Friday, April 18, 2014

Friday

It doesn't seem right.

The sun is shining brightly on grass that is just starting to green up. Birds are singing in the trees. While the breeze is still a bit nippy, the air smells fresh and new.

This is the day we remember the horrific sacrifice made on our behalf, to pay our debt.

It's difficult to be somber on the first truly spring like day after an extended, difficult winter. But while this is a day off for many people, it's scarcely a "holiday". Self examination, rather than celebration, should be the response to the remembrance of Christ's sacrifice. Our sin, my sin, - past, present and most ashamedly future - paid for by the sinless Lamb of God. Incalculable grace and mercy rained down on the undeserving.

It doesn't seem right that the sky isn't weeping, that the day isn't gloomy and the wind piercing. Even after all this time, the weight of the remembrance of all that sin should surely cause all nature to break out in groaning, the earth even to give up its dead as it did that afternoon two thousand years ago.

Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” And some of the bystanders, hearing it, said, “This man is calling Elijah.” And one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine, and put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink. But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.” And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.

And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”

Matthew 27:45 - 54

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

We interrupt our regularly scheduled spring...

Rain changed to snow last night. The grass was mostly covered when I went to bed.

Got up this morning to discover, to my chagrin, it had not melted overnight. In fact, it was only twenty-five degrees when I got up.

Wore the spring jacket in a small act of defiance against the never-ending winter.

Small acts of defiance are overrated.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Quickie

- It's busy at work, and I'm trying to be on vacation next week. It rather cuts into time.

- The weather is making it difficult to focus; unseasonably warm this week, after months of below average temps. The sun is (mostly) shining, too.

- I dreamt about rain last night, including a futile hunt for my umbrella (which is exactly where it lives - hanging by its strap on the hall tree in the living room). Turns out it rained quite a bit overnight. The bedroom window is open, and my subconscious apparently grabbed on to the sound.

- This is for another post, but I got a letter from the child I sponsor yesterday. She drew a really great picture of herself flying a kite.

- In a related note, I used up the last of my Amazon price-fixing settlement to order some sticker and coloring books. Compassion works as the middleman in any mailings with your sponsored kid (you mail your letter to them, they mail to the kids), and while you can send things along, they have to be flat and more or less fit in a business size envelope. I figure I can take the pages out of the book, and send a few pages and the corresponding stickers at a time.

- There is some sort of celebration in the city today for the 25th anniversary of the filming of Major League, which took place mostly at the old County Stadium. It was a big deal at the time; Hollywood mostly ignores the middle of the country. The only reason the state saw some filming of Public Enemies is that one of the real life locations was available for use.

- (Did I ever tell the story of the coworker who put in photos for the casting call for extras, and was actually selected? They were to film for two days in Madison, about two hours west of here. She turned it down because it was an unpaid position, and she'd have to pay for a motel room. Turn down the chance to say you were an extra in a Johnny Depp/Christian Bale movie, just because you were too cheap to spring for a motel room? Good grief).

- The saga of the new arena continues. The NBA is making noise about our current place being "unsuited to modern basketball". Note the area is barely 25 years old. Former Senator Kohl is trying to sell the team (quietly), and it's leaked that part of the deal involves the construction of a new arena. Kohl has committed a fairly substantial chunk of his personal funds to the project, should it ever happen. Meanwhile, the city is making noise about the public portion of the project being supported by - you guessed it - additional taxes. The surrounding counties, who were nicked for the extra sales tax that is paying off Miller Park (and that tax will never, ever go away; the sunset date has been extended at least half a dozen times) are loudly voicing opposition to paying anything for a new arena. Sigh. Why the heck didn't they start 25 years ago with a per-ticket charge that would be held in trust for either remodeling or rebuilding?

- Gotta run.

Friday, April 04, 2014

It's spring, darn it

I've been meaning to do this for a few days, but didn't mean to do it when I'm up late (for me, anyway) and wearing glasses (I don't see as well with glasses rather than contacts, particularly when I put them on later in the day). So please forgive any errors or oddities; I'll fix them tomorrow when I can see.

Stupid sleet had the audacity to hit my windshield on the way home. Now, I'm thankful we didn't get hit with the six to twelve inches of snow they got in the northernmost reaches of the state, but I'm darned tired of this. i'm on vacation in a week, and I'd like to be able to plant something outdoors, darn it.

I'm not holding my breath.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

First Communion

It's spring (in name, anyway) so there are a whole lot of eight year olds making their First Communion in the next couple of months. I mentioned a while back that a friend's son is one of those, and that her church has the kids make small banners to be carried in at the start of the mass. He wanted green lettering for his name, not yellow...and green isn't exactly available in the handy press on letters his mom used for his older brother (who wanted yellow; much easier to find).

After settling on a font (something "curly", but not "girly"), I got down to business tonight getting the embroidery done. This is just a piece of it; his last name is down at the bottom of the piece. It's pretty small - 14 x 12. His mom is going to get me a picture of the completed banner. Meanwhile, here is a peak.

Is it Friday yet?

Bits and pieces -

- We here at the university seem to have someone in the know who loves to talk to the media. The last several major news items - Coach Williams leaving, the new president being hired and now the hiring of the Duke assistant coach as our head men's basketball coach - I've seen in the media well before it was officially announced by the university. It's pretty bad when the governor of the state tweets his congratulations to the university on the new president four hours before the employees are officially notified of their new boss.

- The weather was nice just long enough for the tailgaters at opening day to get their brats done. We're back to cold and windy, with (gasp!) snow in the forecast for Friday. I am so very over this.

- Without going into details, I'm more than a bit overwhelmed at the moment. Pulling back from a lot of things, needing time to figure some stuff out and regroup. Back into better routines. I'm on vacation in a week and a half...hopefully. A break I really, really need.

- Every year at my annual review, my boss asks what I think about the prior year. Every year I say the same thing - "Well, I'm not ready to quit - yet". Yesterday was no exception. But until I can find someone to pay me to sit around and read, I'm stuck.

- Speaking of reading, I should get my March reads post up sometime tonight. Forgot last night (because I was busy reading). It's all fiction (need for escapism), and the list is fairly short. But I need to point out that several of the last books have been in the "omnibus" format - three novels in one "book". It's a whole lot more pages that it may seem.

- Over the weekend I purchased MP3s to replace some music I once had on vinyl. I'm running off the wonderful double album Linda Ronstadt did with the Nelson Riddle orchestra of old big band stuff. It was a favorite, and even after not hearing it for close to ten years, I can still sing pretty much the whole thing. It's kind of fun to see the look on my coworkers' faces when they come into my office to see me working away (familiar music helps me concentrate) and quietly singing along. They're lucky I'm singing quietly...

- The red-tailed hawks are sitting on the nest. Big Red laid three eggs in all, I think. It will be another four weeks or so before they hatch. The link is here, though it's less than exciting to watch her just sit there. Still, I like to check in a couple of times a day. Lowers my blood pressure.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

I'll take mine poached, please

The university announced this morning (hours after it had been leaked to the local media) the name of our new President. He is a layperson - the first non-Jesuit in our history to lead the institution. From what I've read, he is both a devout Catholic and a dynamic, results-getting leader.

He is also currently the chancellor at our cross town, public university rival.

He has only been there two years; we've now put our rival in pretty much the same position we were after the departure of our previous president, who had only been here two years.

It could be just me, but I find this a bit in bad taste. There is that old saying about not performing certain bodily functions where you live/eat/work; this is much the same situation. We do partner with our rival for certain programs.

One down, a number of others to go. We put off the search for a new provost until a new president was hired. Same with a new business dean and athletics director. Our director of admissions resigned last week.

But it wasn't until our men's basketball coach announced last Friday that he was leaving for Virginia Tech that the press started nattering on about a "leadership gap".

Ay.

The university has been incredibly stable for a very, very long time. What we are seeing now is simply the loosening of the economy (more opportunities out there for the people who have left) coupled with natural turnover. Given the state of higher education, it may actually be a boon that so many leadership positions are turning over; it's a perfect time to redefine ourselves and position the university for another hundred plus years of life.

We'll see.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Book bonanza

Don't you love it when your inbox turns up a "you've earned a free _______" from one of your rewards cards? A while back I hit the jackpot when the same day yielded both a free coffee from Starbucks and a free breakfast sandwich from Panera. True, I probably spent more in gas to collect the items than I saved in lucre, but the lure of "free" cannot be resisted.

Today a freebie of a different sort showed up in the e-mail. Amazon settled a lawsuit with a number of publishers over the price of e-books, and the settlement included a refund to customers who may have been overcharged. According to the e-mail, I now have a $16.06 credit to be used on any print or kindle book.

The credit expires in March 2015, but it gets applied to your very next book purchase. In my case, the credit won't last out March 2014.

But what to use it on? I like to use these pennies from heaven on something special, something yearned for, rather than run-of-the-mill, "this looks vaguely interesting" purchases.

The wish list has few books on it (yes, I am an impulse buyer of books, hence the long-ish list on the kindle of books waiting to be read and the short wish list):

Year Zero: A History of 1945
I can't remember where I read the recommendation for this book, but it sounds fascinating. The world was fundamentally changed in many ways after the end of World War II.

Fast Food My Way
It's no secret I adore Jacques Pepin. I have the second cookbook from this series. But since putting this on the wish list, I realized I can watch the original series for free on Amazon Prime, and jot down any recipes I want from there. Do I really need another cookbook?

Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives
My soul is sort of crying out for this book. If I can find the time to read it.

Greek for the Rest of Us: Using Greek Tools Without Mastering Biblical Greek
Years ago, the pastor of the church I was at offered a class in Biblical Greek. We started with about twenty people; at the end of the third week, we were down to three. I've forgotten about half of what I learned and would like a refresher.

Basic Economics: A Common Sense Guide to the Economy
I also adore Thomas Sowell. But do I admire him enough to read an economics textbook?

Grammar Workbook for the SAT, ACT and More

What? I enjoy messing around with stuff like this.

That's what is on the wish list, but there are millions of books to choose from, and I suffer from decision fatigue. What would you choose of the list above? better yet, what would you recommend (my fiction tastes run to mysteries (just about every sub-genre), science fiction (the not too far in the future, not obviously alien type) and suspense)?

Let me know in the comments.