The Snow Report

Well, a month ago I claimed it wouldn’t snow this winter because of the new (used) snow blower in the garage. That was just me being cheeky — but now you’ve got to wonder.

snow blower

Here we are, a month later, and there still hasn’t been enough snow to use the damn thing. This has caused me to do something I haven’t done since elementary school: wish for an epic snowfall.

Every day I check the forecast with the perverse hope that we’ll get dumped on. Even my prayers have not worked. They go something like this:

Please, God, send us a hellish storm that incapacitates the area. We are an ungrateful people and deserve to be punished with at least 18 inches of snow, preferably falling during the overnight hours…

Not sure if that will work, but just to cover all bases, I’m following the example of Park City Mountain Resort  and seeking members of the Ute indian tribe to help bring some snow. I’ll let you know if anyone replies to the ad.

The Medium is the Message

While reading the TU’s online obits this morning — at 53, that’s what you do — an interesting advertisement appeared at the top of the screen. It was for a Clifton Park business called Among Angels, and the ad offered to “Help you connect with those who have crossed over.”

Interesting. And nice ad placement, by the way.

One way they offer to connect you is through an Angel Circle, a group activity where participants are guided by a medium. The website says,

While not everyone will necessarily get a message, everyone will experience the wonders of spirit communication, and discover that death is not the end but merely a doorway though which we all must pass!

Again, interesting.

Like a lot of people, I have mixed feelings about this. Part of me wants to believe there is some sort of spirit world — but my rational brain always comes down firmly with the skeptics.

A lot of money has been paid over the years by people who want to get in touch with dead loved ones. Maybe there’s something to it — but do note the disclaimer way at the bottom of their website: FOR ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSES ONLY.

The Kingdom of Dog

While comforting a boy on the loss of his beloved dog, Pope Francis said “One day, we will see our animals again in the eternity of Christ. Paradise is open to all of God’s creatures.”

Well, if the Pope says that dogs go to heaven, that’s pretty exciting news.

This has sparked a lively discussion, not just among theologians, but in the animal rights community, as well.

Belief in heaven is where faith is truly tested and it’s something I think about all the time. It’s hard for the rational mind have it all make sense, to completely accept that our souls will go on after death. The lack of proof is what makes it faith, not fact.

But what’s the harm in believing? There’s nothing wrong with that boy expecting to see his dog in heaven. And if after death there is nothing, he’ll never know the difference.

It would really be something to spend eternity with my dogs. The cats too, as long as I don’t have to change the litter boxes. That’s more like Hell.

Proverbially Speaking

Church on Sunday featured one of my wife’s favorite readings. You may know it, it’s from Proverbs 31, and begins,  When one finds a worthy wife, her value is far beyond pearls. It goes on to list some virtues of a worthy wife:

She brings him good, and not evil,
all the days of her life.
She obtains wool and flax
and works with loving hands.
She puts her hands to the distaff,
and her fingers ply the spindle.
She reaches out her hands to the poor,
and extends her arms to the needy.

This naturally caused her to beam and nudge me and look very pleased, until I muttered, “She changes the litter box now and then…”

This caused her to reach out her hand to me and poke me hard in the soft spot under your ribs. That may not be listed as one of those virtuous attributes, but I suppose it’s an important part her job anyway.

Here’s the Church and Here’s the Steeple

stpatsThe death watch at St. Patrick’s church in Watervliet seems to go on forever.

Unwanted by the Albany Diocese, the St. Patrick’s property was sold off to a developer, and where people once prayed, they now will shop. Yes, I suppose it’s a little sad; the building holds many memories — and in terms of the environment, a nice old church has more eye appeal than a supermarket. By the time you read this, it will most likely just be a pile of rubble.

When it comes to buildings like this, everything’s relative. In our young country a church built in 1891 seems ancient. In Europe, something constructed in 1891 would not be thought of as terribly old. When I visited Transylvania, there were truly historic churches everywhere, like the Sibiu Lutheran Cathedral, which was completed in 1520. Now that’s old!

Sibiu Lutheran Cathedral

Naturally, the St. Patrick’s demolition has turned into a media orgy, with some stories bordering on the ridiculous, like the apparation of a “face” on the wall. Could it be St. Patrick? We’ll never know.

One funny thing about all this, though: throughout the week, local news outlets have had to station photographers at the church, because nobody wants to be the guy who missed the bell tower coming down. Are we sentimental or do we just like watching buildings demolished. I’m voting on the latter.

The Power of Prayer

On hearing that Rick Santorum dropped his bid for the Republican presidential nomination, I quipped, “Thank you, God!”

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I prayed for Santorum to lose, but I’m pretty sure Santorum prayed for victory — and that being the case, I stand by my first remark: “Thank you, God!”

But seriously, it seems unlikely that God will listen to your prayers and make things happen. Prayer may bring you comfort and give you strength, but if it caused worldly things to change, we’d all be lottery millionaires.

By the way, “Thank you God,” is also one of my all time favorite movie quotes:

If ever a movie line belonged on the American Film Institute’s list of top movie quotes, it’s that one. It’s certainly better than, “Nobody puts Baby in a corner.”

Let My People Go (have a bowl of cereal)

Price Chopper rolled out the Passover items this week. At my store they loaded up a big table right next to the produce section. In Bethlehem there’s always a lot of Passover stuff; pickings are probably slim in a place like Granville.

Magic Max's Fruity Magic LoopsWhat caught my eye immediately was the breakfast cereal, Magic Max’s Fruity Magic Loops. Basically, it’s Manischewitz’s kosher for Passover take on Fruit Loops. Instead of Toucan Sam on the box it’s Magic Max, who is a magician of sorts with a Star of David shaped head. Naturally, it’s made with tapioca and potato starch, rather than wheat products.

I had to have a box, but almost changed my mind when I saw the price: $5.99. We all know breakfast cereal is expensive, but this was for a 5.5 ounce box, making these $17.44 per pound. A few aisles over, Fruit Loops cost just $5.23 per pound — and Price Chopper’s Fruit Whirls, only $2.67 per pound.

I eagerly opened the box in the car because I couldn’t wait to try them. The verdict? Terrible. Fruity Magic Loops have an odd, chalky consistency unlike any breakfast cereal I’ve ever tasted. You would never grab a handful of these and stuff them in your mouth as a quick snack — not that I would eat cereal out of the box with my hands, or anything.

Magic Max’s Fruity Magic Loops are like something you’d make kids eat to punish them — but maybe that’s part of the point. If they tasted exactly like Fruit Loops, you would lose the significance of doing something special, wouldn’t you?

We learn small lessons in strange places, sometimes even in a box of cereal. For that I am grateful — but I do believe if I want to experience a bit of Passover, I’ll just stick to the matzah.

On Football and Prayer

I don’t understand all the fuss over Tim Tebow because I pray all the time during football.

In fact, everyone in my house can hear me praying during NFL games, invoking the name of our Lord and Savior, especially when the NY Jets are playing.


My wife will call out from the other room, “No swearing!”

I inform her that I am not taking the name of the Lord in vain, but in fact praying for strength. And what could be holier than screaming out the name of the Lord on the Sabbath? Then, another incompletion.


“Stop that,” she will shout back.

What is with this infernal woman — does she not recognize my prayers?

I should mention here that I am not praying for God to alter the outcome of the game — no, I would never pray for victory, except maybe during the playoffs. Instead I am asking the Lord to help me survive a brutal ordeal. I pray for patience, resolve, fortitude. And maybe just a little for the Patriots to lose.

Holy Water

Baptismal font in the Catholic church on Inis Meáin, Aran Islands, Galway.

From the Catholic Encyclopedia:

The font, if not of impermeable stone, must be lined with metal; it must be used exclusively for baptism, and to guard it against profanation, securely covered and locked. Frequency of thirteenth-century legislation on this point throughout Northern Europe reveals the prevalence of a passing superstitious belief in the magical efficacy of the font and its waters.

No, that’s not much of a lock — but enough to comply with the age-old belief that the baptismal waters needed to be protected.