Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Was My Father a Bad Man?

The question is a serious one and not a rhetorical one. I hope that some readers can shed light on something that has puzzled me ever since the book, The Da Vinci Code, was published. It was brought back into focus for me today when I read some literature about Our Lady of Good Success, the Venerable Mother Mariana de Jesus Torres. The literature stated that, according to Mother Mariana, "Our Lady prophesied that at the end of the 19th century and especially in the 20th century Satan would reign almost completely by the means of the Masonic sect."

Wikipedia shows the Masons in a different light, as a social organization. I cannot summarize the whole article here for it is quite long, but you can read it for yourself: Freemasonry. Apparently, people who were considered good and moral and all that wonderful kind of stuff, like George Washington, were members of the Masons. Where I grew up in Maine and New Hampshire, the Masons were considered to be community leaders with good morals. Most attended church. From the Wikipedia article, the central statement for me was the following: "Freemasonry's central preoccupations remain charitable work within a local or wider community, moral uprightness (in most cases requiring a belief in a Supreme Being) as well as the development and maintenance of fraternal friendship – as James Anderson's Constitutions originally urged – amongst brethren."

So, I don't get it. My father was a Mason. Was he a bad man? Does anyone know?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Day of Flowers

At work, we have some training programs, some of them quite long, that I oversee -- well, ultimately oversee. There are a few layers of supervision between me and those programs. In spite of those layers, I continue a practice that I began 20 years ago when I was a dean. At every graduation, I give flowers to the teaching team. I don't care whether the students did well in the course; I don't care if the students were happy with the course. These issues will come up later in program reviews and making changes is the responsibility of the immediate supervisors who are responsible for these programs. The flowers I give are for the effort, to let the teachers in these programs know that I notice and I care.

The teachers love these flowers and look forward to them. I usually send them with a handwritten "congratulations" note. If I can take them to the teaching team personally, I do, but far too often I am tied up and cannot. So, I send them via my admin assistant. No matter how the flowers are delivered, the teachers are also grateful. You would think that I had given each a significant award, but no, they are just a few fragrant flowers. Even the male teachers like them. They have become such an important part of the graduation process that I have my admin assistant purchase them for me if I am traveling and will be missing graduation.

Today was graduation. I was not traveling, so I was able to attend and give closing remarks. Closing remarks are always easy. The best closing remarks are brief. I know that. The graduation is essentially over, and I certainly don't want to stand between the graduates and their parties. So, today, as always, I kept my remarks brief. Then I had a chance to interact with the teachers and their graduates. Some of the families were present, as well.

So, it was a good day. (Not all days are quite so pleasant.) We celebrated the good efforts of teachers and their students. The teachers smiled with pleasure at their flowers. And then I went on walkabout.

Walkabout is one of my management practices (when I am in town). I take about an hour and talk to as many employees as I can. I usually concentrate on one section at a time and ultimately over a month or two I reach nearly everyone. I always take cookies with me. The sugarfree kind because so many of our employees are diabetic. Living in the Middle East taught me to take a gift when I call on people. It is not the cookies that matter; it is the attention. I was able to make it through two sections on walkabout this afternoon and yet have time not to hurry any one conversation. Oh, I enjoy the walkabouts as much as my employees do. I also learn a lot. People volunteer all kinds of information when they have a cookie in hand!

So, today was just one of those days, one of those good days! To make it even more perfect, I was even able to catch noon Mass at a small church near my office. I hope that you all had as happy a day today as I did, and if not, I will pray for a perfect tomorrow for all of you!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

What happened to the Blest Atheist (blog, that is)?

I got caught by surprise by Google's lack of tech support and trickery in domain registration. I decided that since it was about time that Blest Atheist had a name change, given that it now has been four years since my conversion, the timing was right not to go along with the Google-GoDaddy scheme for moving registration to GoDaddy at nine times the original cost. Others have screamed about being held hostage in order to get their website back. I don't like being held hostage and found a way around that. I could have retained the blog title but not the URL, so it seemed fitting to change both.

I will, over time, move all the BA posts here. There are nearly 300 posts, so that will take some time. Please be patient as I work on it. Unfortunately, I cannot access the comments.

I apologize for any inconvenience that causes or has caused readers and followers of Blest Atheist. I thank all those who have followed Blest Atheist and will contact each individually with this information.

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Good Side of Being Sick

I guess I was born a Pollyanna. I cannot help myself. Whatever happens, I always see a good side to it, the proverbial silver lining in the dark cloud. So, I suppose it should come as no surprise that I have had a delightful time being sick this past week (other than being annoyed at the physical symptoms that get in my way of completing daily work that requires me to be a human whirlwind).

I apparently caught some kind of foreign bug that would not respond to American medication in the middle of last week. I thought it might have accompanied me on the plane back from Hawaii, but I have learned from one of my managers who recently spent time in Korea and was sick upon return that it looks and acts just like the bug she imported from Korea. So, that may explain why American medicines did not work. I gave up taking them and enjoyed the drama of being sick, something that rarely happens to me. Friday I dragged myself to work and paid the price: I was in bed all day Saturday and most of Sunday. I got better in time to go to our SFO meeting, then catch the midnight plane to Omaha, do a day's work (the human whirlwind kind), and return to California. I got sick again just as the plane landed and spent Tuesday and half of today in bed again. (There seems to be a 36-hour cycle here.) Now, I am well again -- at least as well as I was on Monday.

Some wonderful things happened while I was sick. Among them were the following:
- I got sleep, deep and delicious sleep, a dessert of a kind I rarely taste.

- I got pampered; Donnie went to the store for me; I am usually the one going to the store for everyone else.

- I got pampered again; my managers did all my work for me; every single report got turned in; all the preparations for our team for Afghanistan got taken care of without my involvement; our new organizational chart got produced and forwarded; two of my managers took care of a video conference that I would otherwise have had to attend (together, they were able to cover what I would have contributed); several business trips were arranged; several visitors were briefed; my meetings were convened by others. I was dialed into a couple of policy-changing discussions, and I did run my eyes over that org chart, but for the most part, the senior managers did it all, keeping my informed by email so that I could interact only when awake, aware, and willing.

- With my energy sources replenished as of the middle of the day today, I was able to attend noon Mass and afterward say the rosary with Sr. Maria and some of the retired members of our parish who stay after Mass on Wednesdays for the rosary. (This was the first time they had invited me to join them because they know that whenever I do go to noon Mass, I usually have to run quickly off to work or to some kind of appointment. It is rare that I take a day of vacation, even rarer that I take it on a Wednesday, and even rarer yet that I have not planned it chock-full of errands.)

- I even got my hair cut, and that only happens once every couple of months. When you have a job as a human whirlwind, you have a changing hairstyle as the weeks go on: short, medium, long, longer. I am back to short now, ready for another two-month stint of tilting at windmills and breezing through our distance offices!

- I got to walk in the rain; I suppose I should not have done that, but it so rarely rains here, and I so love to walk in the rain and splash about like a little kid that I gave myself permission to do so! And while I was walking in the rain, I got to hear the town's roosters crow.

Yes, there is indeed a good side to being sick. I found it. Tomorrow I have to return to zipping and twisting through mounds of work, including whatever number of emails have been added to the 1143 that left unanswered when I left, ill, on Friday afternoon. But for today, for me, the world stood still!

Image from