Archive Monthly Archives: December 2008

Don’t Mess With Librarians

Earlier this week on The Catholics Next Door, as well as last week, I told the story about the Mickey Mouse DVD we checked out from our local library last July.

I promptly returned the DVD, and then a few days later the library closed for two weeks while they completely moved every book and DVD from the upstairs part of the library to the downstairs while renovations were being done upstairs.

A couple days after I returned the DVD, I got an email from the library that read:

You returned the DVD “Walt Disney’s Classic Cartoon Starring Mickey” missing the DVD. Please return it by August the 2nd. The library will be closing for two weeks due to our move downstairs.

I immediately responded:

Thanks for the notice, but is it possible that the DVD somehow fell out in the return bin? I almost always double check the case before returning, and we do not have the disk here at our house, so I am concerned about this.

I am also concerned that another DVD we returned is still being listed as checked out on the online system. This DVD has the ISBN 1419829033. Can you also double check on this item for me, please? We try to be very diligent about keeping track of the items we check out, so I’m worried about these recent DVD problems.

Thanks in advance for your help in clearing this up.

They never responded to this. Therefore, I went up to the library once they opened, and thus started the Great Librarian War of 2008. Eventually, the first missing DVD got cleared up, but the library insisted I still had the Mickey Mouse DVD, even though I’d returned the case. The librarian I spoke to said they’d mark my account with a notice that I claimed to return the DVD, and she said that I wouldn’t have to worry about paying a fine.

But I didn’t believe her.

And I was right.

Then two weeks ago I went to check out some books, and suddenly I had a $20 charge on my account. They decided to charge me for the lost Mickey Mouse DVD THAT I’D ALREADY RETURNED.

One librarian told me it was impossible – IMPOSSIBLE – for them to have lost it. I actually said to her, “So the library is infallible in these matters?” She quickly responded, “Yes.”

The Pope and Librarians = Infallible. Remember that. It could cost you twenty bucks if you don’t.

All the way home from that trip to the library, I was fuming! Then I realized I just need to swallow my pride and deal with this, but I didn’t want to pay that $20.

So when I got home, I looked for the disc on eBay. Someone was selling it for $2, plus $3 shipping.

I bid. I won. I brought the DVD to the library, and yesterday I got this message:

I took the DVD off of your items checked out and forgave the bill. You have a clear card now – Library Circulation Desk.

Stupid Mickey Mouse DVD. But at least I can check out books again!

Oh, and all of these pictures? They’re from when I brought the DVD to the library. I wanted as much proof as possible that I provided a new copy of the DVD to the library, just in case the infallible librarian lost the DVD again.

Posted by Greg
December 3, 2008

Minimalist Scraper

One of the reasons why I no longer live in the north is because I hate scraping my windows every morning before I go anywhere.

Since I’ve been working from home for so long, I’m blessed that I rarely have to do this anymore.

This morning the van needed to be dropped off for service so I had to follow behind to pick up Jennifer so we could get back home to do the radio show.

I walked outside and my little 96 Civic was covered in ice and the ice scraper I have apparently no longer has the ability to cut through the thinnest layer of frost.

So I do what I always do: scrape just enough to see out the window and hope the defroster will kick in quickly.

As I was driving with completely frost-ridden windows, I pondered how immensely lazy I felt considering not a single window was cleared completely.

I suppose one would say this was unsafe.

But probably not as unsafe as driving with frosted windows while also taking pictures of the frosted windows.

I may be a minimalist scraper, but at least I document my own laziness in an attempt to make up for the laziness.

Not sure it worked or not.

Posted by Greg
December 3, 2008

Birthday Breakfast

Here’s what a nine-year-old Walter looks like:

Here’s what a nine-year-old Walter, enjoying a Chick-Fil-A birthday breakfast looks like:

Here’s what a nine-year-old Walter, with too much chicken biscuit in his mouth looks like:
Happy Birthday, Walter! We love you much!

Posted by Greg
December 3, 2008

How We Do A Radio Show

photo-235My friend Jeb asked how much equipment was between his ear and us doing our radio show on Sirius 159/XM 117. This video will hopefully answer the question.

Posted by Greg
December 2, 2008

Kicking Off Advent

Happy Advent!

A few years ago started to be more and more unhappy with the way our family spent Advent. For the most part, we did nothing.

We might bring out the ol’ Advent candles, but then what? We’d light them while we ate, but again, then what?

Jennifer and I both got increasingly more frustrated with each year.

We’d spend so much time buying presents and getting ready for the gift exchange that we never stopped to try to prepare ourselves spiritually.

Last year I feel like we finally started to “get it.”

Struggling for a way to help our kids focus more on Christ than on gifts, we researched family activities and committed to actually doing them, or at least one of them.

At one point we stumbled upon the practice of the Jesse Tree, which is something I faintly remember from my Catholic grade school days, but wasn’t something we ever did as a family during Advent. I remember sitting around the dining room table going over readings and prayers with my family, but even then, Advent didn’t really sink in for me. We wanted to find a way to get our kids excited about Advent.

So we decided that we’d give it a shot. And instead of having a decorated Christmas tree during Advent, we’d put up the tree but leave it empty and treat it as a Jesse Tree, adding a homemade ornament each day to teach the kids more about the Bible, as well as the history and lineage of Jesus.

So by using a Jesse Tree, each day we can tell the kids a little bit of the story of God’s salvation plan for us, from creation and throughout the Old Testament, to the coming of the Messiah.

The name of “The Jesse Tree” comes from Isiah 11:1, which reads, “Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit.”

During each day of Advent, we add an ornament to the tree that are somehow symbolic of the stories and prophecies of the coming of Christ. Since Advent started so late in November this year, we did three ornaments last night to catch up.

Last year we didn’t think of this until a week into Advent, so we did a whole week’s worth in the first few days so we’d be up to speed.

Last night we added ornaments with a dove, apple, and an ark. These represented the early stories from the book of Genesis and God’s first promises to man.

The kids will all get turns hanging ornaments or blowing out the candles each day, which is enough to get them excited.

This year, Jennifer wanted to kick it up a notch.

Since we recently redecorated the living room, we’re not quite sure where to put our Christmas tree this year. We had a smaller decorative tree, and I suggested that we just use that for the Jesse Tree, but something about it was bugging Jennifer.

After doing more research yesterday, she determined that the tree shouldn’t have any leaves, because it is supposed to come alive over time, just like our faith lives do.

Eventually, she came up with the idea to create her own tree. Using brown packing paper, she cut out a huge outline of a tree with spots where each ornament will eventually be attached. Then she used velcro tags on the back of each ornament, along with a piece of velcro on the tree.

The kids seemed to get into it last night, and enjoyed hanging the first ornaments.

If you want to do something similar, the printable ornaments, as well as daily reflections, can be found on the website of the Diocese of Erie from their Faith Magazine. They are from 2007, so you’ll have to modify the dates, but it worked great for kicking off Advent for our kids.

How are you going to make this a great Advent?

Posted by Greg
December 1, 2008


young-at-heartWe watched this movie on Saturday night and it brought both Jennifer and me to tears a couple of times. Need to loan it to both sets of our parents before we return it.

Great, great movie. Made me respect senior citizens even more, especially ones who sing Talking Heads tunes.

Here is a snippet of the review from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops:
Often funny and ultimately moving documentary about a Northampton, Mass., senior citizens’ chorus whose repertoire includes rock, R&B and punk selections as they rehearse over a two-month period for a hometown concert and cope with the death of one member and the ill health of others. Director-narrator Stephen Walker’s film quickly engages viewers by introducing a winning array of real-life characters and charting their struggles to master the music and carry on with the show. Frank sexual discussion, innuendo, occasional crass language; possibly acceptable for older teens. A-III — adults. (PG) (R) 2008
Continue reading

Posted by Greg
December 1, 2008