Yesterday I had breakfast with Raymond Plank, a 91-year-old man who has seen about everything. He went to the White House and saw Roosevelt enter the building to declare America’s entry into World War II. On the other end, he was stationed near Japan when he and a buddy realized that the Americans would likely drop the second A-bomb, so they “borrowed” an airplane and went out and actually saw the mushroom cloud go up. Crazy stuff.
Today I spoke with Fr. Reginald Foster, who has been the official Latinist to every Pope since Paul VI. And boy does he have stories….
The kids keep going getting more [fill in the blank] because a month ago I said they could have one. When the kids come back every ten minutes to ask again if they can [fill in the blank], it dawns on me:
Prohibitions are self-expiring, but permissions last forever.
My local parish has a decent Church building, not spectacular but not appalling. But one feature struck me right away. When you approach the sanctuary for communion and then turn, either to the left or to the right, you see ahead of you a door with this sign over it:
If you turn left, in fact, below the sign is an open door into a very short hallway, at the end of which is a bathroom with the door open. It’s an odd subject for meditation in the first five seconds after reception of the body of our Lord.
But eventually, I learned to interpret this sign as an icon of Adam and Eve. Having repurposed the sign this way, I now see icons at every airport and Wal-Mart I visit!
Our kids use Teaching Textbooks, a computer program that teaches mathematics. The only stupid part of the whole program is that you have to insert a CD to make it go, and getting a replacement CD costs $15.
David lost his math CD for a couple of weeks. He got further and further behind, and when urged he would go look through his room again, but couldn’t find it. Finally, Jacinta explained the deal to him:
In just a little bit, I’m going to come look through your room. If I find that CD, I’m going to charge you $15, which is the cost of replacing the CD. But if you can find it now, before I get there, then I won’t charge you anything.
And by golly, he was back in fifteen minutes with that CD!
I’ve started this custom at dinner whereby I ask each kid in turn what was the best thing that happened today and what was the worst. Yesterday, Isaiah responded that the worst part of the day was:
“The lego volcanoes I made didn’t work.”
While in Chicago recently, my friends and I attended Mass at the Cathedral. About two minutes after we left, my friend Rick realized that he had forgotten his hat, a weather-beaten old baseball cap. He went back to get it.
We proceeded to dine at Harry Carry’s Restaurant–where I was introduced to that amazing beer, La Fin du Mond, but that’s another post. Anyhow, about one minute after we left, Rick realized that he had forgotten his hat, and went back to get it.
As he rejoined the group, I scrutinized his head gear more closely. “You know,” I commented, “now that I look at it, that hat is pretty forgettable!”
Tina the three-year-old recently looked out the window and commented, “The trees are moving!”
Bernadette responded, “No, it’s just the wind.”
Tina peered out the window again to re-assess. “No,” she said, “it’s the trees!”
At Mass a couple of days ago, the lector was reading St. Stephen’s speech in Acts, and proclaimed rather boldly:
“You stiff-necked people, uncircumscribed in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit!”
A few moments later, the homilist commented on John 6, saying that the Bread from Heaven brings us “immorality”–then hastily corrected the word to “immortality.”
Some colleagues and I recently traveled to Chicago for the annual Higher Learning Commission conference on accreditation. It was a huge event, with over 4,100 participants from more than 800 institutions. Coming from the tiny town of Lander, where I register and recognize many of the faces on Main Street, I soon experience “face overload”: my brain could not process that many faces walking by day after day, with never a face repeated in the mix, and I experienced the urge to walk through crowds with my eyes shut.
Not an urge I indulged, mind you.
So we found ourselves on the first day of the conference at an orientation event in an auditorium with some 400 or so first-time conference participants. The speaker stood at the front with a microphone and cracked jokes and made points and generally oriented everyone, but what grabbed my attention was his comment about teachers and institutions that don’t want to face the new standards. “If you are at an institution where they still have big lecture halls with one guy at a microphone talking to hundreds of students, that institution doesn’t know what it’s doing!” he proclaimed.
Hmm. What are we doing?, I thought to my self, as I looked around.
“They’re behind the times: the lecture is not the best way to teach!” he continued. I sympathize with that claim, I really do, but it kept replaying in my head over the next three days as I and my colleagues did nothing at the conference but attend lectures.
I’m not sure it struck anyone else as funny, but I kept smiling.
Tina the three-year-old recently announced, “I’m working for Peter Pan!”
The context turned out to be that she was working at cleaning the living room so that she would watch a movie called “Peter Pan.” But it provided me a momentary grin.
[Housekeeping note: I took a long trip and returned to a backlog of work, so I fell off the blogwagon in a serious way. But I kept some notes along during those days, so for a while now the FTT will be a “one time recently” kind of thing rather than strictly a “today” kind of thing.]