Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I'd Lather Not

I'm not a big spender, really. Apart from dining out (my favorite activity) I don't really spend very much money (just look at the way I'm dressed!).

Today, however, is one of those rare days that I splurged on a purchase. In need of shaving cream and deodorant, I walked over to a local Rite Aide and picked up some toiletries. As I wandered about the store, my eyes fell upon a wondrous invention: the ConAir Gel & Lather Heating System. All you have to do is drop in your can of shaving gel/cream and, after a few minutes, it's nice and hot! With the prospect of greater shaving comfort tantalizing me for only $20.00, I surrendered to my pleasure seeking nature and bought it.

Well, let me tell you: I will shave every day now. To be sure, the set up of the apparatus tested my technical ability. But the end result was worth it - my shaving gel was WARM! Hot, really, and perhaps I'll lower the temperature for the next time.

I'm hoping that this purchase will get the use I envision....unlike TaeBo tapes, a food dehydrator, Epil-Stop hair remover (I had to see if it worked. It doesn't.), and some ab machine. Granted, I bought all of these things before I entered the Jesuits so now with a restricted budget, I do have to be more judicious in my spending.

I'm glad the weekend is over, by the way. After leading a team in preparing Thanksgiving dinner for 40 people, I arose at 3:50 am on Friday and took a 6:00 am flight to Chicago where I played for the Mid-American Oireachtas. Three days of playing is rough going and I'm only today back to some semblance of normalcy. (I say this realizing that I bought a shaving cream heater a few hours ago. Normal???)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Tin Whistle Videos

Due to a technical snafu, I have to re-load all of the "Fordham University's Introduction to the Irish Tin Whistle" videos. I hope to have this completed by next weekend.

Thanks for your patience!


Saturday, November 17, 2007

Some People Will Do Anything for a Discount

My Aunt Cheryl and Uncle Terry (O'Malley) arrived here for a visit yesterday. It's great to have guests and it's the first time that members of my family have visited Ciszek Hall.

I'm certainly proud of Fordham University and it was my great pleasure to give my aunt and uncle a tour of the campus. I rehearsed the history of some of the buildings and then, toward the end of our tour, we made the obligatory stop at the bookstore. Cheryl busied herself with shopping for sweatpants (for Sarah) and a hooded sweatshirt (for Bridgid). As anyone knows, such paraphernalia can be quite expensive.

So as we were walking to the checkout counter, I had an uneasy feeling that Cheryl was crafting an intricate plan to save money on her purchase. Would she claim that was purchasing these items for poor starving children? Would she suggest to the cashier that as the mother of two sons who graduated from a Jesuit high school or as the aunt of a Jesuit that she deserved some reduction in price?

No, Cheryl's ploy was much darker. Indeed, as we approached the counter I stepped forward, eying several candy bars and thinking that I might like to avail myself of a York Peppermint Patty. I was so excited about the prospect of a minty treat, however, that I momentarily forgot that Cheryl was plotting - and now enacting - her devious scheme.

So while my attention was diverted and with only six feet separating her from the cashier, Cheryl "trips" over some unseen thing and falls face first to the ground. Splayed out like a bear-skin rug, the eyes of all turned toward her. Moaning softly about her pains and the injury done to her "bad knee" she grasped the arm of her bemused husband and stood up. Then with a limp even Tiny Tim couldn't emulate she hobbled toward the counter and began the transaction. The wily Cheryl said nothing - her fall was so perfect, so calculated, so complete that she knew a discount awaited her. As she scanned the sweatshirt, the properly unnerved cashier made eye-contact with Cheryl and informed her that she'd taken an extra 20% off of the purchase, all on account of Cheryl's fall. Cheryl thanked her, of course, and then as we left the bookstore I could hear her mutter something about a lawsuit and owning the university in light of this tragedy.

The rest of the evening was spent listening to her recount the sorrows of the day. What began as a simple trip-and-fall soon evolved into an epic saga akin to the Fall of the Berlin Wall. God knows that by the end of the night she was beginning to craft a ballad or epic poem like Beowulf to capture the sheer enormity of the event.

So that was day one. I just sent them into the city where they will meet a friend for brunch and I'll try to catch up with them this afternoon. It was so gratifying to see her limp down Fordham road, bravely walking on her maimed and crippled knee, barely complaining to anyone. But her silent suffering must not go unnoticed, hence my obligation to post about her trials. For Cheryl is a true martyr (to saving money) and her story must be told, her example must be followed by all those wishing to realize in this lifetime a discount for an overpriced hooded sweatshirt.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Traditional Irish Music Lessons

I just wanted to take a moment to plug the new website for Brian Holleran's (my soon-to-be brother-in-law) music school


Located in Cleveland, Ohio this music school promises to be a great asset to Irish culture in the area. With instruction available on tin whistle, flute, and uilleann pipes and, starting in 2008, on the fiddle, banjo, and concertina this school of traditional Irish music will help to promote Irish music and culture in Cleveland.

If you are interested in learning more, follow the link above or visit the Ciunas myspace page. As any reader of my blog knows, Irish music has been an integral part of my life's journey and I'm proud to know that a member of my family will be sharing his deep love of his culture with another generation of musicians who will, I pray, benefit as much as I have in being a part of traditional Irish music.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Soul Provider

Several weeks ago I received a copy of Father Edward L. Beck's new book Soul Provider. Based on the dust jacket's adulations - Andrew Greeley, Diane Sawyer, and Anne Lamont - I figured it'd be at the very least an accessible book on prayer. Fortunately for me, I found it not only accessible but also deeply moving.

Structured around the Ladder of Divine Ascent written by the sixth-century monk John Climacus, Soul Provider invites the reader to embark upon a spiritual pilgrimage. The book is broken up into thirty chapters, fourteen corresponding to vices that we need to overcome (anger, malice, falsehood --- a purgative path) and sixteen virtues we ought to acquire (Simplicity, humility, discernment -- an illuminative path) culminating in a deep union with God in love.

What I found helpful was both the length of each chapter - about ten pages each, making for quick reading - and the questions at the end of each chapter. These questions helped to spur my own personal prayer as I worked through the book and I found myself processing ever more deeply the insights I gained from my reading as I meditated on his reflection questions. And in using narratives drawn from his own experience, I found it very easy to see the ways in which the spiritual wisdom acquired through these pages became incarnate in my own life.

I have a deep mistrust of "do it yourself" spirituality books, usually because I find them pretty flaky. This book does not promise instant enlightenment or wisdom. What it does offer is a companion for the journey each of us must make, one rung at a time. It is a painful, arduous journey (one not able to be covered in 30 days or even 30 chapters!) but I'd suggest this book as a very fine start on your pilgrimage.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Hurts So Good

As many readers know, over the past few years I have gradually become more and more engaged in what is commonly known as "working out." I have come to enjoy going to the gym and now that Drew has built a good home gym in the house, I enjoy it even more (since I don't have to walk outside in the cold to get to Fordham's gym).

So this week we embarked upon a whole new workout program. And let me say this: I am in pain! My legs are killing me and, after today's chest workout, I expect that tomorrow is going going to be a painful day. The irony is that I'm actually glad to feel sore: it means that the whole program is working!

I've been meaning to post all week, but I've been extraordinarily busy. I've finished two papers this week (just two more to go - one 15-20 page, one 10-page) and I've been refining a music primer that I'm writing. I also wrote an encyclopedia entry on "Judith" from the Book of Judith (apocryphal story in the Hebrew Bible. She decapitated Holofernes) and I'm now editing that for submission. Also this week I received the proofs of my piece "Being in the Face of Nameless Mystery: Levinas and the Trace of Doctrine" which will appear in the Heythrop Journal this January (pages 97-109, if you want to find it when it comes out!!). It's really cool to see my name as "Ryan G. Duns, SJ" in print!

This weekend I'm going to Denver overnight. I have to work on a presentation today for my class next Thursday and get a truck load of reading done. But otherwise I'm pretty calm and looking forward to a fairly leisurely rest of the semester. With any luck, something interesting will happen that will prompt me to post more often!

By the by, be sure to check out Jesuit Recipes. Loretta has recently posted several new recipes and I'm sure you'd all be well counseled to try them out. I hope to post a delicious chocolate chip cookie recipe in the near future - I've been experimenting here at the house and I've found a recipe that appears to meet near-universal acclaim.

Flute playing priest finds YouTube fame