Saturday, April 30, 2005

Daddy Blog Update (regular post below)

Some items of note in the ol' homestead:

While he's been giving us hints and glimmers for a week now, it is offical: Parker can, on cue, give you the biggest happiest smile you've ever seen.

(now if I can only capture it on camera, I'll post the proof here, so check back)

My youngest daughter, four days shy of 22 months, has gone #2 twice in the potty but still shows an affinity for her diapers. Her speech has improved dramatically though: while her vocabulary still consists mainly of "Me?" "Yeah!" and "Yay!", she gave us two complete sentences in the past week.

"Me go with you." and "Me want wear this".

And the elder stateswoman of the bunch has learned a new ditty at the knee of her mommy:

Boys go to Jupiter to get more stupider

Girls go to college to get more knowledge

She was also estatic when her teacher gave her a gift for being good this week: a jar of putty called "body noise" that lets out a fart when you stick your finger in it.

Glad to see her tuition is paying off.

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The Post about Hitler and Saigon April 30th

Sixty years ago today, as the Russian army closed in on Berlin and the war in Europe was nearing its end, the man responsible for six years of bloodshed took his own life.

Deep within the air raid bunker that had been his home since January, Adolf Hitler sat alone with his bride of two days. He had been urged to flee the capital for refuge in the Alps but refused, convinced the end was inevitable.

In the weeks to come his countrymen would face the wrath of Stalin's army, with thousands killed in retribution and perhaps as many as a million women raped.

Hitler would not share their fate.

The Fuhrer swallowed cyanide capsules that had been tested on his own dogs; for good measure, he also shot himself with his own service pistol.

Three decades later - thirty years ago today - another invading army closed in on a capitol.

After ten years of American involvement, at the cost of 58,000 American and 3 million Vietnamese lives, the war in Vietnam was drawing to a close.

With a hostile Congress refusing to meet American promises of intervention, the North Vietnamese launched a new campaign in March of 1975.

They sliced through their neighbors to the South at an alarmingly rate. Pleiiku and the Highlands fell, as did Hue and Da Nang. By April 27th the NVA encircled Saigon itself.

Three days later NVA tanks rolled onto the grounds of the Presidential Palace, and the war was over.

Neither anniversary is worthy of celebration. Hitler's death didn't stop the war, and it denied the world the chance to see justice served at Nurenburg. Vietnam's capitulation was a victory for communism and the harbinger of 're-education camps" that stretched the horrors of the war past its official end.

Of course, we can go on about the lessons we learned from both. From WWII we learned that intervention wasn't only wise but humane; a stronger stance at Munich might have prevented the disaster that shaped a century. A quarter century of military adventures were spawned from that argument.

Conversely, from Vietnam we took away the lesson that intervention was fraught with peril and uncertainty - for some, even immorality. For another quarter century we balked at the idea of stepping overseas.

Because of those two moments in time we are who and what we are. On one hand we area nation dedicated to a quest to disable our enemies before they have the chance to hit us (again). On the other hand, we are a country that endlessly debates the wisdom and morality of that stance.

It's no secret I'm more comfortable with the former.

I can't recall a single case in history where weakness or indecision worked for the benefit of a nation - especially a country already marked for destruction because of its very existence. Better to strike first then endure another 9/11, and better to wage a war on foreign soil than on our own.

That being said, I'm not displeased that the issue is up for debate.

Not because of any lovesick nod to the Constitution, but because the debate makes me more confident. Confident that we aren't going to trip blindly into every argument between nations, confident that we aren't going to commit ourselves with one hand tied behind our back, confident that if we are in the wrong, the American people are going to let the government know.

Future generations will draw on the lessons we craft from this era. May they find the results more hopeful than those we learned in Saigon and Berlin.

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BAK

It seems I was silent longer than I realized. Fear not, I'm still around. I've been busy with a slew of (routine) doctor visits, preparation for my son's baptism party, and a fierce debate in the comments section of ColdHearted Truth's American Idol Blog (for the record: Constantine deserved to go. Good riddance).

I dread the idea of following up a post about suicide with one about . . . well, another suicide. But it's the 30th, and for all intents and purposes the post's subject expires (no pun intended) after today.

I'll catch up on the mandatory daddy-blog stuff later this weekend.

Ciao

 

Dan

Sunday, April 24, 2005

The Post about Suicide April 24th

I was feeling pretty blue today, and my mind drifted to the idea of suicide.

Not my own, mind you, or even that of anyone in particular. Just a general, sobering thought that a person has to be experiencing something God awful - a hundred times what I felt - to even contemplate such an act.

That, in turn, brought to mind a conversation I'd had maybe ten years ago. While it might seem a bit out of character, the truth is I thought rehashing it might do someone in trouble a bit of good.

Yes that right: welcome to my first (and probably last) Public Good Deed.

A long time ago, when the world was new and I still thought the future held riches and fame (but should have known better) I had a pretty decent job.

One of my co-workers, an aspiring architectural student, was involved in a motorcycle crash that temporarily put him in a coma with head injuries.

When he woke up, he no longer wanted to be an architect.

He also no longer wanted to be a man.

All this was before my time, but recent enough that fellow co-workers still gossiped about how he left for vacation a man and returned a woman.

I always questioned the decision. Not just for the obvious reasons, but because I wondered how much the crash had affected his reasoning.

Certainly it still played havoc with her life, as she was often sidelined with severe headaches.

I doubted life was very easy for her, and one day she admitted it.

After telling me her life story - but omitting any reference to gender - she told me she contemplated suicide on a daily basis.

She was lying; she thought about it far more often.

Not long before that I'd taken a friend to the hospital following a suicide attempt, and the subject still hit close to home.

So I asked her what stopped her from going through with it.

It was out of line she had every right to tell me to go to hell.

Instead, she told me some very good advice.

"Every day I woke up and wanted to kill myself," she said. "And every day I said no, I can't. And it didn't help, and sooner or later I was going to do it."

"So finally I gave myself permission to go ahead," she said. "I said to myself, just shut up and do it. But first I had to meet one condition."

"I had to go a week - seven whole days - without thinking, not even for a split second, that I wanted to live."

"A lot of times I'd go five, six days before I had to start over. Once I made it six and a half, and I thought 'this is it'."

"But it never happened. I'd see a movie preview and think 'I'd like to see that', or laugh at a dumb joke, and I'd be angry that. I'd have to start over"

I asked her how long this 'contract' had lasted.

"I'm at three and a half days right now," she said.

Without question, someone in a similar situation needs to seek medical help. Yet I think there's a kernel of genius in her approach.

In the course of a week - 168 hours - there has to be something - anything - that proves that life is worth living.

An upcoming episode of a TV show, the onset of spring, a good meal - whatever it takes.

Because life is too precious to waste on one bad decision.

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Friday, April 22, 2005

What's your opinion?

Ok, back on the 6th? my oldest took her spring pics at school, and on Wednesday she returned with a whole packet of this picture. We didn't order them; turns out they were given to her by mistake, and yes, they were returned.

(I suppose, given that it sidesteped the need to buy them, I shouldn't have scanned the pic either. Ethics and all.  But what's the point of being Catholic if you can't take advantage of confession and sin with impunity once in awhile?)

Anyhow, so far everyone - including both the Mrs. and her teacher - hate the pic, saying my daughter looks mean and smug.

I'm not sure the reduced-for-the-web copy of the picture gives an adequate looksie, so peer carefully.

I agree she looks a little Teresa Heinz Kerry in the photo. So what? It's about the polar opposite of her best pictures, but I still dig it. Who says you have to have a big grin in every photo?

Care to give me your two cents?

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Family Update

Normally, I post a commentary every two or three days and try to fill the gap with casual, light hearted fare I find on the web.

That, or I resort to the dreaded "mommy/daddy" school of blogging.

Well, I wanted to post this yesterday but held off because (theoretically) two employers will be checking the site in the near future for proof of my writing skill.

But I can't resist any longer.

Yesterday I took my walking tax deductions in for a checkup and came back with some nifty numbers.

Parker, at just over six weeks old, has gone from 7#,10oz and 20.25 inches long to a mammoth 10 pounds 8 ounces and 21.5 inches long.

Told ya he's been eating - and he's still 12 ounces less than I weighed at birth.

His oldest sister  - at almost exactly three and a half years old - is 34 lbs and 40 inches tall.

The last little rugrat, at around 23 months old, is 25 lbs and 32 inches tall.

Aside from a small iron defeciency in the 23 month old the kids are in great health.

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Tuesday, April 19, 2005

The Post about the Swingset April 19th

So today being payday, and with all the benefits of direct deposit fully in place, I woke up to discover my wife had gone shopping.

"Come and help me carry this to the backyard" she said.

'This' was a seven-foot box containing four metal legs, a support beam, a trapeze bar, two swings, a teeter-totter, and a slide.

In short, a swingset.

It wasn't much of a surprise, as my wife had been pushing to buy one for weeks. I admit I didn't see the need as we're two blocks away from a park and a mere block from a playground, but hey, it could've been worse.

She could have bought it the day after I threw out my back.

Oh, that's right. She did.

[personal note: I could boast of injuring myself in a manly motorcycle wreck, but the truth is far more Dannyesque. I threw out my back at a rummage sale. While picking up a tricycle. A pink tricycle.]

Fortunately, once the box was in the backyard my obligation was at an end. My wife's long since given up on me being any use when a problem calls for tools. Instead she called my family and asked for help.

From my sister.

[personal note #2: If you believe this in any way bothers or shames me, you're wrong. Pride, you'll remember, is one of the seven deadly sins.]

I was perfectly content sitting on the back porch, directing their efforts and enjoying having two kids away at Grandma's, when the whole thing turned ugly.

The neighbors to the right came out into the backyard. The folks to my left did the same. My daughter's friends showed up.

Suddenly the project was an episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and Ty Pennington was sitting on his keister letting his wife and sister take the credit.

Share the limelight, I cannot do.

Naturally, the assembly was a mess. The hardware came in one large bag, devoid of any parts list or order. The instructions were 20 pages long, held together by a staple in the corner, and conveniently printed out of order.

Nowhere did they tell you what tools were required; I didn't find out I needed a hammer until Step 7 finished with 'hammer in place'. I stared blankly at some pages until I realized they'd included instructions for optional equipment.

Toilet Paper comes with more detailed instructions.

Not good.

And then came the Danny moments. I lost the bit for our electric screwdriver and misplaced the be-all-and-end all Allen wrench (recovered when I bribed my daughter to crawl across the lawn searching for it.). I installed the legs backwards, voiding an hour of work.

At one point I ran like a ninny when a bumble bee stumbled onto the construction site.

I say again, pride is a sin.

After four hours of this I volunteered to take my daughter to dance class. From their waiting room I called my wife to say that, with gas prices being what they are, it just wasn't worth going home for an hour.

But you keep plugging away hon.

[personal note #3: Say what you will, what I lack in skill I make up for in pure cane Sugah. Before we went home I stopped and bought my wife a CD, which my daughter gave her as a thank-you.]

Six hours after we started it was done, and for all the trouble, the kid seems to love it.

All that was left was to throw out the packing materials.

And the leftover pipe, washers, and screws I'd hidden in the box.

 

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ps. Thanks to my sister Katie for helping the Mrs. tackle that monster.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Just for kicks

I'm a big Led Zeppelin fan, and as we all know I also put a lot of stock into my faith. To some this looks hypocritical, and a few friends have questioned how I can call myself christian and still listen to a band with [alleged] satanic ties. Well, the answer is simple:

Zep rocks baby!

Seriously, I don't buy the urban myths, and I don't care if Jimmy Page once dallied with the occult. That was thirty years ago, and folks mellow and change. For Pete's sake, thirty years ago I was in diapers and craving my mother's milk. 

Sure, I never got over it, but most people do . . .

Which leads me to this site, which along with other songs plays Zep's Stairway to Heaven backwards to transcribe a famous diabolical message.

http://jeffmilner.com/backmasking.htm

I still think it's bogus.

A) I've played it backwards and not heard a thing at home, so it might be a case of someone messing with the track for the site 

 B) really, what would be the point of putting any message out there that requires you to play a song backwards to hear it?

 If that's the best form of communication the Dark Side can come up with, the good guys should have KO'd  'em a long time ago.

And just wait 'til you hear what Britney Spears has on her record . . .

 

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Saturday, April 16, 2005

The Post about the Archdiocese Sex-Abuse Policy April 16th

The Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee took what appears to be an extraordinary step against pedophiles last week.

The new policy covers more than 500 members of the clergy and subjects them to searches, travel restrictions, and monitoring if a church official is known or suspected to have engaged in 'inappropriate activity".

Included among these restrictions:

    • Suspect clergy are subject to unscheduled home searches 24/7, including areas like closets and desks not in plain view.
    • They are required to get approval for travel, and must be accompanied by a person approved by the program managers
    • They may be forced to move to a residence chosen by the archbishop
    • They are forbidden to own a computer and restricted in the use of one. All computers are subject to search.
    • They are required to keep a mileage log that includes their destination, a list which will be checked against the odometer regularly
    • The names of offenders will continue to be made public

There are more restrictions, and they don't pertain solely to suspected pedophiles. Clergy suspected of drug or alcohol abuse, gambling, and those involved in consensual relationships after taking a vow of celibacy are also included..

But it doesn't take a biblical scholar to identify the true target.

For too many people it's a case of too little, too late. Years of silence on the subject not only destroyed the lives of survivors, it's tarnished the reputation of the Church more than memories of the Crusades or the Inquisition ever could.

Milwaukee certainly wasn't immune to the problem. A handful of local priests, including one from a nearby parish, were identified as predators - some of long standing.

In the late '80's there was a beloved student counselor at my high school, one I ran into several times.

A role model to many as one of the few African-American priests in the diocese, he was adored for adopting several young boys from third world countries.

Years later it was revealed he was a serial abuser, one with even less shame than others of his ilk: he once stood accused of molesting a boy who turned to him for guidance while his mother lay dying. ****

Even the previous Archbishop was engaged in scandal, albeit of a different nature.

In 2002 it was revealed that the Archdiocese had paid nearly a half a million dollars to a man who accused former Archbishop Rembert Weakland of assaulting him while a graduate student. Judging by contemporary letters the affair was in all likelihood consensual, but it shook the faithful of this area to their core.

Will the new policy make sure these errors aren't repeated? Advocacy groups have reacted with surprise and approval, although one group hinted it went too far in treating all clergy as if they were guilty.

"The Patriot Act of the Milwaukee Archdiocese," said Terry Ryan, founder of Voice of the Faithful, a group formed because of the abuse scandal.

Perhaps it does unfairly punish the innocent by painting pedophiles and alcoholics with the same brush, but I would argue that with a few tweaks it's worth it. Certainly it can't be the biggest sacrifice involved in devoting oneself to the Church.

And if it helps weed out those who hurt the flock and help restore faith in the Church, then it deserves their support.

Personally, I would go one step farther. Excommunicate anyone wearing a collar who is found guilty of harming a child, Christian forgiveness be damned.

After all, is there any greater corruption of Jesus' name than to use it to hurt a child?

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**** Although he was found 'not guilty' by a trial jury, the Milwaukee Archdiocese reviewed claims against Fr. Marv Knighton and found that there was a "preponderance of evidence" that Knighton committed sexual abuse. Normally, I would bow to the jury's decision and not name the accused, but because of the Archdiocese's ruling I have chosen to go ahead with the information. http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/186956_priestlitany19.html

Read the complete documents at: www.jsonline.com/links/priests

Thursday, April 14, 2005

For Jonah, Napoleon Dynamite's biggest fan

News of this has been circulating in blogdom. The last - but not the first - time I saw a link to it was on Coldhearted Truth.

And no, I couldn't get it to look any prettier without spending waaay too much time on a throwaway post.

Behold, the work of the lawful rulers of Idaho:

                                                                                                                        
                                                                                        
      Be It Resolved by the Legislature of the State of Idaho:
                                                                        
         WHEREAS,  the  State of Idaho recognizes thevision, talent and creativity
      of Jared and Jerusha Hess in the writing and  production  of  "Napoleon  Dyna-
     mite"; and

  WHEREAS,  the scenic and beautiful City of Preston, County of Franklin and
      the State of Idaho are experiencing increased tourism and economic growth; and
      

WHEREAS, filmmaker Jared Hess is a native Idahoan who was educated in  the
    Idaho public school system; and
       

WHEREAS,  the  Preston  High School administration and staff, particularly
   the cafeteria staff, have enjoyed notoriety and worldwide attention; and
       

 WHEREAS, tater tots figure prominently in this film thus promoting Idaho's
   most famous export; and
      

WHEREAS,  the  friendship  between  Napoleon  and  Pedro   has   furthered
    multiethnic relationships; and
      

WHEREAS,  Uncle Rico's football skills are a testament to Idaho athletics;
   and
       

 WHEREAS, Napoleon's bicycle and Kip's skateboard promote better air  qual-
   ity  and  carpooling  as alternatives to fuel-dependent methods of transporta-
    tion; and
       

 WHEREAS, Grandma's trip to the St. Anthony Sand Dunes highlights  a  long-
   honored Idaho vacation destination; and
     

  WHEREAS,  Rico  and Kip's Tupperware sales and Deb's keychains and glamour
    shots promote entrepreneurism and self-sufficiency in Idaho's small towns; and
     

   WHEREAS, Napoleon's artistic rendition of Trisha  is  an  example  of  the
   importance of the visual arts in K-12 education; and
      

 WHEREAS,  the schoolwide Preston High School student body elections foster
    an awareness in Idaho's youth of public service and civic duty; and
       

 WHEREAS, the "Happy Hands" club and the requirement  that  candidates  for
    school  president  present  a  skit is an example of the importance of theater
    arts in K-12 education; and
       

WHEREAS, Pedro's efforts to bake a cake for Summer illustrate the positive
    connection between culinary skills to lifelong relationships; and
       

 WHEREAS, Kip's relationship with LaFawnduh is a tribute to e-commerce  and
    Idaho's technology-driven industry; and
      

  WHEREAS,  Kip  and LaFawnduh's wedding shows Idaho's commitment to healthy
    marriages; and
       

 WHEREAS, the prevalence of cooked steak as a primary food group pays trib-
    ute to Idaho's beef industry; and
      

  WHEREAS, Napoleon's tetherball  dexterity  emphasizes  the  importance  of
    physical education in Idaho public schools; and
       

 WHEREAS,  Tina  the  llama,  the  chickens with large talons, the 4-H milk
          cows, and the Honeymoon Stallion showcase Idaho's animal husbandry; and
      

  WHEREAS, any members of the House of Representatives or the Senate of  the
    Legislature  of the State of Idaho who choose to vote "Nay" on this concurrent
      resolution are "FREAKIN' IDIOTS!" and run the risk of having the "Worst Day of
     Their Lives!"


         NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the members of the First Regular Session  of the Fifty-eighth Idaho Legislature, the House of  Representatives  and  the Senate concurring therein, that we commend Jared and Jerusha Hess and the City of  Preston  for  showcasing the positive aspects of Idaho's youth, rural cul-
    ture, education system, athletics, economic prosperity and diversity.
       

 BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we, the members of the  House  of  Representa-
    tives  and  the  Senate  of the State of Idaho,advocate always following your3    heart, and thus we eagerly await the next  cinematic  undertaking  of  Idaho's
   Hess family.

And lest you fear this is a waste of money: FISCAL NOTE There is no fiscal impact to the general fund.

 

More Proof of My Dorkdom

Never before in history has a man of my beauty been so prone to nerdom.

Ever since I was five or six years old I've thought about going around Milwaukee, photographing all the remaining billboards painted on the side of brick buildings.

For all I know this is a universal phenomenom, but they've disappeared in the last quarter century here.

My goal, therefore, was to record them for all time in a coffee table book before the elements destroyed them.

As it is, this is the only one I've ever shot, taken today while driving with the girls.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Parker Update April 13th

Here's a pic of Parker, age 1 month 6 days, as he held his head up long enough for me to find the camera, turn it on, and shoot four or five pics before getting this one.  Not bad for a kid his age.

He's also eating a whole lot more than his sister's ever did. Tuesday he chugged 32 ounces over the course of the day. Yikes.

And here's a pic of me sleeping with him - don't worry, he spends most of his naps in his crib.

 

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One of those forwarded email gimmicks

My Mom, of all people, sent me a cool 'FWD:' email today. 

Nothing all that grand about it, but if you enter your birthdate in the pop up window that appears when you follow the link you'll get an interesting little summary of who's older and younger than you in the world.

http://www.frontiernet.net/~cdm/age1.html

Disgustingly, Alanis Morissette is two months younger than I am. Aside from her millions, she has what - five albums? - under her belt. 

I should have fudged my birthdate.

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Congrats to Tre

On this fine Wisconsin day I'm pleased to extend congrats to my good friend Tre, who just received word that he'll be moving on to a bigger and better job.

Best of luck!

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

The Post about Women's Hygiene April 12th

After years of careful study I've identified the segment of the media that works to inflict the most damage on our view of women.

It isn't rap videos, and it's not The Bachelor.

It not those miscast sitcoms with the fat, homely husband and the hot young wife.

It's women's hygiene commercials.

Say there's a strapping, handsome young man - just for convenience we'll call him Dan, because it's so true to life - and somehow he's never had close contact with a female of the species.

Sadly, also true for most of my life.

Dan sits down and watches some television. In only a few hours he sees commercials for:

Assorted tampons, maxi-pads, panty liners, panty liners with wings, seven, three, and one day yeast infection cream, birth control pills, the birth control patch, feminine deodorant spray, pregnancy tests, ovulation tests, menopause treatments, perimenopause treatments, bladder control aids, osteoporosis medicine, and good old fashioned Sure deodorant.

The poor guy probably thinks women are a sickly, jumbled, smelly mess.

Why would the media want to portray a half-truth like that?

[And that's without bringing in the big guns - the constant Valtrex commercials where the attractive actress is proud to announce: "I don't let genital herpes get me down."

You go girl.

And good luck picking up a date.]

Men, on the other hand, are represented only twice: when the world's scientists make a major breakthrough in shaving technology (like, you know, adding aloe to shaving cream) and in ads for athlete's foot medicine.

I'm not too keen on imagining John Madden with an itchy burning rash, but at least the only gooey cream involved comes from a pharmacy.

Now to be fair things are out of balance. There should be a score of men's hygiene products on TV, from a patch for plumber's crack, undies immune to racing stripes, or little floating targets that give us a sporting chance in the bathroom.

[from the TMI file: forget the floating targets; the bowl cleaner on the rim of the toilet does the job just fine. It's like getting two products for the price of one!]

It's not just about numbers though. It's the way women's products are presented.

If I were to wake up one morning and find things out of sorts you-know-where, I would not ask a friend for product advice over a warm cup of tea. I would not consult my parents, my clergy, or my alderman.

Frankly, unless there was a danger of amputation, I would be loathe to tell a doctor.

You can chalk this up to male pig-headness all you want. You can say that men are not comfortable with their body, or that they are emotionally inhibited and incapable of true friendship.

Well I'm plenty comfortable with my body - after all, no one else wants it - and I know the meaning of true friendship,

It means I'd slap any friend who told me about the wonders of new odor-free Stayfree.

Frankly, women are too comfortable discussing this stuff. What focus group thought to invade a grocery store and ask women about their feminine odor? Who are these people, and why are they massaging a maxi-pad during my dinner?

I've been married a long time. I've been sent out to buy enough of these products to keep an all-girls school stocked for a semester. With two daughters I know it'll only get worse.

What I ask, I ask not for myself, but for the image of women everywhere:

If you have to advertise the stuff, can you do it when I'm not watching?

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Okay, I goofed

I think I screwed myself. A few days ago I tinkered with my journal and  made it 'private' for all of maybe an hour. 
 
Thatmishap ended any automatic feeds that were linked to the journal through AOL itself. 
 
If I'm wrong, or if you never had one, then ignore this post.

But if you once received email updates from Slapinions, you'll have to sign up all over again.

Sorry

 

Monday, April 11, 2005

Update from AOL

In my earlier post about AOL Journals I mentioned an AOL-Staffer's website that skirted one of AOL's ugliest features. I wrote this member asking how to do it myself.

Here's her answer:

Good afternoon, Dan. Thanks for your email. This was a unique Journal we did specifically for the NetGirl blog. AOL is working on the product so that members like yourself can add more "personality" to your Journal. More information should be available at KW Journals in the upcoming months. If you have any more questions or comments feel free to email me.   Sincerely,   -----  

Okay, so I was wrong. But I'm sending her a link to my post to get my input heard by the powers-that-be.          

WYMS

Here in Milwaukee WMYS (88.9 FM) plays jazz - actual jazz, not watered down pop or glorified elevator music.

Well, times they are a'changing.

 Q: Will you end the current jazz programming and other shows now on WYMS?

A:  The jazz-only format and other shows will not continue. With satellite and Internet radio, every type of specialized music and ethnic programming is available for little or no cost.

 

     We do expect that urban music including some jazz will part of our diverse mix of music. And we hope to ease the transition to the new format by helping fans of the jazz-only format to locate alternative sources.

 

If you live outside of Wisconsin, please realize this: Milwaukee radio sucks

No matter what station you put on you'll hear the same stuff four times during any work shift.   WYMS was a nice little alternative, but it's going bye bye.   If you're in Milwaukee and a jazz fan, man you've gotta let them hear from you.

 And if you're in the area and don't care at all about jazz, look at this as your one rebellion against the corporate atmosphere on your radio dial.    

Sunday, April 10, 2005

It might not be possible . . .

One of my favorite 'fridge art' comics. This edition of Hagar the Horrible says a lot about how the world really works.

BTW, the 'blank' entries aren't a mistake - I'm planning a big sidestep of an AOL limitation. If it works, you'll know in about a month. Otherwise they will quietly disappear with no one the wiser.

The Top 100 Things I'd Do If I Ever Became an Evil Overlord

My buddy Tre sent me a link to this in an email:

"Being an Evil Overlord seems to be a good career choice. It pays well, there are all sorts of perks and you can set your own hours. However every Evil Overlord I've read about in books or seen in movies invariably gets overthrown and destroyed in the end. I've noticed that no matter whether they are barbarian lords, deranged wizards, mad scientists or alien invaders, they always seem to make the same basic mistakes every single time. With that in mind, allow me to present...

The Top 100 Things I'd Do
If I Ever Became An Evil Overlord "

While the author gives folks the right to reprint it, it's a mite too long for me. Check it out here instead.

My favorites?

If the beautiful princess that I capture says "I'll never marry you! Never, do you hear me, NEVER!!!", I will say "Oh well" and kill her.

I will never employ any device with a digital countdown. If I find that such a device is absolutely unavoidable, I will set it to activate when the counter reaches 117 and the hero is just putting his plan into operation.

I will maintain a healthy amount of skepticism when I capture the beautiful rebel and she claims she is attracted to my power and good looks and will gladly betray her companions if I just let her in on my plans.

If I must have computer systems with publically available terminals, the maps they display of my complex will have a room clearly marked as the Main Control Room. That room will be the Execution Chamber. The actual main control room will be marked as Sewage Overflow Containment.

And from a secondary list:

I will make it clear that I do know the meaning of the word "mercy"; I simply choose not show them any.

Comments on Blog Explosion

Current comments
Good site, very well written.

mgrace74 | 15:15 March 13th, 2005 | 0 Replies | Report | Delete

Gave you a 10, thanks for blog marking me. ~ Raven

Raven36 | 18:38 January 26th, 2005 | 0 Replies | Report | Delete

Good blog keep up the good work ^_^

zeldaslife | 19:53 January 23rd, 2005 | 0 Replies | Report | Delete

All around nice blog. Funny, but not mean spirited. Often well reasoned, sometimes on point, minimally incoherent. If this blog was a young man and I had a daughter, they could date (supervised of course).

Supreme Leader of Blogosphere

dailybuzz | 07:11 January 18th, 2005 | 0 Replies | Report | Delete

Tried posting from your site but couldn't. I just wanted to say thank you very much for the kind comment you left earlier today. Send your wife my regards and thanks as well :)

JeniT | 05:52 January 9th, 2005 | 0 Replies | Report | Delete

Damn! You beat me to the NKOTB post! I was going to post an NKOTB story! :)

kaonashi | 21:15 December 28th, 2004 | 0 Replies | Report | Delete

I am impressed with how much you read!

bernie1b | 15:13 December 22nd, 2004 | 0 Replies | Report | Delete

Looks pretty good. Keep up the good work, man.

ThaSickness | 17:14 December 11th, 2004 | 0 Replies | Report | Delete

You can only comment if you have an AOL account, which I don't, but I liked your Giambi post. Pretty gross the way they screw up their bodies. What the hell do guys that make 100K on the bench need a union for?

purplezebra | 00:25 December 4th, 2004 | 0 Replies | Report | Delete

I agree with the second comment

amb3589 | 20:37 December 3rd, 2004 | 0 Replies | Report | Delete

I was not able to comment on your post "The One about Giambi" I just wanted to leave a comment to say I agree 100%. I really think that all of his health problems are due to steroids. I hope that the health issue becomes the big thing in all of this. Life and death is certainly bigger than baseball, and this truely is a life and death issue...

PeterMan | 17:02 December 3rd, 2004 | 0 Replies | Report | Delete

I agree with the first comment. Mainly political blog, but not insulting like many other political blogs I've run into.

I suggest changing the comment format, since it forces you to sign up for an AOL Journals account. I myself recently switched from a members-only comment account (Blogger) to the universal Halocan, and I've found that people are more willing to comment on my posts now.

Oh, and you must be the only other person on Earth besides me who knows about Donnie Wahlberg's rap from "No More Games"! I presume you're talking about the original version of "No More Games", not the C&C Music Factory version...

kaonashi | 22:53 November 29th, 2004 | 0 Replies | Report | Delete

Very well written blog. Largely concerned with politcs, but doesn't rant. Content with about a PG-13 content for very light adult references. (Things like "Yoda" sex comments.)

Oftencold | 02:26 November 22nd, 2004 | 0 Replies | Report | Delete

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Welcome to Slapinions!

I started Slapinions just after the '04 Presidential election, when I was still in full-throttle campaign mode.

In fact the first post wasn't even original, just a copy of an email I'd sent out to some very bored family members about the election results.

So it's understandable that the first few months of the site featured a strong political bent - I did articles on Colin Powell, Yasser Arafat, Time's selection of Dubya as Person of the Year, the Kerrik fiasco, and more.

It didn't take long for the focus of the site to shift more towards family based humor, but to tell you the truth I felt a little guilty when I didn't write about politics. Pompous as it may sound, I thought I was betraying my readers.

Thankfully neither one seemed to care.

So I settled into a comfortable routine of writing about whatever popped into my head.

There were articles on sports (the NBA brawl,the 2005 MLB season).

There were a few about books (my favorite authors)

There was a four-part summary of my trip to D.C. for the Inauguration (1,2,3,4)

There were posts on current events (the reserves, Chai Soua Vang, scandals in the Milwaukee Police Department)

There were children's stories (the coffin tale, Why Snow hates Cars)

There were posts that comically explored my philosophy of life (my ideology pt 1, pt 2, New Years resolutions, my birthday)

There were posts about my terrifying fear of mice (my neighbors have mice)

There were posts that confirmed my knack for writing tributes/eulogies (The Pope, my paternal grandfather, Artie Shaw, Kurt Cobain)  

There were attempts at photoblogging (billboards, snowstorm, lights, storm)  

And then my son was born.

Part of me is ashamed to say that his birth turned Slapinions into an occasional daddy blog.

The other part of me just thinks my kids are cute.

Whereas I'd always written about the family and/or kids, after March you could find posts about prepping for the newborn (nursery, bunk beds), my son's birth and intro to his sisters,family outings (zoo, Domes), events (baptism, dance recital) and plain boring details about our daily life.  

Of them all I'd rank the following as my favorites:  

The One about GOP - yes, my children's initials spell out GOP. A humorous post about the paranoid reactions to my 'conspiracy' to brainwash my children . . .  

The One about the Mouse - 6'3" tall, 300 pounds - and I'm cry like a ninny when I see a mouse.  

The Tsunami - reproduced in full on another site, I think this post on the disaster is worth reading  

Fr. Yaniak - the passing of an old family friend  

The Swingset - the dangers of having me and a screwdriver in the same zip code  

Jason Giambi - my favorite sport, and a post that for whatever reason generated the first real reaction from readers  

The One about the evil work of Donnie Osmond - the title says it all

I'm glad I started this blog. It's been an occasional pain in the keister, but by and large it's been a blast.  

I hope you enjoy it too.

 

Dan

ps. Some of these posts were written before I added comments to the site; if you wish to comment on any of them, click here.

Blogroll

What follows is a list of  web sites that have bookmarked me on Blog Explosion and/or blogrolled me on their site the old fashioned way.

Two things about this list are interesting: one, it isn't your typical tit-for-tat, because until today I didn't have a blogroll. There was no reason for them to feel obliged to do what they did. (ditto for most of the blogmarks) 

Second, it's an awfully diverse group - conservatives and liberals, writers and mom's, musicians and paranormal investigators.

I'm happy my work's appealed to that many people, and I want to offer a belated thank you to all of them.

However, Blog Clicker can kiss my pimply behind, as not one BC member has blogmarked me through their service.

Not that I'm bitter.

Anyhow, take a look at the links below, and tell 'em Slapinions sent you.

 

Random - a fine AOL Journal, long since listed on my favorite places.

NotQuitebutAlmost 

GJ Willis' Art Notes - The Adventures and Misadventures of a Neer Do Well Artist Living in Baltimore.

Whymrhymer 101 - The honest comments and observations of an opinionated, free-thinking, well-seasoned student of the world. Or so he says. :)

The Roth Report - a Drudge-Report type site that includes blogs as sources

Vandamonium's World

The Least of My Worries -

NIF - this one holds a special place in my blogging heart, as it's linked to my articles on at least three occasions

WildWriter

The people all watching, enjoying a good laugh  - I'm a live music lover, who just recently married the love of my life. Am returning to full time work after a 2 year hiatus due to health problems

TV is my Drug of Choice -

Strong Coffee - Struggling to Stay Awake Long Enough to Raise Kidsand Evolve as a Writer

Quotes and Other Words - Quite a few years ago I started collecting quotes from books I read. I wanted to share my favorites with you all, hence this blog. Enjoy

The Sporting Life -

different biscuit, same tin

I didn't buy more yarn, Honey - Living life hanging by a thread...from rapidly unravelling skeins of yarn. ~Marriage, motherhood, music, Multiple Sclerosis, and above all the thing that keeps me sane, crochet.

The Apologist - Writer CW Fisher explains the inexplicable: love, hate, sex, death and the purpose of other people.

And Rightly So -

The Prismatic Dragon

<AHREF="HTTP: ? weblog www.frozenmojo.com>Frozen Mojo -

INDUSTRIAL WASTE - Hi, my name's Penn. I'm a 16 year-old Libertarian and a proud American living in Singapore, who enjoys politics and has a (slightly unhealthy) passion for the Internet.

Old Whig's Brain Dump -

OftenCold - he moved from Florida to Alaska, yet he still argues that he's sane

The Donegal Express -

Blog Cruiser - A blog to write opinions and ratings on blogs, bloggers and blogging. Add your comments or become a member of the team at this corner of the blog world. Scouting the blogosphere for its own stars and news!

About a Boy - My name is Matthew and I live in Hertfordshire, UK. I was born on 12th January 2005 at 21:32. I weighed 8lb 7oz. I am now considerably bigger than that.

You can hear the Grass Grow - Reflections From a Christian Aspie

I hate Pat Robertson - I guess the title speaks for itself

Conservative thoughts  - I have been doing a lot of reading during this election period of other people's thoughts. I have also done a lot of defending of my own conservative ideas. So I thought that I would create a place where I could write those ideas down.

Mug Round Poetry Zine

Lintefiniel Musing (formerly Jen Speaks!)

Mystic Writer

I See Dead People - life as a professional psychic and paranormal investigator

One Child Left Behind - Yes, Jesus loves me, but it's not what you think.

Ed Adkins Dot Com - funny, funny blog

God's Last Twilight - novel written on a blog

Musings of a Thoughtful Conservative - Southeastern Wisconsin based blogger

The Daily Grind - liberal blogger

Crate Obscure -

Cao's Blog - blodom famous site

You Know My Story/Wasted Life

AlphaWoman's Blog - very nice, well done AOL Journal

LS Blogs - Blog search engine

God Dem - liberal site that seems to mix religion with the Democratic Party

The Cave - reposted my article on the tsunami

Through My Lens -

Mumbo-Jumbo from the Mind of a Mild-Mannered Madman

Koolsbaby's Modblog

Friday, April 8, 2005

The Second Post about my Ideology April 8th

Several months ago I wrote a senseless little ditty about my personal ideology.

Now, if you 're inclined to believe my sarcastic and occasionally shifty writing, I published it because it was important to know what an author "truly believed about the things that mattered."

Yeah.

In other words, I was stumped and discovered a neat way to fill space.

Déjà vu, baby.

In my defense, however, you can glean bits and pieces of a man's character from the tidbits I covered: Do I prefer The Godfather or Scarface? DC or Marvel? Conan or Leno?

By my choice of the Godfather you can tell I have a love of epic drama and family loyalty.

By my preference for DC you can assume I'm a traditionalist.

And by choosing Conan you can safely say I have a fetish for tall slim men with red hair. . .

Okay, maybe my theory has a few holes.

But it still fills up a page.

So, may I present to you My Rambling List of Personal Ideology, Ranging from the Divine to the Absurd, with Little Order and Even Less Sense, vol. Two.

I do not believe in fortune-telling or the zodiac.

Even so, I am a Pisces who often has big, creative dreams with little to show for it. And shortly before our introduction a psychic dismissed my wife's hopes for her current beau. Instead, she said my wife would soon meet and marry a very large dark haired man with a strong ethnic background.

Said psychic did not, however, mention my near constant plumbers crack.

I believe raising a child is by far the hardest job in the world.

I think that somewhere in this vast universe there exists other intelligent life, but I refuse to believe they confine their visits to people named Dwayne and Elmira.

Toilet paper rolls should be loaded overhand.

This is not up for debate.

I would take a beat-up Ford over a new Chevy any day.

Fifty years ago a Disney movie featured a wicked queen who demanded the heart of her stepdaughter in a box, a bunch of armed dwarves that chased the queen to her death, and a morbid funeral vigil.

Now kids grow up watching cartoons where no one is hurt, not even if Cobra Commander shoots down their plane in the middle of a battle.

Yet which group seemsmore violent to you?

I prefer Star Trek to Star Wars, but admit that Lucas' epics were cool - when I was eight.

I have no problem eating cows, fish, or pigs, but chicken bones freak me out.

The income tax didn't kick in until around WWI. How did the government make money before that, and why can't we ask for a do-over?

I can't remember the last time I had sex with the lights off.

At one time, I was bitter that Elmo so completely took over as Sesame Street's king.

I love Tony Randall, but I never bought the idea that Felix Unger was straight.

I prefer plastic to paper, and look down upon those indecisive peons who answer 'paper and plastic'.

If eliminating carbs is truly the key to weight loss, I'm screwed.

Given the chance, I know Jo Frost, aka Supernanny, would choose to stay in my 'naughty corner' all night long.

I think the character of Jack on Lost is the epitome of who I'd like my son to be.

I believe 'smooth jazz' is to jazz what show tunes are to death metal.

And, finally, and most importantly:

Forget asteroids. Worry about the super volcano under Yellowstone.

 

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Wednesday, April 6, 2005

How to Improve AOL Journals, if anyone is listening

 To my fellow AOL Journal users, and to any and all AOL staff members who may be screening this on behalf of Homeland Security:  

My General Beefs with AOL Journals, and some Ideas on How to Improve Them

  1. Clean up the url's.  Is leading off the url with journals.aol.com really necessary?   Shouldn't the emphasis be on the author of the page, and the ideas they want to get across?   

  Slapinions.journals.aol.com is still long-winded, but would be a vast upgrade.     

And I see no reason, in this security conscious world, that an authors screename (and therefore his/her email address) be force-fed into the url.  

 2. Compromise between ease of use and creative control.   I like how simple it is to add a blogroll, and once you get the hang of it adding pics is pretty easy on the gray matter too. I very much like being able to IM or phone in a post.

  But short of sidestepping (cheating) the rules by various methods, there is no way to add the harmless collection of personal banners, countdown charts, etc. that bloggers on other services love. And why a measly character limit on the about me section?  

 3 Make the comments user-friendly  Right now, only AOL or AIM users can register a comment. (and frankly, when I check the site from other locations, I have trouble accessing the comments from AIM).  

Sure, it's wonderful to hear from other AOL members. But after 10000 hits and very few comments I figured a way to sidestep the issue by adding my own comments service (sort-of).     My first post after that brought 4 comments from 50 hits, none of them AOL users.    

 Dontcha think it's advertising the breadth and ease of AOL when a Journal attracts an audience outside of the service? Wouldn't it be in AOL's best interest to help that along? And if you feel the need, throw down an AOL banner on the journal to make sure visitors know who's king of the net.  

 4. Where's the help? Outside of some very basic official help available when starting out, I've relied on innovative Journals like Pam, Random, and Patrick's Place to help me over the rough patches. There should be a comprehensive, universally known and accepted help options for the Journals.

  5. Look, I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings .. . but the folks who designed the color schemes for the Journals need to put down their crayons. I mean, who comes up with this:  [item removed temp.]

  Even if you go with 'advanced' controls and tweak it yourself, you are left with that ugly white sash across the top of my page. Why not let users add graphics or a title bar to that area?  

 BTW - I know that's possible, because some personal journals run by admitted AOL staffers do the impossible and pimp out that space.     Poor form to allow that to happen while paying customers are left behind.  

This is just my personal wish list. Let me know if anyone has something to add.   Dan/Slapinions

Tuesday, April 5, 2005

The Post about Kurt Cobain April 5th - 11 years later


Eleven years ago today - as best the medical examiner could determine - Kurt Donald Cobain died.

His death was officially recorded as a suicide, and despite great efforts to prove otherwise, it probably was.

[Yet questions remain. Not the least of them how a man injects a dose of heroin large enough to kill instantaneously, yet still finds the time and strength to roll down and button his sleeve, store his paraphernalia, and pick up and use a shotgun]

Whatever the method, his death was a tragedy.

A tragedy for his infant daughter, who has spent her life spinning memories of her father from what she sees and reads about his career.

A tragedy for his fans, who were denied the gift of his talent -and the dozens who mourned his death by following in his footsteps.

And a tragedy for Kurt himself, whose memory and music are now horribly intertwined with a macabre death.

That quite frankly, is obscene.

Obscene because everything you see and hear about Kurt and Nirvana is viewed through the lens of his death. People refuse to think of him as anything but a character in an art house movie, where every scene and every line of dialog has to foreshadow the end:

    • MTV turned Unplugged in New York into a funeral dirge when the station played it endlessly after his death.

Never mind that it was one of the most innovative and enjoyable concerts of the series.

    • Biographies of the band read like psychology texts, probing and engorging any event for a clue to the suicide.
    • The lyrics are dissected and robbed of context. Why? to find a line that has no literal connection to what occurred, but which proves too tasty a quote for some authors to ignore.

Enough.

Go fire up your stereo and listen to Nevermind, their breakthrough album that knocked Michael Jackson from the #1 slot and ended the reign of Michael Bolton and New Kids on the Block.*

Tell me On a Plain, Lithium, or God forbid Smells Like Teen Spirit are anything but joyous anthems of Generation X.

Or their follow up album In Utero: darker, with less concession to commercial demands, but rife with memorable hooks. From the opening notes of Heart Shaped Box to the relentless attack of Scentless Apprentice, this was not the work of a man who had given up hope and abandoned what was important to him.

Of course Nirvana wasn't the The Judds, and not every song was suitable for a child's birthday party.

But I often wonder how much of that was Kurt just living up to his billing. For a man who allegedly hated the limelight, he certainly sought it out enough. He seemed to recognize this contradiction in himself:

Teenage angst has paid off well

but now I'm bored and old . . .

It may be hypocritical, given that I'm choosing to honor him on the annniversary of his death, but I prefer to forget how it ended and concentrate on the things that made me love his music in the first place.

Ear shattering drums that made your speakers quake. Bass lines that refused to quietly submit to a subordinate role, and in fact led the charge on most songs. Guitar that could be manic one second and controlled and subtle the next, with solos that were truly part of a song, not an excuse to write one. Vocals that were raw emotion, with lyrics that gained their strength and context as they wrapped themselves around the music.

That was Nirvana.

And that was Kurt Cobain.

 

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*long time readers will know what a bittersweet,double-edged sword it is to say that

Happy Birthday to my Mom

Today is my Mother's birthday.

Let's see. If I carry the one and add the remainder - well, for politeness sake we'll leave out her actual age.

But a happy birthday to her, a big thank you for thirty-one years of Everything under the Sun, and a hope for many, many more.

Sunday, April 3, 2005

The Post about the 2005 MLB Season April 3rd

                             

Baseball season starts today, and I just don’t seem to care.

I should explain how much of a fan I am so you grasp the depth of this revelation, but let’s leave it at this:

I came to love baseball late, at eighteen, and approach the game with the zeal normally reserved for a convert to the Lord.

Except this year.

Some of it is related to the Brewers disgusting collapse last season.

After more than a decade of losing seasons the hometown boys played solid, occasionally impressive ball for most of the year. For the first time in memory I thought they’d finish with a winning record, .500 at worst.

Instead, they tanked.

Spectacularly.

They not only couldn’t win, they lost in ways that made a grown man cry.

If they‘d began the season playing like bums - which had become sort of a local tradition, like Bratwurst and beer - it’d all be gravy, baby. But last year ruined it for me.

Forget the expanded payroll, the new owner, and the addition of Carlos Lee. They could be twelve games above .500 with eleven games to play and I’d wager on another losing season.

Damn them.

Then there’s the Red Sox.

I’m sure most of America is still gaga over their win. How anyone can be in love with a team that lost and lost . . . and lost for more than eighty years boggles my mind.

It’s like rooting for France, for cripes sake.

And the manner of their win: not only did they come back from a 3-0 deficit to beat my beloved Yanks, they also swept a juggernaut of a team in the Series. All on the back of a guy who shouldn‘t have been able to walk, much less pitch.

Ugh.

Then of course, there’s the whole steroids scandal.

I’ve written about that subject before, so I’ll spare you the details of my angst.

But this year there’s an added bonus: the king of ‘roids, Barry Bonds, is poised to pass Babe Ruth on the career home run list.

I know,nothing’s been proved.

Sure he admitted ‘accidentally’ using a steroid (betcha wish you’d used it on your knees, eh Barry?), and yeah, his mistress and others have pegged him as a user going all the way back to ‘99, but that doesn’t prove anything.

Two things bother me: one, he was already a great player before he decided to become a freak. He just wasn’t a power hitter.

Bonds was a player that single-handedly changed the outcome of games when he was clean. Add steroids to the mix and you have one man determining the winner in maybe a dozen games a year.

The Giants made it to the World Series in 2002 by the hair on their chin.

Without steroids, would the Giants have made it that far? Who really deserved to play that October? What great stories never came to pass because the heroes of the day were left to watch the Series on TV?

Second, the home run records are the Holy Grail of baseball. Folks will know that Bonds records are illusionary - now.

But a hundred years from now kids will look at the record and see Bonds name without knowing its context.

It’s not up there with God and Country, but it matters to me.

Part of me just wants to ignore the whole season, but that’s impossible.

I’ll be drawn into the drama, the pennant races, and the inevitable collapse of the Brewers.

And I’ll enjoy the whole dang thing.

I just won’t admit it.

 

Btw, former Brewer Alex Sanchez was just named the first player to be hit by MLB's new steroid policy ... as predicted, to show its teeth someone would go down - just not a star.

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Saturday, April 2, 2005

The Post about John Paul II April 2nd

I have two very clear, very early memories about Pope John Paul II.

The first didn't directly involve him, but it changed the world.

I was four years old when my father took my sisters and I for a walk in the park. A half-block from home I could see my Mother crying on the porch.

From there she yelled the news to my father: Pope John Paul was dead.

The second memory is from when I was in first grade, and the principal of my Catholic school made a PA announcement.

In a short statement interrupted by her sobs, she told us Pope John Paul II had been shot in an assassination attempt. She asked us to pray for him, and for the man who shot him.

I remember no such reaction when Reagan was shot that year.

Today, the man who has been Pontiff for twenty-seven of my thirty-one years lies dying.

To a non-Catholic - and to many in the faith - the impact of his impending death must seem mystifying.

After all, he is just a man. A good man, and an influential one, but in the end just a man.

I agree.

I don't hold him to any special standard of humanity. I admire him, I respect his office and what it stands for, and I acknowledge him as my spiritual leader.

I don't think he's secured special favor with God simply by holding office.

I think his life guaranteed it.

He was born Karol Wojtyla in Poland in 1920. He secretly studied for the priesthood under the weight of WWII's Nazi occupation and rose to Cardinal under the equally repugnant rule of Communism.

He was the first non-Italian Pope in over four centuries, a learned scholar who spoke eight languages fluently, and a traveler who had seen more of the world and its people than any of his predecessors had.

He established diplomatic ties with Israel, met with the same Communist leaders who once denied his God, exchanged ambassadors with the US, and led the Church into its third millennium.

All of that is fodder for historians to ponder. What made him so appealing to me was something he had no control over: his nationality.

Even now - and I'm a hundred years removed from the old country - I'm proud that a strong, passionate Pope shared my heritage.

To have the honor of growing up in a time when Poles were leading the fight against communism behind the Iron Curtain while a strong and vigorous Polish Pope sat in the Vatican - well, it was almost enough towrite off all those lame Polish jokes as mere jealousy.

To be sure, not everyone is a fan. I once read a scathing attack in which the author thought a natural but painful death for the pontiff would be just 'retribution' for his policy on euthanasia.

In a similar vein, I've heard him called anti-woman, because apparently a sincere moral opposition to abortion can be nothing less.

I don't agree with everything the Pope's believed and preached, most recently his stance against US military actions.

Yet I can recognize a sincere and consistent philosophy: that life, in all its forms, is too precious to waste; too strong to be trampled by a mad dictator or suffocated by communism.

It was a philosophy he held dear. To the end he lived by that creed, handling his slow decline with grace and resoluteness.

I doubt I'll ever see a Pope of his caliber again.

I will pray for him, and I'll mourn the news of his passing.

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Additional Reading:

How the Pope Helped Break Communism

The Pope of Popes

Friday, April 1, 2005

Two pieces of News

Two very diverse topics here.

First, The Smoking Gun reports that American Idol contestant Scott Savol has a history of domestic violence, something that may render him ineligible to continue in the competition.

Eventually, I'll have to post about the only TV show that I take care never to miss.

Secondly, my Mother called to tell me that the Pope's heart stopped and that he was revived but is currently in a coma. Some online news agencies are hesitating on this as there are conflicting reports.


I know to many people, including Catholics, this is no big deal.

I'm not one of them.

My prayers go out to him.