I’m so glad they told me …

What’s the deal with this? Document Enclosed – ooooo!

I know it’s a trick to get me to actually open the envelope and see what “fantastic offer” is inside.

But seriously, did they think I’d wonder if something else was in the envelope, like a puppy?

Haiti Mission Video – KLFY TV

I thought I would share a bit of video that I found online about the SOLT Mission in Kobonal, Haiti.  A group of people from my parish and I will be visiting here in a couple of weeks.

I hope to record my own video, audio and photos from our visit to encourage a greater support of the work that Fr. Glenn Meaux is doing there.

This video was produced by KLFY TV in Louisiana in March 2010.


Tulsa River Parks in November

Photos taken along the Arkansas River in Tulsa.  The river is extremely low due to a lack of rain for the past 6 weeks.  It’s rare to see the river this low, but not too unusual for this time of the year.  Fall color is peaking for NE Oklahoma.

Photos taken with an iPhone 4 and the Pro HDR app.  Most were taken between 21st and 41st street, along Riverside Drive.



Navy Blue Star Pennant

I found this pennant tucked into the pages of an old family bible.  My older sister had this bible in her possession for many years and I received it a couple of weeks ago from my brother-in-law, along with a lot of old family pictures.

(My sister Christine passed away in 2004 and my brother-in-law occasionally passes along things like this as he comes across them.)

I believe this pennant belonged to my grandmother, during WWII when my dad enlisted in the US Navy.  I’ve never seen it before and my searches on the internet haven’t discovered another one like it.

one of the few color photos of my dad in uniform

My dad graduated from high school in 1944 and enlisted in the Navy soon after that.  He attended midshipman school in Missouri and was commissioned an Ensign after Officer Candidate School at Columbia University in New York.

Fortunately, the war ended before he was assigned to active duty so he quickly entered the Navy Reserve.  He soon returned home to Tulsa and studied geology at the University of Tulsa.

He was recalled to active duty 1950 and served aboard several destoyer-minesweepers, including the USS McNair, during the Korean War.

I don’t know for sure this pennant was displayed for him, but it at least gave me a reason to write about my dad!


Today is the day we are scheduled to depart for the SOLT Mission in Kobonal, Haiti.

But, we are not departing.

Tropical Storm/Hurricane Tomas is currently moving through the Caribbean, on a track to hit the island in the next few days.   As with any storm, no one knows how bad this storm will be when it arrives, but given the dire circumstances already existing in Haiti, we decided a couple of days ago to postpone our trip.

It is dismaying to think of the disaster this storm could cause when 1.3 million people are still living in temporary housing, after last January’s massive earthquake.

Dealing with the current cholera outbreak was something we thought we could manage, but the unpredictability of the storm, the possibility of flooding, mudslides, power outages, airport closures, etc., was something we didn’t want to face.

Please pray for the people of Haiti and hope that the storm will abate and not cause the type of tragedy that is possible.

We are now looking at a mid-January date to travel to Kobonal.  Stay-tuned!

Learning Creole

If you have an iPhone or iPad, you might find this interesting.

As you might know, I’m preparing for the first of what might be several trips to Haiti, so I thought I might try to learn a few words of Creole.  I think it’s always good to know a few words of the local language when I travel.   It can really break the ice with people, especially the kids.

I discovered an iphone/ipad app called “BYKI Hatian Creole”, by Transparent Language, Inc.  It seems to fit the bill pretty well when it comes to learning common phrases, which is about all I can hope to do at this point.

If you’re interested in trying out a bit of Haitian Creole, here’s a link to the app in the iTunes App Store.


Haitian Journal

Some of you may know that I am planning to visit Haiti in November.  I’m going as part of group from Tulsa’s Church of St. Mary.  The parish has had a relationship with the SOLT Mission in Kobonal, Haiti for quite some time, but has decided to expand that relationship to include direct involvement of the parishioners, utilizing the particular time, talent and treasure that they possess.

This upcoming trip is something of an exploratory trip, to determine how the parish can best serve the mission.  I will be going along to document what we find there through the use of photos, video and audio recordings.  I intend to be very busy, doing my best to capture not only the facts as we find them, but also the essence and spirit of the people and the work of the mission.

I will be using this blog as a way of documenting how I am personally preparing for this mission.  I will document what I’m reading, what I’m finding on the internet, perhaps some of the technical issues that I’m trying to solve, and my personal thoughts as we go along.

So, if you’re interested, follow along with the journey.  You may find a little bit of everything here, things written, things recorded, and things filmed.

I will appreciate your feedback!

Tulsa's Oneok Field – Open House

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Last week, I had the chance to walk around the new Oneok Baseball stadium in downtown Tulsa.  They did an outstanding job on this facility, placing it just so that you get a wonderful view of downtown while watching games.  I’m really looking forward to attending a game there.

The Tulsa Drillers are our AA baseball team, a farm club of the Colorado Rockies.

I Miss Pencils

I’m having a weird sense of nostalgia for pencils.  I used the phrase “pencil you in” in a recent email and it struck me that we don’t really do that any more.  We might tentatively type someone’s name into a list, but there’s no convenient way of giving it that same sense of changeability vs permanence.

When I graduated from high school, one of my teachers gave me an address book.  She told me that I was going to be meeting all sorts of new and interesting people (boy was she right!) and I would need a way of keeping track of their phone numbers and addresses.  This was before we all had computers and cell phones for that purpose.

I remember her caution about using ink in my address book.  She told me that people will move at least 8 times before they are 30 yrs old and it wouldn’t make sense to put their information down in ink since it would soon be outdated.  “Just pencil them in until you know they are settled for awhile.”

Funny thing about pencils, they make a better weapon than writing utensil.  I still have a black mark on the back of my right hand where I stabbed myself with a very sharp pencil.  I remember it clearly.  I had it sticking, point up, in the back pocket of my jeans during high school marching band practice in 1978.  I brought my hand down onto the point when I was being careless and I effectively tattooed myself.  It takes me back to that day every time I see it.  I guess that pencil did have some permanence!

Now, I pretty much only use a pencil when a pen isn’t handy.  Most information is now typed, like this blog, and there’s no indication of how permanent or temporary any particular word or sentence is.

Yeah, my mind travels to weird places sometimes.  I’m too pen-sive I guess.


OK, this is totally random.  I heard the word “dungaree” on television and I thought I would look up an official definition.

I was very surprised to find a wikipedia aritcle that lists 5 totally unrelated and unexpected definitions for the word.  I’m amazed at the strange twists and turns that a word takes.  “South Western European Pickle” is my favorite definition.

Check the article here.

Haiti: "I hear voices …"

The first time I really saw the face of poverty was in Guatemala, in March 2000.  That was my first trip to a country described as “Third World.”  That whole trip was filled with sensory overload, a constant bombardment of sights, sounds, smells, languages, colors and cultures.

It was also the first time that I truly saw someone who had nothing.  Not the “nothing” that most Americans think of, but truly nothing.  Even in a land that is extremely poor, many people have some family or community that provides at least some context or even commiseration in their lives.

This person was a woman asleep in the doorway of a shuttered shop in Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala.  We passed her in the street as we returned to the Catholic mission after a day of house building.  Dressed in rags, barefoot, emaciated and ignored by all around her, that image, forlorn and yet fleeting, pierced my soul.

The silent desperation called out for some recognition of dignity.

Her rags were the remnants of her traditional Mayan garb, which most of the Tzutujil (the Mayan “tribe” of the town) still wear.  She obviously had a history of a better life and a society that supported her.  Now it seems, they were unable to do any more to help her.  I’ve often wondered what became of her and it is she that I think of whenever I’m called to reflect on the poor.

I felt an enormous culture shock.  Strong while I was in Guatemala, but almost overwhelming when I returned to the U.S.  “Welcome back to the real world!” people would say upon our return.  Real world?!?  We Americans live in a fantasy world.  For most of us, the problems we face on a daily basis are petty and insignificant in comparison to the rest of the world.  We overindulge and overuse almost everything around us and we have the gall to complain.

Although the culture shock abated little by little after each subsequent trip abroad, I can still conjure up the feelings that I felt back then.  I try to hold on to them and try to keep a perspective of them whenever I’m tempted to complain about my life, the problems that I face, and the “hardships” that I try to avoid.

The images out of Haiti following the January 12, 2010 earthquake shock me.  A nation that was already the “poorest of the poor” has been dealt a blow unlike any it has had to face in more than 200 years.  The devastation and destruction are horrible.  The death and injury is incomprehensible.  The enormity of the task facing those trying to help seems impossible.  (I wonder how this compares to the tsunami that hit SE Asia …)

It’s barely been 72 hours since the earthquake and I know that the worst is yet to come.  There are at least 3 million people that need to be fed, housed and cared for.  For many of them, their suffering has just begun and it will be very difficult if not impossible for them to receive the help they need.

Dire predictions of starvation, famine, disease, civil strife and crime seem only too likely to come true.

So, I’ve given money (not enough) and I pray.  I try to set aside the petty problems I face and I think of a woman in Guatemala who for me is the face of poverty.  Joined now by countless other faces in Haiti.

I wonder why this disaster has grabbed my heart.  I think it’s the images from the news reports and people calling out, “I hear voices trapped in the rubble.”


Just like everyone sitting down to write the first post in a new blog, I’m thinking about what a commitment this could be.

And probably like you, I’ve have many previous false starts when it comes to journaling of any kind. What usually happens is that my entries eventually devolve into some variation of whining and feeling sorry for myself, the reading of which will leave us all disappointed.

So, I hereby pledge that I’m only going to write when I feel like it’s really something that I would want to reread myself later.

Beginning now.