Wednesday, October 26, 2016

How To Be Popular And Win Lots of Influential Friends

Do you ever wish you had MORE friends? Even if you are lucky enough to have an Ethel or two, you may find that those close friends live too far away for lots of interaction, even in the land of the internet.

Well, I have discovered a way to make LOTS of VERY INFLUENTIAL and IMPORTANT friends in HIGH PLACES!

Okay, I didn't actually DISCOVER it. It as been around for about 2000 years. BUT, you may not know about it.

I can selflessly share it with you only because there are so many of these friends to be had that I know we won't be stealing from each other or anything. And you can even acquire these friends if you don't live any where near a cemetery!!

Have I creeped you out yet? It IS almost Halloween!

Don't be creeped out, though. This is the perfect time of year to begin gaining influential friends and to become popular in heaven.

So, here is how it works for us. We have trained our kids to do most of the work.

Each Sunday, on our way to church (a 50 minute drive) we pass at least two cemeteries.  The first one is a very small and old country cemetery with no sign, just a beat up iron fence and scattered headstones about the field. The kids will stop whatever conversation is going on and say "The cemetery!!!" and then begin to pray:

Eternal rest grant unto them and let light perpetual shine upon them, may they and all the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. 

Then they add a few names of our family and friends and we go back to conversation or whatever we are listening to on the iPod. We will pass another one within the first 20 minutes of our drive. By the time we have reached our parish church we have established "a bond of unspeakable sweetness" with lots of people whose names we will someday know.

"Here is an easy means of surrounding ourselves in eternity with many grateful friends, whose gratitude will augment our glory in paradise: for we can make all the friends we wish in purgatory. What we shall have done for them on earth shall establish between us and them, in eternity, a bond of unspeakable sweetness. God will reveal to them the good we have done them and they will know us to eternity as their benefactors. We shall find them crowding around to intercede for us when we come before the judgment seat of God."
(from Purgatory and the Means to Avoid It by Father Martin Jugie as quoted in the November Magnificat) 
With All Soul's Day coming up on November 2 it is the perfect time to start your campaign for friends in High Places. Of course, with All Saint's Day is just the day before, you can do those friends even bigger favors by asking the intercession of the Big Shots in Heaven on their behalf.

So, when Joe Schmo walks through the pearly gates and meets St. Thomas Aquinas who says "I know all about you, my good friend (fill in your name) told me all about you!", Joe will be very thankful for his good friend in that lower place.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Texas: Land Of Storage Units and Donuts

We have lived in this small area of Texas (just north of Houston) for about four years now and I have made some very shrewd observations, if I do say so myself. 

We here in NorthOfHouston apparently eat donuts...lots of donuts. There are donut shops everywhere...lots of them drive-throughs. 

There is one, big, powerful, chain of donut shops called Shipleys. Though not my favorite donuts (locals are right now readying to burn me at the stake for that heresy), they are good and the shops are usually clean-ish and bright-ish and new-ish looking. 

Most of the donut shops are older and not very creatively named....many just have a big sign saying DONUTS. But what else does the sign on a donut shop need, really? 

There is apparently another type of pastry shop very common in Houston, but not so much out here in NorthOfHouston...Kolache shops. A Kolache is a pastry filled with various things such as sausage, bacon, jelly, custard, etc....though not usually together--I have never seen a bacon-custard Kolache. Then again, I have not had many Kolaches.  

Another astute observation I have made is that we here in NorthOfHouston have lots of stuff. 

This is made obvious (to me) by the fact that almost every new building in our area is a storage facility. 

Each time we think this new building will be something interesting...the sign goes up: 

Coming Soon! Another place to put all your stuff!

When we first moved here I got the distinct impression that the locals were accident prone. This is because, at that time, all new construction tended toward the Emergency Room type. We even have a pet Emergency Room down the street--not an ER that is our pet, but an ER for pets. 

When the storage units began cropping up I amended that impression of the locals. However, I may need to resurrect it. 

We recently noticed more than one auto body/collision shop going up in the area. 

Apparently, we here in NorthOfHouston are accident prone...while in our cars. 

On the other hand, perhaps all this building has little to do with the demand of the local population for storage space and easy access to the ER. 

Maybe, just maybe, there is some government regulation or tax shelter that allows land owners to write off their losses and so it is better, financially, to build a useless business and make no money, than to let the land stay the way it is until the right building project comes along. 

Friday, October 21, 2016

URGENT: Dogs in Strollers

So, I was thinking....(good reason to write, huh?)....and, at the risk of sounding like the neighborhood crank, I was thinking our world has gone a little nuts over animals.

We have a neighborhood website on which people can share relevant messages like things for sale, recommendations (or not) about local business, complaints about speedy drivers, gossip....you know, important stuff. I get a daily email with a list of all the new messages and I occasionally get a single, really important, urgent message.

Every single time there is an "URGENT" message it is a lost dog. Every. Single. Time. I have yet to see an "URGENT" message that wasn't a lost dog, in four years of living here.

Now, I am sympathetic to the owner of the lost dog. I have vivid childhood memories of following my dog up the busiest street in our neighborhood, calling her name and crying for fear she might run into the traffic and be hit (for the record, she did eventually run into traffic and get hit, all without me chasing her....but that is another story). I get it. No one wants their pet in danger.

And I am not saying these people shouldn't search for their dogs, or ask for help.

It is just this overuse of "URGENT".

When I first moved here and got on this website I expected every "URGENT" message to be about flooded roads, or brush fires, or roving gangs of deer attacking residents.

Nope.

But, you say, maybe your beef is just with the use of the word "URGENT" (I can't stop capitalizing it and putting it in quotes...forgive me).

No, it isn't just about the word...it is the whole idea.

Because people push their dogs in strollers. IN STROLLERS, for goodness sake!

I know, I know...the dog is old, and needs fresh air. Whatever. (sorry, that was cranky of me)

No, it isn't just the stroller thing...it's the talking about dogs like they are kids. People will actually ARGUE with you that their dog is just like your kid.

I think I first started noticing this in England when we saw at the public parks that the children were fenced in...or on leashes....and the dogs ran free.

The pet thing is over the top and, I think, a sign that our culture wants to be pro-life, pro-child, pro-family, but doesn't know how and is scared to try. We practice on pets and sometimes never master skill at all.