Verse of the Day for 09-20-22

To my surprise, the porch was wet when I
Awoke. I’d stumbled over to the dogs to let
Them out. And when I did, I noticed how,
Beneath the Chinese Elm, there was a dry
Patch on the patio. The rest was wet.
I thought perhaps someone had used a pow-
er washer while we slept–an absurd thought.
A gentle rain is welcome; heat is not.

HDYGH – Episode 11 Show Notes

In today’s episode, I sit down with my friend Liz Perry, a teacher and writer who currently works at Saint Mary’s High School, but will one day be known far and wide as a comedy writer on a famous TV show.

Liz “Lemon” Perry

Show Notes (in order of appearance)

Heads up: Links to books theoretically earn me money at Amazon. This has never actually happened.

  • Windsor, Ontario vs. Detroit, Michigan. This blog post supports what I heard, but, based on all the other results I found online, it is entirely possible that, a) I have no idea what I’m talking about and/or b) both towns suck.
The Black Madonna of Częstochowa
  • Our Lady of Częstochowa. Click here to learn how to pronounce it properly, as Liz did and not like some rube, as I did.
Polish breaks Speech-to-Text software.
  • I learned something cool about this image on Wikipedia:
    “The Virgin Mary is shown as the “Hodegetria” (“One Who Shows the Way”). In it the Virgin directs attention away from herself, gesturing with her right hand toward Jesus as the source of salvation. In turn, the child extends his right hand toward the viewer in blessing while holding a book of gospels in his left hand.” 
  • Hodegetria is a fitting title for Mama Mary (see here) and a great Scrabble word.
  • Wikipedia also confirmed something truly weird that I knew, but that, you, dear reader/listener, may not have known.
  • Rev. Jesus Urteaga is an incredible author who will kick your lukewarm a$$. He wrote two excellent books. An English copy of his book Los defectos de los santos (The Defects of the Saints) is harder to find than the Holy Grail* (and more expensive). I got my copy from the Philippines via my ex-sister-in-law’s visiting aunt who saved me the $40 shipping fee.
    His book El valor divino de lo humano was originally published in English as Man, the Saint and was a bare-knuckled tune-up for your pathetic excuse for a spiritual life. It was later renamed Saints in the World, toned down a bit, and given an incongruously milquetoast cover. It’s still totally worth reading, especially if you’re in a men’s group. Here’s Chapter 1. You’re welcome.
    * Every chalice at every validly celebrated Mass is a Holy Grail. [drops mike]
  • St. Thérèse of Lisieux wasn’t everyone’s cup of “T.” The release of her unaltered autobiography made her a lot more relatable. Here is a great blog post on the subject: I Didn’t Like St. Therese of Lisieux… Until I Learned These 8 Little Known Facts About Her. Tell the author of that post I sent you. I want her to be on the podcast. Here’s a bonus post from her that is just lovely: A Love Story In The Time Of Quarantine.
  • St. Philomena. Not my jam.
  • My jam. Also, what the wha…?
Teachings of Jesus 39 of 40. the rapture. one at the mill. Jan Luyken etching. Bowyer Bible
The Rapture. This is why we need the authority of the Church.
  • I was pretty sure St. Josemaría had this to say about praying the Rosary, but I only found it in one place–with no citation–on the internet. The INTERNET. Weird, right? I think it means he probably didn’t say it, but it sounds like him, so here:

    “If you get distracted in spite of your good will, don’t worry. Keep praying, for that prayer is like the strumming on the guitar by a lover singing to his beloved. Even though the thoughts might be elsewhere, your good desires and your vocal prayer will be there as a present to the Lord and his Mother, in a song of love.”
  • Praying the Rosary be like… (until 1:00).

The unaltered version of St. Thérèse’s autobiography reveals a more relatable Little Flower.

“One evening, not knowing in what words to tell Our Lord how much I loved him, and how much I wished that He was served and honoured everywhere, I thought sorrowfully that from the depths of hell there does not go up to Him one single act of love. Then, from my inmost heart, I cried out that I would gladly be cast into that place of torment and blasphemy so that He might be eternally loved even there.”

St. Therese of Lisieux, Story of a Soul
  • Undercover Boss cleans portable toilets. His trainer thinks of his job as an adventure. Amazing.
  • Josh Hartnett. Do you remember him now?
  • Saint Genesius. He’s the patron saint of actors, comedians, clowns, and lawyers, among others.
  • Missed opportunity. I should have shared this Chesterton quote from his book Heretics with Liz. But I didn’t. D’oh! “Mr. McCabe thinks that I am not serious but only funny, because Mr. McCabe thinks that funny is the opposite of serious. Funny is the opposite of not funny, and of nothing else.”
  • Stephen Colbert gave a great interview that goes nicely with Chesterton’s quote.

“The times are never so bad but that a good man can live in them.”

Saint Thomas More
  • Saint Thomas More was also funny. On his way up to the scaffold where he was to be beheaded, he asked for assistance. “I pray you, master Lieutenant, see me safe up and [for] my coming down, let me shift for myself.” As he placed his head on the chopping block, he carefully positioned his beard so that is would not be cut. “This hath not offended the king,” he said.
  • I’m quite sure Hilaire Belloc would’ve thought my Lorenzo story was hilarious (no pun intended). He wrote these quarantine-must-read classics.

Jim: Who Ran Away from His Nurse and Was Eaten by a Lion is a delightful pop-up book based on Belloc’s Cautionary Tales for Children. It is one of my soon-to-be-six-year-old daughter’s favorite books. Delightful.

  • Watch The Chosen. Low budget. High impact. Here’s an article about how it’s the largest crowdfunded amount ever raised for a movie.
  • Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead
  • Speaking of booze and Catholicism… Pints with Aquinas is a great podcast. Matt, if you trackback links to your page, hi. Please be on my show. Not to brag, but Trent Horn could pick me out of a lineup and not for the usual reasons people pick other people out of lineups.

The Usual Links

Special Thanks:

  • To Liz Perry for coming on the show.
  • To Canadia for sharing its Native Daughter.
  • To Mr. & Mrs. Perry for sharing their actual daughter. (Well done, Mom and Dad!)
  • To Gary Somers, ERP Analytics, and the Los Angeles Community College District for making delays of this podcast possible. (My wife and our creditors thank you, too!)
  • To BPD for producing the show. You are extra, double-plus awesome, mate. Innit though?

HDYGH – Episode 8 Show Notes

In today’s episode, I sit down with Cindy Montanarella, another fellow St. Thomas parishioner and former student from the Kino Catechetical Institute. Cindy is also the sister of one of my oldest friends (and an old friend in her own right). I ask her, “How Did You Get Here?”

Cindy “Cinderella” Montanarella

Note: some links lead to my Amazon affiliate page, which has generated precisely zero dollars in the 10+ years I’ve had it.

Ss. Ambrose, Monica, and Augustine

“Speak less to Augustine about God and more to God about Augustine.”

St. Ambrose to St. Monica

Leila Miller’s books on divorce:

Psalm 131

1 O Lord, my heart is not lifted up,
my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
too great and too marvelous for me.
2 But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
like a child quieted at its mother’s breast;
like a child that is quieted is my soul.
3 O Israel, hope in the Lord
from this time forth and for evermore.

King David

Special Thanks:

  • To Cindy Montanarella for overcoming her shyness and coming on the show.
  • To Zoom for existing (and making this episode possible).
  • To BPD for producing the show.

HDYGH – Episode 7 Show Notes

In today’s episode, I sit down with Mark Rothermel, a friend, fellow St. Thomas parishioner, and former student from the Kino Catechetical Institute and ask him, “How Did You Get Here?”

Mark Rothermel, ex-donuteer, grammar descriptivist, man for all seasons.

Note: some links lead to my Amazon affiliate page, which has generated precisely zero dollars in the 10+ years I’ve had it.

Avocado Green Bathroom

Avocado Green Bathroom | That Mitchell and Webb Look

On the Revival of the Gaelic Language (not Welsh)

The Gaelic Language | David Mitchell’s SoapBox


Hoodwinked: Twitchy Slowed Down (2005)
  • Hoodwinked! is a great family movie that spoofs Akira Kurowsawa’s classic film Rashomon. It is well worth a watch.

Shakespeare and the Bible

King Richard
“A horse, a horse! My kingdom for a horse!”

Withdraw, my lord; I’ll help you to a horse.

King Richard
Slave! I have set my life upon a cast,
And I will stand the hazard of the die.
I think there be six Richmonds in the field;
Dive have I Slain today instead of him.
A horse, a horse! My kingdom for a horse!

Richard III, Act-V, Scene-IV, Lines 7-13

17 An horse is a vain thing for safety: neither shall he deliver any by his great strength.

Psalm 33:17 King James Version (KJV)

Grammar Goofiness

Grammar Nazi
The grammar meme I murdered.
  • Here is a great resource for anyone wanting to learn the lost art of diagramming sentences.
  • My favorite book on the subject of diagramming is Rex Barks.

World War II Clips

RAF Pilots
Bridge on the River Kwai

St. Ignatius Loyola: Enter his door, come out yours.

Whenever we wish to win someone over and engage him in the greater service of God our Lord, we should use the same strategy for good that the enemy employs to draw a good soul to evil. The enemy enters through the other’s door and comes out his own. He enters with the other, not by opposing his ways but by praising them. He acts familiarly with the soul, suggesting good and holy thoughts that bring peace to the good soul. Then, little by little, he tries to come out his own door, always portraying some error or illusion under the appearance of something good, but which will always be evil. So, we may lead others to good by praying or agreeing with them on a certain good point, leaving aside whatever else may be wrong. Thus after gaining his confidence, we shall meet with better success. In this sense we enter his door with him, but we come out our own.

Letter of St. Ignatius Loyola to Fathers Broët and Salmerón

Special Thanks:

To Mark Rothermel for being a fascinating guest.

To BPD for producing the show.

To my very generous in-laws for the use of their home once again.

The Last Word

Matthew 12:36 Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (RSVCE)

36 I tell you, on the day of judgment men will render account for every careless word they utter;

-34- Crooked Lines

My father wanted to retire young and rich. He almost made it.

When Dad was 37 years old, he decided not to re-enlist in the Air Force after 20 years of service because doing so would have meant moving to Panama and being away from home for three weeks of the month. Instead, he chose to leave the military in the middle of the Reagan recession and try his hand at civilian life.

Through contacts he’d made in the service, he persuaded someone at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs to create a position for him as a civilian contractor. Everything was in place for him to start at the Academy as soon as he retired from the service. The only thing left for him to do was sign the contract and seal the deal.

This was before fax machines were commonplace, so Dad arranged to drive out to Colorado from California and sign the papers in person. He loved road trips and the Rocky Mountains, and didn’t think twice about heading for the hills in the family’s Ford Fairmont station wagon. I can picture him cruising through the columbines, singing songs of praise at the top of his lungs like one of the carolers in A Charlie Brown Christmas.

Little did he know that in the midst of his revelry, Congress was passing a law requiring military retirees to wait six months before returning as civilian contractors. When he arrived at the Academy, it was to the sad news that he no longer had a job offer and none would be forthcoming. He had done such a good job convincing them of the need to hire him, that they couldn’t leave the position unfilled for the six months to pass before he became eligible for employment again.

So, instead of moving to cool and colorful Colorado Springs, Colorado, my mom, twin sister, and I moved into a dusty, old double-wide with Dad’s parents–my Memere and Pepere–on Patricia Ann Lane in Peoria, Arizona, where we waited for two months for Dad to join us.

Living in a double-wide trailer is exactly as glamorous as it sounds. My “room” was a twin bed hidden behind the bookshelf that separated the formal dining area from the penetralia of my grandparents’ home where Memere kept her extensive collection of seasonal decorations and back issues of Reader’s Digest. My sister’s room was real–girls need their privacy, after all–but not much bigger than a closet. We took baths (not showers) in an avocado green bathtub and used an old Cool Whip container to rinse our hair.

Our quarters were cramped, but my sister and I were blissfully unaware of the life we might have been living in the shadow of Pikes Peak. We thought it was normal to sit on beach towels on (plastic-covered) car seats as Memere drove us to school and normal to pull over multiple times on the way home to pick up aluminum cans when Pepere drove us back. We loved that we got Nilla wafers and a bowl of ice cream every day as a treat when we got home. (Pepere was an ex-dairyman and had his priorities straight.)

As far as we knew, life was going according to plan, but knowing what I know now about in-laws and domesticity, I suspect my mother did not share our conviction. It’s hard to believe that Peoria, AZ was what she had in mind when she abandoned her island paradise of Puerto Rico for a blue-eyed gringo. For her, our circumstances were less than ideal. I’m sure my father felt at least a little like a failure when he couldn’t find work as a hospital administrator (his line of work in the Air Force) and went to work instead as a janitor at the VA.

As children we think, the expression “the Lord works in mysterious ways” is just one of those grown up things people say when they don’t know what’s going on. As adolescents, we’re quick to dismiss it as a cliche, but, after 40 or so circuits around the sun, you come to regard it as a fact as plain as plantains.

God draws straight with crooked lines. He just does. When you’re in the thick of things, you don’t always think God’s got the best grip on the situation, but when you look back on all the times that He zigged when you would have zagged, you’ll see that He knew what He was up to.

Times were trying for my parents in that trailer, but in retrospect, it’s clear that they were good. If it weren’t for those tough times, my dad wouldn’t have learned how to walk by faith and not by sight. My mom might never have been inspired by his example to come into the Catholic Church. My sister and I might not have come to love the Lord at a young age.

If fax machines were more widespread in the ’80s, I might not have gone to grade school and high school in Arizona, and I wouldn’t have gone to college in Arizona. I would never have met my wife. Or my children. And where would all the stories of God’s miraculous intervention in our family’s life that I pass on to my children have come from?

It turns out my sister and I were right after all–life had been going according to plan, just not ours. I am so grateful that my dad didn’t get that job at the Air Force Academy. Every good thing in my life is the result of that one seemingly bad thing that brought us where we didn’t want to go.

-33- I’ve Started a Podcast

If a thing’s worth doing, it’s worth doing badly.

G. K. Chesterton

I’ve started a podcast called, How Did You Get Here? I think it’s worth doing badly. After listening to the first episode, I’m very proud of the production value that my bosom chum Beepy D. Silverose brought to it. You almost can’t tell we’re making it up as we go along. I’m also impressed with my first guest Yancy Evans’ mellifluous baritone. But I’m terrified that my friend Patrick will make up a drinking game based on how often I mumble / say “um” and destroy his already well-worn liver. Please, please, please, People: take to heart Nancy Reagan’s admonition, “Friends don’t let friends make drinking games based on Rob Drapeau’s speech patterns.” (I can’t find the exact citation, but she definitely said that. Really.)

So, what motivated me to do this now? I’m glad you asked.

For years now, I’ve worked with the RCIA program at my parish, helping loads of lovely people come into full communion with the Church. Their stories are always inspiring and I frequently get things in my eyes hearing them (I’m not crying. YOU’RE crying!). Anyway, it occurred to me that many of the people in the pews on Sunday have grown up taking the Faith for granted, in much the same way people born American citizens take our country for granted.

When I’m doing the intake interviews for RCIA, I always start with the same question: How Did You Get Here? Hence, the title of the podcast. I know why I need Jesus–as my former boss Scott Whitfield was fond of reminding me, I’m the worst sinner I know–but I’m always curious to learn why the articulate / well-dressed / financially-solvent / physically fit / insanely talented person sitting in front of me thinks they need Jesus. From my perspective, they’ve got their poop in a group, so how did they get here? Attractive women and strapping men don’t have problems, right?


They’ve got the same holes in their souls as the rest of us. And it is always moving to hear someone tell you that they’ve fallen in love with your True Love and want to surrender themselves to Him. Their humility is humbling and their ardent desire for what I too frequently treat with casual indifference increases my own ardor.

I’m such a narcissist that I vacillate between thinking too highly or too little of myself. But when I’m listening to these stories of people responding to their Father’s call, I am reminded that, whatever I may think of myself, I am blessed and privileged to play some role in these stories. God knows exactly who we are and wants to draw near anyway. That’s good news. To paraphrase the Graham Kendrick song, “he paid what he thought we were worth.” Domine non sum dignus.

I am starting this podcast because I think other cradle Catholics will benefit from hearing these stories as well. It also occurred to me that the people entering the Church might want to know why we cradle Catholics stick around, so you can expect to hear from some natives as well.

I’ve grown weary of the division and discord I come across on social media. There might be a ton of things to be legitimately outraged about, but all the shouting hurts my ears. I love Jesus. I love His Church. I love everybody. I have heard good news and I want to pass it on.

Catholics are notoriously bad at sharing their faith, but it’s not brain surgery. As the Psalmist says, “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so!” (Psalm 107:2) Tell your story. Don’t be assive-aggressive. Easy. People love stories, especially love stories and stories with lots of twists. It’s my hope that this podcast will be a platform for sharing the stories of how God draws straight with crooked lines.

Please subscribe and spread the word, etc., but most importantly, please pray that God will bless this humble project. And, for Patrick’s liver’s sake, please pray that I get better about the “um’s” and “ah’s.”


-32- “Star Wars or Star Trek? This is Important…”

Two Kinds of People

There are two kinds of people in the world: those who divide the world into two kinds of people and those who don’t. I recently applied for a position at a marketing firm run by (it would seem) the first kind of people.* Their application included (and required a response to) this question: “Star Wars or Star Trek?” In case it wasn’t clear, they added, “This is important.”

Hells yeah, it’s important. Who wants to work with a bunch of weirdos who don’t give the correct response to that question, amirite? Especially when everyone knows it’s Star Wars. Trek. Wars. Wrecks. Bucks. Star Trek Wars. Star Tech Wreck Wars. Star (grumble, cough, hrramph! cough, mumble, mumble).


When did this become a hard question to answer? It’s Star Wars, right? I mean, c’mon: light sabers.

The Case for Star Wars:

  • Light sabers (see above). And, you know, the fact that Han floors it when the Millennium Falcon enters an asteroid field.

The Case for Star Trek:

The Case against Star Wars:

  • George Lucas.
  • Jar-jar Binks, but not the actor who played him. It’s not his fault. (See previous.)
  • The -equels. Ugh.

The Case against Star Trek:

  • Tribbles
  • Sub-space anomalies. (Thanks, Gene, for a future with no interpersonal conflict…)
  • “Set phasers to ‘stun.'”
  • “Move ahead, one quarter impulse power.”

A Third Kind

There are two kinds of people in the world: those who divide the world into two kinds of people and those who don’t. . .and then there is a third kind of person who talks about “third ways.”

The Case Against Star Wars and Star Trek:


If you don’t know, Firefly, you should. It’s a fantastic little Joss Whedon show that aired on the Fox network from 2002 to 2003. It was wonderful in every way, so naturally, Fox cancelled it before it could get an audience.

Firefly has been described as “Han Solo meets the United Federation of Planets.” That’s just about as perfect a description as you could come up with. Give it a try. It’s shiny.

*Alas, they are also the kind of people who don’t hire Rob Drapeaus. 🙁

-31- Lessen

Growing Lighter

For the sake of keeping up momentum (and to reward Regina and Hans–howdy, y’all!), I’m posting something today even though it’s almost ten years old.

I mentioned this song in my previous post as an example of a poetic algorithm that I have been following to create poems and songs for a collection called “Paronomasia” that I hope to finish and publish some day. My poems “Cede” and “Block” are other works in the collection and, if you bother to follow the links, you’ll see that they are nothing at all like this song or this song. The only thing the pieces have in common are that they all meet the requirements I set for my algorithm: choose a one word title with more than one meaning and refer to the secondary meaning in the first line.

This particular song was inspired by a sign I saw on the side of the road on my way to work one day. It read, “Piano Lessens.” The person who placed the sign was no doubt trying to make a little money in the gig economy, but, being the remorseless grammar nazi that I am, I immediately shifted into attack mode, shrieking, “Vhat does ze piano lessen, dummkopf? Ze length auf ze mortgage? Ze weltschmerz? Vhat? Vhere in ze vorld is your direct object, you linguistic untermensch?!?”

I eventually got over it, but I had to write this song to do so. Anyway, I’m grateful for the dummkopf who put the sign out. Without him, this song wouldn’t exist. I’m also quite pleased with paronomasia in this song. It shouldn’t be too hard to catch the allusions (<–another word derived from the Latin word lūdere!) to John the Baptist.

I have made an exceedingly excrementitious recording of this song, but I’m loath to put it out for public consumption. If you’re desperate to hear me abuse the bass strings on my guitar and almost hit the high notes / remember all the lyrics of my own song, let me know and we can figure something out…


by Rob Drapeau

Verse 1:
I have learned to let Love lead me
Though I did not want to go
Down the path that it had chosen as my road.
But surrendering has freed me
And I’ve found no better way
to go, on my own.

Refrain 1:
And I must decrease
Like the sun in the winter sky
giving way to the lengthening night
‘cause the dawn is stronger
when the night is longer,
And I
am consumed by the love I know
Like a candle burning low.
As the flame gets brighter
I’m growing lighter, oh.
Verse 2:
For a time, I was so certain
Of my wisdom. In my eyes,
I could see no need for guidance. Oh, the pride!
But my wisdom left me hurting.
Tell me: what did I really know
Of the way to go?
Refrain 1, then Bridge
And I will rise.
I will soar the skies.
I lift my eyes
And see it’s You, it’s You, it’s You…
Refrain 2:
Who must increase
Like the sun in the summer sky,
Setting shadows all to flight
‘cause the Light is stronger
and the night no longer.
And I
am consumed by the Love I know.
Like a candle burning low,
As the flame gets brighter,
I’m growing lighter, oh.
I’m growing lighter, oh.


-30- The Algorithm Method

The producers didn’t want them good. They wanted them Thursday.

Ronald Reagan on the poor quality of his B-movies

Last week, (<—hahahaha) I let slip the tantalizing title of this post: “The Algorithm Method.” What a clever title. It’s more than just clever; it’s so clever. Some might even say impossibly clever.

And tantalizing? Are you kidding? Look at it there, hovering above Ronald Reagan’s wise crack like a big, bouncy, flame-broiled, McMadison Avenue burger on a finally-employed-bachelor’s “totally lit” 85-inch 4K Ultra HD display. Are you not tantalized? Its tantaliciousness is turnt to 11.

This week, I come face to face with the stark reality that the problem with giving a brilliant title to a post you haven’t written is that readers selfishly expect the author to follow it up with a brilliant piece of writing. These unreasonable and, frankly, too high, expectations are murder on us creatives. You should be grateful that you’re getting anything at all. There are little pagan babies out there somewhere who don’t get so much as a tweet and you’re here looking for Ulysses. The nerve.

FINE. I’m just kidding. Welcome back. Thank you for being my reader, etc. etc. Please don’t leave.

What is the Algorithm Method?

The Algorithm Method is a half-baked idea that I have for fostering creativity in my life. The idea has two parents. Its fatherithm is the frustration I sometimes feel when wondering what to do next at any given moment and its motherithm is the desire to come up with a clever concept for a podcast.

A decade or so ago my friend John took me to a show called Dave Gorman’s Googlewhack Adventure. Here is a summary of the show from Wikipedia:

Dave Gorman’s Googlewhack Adventure is a stand-up comedy performance by Dave Gorman which toured between 2003 and 2005. The show follows Gorman’s life between his 31st and 32nd birthday: unable to write a novel, Gorman is distracted into travelling the world in search of a “chain” of ten Googlewhacks. A Googlewhack is a pair of words which yield exactly one result on Google, and Gorman’s aim is to meet ten people who are owners of the websites which the previous person’s Googlewhack leads to. The show uses Gorman’s usual style of incorporating charts and maps into a story with a ludicrous premise, and was created to pay back the publishers’ advance for his unwritten novel.

Wikipedia contributors. “Dave Gorman’s Googlewhack Adventure.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 26 Aug. 2018. Web. 11 Mar. 2019.

I loved the “ludicrous premise” of the show and thought it was a perfectly reasonable and delightful way to proceed in the face of crippling writer’s block. Writer’s block? Make a game of it! Can’t think of what to do next?Make a game of it! This makes complete sense to me. And, it works. If you follow the rules. (Aside: Did you know that the root of the word ludicrous is lūdere, “to play” in Latin?)

The Origins of the Method

I wrote a blog post a few years ago called “The Porpoise Driven Life” that addressed a similar idea. Let me essplain.

Dolphins sleep differently than we do. They are able to shut down half of their brains at a time and so, while one half is busy avoiding the infamously unsafe nets of tuna fishermen, the other half is snoozing away oblivious to any danger. After a while, the two sides switch until eventually the dolphin’s entire brain is rested and refreshed and Flipper can return to his regularly scheduled adventures.

I noticed that, upon rising in the morning, I was essentially operating on half a brain, but was still able to function if I followed a pre-established routine/checklist when I arose. “The Porpoise Driven Life” is what I chose to call this ability to operate in, ahem, dolphin “safe mode.” I am still proud of that awful pun.

Anyway, the Algorithim Method is essentially a reporpoised recycled version of that. It’s just for, you know, later in the day, so it’s totally different.

A Simple, Three-step Process

It’s a simple, three-step process (reminiscent of this) for never getting hung up what to do next:

  • Step 1: Come up with an algorithm for how to determine your next action.
  • Step 2: Do it.
  • Step 3: Methodically.

Back in October when you last heard from me, I was following this advice with great results. My algorithm was pretty simple. Before bed I would make a to-do list for the next day in my bullet journal, then I would stage things around my house so that it would be hard to avoid doing those things and easy to do them.

The Process IRL

Here’s what how the process played out in real life:

  • I wanted to exercise, so I dragged out the elliptical machine and put it in the middle of the room.
  • I wanted to make sure I prayed, so I added the next day’s daily mass readings and In Conversation with God podcasts to my exercise playlist.
  • I wanted to help my wife and kids get going in the morning, so I took out the pots and pans I needed to fix them breakfast.
  • I wanted to foster my creativity, so I placed my open Morning Pages notebook and one of my favorite pens on my otherwise barren desk.

None of this is revolutionary, I know, but it helped me a lot. I lost 15 pounds, gained a great deal of self-confidence, and felt like I was finally getting my poop in a group. Then the holidays hit, chaos reared its ugly head, and I don’t want to talk about any of that because this post has already taken me four and a half months to finish.

A Creative Way to be Creative

With respect to creativity and, specifically, a podcast, my idea was to decide on some sort of algorithm for finding new guests to interview.

I am fascinated by people who are good at what they do. It amazes me that something I have no natural desire or innate ability to do can be a great source of joy/pride/satisfaction for someone else. Some day, I want to start a podcast dedicated to finding and interviewing people who are great at their work. When I do this, I think a good way of proceeding will be to interview someone I know for the first episode, but let the interviewee determine who I talk to next by recommending someone they’re impressed with.

Other creative applications for the method spring readily to mind:

  • An artist’s algorithm could be 1) choose a subject 2) depict it in many different media–pencil, watercolor, sculpture, etc.
  • A poet could set some arbitrary parameters for a poem and see what it yields. I did this myself with a series of poems / songs that I wrote. My algorithm was 1) choose a word that is a homophone or homograph and make that the title of a poem or song, 2) Refer to the other meaning of the word in the first line of the poem or song. For example, the first line of my song “Lessen” is “I have learned to let Love lead me where I did not want to go.” (Lessen / lesson.)
  • A cook may try to make a meal made entirely of foods and spices beginning with the same letter.
  • A couple hoping to spice up date night might create a list of every restaurant within x-miles of their house with a rating of x-number of stars and go through the list in alphabetical order.

You get the idea. Have fun with it. Let me know if you come up with anything clever.

-29- The Donkey’s Back

In my previous post, I mentioned that I want to use this blog to explore some ideas that have been interesting me and find out what I–and my exponentially increasing* number of readers–think about them. Thank you for coming along for the ride.

I suspect that in these early stages, the things I write about might seem random and my thoughts a bit scattered. Sorry about that. If it helps, you can think of these posts as stem cells in the early phases of the blog/website’s development. These cells are full of potential, but how that potential will be realized remains to be seen.

Now, before I get real about realizing all this potential, I want to explain why this quizzical donkey has returned to his digital inkwell.

In the very first post of this blog, I wrote that I wanted to be “as assiduous as the donkey whose daily fidelity at the water wheel pours life and beauty to the community he serves.” This image of the diligent donkey comes from the writings of Saint Josemaria Escriva, in particular this one:

Oh blessed perseverance of the donkey that turns the water-wheel! Always the same pace. Always the same circles. One day after another: everyday the same. Without that, there would be no ripeness in the fruit, nor blossom in the orchard, nor scent of flowers in the garden. Carry this thought to your interior life.

The Way, 998

Whenever I feel like circumstances have me circumambulating, I call this image of the faithful donkey to mind and remember what I’m all about–the ripeness in the fruit, the blossom in the orchard, the scent of the flowers in the garden. Then, I get back to work.

At this point, I should mention that “back to work” means something different now than when I originally started this blog. Back then, I had a full-time gig at the greatest high school in the universe, but, alas, all universes contract and not all contracts can be extended. So, four-ish months ago–the same time my dad passed away–I found myself squeezed out of a job.

For the curious (and for the record), I left Saint Mary’s with no hard feelings and no regrets. God is good, dear readers–all of the time–and, ahem, labor pains are part of the natural order.

While we’re on the subject, babies in the womb have great little lives, but if they want to keep living them, they gots to go, or else, you know, this. Labor is hard and labor is necessary, and, ultimately, labor is worth it because babies (maybe even metaphorical ones like this blog) are worth it.

So, all that to say this: I don’t want this blog to merely be an online journal. I want it to be a big part of my actual (paying) work as a writer. I have no idea what that will look like (stem cells, remember?), but I believe God is leading me to serve him, my family, and my little corner of the world through my talent for writing. That’s a scary sentence to publish, but there you have it.

Everything I just wrote was meant to be a preface to an impossibly cleverly entitled post called…wait for it…”The Algorithm Method” in which I propose a process for making decisions that even a very different kind of donkey can profit from. Sadly, I ran out of coffee time, so you’ll have to wait until next time. Now, at least you have something to look forward to, so you’re welcome. Tell me in the comments how often you’d like me to post. I want to know who I’m disappointing…

You may also enjoy this Italian cartoon about a young Spanish boy named “Saint Josemaria Escriva.” (With a name like that, his parents must have known his destiny, no matter what they said in the cartoon.)