Wednesday, February 28, 2018

The Spam files

It's probably an indication that I don't get out enough, but I am so amused by email Spam. Today I got one from "Jose Lawless User Support." Really? You're trying to rip me off and the best name you can come up with is "Lawless"? Is this some sort of reverse psychology? Vizzini, I need your help.

Jose's subject heading was, "You have a private notification." Well, Jose, if it's "private," how did you find out about it? 

Once again, I give you James Veitch. As a writer (and would-be novelist, having dabbled in the medium, to varying degrees of completion), I find this video particularly hilarious. Happy Wednesday and last day of February.


Tuesday, February 27, 2018

From our Killer Headlines files

And my adjective is meant as a sad and tragic irony. I read this article, but I didn't really need to, because the headline says it all.

Deputy Who Didn't Enter Parkland School Defends Himself 

Well, yes, that's rather self-evident, isn't it? He didn't go in because he needed to defend himself, not the kids and staff who died.

Protocol, orders, yadda yadda. Law enforcement is hard; heroism even harder. My nephew and brother are city police officers who have faced danger and threats and death and the whole nine yards. Serve and protect. May God have mercy on those who died, and those who have to live with grief and shame.

Catholics are weighing in on Jordan Peterson

And it's about time. The man is a cultural phenomenon (and IMO, a force for good), and the Church intellectuals should be commenting on anything of that nature. I'm actually a bit surprised by the number of people I encounter who have not yet heard of Dr JBP, but I guess they don't frequent the same news/web hangouts or YouTube channels that I do. (Or maybe they have actual "lives" and "jobs" and such, and don't live online, haha).

 Bishop Barron has written a good article, titled "The Jordan Peterson Phenomenon." It's well worth reading, but here are a few snippets:
The Jungian template enables Peterson to interpret many of the classical spiritual texts of Western culture in a fresh way—those very texts so often excoriated by mainstream intellectuals as hopelessly patriarchal, biased, and oppressive. It also permits him to speak with a kind of psychological and spiritual authority to which young people are not accustomed but to which they respond eagerly.
With all due respect to Bishop Barron, "eagerly" is a bit of an understatement. Dr Peterson is a man who gets invited to SECULAR colleges by SECULAR clubs (such as Free Speech clubs) and he stands at the podium, telling unchurched young people (many of them hardcore atheists) that every action and every thought and every word they say "tilts the world either toward heaven or toward hell." He tells them to "take up their cross and carry it." And he tells them to tell the truth at all times, so that they can build up "the kingdom of God." And they jump to their feet, giving him standing ovations. STANDING OVATIONS.

Which should lead ordinary Christians --especially those of us not very good at evangelizing-- to wonder, "What the heck is going on here?"

Especially given the fact that Dr. Peterson himself is not a religious person. (If the Holy Spirit ever gets a hold of him, look out, I say!) But I'm fairly certain that God knows what he's doing, and I'm content to let the Almighty order things in his own time and way. (As I've written elsewhere, I am not overly concerned about the nature of Dr JBP's personal relationship with God); I'm just glad he seems to be doing wonderful things for Western Civ and helping people, especially young men, change their lives for the better.

Bishop Barron again:
His new book, an elaboration of twelve basic psychological rules for life, makes for bracing and satisfying reading. Peterson’s considerable erudition is on clear display throughout, but so is his very real experience in the trenches as a practicing psychotherapist. His advice is smart indeed, but it never seems abstract, detached, or unrealistic. [...] Peterson tells his readers—especially young men, who have been cowed into complacency for various reasons—to throw back their shoulders, stand tall, and face the challenges of life head on. 
The article is mostly warm praise for Dr. Peterson, but there's a BUT coming. You know there has to be. (Emphasis in red added by me.)
So do I thoroughly support Jordan Peterson’s approach? Well, no, though a full explication of my objection would take us far beyond the confines of this brief article. In a word, I have the same concern about Peterson that I have about both Campbell and Jung, namely, the Gnosticizing tendency to read Biblical religion purely psychologically and philosophically and not at all historically. No Christian should be surprised that the Scriptures can be profitably read through psychological and philosophical lenses, but at the same time, every Christian has to accept the fact that the God of the Bible is not simply a principle or an abstraction, but rather a living God who acts in history. As I say, to lay this out thoroughly would require at least another article or two or twelve.
PLEASE WRITE THEM, BISHOP BARRON! Catholic supporters of Jordan Peterson would love to read them, and perhaps Dr. Peterson would read them too. We need all the information, discussion and inspiration we can get in this battle of powers and principalities. 

For your further edification, here is a discussion between Dr. JBP and Catholic evangelist Patrick Coffin: 


Friday, February 23, 2018

Lent is off to a mortifying start

And I do not mean that in a good way. 
How can I turn it into more than just words? That is the question. 

For one thing, my head still isn't really in the game--and ye gods, it's been Lent for almost 10 days: it's a quarter gone! I was sick Ash Wednesday, so I didn't get to Mass, and I didn't get any ashes. Kind of an ominous beginning. Because of being sick, I lost almost 3 pounds (yay) but really: is Lent just a diet for vain and foolish ladies? No, and I should be ashamed for thinking of it in those terms. What's even more shameful is that I have probably eaten those 3 pounds back on again in the last 10 days, which means my fasting is not going all that well. 

Thursday, February 22, 2018

I have embraced the Dark Side

The Master with his Light Sabre of Free Inquiry:
Soon to be joined by Darth Shapiro, Darth Peterson, Darth Rubin,
Darth Rogan, Darth Paglia, Darth Murray, Darth Saad, Darth Steyn, Darth Greenfield,
Darth Fiamengo, and a whole lot more. Thankfully, there is no dearth of  Darths. 

Here is yet another great article, discussing why the mainstream media is failing--or rather, why the new media online is giving it the Vader chokehold. It should encourage those of you who are perennially angry and frustrated about what you see on CBC or CNN or other MSM outlets. "Inside the Intellectual Dark Web" by British author, journalist and political commentator Douglas Murray. Here are a few quotations: 

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

You'll get no argument from me, buddy.

Chaos & Order 

This is a really great interview, covering a lot of ground, from psychology to economics. But this part made me laugh when I read the first line (bold emphasis added):
People have been criticizing my association of the feminine with chaos, but that’s not my association; that’s an ancient archetypal idea. They’re also laboring under the misapprehension that chaos itself is “bad”, even though I’ve made it clear, and it’s clear in the Jungian corpus, that the chaotic is also the source of everything new and revitalizing. Order tends to degenerate into deadly, paralyzed stasis. Both are so inevitable that talking about them as good or bad is beside the point. They’re both everywhere, and you have to manage them.
He can associate the feminine with chaos all he wants, because in my case, it's 100% dead-on. If the personalities in my marriage can be described as anything in archetypal terms, "Chaos and Order" fits the bill. And that's OK--not just OK, but indeed, excellent. We've worked through it for over 31 years (we're happier than we've ever been, by the way), and we look forward to many more.  One of the reasons I love Dr. Peterson (in a chaste, Catholic, intellectual way), is that he has helped me sort out so many things in the last year or so during which I've been listening to his lectures and interviews.

This one simple psychological finding, for example (once I had properly unpacked it and meditated it on it in regards to my own life) almost totally eradicated restentment and misunderstanding from my relationship with my husband. That really is no small thing.

"... women are more interested in people and men are more interested in things."

Read the whole thing. This guy is smart. It's no wonder that he's an internet superstar.

One last quotation:
I suggest that people concentrate on the development of their character and leave the ideological idiocy alone. By doing that, hopefully they turn themselves into the sorts of people who are capable of formulating problems, and solving them, and if enough people are like that, then we’ll solve them.


(Going to clean my room now...)

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Fashion for us fifty-plus folk

I'm not quite ready for this yet. 

So this Yahoo article is titled: "Are you too old for jeans?" And I had to click, because I still wear jeans. So does my dad, and he's 92: if he's not too old for jeans, no one is. I read the article so that you don't have to.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

When you walk into IKEA

Should you feel like a junkie diving into a sea of heroin? Probably not. But I can't help it, because I don't get there very often. And when I do, I never seem to have enough time to browse to my satisfaction. That's probably a good thing, because otherwise I would just spend too much money.

But I did get some nice deals earlier this week, including some lovely 100% cotton bed linens. Such as:
I bought this set for my crafty daughter Miss P #7, who immediately designed and crocheted herself a cute little coordinating pillow:

I also bought myself a small plate rack, and I may get another. This is part of the reason I love IKEA. When we renovated our kitchen, I wanted a plate rack in an open cabinet. It would have cost about $200 to have it custom built (so I was told when we were pricing out kitchen cabinets, years ago). On the other hand, this plate rack kit, available at Lee Valley, was about $40-$50 (now it's over $60).

What you get. 
What it ends up looking like. 

On the OTHER hand, here is my IKEA plate rack. Very simple, I know, but it does the job--and it's portable! Cost: $3.99. Total cost for two of them (to fill the entire shelf): $8.

I'm not sure why this photo is weirdly pixillated.
I also wanted this cute little tray/side table. Very useful for when you have extra chairs out for lots of company, or your spot on the couch is just too far from the coffee table. I'd be using this all over the house, even my bedroom: the way it's currently set up, I don't have room for a night stand on my side of the bed. This would have been handy when I was sick in bed for two weeks. 


Friday, February 16, 2018

Hi, can I discuss with you?

That's all there was: no long sob story about being a Nigerian millionaire dying of cancer and YOU are my beneficiary, and could you send your bank account numbers--nothing like that. Not even a link to a website selling Viagra (WHY do they send such emails to "lady writer"--but I guess nowadays, you never know, do you!).

I was cleaning out my Spam folder today, and shockingly, it contained only one email. The subject heading was RE, and the entire body of the email was that one short request. The email address ended thus: (what's the fr? Not France, surely? But I guess there could be Nigerians living there too.)

Nope, none of that. Just "Hi, can I discuss with you?" It sounded so lonely and pathetic. I was almost tempted to reply. Almost.

But then again, I don't have the comedic genius of James Veitch.

Happy Friday, even if it is the first Friday in Lent.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

From Our Belgio-Canadian Friend

By whom, of course, I mean Mark Steyn. Read his latest on our culture’s ongoing descent into a technologically advanced Dark Age.

Can cheesecake go bad?

I can't even believe I'm asking that question. I bought this the first week of February in honour of our granddaughter's birthday, and since there are only now four people living in my house and none of them are toddlers (it's SO quiet!) and we've been taking turns being sick with phlegmy coughs, stomach issues and so forth... that here we are, a WEEK LATER, and there are still some slices in the fridge. And, as Miss P#5 lugubriously lamented when she was four, "It'th Lent." So should I keep it till Sunday, or should I freeze it? 

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

He's a Chain Breaker

Mrs. Pinkerton has graciously invited me to resume blogging, even though I have left her to do all the heavy lifting for the past four years or so. Hence, I have decided I would give up not blogging for Lent. Writing every day is a tough habit to get back into, so I'm going to start small, by sharing something beautiful I first encountered on Christ Pratt's FaceBook page. (Christ Pratt is openly Christian in Hollywood - something even more rare and valuable than a superhero.) Listen to the song, read the lyrics. It's a good meditation with which to end the first day of Lent.


Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Never mind the pancakes

Or the Shrove* (got shriven two days ago, so I'm actually ahead of the game for once). Today was Vodka Tuesday at my house. I was going to post a photo of my empty vodka bottle (really, there was only one ounce left) but as soon as it was empty, my tidy hubby (God bless him) whisked it away to the recycling bag and it's already been carted away. But it was this brand.

I'm really not much of a drinker, but I do like my occasional glass of red wine, and the less occasional mixed drink (vodka with something fruity or spiced rum with cola, mainly). So it's a natural thing to give up for Lent. Funny--last year Lent felt so long. How long? This long: I was using mouthwash one evening at bed time towards the end of Lent, and --oh dear-- I was actually tempted to swallow. (I didn't.)

* Given the whole Shrove Tuesday thing, I wonder how many people think that word means "pancake." It doesn't; it's a verb. Found that out in Shakespeare class, reading Romeo and Juliet. So I'd like to think that B.A. degree wasn't a total waste of time and money.

Monday, February 12, 2018

That time Jesus was Pro-Choice

I'll explain.

It’s a day late, but I wanted to share some prayers and random musings from Sunday Mass. Last Sunday was the 6th in Ordinary Time. Because it was also Feb 11, it was the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, which has been proclaimed by the Church the ‘World Day of the Sick.’

As a side note, people often complain that they "don't get anything" out of church, prayer, etc. But the stark reality is that we must put something in first, namely effort and a hopeful attitude. It's like the guy who says, "Lord, fill my cup," and then he holds up a thimble. But sometimes we don't even go so far as holding up the thimble.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Guess where I am.

Some of you already know. Most of you don't, but I'll tell you. HERE! I'm so excited. If I die of a heart attack tonight, you can be comforted knowing that I died in a state of grace (went to confession recently), extremely happy, and relatively sorted.

Ok, one more video

This is so incredibly cute! I'll bet Frank Sinatra, wherever he is (heaven, I hope) is smiling if he can see her.


Sing it while you can*.

I'm travelling today, so this might be all you get. But it's enough, trust me.

*Alleluia, that is. Lent begins Wednesday.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Should I apply for a government arts grant?

I think I should. Call me strange, but one of the things I enjoy about gardening is seeing the extremely weird things that vegetables can do. Here, two little twin baby onions decided to sprout from another dried up old onion. I liked the different textures and interesting layers, and I photographed it from different angles, partly so that I could use it as a model for drawing class exercises with my 13-year old. (We're using Betty Edwards' text/method this year.)

But maybe I should also try to launch an Art career. I could photoshop the background a bit (make it more blurry, and maybe pinkish), print the images up on large canvasses, and write up an abstract about how these sprouts...

Friday, February 9, 2018

Touching heaven

Chopin at work

It's possible, and you can do it every day. There are so many ways: love, prayer, good food (as long as you don't overeat), acts of kindness, walking in the park, holding a baby, reading a good book, visiting a friend, wine (again, not too much lol), hugs, great art: MUSIC. Oh my goodness, music.

I get to touch heaven all the time at my house. I am so, SO blessed (in many ways) but in particular because my daughters --all seven of them-- are beautiful and talented musicians (sorry, girls! Moms have to brag sometimes). I have a large CD collection (that makes me sound so old, now that everything is online), and I also stream hours of music through YouTube. I'm SO old, that I'm still afraid of Spotify and Apple Music and other stuff I don't fully understand. But I DO have an iTunes account, and I've even purchased albums online, so there is hope for me yet.

But my greatest joy (artistically speaking) is live music. And I get to hear it nearly every day. My 15-year-old daughter is currently learning this piece. Chopin. Pretty sure I would die without him.

Here is the great Vladimir Ashkenazy. I have his 5-CD set The Chopin Experience (Mrs Beazly, get a load of this price!! Aren't you glad you bought it in 1996 for a bit less?)

There there is THIS GUY. I am so proud he's Canadian (though everyone calls him "Polish-Canadian," which is OK, because he is the son of Polish immigrants. Chopin was Polish too, despite the French name. What is it with those artistic Poles? Thank God for them anyway).

To call Jan Lisiecki a 'prodigy' is a misnomer, even though he finished high school when he was like 12 or something, and he's been an internationally touring concert pianist since he was 15. I have seen him perform three whole times. It is a sublime experience, as you may well imagine.

We were not allowed to take pictures during the performance, of course; I took this before Jan took to the stage. We were front row, centre. The picture is horrible, dark and blurry, but it's proof (yes, thanks to Google, spying on us 24/7 through our smartphones, I can prove that this picture was taken at the foot of the stage on the night Jan Lisiecki performed at TCU Place in Saskatoon last September). I was close enough to stand up and touch his shoe. Which of course I didn't do, because I did not want to frighten Mr. Lisiecki, or be arrested.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

This is kind of cool

And in order to enjoy it, you don't even have to be a rabid David Bowie fan, which I sort of am. Apparently this choir came together on 24 hours' notice or something crazy like that. The unifying power of music. The choir comprises old, young, cool, nerdy, the works. Must have been great fun.

(Hat tip: Saskatoon Symphony on Facebook.)

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

I ran today!

Well, not on the treadmill, or outside. In fact, the total distance was only about 20 feet. But I ran (in my basement) and I didn't pass out, or even feel dizzy afterwards, which is a small miracle. So thank you, my lovely friend, who sent me the Miracle Prayer the other day. I think it helped.

My ears are still popping, but the dizziness is much better. I'm looking forward to feeling normal again, and getting back to some kind of fitness routine.

But not this. I include it because it's so hilarious. Jazzercize was probably THE number one reason why people started hating exercise in the 1980s. I mean, for most of us, it's all we can manage to get up and MOVE, never mind working hairspray, choreography, and smiling into the picture. Enjoy.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

I can tolerate the buzzing and popping

But the dizziness is a bit much. Yes, people, I'm still sick. But it's not the flu. It's severe sinusitis (read all about it here, if you care to.) Also called "rhinosinusitis," hence the cartoon. But the last three weeks have been anything but funny. I've experienced a wide range of symptoms, including headaches that have lasted for days on end, face pain, tooth pain, body aches (?), fever, chills, phlegmy cough, runny nose, ticklish throat, loss of sense of taste and smell, nasal congestion, dizziness, buzzing in my ears, and the feeling of having a heavy or "pressurized" head.

I've been on bed rest, fluids, NyQuil, antibiotics (which caused diarrhea--oh joy), Neo Citran (sinus), nasal sprays and inhalers (I also have mild yet chronic asthma). For some strange reason, I thought I'd be up and about within a week of getting sick (I'm used to things like colds, and 24-hour stomach flu), but this is a bit much. Now I'm reading that this sort of thing can last 12 weeks. Yikes, that's 3 months! I'm not going to stand for that. Actually, I can't seem to stand for any length of time.

This virus (or bacterial infection) now seems lodged in my ears: they feel blocked, they buzz constantly, and pop intermittently. I don't know whether to head back to the doctor (I envision getting 4 or 5 more prescriptions if I go that route) or try something more natural, or just keep drinking tea and wait it out. I'm slowly starting to function, and trying to be optimistic. Those who know me also know that I gravitate towards being paranoid about worst possible scenarios. To wit:
In extreme cases the patient may experience mild personality changes, headache, altered consciousness, visual problems, seizures, coma and possibly death.
Let us hope not. There is simply too much to do.