Recapitulation

I’ve been doing less blogging lately, mostly because my evenings are increasingly filled with activities that preclude a visit to Kava House for coffee and writing.  Herewith a summary of recent events and observations, dutifully chronicled for the benefit of posterity:

  1. Holy Week went well.  I ended up serving as parochial master of ceremonies for the Triduum and the Easter Vigil, which was interesting.  Doing double-duty as MC and as sacristan meant more work than usual, but it went well.  On the bright side, the diocesan MC liturgies I’ve been doing lately have been well-received by Bishop Hurley; he was quite complimentary the last time I asked him for feedback on the flow of the confirmation Mass.
  2. I continue to develop as a karateka.  Yesterday, I achieved the next monthly promotion (yellow belt, two orange stripes), the test for which was kanshiwa kata.  As part of the process, I had to read Zen in the Martial Arts, which — although a short read — was really quite interesting.  Zen has some fascinating parallels to aspects of the contemplative spirituality of medieval Catholicism (especially related to the Catholic practice of “spiritual indifference”), so drawing the connections has made for a more pleasant exploration of the non-physical aspects of Japanese martial arts.
  3. Tony has hung a shingle as a solo practitioner of law.  I’m quite proud of his efforts, despite his iron-willed determination to take care of stationery as a top priority, business plan be damned.  Luckily he has Emilie to crack the whip, although I’ve managed to end up as his web developer.
  4. Poor Rick has had some ongoing automotive tribulations.  His 1991 Grand Prix finally gave up the ghost, so he replaced it with a 2000 Focus, which promptly developed coolant-system problems.  So I’ve been ferrying him about recently.
  5. I haven’t spoken to Duane recently, which is a shame.  I need to call him — something I haven’t done since his birthday.  Perhaps I need to take a short trip to San Francisco to visit.
  6. Went to see Grindhouse on Friday with Stacie.  Pleasant way to pass the evening.  It’s rare to go out with friends when neither wants or needs the other to do anything other than to enjoy the other’s company.
  7. My little nephew Kyler is simply adorable.  He’s now 28 months old.  When I walked into my mom’s kitchen on Easter, he came toddling up to me saying “Uncle Jay!” (prompted, no doubt, by his mother or father), and gave me a kiss on the nose.  Too cute.
  8. Shannon created a MySpace page for her dog.  (Enough said.)
  9. I’m going to deliver a presentation at the Cerner Regional User Group in early May, in Milwaukee.  I’m planning a brief discussion on extracting information for business analysis from Cerner and interfaced environments, followed by a roundtable with other analysts for improving the process.  Should be interesting.  (“Cerner” is the comprehensive clinical documentation environment for hospitals, a product of Cerner Corp.)
  10. Briefly Noted is progressing well.  I did most of the corporate-development work last summer, but stalled along the way.  I’m now mostly done with my business plan, much to Emilie’s apparent satisfaction, and the greater part of the Web site has been finished.  Still have some financial modeling to perform, but it’s going well enough.  I even can accept payment for subscriptions.  Only a few dozen of hours of work before everything is complete.  What happens after that, though, is terrifying — either it will fail miserably, which means my scope of options has narrowed significantly, or it will be wildly successful, which brings its own challenges.
  11. Now that warmer weather is returning to West Michigan, the young couples are out in full flower.  It’s a wee bit depressing to be single in such times, but it is what it is; I am reaping the rewards of what I had sown in my early twenties — which is absolutely nothing.  So I’m not feeling like a victim about it, although I’m again motivated to change it.  I had put out an ad on Craigslist which garnered quite a bit of enthusiastic response, but it tended to be in the form of “wow, what a cool post” by those who either aren’t looking or who fall far outside of what I’m seeking.  Still, the support is certainly welcome, even if my social calendar is still covered in cobwebs.
  12. Every week, I visit patients in the hospital as a lay Catholic pastoral-care volunteer.  It’s a deeply moving ministry in many ways, especially on days like one last week when I had two patients in the pediatric ICU, including a motor-vehicle trauma case with uncertain prognosis.  Providing spiritual care to the sick and suffering isn’t easy for me, but I hope and pray that I can bring some comfort and hope to the patients I visit.
  13. I’m told Pumpkinhead was inquiring of me to Emilie.  Perhaps he could be bothered to contact me directly?
  14. I’m planning to build a shelving unit for Rick today.  Just waiting for him to roll his lethargic posterior out of bed (hopefully before noon) to set up the time for me to visit and spec out what we need to buy from Home Depot.
  15. I’m not sure why this is the case, but the behavioral pattern of drivers on I-96 between Grand Rapids and Lansing is significantly different from those on US-131 between Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo.  On 96, people actively get out of the way of faster-moving traffic and actually care about maintaining a constant flow on the expressway.  On 131, people plop themsevles wherever they wish to drive and pay not a whit of attention to those around them.  Strange.
  16. I’ve gotten back into online political simulations.  I swear, it’s like being on crack.  I’m now in United States Government Simulation; I started as a member of the House (eventually becoming a committee chairman and chief deputy majority whip) before retiring and then being appointed to fill a Senate vacancy.  It’s interesting to see the political dynamic at work in these groups.  One of the reasons I left “active duty” as a House member was (in addition to spending time on Briefly Noted) because I lost a House leadership election that should have been a no-brainer; I was serving as acting majority whip because the actual whip went AWOL before the session ended.  After the sim elections, she came back and declared for majority leader.  As did I.  In the real world, she would never have stood a chance, but she ended up eeking out a plurality in a four-way race.  I attribute this (to Melissa’s credit) to the fact that she’s a Grand Mistress of retail politics.  She works the people behind the scenes and secures allies on the basis of personal loyalty, or at least familiarity.  I don’t do that; I’m a technocrat at heart.  So I always win the arguments but lose the elections.  But, of course, this phenomenon has implications for real-life politics, too.  The winner isn’t necessarily the person with the best ideas or strongest arguments — it’s the person who is the most people-savvy.  Perhaps this is good for democracy, or perhaps it’s the reason I want to be the Philosopher-King of the United States.  Either way, it’s a useful illustration of why things happen in Washington or Lansing in the way that they do.
  17. My experience in USGS prompted a conversation with Stacie about the ways young Republicans differ from old Republicans.  I’ve been seeing the youths of the GOP become much more consistently pro-gay, pro-fiscal-conservatism, pro-environment.  The “South Park Republican” theory advocated by Brian Anderson in South Park Conservatives: The Revolt Against Liberal Media Bias seems to have a grain of truth to it.  In USGS, for example, almost none of the Republicans, including the conservative ones, are in favor of defense-of-marriage proposals or “don’t ask, don’t tell” policies.  Of course, the overwhelming majority of players are in high school or completing their undergraduate studies.  So the population is skewed a bit.
  18. Speaking of young people … it seems like every other male younger than 21 that I see lately appears to be gay.  The mall, the coffee shop, wherever — gay.  Either my spidey-sense is on the fritz, or I’m turning into a curmudgeon.  Or perhaps both, alas.  Or perhaps younger people are more comfortable at resting on a continuum of sexual identity instead of at its poles.
  19. Real-life domestic politics bores me to tears.  It’s like watching a car crash — you know what’s gonna happen, and you know it ain’t gonna be pretty.  Irrational partisanship from the Democrats (Pelosi in the Middle East?  Good grief!) and borderline incompetence from the guy for whom I twice voted to send to the White House.  The ancient Greek tragedians coudn’t have written a more depressing narrative, nor could even the Ameriad encapsulate the insanity of it all.
  20. I am a frequent attendee at the gym.  What has proven mildly — very mildly — interesting is the way that old guys with subprime bodies strut nude in the locker room showing their inadequacy to their fellow males, while the young, buff athletes seem to be modest to the point of prudishness.  I personally don’t care much about who else is in the gym (except when I’m running and the volleyball players are on the basketball court!), but the sociology of it leaves me scratching my head.  Maybe I just don’t get it, but it seems like the pudgy elderly guys should be wearing the towels and the jocks should be doing the strutting.  Eh.

Enough for now.  In fact, probably too much for now. Time for more diet Coke.

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