How I almost started world war 3

Back when I was a chubby prepubescent young lad, part of my summer time chores was to mow the yard. I don’t remember exactly what age I started mowing, but for the sake of argument and to give myself someone “old man” points I’m going to say I started mowing when I was eight and I didn’t have one of those fancy riding lawnmowers either. No sir I had a clunky pull start push mower that weighed more than me and shot flames out of the exhaust (flames added for dramatic effect). Take that up hills both ways to school generation, there’s a new complainer on the block.

Frysk: Jonge dy't it gers meant. Nederlands: J...

By the time I was 10 I was an expert yard mower I could take that mower so close to the trees in the yard that there would be no need for a weed whip. I was that good. However, in the far back corner of the yard was a small white pipe stuck out of the ground. My guess was that is was either part of the house’s sewer system or an underground missile installed by the homes previous owner. You know just in case the Russians decided to launch a nuclear missile we’d be prepared to fight back. The problem with the pipe was that is was tough to mow around, even for someone with mad crazy mowing skill like myself. No matter what I did, I couldn’t get the mower close enough to cut all the grass and I always ended up having to grab the string trimer to clean up the top of the missile silo.

One sunny afternoon, as the mower moved closer and closer to the missile, I started to do some estimation in my head. It appeared to my untrained eye that the pipe had slipped in the ground and was now level with the grass. Maybe I could just mow over the top of it and instead of heading for the trimmer after I mow, I could head inside for a little saving of the princess, Mario style.

I nudged the mower deck up to the side of the pipe. Drat too tall, guess I’ll have to get the trimmer. Then the clouds parted and angelic music filled my ears as an idea worthy of a Nobel Prize flashed through my brain. Tilt the mower deck back on the rear wheel and then lower it carefully on the top of the pipe. Genius, grass will be cut and won’t have to use the weed whip. I tilted the deck back and it appeared that my idea was going to work, that is until the blade lowered enough to make contact with the pipe.

The mower slammed to a halt as a bright white chunk of PVC shot out across the yard. I pulled the dead mower off the scene of the crime, revealing a mangle piece of pipe and grass clippings. Panicked I began to run in circles flapping my arms like a bird. Round and round I went as the gravity of the situation sank in. I had cut a pipe, broken the mower, and if my suspicions were true and the pipe really was a missile silo I could have also inadvertently caused WWIII to start. My Dad’s going to be so mad at me when he gets home.

I stopped running, sweat dripping down my arms. Okay Daniel what are you going to do? I said to myself. First, see if the lawn mower is broken, (a few quick pulls on the rope and it sputtered back to life) phew one thing off the list. Second investigate the pipe. I looked at the jagged edge of the pipe. Nope no way to fix this and I assumed that in order to fix this the entire pipe would have to be dug up. I only had 37.28 in my piggy bank, I wonder how big of a hole one can get dug for that price. I peered down the pipe to see if I saw the silver tip of a missile staring back at me. No such luck, the smell of sewer gas confirmed it was in fact a sewer pipe and not a sercret missile, unless it was a really stinky missile.

I somberly finished mowing the yard and headed back towards the house to await my fate. I lay on the living room floor and watched the clock on the wall slowly tick towards my D-Day. I knew I was in trouble, question was how much. In my head I was getting ready to pack my bags and live with my friend. He did tell me I would always move into his basement if I was ever in trouble. This was one of those times.

My stomach was in knots when I heard my Dad’s station wagon pull down the driveway. My heart sunk, I wanted to run, but had used up all of my running for day running around in circles and flapping my arms. I heard the door open I could see my Dad outside the kitchen window. Here he comes, I’m in for it now. The door knob turned and in walked my Dad.

“Nice job on the yard,” he said putting his keys on the table.

“About that, something happened when I was out mowing.” I figured it best to head this off at the pass and come clean. I had spent the entire afternoon awaiting my fate and now it sat before me.

“Oh yeah?” he replied, sounding an awful lot like Kool Aid Man.

Kool-Aid Man

“You know the pipe in the back yard?” I grew nervous, blurting out what came next in a single breath. “I hit it with the mower and cut it. I have 37.28 I can put towards digging it up. The mower broke too, but I fixed it. At least I think it’s fixed it still cut the grass after I hit the pipe, so it’s fixed. Unless it isn’t then use my $37.28 to fix the mower.” I braced for the command to leave the house or at least a brief bit of rage from my work tired Father.

“Oh well at least the yard is mowed. I have someone swing by and put a new cap on the pipe tomorrow. Wanna go play catch?”

That’s it, my entire afternoon spent worrying about replacing a pipe, moving in with a friend, starting WWIII, and I get a good job on the yard and game of catch. I scratched my head and went to grab my glove.

English: Missile silo at the Strategic Missile...

English: Missile silo at the Strategic Missile Forces Museum in Ukraine. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Like I did that afternoon many years ago, I have spent many hours living in shame and remorse for the sins I have committed against God. I have often thought that He will disown me, that what I have done is so bad that I should pack up my bags and move on. And yet, every time when I go to confession and ask for forgiveness for what I have done, my sins are forgiven. God in His infinite mercy grants me pardon for what I have done. I do nothing to deserve this grace, it is given freely all one has to do is ask.

Advertisements

Spinning My Wheels

I hate to admit it but my outdoor cycling season is quickly coming to a end.  I’m going to hold out as long as I can, but the reality that unless I become a giant fan of riding in the dark part of my next six months of my cycling life are going to be spent spinning indoors.

In preparation to make this transition a little easier on myself, I’ve been doing a few rides on my rollers recently.  Truth be told I’m really trying to psyche myself up for the indoor trainer season by trying to trick my brain in to thinking that indoor training really isn’t all that bad.

Rollers

Rollers (Photo credit: rutt)

So the other night I headed to the garage, pumped up the bike tires, dusted off the rollers and climbed aboard.  My dog, who had eagerly followed me into the garage, was spending her time hunting mice.

Under the cold fluorescent lights of my dingy garage I was trying desperately to stay on the rollers and not go flying off the side.  If you’ve never ridden rollers before consider yourself lucky they are very similar to riding your bike on an ice rink.  One swift move and bam on the floor you go.  Trust me on this one, they take a while to get use too and I’m not too sure I’ve mastered them yet.

While I was struggling with my balance, my lovely dog spent the time contently hunting mice in the corner of the garage and when she tired of that she came and laid next to rollers.  Ordinarily I wouldn’t mind, but we had given her table scraps recently which gave her as some would say “the gas”.  Every so often, while trying to maintain focus, the smell of my lovely dogs digestion system would fill my nostrils and cause me to become distracted.  This in turn forced me to nearly crash off the rollers.

This went on for what seemed to be an eternity, which in reality was about 15 minutes, and as the seconds ticked by I began to question my own sanity and motivations.  Why on earth would I leave the comfort of my favorite easy chair to spend time in the saddle balancing precariously on rollers while my dog does her best skunk impersonation.  I may need to have my head examined.

the little stinker.

the little stinker.

I guess I do it because I trust that it will make me a better rider in the future.  That the time spent spinning my wheels indoors will prepare me to climb a hill faster, ride further, or will simply help me look cooler on the bike (yeah right, hard to look cool while wearing spandex, but yet I manage).

 

My time spinning my wheels makes me think of all those times in my spiritual life where I have felt like I am simply spinning my wheels and not really growing in my faith.  You know those moments where prayer feels a little flat, like your simply going through the motions.  It is during these spiritual doldrums that it is all too easy to lose focus and slip off the track you are supposed to be on.  I have learned that these doldrums serve a purpose.  These prayers,  just like riding the rollers, prepare you for the next phase of your journey.  There is no such thing as a wasted prayer.  We need to trust in God’s plan for us and continue to do what He places before us, even if it does feel like we are simply spinning our wheels.

Now if you’ll excuse me, my dog just ate a large bowl of leftover chili and I have another roller session planned.  This could prove interesting.

 

Mission Impossible

Like the majority of adult males I have two eyes in the front of my head.  They function much the same as everyone else’s eyes do, although mine need a little help from the eye doctor to make sure my vision is up to snuff.  I can see only the direction that my face is pointing, so in essence I retain the standard 100 degree field of vision common in most adult Homo-sapiens.  I do not, although I wish I did at time especially with a dog and a child running around my house, have the 360 degree vision field some birds possess.

Reading glasses

So why is that I am spending an inordinate amount of time describing my eyesight to you?  The better question you should be asking yourselves right now is why are you still reading about it.  I could understand if my audience was composed solely of optometrists, then the whole eye study makes perfect sense.  Anyway I digress, the reason I am describing my eye sight and for that matter the number of eyes in my head it to prove to you that I am normal, well as normal as one can be I guess.

For you see the other day I awoke from my late winter slumber, not with such a clatter as one finds present in mid-winter, but more with a sudden shake one finds present in late winter.  I rubbed the sleep from my normal eyes and a thought popped into my head.  What follows is a transcript of the conversation I had with the voice in your head. Sometimes I like to think that voice is God speaking to me in the predawn hours so for sake of my narrative I’m going to call the voice God.

“I want to you think of something impossible,” God said.

“Why, it’s early and I just want 10 more minutes of sleep before I have to get up for work,” I said still wiping the sleep from my eyes.

“Go ahead fall back asleep, you know I’ll just talk to you there as well.” God said, his voice gentle and soothing.

I stared in to predawn darkness. “Fine, I’ll tell you something impossible.  It’s impossible to look behind you without turning your head.”

“I knew you where going to say that.” God said.

“Of course you did, you’re God you know everything.  But seriously, how you make me see what’s behind me.  Last time I checked I didn’t have eyes in the back my head.  Check and mate,” I said. “Now can I go back to sleep?”

“Not so fast,” God replied. “You haven’t allowed me to answer.”

“Hit me with your best shot,” I said.

“A mirror” God said.

“Wait a minute, you can’t use a mirror,” I said.

“Why not?  You just said that it was impossible for you to look behind you and if you are looking into a mirror is it not possible.”

“Yeah but you can’t use objects.” I said.

“I can use whatever there is at my disposal to accomplish My will and to make the impossible possible.”

English: Vintage clock radio

The sound of my snoozed alarm clock filled the room and I fell out of bed and headed toward the shower.  I paused by the bathroom mirror and glanced at the wall behind me. Impossible made possible.

I’ve spent too much of my life thinking God works in a vacuum that His will works independently of the people and places in my life.  Reality is that God works through the objects and the people placed in my life.  It is through this slight shift in my own perspective that I have begun to God at work in my life more clearly each day, well as clearly as I can with my imperfect vision.

Now if you’ll excuse me I need to have my eyes examined.

Woody attempts to read the eye chart in The Re...

Call Me…..Maybe?

I’ve been doing some math recently, which makes me realize two things.  First, I’m glad I majored in English while in college and second I’ve become so dependent upon calculators that even simple addition now require me to use a calculator.  Ahh the wonders of technology.

The reason I’ve donned a mathematicians hat is simple. I was trying to figure out all the ways people can get ahold of me.  I was driving home from work the other day and started to count up all the different ways someone could reach me.  The list started small, but soon grew exponentially.

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...

Image via CrunchBase

Here is a breakdown of all the different ways people can get ahold of me.

Email Addresses:  7 (I’m sure there are more, I just can’t remember them all.)

Breakdown: Too many

Phone Numbers: 5

Breakdown: Two work numbers, cell phone, home phone, a google phone number that I set up but forgot how the thing works.

Online Accounts (Facebook and the like): 9 (I created the breakdown list on a napkin and then had to blow my nose so the writing is covered in boogers.  Alls I remember is Facebook and Twitter sorry.)

Post Office addresses: 2

Breakdown: Work and home.  I had an offshore Cayman mailing address set up for you know “business reasons” but had to shut it down when the IRS came a calling. (Totally kidding on the Cayman Island account thing, I’m not a multinational corporation…..yet.)

So by my calculator assisted calculations that gives me a grand total of 23 ways for people to get in contact with me.  I left out carrier pigeons and smoke signals since nobody really uses those anymore, but if I counted them it brings the total to 25, (didn’t need the calculator for that one.  Take that Texas Instruments)

English: Texas Instruments, TI-30 electronic c...

When I finished up my list I was rather impressed at the number of contact opportunities have with me.  Suffice it to say that if I ever win the Publishers Clearinghouse, I won’t miss the call.

Then I really started to think about it.  Here I am an average American male, more average than I actually like to admit, and I have all of these ways for people to get ahold of me.

As I’ve mulled this list over my head started to swell a bit. Maybe I’m more important than I thought, I mean do unimportant people have 25+ way to communicate.  I think not.  Then, as it always happens in my life, I was given a large piece of humble pie.

I was sitting in Mass the other weekend when it struck me.  God, arguably the most important person in the entire universe has one only one way to contact him….Prayer. Only one way and despite that one method there are never any busy signals and He always listens to those who call upon him.

Suddenly my 25 communication options didn’t seem all too important as I folded my hands and allowed God to put me back into my place.  In the end sometimes one is all you need.

Running…A First Time for Everything

I used to hate running.  I mean I really hated running. If I was out in the woods and was being chased by a large grizzly bear I would have thought long and hard about whether I had to run away from the large carnivore.

About 4 years ago I decided to run.  I don’t really have a good explanation why I started, I just did.  One day I reached into the closet and pulled out my 6 year old pair of dusty running shoes and took off down the road.

For the first quarter mile I felt great in my mind I was world famous marathoner Ryan Hall. I was unstoppable.  As I settled into my groove I hit the wall, which took me all of 2 minutes to find.  The wall came out of nowhere and I hit it hard.  My lungs burned as if the air had turned to molten lava and my legs felt as if a thousand gnomes where shooting poison tip darts at them.  I had sweat dripping in places I was used to having sweat drip into.  Simply put I was miserable.

I did what every beginner runner does when they hit the wall for the first time.  I walked over to the nearest street sign and stretched out my calf.  I had seen it done at a few races I had witnessed in my life.  I didn’t really need to stretch out my calves, but doing so made me look as if I knew what I was doing..

I “stretched” my calves while my heart rate slowly dropped out of the stratosphere and my breathing stabilized.  Once all systems were a go I started running again and once again ran straight into a wall.  This process of hitting a wall and calf stretching was repeated for the entire first month I ran until I ended up burned out and injured.

I was simply too stubborn to change my training plan.  Had I read anything about how to start out running, I would have learned that you are not supposed to run until you nearly puke, rest and then repeat.  Rather you are supposed to ease yourself into the sort.

Running without being chased by a bear.

We love big dramatic changes in our lives. Like my big change from couch potato to runner.  We love to stand around at a cocktail party and talk about how we are now running 5 miles a day, fully committed to the sport at all costs.  The big changes is what people like to hear about, but the problem with big changes is that they are not always sustainable. Eventually you will burn out and return back to old habits.

Thankfully, God doesn’t always require us to undergo such large and dramatic changes in our life.  All that God requires is a small commitment. That’s it. He will work with what you are willing to give him.  Give to God what is bothering you and if you cant’ give Him everything, give Him a sliver.  You will be amazed at what He can do with it.

He will lead you down the path you are supposed to follow.  He can turn your Faith from something that is smoldering to something that burns as bright and as hot as my lungs did when I first started running all those years ago, no calf stretching required.

The Offensive Catholic

I am pleased to announce that after months and months of work, my book, The Offensive Catholic, is finally available on Amazon.com.  It is a little surreal to realize that I am a published author. Suddenly, I feel the need to walk around town wearing a tweed jacket with leather patches on the elbows.

The book is a revolutionary approach to apologetics.  The Offensive Catholic is a first person narrative where the narrator struggles to find his Faith while working as a missionary on a potato farm in Minnesota.  In this novel, I tackle many of the misconceptions about the Catholic Faith and through the use of conversation, humor, and the occasional bar fight the message of Christ shines through.  This novel offers a new spin on traditional apologetics.

Cover of "Kindle Wireless Reading Device,...

The book is only available as a download for your Kindle. If you don’t have a Kindle, you can download the Kindle app for your Ipad/Iphone here.

Make plans to add The Offensive Catholic to your fall/winter list.  This book may just revolutionize the way you view the Catholic faith.

Amazon Link  The Offensive Catholic

Blogging A Retrospective

Blogging, since it’s inception, has been responsible for many things. It has broken news stories and has helped many things achieve viral status.  Blogging helps to give self esteem to many cyclists and triathletes who post about their latest and greatest workout and helps aspiring writers and photographers find an audience.

If you had asked me a year and half ago if I was a blogger, I would have looked at you like you where crazy.  I had heard of blogging, but no way no how was I going to enter into that world.  I had already worked as an opinion columnist while in college and the pressure to come up with a new topic every week was partially responsible for my early baldness.  I spent way too many late nights typing under deadline trying to come up with the latest opinion piece only to find out my Pulitzer worthy piece was cut from the paper because a story on new chairs in the school cafeteria ran long.  The stress was simply too much.

Then exactly one year ago, in an effort to add more stress to my already stressful life, I signed up for my very own blog.  I signed up after reminiscing one afternoon about my former collegiate glory. Part of that reminiscence included my opinion column and in and effort to stave off an early early midlife crisis I started typing.

The first few weeks of the blog were pure bliss.  I had complete freedom to write whatever I wanted.  There was no underpaid editor screaming down my neck to get the story on their desk by 8 am Tuesday morning.  I could post on Tuesday or Friday if I chose to.  I could even skip a week if I got busy or if a Doogie Howser marathon was on.  The freedom the blogging experience gave me was exhilarating.  It was the creative outlet I had been looking for

But then it happened.  It was about six months ago and suddenly I ran out of things to write about.    Topics that once flowed forth from my fingers like the waters in the mighty Mississippi had slowed to a trickle.  I struggled to come up with topics to write about and when I did figure something out it always sounded better in my head than on paper.  My bald spot grew larger every day from the stress and my lovely auburn hair was quickly turning gray.

While it is true that I have less hair and it is also true that what hair I do have left is way more gray than a year ago, I have finally come to the realization that I am a blogger.  I know that eventually all my hair will probably turn silver from the stress of this blog, but then again it will probably turn grey because I am simply getting old.  I have realized over the past year that I am a blogger, a member of the new evangelization.

I never thought I would be a blogger, but then again I never thought I would be Catholic.  So I guess the possibility of being a Catholic blogger was never on my radar screen, but yet that is what I am.  For those that read and follow my blog, don’t worry I plan on continuing my ramblings and musings until my last grey hair falls out, which if the past year is any indication won’t be too long in the future.  Thank you all for reading my blog and God Bless.