altThe Alto Wore Tweed (Liturgical Mysteries #1) by Mark Schweizer (St. James Music Press, 2002)

This book is just for fun. If there is something of redeeming social value about it, I didn't notice, but I laughed longer and harder than I have over a book in a long time. Our choir director introduced me to the series—we get some of our anthems from St. James Press—and it was also recommended by other choir members.

The protagonist is an Episcopal church music director who is also a detective and a writer of "hard-boiled" detective fiction. I'm not a fan of that school of detective stories, but I know enough about it to get some of the jokes. And as a member of an Episcopal church choir, I can tell you that the author hits just close enough to the truth to be really funny. What someone without this background would think, I don't know.

I was warned that I'd have to not mind the "religious irreverence," but it's not irreverent toward God, and a bit of irreverence toward choir and church foibles is probably not a bad thing. Some of the situations and humor are "adult" (though I hate to use that term) but not graphic. I have a very low tolerance for such things and still enjoyed the book a lot, so I doubt anyone else would have a problem; I mention it merely as a grandchild warning to parents. More to the point, I don't think any of our grandchildren have enough experience as yet to appreciate the satire.

Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, July 29, 2020 at 9:00 am | Edit
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In January of 2015 I began a walking tour. Not a literal tour, though the walking was real enough. I've been keeping track of the steps I take each day, and used that information to take a virtual walk from home here in Central Florida to our family in New Hampshire. That took most of a year to accomplish: I "arrived" on December 16. 2015.

From there I took on a bigger challenge: letting my steps take me on to our family in Switzerland. I picked up the pace and reached that goal in a mere year and a half, on June 30, 2017.

Finally, I turned around and made the long journey home. That was a tough one, but nearly three years later, on May 31, 2020, my weary feet crossed the threshold. Home at last! (And now I find I must remain here for an indeterminate time!)

I began keeping track of my walking in mid-July 2014. Since then I have walked over 10,000 miles, a figure I find totally astonishing, even if most of them were accomplished walking around and around our backyard pool.

Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, June 26, 2020 at 8:52 am | Edit
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The world may be facing some very serious difficulties right now, but the world has always faced serious difficulties.

One of the best ways to combat the depression and ennervation that come during such times is with laughter. Not course, mocking laughter, but the kind of bright, wholesome, joyful comedy that lifts the spirit.

Here's one I found yesterday. It depends for most of its comedy on familiarity with the old television show, Monk, so I know several of my readers might not find it as funny as we did. But I hope you enjoy it anyway.  (The fun part starts at about 1:29.)

Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, June 6, 2020 at 10:25 am | Edit
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I thought these had disappeared decades ago, yet look what showed up when I cleaned out our closet! (Click to enlarge.)

I shouldn't have to tell anyone how old they are.

My idea is to take the flags off the poles and wash them gently, then frame them to hang on the wall. I'd have done it already but shopping for frames online is not yielding any joy right now. Normally I go to JoAnn's and spend a lot of time pawing through their frames to find something that looks right and is in good shape, a practice that is currently frowned upon. I'd consider taking a chance at buying them online, but I can't find the right sizes in stock. So I wait.

But I'm so happy to have found these flags that I had to share them.

Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, April 29, 2020 at 7:26 am | Edit
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I haven't actually put this sign on our front door—yet. At the best of times I don't like solicitors coming to our house, and this is not the best of times for strangers to come breathe on us and touch our doorknobs. Not to mention the risk to themselves, going door to door.  Yet still they come.

Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, April 8, 2020 at 8:17 am | Edit
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I've been woefully behind in writing reviews for the books I've read, but this morning I returned to Eric B. Schultz's latest book, Innovation on Tap

Important note: I went to Amazon to grab the book's link and discovered that the Kindle version is currently on sale for $0.99! That's 99 cents! Do not pass up this opportunity. I didn't, even though thanks to the author's generosity I already own an autographed hardcover copy. Not only do I enjoy having searchable e-books as well as "real" copies, but this is going to make my review so much easier to write, since I'll be able to copy the quotes marked by my 25+ sticky notes, instead of laboriously typing them in by hand.

This is one reason why writing takes longer than maybe it should. I start to work on my review, then decide to catch up on the last couple of Occasional CEO posts (I'm behind in reading as well as writing), and when I read "Leadership in the White Space" I'm immediately inspired to design a T-shirt. So I play with that for a while, so I can have an image to post. And then I (temporarily) abandon my review post in order to write this one, which turns out to be a great idea because of the above discovery of the 99 cent Kindle book, which as I said will make writing the review easier. But still!

On with the White Space thing.

As I usually say, you're better off reading the whole post. But since all the mothers, for whom this post is primarily written, are so busy, here's something to give you an idea of it (emphasis mine).

Today, scientists believe that dark energy and dark matter make up almost everything. What can be seen, what we used to believe was our entire universe, is less than 5% of what's really out there. ...

There’s a comparable concept in organizations, a kind of force that's invisible, hard to measure, but likely the most important tool a leader possesses. ...

Despite individual talent, there’s a kind of glue that binds, a kind of energy that powers a successful organization. ...

When asked what he did all day, [a brilliant CEO] replied, “I just manage in the white space.” ...

I was fortunate to start my career under a leader ... who was an expert at managing in the white space. When I wrote Innovation on Tap, I highlighted entrepreneurs ... who were geniuses at doing the same.

That doesn't mean I understand how they did it, or how exactly "white space" works. But it reminds me—like astronomers and dark energy—that what we can see and teach is important, but what we can't see or explain might be the most consequential stuff of all.

So here you go, mother-CEO-heroes. Here's your T-shirt.

Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, March 1, 2020 at 7:35 am | Edit
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This is an actual sign that we encountered in an actual rest stop parking lot in Connecticut. I immediately began wondering:

Is effectively reducing the number of parking spaces available really Connecticut's best solution to inadequate facilities?

How do they know the vehicle is travelling with multiple occupants?

If they patrol the lot, giving tickets to offenders, should we leave two people in the car and use the restroom in shifts? On this trip, we could have done that.

However, we are often travelling with just the two of us. A car with two people in it is certainly a "multiple occupant vehicle," but leaving just one in the car while the other uses the facilities might lead to an unpleasant encounter with the guard, since he would see only one person in the car.

Is there a surveilance camera in the lot? There probably is. When you drive in, does it detect how many people are in the car, then automatically mail you a ticket if it records you parking in the wrong spot?

In the end, we just parked in an "everyone is welcome" space and entered the building together.

Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, February 2, 2020 at 6:04 am | Edit
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We all know that sopranos specialize in hitting high notes. How about this one, reported by Stephan, who sings in a Catholic Church choir in Switzerland. He's not Catholic, but they have the choir! And the food, apparently.

The sopranos treated us to hors d’oeuvres and a six-course dinner for our choir’s annual general meeting. Beet carpaccio with goat cheese and honey; mushroom soup; pike-perch with saffron sauce, shredded leek, and wild rice; blood orange Campari granita; angus roast with pea sauce, celery-potato mash, and vegetables; and chocolate mousse with orange sauce and filleted orange wedges on the side. Of the hors d’oeuvres, the pear crisps with cream cheese, Gorgonzola and walnuts deserve a special mention. 

That's setting the bar pretty high. Will the tenors provide the next feast?

Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, January 23, 2020 at 5:10 am | Edit
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It's still Advent—but here's a little fun as you prepare for Christmas, featuring the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra.

Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, December 19, 2019 at 5:48 am | Edit
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If you're browsing the toothpaste aisle of your local grocery store, would you do a double-take upon seeing this prominently displayed?

That's what happened to me several years ago when shopping in Switzerland. To this day I smile whenever I see it on a visit to Migros or Coop. It is a prime example of the need for companies to take care when exporting their products to other countries. Perhaps the best-known example is selling the Chevy Nova in Spanish-speaking countries: General Motors certainly didn't want prospective buyers to be thinking "doesn't go" with respect to their cars.

If the Swiss company that makes Candida toothpaste exports their product to English-speaking countries, I doubt it is under the same name. The thought of brushing my teeth with something that suggests a vaginal yeast infection does not inspire me to put this in my shopping cart. It is not much better to be reminded of thrush, a candida infection of the mouth.

I don't know what the makers of Candida were thinking when they chose that name, but it turns out that it's not as crazy as it sounds. Although this toothpaste appears to me to be marketed simply as a good dentifrice, there have been studies showing that certain toothpastes are effective in fighting oral candida infections. Here's a study that compared nine brands of herbal and conventional toothpaste (unfortunately, Candida was not among them) and concluded,

All toothpastes studied in our experiments were effective in inhibiting the growth of all C. albicans isolates. The highest anticandidal activity was obtained from toothpaste that containing both herbal extracts and sodium fluoride as active ingredients, while the lowest activity was obtained from toothpaste containing sodium monofluorophosphate as an active ingredient.

Now you know. Maybe the Swiss are onto something.

Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, November 23, 2019 at 4:49 pm | Edit
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How do you become Cake Baker to the Pandas at the National Zoo in Washington?

You put in your time—a lot of time—as a volunteer, and still more time after you are finally hired by the Zoo. You bring your creativity, enthusiasm and love for animals to work with you every morning.

It's not my dream job, but it was for the son-in-law of one of my dearest friends. His work has been featured in the media before, but to my knowledge this is the first time he has been acknowledged as its creator. Congratulations, Brian Cannon!

Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, November 14, 2019 at 6:39 am | Edit
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Our Church History class has resumed: we have moved on to Volume 2 of Justo L. Gonzales' The Story of Christianity. The books are interesting and the class even better—it's helpful to have our well-educated pastor's insights to affirm/debunk/clarify/expand the author's views. I wish there were more discussion—but the class is already an hour and a half long.

I recently rediscovered this cartoon, which I first came upon in 2012. Sometimes it feels like a good summary of church history. Or the history of science, for that matter. Or the human condition in general! (Click image to enlarge.)

Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, October 17, 2019 at 7:00 am | Edit
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Hey, Eric!  Look what I found in the Summer 2019 issue of American Ancestors!

I haven't had a cartoon published since my Dip City days.  Not that this is entirely my cartoon, but it is my caption.

On Facebook, American Ancestors (The New England Historic Genealogical Society) occasionally runs a contest in which readers suggest captions for a cartoon that they plan to publish in their magazine.  I had no idea that mine had been chosen till I reached the final page of the most recent issue.

That was a fun surprise!

Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, October 12, 2019 at 11:17 am | Edit
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While praying and working with Dorian taking aim right at us, it is impossible to resist some musical jokes about current events. Dorian is my favorite musical mode—I hope I still like it a week from now.


Enjoy!  Now back to work....

Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, August 29, 2019 at 7:40 am | Edit
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The jetpacks of science fiction are closer to reality!

It may not be the most comfortable way to get from England to France, buy you can't beat it for excitement.

Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, August 5, 2019 at 8:26 am | Edit
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