Saturday, August 31, 2002

I thought I'd share this poem with y'all. Rene Clausen has set the first stanza to music in one of those pieces that... calm, and soothe, and help one to reflect on the eternal and transcendent.


by Thomas S. Jones, Jr.

Tonight eternity alone is near:
The sea, the sunset, and the darkening blue:
Within their shelter is no space for fear,
Only the wonder such things are true.

The thought of you is like the dusk at sea...
Space and wide freedom and old shores left far...
The shelter of a lone immensity
Sealed by the sunset and the evening star.

I set up a NetZero account, so at least I can check my email.

I went to a Sidewinders baseball game tonight. They were playing Nashville. It was a beautiful evening for baseball. The game was pretty even until the top of the 9th when Nashville came out strong and got 3 runs on the relief pitcher to make it 4-2. Fortunately the Sidewinders were able to come back with 3 runs of their own and make it 5-4.

I came home and watched a DVD I'd bought of the CNN special on 9/11. It was pretty good, although I cried a fair amount. As bonus material they had most of the President's speech to Congress on 9/20/01. My God! I'd forgotten what an amazing speech it was.

Friday, August 30, 2002

Blogging will be very light for the next few days. We had a really nasssty thunderstorm Wednesday that zapped my DSL router, so I have no regular Internet access until my replacement comes in next Wed. or Thursday. Hopefully I will be able to at least get my mail, but if you really need to reach me you'll have to call.

On a brighter note there was a message on my machine from a guy at Benchmark QA in Mesa that he got my resume and wants to talk to me.... YAY!

Wednesday, August 28, 2002

It would appear that Cardinal Maida has taken action in the case of Fr. Ortman... BISHOP COMPELS PRIEST TO APOLOGIZE FOR “PRO-CHOICE” DEFENCE. See also the text of Fr. Ortman's retraction here.

Tuesday, August 27, 2002

From Slashdot comes this cool review of Project Orion: The True Story of the Atomic Spaceship.
I was talking with my friend Jenn about my blog and how people might think it's vain to have a blog. I should have added (but didn't) that some people might not think it's vain to have a blog but might nevertheless feel it's vain to have a blog with the title of "Hi! I'm Gordon Zaft, why isn't everyone?".... By way of partial reparation I thought I would link to Jeff Miller's Litany of Blog Humility.
So my accomplishments for today are, I had lunch with my ex-boss William, and I mowed about half the back yard, and I applied for another job at Intuit that I'd somehow missed before. William took me to lunch (what a guy!) and we had a good talk. He had some good feedback for me on my resume, little tweaks mostly.

I just realized that this is my last free Tuesday night for a long time (assuming I stay in Tucson), since next week I have a Citizens Transportation Advisory Committee meeting, and the Tuesday after that is the Requiem dress rehearsal, and then the Tuesday evenings after that will all be taken up by my Living Stones classes. Ah well... so I'm heading out to Mass at the Newman Center in a little bit, then having dinner with my friend Jenn. YAY!
Okay, Mark Shea posted this link to Peter Vere's Canon Law blog. Apparently Kathryn Lively came up with a St. Blog's Drinking Game and abused the good name (?!) of canonists everywhere. Czech it out.
As I was walking to Mass this evening I started thinking about that old standby, extra ecclesiam nulla salus, that is "Outside the Church there is no salvation". The topic came up a while back on Mark Shea's blog in a discussion about the Bishops' Committee document on evangelization and the Jewish people. The Catechism quotes Lumen Gentium:

Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it.

I've spent some time today thinking about the last sentence. To me it seems related to the mysterium iniquitatis, the mystery of sin. While I certainly know many people who reject the Church, it's hard to believe that any of them actually know that the Church "was founded as necessary by God through Christ." One has to ask, how could any sane person actually do this? How could someone know the Church is what she truly is, and yet refuse to enter or to remain?

It's a mystery. On the one hand, it's tempting to say that no one actually does this. Yet, just as the mystery of sin is how we can sin even when we know better, so I have to believe that there are some who actually consciously reject the Church, even with full knowledge. Thanks be to God it's not up to me to figure out who they are, though.

Mark Shea wrote an article in a recent issue of This Rock about salvation outside the Church, and how often it is misunderstood by people at either extreme in the Church. The real problem today, though, are not the Feeneyite tendencies among the traditionalists (though it is problematic, they are not much listened to). The real problem is the indifferentism that is so rampant in so many places in both society and even the catechetical efforts of the Church. If you don't have to be Catholic to be saved, some people seem to find no other reason why anyone should bother to be Catholic. It seems to me if you can't think of anything, you shouldn't be preaching or teaching.

Monday, August 26, 2002

I came across this helpful guide to Pronunciation of Church Latin. Good stuff.
This evening was a busy one... I walked over to campus (woo hoo, 8 blocks) to go to 5:15 Mass at the Newman Center. For some reason, daily Mass is now in the conference room and not the chapel. Bleah. I suspect it's to save $$ on air conditioning.

After Mass I walked to the Student Union and had some dinner, then over to the Music building for Collegium Musicum rehearsal at 6:30. Rehearsal went pretty well, always a little weird with a new group and new director. About half the people are from the Lane Justus Chorale so I knew a lot of them. One very pleasant surprise was Erin Cain, a soprano who sang with Lane Justus her senior year of high school, then graduated and went off to school in Oklahoma. She's back in Tucson now (all graduated) for good, and getting married in a couple of months or so. She has a terrific voice and is such a sweetheart. She has a solo on one of the LJC CDs, I think it's "O Vos Omnes."

After CM, Amber Lee and I dashed over for the last part of the Requiem rehearsal; we worked on the last movement (Agnus Dei). The group is sounding better but there are still some frightful places...
Woo! I finally got my lawnmower fixed and mowed the front lawn. Doesn't take much to make me happy... In other news I applied for 5 more jobs today (3 of them at one company) -- 4 in Phoenix and one in Silicon Valley.

Sunday, August 25, 2002

I've applied for four more jobs today, two in Tucson, one in Phoenix, and one in Silicon Valley (Menlo Park).
The much-discussed (at St. Blog's, that is) Rod Dreher piece about the Pope is now at OpinionJournal. I'll post my own reflections later.

Saturday, August 24, 2002

Slashdot posted a link to this Timeline of Online Gaming (well, really "online worlds"). Nice to see that the Plato system gets proper credit -- Plato went live in 1961 and the first network gaming was in 1969. Take that PC types!
Amy Welborn pointed out this story -- Single religious women drop standards. There's a lot to think about in this story but I was particularly struck by the last paragraph:

"Young men and women have accepted the message from their culture — a message that is not supported by the data — that cohabitation is a good way to prepare for marriage," he said. "They believe that they are in training for marriage. They are in training, but it seems that cohabitating is training them to develop exit strategies for getting out of relationships, including their marriages."
Just got back from a quick trip to Tempe. Drove up Friday night and went to the monthly Opus Dei Evening of Recollection. An evening is sort of like a mini-retreat, we usually have a meditation by Fr. Matt, opportunity for confession, a talk by a layman (Tom Kane), followed by Adoration/Benediction along with another meditation by Fr. Matt. Stayed with my brother Greg Friday night.

Saturday I had breakfast with Greg and my beautiful nieces Chelsea and Cori, then hung out for a bit with Greg and my nephew Geoff. Then I went and saw Star Wars II again, this time with my friend Tiffany (amazingly enough she still hadn't seen it!). Then a quick bite to eat with Tiff, a visit to Fry's Electronics, and home to Tucson. Phew!

Friday, August 23, 2002

Okay, so I finally got my resume etc. together to apply for the position of Assistant Director, MMT Operations. Of all the jobs I've applied for this is the one I most want, I think. I know I could do this job, but whether I can convince the powers that be of that is an open question. I also got my application in on the ASU job.

Thursday, August 22, 2002

So I've applied for 3 more jobs today, all in Tucson -- at BRO, Oaktech, and Misys (aka Sunquest). I also found an interesting job at (gasp!) ASU! You know I'm desperate if I'm thinking about applying for a job at ASU... still... a job is a job. It might be a little strange since my ex-gf works at ASU, but it is a big campus. Not that I would mind seeing her, but she might. Ah well.
For those that didn't see it in the comments section, Aristotle Esquerra sent a link to Trash the Hymn - Hymn Parodies. This is probably only funny to Catholics, but to me it's "a hoot" as they say.
Dang! I got a very nice email from NextGig saying that they had decided not to fill the Program Manager position. Dang. Major kudos to them, though, for being nice enough to respond. It says to me that they have class.
I found and applied for yet another program management job, this one at NextGig. NextGig is a startup, which I'm a little leery of, but dang it sounds interesting. I applied for a total of 5 jobs today, 2 at Steward Observatory (Tucson), 2 at General Atomics in SD, and the NextGig job.

Wednesday, August 21, 2002

For those that missed it, Mark Shea and Amy Welborn already mentioned this disgusting story. Unbelievable.
Okay, you'll either like this or be offended. My friend Maria sent me a link to Rapture of the Bad Drivers. Czech it out!
Over at Elf Girl in the City I found this important article on A World Without Water from the Village Voice. Worth reading and pondering about. It's particularly alarming that the UN redefined water from a human right to a human need (that is, not an essential). Water is basic to human life and shouldn't be commercialized.

Tuesday, August 20, 2002

During the papal Mass in Poland, photographers took the world's largest picture. Wow!
Okay, this site is a riot. According to it I'm in the Daughters of St. Paul!

what's your order?

Over on Confessions of an Accidental Choir Director, there's a link to this article from Adoremus. It's a deconstruction of problems with ICEL's translation of the Sanctus.

One thing that surprised me is that in a footnote, the article references paragraph 41(c) of Liturgiam Authenticam. The relevant paragraph reads:

c) in accordance with immemorial tradition, which indeed is already evident in the above-mentioned “Septuagint” version, the name of almighty God expressed by the Hebrew tetragrammaton (YHWH) and rendered in Latin by the word Dominus, is to be rendered into any given vernacular by a word equivalent in meaning.

Somehow I missed this the first time through the document. I thought this was quite interesting in light of the fact that there are a number of songs currently in use in the Church that do not obey this principle, but instead use the divine Name. It's not clear to me whether LA is binding on this stuff or not (I suspect it's not actually binding since LA concerns translations and the liturgy, not songs). Regardless, it's something that is worth thinking about.
Cardinal Keeler has issued a clarification on the Reflections document that I blogged about on August 13th. It seems to be of the "hey, we didn't think anyone was going to think this MEANT anything" variety. Sheesh!
I found another interesting job in San Diego, this one at Wireless Knowledge. It's a program manager position. Sometimes I think that if you know what a program manager does, you're probably qualified :-). Seriously though, PM is another thing that is right up my alley because it entails a lot of juggling of tasks and interfacing with people, but probably not as technically challenging as QA.

Monday, August 19, 2002

The Washington Post reports that algebra standards are being watered down. Basically many schools are teaching classes that are called 'algebra' but where kids aren't learning very much algebra -- not enough to provide a firm foundation for their later learning.
I just got back from the first rehearsal for the Rolling Requiem. Wow, there were a lot of people there -- something on the order of 350! It's going to be magnificent. Of course there's a lot of work to do first.... but it will be fun. I know probably 10 people in there, including Amber Lee (of course) and her friend Rhonda; Marilyn and Mila from church; my friend Mary from school; Gabe from the Opus Dei cooperators circle, Tim Reckart's son Timmy, and a couple people from Lane Justus Chorale. I also got to say hi to Lynn Moser, who is an old buddy from my undergraduate days and he's now the choir director at Trinity Presbyterian where we rehearsed. He's a really great guy -- that rare combination of great talent in a genuinely nice, kind, warm person. We tried to get him into Phi Mu Alpha as I recall, but he was too busy and didn't join. A loss for Sinfonia :-(.
So I took myself to the matinee of Star Wars since I wanted to see it again, then came home and spent the afternoon putting my resume on and sending it off various places. You'd think that would be a trivial process but it's not -- the resume gets tweaked slightly for each destination so that it's as pertinent as possible for the position I'm applying for. For I did two different versions, one for a QA management position and one for a QA engineering position. I really should go back if I have time tomorrow or Wed. and put in a few more -- I'm thinking one for program management, one for a project leaders, and one for a senior developer. Tomorrow I'm going to get my resume off to NOAO for a some developer positions they have, and to MMTO for an assistant director position they have. That one's kind of a long shot but could be interesting.
I finally got through to the Intuit website and applied for this job. Wish me luck!
So the job search is in full swing... I've applied directly for 3 positions, and I've also emailed my resume to 3 people who might be able to help me find a job. The three positions I applied for were at Honeywell (project engineer) and TCI Solutions (sr. QA engineer) here in Tucson, and also a simulation programming job at Sandia in Albuquerque. The last is mostly because it's really closely related to my master's thesis work and that's interesting to me. I'm not sure how I'd feel about Albuquerque but I figure it's easier to decide not to take a job when it's offered than to not get an offer. There's also a QA management job at Intuit in San Diego that I'm frighteningly qualified for. Unfortunately their site is still down for maintenance (it IS 2 a.m) so I'm waiting for it to come up so I can submit my resume. Beyond that I've got 3 other places in Tucson that I want to submit my resume to -- 2 of them are somewhat long shots though. Tailoring my resume appropriately is a somewhat time-consuming process but obviously it's a necessary one... After that I suppose I'll start looking more at Phoenix. I really hate Phoenix though. Still, it would be nice to be near my brothers, nieces and nephew -- and I have some friends there too.

Sunday, August 18, 2002

For some reason the archives function is acting strangely. I'll play around with it and see if I can fix it.
I promised Amber Lee I'd mention her website for Alpha Beta chapter of SAI. That's Sigma Alpha Iota, a women's music fraternity. They are a great bunch.

Saturday, August 17, 2002

One of my all-time favorite TV shows was the short-lived "My So-Called Life." Tonight the MSCL random quotes server (I know, you're amazed there is such a thing) served up one of my favorites:

People always say you should be yourself, like yourself is this definite thing, like a toaster, or something. Like you can know what it is,even. But every so often, I'll have like... a moment, where being myself,and my life right where I am is, like, enough.

I've always liked the insight of this quote. Friday night I was hanging out with Amber Lee and a couple of her friends and it hit me (as I'm sure it's hit you at times) that it's really hard to be yourself. It's so easy to be a different person when you are around different people -- to show different aspects of yourself. To some extent I suppose that's natural. It seems to me that one of the challenges of life, one of the ways you know you are growing up (and it has nothing to do with age, at all) is how much you are yourself. Amber Lee is a good friend in large part because I feel like I'm myself around her.

I think I sometimes worry too much about what other people think and try too hard to please them (it's probably part of being the youngest (cutest) of four children). Being yourself means just relaxing and letting go. It's a good goal. I think when you reach that point, like Angela said, it's enough.
Not all pro-life people are Christians! Check out prolifeguy's take.

Friday, August 16, 2002

So... got to sleep in late today, then went in and finished cleaning out my office. Note to self: Don't bring so DARN much personal stuff into the office! It took me 3 carloads to get all that junk home... Sheesh.

Anyway, I'm feeling a little better about things. The company brought in lunch for us yesterday and we sat around and strategized about jobs etc., and suddenly I remembered Bl. Serra's motto -- "Siempre Adelante!". That made me feel a little better, so I wrote it on my whiteboard before I left. Always forward! Mass last night helped too, I turned the situation over to God and His Mother and asked her in a special way to intercede for me.

Thanks for all the kind comments, they are very appreciated. I'll write about job prospects over the weekend or next week, there are a few things around.

Thursday, August 15, 2002

Wow, so maybe yesterday's funk should have been a warning to me. I've just been laid off along with my entire team (solidarity to the end!).

Wednesday, August 14, 2002

OWWWW I went for my rollerblading lesson today, and it was going really well. I worked on turns and braking, and I had finally gotten the hang of how my brakes work. Then... a moment of complacency/carelessness/inattention, and I fell WHOMP! flat on my back. Wow, am I sore. I'm sure I'll be fine. Thanks be to God I was wearing my helmet or I would have really cracked my head open badly. As it was it totally knocked the breath out of me for a couple of minutes and I just couldn't breathe. Very scary. I'm fine now but wow am I going to be sore tomorrow...

Fast Eddie quote: "Wow, that is the hardest fall I have ever seen! You should have seen how high up your feet went when you fell!" :-) (Of course this was after he'd made sure I was okay and didn't need a doctor, etc.)
Eeep! Now's there's a problem with the crawler that takes the Shuttle to the launch pad. More problems for NASA.
I'm amazed sometimes at my own weakness, both of faith and of spirit. Oh, I don't mean that I'm losing my faith or anything like that. It's more that while my will is strong, sometimes it doesn't take much to discourage me. This morning I got up early (for me, that is) and had breakfast with a friend and then came in to work, and I was fine until I read some stuff on the web and my email. Next thing I know I'm wondering if I'll ever find Miss Right or if I'm doomed to be alone for the rest of my life, and if I am some kind of weird, annoying, judgmental freak unworthy of anything. So I'm in a funk of sorts.

It sort of helps and sort of doesn't that today's saint (see below) was a man of great courage. He's an example of what I clearly am not, or at least what I am not today.
Today is the feast day of St. Maximilian Kolbe. He died in the deathcamps at Auschwitz after offering himself up for punishment in place of a man with a wife and two children.

Tuesday, August 13, 2002

In case anyone's interested, here's what our Schola is singing at the 7 p.m. Mass for the Assumption:

Prelude: Ave Maria - Victoria
Gathering: Sing of Mary -- OCP Music Issue
Kyrie: Chant
Gloria: Chant
Psalm: Respond & Acclaim -- p. 116
Gospel Acclamation: Chant Alleluia w/Assumption Verse
Presentation: Alma Redemptoris Mater -- Palestrina
O Sanctissima
Sanctus: Chant
Memorial Acclamation:Chant
Great Amen: Chant
Our Father: Chant (English)
Agnus Dei: Chant
Communion: Holy Is His Name -- OCP Music Issue
Recessional: Hail Holy Queen -- OCP Music Issue
Okay, this is one of the funnier Ask Slashdot entries -- "Diamonds -- Are They Really Worth the Cost?". A geek is getting engaged and wondering whether he should buy a diamond for his beloved or not.

I say funny because it's the wrong question. There are two kinds of women in the world, those who want/hope for/expect a diamond engagement ring (probably 90 - 95%) and those who do not. Unless you have one of those rare ones, this is not really a question that is open for debate. Get her the diamond. Sheesh.
A disturbing story. Of course we know our pro-choice friends will be up in arms about this coercion of women's "right to choose", right? Riiiiiight. Just like they are up there defending women in China from forced abortions and sterilizations. Yep, gotta love those pro-choicers for their consistency of belief and action.

Yes, it's sarcasm.
A cool article on natural family planning, and why some Protestants are now beginning to appreciate it.
Apparently the US bishops have released a document on relations with the Jewish people. Once again the media are frothing at the mouth with headlines like "Catholics reject evangelization of Jews." Good discusion here.
YACCS (the server that provides the comment feature) has been having a lot of problems lately. Sometimes it's there, sometimes it's not. Feel free to email me too (link at the right).

Monday, August 12, 2002

The horror lives on. Sun will be shipping Solaris 9 for x86.
Fr. John Neuhaus has yet more insightful thinking on The Situation.
Well, this is interesting. On August 9th I blogged about Rene Clausen's Crying for a Dream. It turns out that the text for the 3rd movement that I was (and am) so enthralled by, which were attributed to Chief Seattle, weren't spoken by him at all! Nope, it's another urban legend!

None of which detracts from the point of the music, but accuracy is a good goal for which to strive.

Sunday, August 11, 2002

So I didn't get a rollerblading lesson today. I got over to Blade World, but Fast Eddie had a bunch of kids (probably 15 or more) that were much more advanced than I (the lessons are group lessons, not individual) so he suggested I come back during the week for a daytime lesson that we could set up. So that's what we'll do.

Since I didn't get a lesson, I went over to Reid Park for an hour this evening (at 9:30 it was probably only 90 degrees or so!) and covered about 4 miles or more. It was a good session. I was pleased I hadn't forgotten everything I'd learned even though I'd not been on blades for 6 weeks. I stuck to the straight, flat part of the course though :-). I did fall once, but it was from a standing position, not moving, and I didn't hurt myself at all.

Good stuff.
nihil obstat takes issue with my use of statistics in his post. To quote:

First and obviously, there is a 0% chance of HIV transmission occurring between two HIV- partners.
Second, an 85% reduction in the risk of HIV transmission with condom usage does NOT mean that there is a 15% chance of transmission.
As an example, if it was determined that a couple in which one partner was HIV+ had a 6% chance of transmisssion by a single act of sexual intercourse, then the risk would be 0.9% if a condom was used.

He is correct, and I was a little sloppy. I don't think that really detracts from the main point that I was trying to make, that many people think if they use a condom they don't need to worry about getting HIV. If you asked a doctor if he would knowingly have sex (using a condom) with someone he knew to be HIV+, what do you think the answer would be?

Incidentally, my high school English teachers would have insisted that nihil obstat use the subjunctive ("...if it were determined...") instead of the indicative ("...if it was determined..."). Apparently NO doesn't feel obligated to abide by the traditional rules.
Amy Welborn has been talking more about the Jennifer Granholm issue that is reported here. Granholm is a self-described "pro-choice Catholic" running for Governor in Michigan. As if that weren't bad enough she is a Eucharistic Minister at her parish and her pastor apparently feels that is hunky-dory. The whole just seems too much.

In a letter her husband wrote that was distributed at the parish, her husband describes abortion as a "complicated" issue. I have to vehemently disagree. Stopping abortion is complicated (and difficult), the issue is often hard, but it's pretty straightforward -- you either think it's permissible to kill unborn babies, or you don't.

We got into a discussion of this in our RCIA team meeting yesterday. There have been some differences of opinion on whether terms like "pro-choice" should be used. After some back and forth we agreed to eschew such terms since they are sometimes confusing and easily distract from the main point: the Church teaches that abortion is wrong. Always. Period. We as Catholics cannot support abortion in any form. The folks who claim to be "personally opposed but..." are morally confused.

My friend Marty Helgesen has pointed out (I'm paraphrasing) that Robert E. Lee was "pro-choice" on slavery. I'm sure there were many in both North and South who would have said "I would never own a slave, but I can't impose my morality on others." Such statements are signs of either confusion or cowardice, or both. Slavery is indefensible, and rightly so. Abortion is also indefensible, yet we have "pro-choice" people. It's crazy.

Ironically enough many who are "pro-choice" are also against the death penalty -- yet they would be aghast if you were to say to them "I'm personally opposed to the death penalty but I feel it's not my place to tell others they can't execute criminals." Hypocrisy.

Yes, I feel strongly about this.

Saturday, August 10, 2002

So there's a blog called nihil obstat. Apparently this guy goes around proofreading St. Blog's Parish. It's the kind of thing I'd probably do if I had more time.
Okay, this article on John Paul II — The Face of Love made me cry. Maybe you'll do the same. Also another piece on John Paul II by Michael Novak.
This article in the Kansas City Star talks about the new Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring DVDs. Yes, I said DVDs. The 2-DVD set that just came out will be followed by a 4-disc "special extended edition" on November 12th, and also a special "gift set" on the same day. The gift set will have an extra DVD and all kinds of other cool stuff.

I'm holding out for the special edition myself...
My friend Amber Lee told me about the Rolling Requiem. This is a project to perform the Mozart Requiem on September 11, 2002, on a worldwide basis. Check it out, it's pretty amazing stuff. Here in Tucson there will apparently be a performance at Centennial Hall.

Friday, August 09, 2002

I was surfing the web and came across this report (PDF format) from NIH about condom use and HIV. To quote from page 17:

The methodological strength of the studies on condoms to reduce the risk of HIV/AIDS transmission far exceeds that for other STDs. There is demonstrated exposure to HIV/AIDS through sexual intercourse with a regular partner (with an absence of other HIV/AIDS risk factors). Longitudinal studies of HIV- sexual partners of HIV+ infected cases allow for the estimation of HIV/AIDS incidence among condom users and condom non-users. From the two incidence estimates, consistent condom use decreased the risk of HIV/AIDS transmission by approximately 85%. These data provide strong evidence for the effectiveness of condoms for reducing sexually transmitted HIV.

I wonder how many people (especially teenagers) are running around believing they are having "safe sex" when there's still a 15% chance of them getting HIV? This data is never talked about!
I've been listening to Rene Clausen's Crying for a Dream. It's simply beautiful. It is a choral work in 3 movements based on Native American texts. The third movement (How Can You Buy the Sky?) is particularly moving with its quotations from Chief Seattle spoken over the choir's refrain:

How can you buy the sky?
How can you own the wind and rain?

There's a lot there to think about. It's a treasure.
Sean Roberts asked in a comment:

I'm curious how you, as a supporter of Opus Dei, respond to the charges of the Opus Dei Awareness Group (their link is in the slate article).

I've read some of that stuff; if you've read one book you've read 'em all. To be honest I think that 60% of it is people who have an axe to grind, 35% is misunderstanding, and 5% is, perhaps, based in some truth that doesn't represent the Work as a whole.

Yes, the Work encourages people to bring others into contact with the Work, and with Catholicism in general. That's hardly noteworthy, since in living out our own call to holiness we should be trying to bring them to Christ. The resources of Opus Dei can be very helpful to people trying to grow in their faith; they are of enormous value.

Some people claim the Work is "secretive." That has not been my experience. It is true the Work doesn't run commercials and it doesn't place ads; people usually come into contact with Opus Dei through someone who is already in contact with it. That is not really surprising, or it shouldn't be. In any case it is, to me, indicative of the approach of Opus Dei that we should evangelize through personal relationships, one-on-one, just as Christ did. After all, Christ loves each of us as we are, a unique person -- we are not numbers to Christ, we are individuals to be loved and cherished. The workings of Opus Dei are not secret, though the affairs of individual members are, since they are their private concerns.

Many people seem to misunderstand Opus Dei because they think it's a religious order, or some kind of lay movement similar to what they have seen before. It is not. The fact that it is a personal prelature (currently the only one in the Church) is because it needed a structure unlike anything else in the Church. Consider that there are some 2,000 Opus Dei priests for 80,000 members (plus a gazillion cooperators like myself). That means that members of Opus Dei can and do get plenty of advice and spiritual direction. To be honest, I think that's why the OD priests are such good confessors; they have a lot of insight into the ordinary problems of everyday life that many priests don't get due to the huge numbers they must deal with.

Some claim that Opus Dei is wealthy. These are usually the same kinds of people who talk about the Vatican's amazing, untold wealth :-) and it's about as likely. Yes, OD is able to do a lot -- due to the generosity of its members and its supporters and benefactors. This is hardly surprising. Personally, I have never, EVER been asked, in the 8+ years I've been a cooperator, about my financial support, or to give more. To be honest I give very little, much less than I ought (mea culpa!). I have been reminded that I have made a commitment to pray for the Work -- but that is a commitment I freely made (and would make again in a heartbeat) and it was in the context of the usual examination of conscience we do as cooperators.

Let's see, what's the rest of the list? Opus Dei is 'conservative'. Well, I'm not sure what that means to people who say it. Some people undoubtedly think OD is not 'conservative' enough because its priests say the current ("Novus Ordo") Mass in English. The truth is that OD is orthodox, committed to the Pope and the Magisterium, and faithful to the teachings of the Church (all of them). OD is also cooperative with local bishops -- my pastor, who used to be the chancellor for our diocese, said to me once that he had never had any problems with Opus Dei (an Opus Dei priest came once a month to give spiritual direction to priests in the diocese as well as do our evening of recollection) -- that they always asked first and were cooperative.

Some people are claiming that Bl. Josemaria is being canonized too quickly. Well, it's true that it has not taken a long time -- but complaints on that score (why would anyone complain about a canonization? It's a blessing!) should be addressed to the Vatican that is authorizing it, not to the Work.

That's about all I can think of to say, except -- try it out for yourself. Examine the fruits of the Work for yourself. Go to a retreat, attend an evening of recollection, read some of Bl. Josemaria's works for yourself. Many of them can be found here. There's plenty of information at the Opus Dei website. I think you will find it refreshing and helpful, but if you don't that's fine. I am positive that whether you find Opus Dei to be your path or not, you will find no basis for the kind of stuff coming from the ODAN.
On Sunday I'm going back to Fast Eddie's Skate School. I've been learning to rollerblade, but at the end of June I fell and fractured my forearm bone (the radius, for those who are into anatomy). It's taken a while to heal, but I am mostly better now, so I need to get back into it. In particular I need to work on my braking, which is what got me hurt to begin with :-).
I came across this Screwtape-style post on the Confessions of an Accidental Choir Director blog. As these things go it's one of the better written ones -- the style is really quite close to C.S. Lewis. Of course depending on your opinions you'll either find it amusing or offensive.
Slate has an article on Fr. John McCloskey. It's kind of an annoying article, going on about how "conservative" he is. Of course from there they go on a rampage about Opus Dei and how "secretive" and "conservative" it is. There's so much wrong with the article it's hard to know where to start, to be frank, and it just ticks me off.

I am a cooperator of Opus Dei, which means that I have committed myself to supporting The Work (as it's called) by my prayers and (if desired) by financial contributions and participation. I've found so much of value in the Work -- good, solid priests who are wonderful confessors, who say the Mass by the book, who give good advice and good insight in their homilies. The retreats I've been on have been real occasions of grace for me. The evenings of recollection have been good touchstones for me to recall the values I cherish and find new energy to live by them.

Opus Dei is not for everyone. Being a member (numerary, supernumerary, or associate) is considered a vocation in itself. But the teachings of Bl. Josemaria, anticipating the 2nd Vatican Council as they did, ARE for everyone -- the idea that laymen can, should, and indeed must find their salvation, their sanctity, in and through the ordinary circumstances of their lives -- their work, their families, their apostolate. It's unfortunate that so many in the Church today have rejected this essential notion of what the Council was saying. So many people of faith and intelligence in the Church today spend their time and energy in a clericalist notion that service to the Church is what happens in the sanctuary on Sunday morning, instead of spending it on the mission of the laity to take Christ to the world.

Groups like Voice of the Faithful seem to have not realized that the role of the laity is NOT to govern the Church. That's the role of the bishops. As laymen we need to be nourished and strengthened by the Church so that we can do OUR job -- to be leaven in the world, salt and light. That is something the bishops and priests cannot do, and we must.

Thursday, August 08, 2002

There's an Internet Study Group for the Catechism. They start 8/19. If you are interested check it out!
If all goes well I should now have comments available via YACCS.
My friend Robert Hershoff is leaving tomorrow to enter the Novitiate for the Discalced Carmelites. It's been a long road for him, trying to find what God has planned for him. In trying to figure out what to say to him, a passage from Jeremiah 29:11-14 came to mind:

For I know well the plans I have in mind for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare, not for woe! plans to give you a future full of hope.
When you call me, when you go to pray to me, I will listen to you.
When you look for me, you will find me. Yes, when you seek me with all your heart, you will find me with you, says the LORD...

Please pray for Robert and all who seek to serve God.
Slashdot had a link to this story on technogeeks' fascination with cryonics, i.e., freezing one's body (although most can only afford to freeze their heads) in the hopes that people in the far future will a) be able to restore them to life and b) want to do so.

Prescinding (love that word!) from the question as to whether it will be possible to do this in the future, the further question that comes to mind is whether it would not be agains the 23rd century's equivalent of Star Trek's "Prime Directive" to be reconstructing people who should have died a long time ago. Wouldn't it be a kind of hell to live when all your friends and family have died, and you are truly a stranger in a strange land? Even the culture would be unrecognizable in large parts. All your skills would be irrelevant, you'd be a museum piece.

Of course I think this sort of thing is ultimately foolish. Even should it be possible for this sort of thing to be done in the future, the chances of people's frozen bodies actually making it to that point seems slim at best. Look at all the upheavals in the world in the last century! What about war, earthquakes, vandals, etc.?

I suspect that this kind of thing takes the place of a more conventional faith in the afterlife etc. It's sad.
So last night I went with my friend Amber Lee to buy her new cell phone at the local Sprint store. She already knew what phone she wanted, she already had service (it was a replacement phone). No biggie, right? So after our number is called we tell the sales dweeb what phone we want. "Well... you really don't want that phone. " "What?!" "Well, if you really want that phone I'll sell it to you, but really you don't want that phone. We've had a lot of them come back with problems. I don't want to sell you that and have you come back 3 months later 'cause it's not working." AL and I look at each other, thinking "new car salesman up-trade pitch!". She really wanted a $99 phone, no more. "Well, what about this other one?" "It's a good phone and all, but really, you want this phone (points to Sanyo SCP-4700)." "How much is it?" "It's on sale for $99! It was $250, then $150, then $129, and now it's on sale for $99!" AL says "Cool, that's the one I was just playing with while we were waiting!" I say, "But the sign there says it's $129! It's really $99?" "Yes, it is!"

So AL gets the Sanyo, and we both wonder... was it really $99, or did she just get the "cute 22-year-old discount"?
Happy feastday of St. Dominic!

Wednesday, August 07, 2002

Wow! I just happened across Confessions of an accidental choir director. It looks like a really good resource for music in the Liturgy. Check it out.
Read Fr. Rob Johansen's review of Goodbye, Good Men, by Michael S. Rose as published in Culture Wars. I've bought this book, but haven't yet read it (still working my way through Stephenson's Cryptonomicon). Fr. Rob seems a bit more balanced than some other reviews I've seen -- neither denying the value of the book but also not convinced of his methods or rhetoric.

I don't yet have a comments feature for this blog, hope to have one in tomorrow or the next day.
I came across this post on wedding preparation. It's hilarious, check it out. I found it linked from Fr. Rob Johansen's Thrown Back blog. Both are great reading!
The names of the 8 Bishops who called for a US plenary council have been released. As others have noted the surprise is more who's NOT on the list -- Bruskewitz is not, and Myers also is not. From what I can tell the bishops listed are pretty "mainstream." Hopefully that will give the notion more credence. I hope so.
A friend sent me a link to Paul's 8051 Code Library, IDE Hard Drive Interface. I'm working (in my copious spare time!) on building a 6502-based single board computer (circuit board was bought in a group buy, it was designed by Daryl Rictor). I'm not sure what I'd DO with this stuff but it's kind of fun to play with. 10 Reasons We Need Java 3.0 [Jul. 31, 2002] -- A really cool page on what Java 3.0 should be like. Whether there's any desire on anyone's part to make this happen is another issue. Unfortunately Sun probably can't/won't go this far, and there's no one else with the standing to do so, except maybe IBM.
I took my team out for our monthly "offsite team meeting", aka "team lunch." Basically we all pile in a car and go out for lunch, and between lunch proper and dessert we talk about company stuff. It's on our own dime, but the company's time. Apparently I'm the only manager here that does this stuff. Why should that be? It's not that hard to be at least an okay manager, it just takes some time and effort. Apparently that's hard to come by in the techie world.
Wow, 5 minutes into this and I've already discovered a fault in the blog software. It doesn't understand that some of us don't go on DST. If I choose GMT-7 it thinks it's MDT instead of MST. Hmmph! Sloppy sloppy sloppy. For now I've set the time to Pacific Time so it will be correct, and when DST ends I'll set it back to MST. Ironic how we still have to deal with daylight savings time even though we don't change our time here in Arizona.
Welcome to my blog! After much back-and-forth with myself as to whether I should have a blog, I decided I had nothing at all to lose, so why not? Whether anyone ever reads this besides me is, well, beside the point. This blog is my place to rant/muse/ponder about all the wonderful mysteries of life -- the nature of God, the meaning of Life, whether the UA Wildcats will EVER go to the Rose Bowl.... Feel free to post comments or questions, or, heck, even criticism. Welcome!