Well, I finally had a dream where I wasn’t caught using a toilet right in the middle of the Mall of America.
I was at the Summer Olympics in South Africa (“South Africa never hosted an Olympics,” you say? Well, those kinds of things don’t stop my dreams.) Somehow, I ended up in the 100 meter backstroke heats. My wife couldn’t keep from snorting at hearing that one. Anyway, I was assigned a lane at the edge of the pool. You know how they have 8 lanes in international competition? I must have been in lane 9. And because the pool seemed to slope gently down toward lane 1, lane 9 was approximately two feet deep. As we approached our starting positions, I felt the water come up to my knees. I slowly crouched and realized I was going to have to start in a sitting position. I looked around, wondering how I looked on camera. It was like I was in a kiddie pool.
I slowly crouched and realized I was going to have to start in a sitting position. I looked around, wondering how I looked on camera. It was like I was in a kiddie pool.
Well. You know you can always figure for some sort of shenanigans at the Olympics. Think the 1972 USA vs. USSR basketball farce. Or perhaps the marathon at the 1904 St. Louis games (extra credit to anyone who can read this article without peeing their pants. And that bit about Anthropology Days, can you imagine that?) When the starting horn sounded, I thrashed my arms with abandon, and although my technique hampered my speed, I was able to jump to an early lead by using my legs to push myself along the floor of the pool. I was a nobody, but here I was, hanging with the best swimmers in the world! As I made my turn, I heard the crowd roar at the underdog’s performance.
Amidst the water and the cheering, I even heard Jim McKay’s voice describing my performance as the most inspiring ever witnessed. I wasn’t sure if anyone could see that I was walking backwards down the home stretch, but that didn’t matter! I touched the wall in first place to the thundering adulation of the crowd. My USA Swimming teammates slapped me on the back and gave me chest bumps despite not even knowing my name ten minutes ago. Only my excitement eclipsed my confusion. I won the heat and was going to vy for the gold.
After getting showered and dressed, I went to a nearby restaurant with my parents and my wife to celebrate. I walked in, soaking in the sounds of the camera shutters and flashbulbs, and found one of my children already sitting at a table and waiting to eat. I frowned: I didn’t think I had kids yet. Then I remembered that, yes indeed, I had kids, three of them, and they hated waiting for dinner.
I was most excited by my race, because now I could stay at the Olympics instead of going right home as planned after winning gold in rowing. That meant I could attend my friend Scott’s wedding, who was due to marry his bride soon in this same city. I was going to have to buy a suit. And then I woke up. So there you go.
The following is a post from my CaringBridge blog from September 9th, 2015:
St. Elizabeth is the first American citizen to be canonized a saint, the 40th anniversary of which is approaching on September 14th. Pope Paul VI said of her on that occasion in 1975:
“Elizabeth Ann Seton is a saint. St. Elizabeth Ann Seton is an American. All of us say this with special joy, and with the intention of honoring the land and the nation from which she sprang forth as the first flower in the calendar of the saints. Elizabeth Ann Seton was wholly American! Rejoice for your glorious daughter. Be proud of her. And know how to preserve her fruitful heritage.”
She is the founder of the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph’s, whose school was the first free Catholic school in America. Anyway, my father’s stepmother Mary (‘Nana’) had a devotion to ‘Mother Seton’ and in the 70s and 80s served on the board of Mount Saint Mary’s University, which was founded at nearly the same time as Mother Seton’s first school, in the same town (Emmitsburg, Maryland).
Anyway, Nana had been given a first-degree relic of Mother Seton back in the day, and she sent it to my father when he was going through a long period of neck trouble and surgeries. Before my treatments started, he brought it down to me; we have it on our mantle (pictured) and it is humbling and helpful to have it here. Prior to this, he lent it out to others, including one of his patients. Now we often pray Mother Seton’s version of the Anima Christi in front of it.
Keep the prayers coming; they are truly powerful. I thank you from the depths of my being!
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, pray for us!
Today is the feast of St. Bartholomew, also known as Nathanael.
I enjoyed researching him while writing Twenty Mysteries. In The Proclamation of the Kingdom, he is paired with Philip and together, they visit the Decapolis, the region with a strong Hellenistic culture. When they start in the village of Scythopolis to tell people about Jesus, they are challenged by a 'doctor' there. I can't give away what happens next, but it's probably the grossest scene in the entire book...
I enjoyed reading this article by Tammer Kamel, founder and CEO of Quandl, an informational system I have found tremendously useful in my day job.
The bit about the French actors inquiring about wheat for Napoleon's army was especially entertaining.
Thank you so much to everyone who visited our booth at the Diocese of Madison St. Therese Lecture last week. Special thanks goes to Michelle Nilsson, Marie Lins and Eric Schiedermayer at the Diocese as well as my very beautiful assistant Noelle. Dr. Ralph Martin of Renewal Ministries gave an awesome talk. In addition to seeing old friends and meeting new ones, I'm happy to announce that we in the Unveiled Media family raised $100 for the Women's Care Center in Madison to support their mission of caring for women and their babies. Thanks again everyone!
I had a dream the other night. I was back in high school, and we traveled to a rival team's field for a football game. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I think I was excited to be young again. However, my eagerness to get on the field deflated when, in the middle of Coach's impassioned pre-game speech, I realized I was wearing regular clothes when all my teammates were dressed in their pads and jerseys.
Today is the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. On this day in 1571, naval forces loyal to Pope St. Pius V faced the Islamic armada of the Ottoman Empire who were threatening an invasion of Europe. You can read more about it in many places; I like this account in particular.
I love the Rosary. It’s a Biblically-based series of prayers meant to draw us into deeper communion with Jesus. When I meditate on it, it enables me to pray in my own words. Some people ask me, “why don’t you just pray your own prayer?” I guess I could just say something like, “Lord Jesus, help me now.” But I’m pretty sure that someone, somewhere, has uttered those same words before. Just because someone said those words before, though, doesn’t mean that I can’t take that prayer and make it my own, straight from the heart.
I couldn't help but think that perhaps our friend Grigori was the mystery passenger.
From English Russia
Reading that quote and the story behind it sent chills down my spine. Who said it, and to whom was it said? I'll get to that in a minute.
Last week, I had the honor of listening to Mother Olga speak about her incredible life journey. Mother Olga is like a contemporary Mother Theresa. Being in the same room and watching this 4'10" Iraqi woman who radiated pure joy, I got the feeling that I was in the presence of a living saint.
After an interminable winter, we are at last seeing some brilliant rays of light at dawn. This morning was no different. As I enjoyed the early morning peace, one of my news feeds lit up with a story that reminded me of another time and place when I was starved for sunshine: Helsinki, the capital city of Finland.
I have very fond memories of that place, so indulge me for a moment while we step back a bit in time.
I'll get to that later. Those who know me know I'm partial to bands of the electronic/industrial persuasion, ranging from to New Order to Hybrid to best of the best: Rammstein. I listen to music whenever I'm not in meetings; if I'm lucky, I can get in four hours or more in a day. Since I am very picky about what I listen to, I am pretty harsh when it comes to anything new that doesn't quite fit the bill. If something strange pops up in Pandora, I am skipping that song faster than you can say 'music snob.'
Those who know my writing know that I follow the world of finance quite closely, and that I take a special interest in it. On top of this, investing in Russia is a particular delicious favorite, with my debut novel LIONS featuring a few adventures of this sort.
When I first started in the mutual fund world, I had to take a course at the New England College of Finance and wrote a paper about Russia's investment climate in the 90s. In the course of my research, I couldn't believe my eyes about some of what happened.
Yesterday, a friend had shared a video of a ridiculous crew race, something so chaotic I couldn’t help but cry while leaving my lungs almost totally devoid of air. ‘How could people screw something up that bad?’ I thought.
I was still chuckling about it last night while I was cleaning the kitchen. When I was done, I had a sudden flash of insight and microwaved a Nestle crunch bar over some granola cereal with peanut butter and scarfed it down. Normally I don’t eat after dinner, and last night I was reminded again why. Those who know me know that I have incredibly vivid, realistic dreams every night (probably everyone does), and for some reason I always remember them in the morning, down to the smallest detail. This is what followed:
Today I’m happy to report that the first draft of Twenty Mysteries is done. Lions, my first book, took nine years to complete. This first draft has taken exactly nine months. Hopefully it won’t be much longer until I can get it into your hands.
It looks like the guy who wrote this article five months ago wasn’t so crazy after all…read on to see what happened in the last few days while everyone else’s attention was focused elsewhere.
Perhaps someone read my last post…read more about the Finnish/Russian borderland’s history here.
I’ve been neglecting my blog lately, so I’m importing a few items of note I recently posted on Facebook:
Please take a few minutes to educate yourself today. If Russia does this to the Ukraine with absolutely no pushback, what will China do to Taiwan? This can be a two-way street, though: maybe Finland wants Karelia back, and maybe Germany will take Kaliningrad again. Peace for our time!
Okay, after seeing these pictures I think I understand now. Someone needs to hook Russia up with cable. Scroll all the way to the bottom for a painting I want in my living room NOW.
I finally got around to watching Red Dawn today (the recent remake, not the original): the images of North Korean humvees occupying Spokane, while jarring, were also entertainingly improbable. But as I read the weekend news from Venezuela, I couldn’t help but think that most of those poor souls are facing almost the same thing in their cities and neighborhoods. Check it out.
Peace for our time! In light of the recent ‘deal’, let’s revisit the words of Neville Chamberlain:
"My good friends, for the second time in our history, a British Prime Minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with honour. I believe it is peace for our time. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Go home and get a nice quiet sleep."
When Boris from my novel LIONS is introduced, faint stirrings of balalaikas are playing in the background. Most people I know don’t know what that sounds like, so I wanted to share this clip of a Russian Take on The Eagles. What I don’t get is the guy on the right: either he has a really strong left arm, or his instrument is rigged to his belt or something. It’s entertaining either way.
Sorry for the cliche, but this story (and the first photo) is just dripping with irony…
Not to beat a dead horse (Mr. Maduro of Venezuela), but the irony here just seeps through the screen. The last line is oh so diplomatic:
Despite being one of the world’s largest oil producers, Venezuela is regularly affected by power cuts.
Translation: Years of ruinous government pilfering of the energy infrastructure has left the country in tatters.
Bonus: Check out the comment by ‘common sense’.
What is Setad? Find out in this fascinating article about Tehran’s kleptocrats. From Reuters:
Setad has built its empire on the systematic seizure of thousands of properties belonging to ordinary Iranians – members of religious minorities, Shi’ite Muslims, business people and Iranians living abroad.
Sounds like something you’d read in a book! Anyways, maybe the Ayatollah can help out Nicolás Maduro…
I was trying to think of a catchy, consumer-friendly phrase that the government of Venezuela might want to use to brand this effort. All I can think of is “MaduroCare”. From USA Today:
Thousands of Venezuelans lined up outside the country’s equivalent of Best Buy, a chain of electronics stores known as Daka, hoping for a bargain after the socialist government forced the company to charge customers “fair” prices.
President Nicolás Maduro ordered a military “occupation” of the company’s five stores as he continues the government’s crackdown…
…Members of Venezuela’s National Guard, some of whom carried assault rifles, kept order at the stores as bargain hunters rushed to get inside.
What a great use of a country’s armed forces, huh? This begs the question, though: Why not just give everything away for free? He didn’t stop there, though:
Daka’s store managers, according to Maduro, have been arrested and are being held by the country’s security services.
Wow. Why not public executions? Never mind. The best, though, is USA Today’s last summary point:
Some see the move as pure politics by the president, who faces elections Dec. 8
You don’t say?
Check out my Goodreads giveaway…register and you could receive a free copy of LIONS. Giveaway ends November 30th.
Hmmm, I don’t remember learning about this in my Survey of World Religions course…
Somali pirates and pop music: Check out this article. I loved the line about Justin Bieber.
My debut thriller LIONS is now available from Amazon.com. Stay tuned – more retailers will be out soon.
Sierra Leone man arrested trying to sell ‘yellowcake’ uranium; he hid a sample in his shoes on his flight to New York…maybe he got the idea from a book?
Who knew it could be so exciting? Read more…
Please check out the LIONS: the trailer of my debut novel LIONS.
Vince Flynn died today after battling prostate cancer. He was one of my favorite writers and an inspiration. I eagerly awaited every new Mitch Rapp tale, where he invariably wiped the floor with bad guys left and right. Vince will truly be missed. God bless his wife and family.