Catholic Schools Week: A Modest Proposal

Image result for big children's choir
Children’s Choir of Russia. No reason. Bet they sing better music…

(Usual disclaimer about how all the people involved are no doubt better Christians than me, no hard feelings, just calling it as I see it.)

Got blindsided this morning at Mass, as it is Catholic Schools Week, and not having any kids in K-12 Catholic schools, I didn’t see it coming.

What ‘it’ is is all the schoolkids and their parents showing up for the same Mass. This Mass includes several homilies/sermons – the normal one after the Gospel, as well as a pre-Mass sermon about what we’re all celebrating today (hint: Our Lord and Savior’s redeeming sacrifice as manifested on the altar didn’t seem to figure prominently) and the post-Mass sermon wherein we recognize and thank all sorts of people and remind everyone that there will be donuts and coffee at the school’s open house after Mass.

Remember the part in the V-II documents wherein Mass is supposed to contain performances, musical and otherwise, by kids at every opportunity, because nothing says ‘full, active participation’ like listening to children sing goofy social justice songs during Mass?

Me neither.

On the good side, the children’s choir is much better at this parish than the average in my experience, and they even – amazing! – sang some Latin commons. Whoa. This is not to be discounted – that these kids have learned some beautiful music could change their lives. A very good thing.

But the first and last songs, which nobody except the kids in the choir knew and for which no music or text was supplied, sang about ending discrimination and achieving justice. God may have been mentioned at some point, don’t know, I was kind of not listening after a while out of self-defense.

I If anyone ever wonders why we didn’t send our kids to Catholic K-12 schools, well, this about sums it up.

Anyway, as a public service, thought I’d write a song I’d like the little darlings to learn, and sing every morning right after the Pledge of Allegiance and never, ever sing at Mass:

The I’m Not All That and  Need to Lean Something Song

O my head is empty,

There’s nothing inside.

And teacher’s no better

There’s no place to hide!

Oy Vey! Oy Vey! My head is empty!

Oy Vey! Oy Vey! I don’t know a thing.

There’s no shame in saying

I don’t have a clue

I am still quite little

Now, how about you?

Oy Vey! Oy Vey! My head is empty!

Oy Vey! Oy Vey! I don’t know a thing.

If I pay attention

And read stuff that’s old

I might just learn something

Before my body’s cold.

Oy Vey! Oy Vey! My head is empty!

Oy Vey! Oy Vey! I don’t know a thing.

Needs work.

Here’s another ditty, sung, perhaps, to Deutschland, Deutschland Uber Alles Praise the Lord, Ye Heavens Adore Him. Or not. Trying to reach kids where they are. Suitable for no occasions.

Lord Have Mercy! I’m a Clueless Punk

Lord, Have Mercy, I’m a clueless punk

Not surprising, since I am 10

I’ve been plied from birth with hippy bunk

Same as mom and dad and their kin

Now we make believe

Truth we can retrieve

If we spout the buzzwords right!

Lord, enlighten me!

I would like to see

What in particular’s OK in Your sight.

You’re my friend, Lord Jesus, that I got –

Not as fun as Maddy or James

This whole church thing, fun it’s surely not.

Why can’t we play video games?

Once each month or two

Motions going through

Grandma thinks there is a point!

No theology!

Never bended knee!

All my friends want to blow this joint.

Still, My Lord, I think there’s something

To this praying, kneeling and stuff

You have plans, I get the feeling

Being sort of nice ain’t enough

When I reach the end

I will need a Friend

more than just the final boss!

Help me win this game

Life is not the same

When you look down from that Cross

Weather Report

First off, out here in California, it is wet and has been for over a week. If you are from a typical inhabited part of the planet, that may seem hardly newsworthy. Out here, it’s the biggest thing since Russian agents hired by Trump hacked voting machines in key states to steal the election from Hillary in a manner so egregious and outrageous that it causes us all to forget even more how Hillary stole the nomination from Sanders in the first place. Right, Bernie-oids?

Or something. The details seem somewhat uncertain. Except for the Hillary-stole-the-nomination-from-Bernie part. That’s pretty clear, because of the emails that the Russians are said to have liberated from the DNC servers say so. I think. So, if I understand this right – unlikely, I admit – one set of Socialists used their nefarious yet l33t hacking chops to make sure another Socialist was defeated by an elderly New York Liberal in the primaries so that she could lose to another elderly New York Liberal running as a Republican in the general election, thereby advancing the Russian agenda, which has long been to turn the US into a Socialist country – via keeping a Socialist from winning the election. Kind of a Lao Tzu meets Machiavelli in Byzantium and starts plotting with Odysseus sort of thing.

I digress.  Allow me to clarify the weather situation. You may see pictures such as this:

petaluma-flooded

This would be Industrial Way in Petaluma, CA. That does look serious. Petaluma, the former Egg Capital of the World, home to the beautiful St. Vincent’s Church, a large Portuguese population as well the Clan o’ M’ Wife, is largely situated on the – you’ll be amazed – floodplain of the Petaluma River. Much of this floodplain is about 12 inches higher than the estuary know as San Francisco Bay  at high tide.

Why, a sane person from much of the inhabited world might ask, would anyone build a town on a floodplain? Such a person is not a native Californian. It might be a couple decades between any actual flooding, plenty of time to settle in, build a town, get used to the beautiful weather. When such flooding  does inevitably happen, it will seem an unusual and arbitrary act of a cold, heartless Universe and not something any doofus could have predicted. (1)

Same goes for earthquakes, only doubly so. Major cities – San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose – are built right on top of major faults, or on mudflats sure to liquify in a major earthquake, or both. Do not suspect that this what we shall generously call odd optimism is a Northern California thing – not so! Los Angeles is not only built on one of the world’s scariest fault systems, it is almost coextensive with the floodplains of three rivers! Rivers that, in the state of nature, regularly flooded the LA basin in a totally not funny way. A little over 100 years ago, engineers started channeling and paving and otherwise rendering hideously ugly the three big rivers – the Los Angeles, San Fernando and San Gabriel – turning them into little more than giant concrete flood control channels. This is OK, in a way, since all the water that would naturally flow down them is now confined to reservoirs, evidently so 20 million people can water their golf courses and lawns in what is, essentially, a desert. On a typical summer day, any of the rivers is an ankle-deep trickle down a huge concrete slot. The water is up in the hills, in fake lakes and tanks.

I again digress. A few decades ago, the Army Corp of Engineers decided enough with the flooding, already, and did a bunch of work on the Petaluma River that, so far, has prevented any really serious flooding. But it also made some nice flat land that even Californians were not willing to bet a building on look a lot more attractive – thus, some industries – Industrial Way, right? – built some concrete slab tilt-ups and paved some roads right down near the river – right down near here. And, while the Army’s work has greatly mitigated the flooding, if you push it hard enough, you can still build in Petaluma so that a once every 20 year rainy season will flood your streets.

Thus, dedicated professionals can indeed get pictures of flooding, with swamped cars and everything, in order to make the reading/viewing public aware of the disaster out here in the West. But, seriously, most of the flooding is out in the middle of nowhere, meaning vineyards and pastures are getting flooded, not streets and homes (with few exceptions). About 95% of Californians looking out their windows would see Damp. Some who live up in the mountains would see Snow. Some very, very few would see flooding worthy of the name.

Yep, we’ve had almost 5″ of rain in the last 3 days, way more further up in the hills, and many feet of snow in the mountains – and it’s still raining and snowing. Reservoirs that get their water from the Sierra are almost all way above their average levels for this time of year. Reservoirs nearer the coast or otherwise far from the Sierra had gotten very, very low, and are filling up from a much lower starting point, for the most part, so they still have a way to go. Sierra snowpack, which supplies about a third of California’s used-by-people water, is significantly higher than average for this time of year. Local rain gages show some areas reaching their seasonal average total rainfall – with half the rainy season to go. In general, the people here, who have been fed doom and gloom drought predictions for the last few years, are pretty happy with this state of affairs.

The weather is really, really nice almost all the time out here. Once it stops raining – it’s supposed to take a break over the weekend – it will be around 60F and sunny. In the middle of January. Then, typically, rain off and on through February. Come March, it will be sunny and nice most of the time, in April almost all the time, and then it’s sunny and bright until October at the earliest.

So, yea, all of us out here are  in imminent danger of being washed out to sea, right after we die in a car crash attempting to dodge a mudslide and getting hit by a falling tree. And snow. If the earthquakes don’t get us first. Whatever you do, stay someplace safe, like Minnesota or Florida.

HTH.

 

  1. In 1834, the Mexican land grant of Rancho Monte del Diablo was made to a Salvio Pacheco, who promptly founded the town of Pacheco, CA. It’s on the floodplain of several creeks that empty into the Bay. After a while, Salvio got tired of having to dry out his ranch and all the building in it every few winters (bad luck! With better timing, could have lived there for years and never seen a flood!). He looked south-east, and realized that his massive land grant included not only floodplains and a mountainside, but square miles of hills! So he moved a couple miles, and, perhaps reflecting on how it looked a bit bad to name a town after himself, founded a new town he named after Our Lady, Queen of All Saints. This got shortened to ‘All Saints’, which the local Spanish-speaking population insisted on calling ‘Todos Santos’ on the premise that they all spoke Spanish anyway. When the Yankees got around to noticing the town, they shortened the name further to ‘Concord’. So, the town where I live is not on a floodplain. It is, however, in keeping with the Rules, very near an active fault.

New Year Predictions

TOF has posted his list of predictions for the upcoming year here. Check it out, and add yours.

Mine? Glad you asked:

1. The fundamental basis of physics will need to be reevaluated as Trump’s mere existence causes the same heads to explode *multiple times*.

2. As the next 4 years play out, Trump supporters will increasingly fall back on the position: at least he’s not Hillary. They will find this position strangely satisfying.

3. After Canadians take over management of US national healthcare [riffing on one of TOF’s predictions – ed.], they will discover many people who, if only they were in their right minds, would wish themselves dead, and attempt to ‘offer’ them ‘assisted suicide’ after the manner of the people-scoopers in Soylent Green. Some people will object.

4. It will occur to some people that if you do any business at all with Russia, China, Saudi Arabia or the City of Chicago, you will unavoidably have thugs and mafiosi as business partners. This thought will be hunted down and killed in its larval form.

5. While it took 8 years of constant maneuvering to get the Cubs the World Series win, a little noticed rule change at the MLB winter meetings, whereby only current and deceased members of the Roti family are permitted to act as umpires and scorekeepers, locks up title for the next decade.

6. either a) American capitalists will continue to fiendishly make Venezuelans starve to death by selling crap to Americans, or b) all of the sudden, Venzuelans and Cubans discover that, wow, if they all really go with this from each according to his ability/to each according to his needs thing, they have the ability to get rid of some people who need getting rid of!

7. All across Europe, young Muslim men suddenly realize that, by letting them into their countries, Westerners are trying to stop all the oppression that has lead to 1,400 years of violence, and decide to stop with the murder, burning and raping. After another 10 or so years, just to be safe.

8. While researching a paper on how much cooler Europeans are than us, a 10th grade student inadvertently notices that things were really much worse under Weimar Germany, let alone under the Nazis, than they are now. He is promptly expelled.

You?

Family Christmas Silliness

Since our Elder Daughter has to head back to L.A. tomorrow for classes starting Tuesday, we opened Epiphany presents today. Silliness reigned. I got:

my-cup
Socrates and Plato are featured on the other side. 

So far, I’ve only corrupted the very local youth, and only for 25 years – but a man’s gotta dream! Plus, the cup, and the others pictured below, were each full of 23 pieces of homemade caramel and peanut butter fudge. Corrupting the tooth, as well.

kids-cups

Elder Daughter works in the office of a small 1-12 Catholic school, so, yea, one dam project after another; Middle Son is a lover of puns and other broad, eye-rolling humor. (Insert appropriate joke here, such as: It’s all fun and games until somebody loses an eye. Then the game is ‘Find the Eye’.)

Speaking of projects, Elder Daughter gave the Caboose this bit of handcraftiness:

The text reads: “Kick Here when all goals have been accomplished, to unlock the achievement” As we say around here: JD! As in Just Darling.

The tiny bucket isn’t as tiny as it may at first appear, because that is no normal can of milk upon which it sits:

Mrs. Yard Sale of the Mind both drinks a lot of tea lightened with canned milk and bakes up a storm.(1) Thus, when I go grocery shopping, I just pick up half a dozen cans of evaporated milk even if it’s not on the list. If it is on the list, it’s a dozen cans. If we’re down to our last 3-4 cans, we’re on the verge of running out. So, Elder Daughter spotted this massive can (the recipe on the back is for pumpkin pie – 48 servings worth of pumpkin pie) and knew it was perfect. It will be gone in 2 weeks, max.

And there were other sweet/thoughtful/needed gifts as well. Like most Americans, I imagine, we really have more than enough stuff. It really is the thought – and the love – that count.

Marry Christmas and a Happy & Holy New Year to you and yours, and thanks for reading!

  1. Disclosure: I like canned milk on my oatmeal, which I have for breakfast maybe 4-5 times a week. So, I maybe go through a can every fortnight or so, myself.

Night Land Humor

(Note: the following will make little sense if you haven’t read the book. I found this stuff I’d written a few years back, and thought I might share. Shared a couple before, but what the hey.)

Yes, if you’ve read William Hope Hodgson’s epic masterpiece, The Night Land (flawed, for sure, but epic nonetheless), you will have noticed an equally epic lack of humor. Night Land makes the Book of Job read like stand-up comedy. This could be remedied.

The second half of the book consists of about 100,000 words covering the relationship of the Hero with Naania, the damsel in extreme distress whom he is rescuing. They have plenty of time, it seems, for intricate interactions that look a little like flirting engaged in by a couple of people whose hinges are a bit off-plumb – while trying not to get eaten by giant slugs and ape-men and other unpleasant creatures. After the first novella’s worth of words devoted to these odd interactions, teasing, weirdly soft porn level ‘discipline’ and overall moments of WHAT THE HELL? STOP THAT! GET OUT OF THERE! RUN! RUUUUN!, it gets a LITTLE OLD.

The story is told first person from the hero’s side. Let’s just say I doubt his objectivity. From his perspective, this story is pure Homeric epic, with him risking all and defying the dark gods to save his beloved. One must wonder how the story would look from the point of view of Naania, she who has called telepathically for a savior, gotten a response, but had her fortress city surrounded and then overrun by nightmare creatures who devour body, mind and soul while she waits for rescue, is forced to hide, defenseless amidst a dark landscape of utter horror while the few survivors are hunted down and dismembered for fun before her eyes, hoping, then despairing of rescue. Then one guy shows up – it’s the two of them against the mustered forces of Eeeevil! Might it have seemed a little different? I think it might have.

Pays Nuit
How it seemed to Our Hero

 

Image result for noir women
Might have looked a bit more like this from Naania’s POV.

Fragments of the Diary of the Lady Naania of the Lesser Redoubt

As the Earth Current fails, it seems I have a gift few in the Lesser Redoubt possess – I am not an idiot.

There’s got to be some way to make it out of this alive. I’ve been broadcasting a distress signal for months, and some guy in the Great Redoubt answered. What do I need to do to get him to send a heavily armed team to get me the hell out of here? Let’s lay on the girlish charm.

Galahad seems to think I’m some long-lost lover of his – hey, whatever works. Now rescue this maiden in distress, you manly-man, whoever you are.

So, this herd of squirrels I’m stuck with opened the damn doors! WTF?! Now I’m huddled in a ditch hiding from the Deity-Who-Oddly-Must Never-Be-Named damned monsters that infest this area. This isn’t going well.

The records show that, at one time, the millions in the Great Redoubt had some serious firepower, and could lay waste to these monsters from miles away. They had flying machines, for crying out loud! So Galahad here shows up alone, on foot, armed with a circular saw on a stick? Holy hell.

If I have to play coy again to get this lunk to keep moving, I’m going to puke up both of these freaking tablets.  

The snuggles, the kisses and the ‘inadvertent’ glimpses of the goods have got Galahad completely under control.  Now, get me the hell out of here!