Recapping Easter Mass

My Dad, the father of five kids, used to call Sunday “Dread Sunday,” referring to the Herculean efforts required to get all those bodies out of bed and to mass. I’m beginning to understand why. With four young kids of my own (ages 4, 3, and 10-month-old twins), I’m becoming quite familiar with the expression. This past Sunday was Easter, and though the Church views this as the most important occasion of the year, my kids still see it as another opportunity to test the limits of my faith.

In the middle of the most recent mass, Char got up to take Grace to the restroom to change her diaper. (As a side note, we had both families in town for the holiday, so Easter was spent a little like Christmas: we left our house at 9a and got home 12 hours and nearly 100 miles later. This is important, because you have to understand that when we left the house we had to prepare for the invasion of Normandy. In all of that confusion, we left the baby wipes behind.) So, with Char in the restroom fighting a squirmy baby without wipes, things got a little hectic back in the narthex. (We have learned a few things; we’ve yet to return to the inside of church after “the incident”. But that’s a different story.)

By the time Char returned, she had missed both readings and some of the homily. I looked at her at one point and asked, “I thought going to mass was supposed to lower your blood pressure?”

Following mass, we loaded everyone into the car and headed for my sister’s house. While enroute, Char asked what the homily was about, so I briefly recapped the story the priest shared about a young handicapped child. She then asked me to summarize the readings.

“Oh, the readings?” I asked. “They were: Jack, sit down! Lily, get off the floor! Both of you, be quiet! Get back here! Put that down! Shhhh! Quit kicking the pew! Stop that!”

Char laughed and said, “So they were the same as last week?”

She thinks she’s lost a step since staying home with the kids, but I attest that she’s as quick as ever.

Yahoo! Netrospective

On the occasion of their 10th birthday, Internet icon Yahoo! has created a celebration of the “history” of the web. First, some things you should know: This history only covers 10 years, which really only represents the public awakening of the Internet. The origin of the Internet, a military network called ArpaNet, started back in the 1960’s. Second, we should bear in mind the overwhelming success of
Yahoo! to make sense out of chaos. When first conceived, it was another entry in the growing list of tools to help make sense and order out of the rapidly growing World Wide Web. (In fact, the name “Yahoo!” is an acronym representing “Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle.”) But they’ve done some things extremely well in the past ten years, and are now, according to founders David Filo and Jerry Yang, “touching the lives of more than 300 million people every month.” So I think they’re to be forgiven for inserting themselves so brazenly into the history.

For inspiration, Yahoo! looked to the work of information artist Jonathan Harris. Harris’s best-known work is his 10×10 project, which automatically gathers the top 100 words and pictures in the world every hour, based on what’s happening in the news, and then displays these words and pictures in an interactive 10×10 grid. Harris calls 10×10 “an often moving, sometimes shocking,
occasionally frivolous, but always fitting snapshot of our world.”

It works by collecting 100 most relevant words and photos, based on usage by a group of leading international news sources. It then compiles words and photos into an interactive 10×10 grid that allows the user to further explore each topic. The collection runs with complete autonomy, providing no commentary or bias (other than the obvious bias of the subject being topical), so it provides a distinctly unique snapshot of our world – and the events shaping it – every hour.

Yahoo! took the approach from 10×10 and created their own snapshot of the past ten years, as opposed to the last hour. They call their work the “Yahoo! Netrospective: 10 Years“, and it
attempts chronicle the leading events in Internet development over the past ten years. Events highlighted include some of the biggest names around: the incorporation of Yahoo!, the Netscape rise to fame, the birth of eBay, and the death (or at least the temporary demise) of Napster. It also includes some major trends, like day trading, open source development, and fantasy sports.

And, of course, no Internet retrospective would be complete without covering such infamous topics like the rise and fall of Howard Dean; the short life, hype, and death of; and the strangely persistent Naked News.

For most of us, this trip down memory lane is filled with moments of “Ah, I remember that…”, some of which are followed immediately by, “I sure wish I could forget it.” The Netrospective, and its inspiration 10×10, are both fun to use, beautiful, and captivating.

A Little Good News… For a Change

Haven’t you had enough of bad news? I have… I think. But here’s
the problem: no matter where you look or how hard you might try to
avoid it, bad news follows you around like a bad penny. TV news,
newspapers, magazines, Internet sites… all seem to make their living
– and acquire the most viewers – using bad news. I think there is
something hardwired into our genetic code that causes us to gravitate
toward bad news; it’s almost impossible to look away. I don’t know
why, but almost all of us slow down when we see a car accident, and
not necessarily to help; often it’s just to gape. (I’d like to think
that this part of our nature is tied to our inherent “fight or flight”
instincts. Perhaps we’re just looking at these things to make mental
notes of what to avoid: Keep your hand out of the blender; check.
Don’t launch bottle rockets using your buttocks as the bottle;
check. But honestly, I may be giving the human race a little too much credit.)

It’s similar with news stories: the ones we talk about,
forward to other people, and read the most are generally bad.

It’s so bad, in fact, that I think we often react with disbelief
when we hear of a good story. “You mean a fifth-grader found a deposit
envelope with $5,000 in cash and he returned it? No way, that’s got to
be an urban legend.” But on the opposite end of the spectrum, we have
no trouble at all believing that a couple was feeding their adopted
children garbage and wallboard paste. I’d like to change this, and you
can help.

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post on here on my blog
that specifically asked people to share good news. I was tired of all
the bad news, I said, and was just looking for something – anything!
– good. Of the several hundred people that read that post, 8
commented. Of those comments, most were simply commiserating that
they, too, were interested in good news but had nowhere to turn. Only
one person (thanks Mysti!) provided an answer.

What she shared with me is the antidote for the daily news. The
Good News Network
is a clearing house of all
of the good news that gets buried everywhere else. Some are newspaper
stories, some are written in-house, many storylines are provided by
readers looking to spread the word about good news in their area. The
site, though not beautiful, is efficient. News is divided into
categories like National, Business, Life, Opinion, Earth, and (my
favorite) Samaria.

In Samaria, you can read stories related to the best news you can
imagine: people behaving well. No murderers, swindlers, cheats,
thieves, or just plain rotten n’er do wells. Just honest to God, real
life people doing blissfully good things.

There’s even a quaint little page offering links to other websites
across the net featuring good news. Lest you think the human race is
not in trouble, this page has a total of eight links. So help me
spread the good word. Tell your friends about The Good News Network
and help us all start our days on a more positive note.