{ 7 Quick Takes - Vol 13 }

It's turned a bit chilly here in ATX and not knowing quite what to with myself I have decided to embark on a 7 Quick Takes that will be inspiring and uplifting to ones soul. A magnum opus that will inspire the hearts of downtrodden men.  A list so moving that people will contemplate its meaning in times of oppression if only to grasp an idea of a time long gone and draw hope...

Or...maybe I'll just let y'all know what's been going on. Ya. That will take a lot less time. 

 
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.
— Charles Dickens 'A Tale of Two Cities'

-1-

Quick update to my last Quick Takes regarding photo backup. After searching around for a bit I came upon a service that I believe will give me some peace of mind. It's called Mosaic Archive and the two things I like most about it are 1) works right into my Lightroom workflow without requiring Lightroom to be open and 2) it allows for RAW backup. It's all backed up onto Amazon servers so no worries about server redundancy. Price is really reasonable and the only limitation that I really experience is the speed of my upload data stream. I've decided to stage the consolidation for now and only have brought together my existing Lightroom catalogs to begin key wording and editing (oh, if I had only started with a proper DAM workflow). What that means is that I've combined only about 28K photos so far and have only uploaded about 10.5K photos. Next step will be to gather iPhoto catalogs across different computers and any orphaned files that are all over my HD's. Baby steps...

-2-

I'm usually late to the party on many things but I just saw this. Have y'all seen this kid? Serious vocal chops!  Also, what a great song from the late Luther Vandross, "Dance with my father". Beautiful song.

-3-

Speaking (or is it singing) of Fathers I wrote a blog post earlier this week about being a Dad and some of the little moments of grace I've come across over the last couple of weeks. Feel free to chime in on how God has come to teach you how to be a better parent. I'd love to learn more on the things I'm missing.

Transient

-4-

Locally (Austin, TX) produced 'Two Guys a Girl and a Catholic Podcast' has released their latest episode (#93).  Check it out here or on iTunes.

-5-

For those of you who missed Anthony Esolen's article regarding the upcoming decisions regarding the Boy Scouts I urge you to read this piece and actually any other piece he has written for various websites.

-6-

For the iPhoneographers out there I seriously recommend checking out the iPhone app 645 PRO! I'll probably be putting together a post about it and what it offers but, especially if you want to take quality B&W photographs, this is a great app to have in your arsenal.  I started with film and sometimes miss film but this app allows me to have some of the controls and film grain looks of some of my old film stock.  Check it out!

-7-

Made it out to the Matt Maher concert last night and it was great.  Though I'm a big fan of Maher the one who stole the show for me was Chris August.  I was already familiar with a couple of his songs just from the radio - my favorite being 'Center of It' - but the set he played was really impressive.  Dude has some serious guitar and vocal chops.  His set up was basically a guitar, computer and microphone and he just laid a serious groove with a bluesy/gospel feel.  Video below is obviously not his song nor is he playing guitar but I really like the song.  Hope everyone has a great week!

Remember to check out other 7 Quick Takes over at Conversion Diary

{ Deus Caritas Est }

{ 7 Quick Takes - Vol 11 }

So, it's been a few weeks since my last QT post.  Let's see...what's been going on?
(for more QT's visit Conversion Diary)

- 1 -

My oldest, Joshua, turned 15 back in October (hard to believe he's already 15!) and though we celebrated with the family with a cake our gift to him would be a trip out to the country for some recreational activity and then lunch.  So, a couple weeks ago that's just what he and I did.  I took the day off from work and went out by Lockhart to have some fun and then we feasted at Black's BBQ.  It was delicious!

- 2 -

toe.JPG

This past weekend I participated in my first ever 5K - the Run For Your Lives Zombie Infested Obstacle Race.  It was a blast!  I'll probably write a whole separate post on it but I will let y'all know that there was no training involved on my part which was not the smartest way to go as it resulted in some true soreness the following day.  That along with a sprained toe.  This came about due to the shoe selection for the day.  I typically love wearing the Vibrams but today I selected the wrong pair as the ones I wore had no real traction.  As I was going through the course my toes kept sliding forward and this resulted in a very sprained toe.  Not good.  But I survived and plan on doing it again next year.  Oh - and there is video...stay tuned.

- 3 -

It's hard to believe we are almost through Advent.  Time has flown by.  I was able to make it to confession Wednesday night and I will share something here - I really do not like going.  I know I'm not alone but, that along with a scrupulous conscience, will often keep me at bay.  This time it was different.  I had one of those moments of grace earlier in the week with my youngest son, John.  These last few weeks he's been a bit more to handle than usual and the one thing I have a really hard time with is whining - which at times it seems he has a gift for.  Well, as is often the case in our home, there was an altercation among the younger brothers with John being the primary offender.  After we went through the ritual of me telling him to say he was 'sorry' and him being obstinate with his emphatic 'NO!' I picked him up and carried him into our room.  After letting him have a bit of a fit we sat there together and I calmly asked him if he knew why he was in trouble.  He said 'no'.  I asked him, 'well, what did you do?'.  The response was the classic, 'I don't know'.  As we went back and forth it struck me how important it was for him to tell me - not for my sake as I already knew - but for his.  You see I was able to 'see' clearly that it was about him owning up to what he had done and to see it for what it really was - something wrong.  But that wasn't the lightbulb - that part was the obvious part.  No, the moment of grace was experiencing that sense of 'tough love' or mercy as a father wanting to spare his son the heartache of falling into a path of sin or hardness of heart later in life by revealing his stumbling early on to put him back on the right path.  So, it was with this in mind that I entered the confessional - not only as a penitent sinner but also as a son returning to his father.  It's one thing to know this in your head (which i have) it was a great grace to really experience it.  Another reason that the story of the prodigal son is my favorite parables.

- 4 -

This past weekend we went to get our tree.  The kids love to go cut it down.  Last year, because of the drought, there wasn't the opportunity.  This was not a problem for Dad (me) as he prefers the firs to the virginia pines.  But this year did see some rain and so we went out to the Evergreen Christmas Tree Farm to make our selection.  Well, this year was a win-win situation.  'Unfortunately', the pickins were a bit slim and we could not find a tree that was large enough that the kids liked so we had to 'settle' for one of the Fraser Firs that they had for sale.  Win-win.  We got to ride the tractor. Cut some pine circles for ornaments. Roast marshmallows.  Play in the maze.  And bring home a pretty tree.  It was a nice day!

- 5 -

My baby girl takes ballet at the Slavin Nadal School of Ballet.  She's been in there since she was 4 and, 9 years later, is quite the little ballerina.  This week they had their open house where we were allowed to come in and watch the sessions.  I know I'm the dad but I have to say I was quite impressed with the progress she has made this year - actually since the summer.  She is a graceful little girl.  As for the pictures - I decided to go old school and process them to look like my old film days when I shot and developed my own B/W film.  I've been having the urge to get back in the darkroom but it's no longer practical (not sure it ever was) for me so I use Nik's Silver Efex Pro 2 these days instead.

- 6 -

Speaking of photography.  If you haven't heard of REI's 1440 Project you need to check it out.  It has some awesome pictures of regular people just enjoying the outdoors.  They also did some great gift idea videos you can check out as well for those last minute gifts you may need to run out and get.  "My body double, Katy" is the line that cracked me up.  They have many videos.  Checkout the whole playlist.

- 7 -

And since Christmas is just a few days away I wish you all a blessed and merry Christmas.  May your homes be filled with the joy of our God loving us enough to send his Son.

{ Deus Caritas Est }

{ 7 Quick Takes - Vol 10 }

- 1 -

Back in the saddle.  It's been 4 months or so since I posted and have re-committed to writing again.  My first post back (found here) is a bit more personal than anything you would expect from me if you knew me (my wife, Jennifer, was surprised so that says something) but it was just some things that I felt compelled to share - maybe just a catharsis - but I believe also a way to put my money where my mouth is so to speak.  If you have any pearls of wisdom in helping me living out a life of faith I'd love to hear them!

- 2 -

Well, I'm not sure why I've waited until now - I'm sure I just wasn't ready - but I'm taking a first step towards the world of GK Chesterton.  I'm not even quite certain how this came about but I think I'm going to enjoy the ride.  I started trying to do the audible version of Everlasting Man and I can't do it - or if I continue to try I will surely wreck at some point as it takes quite a bit of concentration to follow the line of reasoning he presents or simply unfold the ideas he offers the reader.  Because of this I'm stepping back and starting with a book on Chesterton's writings to provide a map or lantern by which I'll be able to follow a clearer path through the prolific writings of this great author. Wish me luck!

- 3 -

It's hard to believe that next week is already Thanksgiving.  Where did 2012 go?!? Now, at the risk of starting a class warfare between the 'haves' and 'have nots' that will continue through the ages where plowshares will be beaten into Panini Spatula's I will share that one website that had me laughing out loud (literally) this week was one shared by my friend, Kelly.  I must warn you it is not for kids (at all) due to the use of some profanity and so I won't link to it.  You have to make the decision for yourself by searching for 'The Hater's Guide to the Williams-Sonoma Catalog'.  My favorite listing is the one for Waffle Batter Dispenser.  I think just because it hits home a little too close.  What's your favorite?

- 4 -

So, it looks like we Catholics may be heading back towards meatless Fridays - as in sans meat - no meat - zilch on the meat - hold the meat - "I'll just have a salad…with the dressing on the side".  I guess this is where we separate the men from the boys (girls already eat salad…).  We'll have to decide do we wear our faith on our sleeve or do we live it.  Let's live it.

- 5 -

Tonight (Friday) is going to be a big night in the Mireles household.  We are going to watch 'Brave'.  I have yet to see it as do my two youngest, Elias and John.  Yet that hasn't kept them from dropping trou (pulling down their pants) and sticking their butt out towards their older brothers while yelling 'feast your eyes!'  I hear there are some other funny parts in the movie.

- 6 -

This quick take is just a shootout to the company that I use to host this blog, my son's troop's website and my wife Jennifer's.  They are located in NY and were really affected by Sandy.  You can read about the dedication this company has to keeping their customers up and going.  

Go Squarespace!

- 7 -

It's official. My baby girl turns 13 on Sunday.  The Lord has been gracious in allowing me to build up to this occasion.  There have been trips to beauty shops - buying of nail accessories on amazon - having random beauty apps show up on my iPhone - etc etc etc  So, is it any wonder that there is plenty of Taylor Swift played in our house as well?  Now, the one thing I have to admit is that my brain is wired to latch onto a catchy hook and the one that has me right now is 'We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together' by the aforementioned Swift.  I find myself lip syncing with Mary after I pick her up from ballet.  There's a fist bump then we turn up the 'jam' and sing together.  

It's fun having a daughter.

Now for your listening pleasure (I just noticed it's all done in one shot):

Back to Conversion Diary

{ Deus Caritas Est }

{ 7 Quick Takes - Vol 8 }

These are going to be short and sweet...

--- 1 ---

It has been a long couple of weeks.  I celebrated my birthday Tuesday before last (July 3rd) and, unfortunately, received the sad news that my grandmother passed away.  She was 98 years old.  She was a strong woman who was an extremely talented seamstress.  She was the kind of seamstress who could look at a dress and go home and make it.  We did get a chance to see her last summer when in Brownsville.  Here she is with my kids and my nephews.

 

Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her.  May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, Rest in peace.

Requiescat in pace, Grandma

--- 2 ---

It was a nice birthday that ended with a Round Rock Express game.  It was a fun game but they lost.  It was nice though that they celebrated my birthday after the game with some fireworks!

--- 3 ---

July 4th was a nice day.  We went out to our friends the Schroeder's house as we do annually and visited with friends, prayed for our country and shot off fireworks at night.  A good time was had by all.

 

--- 4 ---

I've gotten sucked into an old TV series that my friend Harry recommended a while back.  

 

I am seriously sucked in and I haven't been able to stop watching it.  It is a bit lame knowing that the show was canceled in Season 2 and only have 8 episodes to go.  Oh well.  In searching for the picture above I came across an article that they may bring the series back because of the cult following it has.  Netflix leading the talks with CBS.  We shall see...

--- 5 ---

A Pox on our house!  We returned from Brownsville and the following day Thomas started to show some little irritations on his hands.  Give it a day and now all 4 of the younger boys have chicken pox.  It has been a rough week for them but they are soldiering through it all and hopefully will be done by next week.  

--- 6 ---

I've finally decided to give Lightroom 4 a try.  I've used every version so far but ever since I started using Nik Products I have not used Lightroom for too many edits other than adjust exposure.  I'm thinking I'll force myself to utilize Lightroom more often to get a real feel for the new features and see about shortening up my editing time.

--- 7 ---

Music selections for the week....

I have not been able to get this song out of my head! (I did find the clean version...)

And then there's this one...

 

 

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

{ Deus Caritas Est }

{ 7 Quick Takes - Vol 6 }

--- 1 ---

Happy Friday! Last night marked day one of Fortnight for Freedom.  We joined families around the country in praying a family rosary last night.  I have to say that for me it was a different feeling than other times as I usually struggle with the rosary.  My mind wanders.  I get distracted.  The small ones are running around and I can't focus.  But last night was different and I can only attribute it to grace.  As cheesy as this sounds I will share because it really set the tone for what occurred later in the evening: as I dropped to my knees I had this sense that we were entering into a struggle or even a battle that is being waged on us, not only as Catholics, but as citizens of this great country.  Please join the fight.

--- 2 ---

Need some inspiration?

 

Don't mess with my Church.

--- 3 ---

 

Early this week I felt moved to turn the vessel that we will bury our little baby in.  I chose sycamore at least for the bottom of it.  If you recall, it was a sycamore tree that Zacchaeus climbed to see Jesus passing through Jericho.  When Jesus saw him he called out to him and told him to come down quickly "for today I must stay at your house" (Luke 19:5).  I believe little David Anthony is now staying in Jesus' house.  I pray I meet him face to face one day.

--- 4 ---

 On a warmer note...

It would seem summer is here.  Not just because of the solstice but because apparently i will need to shield myself from the sun this coming Tuesday.  What strikes me the most about this graphic is the 'Mostly Sunny'.  I wonder what it would be if it was full on sun?!?  Would we have to give some credit to the Mayans?  Would we find out that our goverment has built arks to prepare for the coming polar meltdown? I wonder...anyway...it's H-O-T.  Texas HOT!  Thankfully it will not have to be a dry one...

 

 

--- 5 ---

Referring back to Quick Take #1 - last night after Joshua's softball practice it was another moment of grace.  I had made the decison to let him stop doing the religion program he was working on and take a little break while I decided what he could do instead.  I remembered a book that was instrumental in my walk back to the Church and decided we would use that.  He had already picked up a couple of my books off the shelf to read for fun (A Refutation of Moral Relativism: Interviews with an Absolutist   and Making Choices: Practical Wisdom for Everyday Moral Decisions  - both by Peter Kreeft) and so I figured this would be a good time to start taking a crack at the book.  We started with the chapter on spirit.  I have to say it was so much fun opening a dialogue with him where I could see the wheels cranking and him making the connections.  One thing we talked about in just studying the text was how important it is just not to take the words simply as words but to look at the premise being presented and what that means - and at the same time what it doesn't mean.  It's so easy to look at studying as a 'checklist' and to just check off ideas as you read them and just understand the words.  But when you dive deep into the idea being conveyed it opens a door to so much more.  It was awesome to see that smile when he 'got it'.  One thing I walked away with is also how important it is to give him time to think and let him make the connections.  It reminded me of how our Father takes the time with us...even when this student (me) can be bordering on 'invincible ignorance'.  We have a patient and merciful God indeed.

--- 6 ---

New Audiobook I just started:  Witness by Whittaker Chambers.  I'm told this book was instrumental in Ronald Reagan converting from a new deal democrat to conservative Republican and take up the fight against communism.  I'm just getting through the opening chapter which a letter to his children about why he wrote the book.  I'll post more about it as I get through it.

--- 7 ---

Music Video Selections for this week:

 

{ Deus Caritas Est }

 

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!