would be available at the start/finish two miles away, so the kids all started their TT's late. Sorry guys, my bad. I think we might have had a medal in the 10-14 if we had been there earlier or if I had parked at the s/f. All the 10-14 guys were at least a minute or two behind. One of the Jr. Open guys had a nice TT, the other had a mechanical. All in all, we were hacked. We came back to my sisters, showered, and took off for pizza. Then we went to Ganter Mtn, a gigantic outdoorsy-type store. If you've ever been to Bass Pro or Cabela's, you know the kind of store I'm talking about. The guys decide to play tag there for about 45 minutes, hiding in amongst the camo gear or the fishing tackle. Amazing. We just let them have fun. We got up the next AM even earlier and parked before the registration table was set up. Those guys were ready to start on time. The older (Jr. open) team had a mixup though. Probably my mistake. The officials were determined to have four persons start the race, even though we only had three teammates there. We scrounged around and asked Avery Visser, a triathlete from Austin if she would join the team. All she had to do was roll across the start line, she didn't have to try to finish. She might have toasted some of those guys, from what I hear she's pretty good. I got her registered on the team and she was going to the start line when the Jr. 10-14 guys finished and one of them rolled across the line with the Jr. Open team. I still pitched it to the promoter to include her in the final results and I think they saved a State Championship medal for her.
In the end, both of our teams won their respective divisions and the all came home with State Championship medals. Some of them bought State Champ jerseys there (individual TT winners get them for free, and only winners can get them). I have a mind to make some phone calls to see if I can get both of them some jerseys.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Time Trial map to My sister's house

OK, the plan is that we're meeting at the Mueller's, in Arlington, at 3:30. We should have plenty of space (2 Suburban's worth) and we should have racks for all 7 bikes. Here's the map to my sister's house.

If you need to call me, give me a buzz. If you don't know my number, then I don't think I want you to call.

I'll include a map from Leah's to the TT registration soon.


I had to put this in, it's got Steven Colbert referencing torture and cycling. Definitely belongs on this blog.

Hat tip to Mark Shea who references Feddie at Southern Appeal.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

I think he can hear him now...

I haven't seen this on TV, but I think it would make a funny spot. From all the TV angles, it looks like something VZW made in-house.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Oooohhh, the irony...

A plane carrying some TX congressmen makes an emergency landing b/c they are loosing cabin pressure. Why are so many TX Congressmen on the same flight? Well, they are all hurrying back to Washington to make a vote on a bill for, wait for it, wait for it...

Airline safety.

Nope, if I made this stuff up, nobody would believe it.

When the shop ride goes horribly, horribly wrong...

You see headlines like this.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Friday, June 20, 2008

This is hilarious

I check out Sitemeter often. It's a service that tells me how many hits I've had, as well as a general idea of where they are from, and how they got here. Today's hit? Ok, there was only one, but it was from someone in Germany inquiring about Leader Bikes. The link they used was from, so it offered a chance to translate my page into German. To see my works translated into German is funny to me. I have to try it in French next.

Von Blogs und Bullen. It just rolls off the tongue.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

When Priests just need to shut up

Tonight we went to Mass at St. George's.  It's the latest one here locally and it's a small congregation and a very small church.  Very cozy in my opinion.  I've never seen more than fifty people there and that doesn't look dwarfed by the size of the worship space.  I like that.  I like a small congregation.  I like the fact that I see the same faces there week after week.  Fr. Dan Kelley is great.  I met him when I first came to Fort Worth and he's not afraid to speak intelligently in a sermon.  He doesn't water things down and will bring in multiple scripture references to bring home a point.  Unfortunately he's away this month and they've had to rely on guest priests to preside on Sundays.  Today was a Vietnamese priest, I don't know his name (although I do know it wasn't Fr. Hoa Nguyen.  He's frickin' awesome.  And he has a sweet jump shot) and the Gospel reading was about the harvest and the Lord of the Harvest.  Fr. Whatshisname decides that his point needs to be about how Priests are needed, even if they are of different genders.  Yuck.  His logic was weak [1) Jesus was forced to choose men as his apostles, because, you know, the Lord of Creation, Time and Space was subject to that backwards, misogynist Jewish sexism and all, no way around it for him, poor guy and 2) women are the ones running all the religious ed and such and 3) if there's still people who need to hear the good news, then why aren't we getting everyone involved? OK, so women are already so involved that we need to open up stuff to get them involved ] and his personal "testimony" was even weaker (I got asked at an exit oral interview what I thought and I had to think about it and say "why not?").  But the point is not the fallacies that permeate this "logic" or the thread of clericalism that clouds his thinking (the only ones who can truly be harvesters are the ones with the white collars on) that's my real point.  He's welcome to have bad ideas.  He's even welcome to discuss them theologically to a point (although Pope JP the Great said that the matter was settled and further discussion would be pointless and, in fact, plain disobedience), but is it appropriate fodder for a homily in front of the faithful?  I'm not saying that all homilies need to be safe, or that they need to make me feel good.  In fact, I think priests should make me feel quite uncomfortable.  They should challenge me.  But when the door to discussion in formal theological settings has been closed, you don't open it up without appropriate safeguards.  You might actually consider things that I would consider quite heretical but you don't go about abusing your position as a priest by bringing them up in a homily.  There were many times I dealt with folks in churches (Directors of RE, RE teachers, Youth Ministers) who didn't agree with this or that aspect of Church teaching.  They always knew, however, that they represented Holy Mother Church and that they needed to say "the Church teaches that ..." and, if they were pressed, "well, I have to say that I believe ..., but I'm not the Church.  You have to make your own decision."  When I disagree with something my employer does, I will probably vent to my wife, depending on how it affects me.  I might discuss it at work, but you won't cathc me going in front of a group as a designated representative and saying something contrary to the company line.  If they do something that I consider illegal or immoral, then yeah, I might alert the media, but I'm probably turning in my notice the same week.  When Fr. Whatshisname got up there, he was representing the Church and in fact, Christ.  If he disagrees with what the Church says, he should have free reign of conscience, but not of public action, or of plain disobedience.  Sometimes, priests just need to shut up.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Bringing home hardware

Today we went to downtown Dallas for the Matrix Challenge Crit.  Joseph and Emily both raced.  This is Emily's first weekend race ever.  She's done some Jr. races at the Wednesday night Crits in FW, but those are really short circuit races.  There isn't a corner on that course.  Today's course was all right angles in almost a figure eight.  They had only a few guys sign up for the Jr. Open so they threw that in with the young 'uns and they also had a 10-14 Girl's category.  Emily was the only entrant, so she has a foot-tall trophy to show for her efforts.  Joseph was up against 8 other guys, he got 4th, a real nice place.  He even won a prime for a set of really nice sunglasses.  Amazing place for him.  Especially considering he woke up this morning and couldn't fully extend his left knee.  I have no clue what's up with that, but I thought that he might be faking so I told him to tough it out.  He still can't put weight on it, but he can still spin so he rode fine.  Just no sprint, but he never needed it today.  Because I'm cheap, we took the train over to downtown big D and rode our bikes the last two miles and change to the race.  I thought that he would be able to work out whatever kinks he had in the knee in that slow ride.  The total fare was only eight bucks, which is less than what it would have cost in gas.  Plus we got to ride the train, which is an adventure in itself.  Even more, we were home by five.  I have been out of town off and on for the last few weekends for racing.  This is the first time in a while that we've raced and then been home the same day.  That in and of itself is a bonus beyond words.  I think I'm going upstairs to read a book.  A real book, with type on pages and everything.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Beauty, Subjectivism, and Liturgical Music

I posted on Fr. Rob's blog here. He's fairly well known in the blogosphere, and someone I hold in great esteem. I hope he doesn't find me or what I said uncharitable. I guess I just object to the idea that some specific things are, uhmmm, objective. Ooops. Didn't mean for it to come out quite like that.

Friday, May 16, 2008

It's National Ride Yer Bike to Work Day!

As part of National Ride Your Bike to Work Week, sandwiched into National Bike Month, today is National Ride Your Bike to Work Day. I'm one of two folks who do it ever at my office out of maybe 300-400 people here. It was a beautiful day. And of course, my front tire was flat. Unfortunately, one of my front dropouts was crimped in the time it was at the shop. That means that it's not fun to pull the wheel out. And the tire that I had on had a crack in it (it was old) and of course, it wasn't that easy to get off. So off to find a tire lever. And then patch the tube, put on a new tire, and then I was ready to ride. I got about a mile before I noticed something with my cleats. They felt like they were giving or stretching at the bottom of my pedal stroke. So I pulled over and sure enough, the left plate that holds the cleat on was cracked down the middle. I had to use my hand to yank my shoe out when I got here. Oh, and my phone that uses Bones in Motion to track all my miles? It has this bad habit of dying at random. I thought it needed a software upgrade, so I got that last week, but no, it still dies. Usually in my pocket. Like today. So now that I'm in this competition at work, most of this morning's miles don't count.
Yuck. It's like I have to just enjoy cycling for its own sake.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Almost had a terrific blow-out today.

A few months ago, I got a set of Mr. Tuffy tire liners. My Panaracer Stradius tires were fairly inexpensive and, with a very soft center, are prone to cuts. But they are rated up to 150 psi, which makes me and my 250 lb butt feel just a bit more safe out there. The tire liners go inside the tire between the tire and the tube. When I would inflate the tire up to 120-130 psi though, it felt like it was sliding a bit on turns. Yes, I think I was feeling the tire liner slide against the tire or the tube, I don't think I was imagining it. When I would pump it up to 140 or 145, where I normally had it, it felt fine. This morning I got out the bike to ride to work and noticed a small line in one sidewall of the tire, all the way around. They're red, but this line was clearly black with the threads of the sidewall showing. The only thing I can attribute it to was the additional thickness of the liner. Maybe if I had kept the tire pressure a bit lower I would have been OK. A quick tire change took care of it. Can you imagine what kind of catastrophic tire failure I could have had on the way to work? Nice. I'm going to check on the tire tonight, maybe I can still use it. Probably not. The thing was only $18 or so and I had spare new tires laying around so I'm not too upset. Glad I caught it in time. You have been warned.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Hagee is NOT a Hater!

So when John Hagee endorsed John McCain a while back, some Catholics really got upset. Hagee has previously said some things about the Church that are just not pleasant to hear. Mainly the issue comes with a You Tube video here. Feh. You can read all kinds of misunderstanding of Catholicism in it but it's not terribly overt. He also stated in a book, well, I can't say I've read it. But Bill Donahue quotes it as saying "In Hagee’s latest book, Jerusalem Countdown, he calls Hitler a Catholic who murdered Jews while the Catholic Church did nothing. ‘The sell-out of Catholicism to Hitler began not with the people but with the Vatican itself,’ he writes." (Google books doesn't show any previews available on the Internets, so I can't really check it.)
So then Donahue goes out and asks John McCain to tell Hagee he's bad and that he doesn't want to look bad so please shush up about all the endorsement stuff. Hagee fires back that he's not Anti-Catholic, he supports elderly nuns and all that. Then today the Catholic League publishes a letter from Hagee apologizing and saying "Them Catholics ain't Anti-Semites. That whole Whore of Babylon thing doesn't mean the Catholic Church, 'cos they'll all be gone bye-bye with the whole rapture thang." OK, it's not a direct quote. You can see the letter, complete with signature here. And Donahue makes a clear statement that "Hey! We're good now, K?" I just wonder how much of this was for McCain. As he's a Protestant, I think Hagee couldn't give a flying flip about what Bill Donahue thinks. But what the potential Pres? That might give him pause.

Monday, May 12, 2008

New clip-in shoes for the 10 year-old

OK, so the team spotted my 10 year-old some really nice SIDI shoes. Then they spotted my older son a team bike. So I turned around his bike and set it up for her this weekend and got her trying out shoes and pedals. For the non-cyclist folks, riders use special shoes with cleats that clip into pedals. They enable you to not only push down, but pull up on the pedals. They also enable you to push forward (like you're putting on boots) and pull through (like you're scraping mud off your shoe). But you have to learn to un-clip them, otherwise you fall down when you stop. We took off for a short ride up to the local community college. Along the way, we cut across a field and a parking lot. At the gravel in between, there was a bunch of sand. Sand is bad for skinny tires, especially when you are a gnat-weight, especially when you have very little experience with riding. Note the road rash on the knee in the picture. She's fine. She whined a bit at first (OK, quite a bit) but after a while she was fine. She eventually tried to attack her brother and I a couple of times (that's a cycling attack, it's legal, and encouraged). If she can harness that anger, she will go far in this sport.

Monday, May 05, 2008

The Triumph of Orthodoxy over Orthopraxy, Part II

Long overdue, I know. I have started and stopped more than once because I want to get this right and I find that I am doing more venting and ranting that right writing. Plus I'm getting very sensitive to the fact that my theology education ended after a whopping two undergrad courses at St. Mary's in San Antonio. One of which was nothing more than a Catholic version of Warm Fuzzies 101.

For proper disclosure, please note my previous post.
OK, let's be clear, orthodoxy ain't such a bad thing. It implies, in this context, right theology, true theology, or a pure belief. Without it, orthopraxy dissolves into "what feels right," or trial-and-error outcome. For instance orthodoxy is what vouchsafes for us that Scripture is true, inerrant, and the very Word of God, so this shouldn't be construed as a diatribe against dogma or doctrines. Rather it's about balance. Orthodoxy without orthopraxy becomes a dry religion, a Holy Algebra (Professor X referred to a "Jesus Logarithm" espoused by some Baptist seminary professors in a conversation a while back, so it's not just a Catholic phenomenon). Many folks accuse Catholicism of being a dead ritual instead of an experience with the Living God, and I think that they are seeing a flaw. Not to the degree of the accusation, but definitely a flaw.

In Catholic circles, I really see this in the way folks deal with teenagers. I can't say that I'm the expert that I used to think I was on Youth Culture, but I know better than to expect random kids at a Catholic Church to give a rat's patootie about Transubstantiation vs. Consubstantiation, how to pray the Angelus, or who the Theotokos refers to and how it defends against Nestorianism. And while all these things are important, they really are, they are all aspects of finer points of theology and history. None of them are vital for salvation. All of them lead adults to lament "But these kids don't know their Faith." Of course they don't. Why should they? Until they see that there's a value to them, there's no reason for them to invest themselves. Calculus is important as well, it's how we design wings that keep aircraft aloft and most kids don't know which side of the wing is the leading edge. Not unless you tell them that they have to design a wing to keep themselves aloft does calculus take on a life-changing dimension. Sometimes it's a matter of Catholicism being a cultural value instead of a living relationship with God. And for parents who have grown up "in the faith" but never invested themselves into the call that God has for them, never sensed what they were rescued from, there's little zeal.

I see it in many Catholic's attitudes toward Protestant ideas. When discussing Religious Education materials with folks as a Youth Minister, I was questioned over using Group Publishing, a Non-Denominational Christian Publisher. "That's not Catholic, can we do that?" While it's important to note that one's understanding and formation would be stunted if it were restricted to the Group Active curriculum (circa 1994), there was the understanding that the only place to find Authentically Catholic Theology of Any Sort is in something from a Catholic Publishing House. I know there's always a danger of a Catholic-Evangelical-Fundamentalist syncretism, it's something to look for, but when looking at what Group put out there vs. what certain Catholic publishing house put out at that time, it was no contest. Group had their act together. RCL, Silver Burdett Ginn, and Benziger (they're all the same house now) just didn't. Sadlier didn't. St. Mary's Press didn't. All of them had come from the wrong paradigm. They took a Catholic School text book and tried to shoe-horn it into a one-hour per week format. It still ends up being a school experience. It rarely ends up being life-changing. Kids might learn the trappings and accoutrement of faith, but somehow meeting the Author of Faith was always something left for those "primary catechists," or, as I like to call them, "parents. " Now I've been out of YM and RE for a while so to be fair, maybe stuff has changed a bit. I still doubt it. Something that was getting traction when I was leaving YM was the idea that "Our curriculum is now REALLY teaching the Catechism, better than yours, in fact." And while they could now link back their theology to specific paragraphs in the Catechism, they still had a sucky product. It was based around the idea of kids getting together and reading. "How does that make you feel?" "Uhhh, like I'm in school." Orthodoxy was catered to, Orthopraxy is ignored.

Side note -- To create a successful program, you don't have to water anything down, you don't have to make it X-TREME!!!! You just have to make it authentic, authentic to the truths of Faith, and authentic to your own story and to the story of everyone involved. Don't use a book, if you can. If you need to, send them home with a book, and a good one at that.(If that sounds a bit like Thomas Groome, that's probably true to form, although his textbooks fell into the same trap and he's a bit of a nutter Catholic. A case for Orthopraxy screaming for Orthodoxy if you ask me.)

Autism: It's your Mom's fault.

Austim linked to parent's schizophrenia, depression, personality disorders.

The oldest stereotype in Psychology is, "It's all you mother's fault." They used to blame ADD on "infant head trauma." Yeah, your mom dropped you on your head when you were a baby, it's her fault. "Tell me about yur mudder," in a thick German accent is about as stereotypical psycho-babble as you can get. Not that they ain't right on this, just that Autism technically requires a diagnosis at a young age (like < 3?). So that means that when parents are asking "Why is this happening to our child," doctors are going to say "Well, tell me about your depression/personality disorder. Do you hear voices in your head? Because this Autism, it's all your fault."

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Dumb Criminals live in Fort Worth

Sometimes I can't believe how dumb some folks are. A guy in Ft. Worth tried to write a check for 360 BILLION dollars. At least he was aiming high. Billion. Wow. It wasn't his check either. Dumb guy.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Muenster Rally

Joseph and I went out to the Muenster rally this past weekend.  It's a metric century with some of the biggest hills in North Texas.  One of the other riders described it as "Death by Rollers."  Joseph and I chickened out and hit the 65k route, about 40 miles.  We hit too many rest stops.  Had to hit the 2nd one, I was running low on water, we had drank out of my 2nd on the way there.  Had to hit the 3rd, I needed to take a "natural break."  But the time we hit the 4th, Joseph had to go.  ~1500+ riders, folks out on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere cheering you on, volunteers aplenty.
Then afterwards, we hit the Germanfest.  Nice, great German food.  Brats, sausage, beets, red cabbage, beans, potatoes done a half-dozen different ways, and kraut.  One stand (from a local German restaurant) had an all-you-can-fit-on-your-plate meal priced the same as the others, but the potatoes looked really good.  I had a ton of kraut on top of the potatoes, the green beans, the pinto beans.  The juices dripped down over everything.  Add a bit of horseradish and I was in heaven.  OK, the angels were looking a bit heavy.  I don't remember seeing so many chins on a cherub before.  They had a "Beer Garden" open for the rally riders and the Fun Run participants.  Basically, it's a nice field under some shade trees away from most all of the noise.  They rope it off and throw out a bunch of hay bales for chairs.  A perfect place to sit down and enjoy your food and beverage.
Rally riders get two beers at the Germanfest.  After enjoying one with my meal, I wasn't feeling that the second would go down so well, so I started to think about who would enjoy my second beer ticket.  Finally I remembered that a good friend of mine, Eric, a guy I was in a band with, lives in Muenster, and he would probably be at the Germanfest.  Of course he was, and so a couple of text messages later, we were sitting down in the music tent watching his nephew play the accordion.  Very German accordion at that.  They were teenagers who put quite a bit of effort into it, very nice guys.  The called themselves The Happy Wanderers, I think a reference to the Shmenge Brothers.  When they started the Chicken Dance, folks were running, yes running out to dance on the floor.  Senior citizens, kids, and all ages in between.  Good times.  Finally we made our way out, with three strudel in tow, of course.  Mmmm... Cheese strudel.  I'm bringing up an apple strudel to work tomorrow.  Those things are awesome.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Curly-headed kids

OK, I have curly hair, long brown curly hair. Probably too much of it, but I didn't notice the humor of our Lord quite until we had Isabel, our fifth child. All the ones before her have straight hair. Straight blond hair. It didn't stand out until I saw her curls.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Welcome Papa!

Not that he'll ever read this, but welcome Your Holiness. Please enjoy the hospitality that we offer. Take some time to re-tell us the story of Christ and how it applies to us today. Encourage us in our faith and remind of us of the Hope we have in Him, even in dark times. We appreciate your time and attention. We're thankful that you're here and we hope you enjoy a safe stay. Please forgive us if you find folks among us who are taking your visit as an opportunity to point the spotlight at themselves. Please forgive us if you find among us people who are rude. It's a big family here, and every family has their black sheep. I feel that your time may be limited here, in America, and as our Papa, but I hope that you make wonderful memories and leave a lasting impression.

Monday, April 07, 2008

TBi Race weekend

Lots of fun this last weekend. Our cycling team, Team Bicycles Inc., had their annual race. It's to raise money for the team's expenses (mainly in the form of rider/racer support) and also to raise money for a fund to honor a former Jr. rider who passed away last September. So the Juniors were all racing and all the other club members were volunteering. I worked as an official both days.
We drove out to Lake Mineral Wells State Park on Friday night to camp out. OK, we took the back two seats out of the minivan and threw in an air mattress and some sleeping bags. No tents, so maybe it wasn't quite camping. When we got there, we discovered that our new air mattress only inflated with the help of an electrical outlet, AC. Not the DC cigarette lighter that we had on the minivan. So we ended up on a airless air mattress the first night. It was way cold. Low 30's by morning. We had to get up around 5 to get out to the race.
Saturday was a 24-mile loop out by Possum Kingdom Lake with big hills on mile 12 and 16. It was a really cold morning but a really nice day. Riding in the follow car is fun, you get to watch the race, to encourage the racers, to call them on fouls. We had plenty of volunteers and a good group of racers (a little over 300). In my son's race, Joseph held on up the last big hill and then took a breather. That's when the guy in front of him took off. He finished 4th out of seven starters, but he raced well and finished strong. Of course, five of those seven were TBi Jr's. One of them, Alex, had his rear derailleur buckle on him in the middle of the race. He ended up getting a ride back in. Fortunately we had a spare and his dad got them swapped out for the next day's race.
Sunday we got up earlier, we were going to have a short prayer service at 6 AM to remember Ivan. Joseph read some scripture (1 Cor 9:24-27, Heb 12:1-6 as I recall) and I prayed. I still miss Ivan. And I still feel guilty when I don't miss Ivan. That's grief for you, I guess. The only folks there were the guy who originally suggested having the service (the promoter of the race and the team president), myself, Joseph (who raced with Ivan), and someone else who was to lead us in singing. I there more for the fact that I'm the closest thing the group has to an minister, even though I will probably never be ordained.
Sunday's races were fun. The weather was beautiful, the course included a locally famous climb, the mile-long Cherry Pie Hill, and the racers were all in good form. Joseph ended up touching wheels with one of his teammates about 5-8 miles into the race. Usually that ends up with someone sliding out and nursing road rash for a couple of weeks. Fortunately, everyone stayed upright, but Joseph broke two spokes on his rear wheel.
The only wheel in the follow truck didn't match his, 10-speed vs. 9-speed. Bummer for him, his race was over. He was in good spirits when I saw him at the end. Like Saturday, his team finished 1-2-3, so he was pleased. Having his wheel busted was just one of those things. Memo to self: after you get Joseph's wheel fixed, get him a set of backup wheels, 9-speed.
A wonderful weekend. I'm glad it's over so I can get back to the office and rest!

Monday, March 31, 2008

And you thought having six kids was tough!

I just got a link to a youtube video that some buds from my college days made.  They have NINE kids and they are in a Upromise contest to show why they need funds for college.  Playing up the Brady theme to the hilt, it's really funny.  

The dad taught me amazing stuff about how to play the guitar and he had this wonderful voice.  A really humble guy as well.  He and his wife were really involved in the Catholic Student Center at Texas A&M and I think he still works in that vicinity.  For that alone I am envious.  The last I heard, she taught at the local Catholic School before she got the homeschooling bug.  If you care to, vote early and vote often.  Just for the next two weeks.  It looks like you have to register, for which I am eternally sorrowful.  If you can't vote for them, then please pray for their welfare.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Ride for Heroes

OK, this past Saturday was the Ride for Heroes locally, and now that I have a bike back Ah'm in the Rally Mood, folks.  So when I went to sign up for it last weekend, I was a bit surprised when my lady says "Why don't we all sign up?"  She doesn't have a bike.  Or, I should say "didn't."  We bought her a bike on Wednesday or Thursday.  Not a true roadbike, more like a comfort bike.  It's a Specialized Crossroads Elite.  Dang, I wish I had gotten it for Eddy's price.  I think it was closer to $399.  But then you add shorts, a helmet, some tights and a long sleeve jersey and all of the sudden you're talking about $550.  Oh well, the price we pay to do things with our spouse and kids.  This was something that the whole family could do, right?  Just get a trailer for the babies.  Oh, trailer.  We don't have one.  So after a couple of calls for ones on Craigslist didn't pan out, we borrowed one from a friend.  So all of the big kids have bikes (our kids are aged 13, 10, 8, 6, 2, 1).  We just have to get them all there.  OK, even with the Suburban and the hitch rack, we have to take two vehicles.  So we loaded up the minivan with five bikes, put the wife's bike on the hitch rack, and fit the trailer in the Suburban's trunk.  Joseph (13) and I were going to do the 62 mile rally (not as hard as it sounds, there's a rest stop with food and drink every 10-12 miles) and everyone else was going to do the 8 mile rally.  The 62-miler started at 7:30 AM and the 8-miler started at 8:30.  We woke up late (it's a 45 minute drive with no traffic), so we reassessed the situation and tried to make it by 8:00 for the 40-miler instead.  About 15 minutes into our drive we had to turn back to get all the water bottles that we had left in the fridge.  All told, we got there at 8:20.  After a quick potty break, we lined up for the ride.  All the rides had the same route for the first 5-6 miles, so Joseph and I figured we would veer off at the appropriate time for the 40 and Kim would lead the herd of little ones back through the 8.  Jacob(6)  was stoked.  He was looking forward to doing this with his siblings and with me.  Allison(8) was not.  It was too cold for her liking, too early, and she didn't feel comfortable with the hand-brakes on her mountain bike.  After a mile, we had left them behind, cruising at an amazing speed of 8.4 mph.  Well, that was about as fast ask Jacob could coax those 16-in wheels.  After about fifteen minutes, Allison had had enough.  Kim called me to inform me that she had three crying girls and that they were turning back.  So that left me with Joseph (13) on a road bike and capable of doing the 40, Emily (10) on an old Peugeot Mixte that weighs 30 lbs. and capable of being dragged through the 20 maybe, and Jacob on a 16-in. wheel Wal-Mart ride, not capable of going farther than the 8.  So we stayed with the 8-miler.  Joseph was not pleased at first.  He did get over it as he got the chance to have fun with Jacob.  In fact, they all enjoyed the heck out of themselves.  I was beaten down by the financial side of it and the fact that I could have just done the regular Saturday Shop ride and gotten in 50.  So we spent $110 on rally fees, $500 on the bike + helmet + shorts + something else.  Another $150 in other clothes (the shop had winter gear on 75% off!!) plus 65 miles of gas for two cars, and all I got was 8 miles.  But reflecting on it, they were exquisite miles.  They were miles that will last a lifetime in one little six year-old's mind.  That was the first time he got to ride a rally with his Dad and his older brother.  Plus he beat another kid on a similar bike.  You go Jakie.  You rock.  You made even a short, terribly expensive ride one of the best days ever.

Monday, March 24, 2008

OK, this scares me.

So if you're a nominal Muslim with an Islamic name in Italy, and a prominent one at that, say you work as an editor of a national newspaper. Then you discover that you want to convert, do you have to ask the Pope to baptize you in front of EVERYONE? Especially when some cardinals just met with some Muslim scholars earlier this month to set up a kind of 'Catholic-Muslim Forum' later this year? I mean come on, just a bit cheeky, eh?

The real issue at play here is that it's considered regrettable when a Catholic converts to Islam. People might even have genuine concerns for that convert's soul. But when a Muslim gets baptized on international TV, expect a riot. While the convert may be something of a media hog, I do hope and pray that this is not a case of someone using the Church (and a sacrament) to futhur their own personal agenda.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Me boy-o is peeved today.

Joseph has been slacking on cycling lately. Not terribly, just not really, really focussed. And this weekend he got slapped. It's a stage race, so two road races and a time trial (like those triathlons). In the first road race, he got popped and then one of his team mates, a year younger and in his first race, dropped back and finished with Joseph. He and his teammate finished with their hands held up. Kinda dorky unless you finish 1st and 2nd, not 6th and 7th out of 12. Well, his new team mate then promptly beats him by 5 seconds in the time trial and then trounces him in the second road race. Joseph then made a beeline for the Suburban to hide away. He was hurt and embarrassed. I feel for him. He made great (and I mean huge) strides last year but he just hasn't been able to maintain that rate of improvement. On the way home he came out of his shell a bit. I told him that he needs to remember his painful moments and use them as motivation. Remember that you don't want to feel like this again. And that needs to be something to hold on to, not just at the next race, but for a year of training. He was miffed that he couldn't get on the trainer last night after a late dinner. He might very well be on it right now.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Leader Bikes -- rant warning!

OK, so I found a crack in my bike frame about a month or so ago.  The company who makes the frame says, OK, ship it to us at your cost and we'll decide if we're going to warranty it.  So I take it to my LBS (local bike shop) and have them strip off all the parts and ship it to Cali.  When they get it, they finally said, OK, we'll warranty it, send us $25 bucks to ship a replacement frame back.  So I paypal them that $$ plus some more for some more equipment.  Then a couple of weeks ago, they email me on a Friday for the shipping address.  I emailed them back on Monday.  That was Feb. 25th.  Yesterday, March 4th, I forwarded the original email to them again, asking to see where the frame is.  That's a bit over a week from the first email.  It was late in the afternoon, I figured I'd get called back today.  I call them at 11 AM TX time, 9 AM in Cali.  They say, ya know, the guys in shipping aren't here til 11, call back after that, also try emailing it to this other address.  So I forward it to the other address and call again at 3:30 TX time.  They say, well, I'll call those shipping guys and see what we can do.  If they don't call you in one or two hours, call me back.  I wait until 6 TX time and call again, because there hasn't been an email back.  I left a message and then at 7 or so, I got a call back.  It's someone from Leader saying "uhm, those shipping guys really need to get on the stick."  While I'm on the phone with him, someone else from Leader calls and leaves a voice mail.  It's the shipping guy "Well, I need your shipping address.  If I don't have it, I can't ship it."  Of course, that's the same shipping address that I emailed him on Feb. 25th, and again on March 4th, and again today.  He says he doesn't have it.  "The email here in shipping is different."  Crap.  He says he's sorry and that he'll throw in a T-shirt!!!!  Yup, they think I'm so in love with them that I'm going to advertise for them.  It gets shipped tomorrow.  Finally. Grrrr.  I was going to buy another frame, fork, and headset from them for Joseph, he's out-growing his.  I was even thinking of trying to buy several more for the Jr team.  Not now.  Never again.  I'm going back to the LBS.  If I had bought a bike from there and had this issue, it would have been taken care of already and it would have been no $$ out of my pocket.  Sorry Leader, I think I'm going to have to get a SpecialEd for Joseph.  Maybe a Lemond.  Lord have mercy on my soul, it may even be a Trek.

Update:  I just want to point out that the current frames all have a much more substantial rear drop out, which was where my initial frame failed.  I don't see the new designs being prone to cracks.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The First Week of a Month of Races

We had two races this weekend down in Austin. There have been a few races already this year, but these are considered the opener for the season. They were also the first to have two Junior categories. One of them is Jr. Open (anyone from 10 to 18 is welcome), and the other was 10 -14. The first race starts and ends in Walburg, TX, north of Austin. The guys did a 22 mile loop. It has the reputation for being cold and windy, but Saturday it was just windy. I drove one of the other racers down from Joseph's team and we talked strategy quite a bit. They had three 14 year-olds this weekend from TBi. One is a pretty fair sprinter, one is a nice climber and an all-around good rider, and Joseph, who still hasn't found his niche yet. We also knew that there were two GS Tenzing registered. TBi is an open team, meaning anyone who pays the club fee and shows up to race gets to put on the jersey. Tenzing is by invitation only. Don't get me wrong, that doesn't make them elitist. These guys are great guys. It just means that they mean business. And they are good. One of them has been to nationals before and his dad is a professional cycling coach. Nice guy, too. So our strategy was to hang with the Tenzing riders, shelter the sprinter, and get him to the end ready to sprint. That worked out great and he got second, just behind the coach's son. Another rider from San Antonio got third. He was alone off the front for much of the race which is a bad thing for a racer. By the end, he didn't have enough to out-sprint the competition. With a little shelter, and maybe some teammates, he might have taken first. Our all-arounder got 4th and Joseph got 7th. He and another guy were caught behind a truck driving through the course. For safety, the riders know that they can't pass a car, so they just rode right behind the truck, no sprint. Joseph might have caught 6th if not for the truck. We had camped overnight and had a great time. Nice, chilly weather. Teammates and friends. Saturday night spaghetti. Jacob's earlier queasiness is gone. Good times.
Sunday AM, we get up. The race is in the same park that we slept in. I had to register Joseph and a friend. No cost. Thanks Team Hotel San Jose. The race there was only 12 miles, but it had hills. Joseph isn't so good with hills. Our all-arounder is pretty good with hills. Our sprinter is ok. So they take off. The pack is really big for this age group. I think it was 23 to 26. The Tenzing guys cover every attack. We cover all their attacks. Joseph has a bad start and can't fight his way back, he's off the back and comes in 11th. Our sprinter and all arounder both keep with the Tenzing guys. The San Antonio racer wrecks. Our sprinter catches the coach's son at the line and gets 1st. Our all arounder catches the other Tenzing racer napping and nips 3rd. A very good race. These guys are getting some tactics and using them. Joseph is down though. He expected to do better, to last with the pack longer. I think it just wasn't his day.
Also, due to some serendipitous circumstances, my folks are in the general area and come see Joseph race. Afterwards we join them for lunch for my parent's 40th wedding anniversary. Nice day. The ride home takes quite a while and everyone sleeps but me. Next weekend is another race across the river from the park. The weekend after that I'm officiating some HS races in FW and in Collin County, and the weekend after that is a big stage race in Fayetteville, TX. Fun fun fun.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Yuck, I knew and worked with this guy

Magaldi Confirms he is HIV Positive

Fr. Phil Magaldi is back in the news. For two years I was Youth Minister at the same parish. He had some run ins with the law before he came from Rhode Island down to TX, and he spoke of them from time to time. From his mouth, it was all a misunderstanding and a failure on his part to keep proper books, or actually, to keep any record of any parish finances. But nothing was ever said about the whole Claus von Bulow thing. Creepy. Anyway, he also came under fire from a guy back in the NE who was trying to sue him for sexual abuse. He vehemently denied that there was anything to it and that the accuser was just a ne'er-do-well looking for money. In the end, the case was dropped. (Fr. Phil was extremely excited about that outcome, "thrown out!" he would say.) Apparently the ne'er-do-well really was a ne'er-do-well, although recent info released about Fr. Phil seems to indicate that the accuser may have had merit, and of course that might be the reason that the accuser had so many issues. I think the poor guy passed away.
I never heard about all nasty stuff Fr. Phil's been accused of while I was there. I only saw him as an only child who had been the "chosen one" in his family all his life. He never had any one to dress him down in life, to keep him honest, so to speak. His mother adored him. Most people he met adored him as an extremely gregarious priest and a fine homilist. He never seemed to have an internal filter on what he did or said. I don't think he ever allowed for the concept that he might do something wrong or hold an incorrect opinion. He wasn't overbearing in my dealings with him, though, just not cautious. I was asked to leave in September of 2000 and I have a vague recollection of the specifics of him leaving in '99. I seem to recall him passing it off as retiring to take care of his elderly mother. He went downhill pretty fast physically after she passed away. The last few years, I'd see him at Mass, sitting in the back, in plain clothes, mumbling to himself. He was so very obviously out of it. Some folks from the church were shuttling him back and forth, he was someone in need of care.

Honestly, I'm glad I knew him. He was always half of the example of why I wanted to have a big family. I would contrast him with a friend who was the 5th of 12 and it was so obvious who was well-adjusted and who was spoiled. Not that having one kid means they grow up and do nasty things, that's not my point. He just seemed to be the extreme in that direction. I pray that he finds forgiveness for his crimes, and that any victims find some kind of closure and healing.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Leader Bikes have Spoken!!

After much waiting, I got a call from Leader Bikes yesterday. They are the makers of my original bike frame, RIP. They decided to warranty the frame and as soon as I pay the $25 for shipping, I can get my replacement frame sent back here to Texas, where it belongs. It's not quite the same frame, so no more aero tubing, but from what I heard, it's not as prone to road chatter. Hopefully it will work just fine. I'm a bit miffed about the shipping cost, just because originally I was told that they would eat it, but I understand that they are already eating the cost of a new frame. Leader did a good job with keeping in contact with me. I originally called when the whole office was out for an employee's wedding. The next day I called them back and they ended up sending me an email independently shortly after I got off the phone. They followed up with another email later in the week. I called them several times to check on the frame and they had no idea where it was on Monday, but yesterday, Wednesday, they had found it and decided to warranty it.
That's the problem. They warrantied it. Now I'm going to pay $25 to ship it back. I owe the shop for shipping it over (probably like $40) and then I have to pay to get it set up (probably another $50). So $115 total to replace a frame I bought for $109, and that included shipping. I know, wah wah wah. See, if they hadn't warrantied it, I could have lobbied to buy that nice Ti/Carbon frame that the shop loaned me. Now I still have a shot, but I don't think I can afford as much for it as it's worth. Especially because I still have to pay for all the shipping regardless. OK, enough whining. I don't even know that the frame is available. I wouldn't sell it if I had the choice. I'm going to be able to get back to riding next month. That's all that counts, right?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Baptist woes in FW

(Note, I don't normally comment on non-Catholic or specifically Baptist churches, but my buddy Professor X normally does, especially on stuff in our backyard. I was going to email this to him but I can't seem to find his addy anywhere so I'm posting on it as best I can. I'm sure he'll have better, more insightful commentary to follow.)

There's this fairly sizable Baptist church in FW that's having issues with their pastor. No, he didn't do something immoral or even illegal. He made some choices that showed he was a moderate, not a conservative. To be fair, the church doesn't seem to be associated with the Southern Baptist Convention ("Broadway is not subservient to any state or national convention or organization"). In fact, in the latest church newsletter, the pastor speaks of a conference called the "Celebration of a New Baptist Covenant" in Atlanta that he missed. Speakers included Tony Campolo (American Baptist, quite green and quite service and justice oriented) and Sen. Charles Grassley, (small world, ain't it, Prof X?) who you should recognize as the Senator who's hitting up Benny Hinn and Creflo Dollar for financial records. Keynote was from former Pres. Jimmy Carter (one of my first memories was my folks gathered around the kitchen table with a down cast look on their faces, like they'd been to a funeral. That was the day that Jimmy Carter was elected.). OK, so the church is not the same kind of Southern Baptist church that gets all the press in TX and has all the stereotypes associated with that. It's an independent historically Baptist church that one blogger who attends defines as "extremely moderate/liberal." The big issues listed in the article are 1) the deacons made a concession for gay couples in the congregation, allowing them to be in the church directory, but only in group shots, not as a couple in the family listing, and 2) he started a homeless program that some (maybe most) in the congregation didn't support or actively opposed, and 3) that he was lenient on having registered sex offenders attend church functions. Poking around, I was able to find some blogging on the "progressive/moderate" side, as well as some statements from the folks who want to oust the pastor. Please note that I really don't have a side in this issue. I'm Catholic, so to me I use quotes around some titles to show that I'm lifting them from other places and don't see any connotations attached. I dunno, do you think this is a matter of the pastor crossing a line and getting too liberal? Or maybe just a group of conservative parishioners who are making themselves known? Who moved, the pastor or the congregation? So, as Professor X would say, what do you think?