A Judge's Sense and the Living-Impaired.

I was perusing the bulletin board down at the senior center the other day--I like to go there just to heckle the young squirts--and was looking at the various athletics scheduled: Wii bowling, line dancing (well, line shuffling anyway), contact sports like cards and pool, water aerobics (proof that bikinis can still look good--if you don't believe me, take your glasses off and try it again), etc. The one sport that appeared to be missing was senior division car jumping. Which leads to a Kelly story...

Kelly, a guy I worked for many moons ago, put himself through art school working as an undertaker in Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains. One pleasant Indian summer afternoon, he was out in the driveway of the funeral home washing one of the hearses when he almost became one of the dearly departed. He had just walked under the carport to grab a swig of Dr. Pepper when he heard a car engine rev to light-speed and a loud thump. He looked up to see a Chevy Corvair coming down the hill and across the lawn from the Kroger's parking lot above at a high rate of speed (the fact of a Corvair moving fast proves it was downhill). Kelly did his best second base slide out of the way and the car crashed into the side of the funeral home beneath the carport's canopy.

When he opened the door, he found the driver, a late-middle-aged lady (the French, being the French, have a much more female-friendly phrase: "Une femme d'un certain age...") to be shaken--not stirred--but otherwise unharmed. It seems the heel of one of her stylish shoes became lodged against the accelerator and the Corvair fulfilled Ralph Nader's title, Unsafe at Any Speed.

While the repair work was being done to the funeral home, the owner decided an armor upgrade was in order figuring this might not be the last occasion of a prospective customer attempting to deliver themselves from the supermarket parking lot. So, a three foot-high brick wall was added to the outside edge of the carport.

Kelly was shoveling snow out front when he heard the tinny sound of a way over-revved Corvair engine and the familiar loud thump. He turned in time to watch the same Corvair fly down the hill, hit the bottom, become airborne, leap the brick wall, and end up wedged between the wall and the canopy overhead with its tail-end protruding far too saucily for a family-oriented blog.

While the lady, again, wasn't injured, the Life-Saving Crew did have to cut Detroit's masterpiece apart to extricate her. The cause? Yep, you guessed it. The heel of the same stylish sort of shoes had performed the trick of their predecessors.

This time she ended up in court. The Commonwealth of Virginia is generally pretty patient as such entities go, but this was getting to be a blasted habit. The offending stylish shoes were the Commonwealth's Exhibit "A." Both the Defense and the Commonwealth agreed that they were there more too ask his honor what to do about the problem rather than to seek punitive action against the unfortunate driver. The judge leaned back in his chair and studied the ceiling for some minutes, came to a decision, leaned forward, and ordered that henceforth, the lady's driver's license, on the line normally devoted to "glasses" or "hearing aid," would read, "sensible shoes."

Our lady of dragons is at it again--publishing a book that causes normal law-abiding people to breakout in loud, uncontrollable laughter in the middle of such places of quiet as libraries, funeral parlors, hospitals, and boiler factories. Her latest hoot, Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator, is hitting the stores and ereaders this December. Considering my low tolerance for zombie lit (something about Sturgeon's Law being at work in the tidal wave of this stuff lately--as it is in all things human), this is one of the two keepers I've found so far (maybe I'll talk about the other next time if I get bored enough). Here's links to some sites with information: The Zombie Cookbook, and Fabianspace
. (Note to FTC: I neither bought it nor was given it, you guys figure it out.)

31 October 2010: Feast of St. Arnulf. Luther nails his "95 Theses" to door of Wittenberg church 1517, Maori Wars resume in New Zealand 1864, last successful large-scale cavalry charge (so far) in Battle of Beersheba 1917, torpedoing and sinking of USS Reuben James 1941, Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi assassinated 1984.

"Now conveniently in rear rows!"

Our lives are filled these days with modern conveniences.* One more and I'm headed straight back to the 12th century. Anymore, etiquette is dictated by these boons of technology.

As an example, upon arrival at church, one should turn off the cell phone. Taking calls in the Confessional is generally frowned upon--even if you are the priest.

Another point of churchly etiquette was brought up in a bulletin from Florida I recently perused. It asks that late arrivals during Mass take seats in the back rather than create a disturbance and distraction by walking down toward the front via the main aisle. Unfortunately, every Sunday Mass (and not a few daily) I've attended, the last four rows are packed with early arrivals. The only spaces left are from the front back.

Apparently, if one sits way in the back, Father can't use his priest-vision to see the dark deeds of one's heart. Also, a lot of this last row thing, I think, started with Jesus' story of the Pharisee and the publican. The Pharisees, now being wise to how things work, sit in the farthest rows to remind all that they are holy by being humble enough to sit in the last rows.

So with the folks attempting to avoid priest powers, those reminding others of their final destinations, the young parents with squalling babies trying to escape other young parents with squalling babies in the"cry room," the ushers playing poker and talking baseball while waiting to take up the collection, and, of course, old poots like me who need the shortest limp to the restrooms, those last rows would give a sardine claustrophobia.

* Convenience: (old middle Wendish) noun. 1. A source of exasperation. 2. A blot on the face of technology. 3. an excuse to pay 100-150% more for an item.

11 October 2010: Feast of St. Peter Tuy. Day did not exist in Italy, Portugal, Poland, or Spain because of implementation of Gregorian calendar 1582, sack of Wexford by Cromwell 1649, Battle of Valcour Island in Lake Champlain 1776, J.E.B. Stuart loots Chambersburg, Pennsylvania 1862, Vatican II begins 1962.

Atheists, Extraterrestrials, and St. Francis.

When an avowed atheist dies, I privately say a prayer for them and those who loved them. I fail to see the harm in this because if they are right, it won't matter and if I am, they're probably going to need some help. I have had a Mass said for their repose occasionally, usually naming them simply as "a friend." After all, Jesus'll know who I mean. Whether it helps them or not, I may find out when I report in, I suppose. And there will indeed be rejoicing if they meet me where I want to go. One thing there won't be if we meet up. There will be no "I told you so" on my part--I don't believe in it. If I'm right, they'll know it, and if I'm wrong...well, that'll take care of itself.

For some reason, some folks are of the opinion that finding extraterrestrial life will prove the nonexistence of God. I'm not sure I follow their reasoning. My reaction to the discovery of extraterrestrial life as far as the existence of the Lord is something along the lines of "Yeah? So?" I see no reason why God couldn't have life other than that on our little blue dot. After all, He's God--He can do any dang thing He pleases (one of the fringe benefits of being The All Mighty).

One problem I think they have is that they are attempting to set up a strawman based on their mental construct of an entity they accept as not existing. At this point, the exercise begins to resemble the "Seinfeld" show--a show basically about nothing. Well, I must admit, they have faith if nothing else.

The second problem I see with the product the evangelical atheist pushes is that they really have no product. On the matter of what happens just before the first shovelful of dirt hits the top of the coffin, they say believers are offered "pie-in-the-sky." And they offer...what? My opinion only, but that pie may just taste better than their mouthful of dust.

So we will go our ways. Me sorry that they risk their immortal souls and them sorry I risk...again, what?

But, then, who am I to look askance at my betters? I'm just a poor, credulous peasant trying to get through life the best I can. So eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow may be--Fantastic!

Review (Note to FTC: Bought it myself, troops.)

The Mountains of Saint Francis: Discovering the Geologic Events that Shaped Our Earth by Walter Alvarez. W.W. Norton & Company, 2008.

Being as it's the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi and I like rocks, I figured I'd troll this book by a member of the twosome that gave us the Cretaceous asteroid hit theory (Alvarez the younger) past for your consideration. It is a study of the undersea formation of the Appennine Mountains' limestone and their quarries--where Michelangelo worked as a pup--, the volcanic seven hills of Rome, and the evaporation of the Mediterranean Sea (you can't say things weren't exciting in that part of the world).

The book requires no real knowledge of structural geology and is written on a public high school level (Catholic middle school level). Alvarez is a good writer and makes the geology enjoyable.

4 October 2010: Feast of St. Francis of Assisi. Pope Gregory XIII implements Gregorian Calendar 1582, Battle of Germantown 1777, First run of the Orient Express 1883, Sputnik I launched 1957.