He Sings Way Too Much To Be A Stoner

If you live around Charleston, you probably already know that our parish priest, Father Jim O'Connor, has been arrested and charged with felony possession of marijuana with intent to distribute. (Father Jim was found with 72 grams of marijuana in his vehicle and, in West Virginia, anything over 15 grams requires this felony charge.)

So I guess it goes something like this...Father Jim and Joe Deegan (a long-time parishoner, former drug counselor...heh...yeah, I know) were driving along and the cop behind them could smell the odor of marijuana. He pulled Father Jim (hereinafter known as "Father J."...because I'm funny), and J. Deegan (because I'm still funny) over and found that they had both been smoking pot, got permission to search the vehicle, found the pot in a bag, and so on.

Let me say...there is no way I'm saying this is not a serious matter. It is a serious matter. One has to wonder what kind of recklessness would cause a priest to risk his entire career, and possibly his freedom, for such a thing. Right now, though, nobody knows the whole story. Neither Father J. nor J. Deegan have had the chance, in a neutral forum, to tell their story.

If you've met him, Father J. just doesn't seem like a stoner...and a drug dealer is about the last thing in the entire world he resembles. He loves to sing and has been known to sing an entire mass. He's a friendly, outgoing man and, despite having come in after the truly beloved Father Leon who served decades at our church, he managed to make his own way and to be liked. And I think if he was selling pot, we'd have had lots...LOTS more teenagers in the parish. (Justkiddingdontsendmehatemail.)

So...what is really the right thing to do here? Father J. has been suspended pending an internal investigation. The outlook is not good. If you believe, though, that there must be some serious issue for Father J. to have taken such a risk, then one has to think that maybe there is some type of addiction present. Luckily, as far as we know, he has hurt no one but himself with his behavior. And, you know, my son was at Camp Leon earlier this year under the leadership of Father J. After this week's news, my feelings about the camp haven't changed at all.

Now...what if a priest were an alcoholic? If the person who is supposed to be the spiritual leader of your congregation has a very human, self-destructive problem, why does he have to become an example of what happens when people discover your problem...and react by casting you out? I know it's the strict rule of the Diocese that he be removed from his position, but why permanently? If he has hurt no one, why does he not deserve treatment and/or counseling then the opportunity for another chance? Could the whole community not learn something valuable by allowing Father J. to recover from this downfall and stand on his feet again? Why do we teach forgiveness, the hope for recovery from any number of problems, and the potential to return to a state of grace and then turn around and cast these first stones at another human being from the word go?

From the members of the parish, compassion he will receive. Forgiveness is certain. Employment and the ability to hold his head up in the community...not looking too good. I just don't think it's fair.

2008 Whirlwind Scrabble Tour: Ludacris Speed

As we approach October, much of my free time is spent preparing for and contemplating the rest of the year's Scrabble tournaments. It's going to be hectic...but crazy fun no matter what the outcome.

So far in 2008, I've completed seven Scrabble tournaments:

Elyria, Ohio in March;
Charleston, WV in April;
Richfield, Ohio in April;
Pittsburgh, PA in June;
Rocky River, Ohio in July;
Pontiac, Michigan in August; and
Hudson, Ohio in September.

THEN...when I had to cancel my mid-September trip to Fenton, Michigan, it made me a little crazy so, in response, I added not one, but two more tournaments to the list. I had originally thought about letting Elyria, OH go and traveling to Durham instead (the following weekend) because friends were going to Durham and we could carpool. THEN...an opportunity arose to take the kids to Elyria (and Anna, the kids' aunt/sometimes-babysitter and Anna's friend). They can find fun things to do, go to the mall (which the kids love), swim in the hotel pool and so on. AND...Eric and I decided that we would take the kids to Durham so they could all spend some time with one of Eric's best friends who lives there (who has kids of a similar age to ours).

So with everything turning out as it did, the rest of the years looks like this:

Charleston, WV (club tournament) on Oct. 4;
South Lyon, MI on Oct. 11 & 12;
The Burning River Blowout in Elyria, OH on Oct. 18 & 19;
The Bluegrass Ironman (Iron-WO-man) in Lexington, KY on Nov. 1 & 2;
The MOO (Mississauga Ontario Open) on Nov. 15 & 16; and
The Cleveland Classic in Strongsville, OH on Dec. 6 & 7.

You're right...that is Ludacris Speed. But it's going to be great fun. The kids and Eric will get a road trip or two. I'll get to stay with one of my best friends, Spinster Girl, when I'm playing in South Lyon. I'll get to carpool to Mississauga with several players from the Akron/Cleveland area. And in every tournament, I get to try and increase that rating, gain some skill, and, of course, win the after-hours poker games.

Household Politics

This afternoon the family was taking a walk around the neighborhood and the four-year-old announced, "I'm voting for John McCain!" She was actually doing that kid kind of marching thing and said, "Ahm voting for John Mah...CAIN!"

Anyway, this announcement doesn't surprise me. My husband will do about anything he can to bug me. (He's got serious middle child syndrome and is, how you sayyy...an attention whore.) So, yeah...he taught her to say that.

So I told her that John McCain wants to take away all of her toys and that, more than anything, John McCain hates ice cream. Eric countered that Barack Obama wants to take all of her toys and redistribute them so that all children have the same number of toys.

Edie put her hands on her cute little cheeks, smooshed her face around a bit, then pushed her hair over her face.

It's going to be quite an election season here in the house.

And Speaking of Confusing Things...

It appears that the WV Secretary of State's website has been hijacked. (Of course, if you're reading this later, it may be back to normal.) The picture on the right is a tiny version of what it looks like right now.

I went to the site today to check on the status of the service of a civil action (a work thing)..which I've had bookmarked for years and my bookmark shouldn't have even taken me to the main page. Right away, the page looked like one of the goofy ones you see when a domain registration has expired and it magically turns into some giant advertisement that, in the tiniest way, tries to pass for the original page.

Well, I guess there's a chance that it wasn't even hijacked but is somehow in the middle of revamping but...also covered with fishy links to advertising. I don't know much about such things. I would guess if the site were legitimately in some state of reworking, it would say so.

In fact, the official State of West Virginia website looks funny. On this one, though, if you click on the links, they appear to go to the correct site. Maybe they overhauled it since I last had a reason to look there.

So...I called someone who knows the Secretary of State. If the site has been fraudulently taken over, I don't want innocent citizens to fall victim to spyware or phishing if they click too far into the links. We'll see but...how odd.

Update (shortly after my post): It's back to normal! Good work, someone!!! Of course, it's always possible that it was just a blip of some sort (even though I checked it several times) and I caught it just at the right time. Anyone more in the know...know?

So Apparently Someone Has A New Phone Number...

...but they aren't quite sure what it is. About ten days ago, there was a missed call on my cell phone from a number I didn't recognize. From the prefix, I could tell it was a St. Albans (West Virginia) number...but I don't know anyone who lives in St. Albans.

Over the next several days, I received more of these mystery calls and they all had two things in common. First, I could hardly tell what any of the people were saying. They were all men, they were obviously different people, but none of them enunciated worth a damn. Second, each and every one of them began by asking for someone (whose name I couldn't make out) then, when I told them they had the wrong number, they'd say, "Who's this?!"

My response to that question, when posed by a wrong-number-caller is always the same: "Well...you called me...who are you?" Of course, the caller always responds by mumbling some more, or asking again who I am, so on and so forth, blah, blah, blah, all the while I'm reiterating that, since they called me, perhaps they should confess their identity first.

In the end, when they finally understand that they have called the wrong number, each of these people respond exactly the same way. They hang up on me. Without apology. Without a "thank you." Sometimes they call back. (Heh.) Super geniuses of the universe, these guys.

Two or three nights ago, the St. Albans guy called again...at 3:00 a.m. I had the typical conversation with him, but the shortened middle-of-the-night version that I think ended with me hanging up on him. This special genius called right back so I had Eric answer it. Waking Eric up in the middle of the night with a jerk-ass phone disposition is not a good idea. Eric had some firm words with the guy and then hung up.

So the calls continue. Hopefully, someday the leader of this particular Mensa chapter will realize that s/he's giving out the wrong phone number. Until then, I'm not sure there's much I can do about it.

Another Look at One of My All-Time Favorites

Can you believe The Color Purple is not listed in either AFI's 100 Greatest Movies of All Time or Time Magazine's All-Time 100 Movies? (It looks like I left a word or two out in that last one but that's what it's called.) Anyway, I can't believe it. I mean, I don't know many women who can't recount several favorite, moving scenes from The Color Purple.

Maybe it is a woman thing and, therefore, about half of the population wouldn't be as enamored with it. But even though it was released in 1983, this movie is as visually-stunning, in my opinion, as anything released more recently. As for the story behind the pictures, much of the daring and original plot is unforgiving and sometimes painful to absorb...but the viewer who makes the investment in this journey will be rewarded by sharing in the protagonists' uplifting victories and affirmation.

Phew. Sometimes I go off the melodrama deep end.

So tonight I watched a bit of The Color Purple on television. I didn't really watch the whole thing because it wasn't in letterbox format. (Yes, I'm a movie purist and it drives me nuts to not be able to see a third of the original picture.) I did see two of the most powerful scenes, though. The first one I really get into is where Mister is throwing Nettie out of the house as Celie cries and struggles against him to keep Nettie there. Raw emotion (and a completely committed delivery) is what makes this scene so deeply moving. In a documentary about the movie, Steven Spielberg talked about how hard it was for him to get Danny Glover to really let himself go all the way into character for the scene. The emotional cruelty (and physical domination) Mister displayed toward Celie and Nettie in the scene was just difficult for Glover, even as an actor.

I have no problem at all believing that. Just watching the scene makes me cry every single time. Not only does Danny Glover manage to pull off one of Mister's most heartless moments (despite Glover's real-life status as a nice guy), Desreta Jackson and Akorua Busia held nothing back and you would think their hearts truly broke every time they went through the scene.

My other favorite scene is the final one. Cinematically, just the pictures themselves are perfect metaphors that underline the literal actions...like Celie moving through her friends and family to see who has arrived at the house...and each of the other characters standing completely still, transfixed and wondering as Celie realizes who is there on the road. When the bright, colorful wraps of the travelers float up behind them in the wind and dust, Celie knows it is her sister whom she'd been forcibly separated from most of her married life (and living in Africa).

Hold on...let me get a tissue.


This movie is an absolute journey. If you haven't watched it, you really should (maybe more so if you're a woman). If you can handle the heartache, the end will be worth it. Even if you chose to read this, knowing that the ending would be told to you, seeing for yourself will really be so, so much more. Besides, there is so much to this story that I left out. And there is really no way I can do The Color Purple justice with just words.

Scrabble Tour: Hudson, Ohio

Saturday morning, I packed Bella, Edie, Eric, and Lisa into the van. (The kids were fine but Eric and Lisa resisted getting into the trunk.) So our destination was Stop 3 on my 2008 Whirlwind Scrabble Tour: Hudson, Ohio (between Akron and Cleveland).

Lisa is a fellow Scrabbler from our club here in Charleston, WV and a co-contributor to our club's Scrabble blog. Our original plan was to travel together and room together at this, her second official Scrabble tournament. Eric and the girls decided to come along, hang out at the hotel pool, go to the Cleveland Zoo, and so on. That was good for me because, even though I was out-of-town in a tournament, I got to have dinner with them and spend a little time with them.

As for the tournament itself, it was an "open-rated" one, meaning that, regardless of your rating, you could potentially be in a match against any other player. The upside to this type of tournament is that if you have a good game, your NSA Scrabble rating will go up quite a bit. The downside, if you're in the lower rankings like me, is that it's hard to get one of those wins.

There were some highlights...I managed a solid win against an opponent who has thrashed me each of the three times we've played each other in the past. Lisa pulled out a win against one of the top-rated players there.

In the end, Lisa and I did pretty well. I came out with a win-loss record of 4-and-7 (even though Cross-Tables only predicted 1.4 winning games for me. Lisa did even better with a win-loss of 5-and-6 when Cross-Tables had predicted she would win 1.1 games. We'll both get a boost in our ratings and I'll agree that, even though my goal was to come out with maybe 5 victories, a rating increase is so much better than a rating loss. (Duh.)

I remain undeterred. Okay...well, I was deterred for about 18 hours after the tournament, during which time I had resolved to never, ever play Scrabble again. Now...I'm undeterred again. I've got at least four more tournaments before the end of the year. Actually, since Eric's work scheduled has been changed around and he and the kids can travel a little more, I may add one or two other tournaments.

Stay tuned for more details!
And donate generously to help me keep this tour going!
All the cool kids are doin it!!

Coincidence? I Think...Maybe

So am I the only one who sometimes suspects they possess phenomenal cosmic powers...and by "phenomenal cosmic powers" I mean tiny premonitions?

Aside from some serious, hardcore déjà vu (or being certain I had, days before, dreamed whatever inconsequential event I'm witnessing), it sometimes seems like I can, out of nowhere, have a random thought about someone I hadn't seen or thought about in years...and then within a few days they show up.

Sometimes this involves people who were important in my life (or at least semi-important). Other times it's someone I barely hold any memories of...like one time it involved some manager I worked for for only a few months more than a dozen years ago. I hadn't seen her since then, I don't remember her name, etc. I only remember that I didn't like her. She was just mean. She made another employee pick up her candy wrapper off the floor as she walked away. (How power-trippy is that? I hate power-trippiness. Maybe it's because I don't have a lot of power.) So, anyway, based on my experience, I had a thought about this woman then I thought, "Shit, now I'm going to see her. I hope she doesn't speak to me." Sure enough, I saw her for the first time in a dozen years within a couple of days. Luckily, she was only sitting at a table in the food court at the mall. She didn't even look in my direction. (Phew!)

It's a nice, warm feeling when these strong thoughts or recurring thoughts of someone you'd really like to see or talk to come about. If there's a decent chance they'll turn up again soon, there's something to look forward to. Thankfully, that's happened a lot more than the negative people popping up.

Since my take on phenomena (or maybe non-phenomena) is so open-minded, I don't spend a lot of time ruminating about proving or disproving the potential abilities of any person. Because of my education in psychology (and my great brain), I do consider the possible proof against it. In this instance, I figure if everyone who popped into my head and then into my life were local, it'd be much more likely that I had seen them without realizing it and then just was more (unconsciously) on watch for them the next time. But they're not all local. Some are thousands of miles away.

So, has this happened to you (beyond what feels like coincidence)? If so, do you think you're drawing people to you or just sort of "seeing" them coming? If you believe in any such things, I think the latter is more likely. I don't think we know much about space and time and the way human energy travels around, so it doesn't surprise me that no one can say for sure how a premonition would be possible. But...I think that the possibilities are pretty cool.

Scrabble Tour Star Cancels Show: Cites "Exhaustion"

That's right. I've exhausted all my efforts to find a babysitter for this weekend so I could make the trip to Fenton, Michigan (and the next scheduled stop on my 2008 Whirlwind Scrabble Tour). Actually, I had a sitter but that plan fell through. And the role of weekend babysitter has to be filled with someone close, usually a family member or a babysitter you've used for a long time. The kids would be thrown off balance quite a bit by having someone less-than-close be their caregiver for that long. Or maybe they wouldn't. I don't know. Either way, I'm not willing to risk it. Eric has Army drills this weekend so it would have had to be someone I trusted to stay with the kids and keep them safe all night on Saturday, too.

I suppose I can just use this time to study more and then take my opponents by storm in Hudson, Ohio next weekend. Still...I hate cancelling a show.

And That's When It Went All Pear-Shaped

I was sitting in the Super-Duper Mini-Van this morning at an intersection downtown. A scene unfolded as I sat at the red light and it went like this:

Directly across the intersection, a nicely-dressed man, maybe in his 40's, approached the crosswalk with his seeing eye dog. (I've seen this man before and if he has any vision at all, it appears to be close to zero.) The man pressed the crosswalk button then waited at the intersection. Even though the light was red, the crosswalk signal had obviously not turned to "walk" because the dog was watching it and had not moved.

A young woman sat at the red light in her oldish car and obviously observed the man waiting. No doubt trying to be helpful, the woman gave a short "beep" on the car's horn so the man would know it was okay to walk. No doubt the man heard her and probably understood the meaning, but he did not move. (I'm sure a visually-impaired person must be absolute in their reliance upon their guide dog. It would have to be that way to ensure proper training of the dog...and to prevent misunderstandings by relying on other input which might be misinterpreted.)

So, Man #2 approaches the intersection (where the light is still red but the crosswalk light still says "don't walk") and, seeing that it is safe for him to go, crosses the intersection in the direction of Man #1. As Man #2 passes Man #1, Man #2 slows his gait enough to tell Man #1 that the woman in the car wishes to let him cross. Man #1 moves his head in the direction of Man #2, says something, and waves Man #2 away as if he were swatting at a bee. Man #2 walks on.

The light turns green, I pass through the intersection, and the woman passes through the intersection in her car. Man #1 waits for the crosswalk light to change.

What a mess that was. A man uses what is probably the best practice when one is traveling with the help of an assistance animal and wishes to retain his independence. A woman obviously didn't understand these issues and attempted to be kind and give way to someone who she felt might need it. Another man tries to bridge the communication gap between the other two and is rewarded with a less-than-friendly wave off.

I guess all three of them might have learned something (even if it was small) from that 15 seconds of the morning. As for me, I escaped with only some reflected discomfort. The dog ...well, he or she didn't really seem that interested in the whole thing.

2008 Whirlwind Scrabble Tour: Pontiac, Michigan

Sitting here in Concourse C of Detroit's Metro Airport, I've got some time to reflect on this weekend's Scrabble tournament in Pontiac, Michigan. Two words come to mind:

Study more.

Really, though. I'm happy with this weekend. The very, very, very best part was getting to spend some time with people I'd gotten to know a little bit before, getting to know them better, and meeting lots of new people. The second best part was getting somewhere around 60 points added to my rating. The award for "most instantly gratifying" goes to the poker tournament on Saturday night (in which yours truly won back her $10 entry fee plus $60 more).

At 20 games, this tournament was far too long to detail here. In the end, I came out with 7 wins and 13 losses. And my point spread was so far down it had to reach up to tie its shoes. (Point spreads don't really have shoes so don't hurt your brain trying to picture that.) Okay, so...this result was more than the Magitastic Intrawebs Site predicted for me.

Now we have a little more experience under our belts. Now we get ready for the Fenton, MI tournament coming up in two weeks. (Actually, it's two one-day tournaments, one on Saturday and one on Sunday.) How do we get ready? Study...more.

Peace out.

P.S. Thanks again to my two sponsors for this weekend's trip.
Their contributions bought either my dinner on
Friday night or all three of my lunches at the Mexican place.