Early Burials of Priests.

From the paper - Proper timing of priest burial in montane environments: A history and prospectus.

We were kicking grave side services around over on the Catholic Writers' list a while back (we had to because someone who will remain nameless' blasted dragon swallowed our political football) and it reminded me of a grave side service that involved a former boss--call him Kelly. Kelly put himself through art school working as an undertaker at a funeral home in Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains.

One time, they had a Catholic burial that included a grave side service. The ground at the cemetery was so rocky the grave had to be dug with a backhoe, resulting in an over-sized hole. To give the priest a place to stand at the head of the coffin, boards covered over with fake grass carpeting were placed around the grave. The priest arrived a few minutes before the family. Father was a bit old-fashioned and wore a biretta. As the family approached from the parking lot at the bottom of the hill, the priest stepped to the head of the coffin and vanished. Kelly and his assistant whirled and looked in all directions. Kelly said that he happened to glance down and there was Father's biretta sticking up out from beneath the coffin. Apparently, the priest had stepped on a spot were two boards had moved apart and gravity took it's course. While his assistant ran down the hill to stop the family, Kelly helped Father from the hole. The service was conducted by the mud bespattered clergyman without further entertainment. According to Kelly, Father took it well, for the most part, remarking that to be a good priest, one had to throw oneself into it. He also said while it (pointing to the grave) was the destination of all, he really hadn't expected to get there quite that fast.

As a Note,

The last passenger pigeon, a female, died in the Cincinnati Zoo on this day in 1914. During the 19th century, single flocks of over 2 billion covering an area of 1 mile (1.6 km) by 300 miles (500 km) were counted (estimated?) during migrations. Rather than being wiped out by sports hunters, they were destroyed by market hunters who shipped boxcar loads the eastern U.S. cities for the restaurant trade . Leaving this country boy with one question: Did y'all enjoy y'all's supper?

Certainly makes one appreciate the conservation work done by and paid for through donations, license fees, and taxes on ammunition by sports hunters through organizations such as Ducks Unlimited and others.

Thus endeth today's lesson.

Also on this day, something happy. Alberta, bringing with it one of the richest dinosaur fossil deposits around the Red Deer River, joined the rest of the Canadian confederation. Oh, yeah, Saskatchewan joined too--but they seem to have a dearth of dinosaurs. If you ever get the chance, check out Drumheller and the Royal Tyrrell Museum.

1 September 2010. Feast of St. Lupus of Sens. Montrose defeats Covenanters in Battle of Tippermuir 1644, Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa founded 1772, Germans capture Emperor Napoleon III of France at Battle of Sedan 1870, Tokyo and Yokohama destroyed by Great Kanto earthquake 1923, Germany invades Poland 1939.

"Conversant with..."

One of the joys of life as I think I know it are the conversations I get to take part in. As an example:

The other day, I'm putzing with the computer while the wife works a puzzle in one of her books. The conversation goes something like this:

Wife: "What does 'SSN' mean?"

Me: (immediately): "'Submarine Nuclear'--an attack boat."

Wife: "I don't understand."

Me (still looking at screen): "It's a ship designation part of a Navy hull number. 'SS' for a diesel submarine, 'SSN' for a nuclear powered attack boat, 'SSNB' for a boomer."

Wife: "A what?"

Me (mind still in neutral): "'Submarine Nuclear Ballistic.' A boat that launches ICBMs."

Long silence. I finally look around and she is regarding me with a confused expression (well, maybe, a more confused expression than I usually seem to induce in normal people).

Me: "What?"

Wife: "I'm sorry, I just don't get it."

The penny drops.

Me: "What's the clue?"

Wife: "It says, 'Nine digit designation.'"

Me: "Oh." Oops. "'Social Security Number,' dear."

Wife: "Ah. That works."

I dunno, maybe I was in the business too long?

On another subject:

It's been noticed lately that cats are showing signs of being sentient. The cats maintain that they were from the beginning--they just didn't want to put up with a lot of stupid conversation.

Karina Fabian, a specialist in astro-nuns, gumshoed dragons, and zombie haute cuisine, asked me , "So why are cats lowering their standards now?"

Why are cats coming out of the closet at this late date? I'm not totally sure. Dorsey, our cat and the handsome guy at upper left, seems to operate on a "need to know" basis; so like a China watcher, I'm making a guess. It may be a case of "if you want something done right, you do it yourself." I'll let you know more as I find out, but at the moment, it's strictly a matter of reading around the edges.

27 August 2010: Feast of St. Ebbo. Battle of Plataea 479 BC, Battle of Long Island 1776, Federals attack Cape Hatteras 1861, first jet aircraft--a Heinkel 178--flies 1939, Mariner 2 launched to Venus 1962.

Karina Fabian strikes!

Being the normally lazy sort I am, I tend not to put myself out blogging. Fortunately (or unfortunately), Karina Fabian, our lady of dragons, sent me a work of the musical kind sparked by my blog entry of yesterday (scroll down). My assumption is that this is suggested as incidental music for funerary celebrations in the Diocese of Pittsburgh. At the bottom is the various places online where Karina can be found (this is provided as a service to the hard working gentlemen of the Holy Office of the Inquisition in order that they go after her first, rather than me).

Oh! Holy Gas

Oh! Holy gas
We know you come from Grandma.
She's in the grave. Ash to ash, dust to dust
Oil's from dinosaurs
But gas now comes from Grandma.
We turn on lights, and we say a prayer for her.
Pittsburgh says, the graveyard's safe for drilling
The money's good, pays their utilities
O! Please don't smoke
At funerals or you'll blow up!
O! Na-a-tural gas
O fuel! Oh gas!
O gas from Grandma's tomb.

Karina L.Fabian, 19 August 2010
Dragon Eye, P.I.
Kickstart Marketing

20 August 2010: Feast of St. Philibert. Battle of Yarmouk 636, St. Stephen founds Hungarian state - National Day 1000, Battle of Fallen Timbers 1794, President Andrew Johnson declares end of War Between the States 1866, Leon Trosky fatally wounded in Mexico City 1940, Soviets invade Czechoslovakia 1968.

Even I couldn't make this up!

This morning, I logged in and did a quick scan of my home page. I checked the weather and time in various places, whether I had any email and the baseball scores, and glanced at the headlines from the various news sources. I then looked at the calendar to make sure it wasn't 1 April and I'd slept eight months (or, conversely, lost four months--in the space-time continuum I appear trapped within, this seems as likely as not). What sparked this sudden interest in things temporal was a headline from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review to the effect that the Pittsburgh Diocese had sold drilling rights to gas companies so they can drill for natural gas in Catholic cemeteries in western Pennsylvania ("They just drilled through Granny!!!" "Yeah, but she's delivering three hundred cubic foot per minute."). To prove that I neither drank, inhaled, shot-up, or snorted my breakfast (grits and tea by the way), here is the link to the story on this wonderfulness: "Catholic Cemeteries..."

The gas is trapped over a large part of Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, and West Virginia in the Marcellus Shale. Supposedly, a potential 50 trillion cubic feet of natural gas lies in the formation. The problem for the gas companies is that western Pennsylvania is mountainous so they prefer the flat places such as where most normal people like to build their stuff--say, between the ridges.

In the Pittsburgh area, topography laid down the rules of life early on. One was born and lived on the side of the mountain, worked down on the riverside flats, and was carried to the cemetery on top of the mountain at the end. With horses, the heavier the load, the lower on the mountain it stopped. A coffin and cargo was about the most a two horse hearse could get to the top. Of course, this allowed the saying in Pittsburgh, "Everybody gets to the top."

The potential of the Marcellus Shale has people somewhat split. The movers and shakers that run things smell lots and lots of money (taxes, sales, graft, etc.). The rest of the residents are a bit more leery ("You want to put that thing where?!!").

For Catholics such as myself (back-slider though I be), some questions now arise. Must special provisions be taken for the proper handling of gas from consecrated ground? I suppose it's okay to burn it as long as one does so in a proper respectful and religious manner. Maybe Vigil lights will be gas fueled from now on...Hmm, I wonder, should we say an "Our Father" or merely cross ourselves when we turn on the stove.

On another subject...

A nice website for the Daily Office (AKA: Liturgy of the Hours) can be found at Divine Office. Org.

19 August 2010: Feast of St. Bertulf. Battle of Knockdoe 1504, Charles Stuart begins the "Rising of '45" 1745, Lakota set out to attack New Ulm in Minnesota 1862, John Westely Hardin killed in El Paso 1895, first running of the All-American Soap Box Derby in Dayton 1934, liberation of Paris 1944.

"A thousand chimpanzees with typewriters..."

I was reading Karina Fabian's Fabianspace the other day and decided to give a writing analyzer she talked about a shot. The first thing I ran through it was "On a Road from Victory." The results were so funny and being the idle sort I am, I blew twenty minutes and ran a bunch of my other stuff through. I pasted only the complete bodies of the pieces, leaving off the titles and such. I'm wondering what the algorithm is keying off of as some of the stuff did seem to be bunched in a consistent pattern. here's what I got:

"On a Road from Victory"--Margaret Mitchell
"A feather's Fall in Vacuum"--James Joyce
"Morning Ritual"--Lewis Carroll
"Tarzan at the Earth's Corps"--Cory Doctorow
"Cannon Law"--Stephen King
"The Sorcerers' Game"--Stephen king
"Gated Community"--Stephen King
"The Long Trek"--Stephen King
Chained Dogs (Chapter 1)--Kurt Vonnegut
Chained Dogs (Preface)--Kurt Vonnegut
Chained Dogs ("On Heinzelmannchen")--David Foster Wallace
"Marine Diplomacy"--David Foster Wallace
Mountain Peculiar (Chapter 1)--David Foster Wallace
"How the Fox Got His White Tail Tip"--Rudyard Kipling
"How the Deer Got His Antlers"--Rudyard Kipling
"How the Beaver Got His Tail Flat"--Rudyard Kipling
"Change"--Rudyard Kipling
"I Gotta Tell This"--Chuck Palahniuk
"The Criminal Class"--Chuck Palahniuk
"Neither Fish Nor Foul"--Margaret Atwood
"The Christmas Fool"--Anne Rice
"Words of Rust"--J.D. Salinger

The only author in the bunch I've actually read was Kipling and the three "How the..." are, in deed, "Just So Stories." That the Chained Dogs preface and chapter sound alike (and the note on Heinzelmannchen sounded different) makes sense. I don't quite understand why the two Danube County stories and the autobiographical piece, "The Long Trek," would sound like Stephen King.

Never the less, a reasonable way to waste time.

16 August 2010: Feast of St. Fructuosus. Battle of Bennington 1777, Battle of Camden 1780, Fort Detroit surrendered to British 1812, Palestine Riots 1929, last emperor of China captured by Soviets 1945, highest parachute jump by Colonel Joseph W. Kittinger II USAF 1960.