Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy 2009

Its New Years Eve and my partner and I will be ringing in 2009 working the night shift. It feels like its sixty below outside and the wind is blowing hard enough to turn me in to a fat, middle aged kite.

Nonetheless, I wish for all of you a safe and blessed New Year. And as the old saying goes, may your best day of last year be the worst of the new.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

New Jersey Abbott District funding paying huge dividends

Got this one in the email last night. It is alleged that it was sighted hanging in the window of a Burger King in Newark, NJ.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Traditional Latin Mass......Help Wanted

While checking my email this evening I received a note from the Maestro that he received from Father Bob Gorman at Saint Ambrose in Old Bridge, NJ. The Traditional Latin Mass is being offered at Saint Ambrose on Saturday mornings at 9:30 am. Sadly, after a hiatus the attendance has dropped substantially and it appears that this opportunity will not last if numbers are not boosted. So, if you or anyone you know is interested in this very beautiful liturgy.....see you there.

Port of call

Every once in a while I witness a behavior that in of itself isn't all that offensive. However, when I then remember the eight or nine previous times I have seen the same scenario I feel I must pause to comment. So, as I was in the midst of an inter facility transport today we were delayed by our elderly patient who was upset that her "adult" son would not be able to accompany her in the ambulance for her ride to the new hospital. Despite our assurances that we would be happy to accommodate this very reasonable request she was inconsolable until "sonny" came back from having a coke and a smoke somewhere else in the hospital building. As I watched the interplay between "momma" and "sonny" several things became abundantly clear and I again realized that advice my father had given me many years ago was right on target.

Sonny was my age (mid forties) and did not drive. He seemed to be of reasonably normal intelligence, had no obvious physical limitations, spoke clearly and from what I could tell should probably be a contributing member of society. However, on closer listening to the interplay between the two characters in our little vignette it became clear to me that sonny was a leach who not only still lived with mom but was totally dependent on her for every need.

Now there is nothing wrong with being dependent on someone, particularly in the case of this old lady. Clearly sick and old, at this stage of the game she should have someone to depend on for her needs. Married people with children depend upon each other to meet all the responsibilities of parenting, most times both spouses work to provide sufficient income so her in the Peoples Republic of New Jersey your family does not wind up living in some sad little shed because the state government needs more of your money to fund failing Abbott District schools. Sadly, "sonny" will not be filling this type of role. Because he, like too many other over dependent "adult" children never learned how to fend for themselves and remain in this artificial child like state waiting for "mommy" to take care of his needs.

I remember my Dad explaining to me that raising children is kind of like a ride in a boat. When the kids are small you have to do all of the rowing and make sure they have their life jacket on. As they get a bit older you try to coax them over the side in order that they can learn how to swim on their own. At some point however if they are going to be stubborn you might be called upon to toss them over the side so they can learn to save themselves. That's not to say that you row away and leave them to drown. On some level no matter how old you and your parents get it seems they are always near by in the boat ready to throw you a life line if you need one. But not "sonny". He and so many like him got booked in to a first class cabin and have no plans on setting foot on the dock.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Taming the Beast

So, what to do when you find out that you have nine coming for Sunday dinner and everyone is tired of pork. Well, first off to the local wholesaler for a suitable piece of meat. Thus, the beast.

This is an 11.25 pound piece of unfortunate bovine that was destined to be the center piece of our family dinner for ten. While I am not sure of the cut it is probably the next to the last part of the cow that made it over the fence. After some careful research yesterday on my new favorite cooking website I found that slow roasting at around 250* F would take the tough out of this massive fellow. So the day before I covererd it in some liquified garlic/onion paste that I augmented with some fresh ground sea salt, cracked black pepper and a bit of paprika. But what to do for gravy. Having the palate of a cleft lipped sommolier I reached for a recent vintage that was a favor from the nuptials of H. Carl Farvman.

Looking for something a bit more full bodied (good bourbon and cheap cigars have taken their toll over the years) I added some dried mushrooms I got on the cheap at the grocery store some weeks ago. At the time I didn't know what I would use them for but then it became abundantly clear.
And so it began. I popped the wretched creature in the oven at around ten thirty after lettting it reach room temperature. Then it was on for the six hour tan. Complimented by a nice pasta salad compliments of my blushing bride, some
nice semolina, green salad and a roasted potato side dish we coaxed ole Bessy from the oven and were greeted by the fruit of my labor.
Then only six chose to attend. Seven if you count the carefully disguised interloper trying to mooch a free meal.....

How can you say no to a face like that?

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Old friends rediscovered

Since I was very young I have loved to read. The joy in finding a good book or talented author is tremendous. I think the only thing that rivals the feeling is to rediscover a book or author that you had forgotten about over the years and enjoying their work all the more the second time around.

Over the years my tastes in books has remained relatively constant. I don't go much for the pulp of the day and often find myself reading satire. One of my favorites is PJ O'Rourke. I just finished rediscovering his "Republican Party Reptile", a collection of essays from various magazines that have employed him over the years. Following is his definition of a Republican Party Reptile...

"I think our agenda is clear. We are opposed to: government spending, Kennedy kids, seat-belt laws, busing our children anywhere other than Yale, trailer courts near our vacation homes, all tiny Third World countries that don't have banking secrecy laws, aerobics, the UN, taxation without tax loopholes, and jewelry on men.

We are in favor of: guns, drugs, fast cars, free love (if our wives don't find out), a sound dollar, and a strong military with spiffy uniforms. There are thousands of people in America who feel this way, especially after three or four drinks."

If you need a few laughs and some intellectual stimulation any of his stuff is great. Parliament of Whores or Eat the Rich are two good choices. And he's still readable after three or four bourbons.

Katie's revenge

I am a dyed in the wool dog person. I make no apologies. And until I met my wife I will confess that I never met a cat person that I really liked. So as fortune would have it for the first twelve years of our married life I have cohabited with a minimum of two felines at any given time.
Its not that I have any particular disdain for the specie, but what the hell is the point. They are aloof, sneaky and if you have the good sense of de-clawing them to preserve your furniture they are useless in occasional service as agent of death for the occasional household pest.

But I always knew deep in her heart my wife was a dog person and during a grinding war of attrition I finally convinced her that our home needed a good canine companion. In my own larger than life "go big or stay home" manner of living it was preordained that I would have a large dog. Thus, Inkey the Newfoundland came to be and all was well, or so I thought.

As I mentioned, there are two cats in our humble menagerie. The first is a rather large Maine Coon that from square one lay down the law and now peacefully coexists with the Newf. Katie on the other hand is our neurotic cat and since the arrival of the dog she is rarely seen. Banished to the parallel universe of the "upstairs" where the dog rarely travels she has been reasonably content at night time interaction with the family and has not been too much trouble. Peace in our time. Well, maybe not.

Christmas Eve afternoon while getting ready to get in the shower before church I went to fetch my towel which usually is draped over the side of the claw foot tub. For some reason the towel had fallen into the tub and I reached in and yanked it out only to be greeted by the sight of a huge parcel of feline feces which apparently Katie deposited in thanks for her exile. My wife thought this was funny, until she discovered a similar if more liquid present in the gift bag containing her sisters Angora sweater.
Cat people......they don't know what they are missing.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Silent Night

Everyone is finally all tucked in dreaming of the goodies under the tree tomorrow. It was my 47th Christmas Eve at my Mother's house and incredible as it seems, it gets better every year.

I have a great many things to be thankful for.

May the choicest blessings of Almighty God descend upon your homes and family.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Blessings in disguise

I received this via email this morning. The author is unknown.

In 1974 when I first joined the police department, I knew there would be special occasions my family would spend without me; knowing that fact didn’t make the task any easier. The celebrations I missed those first years depressed me and sometimes made me feel bitter. Working on Christmas Eve was always the worst.

On Christmas Eve in 1977, I learned that blessing can come disguised as misfortune, and honor is more than just a word. I was riding a one man patrol on the 4 to 12 shift. The night was cold. Everywhere I looked I saw reminders of the holiday: families packing their cars with presents, beautifully decorated trees in living room windows and roofs adorned with tiny sleighs. It all added to my holiday loneliness. The evening had been relatively quiet; there were the usual calls for barking dogs and a residential false burglar alarm. There was nothing to make the night pass any quicker. I thought of my own family and it saddened me further.

Shortly after 2200 hours, I got a radio call to the home of an elderly, terminally ill man. I parked my patrol car in front of a simple Cape Cod style home. First aid kit in hand, I walked up the short path to the front door. As I approached, a woman who seemed to be about 80 years old opened the door.

“He's in here,” she said, leading me to a back bedroom. We passed through a living room that was furnished in a style I had come to associate with older people. The sofa has an afghan blanket draped over its back and a dark solid Queen Anne chair sat next to an unused fireplace. The mantle was cluttered with an eccentric mix of several photos, som e ceramic figurines and an antique clock. A floor lamp provided soft lighting.

We entered a small bedroom where a frail looking man lay in bed with a blanket pulled up to his chin. He wore a blank stare on his ashen, skeletal face. His breathing was shallow and labored. He was barely alive. The trappings of illness were all around his bed. The nightstand was littered with a large number of pill vials. An oxygen bottle stood nearby. Its plastic hose, with facemask attached rested on the blanket. I asked the old woman why she called the police. She simply shrugged and nodded sadly toward her husband, indicating it was his request.

I looked at him and he stared intently into my eyes. He seemed relaxed now. I didn’t understand the suddenly calm expression on his face. I looked around the room again. A dresser stood along the wall to the left of the bed. On it was the usual memorabilia: ornate perfume bottles, white porcelain pin case, and a wooden jewelry case. There were also several photos in simple frames. One caught my eye and I walked closer to the dresser for a closer look. The picture showed a young man dressed in a police uniform. It was unmistakably a photo of the man in bed. I knew then why I was there. I looked at the old man and he motioned with his hand toward the side of the bed. I walked over and stood beside him. He slid a thin arm from under the covers and took my hand. Soon I felt his hand go limp, I looked at his face. The re was no fear there. I saw only peace. He knew he was dying; he was aware his time was very near. I know now that he was afraid of what was about to happen and he wanted the protection of a fellow cop on his journey. A caring God had seen to it that his child would be delivered safely to him. The honor of being his escort fell to me.

When I left at the end of my tour that night, the temperature had seemed to rise considerably, and all the holiday displays I saw on the way home made me smile. I no longer feel sorry for myself for having to work on Christmas Eve. I have chosen an honorable profession. I pray that when it's my turn to leave this world here will be a cop there to hold my hand and remind me that I have nothing to fear.

I wish all my brother's and sister's who have to work this Christmas Eve all the Joy and Warmth of the Season.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Two turtle doves and an 18 foot Boston Whaler

Okay, so the title wouldn't have made much sense to me either if I hadn't been there. Last Saturday or so on a day shift my intrepid partner Baccala and I were sent to an ALS call for trouble breathing. It took us a bit longer to get their than usual as the truck that normally covers that part of our area was elsewhere and we had to be a bit more careful than normal. After all, the weather has not been the greatest and while suburbia is all ablaze with Winter splendor it seems that people are focused on everything aside from avoiding the urge to pull or walk out in front of the Medicaid taxi. But I digress.

As we entered the complex we were initially delighted to hear the local volunteer BLS already on scene. A miracle in itself as they are showing up less frequently these days. Expecting to see an ambulance (which as it turned out would have been useful, imagine that) as we turned the corner we spied a large rescue truck and a pickup truck towing an 18 foot Boston Whaler festooned with cheap strings of lights carrying a dirty Santa. As we alighted from the bus and collected our wares his alleged BLS companions just stood by the vehicles and stared, slack jawed at our presence. Not an unusual occurrence but you would have thought one of the elves would be making some attempt at getting an ambulance to the scene. When Baccala unsheathed his acerbic wit to ask if someone had drowned, they didn't get it. Well, at least it made me laugh.

Undaunted we waddled in to the house where the Cop was administering oxygen to the afflicted person while yet another volunteer stood in the corner rakishly sporting a Santa hat. It sure put the Hindu woman in congestive heart failure in the Christmas spirit. Though the timely arrival of transportation might have slowed her visit with Vishnu.

Okay, who pulled the emergency brake?

This one was forwarded to me via email by my brother. A good sentiment to remind us to end the madness and get in to the true spirit.

Twas the month before Christmas
When all through the land
Not a Christian was praying
Nor taking a stand
Why the PC Police had taken away
The reason for Christmas, no one could say
The children were told by their schools not to sing
About Shepherds and Wise Men and Angels and things
It might hurt peoples feelings the teachers would say
December 25th is just a "Holiday"
Yet the shoppers were ready with cash, checks and credit
Pushing folks down to the floor just to get it
CDs from Madonna, an X Box and I Pod
Something was changing, something quite odd.
Retailers promoted Ramadan and Kwanzaa
In hopes to sell books by Franken and Fonda
As Targets were hanging their trees upside down
At Lowes the word Christmas was no where to be found
At Kmart and Staples and Penny's and Sears
You won't hear the word Christmas, it won't touch your ears
Inclusive, sensitive, Di-ver-si-ty
Are the words that were used to intimidate me
Now Daschle, Now Darden, Now Sharpton, Wolf Blitzer
On Boxer, on Rather, on Boxer and Clinton
At the top of the Senate there arose such a clatter
To eliminate Jesus in all public manner
And we spoke not a word as they took away our Faith
Forbidden to speak of salvation and grace
The true gift of Christmas was exchanged and discarded
The reason for the season stopped before it started
So as you celebrate winter break under your pine tree
Sipping your Starbucks, listen to me
Choose your words carefully, choose what you say
Shout MERRY CHRISTMAS, not happy holiday

Monday, December 8, 2008

Going Green and the Death of Rocky Racoon

It should not have been ignored but to my detriment I denied the obvious. For the last three nights I toiled at the medic job, and yes, it was not good. Throughout the three shifts I perceived of a tickle of the instinct I like to call, The Crapometer.

Usually the Crapometer is an accurate way to determine the eventual outcome of a call. For instance, pull up on a home for a cardiac call and see handicap ramps or a Dodge Dart in the driveway, its going to be a work up. Unconscious person call at a tavern, the crapometer goes off the scale. Cancelled by the BLS. While it is a useful tool in the public safety workplace the Crapometer can sometimes be a first line of defense in detecting a disturbance in the status of your domestic tranquility. Unfortunatley, I had ignored the signs.

Due to a pretty bad night shift and busy morning I elected to nap this afternoon and let my wife go to Mass for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception by herself while I planned to go in the evening. The arrangements having been made I continued to finish a few things around the house in preparation for a few hours of much needed sleep. But for some reason my Newfoundland was highly agitated and barking like a maniac both in and outside of the house. After a cursory look around the yard and finding nothing amiss I brought her in and yelled at her to be quiet and settled down for my nap.
About an hour later I was awakened by my wife's panicked calling of my name. (married guys will know the tone of voice well, its not a scream but it will raise the hairs on your neck when you hear it) So as I rapidly dislodged myself from the couch my wife related that there was a sick or rabid racoon in our side yard. She verified the veracity of this information as the alarm had been initially raised by our across the street neighbor, we'll call her Mrs. Kravitz.

So, I grabbed my Glock 17 off duty pistol and responded to the side yard where indeed I found Rocky, the apparently rabid racoon who had drawn his line in the sand near my stockade fence by the garbage cans. After doing some mental calculus I took aim at his pointy little head and fired one 9mm round at him. Bad luck for me, he ducked at the last minute and it hit him in the shoulder. Great, now I have a rabid, wounded and highly pissed racoon who then effected a hasty retreat in to my open garage door. Holstering my sidearm and employing a rake I managed to herd him back in to the driveway. Concrete!! No place to be firing rounds. He gradually made his way across the street to a neighbors yard where finding myself in a relatively safe place I fired again. Nothing! Then two more rounds!! Still he lived. I began to feel like Virgil Salazzo in The Godfather. Then two more.....well at least by now I wasn't shooting at a moving target. What the hell was this racoon wearing, a kevlar coat? Finally the coup de grace and he was off to Racoon Valhalla.

Seven rounds for a racoon. I could not have missed, or could I. Post mortem exam by the Animal warden showed 7 holes more than he was born with. My marksmanship vindicated I retired. Perhaps a Remington 870 from Santa.

So after a crappy day involving a doctor's appointment, off duty shooting, a wake and Mass where I am reasonably certain the Priest was Scat Singing during the liturgy, I returned to my humble abode where I lit a nice fire....and decided to go green.

RIP Uncle Maran

In a family as large as mine and with the occasional tendency toward Jerry Springer worthy sagas its not always possible to get to know all of the extended clan well. In fact just this summer I met a second and third cousin I never knew I had. Thats the case with Great Uncles too to some respect. I knew of Uncle Maran since I was a grade school kid. But I never really got to know all that much about him until he was nearing the end of his life's journey and I was mired in the hectic pace in the middle of mine.

Uncle Maran was married to my Ciocci (Polish for Aunt) Julie for 67 years. They were a weekly regular at the 10:30 Mass at our Parish and I can still envision them sitting in the same spot. I would run in to them from time to time around town and they were always ready with a warm and loving hello, even if they weren't particularly sure at that moment which of her sister's sons I belonged to.

He never split the atom or brokered any major diplomatic solutions to the world's problems but he led the life of a good man. He worked hard to provide for his family, raised three kids, served his country with the rest of the Greatest Generation and practiced his faith. And to his dying day in that wretched nursing home he was my Ciocci Julie's sweetheart.

May the Lord be merciful in his judgement of this good man and grant him eternal rest.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Soccer Moms and Sunday Mass

The eminent Father Jay over at Young Fogeys has a good post about skewed priorities. He says in part....

A significant amount (but not all) of Catholic parents don't see the connection between their child(ren)'s religious education classes and Sunday Mass. Some think it is sufficient to send their child(ren) to the classes, but not attend Mass regularly. Religious education is a service they pay for and expect to be done for them but not by them (like getting the car tuned up). Can you imagine signing little Johnny or Judy up for soccer, taking them to the practices during the week, and then not taking them to the actual games?

He makes a great many good points in his piece which can be found here.

We chanted.....We Rocked!

I purposely waited a few days before posting on the first public performance of our schola. Its really easy to be overly enthusiastic on an early assesment. At about 9:30 we met in the church basement with the main choir for a bit of warm up. I think we were all a bit nervous, even the well experienced Maestro. Undaunted we cruised up to the choir loft and before you knew it, Introit! Wow. I will admit that our timing might have been a bit tighter but all things being equal, it sounded great. The church is an acousticly graceful space and by the time we reached Deus, Meus the sound had round its way back up to the loft and it was just AWESOME!

Per the Maestro we fully hit our stride for the Communio. It made for a most peaceful, prayerful atmosphere. The twenty or so regular choir members (very experienced group) just kind of sat back and gave that "way to go rookie!" nod of the head. Can't wait for Sunday.

Christmas party kick off

I'm off to the first Christmas party of the year. Thus, thirty or so coppers, tons of Portuguese food and open bar. Alas, day shift tomorrow so I must behave.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Cop Hurt in Crash with Robbery Suspect

On Monday night I met an officer from a neighboring county who was in town to serve an arrest warrant. I just read on the news that Officer Chris Coon was seriously injured in a high speed crash and is extremely critical condition. I really didn't get to talk to him much but he seemed like a really nice guy. Please keep him in your prayers. You can read about the crash here!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

They're back !!

It took almost two years but the day has finally arrived. The locally famous Burger Express has made their glorious return. Central New Jersey's answer to Geno's in Philadelphia is once again serving their signature Locomotive Burger from their location in Carteret, NJ.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Latin Mass in Old Bridge

Mass will be celebrated in the Extraordinary Form at Saint Ambrose Parish 96 Throckmorton Lane in Old Bridge, NJ at 10:00 am.

Update. I called the rectory and there will be no missals available so you will have to supply your own. This is apparently their first attempt at the Extraordinary Form and they hope to make this at least a monthly event. Mass will be said by the Pastor Father Gorman.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

We know not the time or the hour.....

Early this morning while wearing my Paramedic hat my partner and I were sent to the typical early Saturday morning call for an unconscious man. Before even leaving the driveway we were updated by the local BLS agency that CPR was in progress via phone instructions by the 911 operator.

When we arrived the BLS was attempting a resuscitation on a man in his forties. It was apparent to even the most casual observer (the BLS excluded) that he was far beyond any reasonable means to resuscitate. After we confirmed the necessary physical findings and ceased all EMS activities, the cops, BLS and my partner went outside to restock, etc and I was left in the presence of one freshly minted widow. She asked me what we would do next. It was at that moment I realized that she had no clue that her husband was dead. She watched the BLS do CPR, saw the cops stand idly by with a look of consternation on their face and was in full view while we unplugged our machinery and obtained a pronouncement from medical control. When I told her it was likely he had died sometime during the night she was utterly shocked. At first I don't think she really believed me.

All the more reason to have a life firmly grounded in reality and not reality TV.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Turkey, stuffing and faith in action

Its not hard to be thankful. Usually a quick look in the local paper is enough to provide a story heart wrenching enough to temper any bad feelings about your lot in life. Today was the annual Thanksgiving fiesta at our home. I think it was a record breaker in that we hosted thirty eight dinner guests. Friends, family and an overabundance of food.

Life has its way of throwing the occasional curve ball our way. But looking around the crowd today it struck me more so this year that I am a very lucky man. Yes, we get on each others nerves occasionally, or someone may feel slighted over a a misdeed (either real or imagined) but in the scope of things that's all small potatoes.

I was happy today that my Mother in Law's two sisters were able to join us. Due to distance it is sometimes difficult to get all three of them in the same room. They are all in their eighties and the oldest is not likely to see another Thanksgiving at our home. Yet, despite the "crepe hanging" most people would engage in faced with what inevitably will be upcoming sadness, they were content to spend time with each other, talk about some old times and just enjoy being together for what may be the last time. That is where faith comes in to play. Armed with the knowledge that God loves us and the that this life is the beginning, facing death is not a time to be sad. Surely when a loved one dies there is a sadness but one of a selfish type. If you live by the rules and practice your faith you know that you will live again. After watching these three ladies today I saw the absolute application of that faith in action.

Friday, November 21, 2008


Can't we all just get along?

Caught red handed.

A girl and her dog. I wonder who wants the pool open more.

Bastard Child

Whatever your profession I am sure that at some point you have had to endure the idealistic pursuits of someone new to the fold. You know the type, young, full of enthusiasm and dreadfully annoying to anyone who has been on the job for more than twenty minutes. In the uniformed services (Fire, Police, EMS) this type of behavior tends to be magnified and as a consequence is exponentially more annoying. Each year various EMS agencies celebrate EMS week in one form or another. Usually some public observance involving service awards is involved and employers usually provide a token "gift" for their loyal EMS staff. Routinely the attitude of most is that they would rather have the $4.95 instead of the "gift". In 2006 one particularly upbeat neophyte attempted to organize a party for EMS week. What follows is my response to the E Vite.

Thanks for the invite but I will be quietly ringing in EMS Week this year at home with my family. After our traditional meal of SPAM and deli scraps collected from generous local benefactors we will stare directly in to the sun until our eyes blink at such a velocity that we will begin to truly believe, if only for a few moments that our employer pays us a competitive wage and that Human Resources is not some ironic oxymoron. Then we will go door to door to collect funds to assist those less fortunate than us (perhaps the local fish monger this year) after which we will retire to our humble home where I will sob quietly in to my pillow while I contemplate one particularly bad choice in my life.

What the uninitiated probably don't understand is that the Emergency Medical Services is the bastard child of the Uniformed Services. Most of us who have done it for any length of time understand and accept this. And in many ways that is OK. After all, the Fire and Police Departments have a much more dangerous job and are obligated to provide most of the "Hero" services. We are usually around to just pick up the pieces. But for the men and women that provide this service as a full time career there is an issue of wages and compensation that lag far behind the other two legs of the tripod. This rookie just caught me on a bad day. I wonder if I should have apologized or billed for tuition.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Harvest Time

Back in 2005 I was part of a Police Task Force that deployed to New Orleans after Hurrican Katrina. A member of my team and a great guy just returned from a trip to Kentucky and presented me with a bottle of Buffalo Trace Bourbon. Review to follow.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Lead, follow or get out of the way

This evening several of us travelled to the Diocesan Center to participate in a Q and A about the Latin Mass. Despite the fact that it has been a year since His Holiness cleared up any lingering questions about the ability of Priests to celebrate in the Extraordinary Form there really hasn't been that much brewing in the Metuchen Diocese. To his credit, our Bishop has arranged for daily and Sunday Mass in the Extraordinary Form at the Shrine Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament. The unfortunate element is that in a Diocese of over one half million with 108 Parishes, one chapel in the middle of a diocese that spans four counties doesn't lend itself to the easy or even practical possibility of attending daily or even Sunday Mass.

The session was presented by Msgr. Michael J. Alleigro who is the Rector of our Cathedral. We were provided with three documents. The first was a chronology of "liturgical reforms" spanning 1962 to 2007. This was followed by a release from the Vatican Press Office and bore the title Observations on the use of the Roman Liturgy prior to the 1970 reform. Finally there was a list of several common questions regarding Summorum Pontificum. Pretty rudimentary stuff.

To summarize a very long and brutal story;

1) the Pope says any competent Priest can say Mass according to the Extraordinary Form.
2) We won't stand in any one's way but don't expect any help.
3) Good luck with all of that.

Certainly the presentation was longer and sugar coated a bit more but we got the drift. There were about seventy people there. Only about four Priests, a smattering of Directors of Music and then the laity.

There were a few really pointed questions from the group. Deflected ably. No great progress but no sign of stimulus from the Chancery. The party line seemed to be "there has been no great swelling of requests for the Extraordinary Form". The question remains...what will happen when there is?

Monday, November 17, 2008

When shoe leather is a delicacy....

A friend of mine was the officer assigned to the public meeting of our local government this week. At the conclusion of the gathering he was asked by the Mayor to escort an obviously blind gentleman to the parking lot. After guiding the man to the elevator and in an effort to be efficient in his assigned task he asked this fellow, "Sir, how far are you parked from the buildings exit?". Even the blind guy thought that one was funny.

Walking the Walk

Father Jay Scott Newman, pastor of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Greenville, S.C , is alternately being praised as courageous and blasted as insensitive after calling Obama supporters to task for casting their vote in favor of a pro abortion candidate. I would like to link directly to a his comments but with the exception of excerpts on some of the bigger blogs it appears as though his original statement was pulled from his Parish site. Too bad. What an example of a courageous Priest! Pre election statements from the Bishop's conference should have been so clear. Anyway, a big emphatic twirl of Dirty Copper's hickory nightstick is in order. Strong unequivocal defense of the unborn, what a concept!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Fat Guy Heaven !

Sometimes you just need a gigantic burrito.

Absence of reason in Flu season

The flu season is upon us. Why you may ask am I posting about influenza. No, I am not a physician, epidemiologist or public health official. In addition to being a Dirty Copper I am also a Paramedic. Nothing in the world aside from working the day after a major holiday stirs resentment in the heart of your local pre hospital care provider than the beginning of the flu season. Why? Let me explain.

As the season unfolds and the absence of good hand washing habits amongst the populace spreads the dreaded disease many of us are struck down with fever, chills and body aches. Those of us equipped with more than two brain cells stay at home, take ibuprofen and force fluids. If common sense was as contagious as the flu this rant would be unnecessary.

Invariably, dispatches for “trouble breathing” increase dramatically. After all, better to leave your home on a cold night for an unnecessary and expensive trip to the emergency room rather than follow conventional wisdom and ride out the storm. That would make good sense.

No, its probably better to call 911, have the ambulance respond and have someone drag your whining carcass to the emergency room loaded with similarly ignorant boobs to be ignored for several hours before being sent packing with a large bill and instructions to stay home, take ibuprofen and force fluids. Makes perfect sense. After all, while we are at your house the forty year old guy in cardiac arrest can lay dead on the kitchen floor in front of his wife and children. After all, the center of the known universe begins at the center of your febrile belly button.

Guerilla Chant

It all started innocently enough. My good friend and daughter’s piano teacher and I often run in to each other while waiting for the kids to get out of school. What is nice about our chats is that the Maestro and I have found how very much we have in common. He is a professional church musician (and an accomplished one at that) and I am a music lover. We share a love for the Church and have chatted at length about Church history and current events. Barbeque, distilled spirits and fine cigars traditionally round out our exchange. The list grows each time we steal those fifteen minutes from work and family obligations to just enjoy some idle time bantering about our passions.

One afternoon not too long ago I was lamenting the absence of the TLM in our diocese. While the Mass is offered in our Diocese it is only available in one rather distant location. The probability of making that trek on a routine basis is unlikely in the face of the realities of space and time. Thus I confessed I am a burgeoning yet frustrated “wanna be” Traditionalist Roman Catholic.

The Maestro too confessed his frustration at not being able to explore this rich liturgical heritage. Being bound to his schedule as the Director of Music at his Parish the possibility of his slinking away to join me in my quest was equally unlikely. It was at this point it happened. Like a member of the Underground cautiously giving a password to one who he hopes is a confederate and not a member of the secret police he told me about a project he was working on, a men’s schola. Did I really hear him say that? Gregorian chant here? In liturgical tambourine land? I kept my composure and with a soft conspiratorial yet guttural response encouraged him to continue.

Through some magic he convinced his Pastor to allow the inclusion of this most precious part of our liturgical heritage as a small part of the Masses for Advent and Christmas. While it will still be a Novus Ordo Mass the customary sights and sounds of worship will be edged aside to include both the Introit and Communio. In excited and suitably hushed tones he shared the location and secret meeting time with me and we hurriedly separated amongst the crowd of dispersing school children and unsuspecting parents.

Thus not long after we met on a sunny fall afternoon in a location that for security reasons will have to remain undisclosed. I then was introduced to our co conspirators. Naturally we used pseudonyms in case our activities were compromised. There in our secret lair we plotted. The Delivery Man, Mr. Curie, The Student and of course the Dirty Copper listened attentively as The Maestro lay out our plan.

What a joyful undertaking! Often in the privacy of my thoughts I am saddened at the thought that there are so few of us out there, those who yearn for liturgical tradition, a tradition of which we were deprived. Yet here we all were. Despite having no direct experience or exposure to its graces, we collectively possess imbued knowledge that it is right and proper, a direct lineage to the time of the earliest Christians. A treasured gift of continuity, the uninterrupted path to the prize of our faith.

So there we plotted, and chanted with grateful souls. I know not where this path will lead us. Yet I know that it is right. It is comfortable. It inspires me to grace. Whether our venture will succeed is yet to be determined. With God’s grace and the efforts of like minded cells of conspirators, perhaps we will be part of the surge behind the Great Liturgical Reformation. Brick by Brick.


An irate citizen called to complain about the conduct of one of my officers. It seems that she called to have a radio car dispatched to her home for a neighbor problem.

She told the officer that every morning since it has gotten colder her next door neighbor starts his car ten minutes before he leaves for work, presumably to warm it up. Perplexed the officer asked what was wrong with that seemingly logical situation. As it turns out this fine citizen sleeps with her windows open no matter what the outside temperature because she likes the fresh air. Apparently the exhaust from her uncaring neighbor’s car has been drifting in to her window affecting the quality of her life. She expected the officer to do something about it. He did. He left. You just can’t make this stuff up.

Convert Bloggers

I am almost ashamed to admit my ignorance. While not having been exposed to the internet since birth like my lucky children I have tried to keep pace with the world of technology. Largely, I have had enough success to the extent that I can easily navigate the net to take care of my information gluttony and perform some household tasks. But I must confess that my exposure to the world of blogging has been brief. Allow me to explain.

It was only after having been promoted and being moved to the midnight shift that I had time to explore more of what the internet had to offer. While I am now an “inside cop” and have the benefit of climate control and an office of sorts I had spent the better part of the last twenty years pushing a radio car around the mean streets of suburbia attempting to keep my sanity and maintain the status quo despite the never ending influence that drugs, alcohol and extremely poor parenting decisions have on our little slice of American Society. And though I love to read it is generally bad form to show up for work with a bag of books or stack of periodicals. Thus, when moved to an office and actually being in charge I gained a great deal of latitude in terms of my “down time” and acquired unlimited access to the internet to boot.

But you can only read so many news articles. Even on a busy news cycle the stories become routine and there is very little deviation in the work of reporters, even on different coasts. The exception of course is political coverage, but that will surely be the topic of another post. It was then that I started to explore a bit and cautiously waded in to the vast ocean of over fifty million blogs. But where to begin? After a brief dalliance on matters more mundane I elected to stimulate my aging brain and attempt to broaden my horizons on matters more academic. Thus, my expedition in to the blogsphere where candidly, there is a lot of crapola.

As I have aged I find myself developing a more active faith life. Logic then dictated that I begin my adventure exploring ways to enrich that aspect of my being. Where better to begin than reading blogs by Priests? I was fortunate to first find a reference to arguably the best Priests blog on the planet. by the amazing Father John Zuhlsdorf. Suffice to say that if you are or aspire to be a serious Roman Catholic this is a daily must read assignment. Following his links I found many incredible blogs and those that I read daily are listed on this page. The interesting thread among them all is that all of the Priest Authors are converts to the faith. In one respect this troubled me in that as a cradle Catholic I could not be an insignificant bump on the derriere of any of these Reverend Fathers. Sound public education aside I find myself often times ill equipped to absorb some of what the good Fathers write about. Could it be that my not too far after Vatican II CCD education has failed me? After all, I could bang a tambourine and keep time with the guitars at 9:00 mass with the best of them. Sad really, but if nothing else these men have demonstrated to me that even if you arrive late to the opera, you can still get a great deal out of the experience if you take time to read the libretto.

The Doctors of the Church have left us a great treasury in their written works. Divine word is at our fingertips in the Holy Bible. God himself has inspired and provided us with Holy Priests. It is up to us; to nurture that spark of faith long lying neglected since the reception of our Sacraments and grow up. I have heard many homilies over the years that made the point that many of us who have been baptized in Faith since infancy have shirked our responsibilities and ignored a gift bestowed directly from God. It is shameful. When Great Aunt Annie gives you another ugly tie for your birthday, you smile politely and graciously accept the hideous adornment if for no other reason than she loves you. Shouldn’t we, inspired by the example of convert in general and these Priest bloggers in particular graciously accept the gift of our Faith from God? If for no other reason, he loves you.


The center of my work related universe. Ex puteulanus cathedra.