I know it’s been about six weeks since I last wrote. If I wasn’t as lazy, I could probably write multiple times per week. There’s a lot to catch up on, but I’ll just hit several highlights in chronological order.

Twins Work

Michael and Daniel have been making some modest progress on the work front. Daniel has been a loyal Market Basket worker since graduation, but I’m happy to see him now branching out to more responsibilities. For almost two years it was the same basic two roles but now I see him working more hours and doing more things. I’ve emphasized to him that one gets more valuable if you aren’t so typecast but can be used flexibly in a variety of job roles there. Michael seems to have been “ghosted” at the Hills Restaurant, but has been gaining steadily at Grill 603, working about half time in a variety of restaurant opening and kitchen roles.

BAHA Activated

I wrote a while back that Timothy had a BAHA (Bone Anchored Hearing Aid) surgically implanted in early summer, but had to wait about six weeks before the external digital/receiver portion could be fitted and calibrated. I’m happy to report it went well. The external portion adheres magnetically to the implant just under the skin. So when he puts it on, it’s almost like when you put something on your fridge with a small magnet. We opted for a couple of accessories too. He can stream Bluetooth audio from his phone directly to the implant. He also has a microphone he can give a teacher that would stream directly to the implant.

Timothy At College

That external processor was setup less than two weeks before he had to head off to school. While I gave him some options, he had faith in my ol’ 200K+ mile stick shift turbo diesel sedan and drove it to South Dakota. It was a major road trip with two days of driving, an extra day with my in-laws, Gina and Jim, and two more days of driving. After being stuck with remote learning in his bedroom since the start of the pandemic, he has been so much happier learning face-to-face and in-person. And I couldn’t be happier for him, as remote learning was stripping away so much of his drive for learning. I just can’t imagine what it would have been like if my Senior Year of high school was spent entirely at home.

One unexpected side effect of Timothy going to South Dakota School of Mines and Technology (aka “Mines”) is that I sort of “reverse-inherited” the beast of a laptop I bought him to take to college. The college issued him a pretty sweet Lenovo Thinkpad P1, while I got the Thinkpad X1 Extreme that I bought him this past Spring. While I’ve been happy to use this cheap $200 Linux laptop for the past year, suddenly I have options between this moped laptop I’m writing on now and this other Ferrari laptop that is way, way overkill for my use model.

One plus side of this is that this new laptop has two drives in it. One runs Windows 11 while the other runs Arch Linux. The Linux side is my Go To, but the Windows side has two advantages:

  1. I can use it to work more efficiently on CCD/religious-ed stuff for the parish since that tends to be highly focused on Microsoft Office stuff (Powerpoint and Word) and especially Zoom. Have I mentioned that I can’t believe I still am doing Zoom for CCD? New Hampshire kids are more likely to die on their school bus than from C19, but “for their safety”…

  2. I recently installed the Verbum desktop client on it. I’ve had a Verbum account for about 6 years now and my library has about 1500 books in it. Since I haven’t had a typical PC in many years, I was always using their Web App or the Android app on a tablet to access my books. Either approach is very “cloud-based”. On a Mac or Windows machine you can run locally. After installing the Verbum program on the Windows drive of this new laptop, I then downloaded my entire library of books and resources … all six+ gigabytes. The laptop then spent quite a while indexing it all. Thank goodness that laptop is, as I said, a beast of a machine.

My First Retreat

I had some exposure to Opus Dei in my middle school years, but because of my late driving age and lack of access throughout my teens and early 20’s, I just lost touch. I reconnected with them after moving to New Hampshire and having our first child. I’ve been blessed to have their help in formation for the past couple of decades.

One of the things that they advocate is an annual retreat. Since Michelle and I had five children in seven years, I never felt right asking Michelle to “hold the fort” while I went away for half a week for quiet time and reflection. Then once the youngest started 1st Grade, Michelle was diagnosed with cancer that same month. Later she passed and I never felt right leaving the house to the teen children for several days to fend for themselves.

Once Timothy head off to college I jumped at the chance. The nearest Opus Dei retreat house is about two hours away south of Boston. You get a modest single-person room to yourself. There’s beautiful grounds, a small chapel in the center, lots of talks and meditations led by both lay men and a priest of Opus Dei, daily Mass and Rosary, and lots of opportunities for the Sacrament of Confession and spiritual direction.

There were lots of solid books for spiritual reading in their various open areas and one that caught my eye was by Rev. Alban Goodier titled, “The Public Life of Our Lord Jesus Christ - An Interpretation”. It was fairly old and a pretty good commentary … for a Jesuit. (kidding) So I looked for it on Amazon and to get one just like it used would be about $500 for anything in good condition. Luckily I found a small publisher who had all 3 volumes re-printed in paperback for ~$80. It’s been good for helping one contextualize and visualize the Gospel scenes and “put yourself there” which is great for meditation on the various Gospel events we’ve been told most of our lives. I’m enjoying his commentary a lot.

I’m a Father-in-Law

Last Monday I walked down the aisle. I used this line the other day and a few folks gasped thinking that I got married. Nope, I had the traditional role of Father of the Bride, the first of my siblings to have such a role. Ryan and Abby have been engaged for almost a year, but with C19 changing rules and recommendations roughly monthly, it made (and continues to make) planning difficult. Finally this summer New Hampshire seemed relatively relaxed and the two of them nailed down a venue and a date.

I’m obviously biased, but for a wedding attended by just under 50 people, it was beautiful and loads of fun afterwards. As a bonus we got to spend several days with my sister-in-law, Gina, and my Dad. I was pleasantly surprised by how long my Dad stayed, having just left early this morning.

The happy couple is breaking their honeymoon into two portions. They have a thriving business to attend to and can’t easily just take a long vacation. This weekend they are enjoying time together in Freedom, NH. That’s so them as they are pretty hard core liberty advocates. Later in the winter they’ll likely take a typical honeymoon some place like the Caribbean.

Nerdy Aside

I wrote this all in “console mode” on the cheap laptop, meaning no GUI (Graphical User Interface). While it scares some folks, I kind of enjoy the distraction-free writing it lends itself to. Anyone who used a word processor in the mid-80’s before Macintosh and Windows became mainstream knows what I mean. I had other items to mention, but it’s been about an hour. Time to publish and get back to putting more polish on tonight’s CCD class.