Thursday, March 31, 2005

Whether you are for or against, here are some images of the war

Whatever your feelings about the war in Iraq may be, this cannot fail to touch you.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

We've decided to adopt

Coming out of church on Good Friday evening, I broke the news to some of my friends.
"Kathy and I have decided to adopt."

"What!Are you kidding?" They were stunned.

I continued, "An eight year old."

They got quiet, I'm sure thinking that we had lost our minds, but trying to be respectful of our decision.

"He's a Great Dane-Lab mix--it's Ann's dog."

I think they wanted to punch me for leading them on so shamelessly, but after all, it was Good Friday so they couldn't really do that.

We thought she had already distributed all their pets in preparing for their big move to Ireland, but the deal for Kodiak (yes, named after the big ol' bear) had fallen through.

On Thursday evening, Kathy gave me the big doe eyes look, saying, "John, I need something." I thought she was about to say she needed five thousand dollars--since that's what it was the last time I saw that look. "I need you to say it's OK if we take Kodiak." I came around after a minute or so. He's a good dog, follows you from room to room as if he's afraid he'll miss something. He doesn't walk too well anymore, but he's much too heavy to carry anywhere. So, we'll be taking care of him for whatever time he has left. Max loves him, so he'll be very happy to be able to see him all the time. Just be mindful of those teeth (Kodiak's, not Max's).

Saturday, March 26, 2005

How would things be different?

This is Holy Saturday, the day between Good Friday and Easter. It's a good day to think about how our world might be very different if Easter never happened. Would all our cities resemble Pottersville, from "It's aWonderful Life", where the 'working poor' are crushed by avaricious landlords like Mr. Potter? Or would they descend into the hedonistic vision of "Back to the Future", where Biff uses the sports almanac to build a gambling empire? If we couldn't be 'good Christians', what would we be? How would we treat each other without Christ's example to emulate?

Take a look around at your world and imagine all the church spires gone, no minister to turn to in times of despair, no one to share your faith with, because you wouldn't have any to share. This is the one day when we can say "What if", and maybe come to a better appreciation of tomorrow's gift. Perhaps Easter is a better time than New Year's Eve to resolve to do better in the coming year, since it marks the beginning of our real New Year, our acceptance of salvation.

How would your life be different without Easter?

Friday, March 25, 2005

Tink's Challenge

I'll never approach Tink's eloquence in her "How well do you know Jesus" challenge, but here goes: as she said, you must tell how well you know Jesus, but you cannot refer to anything from the Bible. Thus, it's only your experience that counts.

He has brought me through two open heart surgeries unscathed. One is enough to put you into a stroke or some other complication, and I had to have two of them. He granted me many tiny miracles as I picked my way through the minefield of recovery. Whenever some issue would crop up, I would turn it over to Him, and He would smooth the way.

He has given me countless chances to witness, as a reader in church. I love this passage from Isaiah 50--"The Lord has given me a well trained tongue, that I might know how to speak to the weary a word that will rouse them." It's never a chore, but a blessing, to proclaim the Word of God at Mass, and I am grateful for that chance.

A while ago I posted about the Jesus is lost prayer and it belongs in this post as well, as even mundane things such as finding lost keys count. It doesn't have to be an earthshaking miracle of the sort likely to wind up on CNN, because after all, according to 1Kings 19:11-13, the Lord was not in the heavy wind or the earthquake or the fire, but in the tiny whispering sound. In the end, I suppose that is how I know Him--by that tiny whispering sound by which He shows me the way and offers to take away my pain and my worry.

(Uh oh, I think I broke the rule about referring to the Bible, but we're not being graded, are we Tink?)

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

The box is always more fun

The other night I went over to two year old Max's house with an early Easter present. We bought him something called a PVD, a personal video disc, that plays on something called VideoNow. I'm not exactly a fan of having him glued to a screen, but fortunately, he is much too busy to be tied down for long to such a device. Heck, I can't even get him to sit still for five minutes of Bambi.

Kathy put the gift in a gift bag with a big sheet of yellow tissue paper. When I gave it to Max, he pulled out the tissue paper, glanced in the bag, and ran off with the paper. He carefully spread it on the carpet and used it for a road for his cars. Later it became a sleeping mat while he pretended to nap. Finally it transformed into a blanket when he announced, "You're cold!" and spread it over me.

Why do we bother buying toys when the empty box is always more fun?

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Passion or Palm?

Today is either Passion Sunday or Palm Sunday. We used to call it Palm Sunday, but for a while there was a change to Passion Sunday, but the books at church call it Palm Sunday, so we'll stick with that. I seem to remember Palm Sunday being much warmer, but Easter is early this year--about a month earlier, so we expect cold and rain and snow.

I am a reader or lector at church, and in fact I recruit, train and schedule the lectors. This is a busy time with two people needed at each Mass this weekend, and then Holy Thursday, Good Friday, the Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday. The vigil is the most fun, since we do a three part Genesis reading, a two part Exodus, one person does Isaiah and I do Romans. Some years ago the person who was organizing the liturgy asked me to memorize Romans 6--I think it's the first 12 verses or so--and deliver it during the vigil Mass. Now it's my regular job. People seem to like it.

Memorizing scripture is something I used to do more of. Two of my friends used to challenge each other with verses to commit to memory. They would test each other to see if the other had done his homework. There is something about memorizing it that helps make it more a part of you than just reading it. You can call it to mind whenever you need inspiration or help or solace. It keeps God's promises right at hand.

Have you ever read the Bible all the way through? There are a couple of ways to do it. Reading roughly three chapters a night will get you close to finishing it in a year. I followed one scheme once where you read some Old Testament, then skipped to some New Testament, back and forth. At first I thought that might be a neat way to do it, but the selections weren't related in any way, so I went back to forging through cover to cover.

Today we packed food up at church with the group I belong to called Social Justice. With a name like that you might think we are likely to be found in a demonstration somewhere, but no--we just try to look out for people who need help in our parish. We don't have officers, but we have people we count on for different tasks. They asked me to be in charge about three years ago, and so I chair our monthly meetings. We are a very loose organization, a perfect example of how the Spirit holds things together and shows us what to do. My son came up to help--Max's daddy. None of our children go to church any more, so it was nice to have him there. He was a great help, carrying heavy boxes for the older people.

So what are you doing this Easter season?

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Temple Bar

Temple Bar
Originally uploaded by careerguy.
Have you heard of the "Temple Bar District" in Dublin? It's a fun neighborhood over by the river with pubs and restaurants and shops, and here is the pub that lent its name to the whole area.


Originally uploaded by careerguy.
People in Ireland were always talking about "having good craic". To American ears it sounded like they were all going to get wasted on drugs, but wait--they were saying "craic", not "crack". Craic is slang for "fun", hence the billboard here is not advocating drug use, but selling, well, craic.


Originally uploaded by careerguy.
The entrance to this watchtower at Glendalough is about ten feet off the ground, accessible only by a ladder that the monks would pull up after them when marauders entered the area.

The Album Cover

The Album Cover
Originally uploaded by careerguy.
Shane is on the left, Patrick in the center and me on the right. The kids call this one "The Album Cover", as in record album. Now if we could only play instruments.

This is also at Glendalough, a beautiful, rugged place with the watchtower you see in another post, the ruins of a church, and an old graveyard full of Celtic crosses. This is just the sort of thing you expect to see in Ireland--classic views, classic historical artifacts.

What if you really are Irish?

All this St. Patrick's Day excitement got me thinking about our trip to Ireland last May for our daughter's wedding. I am Irish, Scottish, English all mixed together, but of course I claim the Irish part. Kathy is 100% Slovenian, but she gets more into today than I do. Perhaps she's Irish by injection, as they say.

Revswife asked for more photos, so I thought I'd drop some of them from our Ireland adventure in this post. (flickr was acting up , though, saying the uploads weren't going through when they were, so this looks kind of clunky.)

So there we were, plunked down in a strange country where we had our future son-in-law Peter and daughter Ann to protect us from the Celtic hordes. And son Patrick--he made a great tour guide, graciously taking us around to places he had already seen. We had the best time, visiting Glendalough with its ruins, walking our legs off all around Dublin, and taking the train across the country to Galway in the west. Oh yes, there was a wedding in the middle of all that.

We felt quite European on the train, buying sandwiches to eat on the trip. Kathy wisely chose seats with a table in the middle, so we could spread out our maps and figure out where we were on the three hour ride. The train was kind of empty, but that suited us just fine. On the return trip, it got a little more exciting as the police were called to escort a man off the train. He was drunk, and insisted on badgering another man and woman. We left the station a little late, but everyone was very happy we didn't have to listen to the fighting all the way back to Dublin.

I could just listen to Irish people talk all day. That charming accent is a pleasure to hear.

And the food--whatever was served in a restaurant, it was served steaming hot--so hot you couldn't eat it for some minutes till it cooled.

And the streets--everytime you turned the corner you would happen on yet another quaint scene that you had to capture on film..well, I had to capture anyway. My camera got me in trouble one day when I got separated from Kathy and another couple we were traveling with. All of a sudden, I was alone on a crowded Dublin street. So I used this principle I developed when attending professional conferences. Simply stated, it is this: whenever you want to find someone, stand in one place and eventually they will walk right by you. It worked in this instance as well, as I stood on a traffic island and eventually they appeared, panicked, looking for little old me.

We really did leave a part of ourselves there. We'll go back, especially since Peter and Ann will be there. Maybe we'll swing through the south next time.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

A modest goal

In the summer of 1968, my then girlfriend and I drove up to her parents' cottage by a lake in upstate New York. Now don't get all excited, her mother was up there with us. We weren't that kind of kids...yet.

Anytime we drove anywhere and the news came on, we would turn off the radio or change stations. We didn't want to know anything about the outside world. We just wanted to stay wrapped up in, well, ourselves. We were looking forward to a fun weekend just goofing around with each other.

It was the weekend of the Democratic National Convention and the "police riot" in Chicago.

Consequently, we missed one of the landmark events of our generation.

These days I have a modest goal. I don't want to know anything about the Michael Jackson trial. If the news comes on, I turn it off or change stations. After the travesty of the OJ trial, I don't want any part of another celebrity circus. Are we so shallow, so venal that we need this kind of "entertainment"? Apparently so.

Wake me when it's over.

Don't tell me what happened.

Saturday, March 12, 2005


Originally uploaded by careerguy.
I'm afraid it's nostalgia time. Here is daughter Ann (then known as Beth)at Halloween when she was about 3. So, how is it that she grew up to be the bride in the photo below? Remember that John Sebastian song that talks about children growing up--how everything we've learned our kids assume, and how all our worries are their cartoons--So far two of our three children have turned 30, and to celebrate the occasions, I burned a CD mix of songs from their respective youths, but I always included that Sebastian song, just to get my licks in.

Ann and Peter Just Married

Ann and Peter Just Married
Originally uploaded by careerguy.
Oh--Here is the happy couple on the big day. It looks like a Wal-Mart background, but it's honestly the way the sky looked that day down by Dublin Bay.

Dinner with Max

Daughter Ann came for a last visit before her Big Adventure--moving to Ireland. She brought Kodiac, her Lab mix who is named for a Kodiac bear, since he's about as big as a bear. He follows her from room to room, like a duckling waddles behind the mama duck. Perhaps he sees her simply as a food dispenser. Maybe that's all it is. He has such an expressive face that when he raises his eyebrows, he appears most intelligent, but perhaps it's only a sign of his hope for treat or a walk outside. (Be sure to spell out w-a-l-k in his presence or he'll be all over you looking for his leash.)

In honor of the occasion, Kathy, Ann, Shane, grandson Max and I went out to dinner. The half hour wait at Outback scared us off and into the arms of Olive Garden, so that's where we wound up. No one could survive a half hour wait with a squirming two and a half year old.

At Olive Garden we were shown to a big booth, which was OK since we figured we could easily corral Max in a box like that. He wasn't interested in the crayons and childrens menu, though, twice flinging the paper over his head into the next booth, thereby embarrassing the adults and annoying the other diners in one move. Fortunately, bread sticks kept him occupied until his macaroni and cheese arrived.

You know how children that age suddenly appear to be made of silly string--their bones turn to rubber and they can slide away from you just by going limp--that's what Max attempted, trying to slide away under the table, but Shane diverted his attention to the sugar bowl. The sugar came in those little paper tubes, and he and Max proceeded to build a log cabin out of them which worked well until one broke and the little one discovered their sweet secret. Just what he needed: more energy.

Max did pretty well considering we were there for an hour, though he tended to take all our attention, quashing any possibility of conversation with the visiting dignitary. Said visitor developed a migraine after we got home and so she went on to bed, having gotten permission for Kodiac to snuggle on the bed with her.

She's here till Wednesday, so we'll have time to hang out.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Diary of a "J"

Did you ever take the Myers Briggs Personality Type Indicator test? It's a very cool instrument that can tell you a lot about yourself and other people. It looks at eight different factors: Introversion, Extraversion, Sensing, Feeling, Intuitiveness, Thinking, Judging, Perceiving. I am an ISFJ. Today I want to talk about J-Judging.

Does this mean that strong "J" people sit in judgment of other people, constantly evaluating them, measuring them against an impossible standard? I hope not, but there are some who might do that.

It happens that the strongest aspect of Judging has to do with being organized. It is quite psychically satisfying for us to having a place for everything and everything in its place (as my grandmother used to say). Do you roll your belts? Have a nice neat sock drawer? Stack your pots and pans, nesting them in the cabinet? Really dig Excel charts and Access queries?

As Jeff Foxworthy would say, "You might be a 'J' if..."

I think it's a riot when a student comes into my office and reaches across and straightens things on my desk! That's a sure sign that we're dealing with a J.

My J-ness serves me well in my work, as I organize job fairs, obsessing about every detail, picking nits wherever I can find them. Since I am responsible for the technology in the office, it suits my J abilities to track serial numbers of PC's, map network drives--sounds fascinating doesn't it? The orderliness of computers appeals to me, what can I say?

I live to make an new chart for something.

Sometimes I wish I could be wild and free and wear mismatched socks, throw a purple scarf around my neck, and drive off to my artist's loft where I throw paint randomly against a canvas, not caring whether anyone buys my stuff or not.

Even J's can dream, you know.

So, are there more of us out there? How would I know if you were J?

Sunday, March 06, 2005

I Can't Drive 55!

Post my face wanted dead or alive
Take my license, all that jive
I can't drive 55!
(Apologies to Sammy Hagar) I can't be 55! But it's my birthday and so I am.

When you enter your birthday in your profile, Blogger translates it into the Chinese year and an astrological sign, but I don't believe in those philosophies as a Christian so I don't have mine posted.

I'm not sure what 55 is supposed to feel like, but I can tell you how I feel: terrific. Soon Kathy and I will celebrate our 34th wedding anniversary, which means we will be starting our 35th year. Our kids are all doing well, living their lives. Our grandson is the light of our lives. We both have jobs we love (though as soon as Kathy wins the lottery, there is a good chance she will retire).

God has blessed us with a wonderful family and full lives. He has seen us through all sorts of things: two open heart surgeries, a pacemaker implant and lots of visits to the emergency room in between. His grace is always sufficient, and we expect that it will always be so.

Today we went to 7:30 Mass and the Psalm was the 23rd, my late mom's favorite, so it was like she was saying 'Happy Birthday.' We also sang "Amazing Grace", one of our favorites and wonderfully appropriate. I spoke to all the kids today, both my sisters and my brother and my father, so I heard from everyone, so it was just about a perfect day.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Best of the Century

Yesterday we held our 26th annual Spring Career Fair. It was the biggest and best of the century! OK, it's a young century, but still...

We had 150 organizations there and the coolest thing ever was having 1,320 people come through the doors. We were very lucky in our marketing, with a nice article in The Plain Dealer, the big daily newspaper in town, and a mention in their calendar just before the event. We had lots of non-Cleveland State people attend, and that was fine. It was open to everyone.

Despite all our careful planning, there are always issues on the day of the event, but I build flexibility into the plan to accomodate them. For instance, one employer complained that they had requested electricity, but they didn't get it. I went back to check and saw that the electricians had indeed laid the extension cords in that row, but they appeared to be for another table. I told her not to worry, that that was her electricity. Someone else needed an extension cord to reach the power, he thought. I went to check and just pulled the cord over a few inches and he was fine. How come otherwise intelligent adults can be so helpless?

We used software that one of our graduates had written specifically for the purpose of managing the career fair registration. It is very cool. It allows people to register on line, and it send out invoices and confirmation letters automatically. I can run reports on any of the data I like. There is a nifty table map of the gym floor that shows where all the companies will be on the big day, and I can change it anyway I like up until the last minute. (To see it, go to, just tried that link and it doesn't work--hold that thought--I'll check it next week back at work.

Every year there is always one clueless person who has a complaint about the career fair. This year was no exception. The winner was a woman who was upset that the fair "only" ran from 9am to 2pm. She felt it should be longer since, as she said , she "had other things to do than come down here." So why did she come at all, I wondered. We work for three months to put this event together, do all this marketing, emailing, mailing, workshops, coordinating tiny details to produce a pretty darn good show, if I do say so myself. You can't please everyone, but goodness knows I try.

The employers overwhelming loved what we had done, and students were thrilled with all the choices they had that day. They were knocked out by how many companies had showed up.

People always ask two questions: 1) Is it worth to me to come done there? and 2) Do people get jobs from that?

Let's address these issues, shall we? Oh, let's.

1) Is it worth it to come down? Sometimes I want to say, if you have to ask, then don't bother yourself. But I don't. I restrain that impulse and talk to them about what they are looking for and give them strategies to use the fair to their best advantage.

2) Do people get jobs from that? Sure. We know one grad who accepted an offer on the spot. Others find internships that lead to full time jobs. Sometimes people have the impression that employers just come to show their faces, but that they don't really have jobs. In years past, some employers did that just to maintain a presence on campus. Students didn't really appreciate that, though. We charge the companies to attend, so it's an investment of resources and time, so they won't come if they don't see a payoff somewhere.

I stood for all seven hours, from 7am to 2pm, from set up to tear down, so my legs are dead today. You would think I could sleep forever after a day like that, but no, not me. I woke up at 4am and came downstairs and watched some strange movie on TV. I was tempted to check blogs, but I was in no shape to push buttons and keys.

Anyway, everything came off beautifully yesterday, and the staff stepped up all week and all yesterday to do whatever I asked of them, so I was very proud of everyone, and thankful that all our prayers were answered.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

What's that sound?

Just a short one tonight. Tomorrow is Spring Career Fair, and we have 149 employers coming. There will probably be 1500 people through the doors. I have to go to bed early and get down there at 6:30am.

Tonight I was over at grandson Max's house. He is an energetic two and half year old. After we rolled around on the floor and chased each other for a while, we rested for a moment and he said, "What's that sound?" I realized he was talking about my heart. You see, I have an artificial heart valve that was installed in 1999. That's a story for another time.

But the valve makes a clicking noise that usually no one but me can hear. If the room is quiet, though, other people can hear it too. And so it was with Max tonight. I explained that it was my heart, and he said, "Show me."
"I can't show you. It's inside!"
"Where's my heart?"
"Right here, behind this bone."
"What bone?"
"This bone, right here."
"Show me."
"I can't show you. It's inside!"

He laid his head on my chest and listened for a moment, then said, "I don't like that sound." His father pointed out that it meant that "Da" (me) would be around for a while. He put his head on my chest again, listened and repeated, "I don't like that sound."

Well, I like that sound. It's very comforting when I am lying in bed, falling asleep. It gets kind of noisy, though, when Kathy and I are, um, active. It's a fun sound when I'm at the office working with someone on a project and the room is still enough to have them ask, "Is that your watch?"