Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

Essential thinking for reading Catholics.

Friday, October 31, 2008

This is so spot-on it scares me.

Have you ever read a parody that is so pitch-perfect* it's eerie? I mean REALLY eerie?

Wrap your eyeballs around THIS.


* This is what pitch-perfect means.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Because I care.

Now, those of you Up North may scoff, but it has been getting relatively chilly in Florida these last couple of days. When that happens I start cooking the foods of my ancestral-types.

So, because I aim to benefit humanity in all I ever do (and because I want to remain on Karen's good side) I am posting probably the oldest recipe in our family, one dating back well over a few hundred years: Fabada.

Fabada derives its name from the type of bean used, called "Fabes." You will not find this bean (at least not reasonably priced) anywhere outside of Spain. So don't even bother to go look for it. What you want is the largest white bean you can get, but not lima beans or butterbeans. Cannellini beans are what I use.

And so, the recipe (this is as still made by my great-aunt María Cristina):

2¼ lb./1 kg of fabes
¼ lb./200gm Spanish NOT MEXICAN chorizo (I like the Palacios brand, but Goya is workable) and ¼ lb./200gm morcilla ("black pudding" or "blood pudding" or "blood sausage") or just go w. ½ lb. chorizo
¼ lb./200gm serrano ham (something like domestic prosciutto is ideal if you can't score the real deal) cubed ½" x ½" (1cm x 1cm)
1 medium yellow onion
1 quart/liter ham stock (from a couple of ham hocks -- not absolutely mandatory but so-o-o-o-o-o desirable...chicken stock or broth or even water will work, but the ham stocks contribute a bit of gelatin that makes this all unctuous and yummy...add water to come up to the correct amount)
Salt to taste (if you use the stock, be CAREFUL with the salt!)

[Basically you want a +/-3:1 or so ratio of beans to porky goodness)

1 pinch of saffron
1 tsp. of sweet Spanish paprika (also called "pimentón dulce" and it's OK if you don't find any that's actually Spanish, just as long as it's NOT the hot stuff you'll be fine. You have the option of regular or smoked paprikas. Your call.)
2-3 smashed cloves of garlic
¼ lb./200gm unsmoked lean bacon (think pancetta)

Soak the beans overnight.

(This part can me made wa-a-a-a-ay ahead) Put in the chorizo (and any bacon-like whatever) in a pot over low heat and render out its fat. Pour off most of it. Add ham, morcilla, diced onion and cook until the onions are translucent. Add saffron/paprika and let cool. This "base" will keep a week in the fridge and bloody near forever in the freezer.

Drain the beans, put them along with the porkified base in a stock pot and cover them with stock/water over medium low heat or in the CrockPotTM on "high" for a couple of hours.

Turn the heat to low. Let cook a couple of hours and then mash some of the white beans against the side of the pot. This will give the fabada some body. Stir and reduce heat to "warm" until dinner time. If it's thickening up too much, throw in a bit of water, the final texture should be like that of chili con carne.

It's even better the next day, as the lipid-soluble flavors get to travel throughout the fabada.

Pictures coming, I promise.


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

First, think back to this. Then look here, and here.

Now don't you dare stop.



Sunday, October 26, 2008

Strong language.

Warning. Profanity ahead. Put on headphones or shoo the tykes out for the moment.


Saturday, October 25, 2008

Clickage time again.

Do your duty, please.

-J. which Fr. Corapi joins forces with me.

Well, OK. Maybe that's stretching it and putting it the other way 'round. Still.

Fr. Corapi has suggested praying a Novena to Our Lady of Victory/Our Lady of the Rosary for this election starting Oct. 27 and running through Nov. 4...a stellar notion.

Here is Father's treatise on the matter. I will certainly join in and I beg all of you to do so as well with now, as the Mad Hatter and the Anchoress suggest, being the time to add some fasting to the praying. Someone on the news was commenting on how this election, which could well prove a tragically Sysyphean moment for the forces of the culture of life, could be "Gore-Bush close" and this is no time to slack off. The other side may outspend us, but it would be a catastrophic disgrace if were outprayed*.

So let's get to it.



* Dunno about you people, but I have enough imbecilities on my part to answer for at my particular judgment as it is; I surely don't want to add anything like this to the pile of idiocies for which I must account.

Friday, October 24, 2008

More on the redoubtable Fr. Willie Doyle, SJ

One more snippet from the seriously excellent Fr. Willie Doyle, SJ.

I have always said (and will say until I am blue in the face) the hallmark of a for-real Jesuit is a rabid zeal for getting as many souls to Heaven as he can manage. In this regard, Fr. Doyle was spectacular.

As we know, Father gained his reputation serving in the Hell that was the trench warfare of World War One, seeing soldier after soldier slaughtered in the most brutal and senseless -- and that's saying something -- of all wars.

If the following doesn't tug at your heart, follow the yellow brick road to Oz and see the wizard, because you don't have one:

"The [Last] Rites of the Church were quickly administered, though it was hard to find a sound spot on that poor smashed face for the Holy Oils, and my hands were covered with his blood. The moaning stopped. I pressed the crucifix to his lips and he murmured after me: 'My Jesus, mercy,' and then, as I gave him the Last Blessing, his head fell back and the loving arms of Jesus were pressing to His Sacred Heart the soul of another of His friends."



P.S. If you can't find a hard copy of Father's biography (or just want something cut-and-pasteable) click here for the full text.

A bishop who knows his bishing.

H/t to the lovely and gracious Karen.

This is from Bishop Robert J. Hermann, Archdiocesan Administrator of St. Louis, Missouri, from The St. Louis Review (all emphasis and comments are mine):

Judgment Day is on its way. We cannot stop it. We don’t know when it will come, but just as surely as the sun rises daily, the Son of Man will come when we least expect. [Lord, Saturday, after Confession would suit me fine. Not that You need my opinion, but if it's all the same to You, I thought I'd mention it.]

Judgment Day is on its way. For many, this coming election may very well be judgment day, for this election will measure us. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells us in 10:32-33: "Everyone who acknowledges Me before others, I will acknowledge before My heavenly Father. But whoever denies Me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father."

Judgment Day is on its way. When my time comes, I will be measured by my Savior for the decisions I have made. I will either be acknowledged by Jesus or denied by Him in the presence of our heavenly Father. The question I need to ask myself is this: What kind of witness will I give to Him when I go into the voting booth this election day?

The decision I make in the voting booth will reflect my value system. If I value the good of the economy and my current lifestyle more than I do the right to life itself, then I am in trouble. Pope John Paul II, in his post-synodal apostolic exhortation Christifideles laici tells us: "Above all, the common outcry, which is justly made on behalf of human rights — for example, the right to health, to home, to work, to family, to culture — is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition for all other personal rights, is not defended with maximum determination."

The right of our children to be protected from destruction is greater than my right to a thriving economy. I am living proof of this, since I am here because my parents believed this priority and lived it. My desire for a good economy cannot justify my voting to remove all current restrictions on abortion. My desire to end the war in Iraq cannot justify my voting to remove all current restrictions on abortion.

My parents got married about one year before the stock market crash of 1929, and yet they raised 15 children in the midst of the Great Depression. They had no money. My mother made her own wedding gown and her own bouquet of flowers. I have my parents’ wedding picture on the wall of my office, and I am reminded every day of the sacrifices they made for life.

We had no money, but we had each other! My parents were at home with us for three meals every day. We had plenty to eat because we raised almost all of our food. We seldom got new clothes, but we wore hand-me-downs, unless my mother would buy materials and make our clothes. We lived in poverty, but we learned the value of hard work. We had no running water or electricity. We had no TV, Internet or cell
phone. Yet, we were very happy because we had life! We had each other! Today, all 15 children in my family of origin are most grateful for the sacrifices Mom and Dad made so that we could have life. Making sacrifices for each other brought us incredible joy and enhanced our dignity, because it gave us a chance to participate in serving each other!

In an article written by Pope John Paul I [Wow! That's someone you don't see every day!], printed in the current issue of Magnificat, the pope reflected on the life of Andrew Carnegie, who wrote: "I was born in poverty...but I would not exchange the memories of my childhood with those of a millionaire’s children. What do they know of family joys, of the sweet figure of a mother who combines the duties of nurse, washerwoman, cook, teacher, angel and saint?" Does life get any better than this, when gifts of creativity, generosity and faith are nurtured in the midst of poverty? This is the abundant life on this earth, because it is fueled by faith and sacrifice! Perhaps this is not so much poverty as it is faith-filled luxury.

Judgment Day for us is on its way. Those 47 million children our nation destroyed are still living. We have destroyed their bodies, but their souls are still alive. When our Lord comes again, they may very well be there to judge us. Even worse, Jesus tells us that whatever we do to the least of our brethren, we do to Him. [Hmm. Haven't I heard this before?] We would truly shudder if we heard the words, "I was in your/my mother’s womb but you took my life!"

It is quite possible that we might see these children, but, depending upon the choices we have made, we may very well be separated from them by a great chasm which cannot be crossed [That'd be Hell, for those who think the Church denies its existence.], much as the rich man who ignored Lazarus, the poor man, during his lifetime here on earth but was separated from him after death. The rich man was in flames, but Lazarus was in the bosom of his heavenly Father.

The Catholic Church teaches, in its catechism, in the works of Pope John Paul II and in the writings of Pope Benedict XVI, that the issue of life is the most basic issue and must be given priority over the issue of the economy, the issue of war or any other issue. These same teachings inform us that when both candidates permit the right to abortion, but unequally so, we must choose to mitigate the evil by choosing the candidate who is less permissive of abortion.

Judgment Day is on its way! I may deny it. I may pretend that it is still far away, I may deny that my actions are sinful, but that will not change God’s judgment of me.

The deepest problem with many of our Catholics is that they have become so accustomed to rationalizing away a life of sinful actions so that they seem to be on cruise control, heading in the wrong direction. "
If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts."

My goal is not to engage you in some political party way but to engage you with our Savior and His teachings. We need to constantly challenge our accustomed behaviors in the light of the Gospel. We may say that we are following our conscience, but are we informing our consciences with the truth about these issues? [This is something drummed into me from my youth by the Good Jesuit Fathers.] Cardinal George Pell of Australia has said that we must follow truth and our conscience, but be steeped in truth so that our consciences be rightly formed.

Perhaps having to face these issues during this coming election can turn out to be a grace that truly awakens our need to learn more about the teachings of the Catholic Church, and then to use the Sacrament of Reconciliation so that we can receive His mercy and bring our behavior into conformity with the mind and heart of Christ. It is not too late to admit our sinfulness and turn to the Lord in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. When we do this, both we and the heavens will be filled with joy!

Judgment Day is on its way. Pray your way into conformity with the teachings of Christ and His Church. Pray the family Rosary daily between now and Election Day so that you may not only make the right choice but also have the courage to discuss these issues with others who may have been misled by our materialistic culture. Include the candidates in your prayer intentions. It is my hope that our discussions will bring all of us to our knees to seek help from above.

As for me, I won't just be praying the Rosary to Our Lady of Victory, but I'm also throwing in some fasting as well.



Tuesday, October 21, 2008

UPDATE: If I may be allowed a brief, political aside.

UPDATE 10/21/08

Our Lady of Victory...ora pro nobis.

And the rest of you, do NOT stop praying:

Look here
and also here
and you might as well look here, too



Saying what I would say, if I owned a major financial publication. Which I don't.

A lucid look, for a change, at the mess the economy has become.

Well worth your time.


P.S. I got another TINY bit of good work-related news yesterday, so keep up your prayers.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Ancestral fun.

The lovely and gracious Karen has put up an interesting post on her ancestors. So, just for fun, I decided to go to for their 14-day free* trial. In doing so, I get as far as putting in ancestors as far back as my grandparents.

An overview:

me (b. 1964 in Detroit)
Dad (b. 1934 in Cuba)
Mom (b. 1933 in Cuba)
PGF (b. 1900 in Spain)
PGM (b. 1907 in Cuba)
MGF (b. 1900 in Cuba)
MGM (b. 1905 in Cuba)

Pay particularly close attention to the dates and locations of the ancestors because has suggested that I have ancestors who lived in New Mexico in the 1820s, Participated in the 1910 Census in Middlesex, MA, and another was gallivanting around (if I remember right) New York sometime aroundish Prohibition. All this in the days before freq. flyer miles.

Now on my paternal grandfather's side, it's nothing but Asturians as far as the eye can see. This means, naturally, Celts. Asturians will cheerfully tell you THEY are the only Celts to have never been conquered, invaded or defeated by anyone. Not the Moors, the Normans, the Franks, or the English. (I think some credit must go to the Picos de Europa mountains)

Even more interesting is how my great grandfather cashed in his (VERY low-rent) title to pay off, rumor has it, gambling debts and how he used to proclaim himself, with no little pride, to be "a cad." His son (my GF) became a rather posh tailor. Nobody illustrious in the gene pool, but I am confident he dressed many illustrious types.

My paternal grandmother's side so far seems a rather nondescript array of people. Showed up in Cuba at some point. Maybe they ran some expedition up a jungle mountain, maybe they were in the Crusades, maybe they were enslaved by Merolchazzar, King of Oom. I've no idea.

My maternal grandfather's side showed up to Cuba pretty early on -- 156X, is the number I have stuck in my head -- and pretty much got into planting tobacco for cigars right away. I fear there may have been slaves involved in this. I also believe these guys were Asturians who bailed FAR earlier than the other crew. (Life in 1500s Asturias was not that much fun, especially in comparison to winter-free Cuba.)

My maternal grandmother's bunch are a pile of Sicilians that arrived in Cuba in the early 1900s. Via their dominant genes, my sister and I lost the family grey eyes and dirty-blondish hair BUT we can go out in the sun without turning a lurid shade of garnet in the first ten minutes. So it evens out. The Sicilians are also responsible for my mother's slow-to-anger-but-volcanic-when-roused temper and her chokehold on grudges.

Don't you feel better knowing?


* The number of flaming hoops through which you must jump in order to cancel without ponying up is damnably impressive.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Keep at it.

If you're keeping track of things, they are getting ever-so-slightly (and I emphasize the slightly) better.

So do NOT even think of stopping praying.

(Pretty please)



Wednesday, October 08, 2008

More survival tips.

Some of you gasped in disbelief that I would publicly posit a notion so contrary to tradition -- what with me being hidebound and reactionary and all -- as a frozen margarita. So, in the interest of fairness, justice, equal time and balance, here is my "straight-up" margarita.

Incidentally, there are many fanciful tales about how/when the margarita originated. Most of them are utter, frightful bilge. The rest are merely wrong. "Margarita" is simply the Spanish word for "daisy" and there was (still, is, FWIW) a drink called the "Daisy" and it was gin, grenadine and lemon juice served in a sugar-rimmed glass. Replacing these ingredients with tequila and those with which is usually associated (lime and salt) and triple sec in lieu of grenadine to take the edge off and voilá: Margarita.


The main difference, ingredient-wise, between my frozen and straight-up versions is in the proportion of Cointreau to tequila. (Keep in mind that most recipes call merely for "triple sec" and that is a lower proof than Cointreau.) In a version that doesn't have the analgesic coldness of a slushy frozen concoction, the same amount of Cointreau would give too much alcohol-hotness in one that is merely shaken with ice. This is also why you want a more flavorsome tequila. Any "100% agave" white tequila will do. (Any that is labeled "gold tequila" is merely white tequila tinted with caramel trying to mimic "añejo" or "reposado" tequila. Which aren't really suitable* for margaritization. So never mind.)

Here is my straight-up margarita.
Gather your implements. This is a Boston shaker (steel tumbler, slightly smaller glass tumbler -- I like those with cool gradations and recipes printed along its surface -- and a "Hawthorn(e) strainer.)
The ingredients: 100% agave tequila (Patrón Silver) and triple-sec (Cointreau) and limes. You'll also need coarse salt, for the rim of the glass.
One jigger of tequila, one half-jigger of triple-sec.
Juice the limes in question. (One lime per person.) Note the absence of any sugar in the straight-up margarita; these are supposed to be unarguably dry.
Pour the tequila and triple-sec into your glass tumbler.
Fill the steel tumbler with cracked ice.
Put the glass tumbler into the steel tumbler, squeezing the latter slightly to create a vacuum seal between the two. You'll note the condensation on the steel tumbler.
After some pretty ærobic shaking, you'll note the condensation has gone a bit frosty, and is higher up along the steel tumbler.
The contents. Bubbles mean there has been adequate æration of contents, i.e., everything is properly mixed and diluted the correct amount.
Everything goes into the glass tumbler.
Slip the Hawthorn(e) strainer (OXO makes the best one, but any that fits your glass vessel will do) over the glass tumbler.Strain out the revivifying fluid into the chilled glass that has had its rim frosted with salt.
(You know you have done it right when you can see a layer of ice one trillionth of a millimeter thick.) Serve and drink.


*You may also be tempted to really go for Grand Marnier over Cointreau. Don't. The brandy base of the GM really doesn't play nicely with the more assertive flavor profiles of lime, salt and tequila. It sounds very chi-chi to say you make your margaritas with gigabuck aged ("reposado" or "añejo") tequila -- like Cuervo's "Reserva de la Familia" which is sadistically expensive -- and Grand Marnier and Key Limes, but it tastes pretty awful. AMHIK.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

oh, yeah...

Keep going. It's working. There are still MANY miles to go before we're out of the woods, but at least we have left a tree or two behind.

Don't stop.


Today is...

...the feast day of Our Lady of the Rosary. Initially it was called "Our Lady of Victory" which I like just as much, but Pope Paul VI changed it to its present name. (I'd like one of each, please.)

Pope (and Saint!) Pius V decreed this feast* in 1573, to thank God for the victory of the Holy League (basically Spain, Italy -- really Savoy, Venice and Genoa -- and the Papal States) over the Ottoman Empire's fleet at the Battle of Lepanto**. The victory over the Ottomans (Ottomen?) who had been intent (and successful until then) on expanding Islam via the sword, was credited to the praying of the Rosary, as the Pope and all of Rome prayed it assiduously.

Adm. Giovanni Andrea Doria, of the Genoese fleet, had a copy of the miraculous image of our Our Lady of Guadalupe (which he had gotten from King Philip II of Spain) aboard his ship.

Trivia factoids:

1- The Ottoman Empire lost not only 30,000 men, but also they lost 12,000 Christians which they had imprisoned as galley slaves and were freed following the victory by the Holy League.

2- Miguel de Cervantes lost the use of his arm in that battle. It was speculated -- most recently by Chesterton -- that the gallantry he witnessed (and exhibited) against spectacular odds was the seed for Don Quijote. (Why is it spelled with an "x" in English?)

3- Almost all the superpremium brands of sherry brandy are named after characters or other aspects of this battle. (Cdl. Mendoza, Lepanto and Duque de Alba, for example) They are really excellent and underrated, incidentally.



*Clement XI made this feast one of the universal Church's in 1716.
** Yeah, the first link is a bit...uh...polemic but it's still rather informative, though.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Lest you forget

Still needing prayers over here. Things aren't bad. (Yet.) But things could get hideously bad, soonish.

So I really, really, really need your prayers.



Sunday, October 05, 2008

Thought you ought to know.

Read this remarkably excellent article:

Kindly note two things:

1- It's originally -- whoa! -- from The New York Tass Times, and

2- Because it's from The New York Tass Times the article doesn't tell you the politicians who were in the sack with the companies that made this mess. (Barney Frank, Chris Dodd, Barack Obama, et al.)

Still, with minimal reading between the lines, you can see pretty clearly who the bad guys were.

I'm still amazed it's from the NYT...probably was printed on page B76 by someone who was garroted immediately after publication, but still.

Thought you ought to know.


Friday, October 03, 2008

Who knew?

David Zucker...a proud right-winger?

Turns out he is the guy behind An American Carol. I would have never guessed, but I am happily surprised and glad to stand corrected to see him zinging the left.

I hope the movie's worth seeing.


A snapshot

This is to give you an idea of how deeply Wall Street affects Main Street. The just-released AFP* Short-Term Credit Access Survey, shows how companies -- and not just big ol' conglomerates -- are coping with the effects of the credit crunch:

"Forty percent of finance executives report that their organizations have less access to short-term credit than they did one month ago, with 16 percent reporting significantly less or no access to short-term credit. As a result, 62 percent of finance executives report that their organizations have already taken defensive actions." [All emphasis mine.]

For example:

1- Placed all or most of short-term investments to bank deposits and U.S. Treasuries (41% of those in the survey) which means that those companies whose bonds would have been bought up by these financial officers are not able to get the liquidity they need by the usual means;
2- Adjusted capital spending downward (37%) which means the companies upon which these expenditures would have been made are experiencing a shortfall in sales...just as cash is thinner on the ground than ever;
3- Shortened the duration of their investment portfolios (29% of those in the survey);
4- Frozen or reduced hiring (26% of those in the survey);
5- Drawn on existing credit facilities to build cash (26% of those in the survey); and,
6- Considered staff reductions or layoffs (22% of those in the survey) which is reflected in reports such as this.

This could get worse, of course, if the credit access does not improve. Fed reports indicate the U.S. "commercial" paper (corporate notes and bonds and so forth) market contracted for the 3rd week in a row, which doesn't sound too scary, until you note that it's contracted by 11.5%. In three weeks. The same goes for all other means of short-term financing which is locking up with corporations and organizations and banks finding it well-nigh impossible to access borrowing.

Even more worthy of concern is the credit crisis is not just whacking marginal borrowers or those with so-so credit. More than anything else, this is an indication of the "tension" (a rather lovely and delicate euphemism) currently existing in the credit markets.

So you know.


* AFP (the Association of Financial Professionals is the organization that represents almost 17,000 corporate treasurers, CFOs and other finance executives.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Yes, I'm asking again.

The client project I mentioned previously MIGHT* come to some sort of positive fruition unexpectedly -- but welcomedly -- soon (i.e., at some point in the few days, in fact) and as such you are all exhorted, requested, begged, implored, asked and/or cajoled to pray for this success however your theological proclivities suggest. Please feel free to harass others to do likewise.

Me, I'm developing 2nd degree Rosary burns.


*Maybe, possibly, perhaps, Deo volente, could

A rough guesstimate

To give you an idea of what all this economic turmoil means, every +/- 200 point loss for the Dow Jones Industrial Average represents +/- $250,000,000,000 of national wealth destroyed. So far, the crisis has cost +/- $3,000,000,000,000 with +/- $1,000,000,000,000 coming from Monday's reaction to the vote in the House of Representatives.

A worrying implication to those concerned about the deficit and the national debt is that exactly $0 from those +/- $3,000,000,000,000 will be available to be taxed and put in the gummint coffers.


Probably old hat, but still.




Wednesday, October 01, 2008

My multi-step plan for surviving what lies ahead (Karen, this is for you.)

So, perhaps, in these trying times -- and they may get trying-er -- a palliative might suit the national mood. In honor of the lovely and gracious Karen, I hereby proffer my version of the frozen margarita.
We start with a couple of limes (one per person), Cointreau and white Tequila. (If this were a straight-up margarita, I'd use a 100% blue agave Tequila -- I like Patrón Silver -- but we're not doing that this go-around.)
Key to a proper frozen drink is getting the ice shaved properly. The average blender can't get all of the ice shaved down, so it's best to handle that function separately, ahead of time. I picked up that Oster ice shaver for PEANUTS on eBay.
Cut the limes.
Juice said limes.
Put juice in the blender. (You may want to add a few tablespoons of superfine sugar if you like your margaritas not as dry, or as much as a 1/8 of c up per person if you really like 'em on the sweet side.)
One ounce of Cointreau, one jigger of Tequila per person (Seriously, any Tequila more posh than this would be wasted, as the subtle nuances would get lost amid all that ice and coldness.)
Shave the ice.
Put all in the blender. Blend (2 second pulse-another 2 second pulse-run at max. speed for 10 seconds-2 second pulse-2 second pulse).
After blending take out a margarita glass from the freezer.

Serve. You are now in good shape to brave the TV news, newspapers, and other aggravations.

Repeat as needed.


Stuck in my head

I can't get this song outa my head.