Monthly Archives: August 2014

Things We All Know

It’s been way too busy lately, so here’s the best I can do……

Q: How many teenagers does it take to put a new roll of toilet paper on the dispenser?

A: Nobody knows; it’s never happened.

What We Used to Know

bon amiKids today learn very differently from the way they used to learn.

Bon Ami – a cleaning powder that’s been around for a long time has used the logo of a chick with the caption, “Hasn’t scratched yet.” Kids today have no correlation to that motto.

While they have the Internet, standards of learning and smartphones, maybe grandma and grandpa’s education had its own benefits.

Sex education wasn’t taught in school – there was no need. Kids grew up seeing horses, cows and dogs having sex and giving birth. Barn cats, who kept the mice under control had a short life span, but lots of kittens to replace them. Seeing newborn kittens or puppies before their eyes were open was routine, but always exciting.

Similarly, death was a normal part of life. Not all kittens and puppies survived and the older animals eventually died. Grandpa expected to die in his own bed, surrounded by family, then placed in a coffin which was kept in the family parlor for the requisite 3 days. He may have even been buried right there on the family farm.

With no supermarkets, there was no illusion that meat magically grew in plastic wrapped Styrofoam trays. It was understood that the first step in preparing a chicken dish was to kill a chicken. Similarly, if the pig or cow lovingly raised for the state fair received a blue ribbon, it was quickly followed by becoming an entrée.

Knowledge isn’t wisdom and wisdom isn’t knowledge, but there is some sort of association. Maybe learning things that are more down to earth helps to eventually develop wisdom.

If that’s so, today’s kids haven’t scratched yet.

Original Sin



Lucas Cranach the Younger - Adam and Eve - Google Art Project.jpg

Lucas Cranach the Younger –  Adam and Eve – Google Art Project.jpg



Scripture is viewed in many ways: the literal word of God, Divinely inspired, or just a nice collection of stories and poems. God understands it, but since His thoughts and ways are not the same as ours, we have a few problems.

Original sin is one such example; was it literally Adam and Eve (often portrayed as fair skinned Caucasians) with an apple? Maybe it was a couple of Neanderthals named Ugg and Ugga and a fig – more endemic to the region.

In any case, somewhere humankind made it clear to God that we know better than He and probably with the encouragement of Satan and the other fallen angels.

Today we see women and children kidnapped while men with their hands tied behind them have their bodies riddled with bullets from Kalashnikovs by people shouting “God is great!” We see people using the heartbreak of a young man’s death as an excuse to break into liquor stores. We see “To Protect and to Serve” replaced by body armor, MRAPs and M-16 assault rifles.

We don’t have time for this!

Jesus reopened the door between us and God.

Use it.

Plumbing – The Great Equalizer


I have college degrees, professional certifications, and various other proofs of intelligence, but nothing cuts me down to size faster than plumbing.

Plumbing! How hard can it be?

You have a pipe that brings water into your home; you have pipes that distribute it as either hot or cold water; you have a pipe that carries the waste water out.

What could be simpler?

From my experience – nuclear physics, quantum mechanics and, transmogrification.

You measure the size of the pipe, go to the hardware store, buy the correct size and bring it home to find that it doesn’t fit. You go back and get a replacement (you can’t return the piece bought after you’ve bent it in six places) and find that it requires a double adapter conversion connector with a double helix as well as a connection to an alternative universe.

I’ve tried everything – online tutorials; cursing; and even (when no one else is around) letting my pants slide down just like the professional plumbers do.

So far, cursing seems to work the best.

Then I call a plumber, who usually is good natured about removing my repairs and then making it right.

You Won’t Find This on Craigslist!


Slightly used two lane road, complete with large selection of spare parts. Open to offer or trade. Buyer must arrange for shipping.

The Problem with Being a Writer

I have not blogged as often lately because my day job, as a writer, has been extremely busy.

Many of us dream of getting a job doing what we love; playing music, taking photographs, or writing. When we do it becomes – a job. I put myself through school taking wedding photographs, but stopped taking pictures for enjoyment, because it was a job.

Fortunately, I love my current day job. However, love it or not, my day job comes first (well, third after faith and family, but you know what I mean).

So if there are periods when I don’t write, it’s because I’m too busy writing.

You know what I mean.

A Hero and a Saint

sp3rn1In July 1941, three prisoners escaped from Auschwitz, the infamous Nazi concentration camp. As retribution and to discourage future escape attempts, the Nazis sentenced ten random men to be starved to death. One man reacted by crying out with concern for his wife and children.

There was another prisoner, Father Maximillian Kolbe, who had used his friary to shelter many of his fellow Poles – including over two thousand Jews. Father Kolbe volunteered to take the man’s place.

While they awaited death, he prayed with and encouraged his fellow prisoners. After two weeks, only Father Kolbe remained alive.

The Nazis got tired of waiting, so on August 14, 1941, they injected carbolic acid into Father Kolbe’s arm, killing him.

In 1982, he was canonized – recognized as a saint – by Pope John Paul II and August 14 was designated as his feast day. The man whose place he had taken had survived and was present at the ceremony.

St. Maximillian Kolbe is the patron saint of drug addicts (because of the fatal injection), families, the imprisoned – especially political prisoners, and groups promoting the sanctity of life.

He is also the patron saint of Amateur Radio, having been a licensed ham – SP3RN.

As a tribute, he and his call sign are listed along with current licensed hams, with the following comment; “Reported to be a silent key.”

When a ham radio operator is done transmitting, he sends the Morse Code that combines the letters S and K. This is also used to refer to a ham who has died and is permanently silent.

Thanks (yet once again) to Wikipedia. You can donate to Wikipedia at:


What’s Wrong with This Picture?

Two issues got me today.

The first was when I heard that Robin Williams’s daughter dropped off social media because she was getting harassed about her father’s death.

Excuse me? What kind of insensitive moron would do such a thing?

Oh, an anonymous troll who can be a bully without anyone knowing who it is; I won’t anthropomorphize such bottom dwellers.

And for what it’s worth, I think it was a much better world with Robin Williams in it; he made us laugh, and more importantly he made us think.

The second issue was when I saw “Users Ask Which Photo [the] Media Would Use #IfTheyGunnedMeDown” a story from USA Today, in which young people of color offer two pictures; one shows a young adult chillaxing (as my daughter would say). The second shows the same person in a graduation gown, military uniform, or dress clothes. Which picture would be used?

The answer is, whichever one would hold the mass audience attention longer so they could sell you pills for erectile dysfunction.

So, as the media picks the picture to best rile everyone up, remember, that young person with the [fill in the fashion, cultural, linguistic or other attribute] may well turn out to be the doctor, lawyer, minister or other professional in whose hands your future will be placed at some critical point in the future.

Life is a Whirlwind

With all the demands of life, sometimes it’s nice to just take a “Me” day, or better yet, a “We” day.

After a trip up to the Washington DC area to check out a college with my son, and the usual chores, etc. on Saturday, my wife and I called a time-out for today.

We spent the day doing some of the things we wanted to do, and, yes I fit in a nap here and there. We tried a new restaurant, which was wonderful. It was an excellent use of a Sunday.

After all, God made the Sabbath for us, not us for the Sabbath.

Thanks, God, for one more wonderful thing.

Back to School


My daughter and I just got back from the store after buying all those things (or at least almost all) that she needs for school.

I’ve gotten used to most of the changes:

The fact that stationery supplies for an 8th grader cost as much as a college credit hour cost me in the 1960s

Getting the list of supplies electronically before school even starts

Daughters need to be wearing the right outfit in order to shop – even for school supplies

What I haven’t gotten used to is that my youngest is headed into 8th grade; her slightly older brother will be driving to school; and that her older-older brother has orders to New England.

These are just kids – MY KIDS, for crying out loud. They’re not supposed to be so grown.


Maybe You Can Never Go Back – But You Can Visit

Harry Dinkle  The World's Greatest Band Director Tom Batiuk

Harry Dinkle
The World’s Greatest Band Director
Tom Batiuk



I recently returned from a trip to Toledo, OH, which is where I grew up. Last Saturday night there was a ceremony to induct people into my high school’s Music Hall of Fame. Yes, we have a Music Hall of Fame.

Back in the day, we had an absolutely awesome marching band and the glee club did top notch musicals along with the orchestra. Being a Catholic school, the uniforms, the instruments and all the accoutrement were supplied through fund raisers managed by the band parents. At least once a year we put on our uniforms without picking up instruments and sold band candy outside local stores, factories, or whatever. The uniforms had an overlay for marching, but could also be worn with white shirt and necktie as a concert band uniform. Large instruments, such as bassoons and sousaphones, were courtesy of the band parents’ efforts.

The music department was so good that when the school got a new principal, he decided that he was going to “put the music department in its place.”

If that place was oblivion, he succeeded 45 years ago.

The banquet hall was packed; I’m guessing there were 500 or so from all over the US. The current school president told the assembled multitude that he was committed to “getting our music department back.”

I hope so. Music is not only an art, but also a powerful tool for brain development.

I’m going to check back and see if it really happens.