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Archive for December, 2007

Upgrades and Other Deals

Soon, I shall be travelling back to my apartment; after that, I will begin to actually write upon sections for my dissertation. It’s all coming together (I hope!). 

In the after-Christmas time I have been with family, I have also been doing a bit of shopping of and for specific items and waiting until I could get good deals on them. For example, I needed more memory for my laptop, and waited until a $100 memory upgrade was an affordable $30 and got it. Now my laptop is a bit better off (Vista, I noticed, was dragging it down way too much; if I wanted to have Citation working with Word and all the virus-protection running in the background, the system memory was getting clogged and sometimes making the computer slow in its response to my commands).

Not everything has been as spectacular a deal as that. I recently bought Volume II of the Complete Segar Popeye Comics, and there was no sale price on it. It had just been released and so it is going to be awhile before it is on sale (if ever).

Max and Erma’s, a place I used to get some good vegetarian food, like a Portobello Mushroom Fajita, has changed their menu, and has only one real vegetarian entree left. It’s a new grilled vegetable sandwich, and it’s not as filling or as interesting as the fajitas. It’s disappointing how so many places which used to have a couple real good vegetarian dishes have started to drop them. At least I know my favorite ethnic cuisines won’t have this problem!

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Christmas

Since I’ve been in Indianapolis, I’ve been visiting a Roman Catholic parish near my parents’ house for mass. The local Byzantine parish (one I went to for years) has had a new priest the last couple years, and he is one who always disturbs me whenever I hear one of his homilies. He was an older man who apparently made a lot of money in his youth, who, in his older age, decided he wanted to be a priest. He now preaches a charismatic-inspired “health and wealth” message which has no connection to the Byzantine tradition (and indeed, is one which I find quite dangerous). He says it worked for him, so it must be true, and if you are poor, or unhealthy, it is due to a lack of faith. In order to save myself the trouble and annoyance, I decided over a year ago that whenever I am in Indianapolis to use this time to visit a Roman parish (St Luke’s) and see what is going on there. This way I can also know better the kinds of things which are currently being done at a Western liturgy and have enough knowledge and experience with them to discuss them with my fellow Catholics.

For Christmas, I went to the first morning service on Christmas day, at eight in the morning. Because they already had several masses the day before, and it was so early in the morning, the parish was not as crowded as one might expect, and the service went by rather quickly (less than an hour). I could tell the priest was more than a little tired from all the festivities. The homily was nothing exceptional, but then again, I find that to be the case most of the time whenever I go to church. I do find those at St Gregory’s to be much better than most I heart, but they are still aimed for people with less study and understanding as one like myself (and rightfully so!).

Christmas dinner had my parents, my sister and her family, and my sister’s mother in law come together, before exchanging a few gifts among one another. My parents and I exchanged gifts amongst ourselves earlier, before everyone else had come (this makes it easier on my mom, since she then already has had some of the cleaning done beforehand). While they had already helped me with my laptop, my parents also got me a few other odds and ends: a couple books, a deck of Cherokee Indian playing cards, an odd collection of badges of churches in Russia (I am not sure when they were made or for what reason), and a small carrying case which can be used to carry books in. My nephew chose some tea and a Best Buy gift certificate for me. My sister got me some Christian card game and a gift certificate to Regal Cinemas (I was surprised by this, since we had decided earlier there was no need for us to exchange gifts, after last year when we practically gave each other the same gift!).

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A Week of Rest

Due to my visit with my family, I have been and will be infrequently updating my personal blog until I am back home. This means I will be well fed (too well fed) for the next couple weeks. I try to keep little to no snacks around when I am home; but whenever I visit my parents, the house is full of snacks and the temptation becomes too great to resist.

Alas. I need to work on my willpower some more.

Yet when I visit, one of the things I like to do, and usually a couple times while I am there, is to look at the local used bookstores and see what treasures I can find. During my first such trip I was able to find a couple Gene Wolfe volumes I did not have, a volume of Ruskin, and Balthasar book on Irenaeus. The last book was one I didn’t think would be useful to me, because it is mostly selections from Irenaeus’ writings thematically put together,  but when I looked inside, I saw that Balthasar’s commentary to the text actually related to my dissertation and as such I had to get the book.

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In Indy

I arrived safely in Indianapolis to visit my family.

The first thing I noticed as I entered the city is how poorly the roads have been treated. While one can drive on them, there are obvious patches of snow and frozen slush all over the ground. It is worse in the neighborhoods than in the main streets. I even noticed a difference in the quality of the road and its state when I entered the Indiana side of I-70.

After all these years, one would think Indiana could do better. Obviously there are kickbacks here; I mean, when DC can do a better job at snow removal (when we have snow) than Indiana, and it has less experience with it, something is wrong. Very wrong.

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A Washout

While other parts of the United States are now dealing with the remnants of a winter storm, we missed out. All the expectations of snow and ice have become, instead, a cold, light to light-moderate rain.

We really lucked out!

I went to Target to get a few things for the road. The parking lot had a few puddles of water, and all kinds of birds were congregating at them, drinking water, including some rather large, loud white birds that one expects to be hanging around lakes and oceans and not inland.

 Despite the conditions being better than expected, some of the people I normally see at St Gregory’s were not there. Marvin was there, but George was not. I told the people who showed up that I would be gone for the holidays, so they will know not to expect me nor to be concerned when I do not show for the next couple weeks.

Michael gave me a revised edition of his law article to look over; he said he rewrote major portions of it based upon the comments I and others gave to it. He really wants to do the article right; he is concerned that if he states his view too strongly, or wrongly, he could get blacklisted in today’s academic environment.

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Inside Job

Cleaning is never fun. I’ve already taken out more trash this week than most weeks of the year, and I expect I will be throwing out more before the day is over. I’ve got a lot of junk mail this week, and I usually wait until the weekend to go through it and make sure I am not throwing out something needed. I have also had to do a deeper, more thorough job cleaning up; I don’t want to leave my place a mess while I am visiting family.

But on a different note, I’ve been able to see the new trailer for Voyage of the Damned, the Doctor Who Christmas special this year. I’m not sure what I think of it; it looks like a mix of many Doctor Who stories (Enlightenment, Claws of Axos) mixed with evil-looking “angels” and James Cameron’s Titanic. There is just not enough shown to know if this will be one of the better or worse episodes of the series. It could go either way. But with the way RTD handles his stories, it’s likely to be a comedy of errors.

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There Should be Another Way

I have to return my library books to the CUA library today. Once the new semester starts, I will be checking them out again. I will be using them next semester as much as I did this semester. It would be better if I could renew them without coming in — but I can’t. Perhaps there is a way to keep them; I will find out this morning before turning them in — but I don’t think they allow books to be kept beyond the end of the semester. 

It’s amazing how small a space one can stuff fifteen thick library books.

***

Despite most of the students now being gone, the CUA campus itself was full of a frantic frenzy by those who still were around. I had to wade through a greater number of undergraduates, who seemed to have little to no social etiquette, to get my morning coffee. They were talking, yelling at each other, sometimes on the phone (despite being only a few feet away from each other!), cutting in line, getting in line than leaving, and causing an all around mess. 

I am so glad I am done with examinations. I never did like taking them.  

Nor did my professors like reading my answers. My handwriting is atrocious (thanks to my arthritis). That made it nearly impossible for anyone to read what I wrote. When I took my doctoral comps, one professor was more than a little pleased that they were done on a computer and he wouldn’t have to struggle to read what I had to say. It also meant that he was more impressed with my work than he had been when I took his class!

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