Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Read irresponsibly...that's my shirt

Read something appalling. Read something offensive.

Idea from Cathy. Shirt from Unshelved.

Catherine of Siena

Today is her feast -- a doctor of the Church (but not a "father")! I want to be at a conversation between St. Paul and St. Catherine....

My favorite quote? If you are what you should be, you will set the whole world on fire.

I like Kathryn's, too: You are not called to perfection, but to infinite desire.

Which two saints would you like to eavesdrop on a conversation between?

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Mad Skills

Crash - who turns 14 tomorrow - sleeps in a loft bed. It's annoying to get out of bed to turn off the lights once you've gotten nice and sleepy reading a book, and a parent can't always be induced to flip the switch for you.

Tonight he found a solution. A Nerf dart gun.

He's good. He gets a bullseye four out of five times - and pop, the lights go out. It is, as he would say, a mad skill.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Close the door

My next column is up at the Standard and Times. An unromantic approach to space for prayer...

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

There were only two fires, Mom

Barnacle Boy is extraordinarily competent in the kitchen, certainly for his age. Today he tried to make beef stew and yeast rolls for dinner while I was at a faculty meeting, and Beloved Babysitter was not here. As Math Man educationally put it, "he was beyond his zone of proximal development, without sufficient scaffolding."

The Boy understands that good stew begins with well browned meat, and this requires high heat. And flames. And oil. And...a small grease fire. Well, it doesn't need that last, but it happened. Twice.

I came home, with deli sandwich makings in hand, to a somewhat subdued Barnacle Boy. "I cried after each fire, Mom," he confessed. Reassured that he was still loved in spite of the incendiary experience, we undertook a post-mortem. The stew flambe, in fact, looked terrific, we put the dough in the 'fridge for a second rising and voila - dinner for tomorrow!

Prayer is a good thing. It may have kept my house from burning down.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Consumer Reports

Last summer, as part of the fifty fewer project, I decided to opt out of tissues and into handkerchiefs. I bought a dozen or so, mostly hemstitched linen, hankies. Each hanky cost about twice as much as a box of tissues, so I figured return on investment might be slow in coming -- but these things last forever. With the awful cold I caught from Math Man via Crash, came the acid test of my un-consumer option.

If you need to blow your nose a hundred times in a day (don't ask) the following rating scale might help - from worst to best.

  • KimWipes (scientists will know this one)
  • generic tissues
  • Kleenex cold (the citrate in it kills viruses, but is NOT kind to tender skin, there is only so much I'll sacrifice for public health)
  • linen handkerchiefs
  • Kleenex regular
  • cotton lawn handkerchiefs
  • Puffs with lotion
Overall, I'm glad to be feeling better tonight. I apologized to Math Man if I'd been a cranky convalescent. "Not cranky," he allowed, as I breathed a sigh of relief, "more whiny, I think!"

Friday, April 18, 2008

Quarter Stitches

The intensity of this semester is finally fading , and my body has decided to respond by getting the cold that has been bouncing around my family and department. No complaints, if I'm going to feel under the weather, I'd rather be at home rather than on the road and not have any pressing deadlines (other than the eternal stack of papers to grade). And this will pass quickly - I have a friend who has been suffering from the shingles for 5 weeks now. That is misery...

Tonight I'm sitting on the sofa, enjoying the cool breeze drifting through the sun room windows and reading. If I had more energy I go upstairs and get the yarn I bought in New Orleans at the Quarter Stitch (in the French quarter -- where else?). A fellow knitting chemist pointed me that way, noting that I wouldn't want to open the bag. She's right! Colorful ribbons, lovely tissue paper and confetti inside....

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Caught in the act

I drove up Tuesday afternoon to see my spiritual director at the old Jesuit novitiate in Wernersville. I had a glorious walk - including a round through the cemetery (inspired by Stratoz). There were only a couple of other guests in the house, including a visiting Franciscan, a guest director for the retreat to begin in a couple of days.

Just before dinner, I'd been on the computer on the first floor...and startled when the visiting director came through the door looking for the computer. A bit of guilt do we think? I promised to be done in a moment.

I was enjoying my tea after dinner, reading a terrific article in Commonweal about anchoresses and reveling in being momentarily unneeded when I realized my Franciscan friend was standing next to me. "Could you please tell me the password to the computer?" A bit of IT help was fair penance for my earlier indulgence.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Fifty Daffodils

...for fifty years.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Welcome Home Gifts

My kids waited up for my return from New Orleans. "What did you bring us?" was not what greeted me - but a bright green post-it arrow inscribed "I love you! Barnacle Boy" directing me to a plastic bag containing a freshly baked M&M cookie. I did bring them molecular t-shirts...about which they were very excited. The Boy's features nepetalactone (the active ingredient in catnip). Crash got Kevlar on his.

Fluffy had a gift for me, too. She left it on the doormat, all four paws to the sky. Welcome home!

Let God off the Holy Cards

My next column is up here. What happens if you ditch the two-dimensional images of God and let your imagination loose in prayer...

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Alpha and Omega

On my way back to the airport in New Orleans, I spotted a squat, bright blue glass building to the side of I-10. It looked like it had been transported directly from the early 70s and was vaguely the worse for wear. In 1 story high letters on its side: Omega Hospital. It was all a bit offputting and I couldn't quite figure out why, until the phrase "the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end" wafted through my brain. Why would you name a hospital for something that evoked "the end"?

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

By the numbers

The key metrics for the chemistry meeting are

Beignets eaten: 10 (really, 10)
Miles walked: 10.4
Hours in meetings: 19.5
Blisters: 3 (never wear a new pair of pumps)
New hats: 2 (one staid, one not)

A lovely time, but still, I'm glad to be going home!

Sunday, April 06, 2008

New Orleans Nuggets

Beignets for breakfast. I walked to Cafe du Monde after Mass today, waited in line, and ate all three (they comes in threes - very Trinitarian) while walking back.

Tonight I took my graduate student to dinner to celebrate surviving his first talk at a national meeting on his research. We walked to Cafe du Monde after dinner. If you're counting, that would 4 beignets for the day. Stay tuned. Will I get up early enough tomorrow to walk down for some?

Compare and Contrast: Conferences

I'm at the American Chemical Society national meeting in New Orleans this week. It's a large conference, there are somewhere between 12,000 and 15,000 people here associated with the meeting. We're big, but not so big there are not other conferences here at the same time. This year, the meeting is co-located with AIChE (chemical engineers) - which makes much sense.

A few years ago, we shared the Anaheim convention center with a cheerleading competition. You'd come 'round a corner and find a dozen kids stacked on top of one another, smiling for all they were worth. An odd pairing - a colleague and I kept being asked in the elevator which group our daughters cheered for.

Yesterday, about 15 minutes after I arrived, I ran into one of the recent ACS presidents in the elevator. We chatted for a minute about my chemistry blog, and when I said I'd be blogging the interesting edges of the meeting, he asked if I knew what other group was here with us. "Uh...no.." "It's too much," he said, as he sped off to his next event.

Going back up to my room later, the elevator was packed with women in black t-shirts. I asked what conference they were at. "We're here for ( ). It's an in-home sale party company." Making what I thought was a reasonable guess based on the name of the company on the t-shirts, I asked if they sold pajamas. No. As one of them put it diplomatically, "we sell romance enhancement products." Oh. OH! At that moment, to my great relief, the doors of the elevator opened on my floor.

I'm not sure anything else at this meeting will be that interesting or on the edge!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Alter Eve?

I write on an Apple Mac laptop. Humanists see subtext everywhere - and one colleague recently found my writing about prayer on a machine with an apple on it somewhat ironic. An apple with a bite out of it no less. Shades of Eve...

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Models of Church

The City and The World has a post about Cardinal Avery Dulles, who wrote "Models of Church". I tried this quiz to find out where I fell on the continuum. And where else should a sacramental theologian fall??

What is your model of the church? [Dulles]
created with QuizFarm.com
You scored as Sacrament model

Your model of the church is Sacrament. The church is the effective sign of the revelation that is the person of Jesus Christ. Christians are transformed by Christ and then become a beacon of Christ wherever they go. This model has a remarkable capacity for integrating other models of the church.