Dramatic Pause {In which a Large Number of Brackets (TM) (C) are used at once}

We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming to bring you this Lenten aside.

The (Western) (Latin Rite) (Roman) Catholic Church asks its members (14 years of age or older), during the season of Lent, to abstain from eating flesh meat (does it walk? does it fly? does it live on land? don’t eat it! {so cannibalism is definitely out} {hmm . . . so are zombies, I guess}) on Ash Wednesday and Fridays during Lent. Furthermore, on those same days, adults (18+)  are asked to fast. Fasting, in this case, is pretty specific – one regular meal, plus two smaller meals that together don’t make up a regular meal (see? and people complain when they have to learn algebra in school – it could literally save your soul!), as well as no snacks in between meals.

[As an aside to this aside, Canon Law {<I’m running out of brackets to use!> the body of laws that governs the Catholic Church} says that every Friday should be a day of penance of some sort – the traditional sacrifice is no meat {all year long!}, but here in the US our Bishops asked for and obtained permission for Catholics to substitute another penitential or charitable practice {meaning you can take me out to eat on Friday – it’s charitable because you feed the hungry AND penitential because you have to listen to me talk!}]

Catholics who are 59 or older are exempt from these regulations; those who have very physically demanding jobs or who have health/medical/medicinal requirements that make fasting and abstaining impractical or dangerous are asked to substitute other forms of penance. It’s also good to note that these are minimum requirements imposed on us for our spiritual health. Just like doing one push up a day is good for your body (but not the greatest), Catholics are encouraged to add their own Lenten disciplines (what many Catholics call “giving something up for Lent”).

Now on to two pet peeves of mine. (Please note that this is not Catholic teaching, just my 2 copper pieces.)

Peeve #1: In my head, Lent is not an excuse to go crazy with seafood on Friday. Many times I hear people talk about Lent and it’s “We went to Red Lobster and I ordered the Admiral’s Feast last Friday for dinner; for lunch I had two double filet-o-fish because I was so hungry.” (Please note that I am not affiliated with Beyonce, Justin Timberlake or either of the aforementioned restaurants). If anything, Lent is a great time to eat simply (so that others may simply eat, to complete the awesome bumper sticker). For us (my wife and I, as our son has abandoned us for this “college” thing that all the kids are into right now) that means some white rice, maybe an egg or two, or some warm corn tortillas with butter (actually, that last one sounds pretty indulgent) for our dinner. Breakfast is two small corn tortilla egg tacos (with none of that sinful bacon or chorizo thrown in there). I challenge my kids at school to eat simply on Fridays during Lent as a way of practicing for their eventual 14th and 18th birthdays. I challenge myself to do the same.

Peeve #2: Giving stuff up for Lent – I like that Pope Francis (the cool Pope!) is encouraging us to not only give something up (no more Coke for me this Lent!) (actually, that’s a lie – I hardly ever drink Coke) (remind me to tell you my caffeine story some day) but to do something this Lent. Work on erasing a vice from our life. Practice one (or more) of the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy (so apropos during this Year of Mercy!). Pray more. Read Scripture more. Attend daily Mass. Talk to that relative you haven’t spoken to in years (over some slight that can be forgiven). Come over and mow my lawn. But do something that will help bring forth the light that burns within us and can shine so brightly that others can begin to see the endless depths of love and mercy that God has hidden within our bodies, minds, souls and spirits.

I’ll finish my story tomorrow 🙂

Blessings & Peace,

Photo by wallyg

The Nugget of Uncleanliness

Why do your disciples not follow the tradition of the elders
but instead eat a meal with unclean hands?

At the school where I work I’m the faculty adviser for an extracurricular group know as the Worship Committee. This is a group of 6th – 8th grade students who assist me in maintaining the religious atmosphere of the campus and working with younger students to get them ready to serve at our weekly school Masses, among other assorted tasks. We usually meet every Friday after school to plan, argue, and, sometimes, Get Stuff Done (TM) (C). Snacks are usually involved, as Middle School kids need a steady supply of calories and carbs to keep their energy levels going. 🙂

Last year during the Season of Lent a student volunteered to bring snacks on a particular Friday. It turned out that their parents were not available on that Friday afternoon, so another family member was asked to provide snacks. As can happen sometimes, the family member was focused on getting food for hungry kids to eat, and the fact that it was a Friday during Lent (where meat eating is not allowed) wasn’t anywhere near the forefront of their thinking. They defaulted to getting a Chick-fil-A nugget platter, as it was fast and portable, and then, not knowing of the coming storm, dropped it off for their unsuspecting student to inflict upon the rest of the gathered community.

[As an aside, it should be noted that while the kids are ready to go right after school, I have a responsibility to fulfill in my dismissal duty – so during the first 10-15 minutes of the meeting another staff member helps out by gathering the kids, getting them settled in our cafeteria, praying the meal prayer with them, then making sure no one is killed as they descend upon the snack like ravenous zombies straight out of the Walking Dead 🙂 But I digress.]

I came back to a house divided – there had been remarks made by kids and adult about the presence of chicken in our hallowed halls on a Friday during Lent. There were aspersions cast upon my kids, myself, and the whole structure of our Worship Committee. The child who had offered the nuggets of uncleanliness as a small repast was crushed that their fowl tithe was the cause of such consternation.

What to do?

Stay tuned tomorrow for the conclusion of our poultrous conundrum!

Blessings & Peace,


Photo by my_amii

101 Uses for Shape Reality (Planeshaper 30)

When WotC shut down their forums (for very shaky reasons, in my opinion) I perused to see which posts I found interesting and wanted to keep for 4E D&D. I’ll keep backups of the ones I liked here 🙂 This is the first one 🙂 [This list is edited to I only see the ones I liked]

Note: You can get up to 4 extra minors per turn (in addition to a move/standard).  So you can fill 72 squares per turn with stone.  (and empty all as a minor).

1) Encase enemies in stone.
A lich is threatening to raise an undead army? Both lich and evil portal encased in stone.
A wave of marauding orcs is about to destroy a city? Not through that giant stone coffin.
Oh, you’ve got phasing? What’s your speed? Let me action point – nowhere for you to go anymore, unless you want to unphase in solid stone.
2) Remove a wall, blast, fill the wall back up.
3) Create a pit right under an enemy
4) Do a poor “animation” job on a giant golem.
8) Never get sunburned again.
11) Erupting volcano needs a giant stone plug
12) Disappointing lack of monolith to your greatness
14) Conjure metal cubes repeatedly to feed a Rust Monster, just to see how big it can get.
16) Turn a random village/city into a labyrinth over the course of a night.
18) Go and start building literal walls for the dividing lines of various countries.
19) Redirect a river to flood a non-aquatic monster cave via a trench and dam.
20) Start trying to make a direct tunnel straight to the underdark, from the bottom of the ocean.

Worship Committee Email – Backup Post

In case I don’t have your/your parents email address, or the email got lost in transit, here’s the text of the email I sent out yesterday:

Worship Committee – Happy End of Summer! 🙂

I’m looking forward to seeing y’all soon! Here are two items for next week:

  • Service Opportunity

Friday, August 14 (during the open house/orientation) Mr. Nava (our new Assistant Principal) needs some help:

9:00 am – 11:00 am: We need between four to ten students to show new families and students around the campus. If you speak Spanish we’ll assign you to Spanish speaking parents. We won’t if you don’t speak Spanish. 🙂

1:00 pm – 4:00 pm: We need two to four people to help show families how to log into Edline (there will be new laptops set up in the gym for this). Please only sign up for this one if you’ve logged in before and know how to use Edline! You’ll basically be giving a mini-technology class to the parents and students who need it.

You can’t stay in between (if you want to work both of them), and you must be in full Mass uniform. You can head straight to the gym when you arrive and look for Mr. Nava (ask another teacher you recognize!). I won’t be there, so he’ll be your contact that day. You’ll earn service hours for this (you’ll get your service booklet first week of school)


  • Bulletin Board & Morning Altar Preparation

Tuesday, August 11 from 2:30 – 3:30 pm I need around eight WC members to help set up the morning altar items and bulletin board, as well as fill all holy water fonts (and maybe sort some items if we get more then 10). Drop off is at the front office, and I’ll be up front to greet you (or upstairs in front of the bulletin board if you come in after 2:30 pm). Pick up will be on 11th Street.

I don’t have email address for several people (G., B. Saenz, A. Honrubia, A. Miner, R. Rodriguez, S. Cadena, D. Garcia & C. Robinson), so please call / face time / message / snapchat / tweet / stalk / poke them if you can and let them know about both of these please. Also, please get me email/cell numbers – it’ll make sending out info a bit easier – thanks!

Let me know by email or text (please tell me who you are!) if you can make either of those. Thanks! 🙂

Oh – put the first WC Meeting on your calendar for Friday, August 21st – pick up at 4:30 on 11th Street!

Blessings & Peace,
Hugo De La Rosa III
Campus Ministry

Gluten & Dairy Free Products

My wife is very gluten sensitive and allergic to dairy as well (no peanuts either), so we’ve spent a few years looking for food she can eat that tastes good and won’t affect her health. Here are some of the items we’re using (all of them gluten & dairy free, most of them free of lots of other stuff, too, yet still tasty):


Udi’s makes several products, but this basic bread has been a godsend for my wife. It has to be refrigerated, but once toasted it makes great sandwiches and french toast. My wife uses this for burgers as well. We buy this at Sprout’s (health food type store) or HEB (grocery store) – only one HEB in our town carries it, so your mileage may vary. Aside from the need to refrigerate and then toast, this tastes and feels like normal bread

11065247_10152806045569426_183505946_oDaiya makes both blocks and shredded cheese in several varieties. My wife complains that the mozzarella doesn’t melt well, but the cheddar and pepper jack seem to melt much better. She uses it on salads and sandwiches, or just to snack on when she gets a craving for cheese. This is the closest we’ve come to a product that approximates the taste and feel of cheese.

H.E.B. makes a few varieties of gluten free pasta. We’ve tried several other brands both at HEB and at Sprouts, but all the others were too pasty, gummy and/or tasted terrible. This makes great pasta for salads, to add to Mexican dishes, and to make macaroni and cheese (along with the Daiya up above).

10860491_10152609074594426_1866980775_oKatz makes great large donuts. Like the bread above they must be refrigerated, but lightly toasting in a toaster oven or heating up in a microwave make them taste like they just came out of the oven (they’re good cold, too).


Pamela’s makes one of the favorite snack bars in our household – portable and great tasting! We have them on Subscribe & Save from Amazon (so we get six boxes every month or so), so we’re never without.

11794000_10153125286324426_724433884_oEarth Balance makes great tasting butter substitutes (we’re partial to the Soy Free variety), while Follow Your Heart makes great mayo (again, we’re partial to the soy free variety).

When it comes to milk, several varieties of coconut milk work for us. We’ve tried others (almond, soy, etc.) but this is the one that feels closest to milk in taste and texture.

And there you go – a nice starter pack for gluten and dairy free (tasty!) eating. Enjoy 🙂

Blessings & Peace,

Magic: The Gathering Summer School Handout

Why play Magic: The Gathering?

  1. Helps social skills / community aspect
  2. Brushes up basic math skills
  3. Improves reading & comprehension / vocabulary skills
  4. Good sportsmanship
  5. Resource management


For Brand new players

  • Basic decks (mostly creatures and basic land)
  • Mono colored
  • Explain Card Types
    1. Lands
    2. Creatures
    3. Enchantments
    4. Sorceries & instants
    5. Artifacts
  • Basics of combat
  • Key points to clear up are the differences in land and mana; attacking players, NOT creatures; one land per turn; life IS a resource (especially for the kids playing black); how trample, first strike, and double strike work.
  • Colors
    1. White: The color of Justice – White mages use superior tactics, efficient creatures, and the power of righteousness against their foes. Can focus on healing and restoration, with the ability to utilize many smaller creatures quickly.
    2. Blue: The color of Wisdom – Blue mages focus on using superior knowledge to gain control of a battle, and slowly gain the upper hand. The power of control. Blue is all about not letting your opponent make his moves, and ensuring your own. It also boasts some of the best draw power in the game.
    3. Black: The color of Ambition – Black sorcerers are willing to do whatever it takes to win a battle, even if it means sacrificing everything to do so. Black is about one thing, and one thing only: Winning. Even if it means having to hurt yourself in order to hurt your enemy more, or to hurt yourself to get more.
    4. Red: The color of Chaos – Red conjurers try to win as quickly and dramatically as possible, smashing and burning their way to a quick victory. The color of fire. Red has the ability to burn through your opponent’s Life quickly, and mercilessly. Red is all about impulse and passion. Act first, think later.
    5. Green: the color of Nature – Green shamans win duels through the brute force of mother nature, summoning giant creatures to squash their enemies. The power of nature and growth, green focuses on sheer brute force, and power-ups, with the drawback that some of these cards have high mana cost.


  • Standard deck building tips:
    1. pick your most powerful cards, and / or combo of cards.
    2. limit the number of colors – 2 is best
    3. pick a theme, or story
    4. choose 15 – 25 creatures
    5. add cards until you have about 36 creatures and other spells (be careful with too many spells that enchant your own creatures!)
    6. add around 24 land cards
    7. your final deck should be 60 cards, with no more than 4 of any card other than basic lands.
    8. play a few games
    9. refine your deck
  • Basic Deck Types
    1. Aggro – lots of damage as fast as possible
      1. Weenie (lots of small creatures, boosted with some enchants)
      2. Affinity (lots of artifacts that get easier to cast with more artifacts)
  • Suicide black – burn your own life plus mana to finish opponent faster
  1. Burn/Sligh – lots of direct damage to opponents health
  1. Control
    1. Mono Blue – lots of counterspells and bouncing
    2. Mono Black – card control, creature removal

RIP Robin Williams

Movies are a form of digital storytelling. As such, they have the capacity to move us, to form us, and to challenge us. The people who create these works of art, from the actors to the producers to the musicians – they all play a part, and in a certain sense they all take responsibility for the medium’s access to our heart, mind and soul. So it is that with the death of Robin Williams I found myself mourning, as several of his movies touched me deeply.

I find myself saddened that his unique and creative approach to comedy and life have been snuffed out. I think of movies like What Dreams May Come, Patch Adams, Good Morning Vietnam, Aladdin, Mrs, Doubtfire, and Dead Poets Society which alternatively challenged me, made me think, made me laugh, filled me with hope, and made me cry. I think of seeing him on Whose Line Is It Anyway? and thinking that I was watching a master improviser and comedian in action. As a speaker and teacher, watching him made me want to step up my game when I speak in front of an audience. I know it made all the other performers in that episode stretch to do their best as well.

I pray for him and his family, and I pray that even now angels and saints are welcoming him into the Presence of the Name, so that he can enjoy a well deserved rest. I pray for others who struggle with addiction and / or depression. And I pray for the countless people who were touched by the man, by his stand up, by his movies, and by his life.

Heh – I imagine Robin Williams – nowhere near a dour faced saint – enjoying the beatific vision and praising the Holy of Holies who created Joy and who let that joy be incarnated through his life.

Blessings & Peace,

Textual Therapy

I haven’t spent too much time writing just for the sake of writing, and I miss it. I tend to think a bit better when I have a keyboard under my fingers and text coming to life before my eyes. My last three entries were in February of this year, and they were just poems and quotes from my college years I wanted to digitize 🙂

So I spent some time today sprucing up my digital living room to get myself ready for a new round of textual therapy and erudite exertion. I have high hopes that it will go well!

Blessings & Peace,




have you ever wondered
why a blizzard never falls
when turned upside down?

first of all
let’s talk about the
psychological ramifications
which will surely lead us to the
physiological implications
of course
we can’t leave out
theological aspirations
and only a total fool would forget the
philosophical interpretations
which is not to say that
sociological stimulation
have nothing to do with this
but it is a fact that
gravitational relations
are infinitely more important
we cannot, however,
rule out
astronomical perambulations
mystical manipulation
seems remote
sorcerous levitation
is probably not the case
but hey  –>
it could happen!

Blessings & Peace,

Mission Expunged

my desk sits there . . .
chair and lamp
are ready

Paper, pen, books
lifeless as of yet
but ready to do as I command them
as I bend them to my will
to study
and pass
and gain knowledge

but something is amiss . . .

pen and paper, of their own volition
fly to my hand
defying the laws of gravity
elemental air assaults me
even as ethereal thoughts pour
onto the formerly pristine void
as letters to friends are composed
in the breath of an instant
and in the blink of an eye

that done, my mind turns once more
to the completion of my work

but suddenly,
the electromagnetic entities that control my radio
exert their mystical powers
and a surge of energy bursts the radio to life
as if that weren’t enough
a spiritual apparition can be seen –
gliding silently and effortlessly –
across the floor
it surreptitiously gestures
and by some ghostly psychokinesis
by some act of sorcerous levitation and manipulation
it lifts and sets a cassette into the proper receptacle
and music swells

it pours into my soul
and my body sings with joy
every fiber resonates with the heavenly sounds
that are emanating from the psychically induced
conglomeration of wires and metal . . .

however, as the music fades, my emotions fade as well . . .
coming down to an earthly existence
after reaching and exploring the pinnacles of heaven is hard
but work beckons

it calls
yet its voiced appeals are lost
as sweeter delights beckon . . .

a banshee sings,
and her sweet song is heard drifting down the corridors
to my room
a chorus of angelic voices raises my consciousness,?
and seduces me
until . . .

possessed by the spirits of long dead musicians
i am led to the chapel
there, the object of their desires is to be found
an instrument of such grandeur that its very name
belies it’s power
a piano . . .

my body, now under the control of benevolent spirits
is guided to that creation
as I sit my hands are lifted
and melodies are produced

finally, their appetite for musical expression satisfied
they thank me and leave my mortal shell
my mind, finally its own again
reminds me of the work I need to do
and I walk back to my room
in a daze

as I enter the room grows dark . . .
suddenly, shafts of light blaze forth
as a book materializes in my hands
then, by some act of mystical teleportation
i am lying on my bed . . .
I think
“I’m reading and it helps me learn . . .”
so I keep going
since I enjoy what I’m reading
and as I read
my parapsychological experience
is forgotten

but then . . .
a chill . . .
I feel a presence

by some clairvoyant faculty I know
and act on my knowledge
that I must call . . .

so I am led, once more, out of my microcosmic world
into the greater world without
and as I reach the object of my desires
I reach out and touch someone
for a while . . .

when I have finally finished
I am spent
daily combat with forces beyond my control
tires me
and I must rest . . .

stripping myself of my battle gear
I lie in bed
waiting for repose and refreshment to come
as it does,
a fleeting thought enters my mind
” . . . homework . . .”

“tomorrow,” I thihnk
and sleep

(and that’s why I didn’t do my homework)

Blessings & Peace,