Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Better Friends through NFP

I had the great fortune recently to join up with the Knights of Columbus and meet many men who are trying to live out the faith. It is always a blessing to start new friendships and grow closer to those who help us on our narrow road.

It is especially a blessing to discover real Catholics who try to adhere to all of the Lord's teachings, like NFP. Not only is it great to have conversations about mucus, or about the spiritual benefits of love-making beyond the fertile years, but there is a palpable sense of understanding and mutual connection that is deeper than the words exchanged. An intimacy that could only be wrought of materials far beyond my comprehension.

NFP - Health, Love, and Friendship.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Searching for Sasha

I have not entered the Mall in a long time, consequently, I had mostly enjoyable shopping experiences this Advent. The greatest shopping experience was definitely related to the true meaning of Christmas. As we were finishing dinner in the Food Court, I noticed a dad walking, carrying one kiddie, with two trailing along behind. As we left the Food Court, I saw the dad frantically run up to a clerk and ask, "Do you know where my keys are?" I saw myself doing the same thing, but as we started to move along the concourse, I was stopped by the man's frantic running up and down the entrance to the Food Court, that's when I realized that he had lost something far more precious than his keys. Of course, he was also constantly repeating his daughter's name, Sasha.

By the grace of God I had seen them together so I had some idea of what Sasha looked like. Since he had canvassed the area around the court thoroughly, I went to look where he hadn't. Upon entering the nearby stores, I found a little girl touching everything that she could. I asked Jen to watch over her and I flagged down the frantic dad. Guiding him to the store, he picked up Sasha immediately and then called for his son, who emerged from behind another rack of touchable items. He started reprimanding them both in a foreign language, perhaps German.

And there is the lesson of the Incarnation, the mystery of our place as Children of God. God so loves us that He will keep searching for us, as He would search for His only begotten Son. (And once He has us, He will teach us the error of our ways)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Colds that Reproduce

I love my humble magyar. There are so few men who would take the time to report on the state of their mucus. Wouldn't it be a better world if we could all self-diagnose through monitoring our various secretions?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Great Jimmys Think Alike

Jimmy Akin has a great post on nutrition. He discusses many of the issues which I see surrounding nutrition. I would love to see a company do double-blind, placebo-controlled studies on excellent nutritional products without having to be goaded by the government to do so. Oh wait, Reliv has done that on its newest product, as well as a few others, without spending millions of taxpayer dollars for the FDA to watch over them.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Eschatological Cake

Song: Cool Blue Reason
Band: Cake
Lyric: "...I'm just talking to myself. I'm just rearranging Hell..."

I suppose Cake has been a guilty pleasure for years. Isn't that always the case? Ever since their hit, "Going the Distance," I've been intrigued by their lyrics. The above lyric struck me upon my most recent listening as a particular apt description of Hell in two sentences. Although the whole Fire and Brimstone imagery is still common in the arts, the recent elaborations of Hell have focused on the idea of singularity. That is to say, Hell is being completely and totally self-absorbed much like the image from "The Passion" where Satan is on a floating rock in a vast dark emptiness, screaming. The Cake Eschaton has a nice fussiness to it. When a consummate consumerist goes to Hell, I imagine him spending a lot of time rearranging it; moving things around in a knowingly futile attempt to make things better and looking at all his things as they eternally condemn him, like a millstone around his neck.

I imagine Hellish furniture to be expensive and modern, whereas Heavenly furniture is from Ikea.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Well, I had another great thanksgiving, including my best week ever as a blogger (79 unique hits and 149 total page views). For that I am grateful. Speaking of my natural family life, family life is truly great for the peaceful times to play some strategy board games as well as for the hectic times of trying to get my daughter to eat some turkey before she eats the turkey-shaped cookies. I love that a natural life is orchestrated to balance the small requirements for personal time with the large necessities of self-sacrifice to grow a family.

And I have time to blog about it. God bless the U.S.A.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Heisenberg Well Visit

I tend to generally distrust doctors, though my opinion is increasing as I realize the amazing stress they are under with uninformed patients, outrageous insurance premiums, heavy drug marketing, and lawyer sharks constantly circling.

But I detest well child visits. What is the point of taking all the healthy kids and having them sit in the same room, breath the same air, and play with the same toys that all the sicks kids touch? The dark and cynical part says that the point is to stay in business; the kind part says that they can see more patients if the patients come to them, than if they go to the patients.

In the end, I've decided that the Heisenberg Uncertainty principle applies. You can not measure the health of the child without affecting the result.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

What the Free Market teaches about the Faith

My dear Magyar has a post recording an excellent homily which he recently heard at Mass. A suggested interpretation of the parable of the three servants who were responsible for the Master's talents while He was away. In brief, we aren't merely to use the talents we are given; we are to trade those talents that we have to get newer, more valuable ones. This type of trading is the basis of the free market system, as the humble Magyar points out.

Suddenly I feel much better about risking advancement in my corporate career to start a new business. I pray the Lord deems these talents more valuable.

Monday, November 24, 2008

This is a test....

Me to pregnant belly: "This is a test of the intrauterine broadcast system. This is only a test. 'Hello? Swim! Do cartwheels! Dance on the bladder!'... Had this been an actually emergency, you would have heard, 'Get me an epidural! You did this to me!'"

What a Play for the Knights, and what a Night for a Play.

I have just recently received my Third Degree as a Knight of Columbus and I am doing what every good Knight does. No, I am not hosting a pancake breakfast, not running a Bingo Night, not organizing a fifty-fifty, but advertising for the theatrical efforts of Todd Cardin, a fellow Knight and playwright.

MDP will be hosting a Christmas Play written exclusively for MDP on December 12, 13, and 14. This will be your only chance to see this play as executed by the uniquely talented thespians of MDP along with special performances by local actors. The Athletic Association and the MDP Knights are hosting the event so ticket competition should be fierce, get yours today!

See how the buzz is already spreading:

"Is the show heartwarming or quirky? Is it sentimental or goofy? I was going to wait for the reviews to find out...Please put two tickets on the side for me." - Brother Knight via e-mail

"Good prevails, evil is vanquished." - A recently minted Third Degree Knight, rumored to have a significant inside track

See you at the show!

If you don't get the title, see here.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Help Yourself

I have discovered a trait which ties us network marketers together and begins to explain the seemingly endless supply or pastor's wives that I have run into while learning the business. In one of our recent conference calls, the speaker was discussing the current economic situation and he said that the most dreaded words in the English language are, "I'm from the government and I'm hear to help." Us network marketers know that we have to do it ourselves. The government or a corporation can't replace our need to work for what is best.

Personal responsibility, gotta love it.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Absolutely sickening

I really try to keep it light here. I know there are heavy, important issues which weigh on the minds of all well-intentioned people. I also know that too much brooding on the darkness in this world can lead one to a place that is difficult to come back from.

But this is evil.

I praise the Lord for the solace that he provides in trying times. "Jesus wept."

Monday, November 17, 2008

Super Nerdism

Pregnant wife: "ACHOOOO!"

Me: "You're Bajoran!"

Click here if you are a normal person and want to get the joke.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Wrestling as a Christian

My dad recently got a chance to meet a professional wrestler who he watched intently as a youth, much to his delight. At the dinner, the wrestler gave a speech decrying the current state of professional wrestling with drugs, scantily-clad women, and no positive role models. This gave me the chance to remember the wrestling of my youth, especially when I knew it was "real."

I loved watching wrestling on the weekends, though I could never have said why. In retrospect, I think I loved the morality play which it represented. The bad guys like Nikoli Volkoff and the Iron Sheik, always lost the match. The good guys, like Hulk Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior, always won. The only exception was treachery, when the bad guys would sneak in brass knuckles or some other weapon, like a bazooka, without the referee noticing. I never understood why they didn't hire referees with better eyesight. The morality play even included redemption stories, with Rowdy Roddy Piper and Macho Man Randy Savage switching from mortal enemy to tag team partner united against evil. The egotists were always ridiculed, even when they had a perfect record, like Mr. Perfect. If only WWF (sorry, WWE) wrestling could get back to its roots, it could participate in the formation of real men who fight external and internal evils, and who know that goodness ultimately wins.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Not a Complete Idiot, but Tending that Way

"The Complete Idiot's Guide to American History" by Alan Axelrod

I have been wanting to bone up on my American history and since I have had such great luck with the "... for Dummies" series of books, I thought I would try the "Idiot's Guide to ..." series. My brother credits this Idiot's Guide to getting him through high school history so I grabbed it when he was tossing it.

The layout of the book was very like a textbook and had none of the interesting attributes of the "... for Dummies" books which I have read. The topics jumped around more than I would have liked, but this did make each section a good read individually. The author mostly kept the book entertaining and even succeeded in explaining the Native American issue with balance and tact. Unfortunately, the research and balance seemed to drop off as the modern era was approached especially anything since the New Deal. From FDR onward, there are blind assertions that socialist policies are good, while free market policies are bad. Clearly, it is difficult to write history while history is being written but that only underscores the need to provide good research to back up claims. All in all, I would recommend this book be treated like my American History class. I paid attention and learned good stuff but we ran out of time and stopped abruptly after the Industrial Revolution.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Big Announcement

This weekend will be a new product launch for Reliv. I'm really interested in what they come up with. Watch the news! Call me to find out more! I'm really glad they waited until after the election.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Now in a New Package!

As I have worked to develop my own small business, I have discovered that I really enjoy supporting other small businesses. Since I briefly considered marketing as an occupation during college, I suppose that I should not be surprised. Supporting small businesses naturally acts against the mass marketing approach which I now despise so I'm happy to help out a fledgling business in a targeted manner.

Dear reader, if you love the Church as much as I do and you own every Weird Al CD, like me. You will thoroughly enjoy Nick Alexander. Check out his new website. Also, if you want to buy me a present to celebrate Christ's birth, I'll take any of his CDs. For right now, you can check out some samples here.

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Next Big Tobacco

If there was a product that was unnecessary and completely avoidable, that caused blood clots and death in young people, the FDA would surely stop its release. Clearly, the government would never let an agenda color its opinions of a drug that was designed to damage a healthy, functioning body system. And doctors would always hold to the Hippocratic Oath and, "Do no harm."

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Too many auto-dialers

Me (Picking up phone when Call Id shows unknown, expecting another recorded message from the party telling me to vote for the party): "Stop Calling Me!"

Lance Rogers: "uh... Hi... I'm Lance Rogers. I'm calling to talk to members of this district. I'm tired of those calls too. Are there any issues which I can talk to you about? Any questions you'd like to ask me?"

Me: (Aside to Jen) "It's actually Lance Rogers."

Me: "I'm sorry. I thought you would be another auto-dialer."

Well, Lance Rogers seemed like a nice guy. I'm not thrilled with him but he certainly did comport himself well, even with a belligerent caller like me. We didn't agree on everything, unfortunately, but it was refreshing to speak to a person.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

My Friend ROI

I just recently calculated the return on investment (ROI) for my home-based business and I was stunned to find it was 21%! I imagine that it would have taken me far more work to get that kind of ROI on a real-estate deal. Yet another bonus for network marketing, small start-up costs yield better ROIs! Imagine how my ROI would look if I'd invested in the stock market in March.

It makes me thankful that I received a nice tax credit this year, so that I could direct the funds to a small business.

Note: This is not a promise that anyone can achieve results like this, I am merely telling my story.

David wins again

As always, when the Bible is proven to be true, no one seems to notice. Only when certain people with agendas try to prove that it is false by misinterpreting it, does the event make the news. The AFA (David) has defeated McDonald's (Goliath) in only a few short weeks with a boycott. Something you won't hear from major media outlets. However, when environmentalists boycotted McDonald's in the 80s because of polystyrene packaging, not even grade schoolers could escape the news.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Go Phils!

I hate to look to secular causes for hope, since I know true hope comes only from the Lord. But man, if the Phils can win the big one, anything is possible.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Buy-Buy-Buy!

You may hate me, but it ain't no lie, baby. Buy! Buy! Buy!

If there is anything I have learned in my investing studies so far, now is probably the best opportunity to buy American equities that will ever exist in my lifetime. I just wish I had started learning about investing, and socking away my cash, about a year earlier than I did. Now is the time to up your 401k payments, now is the time to fully fund your Roth IRA!

And the real estate market looks ripe for the buying too...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Plunge

As you can see, I have taken the crazy plunge into... AdSense! With the loving support of my wife, I'm going to see if I can generate a little revenue from this publication. I'm planning to keep up the frequency of posting and maybe open an Amazon shop. Please consider clicking on the Ads if they offer something worthwhile and let me know if they offer offensive or inappropriate items. I'll eliminate the Ads if needed, but I'm hoping to learn how AdSense works and filter the content as needed.

Oh yeah, I've also taken the plunge into fatherhood again, too. I'm taking more plunges than the stock market.

I'm not very good at the subdued announcement.

Monday, October 20, 2008

H...I...J...Y!

I just noticed in my Men's blogroll that I had only reached the tenth letter of the alphabet, fortunately I have just added Yeoman Farmer to remedy that situation. I think he may be my hero: farmer, small businessman, author, and blogger. I guess one out of four is a good start.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

I'm an Editorial

I find it highly ironic that I am thrilled to be listed as an editorial review of Passport. I usually detest editors as highly biased and overly educated but here I am, unpaid, among their ranks. As to bias, I swear to serve the Truth which is a bias in only the most reductionist sense of the word. I freely admit to the over-education which modern society has deemed necessary to get a J.O.B. At least I hope to break that shackle soon with my entrepreneurial ventures into actually learning how the world really is. Until that glorious day, I shall revel in small accomplishments.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

This Way Seems Compatable with His Way

Book review of The Warren Buffett Way

As I have been exploring economics from a variety of perspectives, it seemed only natural to read a book about one of the greatest investors of our time. I was pleasantly surprised by this book to learn that investing well was a rational and intelligent process and not just random chance.

Obviously, there are those who dispute that statement but I believe that the weight of Mr. Buffett's success is a powerful argument against them. I also believe that his value investing strategy is highly compatible with the Christian life. As his recent buying spree proves, value investing helps out companies, and consequently keeps thousands of people employed, when they are down and it punishes investors that artificially raise stock prices by selling companies that get too expensive. This process of buying at undervalued points and selling at overvalued points moderates the growth of a company, consequently reducing instability and maintaining a rational environment for the securities market. Given the recent market plummet, I'd rather let billionaires keep the market afloat than my tax dollars.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Network Marketing and Subsidiarity

As I embark on this brave network marketing journey, I encounter repeated arguments against it but very few arguments in favor of it. I want to write some of my thoughts on these issues, both arguments in favor of network marketing and responses to some common arguments.

My first argument in favor of network marketing is that it meets the principle of subsidiarity as I understand it. The bulk of profits goes to the people who do the bulk of the work, people at the lowest level. There is a tremendous culture of support of those at the lowest level since each person up the chain depends upon the success of the newbies. There is a small contingent of people "at the top" and they can be a problem if the compensation package is not structured properly, just like Enron or Fannie Mae. I particularly appreciate the minimal overhead, such as the lack of a gigantic marketing group that generates "buzz" by flooding the media with pictures of scantily-clad women and/or celebrities getting paid millions of dollars to pretend they use the product in question. Paid endorsements just give more money to rich people. I much prefer an organization that lets normal people work for a normal profit.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Why I want small government

I really don't want this to become a political blog. So I will do my darndest to keep to economics which is the topic that makes me interested in the current financial hullabaloo. Here is a great article from 10 years ago that describes exactly how we got into this subprime fiasco. In short, when you lower the requirements to get a mortgage, you get more bad loans. I think it is atrocious that the government forced this situation through well-intended legislation. Lenders have every right to discriminate against people with poor credit scores.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Passport to Truth

I am always flattered when someone asks for my opinion and I was particularly flattered to receive an autographed copy of Passport by Christopher Blunt at the CCL Convention.

Christopher Blunt has written a novel demonstrating nearly the entirety of the Church's teachings on marriage and sexuality. I am stunned by how well everything hangs together without being forced. The plot involves fornication, abortion, contraception, personalism, NFP, annulments, and marital chastity. The story is gripping and believable with a main character, Stan, who appeals to me, a Simpsons-loving entrepreneur. Stan is also a Catholic like me, who takes the Truth for granted and needs to re-learn the Faith constantly.

As Stan re-learns the Faith, a variety of events occur in his life which succeed in being surprising while not being unexpected. Stan's life is not a common one, yet it appeals to the common man. His is a truly Catholic life, where small things can teach great lessons and where an average man is prepared for great gifts.

Friday, September 26, 2008

New content soon

Here is another good link which I have been reading while I get back into the saddle.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Out of Commission

Dear reader, I have been barely upright for the last two days so I apologize for the light posting until this sinus infection and/or nasal detoxification passes. I hope to write another post tonight but staring at the computer is not beneficial to my predicament.

Until then, give this blog a try.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Jack of All Trades

Your result for The Who Would You Be in 1400 AD Test...

The Harlequin


You are a mystery, a jack-of-all-trades. You have the king's ear, but also listen to murmurings of the common folk. You believe in the value of force and also literature. Truly you are the puzzlement of the age.

Take The Who Would You Be in 1400 AD Test at HelloQuizzy

Monday, September 15, 2008

Investigating Life

Here is an interesting article on nutrition from the Washington Post. It captures many of my concerns with current state of nutritional research. First and foremost is the lack of a starting point. After all, how do we know what the human body looks like when it has complete nutrition if we don't know what complete nutrition is? Secondly, research funding invariably causes biases. The government has its own biases just like corporations. And finally, though not mentioned in the article, how do you determine the amount of nutrients in our food when it is so affected by soil quality and farming practices?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Visitors Welcome

I am completely awed by my SiteMeter stats. This blog has had 4800 unique visits and just broke the 10,000 mark for page views. Dear reader, I hope you get a little joy from visiting here, if not some humor and wit.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Running for Life

And its not an election post!

A Baby's Breath is having a Run for Life on Sunday September 14. They have a great, Catholic crisis pregnancy center (with an amazingly competent director) and this is their main fundraiser for their Main Line office. Please support them if you are free and need a good 5K run or a simple one mile walk. The race marshals are especially courteous and well-trained!

Oh! And please support the businesses who support the unborn!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Linkfest

Some great links:

The pill is an environmental pollutant, so the Left is against them, right?

Catholic doctors, being Catholic!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Babies in Guyland

Here is an interesting take on the post-college, "I won't grow up" life. I'm glad Jen puts up with me. She just might have saved my life.

Monday, September 1, 2008

VP Pick

Since everyone is talking about the Vice Presidential pick, I thought I would give my two cents. I like the governor of Alaska as McCain's veep. All the other candidates pale-in comparison!

A Tastefully Simple Fundraiser

As part of my recent, low budget birthday extravaganza, I hosted a Tastefully Simple party as a fundraiser for the PNFPN. It was a blast. Elena Perri was a wonderful hostess and the food was delicious, especially the beer bread and the spinach dip. It was great to help someone else succeed with their business and I pray that her customer base may grow faster and deeper than mine.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

From the horse's mouth

Here is a chance to listen to the founder of Planned Parenthood in her own words. She actually claimed that the Church has a celibate position when it said that marriage should produce children. Right, and contraception leads to parenthood. It is great to hear an interviewer, Mike Wallace, actually quote Church documents and construct a logical argument. It is just as amusing to hear flat denials from Mrs. Sanger when confronted with her own contradictions. I thought that Oprah was a good interviewer until I heard Mr. Wallace.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Oh, woe is she

Here is a damsel in distress, awaiting her knight in no-fault armor to save her from a life of reality. I was going to fisk the whole thing, since a dear reader actually e-mailed to ask what I have to say, but the article is not worth repeating any more than I would repeat what I found upon staring at my navel for three hours.

After denigrating her husband for a few paragraphs, she mentions how women of all ages can look sizzlingly hot and therefore attract a new future ex-husband. Maybe this isn't the best way to find a good man since that attitude got her to where she is now, middle aged and dreaming of divorce. Perhaps she could try something different, like prayer and self-sacrifice, just to mix things up a bit. Also, getting off hormonal contraception is a good idea, since many of her issues can be related to its side effects as explained in Contraception:Why Not by Dr. Janet Smith.

Then, after a few paragraphs of trying to summarize the feminist revolution, she cites examples of other women: a high-powered high-earner, a mogul's wife, a clothing designer, and a doctor. Do I even need to mention that she lives in New York? Maybe she should get out more. I bet Wife Swap would take her.

Her final hypothesis is that marriage will wither away like a vestigial organ. I can only pray that she actually try to use her organ before it withers away, she may discover that it isn't so vestigial after all.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Cold Markets with Warm People

I worked my first table for Reliv at the CCL Convention and it was a blast. I thought that I would be far more intimidated by talking about a business to strangers but I have found it to be amazingly easy. I really just talked to whoever walked by my table, which is exactly what I enjoy doing at CCL Conventions. I met some great people. I heard some interesting stories about other home-based businesses and about Reliv. I got a few people who wanted more information and I followed up with them, which was excellent. I'm still playing phone tag with them so I don't know how successful the convention was from a monetary category but it was a personal success. It's good to learn first hand that business can be personal and quality, now I just hope my low pressure, personalistic model can succeed so I can do this full-time. How sweet would that be!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Burdens of Providing

I've been having an existential quandary for most of this year and I think I can finally phrase the question. Work has been feeling particularly toilsome for this year but the pay is actually a family wage and the prospects for a career there are good. But, basically, I only go because I need to pay the bills. This toiling has been an excellent motivator to get me to learn about money management and investing, as well as starting my own home-based business. However, I am torn over the spiritual dimension: should I be happy at the career that God has currently laid before me and ignore the desire to do things differently and potentially better? Or, should I assume that this entrepreneurial spirit which I have always had is a gift from the Lord and pursue it more diligently?

It is amazing how many difficult situations in life can be summed up by the word discernment.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Apologies to the Smurfs

So, I was watching the Michael Phelps last night with my beautiful Michael Phelps and I couldn't Michael Phelps the scores that were Michael Phelpsed in for the women's Michael Phelps bars. I was also Michael Phelpsed at the men's Michael Phelpses in the Michael Phelps . I'm glad that my Michael Phelps has gotten me Michael Phelpsed in the Michael Phelps. I have Michael Phelpsed some stunning Michael Phelpses as well as some Michael Phelps sportsmanship by the Michael Phelpsest Michael Phelps to win Olympic Michael Phelps.
Go team U.S.A.!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A Regular DeVil

I have been a fan of Disney since birth, and it is with heavy heart that I have seen some of their choices as a business. However, I just recently "got" a character name and I felt like a total maroon. While reading 101 Dalmatians, I realized that Cruella DeVil's last name is actually devil. I can't believe it took me so long to notice. I also can't believe how much I enjoyed those moves as a kid and how far they have dropped in quality. It is quite sad to read, "This is where the path of hatred leads us" as the moral of Pocahontas. Even 101 Dalmatians with its simple plot has a deeper story or parental dedication to children. A formula which leads to tremendous value and success. Long live Pixar!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A Newspaper to Trust

The Bulletin "Philadelphia's Family Newspaper" just ran an article on A Baby's Breath. Hehe, ran, I crack me up.
Read the article to get the joke.

Future famous cinematographer

I met some great people at the CCL Convention, especially vendors and their soon-to-be-famous children.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Couple to Couple League’s Convention 2008

Asheville, North Carolina — (August 5, 2008) — Over 150 families gathered at the Lifeway Ridgecrest Conference Center near Asheville, NC from July 29 – August 2, 2008, and were re-energized in their dedication to the Natural Family Planning (NFP) lifestyle. The occasion of their meeting was the biennial convention of The Couple to Couple League International (CCL), one of the nation’s largest providers of NFP education to couples. Attendees had traveled from 32 states (including Hawaii), Canada, India, and Hong Kong to be part of what has become a very popular event for the families associated with CCL.

The convention, themed “Advancing the Culture of Life Through NFP,” provided a mix of national and international speakers who presented a combination of main talks and workshops that were inspiring and practical in their support of marriage, Church teaching on sexuality, parenting, nutrition and natural family planning.

Nationally-known speakers included Bishop Samuel J. Aquila of the Diocese of Fargo, North Dakota; marriage counselor Greg Popcak, MSW, Ph.D. and his radio co-host wife, Lisa; professor of moral theology Christopher Thompson of the Saint Paul Seminary School of Divinity; biological anthropologist and researcher Katherine A. Dettwyler, Ph.D.; John Bruchalski, M.D., Ob/Gyn, founder of the Tepeyac Family Center in Fairfax, Virginia; Damon Clarke Owens, M.S., founder of Joy-Filled Marriage NJ and the New Jersey NFP Association; and Tami Kiser, founder of the Smart Martha seminars. International flavor was provided by German NFP effectiveness researcher Petra Frank-Herrmann, M.D., Ob/Gyn, and CCL-affliated speakers included Executive Director Andrew Alderson; Board Chairman Linda Kracht; Board Members Tom Bengtson, Erik Tozzi, Jack Burnham, M.D., and Fr. Erik Pohlmeier; Project Managers Ann Gundlach, Vicki Braun, and Silvia Schmidt; author of Fertility, Cycles & Nutrition, Marilyn Shannon; and CCL Teaching Couples Mike and Ann Green, and Adrian and Stacey Nagle.

Most convention attendees were certified Teaching Couples, Promoters, or members of CCL. The Couple to Couple League has been providing instruction on the highly effective Sympto-Thermal Method of natural family planning (NFP), clarification on the moral issues surrounding the use of NFP, and support for breastfeeding since its founding in 1971. The convention is an opportunity for volunteers to recharge their batteries, sharpen their teaching skills, and share strategic ideas and successes with volunteers from other parts of the country, and for other attendees to fellowship with like-minded families.

“I thought this was the best convention ever,” said Chairman of the Board Linda Kracht. “All of the speakers were smart, engaging, funny, and timely in their message. Also, the Ridgecrest staff was wonderful, and the facilities were very well laid out in a beautiful setting. I heard from many attendees that they were enjoying themselves.”

The families who attended brought with them over 350 children who participated in age-appropriate activities including outdoor play, crafts, music and games. In addition to various group activities, teens also received one age-appropriate talk per day and had opportunities to participate in a high ropes course, outdoor laser tag, and a rock-climbing wall. In addition, all convention attendees were treated to a family concert by Catholic wife, mother and recording artist Marie Bellet.

To learn more about the CCL organization and the Sympto-Thermal Method of Natural Family Planning, visit www.ccli.org.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

If only doctors were engineers...

This article shows that the "fertility treatments" commonly offered actually do nothing to treat fertility. If only there were some way to actually understand a couple's fertility and diagnose any problems. Hmmm....

Friday, August 8, 2008

NFP Class

We have a new NFP class starting in one hour. Feel free to call and let us know if you want to come. We hope to plan future classes further out but we are always happy to teach an interested couple.

Monday, August 4, 2008

NFP links

NFP was in the news while I was away at the CCL Convention.

John Allen Jr. has an op-ed in the NYT. Wow! (Warning: Evil registration requirement)

California Catholic Daily has an article by Cardinal James Francis Stafford. Shouldn't that be James Cardinal Stafford? (I haven't read by I mean to!)

Inside Catholic has an article by former blogger Simcha. A firestorm in the comments.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Curious Movie

As an involved parent, I preview movies and shows before the kids see them, though I don't do it nearly as often as I should. My most recent preview was Curious George and I approved the movie for viewing by my little ones even while dismayed at what a G rated movie says about modern society.

I vividly remember the reel-to-reel Curious George films from my grade school library days. I didn't spontaneously pray much as a little kid, but I came close during the walk to the library, hoping that we would watch a Curious George "book" in library class. Since I don't own a projector, my girls have received and inherited many Curious George books and they request frequent readings. The movie did an excellent job of capturing the art of H. A. and Margaret Rey while updating it with current technology and excellent voice talent. However, the movie missed the relationship between the Man in the Yellow Hat and George and came off as a buddy film instead of retaining the father-son relationship which the books portrayed. So I sadly approved the film which was acceptable but reflects the failings of modern society, adults who want to be buddies instead of parents.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

NFP on Holiday

I have been fond of Green Day for a long time, despite the fact that my opinions on every subject under the sun have shifted radically since I was introduced to the band in high school. I was recently listening to Holiday and I realized that I truly agree with the lyric, "I beg to dream and differ from the hollow lies..." but probably not in the way that Billie Joe intended.

Despite my radical changes in opinion, I have almost constantly defined myself as a rebel, in true American style. My first chosen philosophical opinion was to be a true rebel. While the majority of my grade school classmates were disrespectful, 90210-watching, football-playing, cool-kid idolators (pseudo-rebels). I decided to be a respectful, cartoon-watching, video-gaming, cool-kid agnostic (true rebel). This led to some good spiritual development such as actually singing at school Masses when no one else did, but it also made me an outcast in general.

Being an outcast had its own benefits such as being able to choose my own path in life without the burden of appearances. I have chosen the counter-cultural path of an orthodox Catholic: trying to follow the Natural Law, getting married without co-habiting, having kids before establishing my career, running a single income family, and teaching natural family planning. Considering Billie Joe's comments about hoping to win a Grammy for American Idiot (and the praise that goes with it), perhaps I have stayed truer to his message of rebellion than he has. In the End, I don't think I'm a Walking Contradiction, just a Basket Case.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Hidden Adventures

This article best explains the restlessness which I feel every day, the restlessness which drives me to start a business and perform my own home repairs. The song/speech Sunscreen sums it up well, "Do one thing every day that scares you."

Monday, July 21, 2008

There is a Brain in that Skull

Now that I am the proud father of little ones, I only get to the movies once or twice a year. As a Father's day treat from my father, this year's movie was Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Since my father is the one who gave me his love of movies, especially epic adventures like Indiana Jones and Star Wars, I was thrilled to see this installment with him and happy that it lived up to its predecessors.


The movie definitely beat Temple of Doom, keeping it out of the bottom spot in the Indiana Jones collection. Interestingly, the adventure took place in South America, an area of archaeological history which is often overlooked. Conveniently, child sacrifices were glossed over but I can agree to that conceit since contemplating the murder of children is too deep for an action/adventure film. The moral of the story was not as powerfully depicted as in The Last Crusade, but it was pertinent to modern life. Finally, Harrison Ford did pull off the action star role despite his age while the car chases and fight sequences were all of Raiders quality. Crystal Skull also made the required slights against Indy's age, as well as references to the previous movies. I don't think this movie will win over anyone who wasn't an Indy fan, but as a guy who owns a fedora, I'm thrilled the series ended well.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Not Groucho or Cheeko but...

Harpo!

I admit that I'm not sure what to think of Oprah. She is an excellent interviewer and TV producer and all of her failings seem to be the common ones. She is "Christian" but mostly supports New Age belief so her definition of Christian is off. She is a feminist, helping African girls as a way to improve the continent instead of exposing the vast governmental incompetence and/or corruption. She acts as if racism is still the rampant social malady it was in 1968 despite the fact that we've had a black woman as Secretary of State for years. I suppose the best thing that I can say for her is that she is a normal human with the misfortune of international fame so that crackpots like me can form an opinion about her.

However, her network has given my company its TV debut. (Click on the More... link under the Oh! Oxygen banner on the left of the page)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Father as Teacher

As I spent more time contemplating my direct selling dream of working from home, I realized that it meshed with my goal of being a great father.

I believe that a father should be a teacher, passing on many things: the Faith, family traditions, the history of video games, what-life-was-like-when-I-was-a-kid, and such. The task of teaching requires the dad's presence, for teaching by example is the best way. As I stated in my previous post on fatherhood, since I wanted my children to be helpful around the house; I took on chores such as the dishes and the laundry.

As I contemplated how we have arrived at this state in our society, I realized that working outside of the farm/home was a result of the industrial revolution. It seems, to me, that prominent paternal presence for the children was a casualty of the rise of the factory, along with handcrafted goods and quality food.

Makes me wish I knew how to run a farm.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Can Only God Make a Man?

As I pursue my financial freedom, I start to learn about the variety of laws which affect personal finance. I seem to grasp that corporations are taxed on money left over after investing, while individuals are taxed on everything. This gives corporations a huge advantage, since they have up to 35% more money to invest by their very nature. As I pay more attention to the way in which the terms are used, I realize that corporations are effectively legal people. This really bothers me, on a philosophical level. Though it doesn't seem actually immoral, I am disturbed by the concept of the State creating legal people. Maybe that mindset is what disturbed Alduous Huxley. If the State can already create legal people, why not create actual people. Creepy.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Worthwhile News

A Baby's Breath will be featured in an upcoming edition of The Bulletin, a local Philly paper. I generally distrust newspapers, but this one seem worth a trial.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Eggs on Film

No doubt many of you were eagerly waiting the moment when ovulation would be caught on film, wait no longer.

I am stunned by the resolution of this picture, considering that the ovum is one cell. I had no idea that there were any cameras capable of capturing such an image. I hope such technology can be applied toward noble ends.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Man of the House

I had some ruminations pertaining to the actual intent of this blog over my relaxing birthday vacation.

I have read in multiple places recently that the primary assistance which fathers provide in the home is not help with what was previously termed, "woman's work" but is something else. I don't know to whom these authors are responding but I will write a response anyway. Since the laundry, dishes, and other "woman's work" are not objectively assigned by the Lord; I assert that they are up for grabs around the house. It seems natural that they mostly fall upon whoever is home the most. In the majority of households, this is the mother as biology dictates that she has difficulty working outside of the home during pregnancy and early breastfeeding. However, if the father is to pass on the virtue of selfless service to his children, he should help out when necessary, during pregnancy for example but also in times of general familial chaos.

I get the feeling I said this before. Thanks for humoring me, dear reader.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

God Bless America!

I am looking forward to a nice holiday to celebrate our nation's birth. It is a blessing beyond compare that an average joe like me can participate in running my country and exercise a variety of basic freedoms, including religion, speech, assembly, ownership, and self-defense. I often contemplate the sad state of affairs in our world and I often read about the abuse of power in our own country; however, this Fourth of July, I shall remember the honor of men who founded this Great Experiment. I don't believe they thought democracy would led us to perfection; I believe they thought democracy would engender responsibility and maturity. As a nation, we may have let them down but I hope that my life may be one that they smile upon.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Jen Made Me Do It

144

As a 1930s husband, I am
Very Superior

Take the test!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Tectonic Sleeping

Useful co-sleeping tip #8: Introduce change slowly.

When moving kids from one sleeping location to another, we did everything gradually. We started to talk to our eldest about moving into her own room months before we officially did it. She slept in there a couple times before the official switch but she still preferred the toddler bed so we didn't make a fuss. Everyone was sleeping well in our bedroom Pangaea. Suddenly, our eldest was playing with her dolls and talking about how the big kid doll was ready to sleep in her own room, so we struck while the iron was hot and she moved into her own room that night. The princess sheets which my forward-thinking wife had purchased made the change special. There have been no complaints so far, except from us.

While the eldest was ready for the change, the little one was not quite ready for the toddler bed so the change was made even more gradual for her. First, she dozed next to me in our bed. Then I placed her in the toddler bed and she cuddle against my arm. I extracted my arm to whimpering which was calmed by a hand on her tummy. Finally I snuck out of the room, as slowly as a tectonic plate, so that I could avoid the squeaky floorboards.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Not that Kind of Sublime

"...it ain't hard to understand, this ain't Hitler's master plan, what it takes to be a man..."
lyric from Same in the End by Sublime

I admit to rabidly enjoying Sublime in my adolescent years, despite the knowledge that the lead singer overdosed shortly after cutting their best seller. As I've listened occassionally throughout the years, I skip over more and more tracks because of profanity and general vulgarity. However, this lyric struck home upon my last listening. Perhaps even as a worldly teen, I was subconsciously aware that manhood was important and Sublime conveyed the sense of frustration. Every man should know how to be a man, it seems so basic. Yet even the lead singer couldn't find the manhood he needed and sought refuge in fleeting pleasure.

God rest his soul.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

14 Weeks with Reliv

Health: So far, my allergies are mild. My nose often leaks like a sieve by the time I finish mowing the lawn. Granted, it is early in the season so I am curious about what the future holds.

Business: My first week completely off. Things have been crazy with home improvements and the shift to summer scheduling so I haven't done much else. I had my first technical trouble when the website was out of commission for a few days and a customer needed to re-order.

I am starting to see how word-of-mouth actually works. Friends are asking how business is, and family is mentioning it to other friends. Business is teaching me patience and persistence. I won't necessarily see fruits for a while, or ever, but the longer I keep at it, the better my chances get.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Can I Be a Witness up in Here?

A co-worker that I barely know approached me today and asked if I had a Bible. Unfortunately, I did not have one at work. However, he said if I didn't have one that he was going to call his wife and ask her to look up the quote that he couldn't remember. I was initially flattered and somewhat proud of being known for my faith and approachable about the topic. Then I realized that there were at least two dozen people in my room, and he didn't want to ask anyone else for The Good Book. That was a sad realization.

I pray the Lord will make me (and my pride) diminish more, so that He may work more fully through me.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Welcome Available Lighters

Welcome to my little home on the web, fair travelers from Available Light and all long-time readers. My main concern on this blog is figuring out authentic manhood in this crazy world, especially a father's place in family life. I try to approach my other interests from this direction, but my interests vary widely so cohesion is not obvious. Feel free to peruse my labels to learn more about Natural Family Life.

I have noticed that many other bloggers occassionally do a "Hello World" post and ask their readers to leave a comment. Please leave a comment and introduce yourself, I love meeting people. As an incentive, I am running my first blog contest ever. I will pick one random commentor to receive a copy of My Grandfather's Son, the book which I recently reviewed at Available Light. If you don't want to be in the contest, please say so in your comment.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Embarassing Parenthood

I just read The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein for the first time. Now, I do remember having the book read to me at the public library when I was little, and I am pretty sure it was featured in Reading Rainbow, so the story is not new to me. However, since this is the first time I ever read the story on the other side of parenthood, I was surprised by my overwhelming emotional reaction to the book. I read it as a bedtime story to my two lovely girls and I wept for the brief interval of time where I can help form them as young Christian ladies.

More surprising to me than my emotional response, was how I understand the Tree much better now. As a child, I guess I pitied the tree and sympathized with the boy. I simply expected that the Tree enjoyed helping the boy so the Tree was happy. Now I know that the Tree did enjoy helping the boy, but that the Tree suffered as the boy grew since the boy grew further away. I guess The Giving Tree taught me the lesson of love which I only absorb intellectually from the tree of the cross. Successful love, like successful parenting, involves suffering. The better I do my job of raising my daughters into mature, independent ladies, the more I will miss these years of providing everything for them.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Trying for a Boy

I was finally asked the dread question by an old neighbor who I hadn't spoken to in years, "Are you going to try for a boy?" He didn't listen to my response beyond the word, "Yes" so I don't know what he thinks about, "At least three or four times." I think I handled the first test well. I hope I can develop more eloquent answers in the future. Perhaps I should avoid answering all together if I want to get into real conversations. Maybe I'll go all Socratic and respond with a question, "Why is that important?"

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Cubed Off

Available Light has a link to an excellent piece explaining the rise of cubicles. As someone who has worked almost exclusively in cubicles, I found it interesting to learn their history. I was dumbfounded to hear that someone thought they would improve information sharing. I am always amazed at the contradictions of modern corporations. How does anyone expect to have sharing of information when moving from job to job within the company is encouraged? Who is around long enough to learn any information when even the walls of your office space are not permanent?

Saturday, June 7, 2008

More Voices

I am always intrigued by Great NFP Battles when they arise. They are often a chance for me to practice charity and, sometimes, to find differing opinions within the sphere of faithful Catholicism. I hope I can learn from the two new additions to my Women's Blogs: And Sometimes Tea & Building Cathedrals.

Friday, June 6, 2008

I Wish I Wrote This

David Warren succeeded in writing the piece that I wish I had written on oil prices. The soaring prices make me so thankful that God directing my home-buying such that I nearly eliminated my dependency on oil back when it was merely $2.19 per gallon or so. I forget the exact price because, quite frankly, I have more important things to think about than the price at the pump.

Reading Thomas

Although I don't often read autobiographies, a dear friend gave me her copy of "My Grandfather's Son" and suggested that I would enjoy it. Though I am old enough to remember the general facts of Clarence Thomas's appointment to the bench, I never really had an interest in the politics or the man embroiled in them. However, his story is both interesting and educational.


Clarence Thomas has a clear recollection of his tumultuous life from living in a shack near a swamp through college activism to political intrigues. He not only narrates the details of his own life; he realizes that his life is a whole. He illustrates the connections between incidents in his life with an understanding light. Though racism was a formative part of his life, he demonstrates the strength that comes from meeting the challenge. As politics continues to be more dominated by whining, I am thankful for the story of a man facing the challenge of integrity, failing, and learning to be a better man by incorporating the difficult lessons taught by life and by a loving grandfather.

Friday, May 30, 2008

201: A Web Odyssey

This is post 201 on my little corner of cyberspace, that puts me at about a post every two days. In honor of this accomplishment, I am flattered to announce that I will have some posts up at Available Light, a new blog from Dean Abbott. The posts are currently re-releases of book reviews that you read here first, but I will be sending him some new material in the near future. So go check him out, dear reader.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

11 Weeks on Reliv

Health: I fit into a 32 waist, comfortably, for the first time in years and I am frequently down one notch on the belt. My BMI seems to be fluctuating more, so I'm not always seeing the low numbers I had previously.

Business: I have been doing some calls and learning a lot from my sponsor. I have a potential new customer.

I am thankful that this business is giving me an excuse, and motivation, to call people whom I wouldn't ordinarily call. I am starting to develop relationships, even with non-customers, that I would have left fallow otherwise.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Excellent Activism

I generally decry the activist, whiny culture which seems more and more common in America. However, I truly love excellent activism couched in wit and reason. With that, I give you:

The Meatrix
The Meatrix 2

In trying to live a natural life, I become more sympathetic to the way animals are treated. I hate being treated as a cog in a machine; it seems unpleasant to them too. Also, grass-fed beef is absolutely delicious.

Monday, May 19, 2008

First Novel is a Lulu

A book review of Conspiracy Untold by Brad Leiphart

I have contemplated this review for over a week and I was unsure exactly what to say about Brad's first novel. It defied easy categorization and therefore, comparison was difficult for me. The basic style was reminiscent of Ludlum but the protagonist, Ryan Hull, was far more gruesome in his methods, like Jason Bourne but with less control. The novel also used the scenery of Philadelphia and the environs to good extent, just as Ludlum often vividly described the locales of his adventures. The story also contained many detective elements, yet Ryan was more gruff and direct than a PI written by Raymond Chandler. Fortunately the plot was also far easier to follow, which was a big plus over Chandler. My biggest complaint was the brevity of the novel, ending in under 300 pages.

Even though it was the first novel in The Corrosion Legacy series, I hoped for a more exciting climax, though I enjoyed the lively banter between the two principal characters which brought the novel to a close. Lively banter and the vivid action sequences were the biggest discriminators for this novel and I hope they continue in the next installment.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Stuff Catholics Like

A great new group blog has started up, called Stuff Catholics Like. Ironic Catholic has just written an excellent post on sex. Everyone knows Catholics like sex, right? Where else would those big families come from?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Practical Ease of NFP

In light of the previous exchange at I Have to Sit Down, I decided to write about what can be done, practically, by each spouse to make abstinence easier.

The single best thing that can be done to make abstinence easier is not to focus on it with all of one's mental power. I know, easier said than done. I notice that I constantly focused on abstinence in the first years of NFP. The focus on abstinence made it larger than life and it loomed over everything, casting darkness upon the things we were already doing to handle abstinence. At the worst, this attitude would have me counting the days since our last interlude, which only made everything more difficult. In this case, accurate charting was actually an obstacle to learning charity.

Putting the focus on abstinence was an extension of focusing on myself and focusing on the self is antithetical to developing virtue. All virtues are learned by dying to self in some form or another, and the sacrifice involved in abstinence is only beneficial if I actually sacrifice with the proper attitude, not just grudgingly endure what I am giving up until "go time."

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The News is not New

I am happy that this article is brief and gets the facts straight, but I am tired of the journalistic slip of claiming newness in something old. The Church has condemned contraception, artificial or natural, since the Didache, if not earlier. Humane Vitae merely shocked the would by being constant. I imagine reporters waking up every day:

"Look the earth is still here!"
"Wow, the sun is shining!"
"Air, there is air!"

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

9 Weeks on Reliv

Neither I nor Reliv International make any health claims about our products. They are just optimal nutrition. The body is the miracle.

Health: I have been able to exercise a bit more but I don't think that accounts for my decrease in body fat. According to the same body fat scale that I have been using for years, there has been a noticeable decline in the fat percentage of my body. I am also down a few pounds and I can eat like I did in college.

Business: No new customers but I'm enjoying spending time to meet people who I would usually ignore, even if I never talk about the business. I have heard some excellent motivational speeches and received lots of training in sales. My support group has helped to bolster my confidence and keep me focused.

One of the eminently Christian aspects of Reliv is that the rich serve the poor. The people who have built successful businesses and pull down large incomes are the same people who help the young upstarts. Much is expected from those to whom much is given.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

TOS vs. TNG vs. DS9

I have finally made that critical nerd decision. I have decided that Captain Kirk is my favorite Star Trek captain. Sure, he was an over-actor and he had an annoying trait of leaving the ship in the hands of some random chief while it was in mortal danger so he could beam down to the planet and talk things out. What clinched it for me was that he could deliver a joke (Picard couldn't) and he knew how to fight (Sisko fights like an actor). In general, the fight sequences have completely won me over to Kirk. His fight sequences involved throws, punches, kicks, and grappling. In DS9, every Federation officer threw double overhand smashes and Klingon warriors crumble. It is fake, even for acting.

I can't wait until my lovely, nerdy wife and I finish watching all of Star Trek: The Original Series (TOS) and move on to Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG) since we've already watched all of Deep Space 9 (DS9) that will only leave the dumb ones which I hope to convince my wife never to watch.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

I am In Style

Choosing businesses by my small business philosophy has finally given me the determination to break the chains of cheap haircuts at SuperCuts. I went to a local salon which advertises in my parish's bulletion, the In Style Salon. I received an excellent haircut and had high quality conversation. Both of those experiences only occur randomly at SuperCuts, roughly once in every four visits. The price was steeper, but well worth it. I am planning to budget more money for haircuts in the future. There were some drawbacks, like having to schedule an appointment in their more restricted hours of operation, but those provided philosophical reward to me. I want to set my hours and have customers arrange to come to me, why should I expect other businesses to fit into my schedule? I have noticed that most businesses are populated by people who may want the same things. Sounds like the perfect application of the Golden Rule to me.

Friday, May 2, 2008

I Like Small Businesses

... and I can not lie. You other jobbers can't deny. When friend walks in with a big idea and a little business on the side, you get sprung."

I just couldn't resist that. Perhaps I should work to improve my self-control. Anyway, this quest to start my own business has tremendously increased my empathy for other entrepreneurs. As a result of that, I have been updating my Business Links. Please visit them and use them, if they are in your area.

By the way, I receive no compensation from any of these businesses (except for my own, obviously). I merely want to see them succeed.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

7 Weeks on Reliv

Health: Well, I've had a massive sinus congestion for the past week as part of a cold. I've doubled my intake of Innergize and Classic. I definitely feel better after taking them, but I rarely get colds that last this long. I guess this could be a detoxification effect since I was hoping for sinus improvement anyway. I will have to wait and see. I've got another rash on my forehead, but my dry skin has returned so I feel like I am actually losing ground.

Business: I lost my first customer. Definitely a deflating experience. I have tried to come at this whole business venture with the attitude of failure is good, as long as it is educational. I am still learning how to focus through the failure and not let it deflate me. I am continually exceeding my goal of talking to someone new about Reliv every week, this gives me hope that I will eventually find more customers.

My biggest intellectual concern is the self-selection bias of the distributors. I am afraid the product only appears to work because the people who have no noticeable improvement, simply don't sell it or take it. Whereas, those people who happen to improve while taking it, incorrectly attribute their improvement to the shake. Of course, I can't prove either hypothesis but it weighs on my mind.

Monday, April 28, 2008

'Wit'

This might be the pinnacle of news reporting. An outspoken old guy who runs his own business, lives in Philly, and is pro-life. And I get a cheesesteak to go!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Fruitless News

The on-line news world is great. Like this article which roughly encapsulates the general mindset among Catholics who think the Church should be made into their image. The comments are also fun, mostly from bitter, gun-toting, religious anti-immigrant people, no doubt. I will have to comment soon, so scroll down all the way to the bottom and see if I did it yet.

I must say, I particularly love the irony of a woman claiming that the Church isn't "with it" or current, and then only citing data from 40 years ago.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Ratified Christian Truth

A man can not serve two masters, for he will love one and hate the other.

My new business experiment has completely proven this Christian teaching and I am not alone. Even though there is massive awkwardness in my direct selling, home-based business, I would much rather do it than my high-paying corporate job. The more I perform my usual duties, the more cog-like I feel. I pray the Lord will give me the strength to keep going, and bless my efforts at self-employment a thousandfold. (though, a millionfold would be nice!)

Friday, April 18, 2008

Listening

Direct sales has raised my level of attentiveness to the lives of others. I have been engaging in more conversations with those people who are usually invisible: clerks, cashiers, fellow parents wrangling their children at rummage sales. Meeting people, even in brief conversation, is a very pleasant experience even when it isn't. The bad experiences give me much to pray about and the feeling that I may have brightened their day a little through some social contact. The good experiences remind me that we are all stuck together on this crazy, spinning mudball called Earth so we might as well enjoy each other.

To paraphrase G.K. Chesterton, people are more real than you can imagine.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

5 weeks on Reliv

So I've been on this health/business adventure for 5 weeks. Here's where I stand:

Health. After a bizarre rash and pimples on my forehead, this detox ended and my head returned to normal. No reversal in my receding hairline. I have been sleeping better; I am more refreshed after the same amount of sleep. I feel like I sleep 7.5 hours when I only sleep 6 hours. 7.5 hours is my ideal for an average night of sleep, so I'm functioning more ideally. I had strange pimples on my knees which quickly went away. My boil/ingrown hair has stopped improving though it improved steadily up until now. My skin is smoother and the clogged pores on my triceps have become smooth, as if I exfoliated every day (I didn't, loofahs are for girls).

Business. No new customers but I am slowly sharing my business with people I encounter. I attended a special event and met many Pennsylvanian distributors. They were genuine people, not polished salesman. They were friendly and respectful of differences (no dirty looks when I mentioned NFP). God was mentioned liberally and mutual support was abundant.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Money from Somewhere

The most ludicrous claim made by Robert Kiyosaki is that, somehow, money will appear when you need it. He recounted his experience, after his first start-up went bankrupt, of being nearly destitute. It seemed to him that money would show up when it was needed. For the first time, I have found that to be true. I have set aside my investment money and I am striving mightily not to touch it for personal use. This month, family funds are low but, so far, money has appeared exactly as I need it. Not so much that I could be profligate, just enough to keep on as we are. Kiyosaki repeatedly stressed the value of generosity and his board game seemed to indicate that he knew generosity related to the appearance of money when needed. Personally, I consider it a paycheck from the Big Boss.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

An Important Request

Thanks to Peter at With a Grain of Salt, I read this post on how wives can help husbands with difficulties in abstinence. The comments go all over the place, but cover almost every issue related to the practice of NFP. It is an interesting exchange so I thought I would bring it to light. Hopefully, I can develop a post on the topic soon, using my comment as a starting point.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Back to Basics

As my dear reader may have noticed, my blog has diverged into some tangents which may not have anything to do with the quest to live a natural life. However much progress was made in the quest to discover true manhood this past Sunday. As always, the basics lead the way. The basics being, of course, Church and video games.

Sunday started with video games, since I splurged on Saturday and purchased the Windows XP versions of all the King's Quests and all the Police Quests for a total of $25. I began with KQI and showed my daughters how a true knight should handle himself, obedient to the crown and picking up every stray object in sight. That adventure was followed by Mass, with two exceptionally obedient daughters, one who won the praise of departing parishioners for her ability to genuflect and her charity in depositing her Rice Bowl money into the poor box.

Upon returning home, my brother invited me over to try my hand at Guitar Hero III and I was rather hooked. We played for a couple hours, though I never made it past the Easy songs, and discussed life, the universe, and everything. As a break from the carpal tunnel inducing guitar, we broke out Super Mario 3 for the NES and went to town. I was able to impress my brother by remembering obscure tricks like the White Coin Ship and the alternate text when beating a Koopaling in a Frog, Tanooki, or Hammer Brother Suit. I think the time spent in a house where four guys live was good for my soul, I rarely spend that much time around Y chromosomes. It also served as good preparation for my Knights of Columbus meeting that evening, where I received my second degree. It was an honor, and an excellent close to the day.

I believe that manhood was restored in my spirit through quests (even digital ones), prayer (Mass), fraternity (the best brother in the world, I mean it), and knowledge (sharing arcane game info to those who can appreciate it). May I learn more by traveling these familiar roads.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Religion is Like Direct Selling

I have read the comment a few times, while choosing a business, that direct selling is like a religious movement. Since religion is primarily shared through personal contact, many people note the similarities in method: sharing personal stories, a deep conviction that what is being shared is very important, and a hope of camaraderie. I have discovered recently that I prefer direct selling over the other option, mass marketing. I would rather that someone who I know approach me and offer me something which they have found useful as opposed to air-brushed models, high-tech stuntmen, and rich celebrities getting paid to talk for 3o seconds about something that they probably never heard of before their agent presented them with a deal.

I know it's a stretch but it seems that the principle of subsidiarity as John Paul II espoused, would prefer direct selling. Direct selling definitely occurs at a lower level of society than mass marketing. Just the thoughts of a man trying to live a natural life.

3 Weeks

I have been in the supplement business, and on the product, for over 3 weeks now. Business has been plugging along more easily than expected, due to the significant help from my sponsor and those supporting her. I have even had excellent support from distributors who have no financial ties to me whatsoever. I am very impressed at the caliber of people involved in this business since they would take the time to help me build up my clientele even though there is no financial gain for them. I consider that a sign of the commitment to ethics which Reliv has.

I have also noticed some improvements in my health, such as higher energy and better sleep, especially if I add an extra shake before I go to bed. I am a bit more anxious, but I think this crazy venture is causing that, since I was definitely anxious about this venture before I even drank a shake.

Even though business has been easier than expected, my first customers still seemed easy to get in comparison to my recent experiences. I keep looking for signs that I am supposed to be in this business, as opposed to volunteering for a crisis pregnancy center or something. With that in mind, I watched the promotional video which Reliv has, by clicking Play at the top of their website, and at the very end is a shot of Dr. Kalogris shaking hands with John Paul II while the Kalogris Foundation is feeding needy children. I consider that a small sign that I am somewhere on the right path.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Rhythm Method Beats Condoms

Although I am still surprised to see major media outlets mentioning the Standard Days Method, I am glad Georgetown is at least aware that NFP exists. The real meat of this article is the last paragraph which I will paraphase. The SDM is more effective than condoms. I was pretty sure about this and it is nice to see in the media, even if no one will pick it up beyond this story.

As always, I was disturbed by the casual mention of using condoms during the fertile time since that is not NFP but at least it's another avenue to move people past some contraception and towards a holy life.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Plan A

An excellent opinion piece in the Buffalo News was forwarded to me from the CCL Community. I simply love the closing line, "Plan B has failed. It's time to come up with Plan A." It's good to already know what Plan A is: chastity. I hope the world can learn quickly.

Annoyance Doesn't Sell

I learned a valuable business lesson from my wife yesterday. Annoyance doesn't sell. Even if you think you have an extremely useful product that will improve the quality of life of anyone who uses it, repeatedly telling them so will not help. Customers sell themselves; I only present the products.

As I believe most of my business lessons will teach me how to be a better Christian, I realize that respecting your customers and potential customers is just a variation on "Love Thy Neighbor."

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Here Comes Everybody

The Lord has now blessed me with the greatest Easter gift of all, the conversion of someone whose writing and thought I admire. John C. Wright has joined the Church and I couldn't be happier. To paraphrase, Wayne The Great, "I'm not worthy! I'm not worthy!"

Humiliating Lent

I think the best lesson I learned from this humiliating Lent, is that I am completely undeserving of the joy of Easter. Lent definitely taught me humility, through my near total inability to offer a personal sacrifice for the Lord. Now that the joy of Easter is upon us, I realize how completely it is a gift from the graciousness of God.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

It's Been One Week...

Since I've tried this Stunt of consuming the products which I have been trying to sell from my home-based business. So far, I don't have vast improvements in my health but I was pretty healthy to start with. I have noticed that I attain full consciousness more quickly in the morning, my hands seem softer, my eye strain headaches don't come immediately upon removing my glasses, and I'm moving more frequently. This doesn't amount to evidence yet, in my opinion, but it is promising.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Another Reason for Self-Employment

In order to develop my business, I need crazy amounts of support. Not only business support as I learn how do to it, but mental support since everyone seems to completely support the idea of working for a big faceless company. David Warren has offered some excellent intellectual support for self-employment by decrying the ever encroaching socialism of our times.

Silent Suffering

As Lent draws to a close, I thought it good to contemplate the silent suffering that some people in society are left to endure, due to corruption and greed. It is truly sad that those who reach out to these people are bad-mouthed in the public square. May God provide the necessary graces for all of those afflicted by abortion.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Feeling Green




You Are Olive Green



You are the most real of all the green shades. You're always true to yourself.

For you, authenticity and honesty are very important... both in others and yourself.

You are grounded and secure. It takes a lot to shake you.

People see you as dependable, probably the most dependable person they know.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Customer Number 1

No, that is not a typo referring to Governor Spitzer. I have actual sold my own retail goods to a genuine customer. I am thrilled. I can't believe how excited I am about the chance to help someone improve his nutrition and, consequently, his health. So far, this business is great. Intellectually, I know I will have setbacks but this is a huge accomplishment for me. When I tried Quixtar, I only ever sold one item to someone besides myself and I gave her the wholesale discount so this sale was one of my test for seeing if I can actually succeed in this home-based business.

Drug Water

Here is another article describing some of the pharmaceuticals which are present in municipal water supplies. I wonder how much anti-epilepsy medication I may be consuming?

Friday, March 7, 2008

Socialism Comes Softly

This greatly disheartening story out of California has me demanding choice. How dare California force such rigid orthodoxy on its citizens! I pray that this ruling galvanizes the Home School Legal Defense Association to protest unjust laws which cut to the heart of parenthood. It is a shame to see minorities persecuted just for being different, isn't it?

My favorite quote is the last one, when a woman claims that homeschooling is not "being in a place daily where they [children] would be observed by people who had a duty to ensure their ongoing safety." If parents don't have a duty to ensure the safety of their children, who else possibly could?

Farewell to Armatron

A recent archaeological dig in my parents' basement uncovered a long lost toy from the 80's. I played with Armatron for years, even using it in my sixth grade speech on robots. Sadly, it had bitten the dust and it no longer worked. It would have required, at least, a new electric motor and the schematics to reassemble it. After all these years, I couldn't resist taking it apart to see if I could repair it and it immediately fell apart, gears and parts everywhere, to the delight of my daughters.

I don't think I could have parted with it in any other season but Lent. I am constantly amazed at how attached I am to worldly goods, even non-functional worldly goods.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Things that I Wish Weren't Parodies

If these were real, I would so buy them.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

How the Minnows Were Lost

Here is another story about the devastating effects of hormonal contraception on the underwater ecology. It seems scientists can crush the population of Canadian fathead minnows by exposing them to artificial estrogen at 5 parts per trillion. The male fish start producing eggs, instead of sperm, after two years of exposure and the population plummets. Who would have thought that the use of birth control leads to rapid declines in exposed populations?

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Writing Yourself Rich

One of the other obstacles towards loving my neighbor that has fallen since I began this business journey is the objection, "He only got rich by writing the book on how to get rich." As I read various books, I tried to put myself in the shoes of the rich man.

OK, I'm retired at 38. Wouldn't it be great if I could teach all my friends what I know so that they too could be retired? Our kids could play all the time and maybe we could start up that Bible Study which we never can find a good time for.

For the first time, it seemed eminently logical and kind to write a book about success in business. I do want all of my friends to be successful, so why wouldn't rich guys want the same thing?

Unavoidable Smut

Even as I enter the business world, I detest many of its methods. For example, I recently received an issue of Watch! for free in the mail. I never had to take custody of my eyes from my daily post before this publicity stunt. I was completely vindicated in my decision to cancel cable television and I happily recycled the magazine for a donation to the church. At least my business will never stoop to using sex to sell. Viva la Revolution!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Loving my Neighbor through Business

As I launch my entrepreneurial ventures, again, I bring an awareness of morality to the research I am doing into finance, business, and investing. That sense of morality, as well as that research, was completely lacking the first time I tried to start a business. I have already experienced great rewards from the research I am doing.

The first observation that has been important to me is that people get rich by providing a service to others. I know that some services would obviously be immoral, such as pornography, but for the first time, I think that maybe some rich people are really good at serving people. After all, McDonald's serves millions daily. Most of the books that I read indicate a social awareness and a desire to meet the needs of people which plays a big part in being a successful businessman.

A major prejudice dropped when I realized how much I had assumed that businessmen were successful only through deceit, maybe some of the rich actually helped millions of people. I hope to help people through Reliv as well as providing for my family.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Thrilling Commercial

I detest the insidiousness of television. I especially hate commercials which often ruin otherwise family-friendly programming. I am not at all fond of talking heads which are often, sadly empty. But I am willing to give the Today show a chance, since they will have Dawn Eden as a guest. I might even stay home from work and watch it.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Going Back to My Roots by Branching Out

Well, I believe it is official that the seven year itch has struck, fortunately in non-sinful ways. It is not a mid-life crisis, by definition, since my age still begins with the number two. Recently, I have been consuming personal finance books with rabid hunger and have only been able to divert myself by delving into the Outline of Sanity by the greatest author of all time. All of this culminates in the resumption of my entrepreneurial trajectory. I am a distributor of nutritional supplements for Reliv International. I plan to share my thoughts and journey on this blog, hoping that it helps someone else considering this life path.

For those astute people who question what this has to do with living a natural life, I plan to make my case through future posts but it can be summed up in a few sentences. A job, even one which pays a wage high enough to support a wife and kids, is unnatural when the employees feel like cogs in a machine. I consider home-based business to be closer to the way things should be. Especially since my grandfather and great-uncle were entrepreneurs, it is a chance to learn about my past by living like they did.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Beginning Again

My wife and I have completed the re-certification necessary to teach NFP according to the new program published by CCL. The process was mostly pain-free except for some technical errors in the new web-based training modules. The web-based training was of a similar quality to the web-based training which I received from my employer, better in some regards.

The culmination of this training was reading the new Student Guide which CCL published. There were a few typos, which irk a grammar nerd like me, but overall, I was very impressed with the guide. It covered the necessities and seemed to be a far better teaching tool than the old Art of Natural Family Planning (4th ed.). The Student Guide taught the basics in a simple, comprehensible manner and it did not suffer from the information overload of the Art. However, its strength was also its weakness. As a workbook, it will no doubt be a good teaching tool but students will be at a loss for more in depth information. CCL could easily remedy this situation by putting out a new comprehensive NFP guide, which I hope they do, after the rollout of the new materials is completed. Despite this weakness, I think CCL has done exactly what was necessary to re-vitalize its work.

We are in the midst of teaching our first classes in the new method. I will do a more thorough review of the overhaul and the course after we have taught it.

More Natural Living

Jen at Et-tu has a great post that actually uses the words natural life in the way which I think of them. She has added balance to her life by forgoing the pleasure of trying to accomplish everything and venting that it isn't accomplished at the end of the day. I have been following a similar vein in my own life, trying to stop all work at a reasonable hour so that I can get to bed at a reasonable hour after a suitable amount of time for relaxation. It is my Lenten goal to add some more of this balance to my life. I am always glad for a fellow sojourner, even though this Lent seem determined to teach me humility through repeated failure.

May I learn the lesson that the Lord is teaching.

St. Frances (see above post), pray for us.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Beeping Doctor

So my eldest has been playing doctor recently, and I realized that things have changed since I played doctor with the good old Fisher Price doctor kit. When she takes my temperature, she beeps every few seconds until she is done. One of the side effects of co-sleeping and NFP, she hears a basal body thermometer beep every morning.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The End of Civilization

"British bureaucrat says all girls under the age of 20 are too young to breed. Denounced as misogynist."

I only made up the second part. Some people sure make it hard to respect your elders. I pray for the soul of every 12 year old girl in England.

Baby Boom

We have had two births amongst our friends in the last month so I just had to post a note of jubilation. You can check Ecclesia Domestica and Mommy Log for pictures of the adorable ones. May many more such cute blessings arrive into this world!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Kick Them Out

Useful co-sleeping tip #7: Don't be afraid to kick them out.

We have a toddler bed next to our bed (on my side) for our three year old to sleep in. Although she has spent all night in her own bed for about one and a half years, she has recently wanted more snuggle time in the early morning and has been asking to come into bed. I let her in as long as she promises to stay still. At the first motion that disturbs my return to sleep, I put her back in her bed. It has worked very well. She let me know recently that she crosses her legs to help her stay still. I can't imagine sleeping with my legs crossed but I'm thankful she has discovered her own way to obey.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Friendly Work

I always enjoyed visiting my friends when they were on the job. It was fun to know who was serving you food or cleaning your teeth. Now, I have moved to the digital age. Here is the enterprise of a recent acquaintance. Now I can have friends tell me how to eat better, too.

May He bless your work!

Any other entrepreneurs out there? I might be one soon, but mums the word so far.

Monday, February 11, 2008

New Research only 40 Years Old!

Via Roman Catholic By Choice, a Georgetown Doctor has just discovered CycleBeads, a form of the Rhythm Method that seems to have some modern popularity.

40 years from now...

"Georgetown Theologian discovers Rosary Beads."

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Scooped my Wife

It's so rare that I get to observe new and cute behaviors from my girls, since I am stuck in the office eight hours a day. I heard this gem tonight and I wanted to report it before my wife did.

M.K.- "I need to get the lasagne down. Some people who have ladders can get it down 'cause it's highest."

Dad - "Where did you learn about lasagne?"

M.K.- "From the song we sing at Church."

Dad- "Could you sing the song for me?"

M.K.- "Lasagne in the highest, and peace to people on earth..."

Dad calls Pop and Mom-mom to relate the hilarity.