I invite you to sign The Manhattan Declaration

The Manhattan Declaration

Theodore's Memorial Video

Sunday, December 31, 2006


New Link Area on the right side of the page:

"What I fall asleep reading"

This means that at some point I will make some comments about the book which currently ends up squished beneath me when I pass out in bed.

That is why I try to kneel while praying night prayers. I don't say this to brag but only because I think kneeling is the only position I have not fallen asleep in.

New Link to an interesting blog:


The name is a bit odd, but visit the sight and read how they got the name. I find myself checking this page every day. Some of their stuff is the kind of thing I wish I could write.

You won't see any Beanie Babies on that site.


I hope you all have a Happy New Year! I was on call last New Year's Eve, and my first anesthetic of 2006 was a gunshot victim - a toddler. I hope to spend this year's changeover with my wife and children( and a few friends) praying the Rosary. This is a tradition which my brother the priest got us doing a few years ago.

The Sabbath:

This break from blogging, small as it was, has been a blessing for me and my family. This has prompted some changes in my blogging plans. From now on I will refrain from posting on Sundays and Holy Days, and will try to go for more quality, not quantity. Some folks are still waiting for the former.

I do plan on continuing daily entries on Duck Stalking Scorpion, and frequent entries on Noisykid Kitchen, our food blog.

Saturday, December 30, 2006


This is the cat that owns the front of the house. We call her Homewrecker, rather than E.K., which stood for Evil Kitty.

Christmas Cruise Note

We almost cancelled the Cruise for lack of passengers. All that changed on the morning of the 26th, the Feast of St. Stephen. We woke up at 5 a.m. when a distinguished gentleman started pounding on the deck of the Water Strider. He wanted to go to "Cuba, right now - and I have a suitcase full of cash to pay my way!"

Forty-eight thousand dollars in twenty-dollar bills. I was giddy at the sight of it. So we grabbed a shopping cart full of canned oysters - his request - and cast off. We took a left turn out of Aransas Pass and now we are somewhere in the Gulf of Mexico. The water is rough and I have been quite seasick. I will write more later.

Captain Merrill Stewbean

Somewhere in the Gulf of Mexico, on the good ship Water Strider

Links added by me to this message from Capt Stewbean - dadwithnoisykids

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

An Original Poem

The inspiration for this poem comes from knowing three good priests at the end of their lives. Two are old and infirm. The other is battling cancer - and it seems to be getting the better of him.
So I thought up this poem:

As He Lay Dying

As he lay dying, priest wracked in pain,
The thought came to him once again,
“my life is ended, I long to see your face,
Now send four men to take my place.

I have no children to call my own,

Your altar is now my only home,
I tried to be a channel of grace,
So send four men to take my place.

I held You in my trembling hands,

Now I am weak and cannot stand,
I held the savior of the human race,
Now send four men to take my place.

The world, flesh, and devil deny,

That serving You could be a joy,
They laugh and even spit in our face,
So send four men to take my place.

For the prodigals all coming home,

And for those who thought they were alone,
I tried to be your reflected face,
Now send four men to take my place.

In joy and sorrow, life and death,

I brought Your people a living breath,
A weak and stumbling channel of grace,
So send four better men to take my place.

I shouldn’t set my sights on four,
Your grace is calling many more,
Forget my plea, and in its place,
Send thousands of men to take my place.



Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas Greetings

Look for a video of two of the Noisykids performing "Oh Holy Night" later this week.
Postings for the rest of this week will be of greetings from various personalities who have appeared on this blog.
New blog entries - and NO MORE tacky videos - will resume in 2007.

My son, Histor the Wise extends his wishes:
"Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!"

We at Scorpion Stalking Duck would like to wish you and yours a

Merry Christmas

and a

Happy New Year!

From our lone technician manning the Help Desk over at
"we wish you all a Merry Christmas and a safe anesthetic!"

From the bears behind the scene at Noisykid Kitchen,

"we wish you a blessed Christmas and a happy and nutritious New Year!"

And finally, from the various creatures who inspired and encouraged me to put their stories out there on the internet, and who daily bombard me with enough material to make this a full time job, the committee from SSD/MetaltrAch send you this greeting:

"May God bless you and keep you, now and in the years to come.
May this Christmas bring you closer to the Christchild, and may your heart be always open to Him.
May the the coming New Year be one of great blessings to you and your kin, and if it should be one of sorrow and pain, may you find consolation in the cross of Christ.
May we all meet in Heaven when this journey through life is over!"

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Why Parental Control of the Internet Is Necessary

Mr. Hedgehog sent me this disturbing Christmas Greeting.

He ought to be arrested.

Christmas Scenes

Out here is North Texas
the weather is cool
the mornings are chilly
we're done with home school

For soon comes our Savior
He is here to stay
Our little Lord Jesus
asleep in the hay

The cattle are grazing,
in our neighboring field
their barn will be shelter
where shepherds will kneel

But Jesus, He'd rather not
sleep in the hay
He came to dwell in our hearts
and there to stay

But some see his birth
as just some holiday
a time for a party
and not time to pray

We love Thee, dear Jesus
and for this we pray
You dwell in hearts
not in musty old hay

Please help us dear Jesus
to see through the fun
not be like these bears at the
local Alberston's

Help us Baby Jesus
to thank you each day
for the road to our salvation
began in warm hay

"The Beginning of the Accomplishment"

Friday, December 22, 2006

Check out this related site

If you want, you too can get Scorpion Stalking Duck in German!

Merry Christmas from...

...Captain Merrill Stewbean and Mr. Crabbe: "Don't forget to pack your toothbrush for the Christmas Cruise!"

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Sing Along!

You know you know the words!

If only I could find the version sung by Captain Kangaroo!

Yes, I will go back to more serious fare during the Christmas Season. But first another serious video:

One deserves another:

Guess What I Am!

I'm a Porsche 911!

You have a classic style, but you're up-to-date with the latest technology. You're ambitious, competitive, and you love to win. Performance, precision, and prestige - you're one of the elite,and you know it.

Take the Which Sports Car Are You? quiz.

I behave more like this:

Anonymous Moose sends his greetings

"Merry Christmas! I hope to get my own box of shiny plastic things for Christmas. And I want a name, and a beard like Mr. Moose, and a car of my own like Mr. Moose, and...."

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Winter Wonderland, Part 3

More Mortification without headphones.

If you look carefully, you can see a younger dadwithnoisykids in the Mosh Pit.

Thanks to Raulito, who discussed an issue with leasing cars that I never considered. As a punishment, he will have to be listed....

Now I shall include a teaser, a line from an older family newsletter, just to let you know what the newsletters are like. This one is from 2004:

"I am now 40 years old and have started on the 'B' side of life: Balding, needing Bifocals, Belly out to here, Bacchanalian,Boring, Bankrupt, Bizarre, Bearded(Itried), Bloated, Blunt, Blotchy, Boorish, Brazen, and Bozo-esque"

Aardvark Christmas wishes

Wishing all you drivers a safe and blessed Christmas!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


The Little Drummer Boy, sung by one of the strangest duets:

Kinda makes me wish David Bowie sang more stuff like this.

We had our own Matachinez celebration yesterday, when the three youngest boy Noisykids(3, 5, and 6) went out front and marched around, beating a large can and dancing while holding the baby Jesus from the nativity scene pictured below:

The five-year old was singing Jingle Bells to Jesus!

We all would benefit from dancing around making space for Jesus in our hearts.

Mobile blogging experiment

I will be trying out mobile blogging with my cell phone/PDA/paperweight.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

A Penitential Sojourn Through a Winter Land of Wonderful Things

This is the time to truly offer up these mortifications.

Imagine the time off from Purgatory my wife gets just for being married to me!

PRAY and be sure that there is room for Christ in your hearts this Christmas!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Gaudete Sunday IT IS!

This is the third Sunday of Advent, when we all need to realize that our time of penance, prayers, fasting, and almsgiving is almost over. That is why the Church has the priest wear the ROSE colored vestments, and we light the ROSE colored candle. For the life of me I can't remember what this is called; Laetare or Gaudete Sunday are the two names that come to mind.

Anyways, it is at a time like this that we should take a spiritual break, stretching the soul and maybe take a short break from the rigors of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving for just a moment. I am not suggesting that we put our spiritual exercises on hold; rather, I recommend that we change the pace, step out of the norm, for a few minutes in order to return to our spiritual exercises with a bit more energy and perhaps a newer, fresher perspective.

Twenty-six years and seventy pounds ago, when I used to run cross country in high school, we would do something similar to this, where we would pick up the pace on a long run for maybe a mile or so, just to get the heart beating just a little bit faster.

With this in mind, I bring you this video, courtesy of our seperated brethren(actually sisters), which will hopefully revive your tired video watching souls and make you want to get off the computer and onto your knees instead.

Thanks to
Gerald Augustinus:

Say Amen, Somebody!

I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas(NOT!), Part 1

Sing along, if you wish, as you watch this musical number!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Save the Christmas Tree Monkeys

This Advent, if you find one of these monkeys in your tree, please don't chase it off. Instead, respond to this blog and we will arrange for a Christmas Tree Monkey Rescue. Many want a monkey, but for various reasons cannot have one. Make someone's Christmas extra special this year.

He told us to call him "Gleek the Wondermonkey"

Here is a video he would like to share with you:

You may need to take a breathalyzer test after watching that.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Quiet Thursday

First a bit of mortification with some seriously happy women:

Dig that accordion solo!

In other news, I switched over to the next book of the Breviary, as seen in the picture below. Thanks to Mr. Hedgehog and this unidentified moose for helping me out:

December in Texas changes every day. Today it was warm. I shot these pictures of the kittens born in late September. Here they relax, soaking up the last rays of the December Texas sun:


Here some of them try to ignore me as I get a closeup. The black cat was actually from another litter, but she was adopted by the mother of this litter.

After this, we went into downtown Dallas and acted like the country folk we are. We had our picture taken outside of the restaurant where we ate. All the while, expensive cars zoomed past. We saw a building at least five stories tall!

We were celebrating the birthday of our 8 year old girl Noisykid, whose birthday is really tomorrow. We only had tonight where the family would all be together, and we don't eat meat on Fridays, so we went to a Mexican restaurant tonight to take advantage of the meat-filled menu. The restaurant was so quiet that I did not have to resort to my tactic for getting seated quickly at table. Try this: If you can't get a seat, let the host(ess) know you and your large clan of Noisykids will be in the bar. Considering that the bar has the highest revenue-generating potential per barstool, and children don't order mixed drinks, one will speedily find oneself seated in a nice table.

We are so blessed to have our daughter with us. She was our last baby born in the Air Force, so she can call herself an Air Force Brat if she wants to, but we think of her instead as a sweet little bundle of love, enthusiasm, and energy, always with a smile and a warm word for her siblings. She, along with all her siblings, brightens my day and makes me thankful for the privilege of being her father.

The Dallas area we were in was so well-to-do that they had valet parking at the McDonald's.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Christmas Concert

Check this out:

From this site, thanks to Antonia.

We went to a concert this evening. I wanted to take pictures, but could not get the video thingy on my cell phone to work properly.

So I give you this version of one of the songs they played:

Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe



Tonight we went to the Mass at St. William the Confessor in Greenville, TX for the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Our Lady is the Patron for all of North America, not just Mexico. I have to remind myself of that every now and then. She is Mother to us all, even us transplanted Irish Catholics living in Texas and trying to get by speaking bad Spanglish to those who do not speak English.

Here is the copy of the Tilma that was placed in the church. I am not sure why there is a scratch on the face of Our Lady.

These are some of the dancers representing those Aztecs who converted to the Faith after the Spanish overthrew the Aztecs. Dr. Warren Carroll has a great book on that subject - Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Conquest of Darkness.

The dancers' movements tell a story of the people and their love for God. It is an elaborate dance accompanied by drums which keep the beat - quite a fast tempo.

This is perhaps the only kind of liturgical dancing I could see as being appropriate. Note in the picture below the dancers are genuflecting in front of the Blessed Sacrament in the Tabernacle:

The emphasis was on HIM, not the dancers. They only led the procession into and out of the church - no dancing during any other time of the Mass.

This evening reminded me of just how truly catholic our Catholic Church is, especially when you consider most of the people in the church tonight come from a different culture than mine. Yet they are also part of the church, and their traditions and patron saints are ones which can be an inspiration to me and my family. I also started thinking how Our Lady of Guadalupe came to St. Juan Diego in order to bring the Mexican people to Our Lord, and it made me think how it wasn't that many years ago that St. Patrick was in Ireland, bringing the Faith to my ancestors. At the same time, Europe was being converted, too, so that my wife's ancestors(the French, Italian, Hungarian and whoever else) were also learning the good news about Christ our Savior. Our ancestors were just like the Aztecs at one time, and needed to be brought to the Faith and shown how to know, love, and serve God. It is humbling to consider our fallen nature, and how far we can trangress, and that we all need the Sacraments(especially confession) to bring ourselves ever closer to God.

Sorry, no tacky video clip tonight. In honor of Our Lady, I will skip it tonight.



Monday, December 11, 2006


Saturday night, while the world slept and I was making the world better for children, my wife was engaged in her secret pastime: Orthodontistry.

An orthodontist is a dentist who specializes in straightening teeth. For those of you who have seen my dazzling smile, you know that I have never seen one professionally.

The anatomy and physiology involved in the practice of orthodontics is rather complex, but I will try to explain the basics:

1. A series of devices are attached to the teeth by means of some sort of superglue - recall the advertisements with the man's helmet glued to a 2 x 4.
2. Very strong wire is then connected to the devices in such a manner that pressure is exerted, and over the course of months of therapy, money is withdrawn from my checking account until either the teeth are straight or the money is all gone.
3. After the final payment, the wires and devices all fall off, revealing a set of straight, shiny teeth.

Late on Saturday night, one of the devices fell off and the wire started cutting into the inside of my oldest daughter Noisykid's mouth.

Wifeofdadwithnoisykids swung into action. After consulting the instruction manual (How to make the MOST out of your braces) and trying wax, she had to take drastic measures. She would have to cut the wire.

Searching the tool cabinets resulted in one pair of wire clippers that looked as if they had been used for turning compost. Wifeofdadwithnoisykids had to make a midnight run to the local 24/7 hardware store to get the tiniest wire clippers that would fit into the mouth of Miss Noisykid. After buying three different types of pliers, she found the perfect clippers. Within minutes of arriving home, the wire was cut and the crisis was over.

By this time, the eastern sky was beginning to lighten up. As she slid into bed, she heard the noise of the front door open as I came in from work. It was 6:15 a.m.

"How was your night, dear?"

"Oh it was just awful, wifeofdadwithnoisykids, just awful. I am tired and want to go to bed."

"Yes, dear."

"And honey, tell the Noisykids to keep the noise down. After being up all night, I need some rest. Someday you should see what it's like to be up all night."

"Yes, dear."

Of course this dialogue was made up....except the part about me being self-centered could have happened.

I will be backing off on blogging while I compose the Family newsletter, which may or may not show up on this blog.

Now, how about a bit of something to watch:

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Rules for Dealing with Nuns

Sunrise over Albertson's #4166 - Saturday, December 9, 2006

Sunrise/Sunset: Right after watching the sun set last night, I got called in to work all night. During the lull in the action, I made the following observations. This is not an all-inclusive list:

I spent Saturday morning, along with six of my children, helping the Missionaries of Charity.

Whenever we visit them, I have to remind the Noisykids to obey the nuns without question or backtalk. I have no desire to have to take one of my children aside and 'counsel' them when we should be working.

So I found it both irritating and amusing that whenever the sisters told me to do something, I had to stop myself from saying something, either a suggestion to do it a better way(read MY WAY), or worse, ask the question "WHY?"

Somehow I kept control of my tongue, and as I worked the rest of the morning, I began a list of guidelines which would help me keep a spirit of generosity and humility while working with the sisters.

By the time I was done, I realized the guidelines would apply just as well to dealing with my wife, or even God, for that matter.

1. Remember who is the boss. You are there to help, not take over.
2. Do not second guess what they want. They think in different terms than you do. They are thinking of things from the perspective of eternity.
3. Do not argue with the sisters. Refer to #1 and #2 above.
4. Do not tell them what to do.
5. Remember the nuns are modeling their lives after a Woman whose last words recorded in the Bible were "Do whatever He tells you."
6. The nuns(and my wife as well) are poster children for the term 'disinterestedness' - they are not thinking about what's in it for themselves.

Granted, I am the head of the household, and have the final say in matters which affect the home. But in so many things my wife has a better grasp of what needs to be done. In those areas I usually defer to her judgement; decisions about clothing, meals, and so many other important things are better left to her.

I am reminded of a comment made by James Stenson, on the subject of parenting. He said that the easiest way to become a successful father was to marry a great woman, put her high on a pedestal, and DO WHATEVER SHE TELLS YOU.

I have certainly done the first, and since my wife truly is the heart of our home, I am working hard to do the second and third.


I believe Our Lady of Guadalupe left an image of herself behind because she knew what St. Juan Diego would say when asked whom he saw:

“Beautiful Lady.”

Contrast that to the detailed description of Our Lady by St. Bernadette Soubirous, and you can see why the Blessed Mother supplied a picture. This is not to say that St. Juan Diego was incompetent; rather, it indicates that he is a man, and described things as a man would. For the sake of all of us, the Blessed Mother gave us the picture to make up for his limited description.

A gentle reminder:

I like how his blanket makes the turn before he does.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Gift Shop Items...and a bit of penance

Happy Feast of the Immaculate Conception!

Only at the Gift Shop:

Dining with the Loudkinder Family

You will love and cherish this family cookbook which has been in the Loudkinder family for quite a while!

Join the Loudkinder family as the children prepare meal after meal after meal after meal after meal for the Loudkinder parents, Elvis and Priscilla Loudkinder.

Enjoy their favorite fowl, beef and fish recipe - everything from Mahi Mahi to Pot Roast of Beef to Grilled Chicken to Fajitas!!

"They ought to have a blog!" - concerned parent

"The photographs are lousy, but the recipes are Grrrrrrrrreat!!" - Antoine Letigre, food critic

Valentine's Day is Almost Here....

...What better way to express your love than with a

Heart-Shaped Potato!?!

Pick up a Bushel Basket at the Gift Shop's Produce Section!


Worse than an Discipline,

it's the Claymation Christmas Special Videos!


December 7, 2006: View of the Empty Sky


Consider this thought from a rabbit:

"But I have learned that with creatures one loves, suffering is not the
only thing for which one may pity them. A rabbit who does not know when a
gift has made him safe is poorer than a slug, even though he may think
otherwise himself."

from Watership Down, by Richard Adams, Chapter 31.

Count me as one of the slugs.

Today we remember those who died at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

I think we have taken for granted the sacrifices made by our military in
the past, and, more critically, the members of our military who are
presently in the Middle East. And now, when the change in the political
landscape in Washington, D.C. suggests that we will bail out of Iraq, it
would be a good idea to look at what our military has done(and is doing)
to make it safe for people to go about living in safety and peace.

While I am not a pscychic, I would think that pulling out of Iraq would
just encourage more attacks on our country such as the one on September
11, 2001.

I am blessed with having several partners who are Vietnamese, and a couple
of them were refugees. They all have stories to tell of the hardships and
dangers of excaping from their couuntry, and the relief of getting to
America. When I asked them if they thought we should have stayed and
fought on in Viet Nam, the answer has always been 'yes.' I think that if
we bail out of Iraq, we will not only collect refugees from there, but
also more terrorists as well.

Now off of my soapbox.

No video today, out of respect for the memory of those who died today in

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Another Blast of Mercy from Our Lord

Random Notes:

A friend of mine got the suncatcher pictured above recently. He had made a donation to a college, and got this in appreciation for his donation. I wonder if they ever thought of sending out T-shirts with the following caption on it:
"I donated to this college and all I got was this Lousy T-Shirt"

Perhaps that is what the hospital I work at is planning to give to the attending physicians.

Mercy, Mercy Mercy!

Once again, our youngest Noisykid, featured here in the Kitchen, has given us concern. She had been having fevers for a couple of days, and had all normal blood and urine tests on Sunday, so we attributed this to some wonderful little virus.

Today we took her back to the pediatrician to get someone else to look her over, and she had a raging ear infection. On with the antibiotics!

In our strange way we were ecstatic that it was not another urinary tract infection, with all the implications that come with that.

When I think about it, we have been blessed with a tremendous amount of good health. It has only been in the past few years that we have been experiencing what I would call an actuarial phenomenon, where we seem to be having a lot of visits to the doctor.

Considering the number of children I see who will probably not live to the end of the year, I can do nothing but thank God for the health that He has granted us.

My youngest daughter will always remind me of the concluding prayer of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy:

Eternal God, in Whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase your mercy in us, so that in difficult moments we might not despair nor become despondent, but with great confidence submit ourselves to Your Holy Will, Which is Love and Mercy Itself. Amen.

So whatever awful thing happens to us, we must understand that this is God allowing us to suffer for some reason that is beyond our comprehension. A good example of this is the actions of the Carmelite nuns who were martyred by the French during the Reign of Terror. The Scorpion and the Duck reviewed that book here. The nuns went to their deaths rejoicing in the mercy and providence of God, for they had offered themselves up to God in order to end the Reign of Terror.

Other notes:

The Captain wanted to remind everyone that there are plenty of berths still available on the Cruise mentioned here

Did you think I would forget a bit of mortification? This from the lead singer of Yes:

'Up With People' meets 'We are the World' meets Santa Claus. Hideous.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

St. Nicholas' Day Eve

I went out walking the land this afternoon as the sun set and the wind started picking up. I took a few pictures of the property, including some pictures of prickly pears on the cactus. You can actually eat them. The prickly pear is the red fruit on the cactus below.

A funny thing about cactus is that the big spines or prickers are not the most painful part of them. The cactus is actually covered with a bunch of nearly invisible prickers, maybe three millimeters long, which get everywhere. They hurt, and when you try to take them out, they tend to break. Sometimes you end up with them left in the skin with no way to pull them out.

As I took the picture of the cactus, I suddenly realized that the patch of cacti was full of the sounds of peeping, or chirping. I tried to locate the noise, but as I started moving toward the sound, it would stop. Suddenly there was nothing but the sound of the wind. I guess the little birds know to be quiet when they hear something approaching.

I am so blessed to have this land that the Noisykids can run on. I am torn sometimes, such as when I find the Noisykids have been digging holes where I want none. My first inclination is to correct them - yell at them would be a better way to put it - but then I think that one day, after they all are grown up and are no longer referred to as my Noisykids, I will have all the time necessary to go around and fill the holes they have left in the ground.

It will be a lot harder to fill the holes left in our lives after they move into the world.

As a continuation of the Advent Penance, and in recognition of the Feast of St. Nicholas which is tomorrow, here is a song from a group hardly heard any more:

Here are the shoes, waiting for St. Nicholas to visit. I figure I will get a load of coal in my boots. I have not forgotten the handkerchief count.

Christmas Music Fact

The man behind Mannheim Steamroller is the same guy who had that big hit in the C.B. Radio craze of the 1970's "Convoy."

Monday, December 04, 2006

Brutal Week...

...Followed by Busy Weekend!

At one point in life(read adolescence) I thought I would never be loved by anyone, and would spend my life on the surface of this planet just moping about.

Now I can't go to the bathroom without someone coming to visit me.

What a trememdous blessing!

While we are very busy with a bunch of sick Noisykids, I would be remiss if I did not pass on a bit of mortification to you. If you can't pray, fast, or give alms, then you must watch this:

Sorry about the poor video quality.

Music thoughts

Most love songs were actually written dedicated to dogs or cats.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Advent is a Time of Prayer, Fasting, Almsgiving...

...and Penance.

This Advent, I will strive to be more serious in my blogging. But I wish to help you with small mortifications if I can. Here is the first opportunity to offer something up, if you wish:

Let it begin with me.

Thanks to Gerald Augustinus!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Remembering December 1, 1994

Today we recall the events of December 1, 1994 in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

On that day, three friends and colleagues of mine were killed when the helicopter they were riding in crashed. Apparently they developed engine trouble, and when the big blades stop spinning, a helicopter will drop like a stone.

I was scheduled to work as the flight physician the next day. This was my 'moonlighting' job I had while I was a resident and fellow. The risks of a crash were known to all of us, and my way of handling it was to make an act of contrition and pray to my Guardian Angel while the engines warmed up.

I always prayed to God that He must want me to live, since he blessed me with a large family and it just wouldn't be right to make my wife a widow. Whenever I prayed this way, I suddenly would be reminded of all the saints who grew up in a home where the father was missing. St. John Bosco, St. Maria Goretti, Fr. John Hardon, and others would spring to mind. I think it was God's way of telling me to stop trying to make deals with Him.

Once I was taking care of a patient on a transport, I was to preoccupied to think about the dangers of flying. And despite being terrified of heights - I have trouble standing on a ladder - I really loved flying. Every time I went up I would see some beautiful sight, from a beautiful sunset over the Michigan farmlands, to something manmade like the Christmas lights at Domino's Farms. Or in the middle of the night how each small town was a collection of lights in a sea of darkness. To really appreciate what the term 'ceiling' means, when we would fly below the clouds which looked like, well, a ceiling above us.

To see the flashing lights of emergency vehicles waiting for us on a night scene call, and watch them wheel below us as the pilot would turn sharply and drop to bring the helicopter around into the wind for a landing.

To slow to a stop in midair to wave to the passengers in a blimp over Ann Arbor.

The summertime flights where the pilot would ask us if we wanted the air conditioning on, which would slow us down a little, or keep it off to hasten the transport. No matter how hot it was in the back, the answer was always 'no air conditioning.'

The takeoffs from in front of Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, where we had to stay outside the helicopter as far away and as late as possible, crouching on the ground with our headphones stretched to the limit because we had to make sure someone didn't try to approach the helicopter as it fired up its engines.

The winter night flights, where the mannitol we carried would crysatlize, and where all one wanted was to crawl into bed. Instead I would spend the night huddled in a five point restraint, thinking about my wife and listening to the chatter on the radio as the ground crawled below.

The time we buzzed my house, circling it and seeing the lights of the neighbor's houses spring on.

This was the first time in my life that someone close to me in age had ever died, and the fact that it could have been me is something I have thought about every day for the last twelve years. One would hope that having this thought, and seeing so many others die in my line of work that I would be ever mindful of being a good man and a pillar of virtue. This is not the case. I think for about 48 hours after the helicopter crashed I treated my wife and children more charitably than I ever have. After that, I was back to my same old self: impatient, selfish, lazy, and all those other characteristics I had tried to pitch.

So today, like every other day, unless I fall asleep too soon, I pray an act of contrition, resolve to sin no more, and keep close to the Sacraments. I know that one day I will end up just like those who died - Rick, Jan and Terry - and never again see the 'three in the green' - the lights that indicate that the landing gear is safely down, and that soon we will be safely on the ground again.

Our Lady of the Mysterious Decapitation

Our Lady of the Mysterious Decapitation
Now restored with the help of some cement!

Prayer to Our Lady of the Mysterious Decapitation

Mary my mother, take my hand today, and all days.
Lead me away from all occasions of sin.
Guide me in fulfilling your last words in the Gospel,
"Do whatever He tells you."

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