Wednesday, November 29, 2006

School = Stress
I got nuttin' more to say.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

The Day of Eatingness

1O Turkey Day, O Turkey Day
It's time to eat some yams and play
Football with all the family
While Dad's inside just eating brie.

It's time for stuffing and green beans
And pumpkin pie and good ice cream.
O Turkey Day, O Turkey Day,
Good times for all my friends, I pray.

As I discussed with my kids the latest round of political correctness while trying to up the can food drive intake (which, at least from what I've seen, has been very minimal), I tried to explain that my intent was not to make them feel guilty. Rather, it was just to get them thinking about all it is that they have been blessed with, and all the people who have brought them to where they are today .... leading them to reflect on how they can be appreciative for what they've received and share that with others.

That being said ..... there will be no shortage of food security at my parent's house this evening. So if I'm absent from the blogging world, simply pay no attention to the turkey-induced coma. Actually, though, I don't usually eat too much on Thanksgiving — probably because Thanksgiving is more of the Brussel Sprout variety. Now, if we had Thanksgiving cookies ......

And so, on that note, I share with you a touchingly heartfelt holiday scene.

1To be sung very loosely to the tune of O Christmas Tree O Maryland

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Turkey Delurking

courtesy of the RevGals ...

I've been a little out of my bloggish loop since the summertime craziness, and I've only been gradually reacclimating myself. I still have not even uploaded and/or finished the post of my Octobreian absence, which was all about all the connections that get made in spite of the absence of face time. Alas, slacker-me never posted it .... but now there's motivation to return to it.

While this is a time to be grateful for all the blessings, I am also grateful for this forum. Not just for the connections made and the broadening of my own horizons, but also for the simple development of my written thoughts .... and how that has brought me to places now that I wouldn't have thought a year ago.

Apparently I'm not the only one to think this way; thus, the RevGals have declared Thanksgiving Delurking Week.
Place this image on your blog and announce Delurking Week, starting today and going until November 26th. When you visit a blog, you can either just say "Thank you for blogging" or place a blogstone (o) (The invention of PPB of The Ice Floe) or whatever verbage the Spirit moves you to leave.
My delurking might have to wait until I'm back into Cow Country, but until then ..... Happy Thanksgiving Day.*
*Offer not valid outside the continental United States, Hawaii, or Alaska; retroactively applied a month previous to our friends north of the border.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Reason #82,391 Why I Love My Kids

Telling them at the tail end of class yesterday about the latest politically correct terminology:

Wait, you guys gotta hear this. Apparently the FDA or whoever has decided to stop using the word "hungry."
What are they gonna use? Starving?
Nope, "very low food security."
That's dumb. They'll still be starving.
Some Americans Lack Food, but USDA Won't Call Them Hungry
Yeah, apparently it's too scientifically vague. Like "a potential consequence of food insecurity that, because of prolonged, involuntary lack of food, results in discomfort, illness, weakness, or pain that goes beyond the usual uneasy sensation" makes more sense? Believe me, if you ask those who are most in need if they're hungry, they can tell you. If you give them that line about "potential consequence" and ask whether a "lack of eating led to these more severe conditions" .... they probably won't have any desire to even try to translate that out in their brain, let alone give an answer.

Old terminology ~ "food insecurity without hunger," meaning people who ate, though sometimes not well, and "food insecurity with hunger," for those who sometimes had no food.
New terminology ~ "very low food security," described as experiencing "multiple indications of disrupted eating patterns and reduced food intake." Slightly better-off people who aren't always sure where their next meal is coming from are labeled "low food security."

Unique tidbit to learn: That 35 million people in this wealthy nation feel insecure about their next meal can be hard to believe, even in the highest circles. In 1999, Texas Gov. George W. Bush, then running for president, said he thought the annual USDA report -- which consistently finds his home state one of the hungriest in the nation -- was fabricated.

Report: Fewer People in U.S. Are Hungry

A Post editorial expresses appreciation that the USDA doesn't control national monuments: "Give me your energy-deficient, your financially challenged, your space-impaired masses yearning to breathe free."

Joel Achenbach, WaPo blogger, offers us the Curmudgeon's Cure for All Human Misery (just scroll down slightly) ... this includes alternatives to everything from thirst (personal hydration overexpectation) to bubonic plague (rodentially transmitted rapid wellness deterioration mode) {not to be confused with the probabilistic, irreversible wellness termination that is sometimes referred to as the black plague}, death (end-stage wellness), and even the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (Quadro-Equestrian Hardship Demonstration Team; also Mounted Eschatology End-Stage Wellness Unit). Commenters added such gems as the redefinition of a nice cup of hot chicken soup to be re-represented as ".24 liters of thermally elevated gallinaceous hydration libation having potentially wellness-inducing placebo effect."

But, just as a rose by any other name would smell as sweet ..... starvation by any other name would gnaw as hard.

And our making up goofy names, especially in some official capacity of those who are allegedly trying to eliminate hunger ..... it makes a mockery of those who are living this reality every day.

Hungry or gastronomically unfulfilled — either way, let's put our energy into figuring out why people feel that way, and what can be done to stop it. Let's focus on the more helpful aspect of rendering those words, or any thesaurusly compelling counterparts, thoroughly unnecessary.

They're hungry, OK? Let's just get 'em some food!

Baltimore Bloggers and Washington Writers


I'll be passing through the DC area next week .... not sure what my schedule is yet, so I'm not sure about meet-up potentialities, but I think it'd be cool if it could work.
So, any Baltimore-Washington folks ..... drop me a comment or an email — I'd love to broaden my real-world horizons! srstephosb { } gmail { } com

If you're in Louisville or Evansville or thereabouts ....

I'll be playing bells on Sunday .... but the whole thing is pretty cool. Plus, you might even get to meet me! :-)

Click here for more info.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Which Pooh character are you?

You choose your friends wisely and even though they may be few in number, they are high in importance.You feel most comfortable when you can follow the crowd and let others make decisions. But that's not to say you can't make up your own mind if you need to.Faithful and true, Piglets make the best friends.
Take this quiz!


Make A Quiz More Quizzes Grab Code

Two Bits of WaPo Religion

The $2.4 million house that J. Brian O'Neill Sr. bought for his son is allowed only six unrelated residents under zoning laws. But if it's a residence for a "religious community," the number jumps to 15. ... The solution? The Apostles of O'Neill. That's the name the young men used Oct. 2 when they filed paperwork to incorporate as a nonprofit religious organization.

For many religious groups, the biblical injunction to hate the sin but love the sinner is no longer sufficient, because many believers do not view homosexuality as a sin ... The impulse to restate traditional teachings against same-sex activity is complicated by the simultaneous desire to minister to gays. (On a strictly Catholic front, Bishops Pass Guidelines to Gay Ministry : trying to support gay parishioners while strictly affirming the church stance that same-sex relationships are "disordered." ... Yet bishops insisted that they're trying to be more "welcoming than condemning." )

Monday, November 13, 2006

I Wonder ....

..... why it's not Monday the 13th. Wouldn't that seem more appropriate?

Especially if you're in a house of five people and four of them ("them" meaning "not me") are sick. Especially if you're stressing over fitting stuff into the rest of the semester. Especially if you load the car up with recycling right after school only to remember as you're driving in that they're closed on Mondays. Especially if you decide to get a haircut (as long as you're out) and the wait means that you'd be late for community dinner, so that's pointless too.

And, most annoyingly ..... especially if you remember coming across this beyond-perfect assignment online, which would take high-schoolers through a week of reflecting on a single gospel text and culminating in the writing of a homily/reflection, but all crafted in such a way that they'd actually have to do a little each night. Especially if you can't imagine your packratitis letting you get away with not bookmarking it, printing it, or emailing the link to yourself, but you can't seem to find where you would have sent it. Especially if you've spent an entire evening trying extremely unsuccessfully to recreate the exact string of search terms that brought you to that site before.

Especially if you're still clueless on what you're teaching tomorrow.

Stupid Google and its eighteen million and three search results.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Tonight's TV

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition tonight is a house they did at Saint Meinrad, town of our favorite confreres .... check it out. I'll post later (if I can get it) a picture of me helping, complete with secret service curlique earpiece -- I felt all important! (My monks and seminarians will be featured with the moving-in of furniture!)

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Pardon my panic ....

Yeah, cuz if you plan ahead, there's more to panic about. If you're working last-minute, there's too little time you're trying to account for.

But it's supposed to make me a better teacher, right?

Even still ..... there's a whole lotta stuff to cover in the nine (yes, I said nine!) classes between now and the end of the semester.

Bonus points to those who actually look up the passage. Because, of course, the important thing about trying to plan the rest of the semester is finding the right scripture passage to post on the blog .......

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Last One, I Promise for now, anyways!

Linguistic Profile:
60% General American English
20% Yankee
10% Dixie
5% Upper Midwestern
0% Midwestern

OK, so I'm bored .....

You Are a Glazed Donut

Okay, you know that you're plain - and you're cool with that.
You prefer not to let anything distract from your sweetness.
Your appeal is understated yet universal. Everyone dig you.
And in a pinch, you'll probably get eaten.

Nah .... I just miss fireplaces!

What Your Soul Really Looks Like

You are very passionate and quite temperamental. While you can be moody, you always crave comfort.

You are a grounded person, but you also leave room for imagination and dreams. You feet may be on the ground, but you're head is in the clouds.

You believe that people see you for how you are, not how you look. But deep down, you know that's not exactly true.

Your near future is still unknown, and a little scary. You'll get through wild times - and you'll textually enjoy it.

For you, love is all about caring and comfort. You couldn't fall in love with someone you didn't trust.

No Shock Here .....

You Are 35% Normal

You sure do march to your own beat...
But you're so weird, people wonder if it's a beat at all
You think on a totally different wavelength
And it's often a chore to get people to understand you

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


'What will your obituary say?' at

If I Were Jesus ....

Got a card from my parents wherein my mom wished me a "Happy 33rd Birthday." Jeana and I both looked at it rather quizzically.

J: Are you really 33?
Me: Huh.
J: Wow.
M: Yeah. If I were Jesus, I'd be dead.

Today, my mom sent one of her all-family e-mails: CHEERS TO STEPH ON HER 33rd BIRTHDAY!!
So I replied all with: Yup ..... If I were Jesus, I'd be dead.
And my brother's response: If you were Jesus, [Dad] would be God and, well, that's just ridiculous.

Unfortunately, my father (who insists on being called Noble Ancestor and therefore needs no encouragement) has already called, identified himself as God, and told me that he's sitting on his throne and if I ever need anything, like water changed into wine or anything like that, just to let him know.
And I wonder about the lack of nunly-familial-respect???

Monday, November 06, 2006

Scripture Scribblings -- Play Nice!!!

Mk 12:28b-34 ~ The Greatest Commandment
One of the scribes came to Jesus and asked him, "Which is the first of all the commandments?"
Jesus replied, "The first is this: Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these."
The scribe said to him, "Well said, teacher. You are right in saying, 'He is One and there is no other than he.' And 'to love him with all your heart, with all your understanding, with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself' is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices."
And when Jesus saw that he answered with understanding, he said to him, "You are not far from the kingdom of God."
And no one dared to ask him any more questions.
It seems interesting (to me, anyway) to hear this gospel just two days before the election. Maybe if we weren't so busy pouring all our money into negative advertising, we could put more energy into absorbing the message of this passage.

After all, it's not that tough of a message to get. Nothing like Jesus zapping a fig tree for not bearing fruit "when it was not the season for figs" — top question I get as my kids read through the Gospel of Mark. No, this one's pretty straight forward ... something I keep coming back to. Play nice.

Simple story .... guy comes along, asks Jesus about the greatest commandment. Presumably, given the use of the word "greatest", he's looking for a single answer. He doesn't get it, though — Jesus gives him two. "I am the Lord your God. You shall have no other gods before me." That one's pretty familiar. Number One on Moses' Top Ten List of "Things Thou Shaltn't Do".

But then Jesus gives him the zinger, some claptrap about loving your neighbor. What's up with that? "There's no other commandment greater than these"?!?!? So .... which one's the greatest? They can't both be the greatest, can they?

And yet .... seems to me that loving your neighbor has just become inextricably linked to loving God. And, unfortunately for us faulty flawed human beings, that apparently will also include those less-than-desirable neighbors of ours, like the ones who scrape their forks on their teeth or clip their nails at the symphony or drive the speed limit or are personal-space-bubble-y challenged or talk funny or have a different belief system or, God forbid, even vote for the other guy.

It also struck me how it's kinda the Old Testament focus of being all about "you & God" and the New Testament focus where it's all about "you & others" .... and they both get sandwiched together in this single teaching. They're both important; they're both essential.

And yet .... we seem to have a bit of a challenge living that one out!

Then, of course, there's the second half of that line: Love your neighbor as yourself. I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm pretty darn good at the whole me-bashing thing. I'm great at the double-standard, too — I don't want to bug anyone or drag them down if I'm upset, but I totally want to be there for a friend if they need it .... "but it's different for me." A lot of times, I seem to need even more practice at the "as myself" part of the phrase than the "neighbor" part. I'm not sure how often we consider that side of things. After all, I don't think Jesus'd be too happy with me if I treated my neighbor the way I treat myself sometimes. Of course, on the flip side, I know I wouldn't be too happy with me if I treated myself the way I treat my neighbor sometimes, so I guess it goes both ways!

As an aside .... perhaps it's just the cynic in me, but I've never been able to understand this passage unless I turn the scribe into a full-force smart-aleck. Think Homer Simpson sarcasm — "Oh, sure. All the burnt offerings and sacrifices that we've been doing for hundreds of years, exactly as our scriptures tell us .... yeah, of course they're worthless when compared to playing nice with Flanders. I wonder why I didn't think of that before!" Otherwise, why would they suddenly "not dare to ask him any more questions"? Especially if you consider that the next big story is Jesus telling them to "Beware the scribes, those fakes and hypocrites" .... somehow that doesn't seem to be the response of someone who's particularly pleased with them. But maybe that's just me.....

Of course, then the smart-aleck in me thinks: If we're supposed to love God with "all our heart, all our soul, all our mind, and all our strength" ..... then what's left for us to use to love our neighbor? :-Þ

Methinks I've been a bit too long with high schoolers. A couple weeks ago, as we read the Rule at the monastery before dinner, we heard how Benedict wants us to be sure to recite all 150 psalms during the week. We read, after all, that our holy Fathers, energetic as they were, did all this in a single day. Let us hope that we, lukewarm as we are, can achieve it in a whole week. (RB 18:22-25) My thought? "Oh yeah? And if our holy Fathers jumped off a bridge ....?"

Friday, November 03, 2006

Not only are they badmouthing everyone else .....

.... they're spending millions of dollars to do it.
"Politics is probably the only business in the world where they spend the most money when they have the least number of available customers to pitch to," [Evan Tracey of the Campaign Media Analysis Group] said.
Over 600 brand-new ads are being put out for a mere four days. According to the Post, "This final thrust will boost spending on political and issue advertising past $2 billion in this campaign, or $400 million more than in the 2004 presidential campaign. "
I'm just so glad that there's nothing else in the world more worthy of 2 billion dollars ..... otherwise, I might have to be a bit peeved.

UPDATE: WaPo's MediaNote's comments? I believe I can say, without fear of contradiction, that this year is the worst I've seen in terms of smarmy and sleazy spots that take some little kernel of a fact and twist and pound it out of shape until the opponent is rendered as a sex-crazed, tax-raising, criminal-coddling, terrorist-hugging loon.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

No Comment

From this morning's Louisville Courier-Journal ...
Disputed Death Sentence Upheld

A federal appeals court yesterday upheld the death sentence of a brain-damaged Louisville man whose lawyer did such a poor job researching his case that the attorney didn't know his real name.
At least the victim's nephew added in the comments: As long as he is never able to be out and hurt another family, I don't see how his death does anything to remove our sadness.

UPDATE: The Washington Post's "Bench Conference" blog addresses this issue, calling it Another Death Penalty Debacle.
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