Monthly Archives: April 2010

“Without fear, we must set sail on the digital sea…”

“… with the same passion that has governed the Ship of the Church for two thousand years.”

The pope made a good speech this week, to one of those think-tanky conferences about using computers for good and not for evil. I guess, if you get the Italian bishops to sponsor these things, you get a better class of celebrity speaker. 🙂

Anyway, the pope basically encouraged Christians to act like it when they’re on the computer (“living in the digital world with a believer’s heart”), and for everybody to acknowledge each other’s worth as human beings, avoiding “the many forms of degradation and humiliation” that mistreat “the intimacy of the person” and make people into “objects of exchange and consumption”. He encouraged us not to forget “to look each other in the face”, figuratively speaking, and “to give attention to people and their spiritual needs”.

He also encouraged everyone to fight “the decline of the critical spirit” (although that’s not a problem in some places in this world!), and to resist “truth reduced to a game of opinions”, or OTOH, conformity and homogenization.

Except in a much more inspirational way.

I haven’t seen the full text anywhere yet. I’ll look around and post a link.

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Cantored This Morning

Everything went well at the 8 AM Mass, except a couple blips. Very nice and prayerful morning.

Then I sang with the choir at the 9:30. All went well again — until the coffee from first thing this morning finally lost its power. All of a sudden, I was so sleepy I could barely keep my eyelids open.

After Mass, I replenished my coffee supply. But after I got home, I napped for four hours straight. I’m still desperately sleepy. But this is a lot better than the other day, so I’ll take it. 🙂

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The Dr Who Writers Hate Me Now

“The Beast Below” was an episode which, in many ways, had its heart in the right place. The problem was that it threw its brain away to get there. When you can think of three or four better courses of action than the Doctor does, while the scene is still on television, it isn’t a good sign. Doctor Who is supposed to be about cutting through logical fallacies, at least in part.

I also rather resent the continuation of “all you viewers are so stupid that we writers have to come right out and explain parallels to the situation of the main character, while hitting you over the head repeatedly with them”. That’s subtle compared with Russell T. Davies, but that’s not saying much. And don’t say you have to do it because it’s a kids’ show. Kids enjoy a bit of subtlety as much as anyone.

Yes… I have now gotten enough sleep to stop feeling zoned out and punch drunk, and my inner critic has come back with a vengeance.

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Historical Link: Amy Welborn’s Blog Back in April 2005

I meant to post this back last week.

But since Typepad’s new commenting system has disappeared Amy’s postings and the extensive, historically interesting comments, I’m glad to see that at least some of the comments are still available on Internet Archive.

So here’s April 2005, for your reference.

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Zoned Out

This whole week, I’ve been stressed, tired out, and dealing with several unexpected events at work and at home. A big long-term project has fallen through. I’ve also learned some very sad news about a member of a friend’s family, and the complications of that.

But this week, I’ve just been zoned out a lot. Or at least, my emotions have been. I’ll have bits of crushing sadness for no good reason, now and then, but the rest of the time… I don’t really have much emotion at all. It’s like all that stuff is behind a wall of zoning out. (I’ve been very forgetful, too. So maybe my emotions and certain kinds of memory are tied together?) I can’t even keep my mind on what’s happened, half the time.

I must be coming down with something. Or it’s a hormone thing. My allergies and sinus don’t work this way. Usually I’m more emo when I’ve been having trouble sleeping, so I don’t get it at all. I don’t think it’s positive. I mean, sure it’s handy to be able to function, but I feel like I’m only half here.

While we’re on the topic of zoning out, I’ve seen it theorized recently that certain politicians, businessmen, et al have been studying those books on the pickup artist version of quick and dirty neurolinguistic programming. I have to admit, some of those guys’ idea of rhetoric and speech technique does look like they’ve watched one too many episodes of The Mentalist or some used car showcase.

Apparently, the trick is to get people bored into submission while simultaneously throwing out a lot of strong image-words and gestures that “tie” positive things to you… sorta like hypnosis, but a tad more subtle. Of course, you have to talk like some kind of hustler or medicine show guy to do it. But if your audience watches you through the whole thing, the idea is that they won’t be in any position to criticize you anymore….


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Anne Grimes: Collector of Ohio Folk Music

About a zillion years ago, I discovered an old album of folk music from Ohio. It was called Ohio State Ballads, by some lady named Anne Grimes (which I had found in a university library several years previously, transcribed, and learned by heart). It never even occurred to me that Grimes might still be alive and kicking, much less that she was running around collecting more Ohio folk music. She must have lived a pretty interesting life, since she worked as a song collector, singer and musician, and vocal coach, had a good marriage, and raised five kids.

There’s a good quote from her obit: “”Everybody thinks you find folk music in the hills; you don’t — it’s in people’s heads.”

Well, it seems that she passed away in 2004, but she still had one more book in her. It will be coming out this June.

Ohio State Ballads is available from the Smithsonian’s Folkways label. I’m not sure what to say about it, since it’s such an old companion in my life. It’s not a conventionally pretty album of a conventionally skilled musician, to the extent that it’s almost a field recording. (Not that she didn’t have a well-trained voice or good dulcimer skills, because those show up on certain tracks.) But “authentic” was apparently the sound she was aiming for.

But this album’s sound does have a lot of power and interest; and this remastered version of the album has a clarity that the older versions of the album had lost. I’m very fond of “Logan’s Lament”, “St. Clair’s Lament”, the fun foxhunting song “Portsmouth Fellows” (which I need to inflict on my little brother, since he’s been doing foxhunting with the local group of riders), and a ton of others.

You can download the cover and liner notes for free from the Smithsonian site. Besides being a charming whiff of the late fifties, you might find the Ohio history info handy.

You can buy or download the album on all the usual sites, too.

If you want to dig deeper, the standard source is Mary O. Eddy’s Ballads and Songs from Ohio, from back in the thirties. Pearl Nye collected Ohio canalboat songs, which were collected into a book I’ve never seen called Scenes and Songs of the Ohio-Erie Canal. Anne Salt has a sheet music book called Buckeye Heritage, that also focuses on Ohio history. Underground Railroad, Civil War, and Shaker songs are all important to Ohio’s musical life, but you have to look around to find them. I’ve got another Ohio sheet music songbook, but I can’t find it just now, so I can’t tell you the title.

Here’s someone singing a funny song from Eddy, “Common Bill”. She apparently collected it up in Perrysville, and it was then reprinted in Carl Sandburg’s anthology An American Songbag. (Of which I have heard much, but never so much as seen a copy. Unless that’s it in the YouTube video.) You see this song referenced in some stories from the Fifties. (But what kills me is how familiar the singer sounds when he talks. I don’t think I know anybody from Montreal, but it’s uncanny how much he sounds like somebody I do know.)

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Everybody Has Weird Home Remedies

The Chinese say that for a runny nose, you should drink ginger and scallion/soy broth soup. (You know, like miso but with stuff in it.) Hot and sour soup is also popular.

Apparently, some Japanese swear by “tamagozake” when they feel a cold coming on. That’s an egg (tamago) and some sugar, beaten and then added to hot sake that you have cooking on your stove.

Substitute the sake with whiskey, and get rid of the egg, and it’s what my parents swore by. But… actually, the medieval medicinal drink “caudle” just dumped egg yolks and spices into wine or ale (usually with bread or starch of some kind, but not always). So I guess home remedies sometimes are where east meets west.


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Now That’s a Name

There was somebody in Delaware County, Ohio, who died in the early 1900’s, and who rejoiced in this name:

Diademy Adams.

Man. If nothing else, what a great search term. What a great name to inflict on a heroine. Not steampunk, maybe, unless it was very early steampunk… or a Western….

But believe it or not, she wasn’t the only person in the US to bear that name.

There was a woman named Diademy Ellsworth from Pennsylvania, who was born in 1803 and died in 1869; a Diademy Baremore who married in 1763 (and who gave her daughter the name Appolonia); a Diademy Kief who was born in 1811, and who came from New York; a Diademy Creason who was born in 1839 in Missouri (whose family included ladies named Thurza and Serepta); a Diademy Corkins who was born in 1786; a Diademy Bilyeau who was born in 1827 in Tennessee….

So it wasn’t a common name, but it was out there. I wonder why. Hymn tune? The product of reading the New Testament in Greek?

In literature, Kate Douglas Wiggin has the nickname Diademy in her book The Village Watch Tower, but the lady’s name is really Diadema. It is a collection of several short stories set in the same village.

It seems that there are some people out there right now, who are named Diadema. One is a black lady. But pretty much all the world’s Diademas seem to have lived in the 1800’s.

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Another Holmes Manga

Christie High Tension stars Mycroft Holmes’ adorable blond and blue-eyed daughter, Christie (as in Agatha, yes), and her faithful Great Dane (who barks in katakana). Together, they fight crime! And help out Uncle Sherlock!

This is a real oddity. It’s a manga starring a just-short-of-moe heroine, appearing in a comic magazine aimed at older guys. The drawing style is mostly matter-of-fact and realistic, except when it comes to Christie. (Oh noes… all the ruffles and flowers…..) It seems like it should be all comedy, but it’s a bit elaborate for that. It adapts actual Holmes stories, even. It doesn’t do anything creepy, so it’s not that. So all I can figure is that it’s just aimed at Holmesians, because they’ll read anything vaguely Holmes. Maybe it counts as slice of life mystery, nostalgically reminding the older guys of the fun of being mystery fans as kids.

The major reason I’m posting about this is that in this manga, Mycroft Holmes gets to have a daughter. A daughter. I mean, there’s always been the whole joke about Nero Wolfe being his son. But usually, people are obsessed with giving his brother Sherlock the kids.

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Waiting for the Ice Kings

This has been a great year for those gardeners in my area who go old school, and refuse to plant spring stuff until after the First of May. There’s also certain things that people won’t plant until after Memorial Day.

But this year, my mother has been moved to clarify that, when she has refused in the past to plant things before my older brother’s birthday, she was actually not doing that, not exactly. Instead, she was following her grandmother’s good ol’ German saying that you can have frost any time until “the Ice Kings”. So you don’t plant before the Ice Kings.

No, we’re not talking about hockey. Or daffodils. But I can’t find it on the Internet because of them.

I swear I’ve read about this on the Internet before, which was why it was weird to hear it from my mother. It’s a German saint thing. There are three saints’ days in the middle of May that are called “the Ice Kings”.


Okay, apparently the majority of German speakers on the Intarwebz have either three or _five_ saints’ days in May that they call the “Eisheiligen”, or Ice Saints. There’s a lot of different sayings about them, collectively and individually.

Here’s a page about them, which also calls them the Ice Men. It’s the old days for the feasts of Ss. Mamertus, Pancras (or Pancratius), Servatius, Boniface (or Bonifatius), and Sophie. They’re all martyrs, not “kings” per se; so “Ice Kings” just means that they end the ice time, or is a parallel to the feast of the Three Kings that begin the really hard winter. So this sounds familiar to what I’ve read before.

This is also a saying in France, where they call them “les saints de Glace”.

This isn’t right in my family, though. The Ice Kings are from the 15th to the 17th, my mom said. Maybe my Ohio immigrant family is just more paranoid than the ones who stuck around in Germany. Or maybe this version comes from the Swiss side of my family. I mean, you’d have to be paranoid up in the Alps. It’s even been pointed out that, with the change from Julian to Gregorian dates, the Eisheiligen period really should be from May 19th-May 22nd. Heh.

I suspect that the definition of Ice Kings changes, depending on how stubborn the frost in your locale is. I mean, there’s even a German saying for June 22nd, the “end of snow”, that it’s okay to shear your sheep because there’ll be no snow after that. That has to be some kind of mountain or Arctic saying, ’cause snow in June isn’t a worry for most of us in the Northern Hemisphere!

Here’s a whole bunch more of Eisheiligen sayings and saints’ days sayings.

Anyway… once again, you see the pattern of the immigrants keeping the name that the folks back in the Old Country ditch. (Although it probably didn’t help that Hitler’s pet occultists made up some stupid Aryan definition of some old tribe as being “ice kings”. So there may be legal reasons connected with the anti-Nazi laws for us not to see the old name come up in searches.)

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Bayou Renaissance Man on the Scandal

Once upon a time, not so long ago, the blogger we know as Bayou Renaissance Man was a priest. He’s not anymore, except in the Melchizedek sense; but he does have a sad story, which takes exactly four articles to tell.

If you haven’t been following the Scandal, I think you’ll find it very useful.

If you’ve been following the Scandal, you won’t see anything new here, per se. This is what a lot of people were thinking and feeling, back when the last wave broke. What’s really interesting in that case are the comments.

An awful lot of people basically come right out and say that until they read this gentleman’s article, they didn’t understand Thing One about the structure or culture of the Catholic Church. Which… is weird… but in a lot of ways, encouraging. (Though it’s odd to be called insular, or compared to being as exotic as a Zulu….)

Which goes to show that the Melchizedek sense of the priesthood is not to be sneezed at.

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Ohio: Catholic Road Trip Destinations

So you need a cheap vacation this year, or you’re a college student who needs a road trip. Well, wherever you live in the world, there’s probably plenty of interesting places to go which aren’t far from you.

Here in the US, there’s not a state that isn’t full of bizarre little places of interest, weird and wonderful museums, off the beaten path scenery, parks, camping areas, caves, historical sites, and so forth. A lot of these places are free, and others are cheap. They definitely beat staying home in the AC, staring at the walls.

Ohio is not only full of all the aforesaid places, but also of wild and wonderful shrines and places of pilgrimage. They are usually either in the heart of cities, or way the heck out in God’s Country. Either way, it’ll be different for you. You’ll also learn a lot about Ohio settlement patterns (or be able to teach them to the kiddies).

Here’s a nice article on Ohio shrines from the Columbus diocesan paper. It’s based mostly on the Ohio shrines website of a gentleman named Paul Cavanaugh. (Whose ISP has an interesting name.)

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Department of Pollen

The pollen count on Friday was over 4000. Usually, no one day in spring around here is more than about 2000-2500. Since we started out the week still a little under 1000, you can guess how delightful this Friday was. Saturday was also pretty pollen-y, and so was this morning.

So when I walked to church today, I wore a hat to cover my hair, a jacket to cover my clothes, and wrapped a (light) muffler over my nose and mouth. When I got to church, I took all these off and hung them far away from the choir room. Believe it or not, this paranoia helped a LOT. My nose actually stayed relatively clear, only dripping the least tiniest bit, and my eyes didn’t water. My sinuses also were pretty good, though drinking a lot of coffee at breakfast also helped. I was much better prepared for singing than I’d been afraid it’d be. (I’ve been a bit hoarse from drippage the last few days.)

One of our choir members didn’t show up at all, thanks to allergy drippage. Another has been taking steroids all week so as to be able to breathe. So I’m counting my blessings.

Man, I can’t wait until the tree pollen season is done. The good news is that, as bad as it gets when all the trees bloom big and all at once like this, it will also get done all at once. We just have to get through the next week or so, instead of the next month.

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Department of Cowering Under the Jackboot

The Post Office sent my tax return back to me. For insufficient (ie, no) postage.


I have no idea how long it’s been in the mailbox. I don’t _think_ it came back right after I mailed it on the 14th, because I did check my mailbox that day. In fact, I’m fairly sure it came back to me after the 15th… but there’s no way of knowing for sure, because my memory for things like mailbox checking is very bad.

The sad thing is, I swear I put a stamp on that puppy. I put a Forever stamp on my federal return and a Christmas stamp on my Ohio one. (You may guess which one I felt more cheerful about.) So… assuming I didn’t actually forget to affix the Forever stamp (and I don’t think I forgot, though it’s possible), this means I’m always going to have to be paranoid, and fully check my Forever stamps’ stickeriness from now on.

It probably also means that I’m going to have pay tax penalties for being late or something, since the Post Office didn’t actually do me the courtesy of postmarking it before sending it back. Unless the IRS is really feeling mean, and audits me or something. Arghhhhhhhh.

It also occurred to me, after remailing the return, that I probably needed to get a new envelope and could not actually just restamp the old one. But it’s in the mail now, so I’m probably out of luck and will just get the envelope back. Again. Possibly with more red ink stamps on it.


The one consolation I have is that I can’t blame this on my lateness. I mailed that return a whole day early. And if I had mailed it January 1st, I still could have gotten it back on April 16th for insufficient postage or whatever. I’ve gotten plenty of weird mail returns, at home and at work, anywhere from a month to six months after mailing. (Usually this happens when the stamp/postage strip/mailing address gets mangled by some postal machine somewhere until the other postal machines can’t read it anymore, and then they send it back to the original sender as a sort of peace offering.) Postal mail these days is a sort of lottery; you wager a stamp that it will get through. You’ve probably got a 95% chance that it will, which isn’t bad as a bet; but it isn’t good for a service.

Luckily, any work mail that’s heavier than a few ounces, or larger than a little letter envelope, is usually cheaper to send 2 day FedEx than by first class mail. It’s more reliable, and our mailroom guy can track it. I’ve had some problems with getting Amazon packages delivered to me at my apartment in the past; but I’ve never had problems at work with FedEx packages not getting where they’re supposed to go. When I send something express at work, I have confidence and peace of mind.

(The Post Office rate list, btw, is so complicated that I literally cannot figure out how much it costs to send packages, unless I make some kind of chart. It’s not just by weight, but also by envelope/package size. No mailroom guy wants to fuss with it, which is why the Post Office is pushing their pre-paid boxes so hard. Though they don’t mind charging you a buck more than what your package’s mailing rate actually should be.)

And of course, postage really should be free for tax stuff, since it’s government business. However much your stuff weighs, it’s all official government paperwork that pays for the government’s existence. But nooooo.

I knew I should have put two stamps on the envelope, just to be safe. But if you do that nowadays, they think you’re the Unibomber. Bah.

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