Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Spotify Collection

You obtained a much coveted account with Spotify. Even better, you are sharing it with your parents.  Off the top of our heads...

The Call - Reconcile. Tears for Fears - Head Over Heels. Dire Straits - Brothers in Arms. Placido Domingo - Perhaps Love. Cat Stevens - Tea for the Tillerman. Harry Chapin - Cats in the Cradle (how embarrassing.) Hall and Oats - Bigger than the Both of Us. Dave Mason - We Just Disagree. Neil Young - Thrasher. Bob Dylan - Shelter from the Storm. Elvis Costello - Allison. Thin Lizzy. U2.

Bruce Springsteen. Dire Straits. Aretha Franklin - Respect. B52s - Love Shack. REM - End of the World. Tom Petty - Won't Back Down. Journey - Don't Stop Believing. Al Green - Let's Stay Together. Sly and the Family Stone - Dance to the Music. Rod Stewart. Supremes. Diana Krall. Jose Feliciano, Santana. Van Morrison, Johnny Cash, Beach Boys.  Bonnie Raitt.

Bach, Handel, Vivaldi, Corelli. Mozart, Beethoven, Shubert. Chopin, Tchaikovsky, Brahms. Sousa, Foster, Gershwin, Bernstein, Ellington.  Barbershop, Polkas, Broadway. Bluegrass - Bill Monroe. Cowboy - Riders in the Sky. Patsy Cline. Sinatra. Bocelli. Chieftons, Irish Rovers. Gilbert and Sullivan.

A good start.


Friday, July 22, 2011

Nacho Cheese

Need a ballpark nachos fix? For your next snack attack, consider making your own nachos with this easy Nacho Cheese Sauce recipe from
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 7 slices processed American cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


  1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and stir in flour. Pour in the milk and stir until the mixture thickens. Stirring constantly, mix in cheese and salt. Continue to cook and stir until cheese has melted and all ingredients are well blended, about 15 minutes.               

    Keep it classic or add one of the following: chili powder, drained Rotel diced tomatoes with green chilies, black olives, chopped spinach, chili, or whatever you like. Yum!


    Wednesday, July 20, 2011

    Dress for the Occasion

    You dress well, and I appreciate your effort.  It must be tough, considering how little cultural consensus there is on how to dress.  Being older and from the northeast, I had an advantage growing up.  I rarely claim "the good ole days" argument, but we definitely knew how to dress for an occasion.

    For school and work, there were uniforms or dress codes.  For church, we wore our "Sunday Best."  For weddings (arguably the biggest of occasions) we wore several outfits; one for church, one for day, and one for night - the most formal and fancy outfits.  For funerals we wore black. Men wore suits and pants. Women wore dresses.  Kids wore shorts past our fingertips in length.  For winter we bundled up.  For gym class we wore sneakers.  For sleep we wore pajamas.  No mixing.

    Some decided this was too confining, boring, stuffy, or costly.  Not me.  Coming from a humble background, having different clothing for different occasions meant our life was full of variety and not a monotonous stream of casual days in jeans.  Because we were practical, I never found myself in high heels walking through a muddy baseball field or at a lake wearing a dress unprepared to swim.  My clothes never made a statement as much as gave me opportunities to show different aspects of myself and positively engage in my community.

    I cheer you on as you buck current trends of skimpy, elite, droopy, androgynous, effortless, and misfit clothing.  Be practical, appropriate, and let your personality shine.


    Monday, July 18, 2011

    Absolutely Judge

    "Don't judge me or others" is an unreasonable and misleading request.  Confusion hinges on the word "judge."  The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains:
    Conscience is a judgment of reason by which the human person recognizes the moral quality of a concrete act.
    We absolutely need to judge concrete acts (behaviors) in order to grow. To judge well we must have a well-formed conscience to better know ourselves and to love others.

    How does this look in real life?  Let's say there is a teen attending Mass in a revealing outfit.  It is correct to judge objectively that the outfit is revealing and not appropriate for Mass based on the expectation of semi-formal wear, "Sunday Best."  My judgement allows me to dress properly, avert my eyes, to say a prayer for the young person, and to give a warm welcome, being rightfully pleased by his or her attendance.  I can't judge her intent or the state of his soul, which God alone judges.  If I grow in relationship with the teen over time, we may discuss appropriate dress.

    If "don't judge" means to give benefit of the doubt and to be loving, courteous, and respectful, I'm in.  If it means, "There is no right or wrong," I disagree.  If it means, "I'm shutting down discussion," reconsider. If it means, "I want to do what I want to do and I want you to approve," then that conscience is immature, limiting one's ability to love others and judge reasonably.


    Saturday, July 16, 2011

    Leading Cause of Death

    Vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for 16 to 20 year olds.  Having earned your driver's permit, I need to tell you so much.  I'll begin with...I still remember, like it was yesterday, attending the funeral of my dad's friend's teen daughter. She was a passenger in a car full of her friends "driving around" at night. The driver took a curve too quickly and rolled the car. Driver lived. Passenger, this sweet girl, died. Just. Like. That.  I expect and please do:

    Wear your seat belt. Make this an automatic habit.
    Be alert. Be well-fed, hydrated, and rested, especially after athletics and working many or odd hours. No chemicals that impair judgement and reaction time.
    Avoid distractions.  Just drive.  No cell phones, food, make-up, loud friends, music.  Nothing.  Just your eyes on the road and both hands on the wheel.
    Be considerate and non-reactive. Other drivers will be rude, make mistakes, or disrespect you.  Who cares. 
    Stay humble.  Don't underestimate your inexperience.  Avoid speeding, purposeless driving, and driving at night.

    We don't control everything, but we do control all of the above.  For the rest:
    Sacred Heart of Jesus, grant me
    a steady hand and watchful eye,
    that none be hurt as I pass by.
    Thou givest life. I pray no act of mine
    take away or mar that gift Divine.
    Protect those, Lord, who travel with me
    from highway dangers and all anxiety.
    Teach me to use my car for others' needs
    and never miss the beauty of Thy
    world through excessive speed.
    I pledge to drive with loving concern
    to my every destination,
    offering each travel hour to Thee
    in a spirit of reparation.
    Most Sacred Heart of Jesus,
    my auto Companion,
    have mercy on me.
    Be safe, kid.  Your life is precious to me.


    Thursday, July 14, 2011

    Pleasant Company

    Being with you this summer is wonder-full.  Whether we go to a party, ballgame, or Mass, I can count on you to be pleasant company for me and others.  I love when adults compliment me on your courtesy and am pleased when you are rewarded with equally pleasant friends, opportunities, and tootsie pops. 

    It's also sad to consider how little common courtesy is shown to adults by many teens.  I've been on the receiving end (sulking, eye-rolling, silence, arrogance, boredom, isolation) and wonder how discourtesy became so acceptable and excusable.  I don't expect perfection, but I do expect effort.  If we don't expect young people to behave properly in social settings (make eye contact, shake hands, smile, engage) we do them a major disservice.  Sure it can be tough to listen to a dull story, eat a lackluster meal, accept a hug, and hold the door for an elderly man.  Yet, these are exactly the little ways we live out God's design to love others. 

    So keep showing up, smiling, hugging, chatting, laughing, and listening.  Keep bringing your famous caramel corn, playing with the little kids, and talking baseball with the dads.  I...we...appreciate it!


    Monday, July 4, 2011

    Love of Country

    I love my country. Through patriotism I show gratitude for the sacrifices of past patriots and hope for our future. Love for my country contributes to my happiness. The good, beautiful, and excellent shine, warming my heart. E Pluribus Unum and In God We Trust bring tears to my eyes.  Cynics, critics, and entitled are chronically unhappy because they don't see the spacious skies, brotherhood, and Liberty in our American home.
    O beautiful for spacious skies,
    For amber waves of grain,
    For purple mountain majesties
    Above the fruited plain!
    America! America!
    God shed his grace on thee
    And crown thy good with brotherhood
    From sea to shining sea!
    On this 4th of July while wearing red, white, and blue; wave the flag, thank a veteran, watch baseball, attend a parade, celebrate with friends, eat yummy picnic food, read the Declaration of Independence, ooh and aah below fireworks...and sing:
    God Bless America,
    Land that I love.
    Stand beside her, and guide her
    Thru the night with a light from above.
    From the mountains, to the prairies,
    To the oceans, white with foam
    God bless America, My home sweet home. 

    Friday, July 1, 2011

    Truth Is

    I wonder if Bob Marley would be surprised to know that teen girls find his following quote touching enough to spread like wild fire across social media:
    Truth is, everybody is going to hurt you; you just gotta find the ones worth suffering for.
    My best guess is that hearts touched by this quote have suffered connected to someone they have loving feelings toward. And that does hurt. But here's some consolation.

    "Everybody" isn't going to hurt you. Most people (your mail carrier, neighbor, and cousin) are pretty decent and many people are surprisingly kind (the surgeon who reset your nose, the professor who gave you a break, and the driver who gave you room to merge.)

    Who is worth suffering for? This isn't as mysterious as it sounds. In order of priority, husbands and wives are to suffer for each other and their children. Children are to honor, and suffer for, their parents. In the nuclear family we are to suffer for our siblings. From there we are to suffer for the truly vulnerable to include:
    ... care for orphans and widows in their affliction... James 1:27
    Truth is...never found in emotionally misleading words.