Dispatches from Maine

Just another person of little note writing about ordinary things. That I reside in Maine is icing on the cake.

31 March 2006

Playing Soccer Again

Reading Mike Wilber's post Soccer (Opening Day) relieved the intense agony in all of my leg muscles, at least for a moment. Playing yesterday was hugely fun, with Subrata, Mike, Steve and I dragging behind the fleet of foot crowd: Adrian, Eric, Greg and Dan. There were no serious injuries, only a few hard hits and laughable crowd falls. Mike is right, as usual, since during the game I completely forget about the stress of the onrushing first alpha for XMap 5.0 (woohoo!) and my impending vacation. During the game my only thoughts are to keep breathing and try like heck to run. I am really glad soccer is back.

The famous "disco ball" is a 2006 World Cup replica ball picked out by my older daughter, the soccer player. The ball is an Adidas Teamgeist Stareffect ball. It was a lot of fun to play with in the early part of the match. The sun being low on the horizon made the ball glitter as it rolled toward you. Probably not the best for playing, but it was a little trippy and very fun.

26 March 2006

Maine Ritual Lodge of the Year

I received wonderful news yesterday from the Master of Deering Lodge. He informed me that we had been selected by the Grand Lodge Lecturers as the best ritual lodge for the year 2005. I could not be more pleased or surprised. As the Officer's Coach I focus mostly on where we are weak, so it is naturally the part I think of most often. Despite our problem areas we have a great group of guys who work very hard. We are also gifted with great lecturers like Bro. Christopher Beck and Bro. Quinones Rembert and fine floorwork from our Marshal, Bro. Carroll Richardson. We also have the only singing Chaplain in the State, at least in so far as I am aware. Bro. Bob Wade's singing of the circumambulation makes for a wonderful degree. Finally, our greatest asset has got to be our happy-go-lucky officers: Pete, Steve, Tom, Chris, and Bob, Sr.

We will be exemplifying the Master Mason Degree before May for the Grand Lodge Officers. The Master has already granted me the honor of delivering the Master Mason Lecture. I will have to practice like mad while I am in Florida on business during the end of April.

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Saint James Cathedral, Orlando

Whenever I travel to another city for any length of time I like to do a fair bit of research first. I usually start by searching for the local Catholic Churches, then reviews of restaurants and tea shops, then local events. I am researching Orlando and Tampa for the trip in April. We are spending on night in Orlando before going to our "home away from home" at the Villas of Wilderness Lodge. During that one night we are going to be four blocks from the Cathedral of the Diocese of Orlando, so I figured I would look it up: Saint James Cathedral, Orlando. The bulletin caught me off my guard, so I now I am absolutely going to have to go to Mass there. Perhaps I will try the Mandatum. Anyhow, here is the reflection written by the Rector, Fr. McCormick:


Warren Zevon, composer and performer, when he was dying from lung cancer, in the autumn of 2002, did an hour-long interview with David Letterman. Letterman asked, “From your perspective now, do you know something about life and death that maybe I don’t know?” And Zevon famously replied, “I don’t know how much you’re supposed to enjoy every sandwich.” Most of the people that I have mingled with over the last thirty years explain their lifestyle in terms of how busy their life is. It is the reason for needing a vacation or a break, it’s the alibi why they are not more involved with their faith or their parish, it is the logic used to explain to their family why they’re not home more often and so on. I don’t know at what point Zevon understood this lesson but his message is blatantly clear: He knew how wonderful and delicious the smallest parts of daily life are. He knew how wonderful and delicious a day in your life, or an hour of that day, or this minute is. We’re lucky to be here.

It made me consider some of what I call the small things of life, good or bad, and how perhaps, significant they can be. Children or students who participate in school sports generally are overjoyed when their parents or relatives come to watch. Yet, I have come in contact over the years with many a child, who longs for Mom or Dad or both to watch them play, or see them in a school play, or simply take the time to listen to their stories of what happened in school today. They have heard many a time the adult explanation of why that doesn’t happen, “mom or dad would love to be there but just can’t because……” It is true that if something extraordinary were to happen like being named student of the month, that grandma may show up to take a photo, but for most of us in our lives the extraordinary may never happen. This why St. Teresa of the Child Jesus defined holiness as doing the ordinary things with extraordinary love in our hearts.

Besides, what is small or ordinary, and what renders anything insignificant? Remember in the old days when you car would not start in the cold days of winter? Remember how small the spark plugs were? Think in terms of close friends on whom you rely in moments of personal challenge or crisis. They have become perhaps, even closer than family members, not because of some electronic gadgetry or latest laptop updates, but simply the mutual gift of time. Can you think back still to a time when the family enjoyed an evening, simply because everyone was home, the TV was not on, perhaps, you played cards or told stories or reminisced over a holiday vacation or the visit of a favorite uncle? Mac Davis would tell us as he did through his music, “Stop and Smell the Roses.”

In the end, I believe, it really will not matter (not even to us), but certainly less even to God, how long I have lived, but rather how well I have lived! Think especially about realities of life that cost nothing but are simply there. A walk around Lake Ivanhoe or Lake Eola , a peaceful glance at a starry sky, sitting in a boat sipping a glass of Merlot on Lake Winnipesaukee where part of On Golden Pond was filmed. Now that everyone has their own cell phone, laptop or Blackberry, gone perhaps, forever are those moments of extreme irritation that only became enjoyable when you talked to others about them: moments such as teenagers who stay in the chat room or the phone for hours on end. Have I any understanding of the social life of some of our elderly who so look forward to an evening of bingo because that is what their social life has become. I have vivid recollections of both our choir’s visits to Rome , and certainly the audiences with our late great John Paul II will forever be a part of my memories, but how wonderful it was to sit in Piazza Navona well after midnight, sipping a double espresso in a side street café, watching the world go by.

God Bless, Fr. John McCormick, Rector

05 March 2006

Fighting City Hall in the Craft

First off, I have no idea what happened down at the Grand Lodge of Florida. As an outspoken young Freemason I have gotten into plenty of my own trouble, so I do not doubt the capacity of others to do the same. Nevertheless, Bro. Bryce is an earnest and well-informed Brother, and I find his writings to be accurate and egnaging. You ought to read this because it does happen in our Craft.

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04 March 2006

Euterpe is now an iPod Video

This is month fifteen of iPod ownership for me. I purchased an iPod+HP 40GB (4G) back in January of 2005. At the time of purchase, my wife convinced me to buy the Circuit City protection plan. I thought that iPod was a lot of fun and a great device with a lot of capacity. The battery life was really quite good despite the general angst in the iPod community of the time. While on a fishing trip in the Bethel/Gilead area in Maine, I plugged the device an in-vehicle charger. The wiring in the vehicle was not great and the 4G iPod died. Circuit City came through with coverage to replace my iPod and with the price cuts and new models I was able to by an iPod photo 30GB (4G). This device starting running into problems once I began listening to a lot of podcasts on it. It started shutting off after being fully charged and playing a single 30 minute podcast. After seven months of torture I sent it back to Apple who returned with a "no problem" indication after only an hour or two of investigation. Circuit City stepped in again and now I own an iPod video 30GB (5G).

I hope this device is more like the old iPod+HP rather than the wretched iPod photo. My experience using a loaner iPod video was very positive both in battery life and stability terms. As for Circuit City, they have made themselves my default choice for consumer electronics. Nice work, Circuit City!

Ask A Ninja

The world is apparently filled with comedians. With the advent of new technology and better distribution systems, their previously hidden humor can be brought to light. One of the funniest podcasts (vidcasts) in recent memory is "Ask a Ninja". The first episode I saw, which had me laughing out loud was called "Roger." The show is funny, goofy and a good laugh without resorting to be raunchy.

01 March 2006

First Run of 2006

Once the summer months arrive I love to play pick-up soccer at work. It requires a great deal of both distance running and sprinting. Unfortunately, I just cannot drag myself outdoors to do road work in the winter. Essentially, I generally dislike running outdoors and lack the gusto to be like Brook and run in the deep cold. It seems like everyone at work is suddenly a distance runner (six people) or a distance cyclist (10 people). So, I finally dragged myself to South Portland's indoor track to begin the process of teaching my legs and lungs what it means to run again. The news is just terrible.

I managed to walk one mile, run 1/3 of a mile and four sprints for 1/6 of a mile over a period of 30 minutes. I was hoping to do better...a lot better. At least I have a baseline now for how horribly out of shape I am. I plan to start "running" twice a week. I hope to get to a much higher level of fitness by May when we start playing soccer. The workout I would like to be doing by May is 3 miles or so with 2/3 running broken up by 1/3 of the distance in sprints. If I am going to catch up to the other folks on the field, my sprint speed had better rise.