Laboring in the obscurity he so richly deserves for over a decade now, your crusty correspondent sporadically offers his views on family, law, politics and money. Nothing herein should be taken too seriously: If you look closely, you can almost see the twinkle in Curmudgeon's eye. Or is that a cataract?
Saturday, May 31, 2008
Vatican says no to women priests. Again. Why exactly is this news?
An AP story Friday reports that the Vatican has issued a decree that provides that anyone participating in a ceremony in which women are ordained are automatically excommunicated.
Now -- you can hold any position you like on the subject of whether women should be able to serve as priests in the Roman Catholic Church. I personally don't see why women can't be priests; I understand the rationale for priestly celibacy much more than I understand any explanation for the exclusion of women. I suspect, though I know of no proof, that women did function as priests in the earliest Church, before Constantine, if only because the faith spread far more readily and rapidly among women than men.
Although I don't know what one would call a female priest. "Father" seems... confused. Perhaps an Anglican reader can advise?
But that's not the point. The point is that, as Catholics, we accept that the Pope and the Bishops get to make the rules. We don't necessarily like all of the rules, and we don't always follow the rules (neither do the Bishops, sometimes with tragic results), but we accept, in principle, their rule-making authority. And one of the things that the Bishops get particularly uptight about is letting girls into their club. So why is it news that the Vatican would consider as excommunicated any women who presume to accept ordination as priests and those who would presume to ordain them?
Apparently, in Canada this week, a group called the Roman Catholic Womenpriests Movement purported to ordain as priests one woman and one married man.
There you go. One story from Vancouver involving two people and a fringe movement -- and about a jillion stories on the Internet about the Vatican cracking down. (I ran a search before making this statement, by the way.)
If I were paranoid I'd think that the anti-Catholics of the world were just taking this latest opportunity to bash the primitive, oppressive Catholic Church.
Look: Whether we Catholics accept women as priests is our problem, not anyone else's. While many Catholics may consider the ban silly, others do not. We all know that the Church is not the Pope or the Bishops. The Church will persist when all the current crop of bishops have gone to their reward (or punishment) -- and the Church will change, or not, in time, as inspired by the Holy Spirit.
Friday, May 30, 2008
Forever in blue jeans -- Or -- Denim of the game
Oh, they'd be new, all right. I probably haven't worn blue jeans for almost 20 years.
Why? Initially, I suppose, an exaggerated sense of gravitas. Ego: If I would be important, I must look important, too. What a load of road apples, eh?
As it turned out, I neither looked nor became important. Mostly I looked ridiculous, dressed in a jacket and tie coaching youth baseball at Bluejay Park. I tried to cite the example of Connie Mack to some of the kids. Kids? The parents had never heard of Connie Mack. They didn't even know that the Athletics had been in Kansas City, most of 'em, much less Philadelphia.
At least I didn't wear suits to the park usually. I wore Dockers and a sport coat.
Dockers, I would argue, were Levis for old, fat people. Like me. And maybe, in my defense, when I stopped wearing jeans, there really weren't jeans for people with, ah, shall we say, a mature figure.
And thus a habit was begun.
But now, in the fullness of time, and given the fullness or ripeness of the profile of the average Baby Boomer, Levis have begun to make jeans in the typical (read: enormous) sizes required by today's middle aged man.
Long Suffering Spouse had picked up on the trend though (of course) I had not.
And so we had our excursion to Omar the Tentmaker's Stall (OK, J.C. Penney's -- if you must know -- though that strikes me as far less romantic).
The kids have been amazed to see me clad in denim. I was amazed to see that the once all-American blue jean is now made in Lesotho.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
I need a new word: A new no prize contest
Only Younger Daughter and Youngest Son remain securely within the literal meaning of that term.
But... although the older ones do show signs of adult behavior, they also from time to time continue to display distinctly teen-like mannerisms. Which is OK... most people really don't grow up overnight. Long Suffering Spouse might tell you that I sometimes behave childishly... but that's another story.
I need a word to describe my post-teens... preferably one that could include the actual teens as well.
Adolescent seems a possible candidate. From Dictionary.com and the American Heritage Dictionary:
The words adolescent and adult ultimately come from forms of the same Latin word, adolēscere, meaning "to grow up." The present participle of adolēscere, adolēscēns, from which adolescent derives, means "growing up," while the past participle adultus, the source of adult, means "grown up."In the waning days of the Roman Republic the term adolēscēns could mean anyone who had not yet begun his ascension up the cursus honorum -- so a young Roman nobleman in his late 20s or even early 30s might, in Roman eyes, be considered an "adolescent." (See, Marc Antony.)
Talk about your extended adolescence....
But using "adolescent" to describe not-yet-fully-independent post-teens would change, if slightly, the common, presently understood meaning of the word. Such seemingly minor changes can lead to all sorts of major problems. (See, "marriage.")
So my present inclination would be to find another word. A new word. "Tweeners" or "tweens" comes to mind -- as in describing the state between teenagerhood and adulthood -- but these terms seem to be already in use for describing that period after the five or ten minutes presently alloted for innocent childhood and the beginning of teenager status. These terms seem to refer to girls, mostly, many of them apparently with aliases or secret identities. (See, Hannah Montana and/or Miley Cyrus.)
I thought about "beerager" as a possibility -- but that could be seen as pejorative and certainly would not include everyone in that age group anyway. "Extendeds" is probably my leading candidate -- short for extended adolescence -- and not, so far as I know, already taken.
But I'm open for suggestion... which is why I hereby announce another of my famous, likely-to-amount-to-nothing-at-all no prize contests. Give me your best word to describe that period in a person's life between the end of one's teens and the full assumption of adult responsibilities. Or tell me why I should stick with one of my proposed choices.
The winner will receive no prize other than the possible (though unlikely) esteem and awe of his or her blogging peers and my gratitude for participating.
Me? Swear at work? No #$@&*-ing way!
Ralph, I have only three things to say to this: (1) I wasn't the boss -- although, as I mentioned in the post, sometimes I was pressed into service as a pretend boss, (2) I didn't slink under my desk, I dived, and (3) I never, ever erupt into "swear word soliloquies" at work.
Well... OK, there was one time....
My old firm was housed in a converted apartment building, something I called a three-flat with a garden level, meaning that the lowest level of the four total levels was partially below grade. All the attorneys were quartered on the three upper floors, all the secretarial staff on the first floor. There were seven work stations in a large open space in the front half of the building, each facing the wall. Each work station consisted of a desk with a hutch on top -- no enclosed cabinets, as I recall, but open shelves so the attorneys could stack up the files that went with the tapes we'd dictated.
At the front of this common room was a glass walled office for the office manager. Her desk faced the common room and she could watch the secretaries at their work through the glass wall. There was a small reception area on the north side of this common room. The receptionist sat in front of the office manager's glass wall with a window on her left so she could see and communicate into the reception area.
Because our offices were on the upper floors, sometimes when running into the building, we'd grab an incoming call on the first floor rather than make the caller wait while we trudged up the stairs. I may have done this more than most of the others; even in those days I trudged pretty slowly.
Now I try and be careful with my language -- except while quoting a source I don't think I've used any serious profanity in this blog at all. (I'll wait while you run a search................ Satisfied?)
And I was generally careful in my use of language in the office. True, among the boys, I might resort from time to time to an Anglo-Saxon term that would have made my mother faint. I know all the words. In fact, I know how to arrange the words with some style and panache and, when the situation so requires, I can turn the air around me a vivid shade of blue.
But I always tried to keep a civil tongue in my head, particularly around the (at the time exclusively female) staff. Go ahead and call me old fashioned. I don't mind.
Now on this particular occasion I was running back from court and a call came in as I did. An attorney was calling with a request that I agree to extend the time for him to file his brief in the Appellate Court. This was about the fifth or sixth such request and I was becoming aggravated. And my client was not amused.
I should have taken the call upstairs.
But the stairs were steep and I was lazy and I grabbed the phone in the office manager's glass-walled office.
Her door was open.
It might have been better if it were closed. Then again, it might have made no difference at all.
I don't remember which of us began reminiscing first about our fond memories of old Intercourse U. (the fancy new name for the College of Hard Knocks) but soon my opponent was telling me to go $%*#! myself and I was expressing similar sentiments to him. Indeed, in the few minutes before I slammed down the phone I managed to turn the air in the office manager's office that bright and vivid shade of blue referred to previously.
I was embarrassed at this loss of self-control, particularly because I knew I'd have to run the gauntlet past the staff to get out of the common room and back to the stairs going up.
When I turned to look into the common room, I saw several sets of eyes staring at me, and several mouths agape. So maybe -- hopefully -- they considered this out of character for me as well.
The rest of the story is that I've gotten along famously with the attorney on the other end of the phone that day, from that day to this.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Declining auto use? Not in houses with teens....
That's what AP business writer George Jahn reports, in a story printed in this morning's Chicago Tribune:
The Schork Report, edited by Stephen Schork, cited the latest statistics from the Federal Highway Administration, noting that "estimated vehicle miles traveled ... on all U.S. public roads for March 2008 fell 4.3 percent, or 11 billion miles, compared with March 2007.["]And prices have only gone up since then -- 40, 50, 60 cents a gallon in the Chicago area, at least.
So it's only logical that, as gas prices rise, auto use declines.
On the other hand, logic and teenagers are not even nodding acquaintances, certainly not in my house.
It would have been social suicide for Younger Daughter to take the bus to school, not as a senior. And, by driving her freshman brother, Younger Daughter could cruise the boys' school at least once a day.
Frequently, she'd come home -- driving who knows who who knows where en route -- only to receive a cell call (or text) from Youngest Son -- and off she'd go again, this time to pick him up at school. The boy-watching would be better in the afternoon anyway.
Americans drove eleven billion miles less in March 2008 than March 2007? I might have thought Younger Daughter, by herself, would have made up the difference.
My children firmly believe that their automobile use can not and must not be curtailed, even in the slightest, merely because of high prices. They expect their parents to bear any burden, hurtle any obstacle to keep them from having to take public transportation. Otherwise, they tell us, the terrorists win.
Youngest Son was supposed to take the bus home yesterday from Summer School. Long Suffering Spouse had one of our functioning autos at school; Middle Son had the other at his place of employment. But, happily for Youngest Son, Older Daughter has driven up from Champaign for a visit -- and she arrived in time to rescue him from this indignity.
So here's the bottom line: When some busybody do-gooder tells you that there's a silver lining in these obscene gasoline prices, that at least Americans are finally waking up and driving less and walking more or taking public transportation -- when such a person confronts you on the street, grab him roughly by the lapels and spin him around to face traffic... where he'll see teenagers whizzing by, blissfully unaware of record oil prices, chatting away merrily on their cell phones.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Heads or Tails #40 -- A job
I've written all sorts of boring posts about my current job here at the Undisclosed Location. I wrote once about working in the kitchen in my college dorm, and how I almost got killed when I said why I was quitting. But, since I've already written about that, I suppose I shall have to write something new today....
I was a Kelly Girl one summer. I was going into my last year of college.
College ends earlier each year, it seems. My kids seem to finish in early May. Back then, I wasn't done until some time in June. Acting with the foresight that would characterize my entire life, I had not scouted about for any sort employment that summer before completing the last of my semester exams.
My parents suggested I apply at temp agencies.
Suggested is probably too mild a word. I was probably booted out the door rather unceremoniously.
I had one advantage in seeking temporary employment: I could type. In fact, I could type fairly well, especially for a male, and while the woman who administered the various tests at the temp agency didn't promise anything right away, she seemed optimistic that something might turn up.
I'm sure there was a greater interval than I remember but, as I recall, I was working almost the next day.
I had only one assignment the entire summer, but it lasted until I went back to school: I was a customer service representative for a seller of kidney dialysis equipment. My colleagues in this department were all female, recent high school graduates, none older than 20 except for the immediate supervisor who was probably 21. She wasn't the actual supervisor on paper -- no, this was the mid 70s and the one nominally in charge would have to be a man -- but I seldom saw him. She was supposed to be his secretary, I guess, but she ran the place.
The girls did their best to keep out of the nominal supervisor's way and to keep him from doing anything in the department. Anything he touched got messed up, they said.
I don't know if I'm being unfair to him by agreeing with their assessment. But it was all I had to go by because the girls were very successful in keeping him away. Or he chose to be away.
There were six customer service representatives, as I recall, each with their own desk and phone in a pool-type arrangement. Each representative had a particular territory -- a different region of the country. We weren't selling; we were taking orders mostly. Sometimes we had complaints about misdeliveries or product damaged in shipping. Anything that required price adjustments went through the 21-year old girl who really ran the department.
On more than one occasion, some wiseguy procurement person insisted on speaking with the supervisor. A person wanting to talk to the boss wouldn't want to speak to another young-sounding woman -- that just didn't seem sufficient, over the phone, to mollify an irate customer, particularly when the customer was a man. This turned out to be my particular value to the organization that summer: The call would be transferred to my desk and I would be carefully coached about what to say.
This was thought far more desirable than tracking down the nominal boss and bringing him up to speed. I had a deep, authoritative-sounding voice. Even though I only repeated what the actual rep had already said -- or whatever additional the 21-year old 'secretary' told me to add -- my pronouncements were accepted without question.
Sexist? You betcha.
But the girls figured out how to cope... and I was the coping mechanism.
And they had their fun with me, too.
A place had opened up near Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, not that far from where we were, called the "Sugar Shack." The place featured exotic dancers -- male exotic dancers. And since the drinking age was 18 at that time in Wisconsin, the girls made an outing there one weekend and were anxious to share with me the following Monday all the details of their experiences.
They became rather... graphic... in their descriptions and, at one point, I retreated under my desk and told them I wouldn't come out until they behaved better. They thought this was the funniest thing they'd ever seen -- and it spurred them on to recall (or invent) additional details about the attributes of this dancer or that one... and then someone's phone rang and some wiseguy demanded to speak with the "boss" again.....
Blogblast for Peace is coming June 4
Here are the rules and the story.
It was simple. And powerful.
We will speak with one voice. One subject. One day.
Won't you join us?
June 4, 2008
How To Get Your Peace Globe In 4 easy steps!
1. Choose one of the four Peace Globe designs in this post. Right CLICK and SAVE in JPG format.
2. Sign the globe using Paint, Photoshop or a similar graphics tool. Decorate the globe anyway you wish. You can even include the name of your blog. Click here for hundreds of inspiring examples from previous BlogBlasts.
3. Return the peace globe to me via email ~ mimiwrites2005 at yahoo.com - Let me know your blog's name and url by leaving a comment here and signing the Mr. Linky. Your submission will be numbered and dated in the official gallery . Your globe and post will be listed on the Official BlogBlast For Peace website and The Peace Globe Posts page.
Here's the most important part.
4. On June 4, 2008 DISPLAY YOUR GLOBE IN A POST. Title your post "Dona Nobis Pacem". This is important. The goal is for all blog post titles to say the same thing on the same day. Write about peace that day or simply fly your globe. Click here for examples of peace globe posts from previous BlogBlasts.
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YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE TAGGED TO PLAY.Please consider passing this meme through the blogosphere.
This is not political -- or, perhaps it might be better to say, this transcends politics. I'm sure you will find examples, among this wide variety of blogs, of opinions with which you disagree -- no matter where you are on the political spectrum. Feel free to disagree strongly -- but not violently.
This is about peace.
(For the record, my prior peace globes may be found here (November 2006), here (June 2007), and here (November 2007)).