Friday, May 20, 2011


What makes the Eternal Optimist happy? Contrary to popular myth, EO leads a blessed and happy life.

Nevertheless, this is a legitimate question, because EO can be cranky sometimes, especially when people are being evil or spending his money.

Portrait of Sir Winston Feeling Cranky.

In no particular order, some happy making things:

Mrs. EO. Say no more.

The EO children. Wonderful! They argue and make each other laugh and tell very funny stories and talk fast and furious. Hilarious when they are all together. I know how much they make me happy by how much I miss them now that the older ones are grown up and far away. The ones still with me console me with their kind hearts.

Mass. I converted in 2003. I am still amazed and moved.

Music. Buckwheat Zydeco, Alison Krauss, Bruce Springsteen, Bela Fleck, Dylan, Steely Dan, Beethoven, Talking Heads, Mozart, Hillsongs, Graceland, Marc Knopfler, Little Feat, The Band, Fanny J. Crosby, St. Thomas Aquinas . . . okay, okay.

Buckwheat Zydeco.
Image Credit.

Chimay Blue. Delicious Belgian ale made by Trappist monks. EO has one (possibly two) on the weekend, along with the next item.

One H. Upmann cigar.

Riding The Bike. Definitely before the Chimay and H. Upmann, on Saturdays. EO got a nice bike awhile back. Makes me happy being out for a long time peddling hard.

"Lord of the Rings."

The books of Isaiah, Psalms, John and Hebrews.

Watching the Masters. I could really do without the jacket ceremony at the end, though. It's always uncomfortably weird.

Watching Barcelona play soccer. My dream is watching them play Real Madrid at Camp Nou. Good luck with that.

Camp Nou, Barcelona, Catalonia.
Image Credit.

Almost anything by P.J. O'Rourke.

"What Maisie Knew," by Henry James.

"Groundhog Day." Over and over.

Dennis Miller.

Chris Farley, RIP.

Matt Foley, Motivational Speaker.
Image Credit.

"On Bullshit," by Harry G. Frankfurt. A marvelous book of philosophy analyzing the difference between lying and pure . . . well, no need to wallow in it.

"The Quiet Man." With all the nieces and nephews gathered around on St. Patrick's Day. All of them mouthing the lines. Of course everyone's favorite is the fight scene.

"Stuart Saves His Family." There are so many scenes in this movie that are pure genius, but I particularly cherish the intervention.

Spaghetti and Pesto. I think my work here is done. I am HUNGRY!

Spaghetti, Prawns, Sun Dried Tomatoes and Pesto.
Image Credit.

Sunday, May 15, 2011


Long ago and far away (more than 20 years ago now) Eternal Optimist was very unhappy. He worked for a very large business in a very big city and hardly ever saw his wife and 3 small children awake. He left in the morning when it was dark and came home in the evening when it was very dark. He kissed them all as they slept.

The business started having some financial problems. Instead of dealing with them honestly, the business started laying off newly hired people, telling them that they were inadequate and had to be let go. These folks thought their lives had ended, and came to talk with EO, oftentimes in tears.

EO, though safe from being let go, decided he'd had enough of the large business. Mrs. EO had taken him earlier that year to the Emergency Room with symptoms of a heart attack. Four hours later the doctors concluded EO had an ulcer that was duplicating heart attack symptoms. They gave him some ulcer medicine and it worked.

EO and Mrs. EO had been praying a lot. He and Mrs. EO had been having a difficult time, growing further and further apart. Both kept coming to the same conclusion: EO should just quit his job with the big firm. Quit, without a new job. Quit, and move to a lovely town in the South that had suddenly come to our attention for a variety of reasons, all of which boiled down to God's leading.

So EO obeyed God, not knowing where this was heading. A number of friends inquired about the medication he was taking, wondering if it should be changed, perhaps to something that would regulate his brain chemicals. Effective December 31, 20 + years ago, EO quit his well-paying job.

Not long after quitting his job, EO was forced by his financial circumstances to obtain peanut butter and government cheese from his church, an experience that made him soft-hearted toward unemployed people who need food. While EO was able to earn enough income, here and there, to pay the mortgage, food was tight.

Mr. and Mrs. EO put their house up for sale, on their own, in the worst housing slump in a generation, and sold it for their list price, in three weeks, to the first person who had looked at it. The buyer's appraisal came back $25,000 short. The buyer's mom put up the $25,000. The deal went through.

By March EO and Mrs. EO, with 3 children, had closed on the house and moved to the South. Still with no job. We paid off all our debts, paid 6 months advance rent to secure a 3 bedroom townhouse, and bought a used car for cash. We had no debt, no income, some clothes and a $5,000 Mitsubishi.

For 6 months EO and the fam lived off the money from the sale of the house. During that time EO became acquainted with his wife and children, an acquaintance he has kept up these last 20 years.

The week EO came to the last of his money, his present employer called and asked Mrs. EO if EO would like to start the coming Monday. Mrs. EO yelled "yes!!" and so EO got dressed in a suit and went to work that Monday. He is still happily employed at the same job, doing what he loves with wonderful people.

EO's present job is a much better fit than his last one, and EO learned something lasting about trusting God, even when He asks you to jump off a cliff. This made dealing with fear much easier as life came along.

Mrs. EO is still married to EO. Both of them have gotten much older, but are still very much in love.

There. That's at least 3 miracles: house sold, new job in the nick of time, and a long, happy marriage.

So if you need a miracle, just pray for one. No matter how scary it all seems, God makes it turn out right in the end.

Sunday, May 8, 2011


Miracles happen all the time. They just don't get reported in the papers. Miracles mostly happen to very poor people who pray for them. These are people who can't afford the New York Times and probably wouldn't be able to read it, even if they could afford it.

So miracles normally don't happen to NYT readers, and they don't happen to the rich and powerful people that NYT readers prefer to read about. Miracles happen to people who ask for them, and to people who need them. These two qualifiers exclude most NYT readers.

Read here about a paralyzed man who was healed at Lourdes and just finished a 1,000 mile walk.

C.S. Lewis wrote a book on miracles. It's quite wonderful. It is helpfully called "Miracles."

There is an excellent series of monographs on miracles titled "Matthew," "Mark," "Luke," "John," and "Acts." I've read them in a collection called "The Bible." Fine stuff. You can even read them online, for free.

Here's a book by a physician examining about 1,400 medical miracles documented by the Vatican over the years. I haven't read it, but it looks interesting.

Miracles have a strange effect. They induce both belief and mockery, transformation and vituperation. Normally the poor, desperate people who ask for miracles have their lives changed, and the rich, educated people around them insult them. Read the Gospel of John, chapter 9.

Some stories don't change.

Here's a tip: if you want to meet God, ask Him for a miracle. Not in a grumpy, "show me your stuff" way. Just ask because you need one, and are admitting it to Him. Don't worry, He'll only give you one if it's good for you.

BTW, I'm not talking about "easy-cheesy, give me a billion dollars" miracles. For the most part, being wealthy is even more problematic for your soul than poverty. It is very similar to starving and drinking a lot of booze to cover the pain. You actually need food when you are starving (i.e., God), not booze (i.e., lots of money).

Thing is, if you get a miracle, you've got big changes coming your way. Some of your friends are not going to like you anymore, and will probably treat you shabbily.

You'll get over it, though, and make some new friends. I've included some Facebook shots of people in the "miracle" crowd. There are lots of them, and they are lovely people. You'll enjoy the good company.

Mother Theresa
Image Credit

Blessed John Paul II

St. Francis of Assisi
Image Credit

Maybe readers could comment on miracles they've witnessed. That would be nice. Next post I'll tell about one that happened to me.

Saturday, May 7, 2011


I see the news started calling Osama "Usama" the other day, at approximately the same hour our Chief Executive had Osama assassinated. Or is that Ussassinated?

Does this mean we were hunting the wrong guy the whole time and we finally got him because we figured out how to spell his name? DO NOT TELL ME he was in our phone book and we just missed him because we were looking under “O.”

Maybe this means that all Arabic names that start in "O" have to be be changed to "U" now? Have we just missed that until now?

Or is it a rule just for historically awful people?
Udolf Hitler? Useph Stalin? Uttila the Hun? Is that how it’s going to be?

The alternate spelling, Usama, has been around for a long time. I don’t understand why we just picked up on it the weekend we had him whacked. As far as I know there is no International Court of Foreign Name Spellings that decides these things. There is no "right" way to spell it, except in Arabic. Just pick a spelling and stick with it. Same with Gadhafi/Qaddafi/Khadafhi.

And what is it with UBL? Is this the cutesy future of villain-hood? UBL sounds like some sad sack emo band, or maybe an internet acronym. I prefer my evil people with three names, the good old American way. Lee Harvey Oswald. James Earl Ray. John Wilkes Booth. Osama Bin Laden.

Thats all Im talking about.