California’s Gold

I was saddened to hear of the death of Huell Howser (featured in the above video), who passed a couple of days ago at 67 years old.

Howser will best be remembered by his iconic television program here in California on PBS entitled California’s Gold. For those of you outside the Golden State, his show chronicled those far-flung places that not many people see, yet contain the true spirit of California. He brought to life places such as the Skunk Train, the traditional harvest in the Central Valley, or the California Special Olympics. Treasures such as Sinatra’s House, Springtime in Death Valley, and yes even gold itself*, are detailed in a way that was truly special to Howser. His curiosity and wonder were contagious, and he had a knack for drawing you in with the stories he covered.

Monument commemorating the site of John Marshall’s discovery of Gold

When I was a kid, I hated his show. I thought it was boring. But then again, most adult shows on PBS are boring to a lot of kids. As I grew up, however, I came to really appreciate Howser’s unique delivery and trademark sign-off. He also introduced me to many nuggets and tidbits of California history that I never would’ve come across in the first place.

As Howser would be sure to confirm, California is a special place, a wonderful place of beauty, diversity, and culture. With all of its problems, California continues to be a place where dreams are realized, and a beautiful sunset on the beach or mountain vista is never too far away. One of my own personal favorite sights is flying in to Sacramento at night over downtown and catching a glimpse of the golden Tower Bridge, a breathtaking view, especially for one who has been away from home for a while. I was born and raised here, and in my short time on this Earth, I’ve seen California go through a lot of changes, good and bad. No matter where life takes me, however, California will always hold a special place in my heart, and Huell Howser had a hand in carving out that place, even though he never knew it.

Mr. Howser, God bless you for your wonderful work, seen and unseen, on behalf of the Golden State.

Requiescat in pace.

You, sir, were truly a part of California’s Gold.

*Note: If you are ever in the foothills of California, east of Sacramento in the Placerville area, check out Coloma, where gold was discovered in 1848. The town is a terrific place for families, full of history, and there’s a few nice outdoor excursions, in addition to camping. The locals are great people too. Fair disclosure – I’ve had family in the “Motherlode” area and surrounding hills all my life, and spent many summers, a lot of high school, and generally a large amount of time up there. My opinion may be biased. Oh, and this post was not endorsed by this agency, although you should come and visit sometime… 🙂

People are Crazy

People are Crazy by Billy Currington – Betcha never expected that video on here, did ya? 🙂 Just please excuse the ad at the beginning – there’s nothing I can do about it.

No matter the genre, I love a song with a good story or message.

In any case, on to the point… We never know the effect we can have on an individual’s life. Will that one smile brighten a person’s day, causing them to go home to loved ones in a terrific mood, hugging their spouse and children, making him or her realize just how thankful they are for God’s blessings? Or perhaps the small favor, the good deed, opening the door for someone with full hands or offering to pay the toll for the person behind you in rush hour traffic (a favorite of my mom’s, by the way) will remind a person that there is Good in this world.

Let’s put it another way: we never know who the Lord will send into our lives. Sometimes the most unexpected people show up and have a profound effect, even if they have been there a short time. The Lord knows this has certainly been true for me recently! It’s important to remain open to the work of His Grace and Love, trusting in His Mercy. In the end, these are the elements of life that matter.

Shall we return to the song?

God is great: now and forever. Beer is good: in moderation, of course. People are crazy: you better believe it, and I’m one of them…

Remain open to the Spirit. Trust. I guarantee that if you do this, the Lord will take you places you never even thought possible.

As always my dear friends, God bless you. Please pray for me, and in your kindness pray for a special intention. Thank you!

Pax et bonum.

PS: Any ideas you would like me to share, or suggestions for a post, let me know via the comments! I have to approve them all  beforehand anyway, so it’s not like they will be out there for everyone to see. I am still working on getting a dedicated email address set up that wont be bombarded with spam.

Updated: The Beauty of Creation

The Beauty of Creation

Yosemite Winter Night Courtesy of Astronomy Photo of the Day

Before I converted to Catholicism, I always had the understanding that the Church was against science. I spent years studying (as an amateur) subjects such as theoretical physics and astronomy, and I continue to today when I can. I enjoy math, but certainly not to the extent of people like this, who may disagree with me from the religious perspective, but nevertheless are very skilled at making difficult scientific theories accessible to the general public. In any case, I always thought that these topics were eschewed in Christian circles. Boy was I wrong.

Example: the originator of the what would become the Big Bang Theory was a Jesuit Priest, Georges Lemaître (please hold the Jesuit jokes for later, thank you). Sure, there have been moments where the Church hasn’t always been a shining example of scientific openness, but even those times are almost always blown out of proportion and taken out of context.

Anyways, as I grew to learn more about the Faith, I realized that the Church did not neglect science. In fact, particularly in the modern-day world, the Church is a bastion of good, thorough, and ethical scientific practice and theory. I eventually discovered what so many others have found: science and religion are simply two sides of the same coin. They both lead to Truth, albeit in their own ways. Both science and religion, if handled properly without presuppositions, both reveal the same God of Love that us Catholics are so familiar with.

I believe the opening words of Pope John Paul II’s encyclical Veritatis Splendor says it all:

The splendor of truth shines forth in all the works of the Creator and, in a special way, in man, created in the image and likeness of God (cf. Gen 1:26). Truth enlightens man’s intelligence and shapes his freedom, leading him to know and love the Lord. Hence the Psalmist prays: “Let the light of your face shine on us, O Lord” (Ps 4:6).

When I spend time in nature, whether I am hiking, fishing, or stargazing during a campout, I can not help but see the imprint of the Creator, this same splendor of truth. In the beauty around us, contained in the natural world and the very people who are a part of our lives, we are given a glimpse of the Divine. Slow down and take a look. Spend a moment or two with the Creator. How does He reveal Himself in your life?

Happy (early) Feast of the Epiphany!

Pax et bonum,


PS: As a side note, one of the best meteor showers this year will be the Perseids on August 12-13. The moon sets before midnight, leaving a promising opportunity for viewing. While the peak will be on the above listed days, you should still get quite a show the previous weekend of August 10-11. Might be a good time for a camping trip…

UPDATE: Dr. Kaku has posted a fascinating video entitled “Math is the Mind of God.” Check it out. His analogy of music, hyperspace, and the mind of God comes very close to how Tolkien describes the creation of Middle-Earth in The Silmarillion. I would say, however, that Dr. Kaku gets a little too close to reducing God to an equation…

Resolutions vs. Commitments

But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let what you say be simply `Yes’ or `No’; anything more than this comes from evil. (Matt. 5:34-37)

I will be honest: I really don’t like New Year’s resolutions. I am all for improving one’s life, but something about resolutions just doesn’t sit well with me, and this is from personal experience and observation of others.

For one, it seems like most resolutions are discarded relatively quickly. You know the type: lose weight, quit smoking, etc. They are nice thoughts, don’t get me wrong! A New Year is a great time to examine one’s life and make concrete decisions on improving one’s life.

But why wait for the New Year?

We must always examine our lives, and be willing to recognize those areas in need of growth. Instead of resolutions, let’s make commitments, complete with concrete goals. For example, “this is what I need to do, this is why I need to do it, and this is how I am going to do it.” We must also recognize that we will fall, and afterwards we need to brush ourselves off and get back up. Finally, we need not wait for the New Year to begin this work, even if some of these commitments come naturally at this time a year. As the saying goes, “there is no time like the present.”

Also, these commitments need not deal with mundane matters or material concerns. We can all work to grow closer to our Lord. What can we do to accomplish this? Perhaps striving for daily mass versus just Sunday mass? Working on being more consistent in saying that rosary? Or perhaps a more unconventional approach like trying to journal every few days to reflect on our journey with the Lord.

The bottom line: make a concrete goal, make sure it’s manageable, know that the road will have twists and turns, and entrust it all to the Lord.

Things we can all work towards this New Year: Love God, love others, strive for holiness. Everything else will fall into place…

I wish you all a very Happy New Year, and a blessed Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God (Mama Mary, pray for us!!!). May 2013 be filled with joy and peace!

Pax et bonum,


PS: I will start off with one typical resolution: weight loss. As of today, I am down 40 pounds. I have 30 more for my current goal. Let’s set a date of…. June 1, 2013, shall we? I will try to keep you all updated on my progress. Please pray for me, and know that you are in my prayers as well! Peace!