Saturday, August 27, 2011

What I did for my summer vacation

Summer is almost over and while other seminarians spent it inside fulfilling their CPE requirements I was vacationing in Los Angeles.

Well, it wasn't all vacationing, I am from the Diocese of Los Angeles so I visited with some people from my commission on ministry, and I stopped by the Cathedral Center to chat with Randy Kimmler, the Diocesan Missioner for Vocations. I also preached at Saint Thomas the Apostle, Hollywood.

I went to see the taping of the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. This was an interesting experience. I love Craig Ferguson, there is something so honest about him. other talk show hosts seem so patronizing, so boring. Anyway, it was worth seeing it live if only for the experience of it, but it is better to watch the show at home. He plays to the camera, as he should, which means the studio audience is kinda left out. It is interesting to get a behind the scenes look at it all though.

I stayed in Culver City, drove a brand new Prius, walked around in 70 degree weather while the rest of the country sweltered in the heat. It was great. I saw my friends and I remembered how great they are. People always give Los Angeles a bad rap, but I have met some pretty amazing people there. Sure, there is a vapid and superficial element, but once you figure out what that looks like it's easy to avoid. And what you discover is that there are some really smashing people out there.

Anyway,I stayed with some of those awesome people I was talking about. We went to the Santa Monica pier, we ate chocolate and went to parks. It was all very nice.

I also went to The Iliad, my favorite used bookstore. I love used bookstores, especially big sprawling ones. You can just feel the history of all those used books, it's palpable really...
I also ate Mexican food, it was fantastic.

One of the things that I never got to do when I was living in Los Angeles was go to the Griffith Observatory. I always wanted to go, I just never got around to it. I got there this time. It was interesting, I bought a compass. I love compasses. Not the kind used to draw circles but the kind that detects the earth's magnetic field and tells us which way is up. They're neat.
I also looked through a telescope at the moon. I would like to go again sometime and see some space movies.

I also went to DISNEYLAND! It was so much fun. We also went to California Adventure and that was fun too. I made a peculiar little video about our trip. It doesn't have everything we did because I think my friends were getting a little annoyed at all of my filming. So I didn't get footage of our awesome time in Tron land in which there was a big techno dance floor and an arcade filled with games from the 1980s.

One of the last things I did was visit a friend in Marina Del Rey where he lives on his boat. The marina was beautiful and so were the people. Did I mention how cool I think my friends are?

Right, so here are some odds and ends photos from my trip.

And then there's the Disneyland video, of course. Both of them are accompanied by some awesome royalty free music.

Enjoy, you lovely people you.

Friday, August 26, 2011

This train of thought is goin' nowhere

As I was standing in line at the grocery store I noticed an interaction going on between the cashier and the two women standing in front of her. The cashier had given the woman $10.43 in change for a twenty when the woman had actually paid with a fifty dollar bill. The cashier immediately opened her cash drawer and saw that she had indeed put a fifty in with the twenties. So she puts the fifty where it belonged and then looked at the receipt and the $10.43 in a distressed way and said 'this is too complicated to figure out' and then calls the manager. The women were very nice and talked jokingly with the cashier as they all waited for the manager to show up.

Not one of the three women seemed to have the slightest clue how to go about getting the correct change. The manager came up and said exactly what you would think she would say "she gets $40.43 back."

Now I could tell that the cashier was over stressed, but you can't get more basic then adding 30 to 10.43. At this point the normal thing to do would be to bemoan the public education system or something equally as banal, but I am not going to because I don't that is the issue. It wasn't that none of these women could do simple arithmatic, it was that none of them had the confidence to even try. We live in a society where the prospect of failure is so frightening that so many people are afraid to risk it even in the small things. (If you are wondering why I didn't say anything, I was close enough to hear what was going on, but far enough back that I would have had to shout over three people to be heard, that would have been awkward)

It is strange how this lack of confidence manifests itself. Not only do we shy away from trying things because we are afraid we will fail but we cover that fear by being uncharitable in regards to the things we do know. One example is how anyone who mixes up there, their and they're is branded a moron, etc.

Don't get me wrong, I know that everyone has their pet peeves and preferences, I have many of them. For instance, I think it is rediculous how people like to call every small quirk they have OCD. You don't have OCD, you're just human. But we get to obsessed with it, too mean-spirited. The idea that we need to look down our noses at each other for being a vegetarian/meat-eater or being an atheist/theist or preferring Glee/Community only shows how insecure we are about our own positions.

The other side of this coin is taking it too personally when someone else doesn't share your position.

I'm not saying we shouldn't be passionate about things, we definitely should. And we can dislike things too and be passionate about that, but does it always have to be about our own egos? The problem is I really think, more often than not, it is.

Humanity sure is plagued by insecurities. It's all pride, of course. It is just so hard to let go of.

I don't know. It's a fine line between dignity and pride. It is probably also a fine line between humility and apathy...

I'm a little scared to post this because I just know you all are going to judge me.

(see what I did there?)