ADHD Medication Rant

Today's rant:

I have ADHD. In order for me to re-fill my Concerta prescription, I have to call my pharmacy and request that they fax my doctor's office. Then, the pharmacy has to actually fax my doctor's office (you would not believe how difficult this step is). Once my doctor's office gets the fax, they have to create the magic piece of paper that says I can have my medication and have a doctor sign it. There is no consistency with regards to how quickly this is accomplished. Then, they have to mail that piece of paper to my pharmacy, and we all know how the USPS is known for their speed and reliability. Oh wait! No, they're not. *rolls eyes* When/If the pharmacy receives the aforementioned magic piece of paper, they have to put 30 pills in an orange bottle which takes longer than you'd think. Then, they have to inform me that  I need to take time out of my day to drive to the pharmacy and pick up my medication. Once I do that, this ridiculously long process mercifully reaches its conclusion. 

At any point of the above-mentioned process, a snafu or a delay could occur, and the consequences of either of those are potentially dire. When those with ADHD are without their medication, they become less productive at work and/or school and are at a greater risk of committing a crime. Additionally, if sufferers of ADHD go unmedicated, they frequently self-medicate, meaning they turn to drugs and/or alcohol. Those with ADHD struggle with day-to-day tasks, such as remembering to get the ridiculously long process of getting a refill of their prescription going at a time that will allow them to not run out of pills. Therefore, if all of these laws are designed to keep society safe from those who abuse ADHD medication probably do not help as they leave medicated ADHD sufferers without medication and cause some to give up medication entirely because of the ridiculous process of getting a refill for their prescription. 

Solution #1: Once an individual is diagnosed with ADHD, their doctor calls their preferred pharmacy and gives them and only them (or their parent if the patient is a minor) permission to get refills. The doctor can revoke this permission if the patient does not show up for regular checkups. 

Solution #2: I call my doctor's office for a refill. My doctor calls Amazon, and in two business days, UPS delivers my medication to my door. 

St. Patrick's Day Rant 2017

I told myself I was not going to be doing another one of these, but the more I thought about it, the more I could not keep silent. The main instigator for this year's rant is the decision made by many Catholic bishops in the United States to offer a dispensation from the obligation to abstain from meat on Fridays during Lent on Saint Patrick's Day. For all those who take advantage of the dispensation, I have two questions:

1.) How does eating corned beef honor Saint Patrick?

2.) What act of penance are you choosing to replace the abstinence from meat?

I fail to see how eating corned beef is necessary to honoring a Scottish saint. Even if one is not partaking of the despicable rowdiness that seems to be synonymous with Saint Patrick's Day, eating corned beef is an odd way of celebrating a Scottish saint who converted pagans as a missionary bishop. Should not the commemoration of a saint involve a spiritual aspect or at the very least studying the saint's life? Ask anyone at the Irish pub on St. Paddy's Day to tell you Saint Patrick's life story, and very few would be able to do so. A few vague details might be muttered, but unless the person is a Catholic history nerd, it would be a waste of time to learn about Saint Patrick at a bar on March 17.

Furthermore, I find it hard to believe that everyone who takes advantage of the dispensation from abstaining from meat is going to be substituting another act of penance in place of the usual Lenten requirements. Call me a pessimist, but I imagine many will forget or intentionally ignore that requirement the bishops put in place for those who wish to take advantage of the dispensation.

Lastly, this whole dispensation has made me feel confused, frustrated, angry, and disappointed. I do not intend to criticize the bishops who offered this dispensation. I know that many of them are good bishops, and I do not wish to stain their reputations. However, I expect the Church to promote sanctity. This dispensation does not do that. On a day that is already plagued by drunkeness and debauchery, a more appropriate action would be to make the Optional Memorial of Saint Patrick a day of prayer and fasting.

Misadventures in Alex's Kitchen

I have long desired to be "a strong independent man who don't need no woman to cook for me." This stems from my mother's excellent cooking and the lack of options I had when she was not cooking for me. When I was with my dad or when my step-dad was filling in for my mom for whatever reason, my options were boring: Grilled meat, grilled cheese, frozen pizza, leftovers, and, if we were lucky, a meal that was simple to prepare like spaghetti or sloppy joes. I made a resolution years ago to be able to provide a more diverse menu for my future children.

What have I done since making that resolution? Not much. I can knock tacos out of the park, but that does not rise above the level of meals that are simple to prepare. I can also make enchiladas, but not without making my kitchen look like a war zone. I'm pretty good at throwing stuff in a crock pot and waiting for a few hours, but again, that is not all that special.

One way to get me to do something is to force me to do it. One of my motivations for getting my own apartment was to force myself to cook for myself. This has not had the desired effect. My few ventures into the art of cooking have not been all that successful (see the war zone after enchiladas statement above).

However, I do get e-mails with recipes in them every once in awhile, so there's that. Just the other day, I received an e-mail with a recipe for garlic prime rib, and I thought that sounded fantastic.

Now, one of the benefits of living with another person is having someone who will say, "That sounds awesome, but we cannot try that recipe. Do you know how much ten pounds of prime rib costs?" When I got tested for ADHD, I was told I was in the 98th percentile for intelligence, but there are many instances where I do act like I am in the 98th percentile for intelligence. Spending $144 on prime rib is one of those instances, but that was not the most idiotic thing I did in this story.

In the grocery store, the sign said, "Garlic, 2/$1.00." The recipe called for ten cloves of garlic, so I thought, "Great! This will cost me $5.00." Those of you who know the difference between a head of garlic and a clove of garlic are probably thinking, "No, Alex! NO!" Unfortunately, I did not learn the difference between them until I was watching a YouTube video on how to mince garlic cloves. The first thing the guy said to do was peel the head of garlic (which explains why my slapper-chopper thingy was failing to mince my garlic) and remove the cloves. I suddenly realized I had purchased nine times the garlic I needed (Yes, Mr. 98th-percentile-for-intelligence failed to properly count to 10). Luckily, during the frantic Googled search I conducted hoping and praying I did not purchase that large of an excess of garlic, I discovered one can freeze garlic cloves to preserve them for future use (So, if anyone needs any garlic...). After well over an hour of peeling heads of garlic, I stowed the left over garlic cloves in my freezer and proceeded to finish preparing my prime rib roast for the oven. Much to my chagrin, I discovered that I was out of salt and was forced to use a substitute. In some cruel twist of irony, the best I could muster was garlic salt. Yep, more garlic, and I did not even have enough. I had to settle for just over one teaspoon when the recipe called for two teaspoons. 

The ridiculousness of my preparations finally reached a conclusion, and the meat was ready to enter the oven. After cooking the prime rib roast for 20 minutes at 500 degrees, I lowered the temperature of the oven to 375. Giving in to a desire to see the meat's progress, I opened the oven, and smoke wafted up to the smoke detector which proceeded to start squawking. When I had finally silenced the smoke detector and convinced my dog we were not going to die, I sat down to relax for a bit. After thirty minutes or so had passed, I picked up my phone to discover it still had the webpage for the recipe on display. It was then I realized that I was supposed to lower the oven to 325 for the final hour of cooking. I rushed to the oven and lowered it to 320 (just to be safe) for the remaining 30 minutes of cooking. 

My confidence in the tastiness of my supper was low just prior to opening the oven to remove the prime rib. The doubts did not quite go away when I opened the oven to see this:

With my fingers, I removed part of the meat and sampled it. Oh was it tasty! I may have been unable to properly gather the right ingredients, reading may have proved to be difficult, and I may have come close to getting a visit from the fire department, but I managed to cook some delicious prime rib. I am going to claim that as a win.

Yummy

Yummy

The "Slenderman" Case and the Need to Reform the Criminal Justice System

Two 12 (now 13) year-old girls attempted to kill their classmate to appease a fictional character. The victim somehow survived 19 stab wounds, and now the girls have been charged with first-degree attempted murder.

The judge had a choice between trying the defendants as juveniles or adults. In the juvenile system, they would serve time until they turn 18 when they would be released and mental health treatment would no longer be guaranteed. If tried as adults, they could serve up to 65 years in an adult prison.

Citing the potential danger to the community if the girls are released at 18 and do not receive necessary mental health treatment, the judge rules in favor of trying the girls in adult court. While his concerns are valid, he just put these 12 year-old girls in serious danger. If they are sent to an adult prison, they could be serving time with individuals who may negatively influence them or cause them physical and/or emotional harm.

This illustrates the need for reform in the criminal justice system, especially in the area of how we punish criminals. The fact that there is no middle ground in a case like this is appalling.

Why is there no way to have them serve past the age of 18 in the juvenile system if the need arises? What would be the harm in keeping them in until the age of 21 in extreme cases such as this one? Or, alternatively, why is there no hearing at the age of 18 to determine whether a juvenile convicted of a serious crime should be released or sent to an adult facility to serve additional time? There needs to be a middle ground in cases like this.

The ultimate injustice is the quality of mental health care the defendants would receive in an adult prison. These girls would receive better care in the juvenile system. Everyone recognizes these girls need psychological help. A psychologist has pleaded with the court to get one of the defendant some serious treatment. However, psychological healthcare is something the criminal justice system is woefully unable to adequately provide. The need for reform is clear. There needs to be a middle ground between the juvenile and adult systems for defendants who commit serious crimes before the age of 18, and there needs to be better psychological care for inmates in our prisons. The time for change is long overdue.

Sherlock Holmes and Me

I have always enjoyed mysteries, and lately, I have been wondering why I like them so much. So far, the only possible answer I have come up with is that is who I am. I like mysteries because I am a person who likes mysteries. The questions of why lingers, though. Why do I find mysteries so appealing? What is it about mysteries that captures my attention more than any other topic?  Why do I only like riddles if they are ones that make me think for hours and sometimes days?

I do not just simply find mysteries mildly amusing. I am consumed by them. When I watch the TV show Sherlock, I finish the 90-minute episode and then spend the next two to three hours thinking about the show. If I hear or read a casual mention of an unsolved murder, there is a strong likelihood that I will spend hours researching the mystery, trying to figure out who did it. Sometimes, my curiosity towards real-life murders strikes me as too morbid, but I cannot help myself. My brain latches on to these topics and will not let them leave my thoughts.

Last night, I was musing on my personality and the idea of likening myself to a detective kept coming up. Then, it suddenly dawned on me: I suffer from the same affliction Sherlock Holmes does. We both have over active minds, craving something to stimulate it. In Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Sign of Four, Sherlock Holmes describes this condition to his friend, Dr. John Watson:

My mind rebels at stagnation. Give me problems, give me work, give me the most abstruse cryptogram or the most intricate analysis, and I am in my own proper atmosphere. I can dispense then with artificial stimulants. But I abhor the dull routine of existence. I crave for mental exaltation.

Sherlock Holmes hates being bored. His mind always needs a distraction.  When he is left to his own devices, he uses drugs to stimulate his mind, to ease the strain boredom puts on him. On modern-day television, he is portrayed as a recovering drug addict. This is not a completely canonical interpretation. In Doyle's original stories, Sherlock uses drugs to dull the monotony of human existence. When his mind is focused on a case, he does not need the drugs. An addict would still use the drugs to the detriment of his work. There is a slight mention that Sherlock's drug use almost jeopardized his career in "The Mystery of the Missing Three Quarter", but for the most part, Sherlock shows no signs of addiction. He simply needs distraction.

The BBC television series, Sherlock, shows the immense disdain Sherlock Holmes has for idleness quite well in the episode "The Great Game." In the early moments of the episode, Sherlock is shown lazily lounging about in his apartment, shooting his wall with a gun. He stares longingly out the window at the peaceful city of London and mutters, "Look at that, Mrs. Hudson... quiet, calm, peaceful. Isn't it hateful?" The lack of a mystery has caused him to start unraveling.

The madness of idleness is something to which I can relate. My mind needs something to excite it, something with which it can play, or it rebels. I sometimes spend hours pacing around my apartment, mulling over deep, intellectual topics, and I love that about myself. Getting lost in a deep topic is something I crave. When I am able to have a deep conversation with people, I feel great. My closest friends are those with whom I can have these conversations. On the other hand, small talk annoys me beyond measure, and I cannot be close friends with someone who is incapable in engaging me in deep conversation.

This need to stimulate my brain can sometimes cause my personal and professional lives to suffer. If a friend is not engaging me in deep conversation, I am less likely to invest in that friendship. As a result, I try less in that friendship. Other times, I overanalyze my relationships. I spend time wondering if a friend really likes me or not. When it comes to dating, I sometimes miss out on dating someone because I spend too much time analyzing the girl before deciding to ask her out, and I have, on occasion, thought too much about a girl and ended up convincing myself I should not ask a girl out when it would have been a good idea to ask her out. Furthermore, my desire to engage my brain in a worthy manner makes having a career difficult for me. Slightly over a year ago, I graduated from college. For three years, I had worked for a bachelor's degree in business administration, yet as graduation grew nearer and nearer, I found myself not interested in going into that field. I spent that summer trying to figure out what to do with my life and feeling down about myself. I was bored and directionless, much like Sherlock Holmes in between cases.

To keep myself from feeling like I was wasting my time, I began watching informational videos on YouTube and flirting with idea of making my career like those YouTubers I admired (CGP Grey, Numberphile, VSauce, etc.). I also began working through audiobooks of the Sherlock Holmes and Father Brown canons. I was also writing about Batman TV shows and wound up with a gig writing about the Minnesota Vikings.

As my writing opportunities expanded, I decided to pursue that for a career. I actually completed a first draft for a mystery novel around Christmas-time. But, the task of revising it was a difficult one, and the story I had engineered failed to stay entertaining for the entirety of the 100,000+ words I had written for it. Shortly after beginning my revisions, I abandoned the project. 

Several months later, I find myself in the same position. I have just finished the first draft of a book on the life of Saint Eugène de Mazenod, and I am struggling with the revision process. However, unlike the mystery novel, I actually am quite proud of the first draft and have a strong desire to see it published. Yet, I find myself without the necessary drive to seriously work at revising it. No longer does this project capture my attention. I find myself questioning my current aim in life. Am I really meant to write about religious topics as I have been thinking for the past few months?

My mind is searching for something to capture its attention. I do not want to tame the beast that is my mind; I want to feed it. My desire is to satisfy this craving I have for deep thought by finding a career that satisfies my brain. I want to explore questions that demand a noble and satisfying effort to find an answer. Maybe I can find topics within the Faith that satisfy my desire to investigate and explore, but until I find such a topic, I will, like Sherlock Holmes, battle the "dull routine of existence."

 

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Read This Before Slamming That Pint of Green Beer

Every March 17, millions of people don the color green and head to the bar to celebrate Saint Patrick's Day. I have always wondered why the secular culture has embraced Saint Patrick's Day. Maybe the secular culture at large just wants an excuse for drinking excessively, and to make it appear they are not celebrating a Catholic day, they choose to wear green as a tribute to Ireland.

The truth is Saint Patrick's Day has nothing to do with the color green, beer, whiskey, or even Ireland. Saint Patrick's Day commemorates the life of Patrick, a fifth century missionary and bishop.

Saint Patrick was born in 389 AD in Bannavem Taberniae on the island of Britain. No one is sure on the exact location of this town, but most scholars suspect it is in west Scotland. The one thing that is certain is that Patrick was NOT born in Ireland.

At the age of 16, Patrick was kidnapped by pirates and became a slave in Ireland. Prior to his abduction, he had not been actively practicing the Christian faith. While in slavery, however, he felt God's presence and began praying as he tended sheep. According to Patrick's own words, he prayed nearly 100 times every day.

One night, he had a dream wherein he heard the Lord tell him a ship was waiting for him, and after six years in slavery, he escaped to search for the boat. Patrick wrote late in his life that he had to walk 200 miles to find the boat. When he reached the coast and saw a ship was indeed about to set sail, he told the captain he needed to sail with them to Britain, but the captain refused to let him board. Patrick turned around and began to pray, and before his prayer was finished, the sailors were calling out to him that they would take him on board with him.

When they returned to the island of Britain, they were without food for a long period of time.  After the captain mocked him for not praying for food, Patrick convinced the sailors to pray with him for food. Shortly thereafter, they came across a herd of swine and had food for days.

Before Patrick could be reunited with his family, he was once again taken into slavery. After being captured, he had a dream that told him he would only be in slavery for two months, and in two months time, he regained his freedom and was reunited with his family.

It was not long before Patrick knew he needed to leave his family again. In a dream, he heard the people of Ireland calling out to him, imploring him to return to them. Patrick knew this meant he was being called to serve as a missionary to the Irish people. After some resistance from his parents and some time spent studying to become a priest, he went as a consecrated bishop to the land of his six years of slavery.

In Ireland, Patrick faced on a daily basis the danger of enslavement, imprisonment, violence, and death. At times, he was thrown into jail and his death sentence pronounced, but he always escaped his peril. Nothing could shake his resolve, and in thirty years he would baptize thousands, establish many churches, schools, and monasteries, and consecrate 350 bishops.

The life of Saint Patrick has noting to do with leprechauns, pots of gold, the color green, or alcohol. It is the courageous tale of a man who desired to bring the Gospel to the pagans in what was then the most remote corner of the known world. Binge drinking and celebrating a country, while ignoring the Saint for whom the day was declared a celebratory one, is a great injustice. 

Is it wrong to celebrate? No. But before you get hammered on green beer, ask yourself "What am I celebrating?" and "What is the proper way to celebrate this?".

Playground Football Memories

Growing up, I would receive a phone call from my dad every day. My parents were divorced, so my dad called my siblings and me every day to see how our day went. Some days, I would not be overly enthusiastic about the call because I had nothing interesting to talk about. This was rarely the case in elementary school because I could always just tell him about what happened at recess. The best days were the days where I did something significant, like kicking a homerun in kickball or making an interception in football, but there were two days in particular where I could not wait to tell my dad about what happened at recess.

At the elementary school I attended, we played a variety of games at recess, but most of the time we played football. Like most young boys, we took recess football very seriously.  Winning the football game was more important in our minds than our schoolwork. Consequently, tempers flared and arguments occured frequently.

In our later years, the teams were, for the most part, evenly matched.  However, when we first started playing football, the teams were nowhere close to being evenly matched. We used the traditional system of two captains picking from a line of kids who stood by a wall, anxiously waiting to see which team would select them. The school would only provide us with wimpy nerf footballs, so we rewarded the kid who brought a real football from home by making him the captain who got to pick first. Stan (not his real name) almost always brought the ball, and he always made David (also not his real name) his first pick. The other captain was not allowed to pick Jim (another pseudonym) because Stan and Jim would fight if they were not on the same team. This allowed Stan, David, and Jim to always be on the same team. I felt this arrangement was extremely unfair because Stan, David, and Jim were the three best football players in the second grade, but I was too timid to voice my objection. Their sly stretegy for selecting teams ensured that the teams were virtually the same every day. Unfortunately for me, this meant I was always on the other team. A daily defeat at the hands of Stan, David, and Jim was basically guaranteed, causing me to refer to my own team as "the bad team" and their team as "the good team."

I hate losing, but I kept playing football at recess because I liked playing football (and still do) and there were no other acceptable options for recess activities, due to the small number of students at my school. 

Due to my team's poor record, the only time I was able to tell my dad about my achievements in recess football was when I scored a touchdown, something that did not happen often for a member of the bad team. I took great pride in telling my dad when I scored a touchdown. Little boys always want to make their dad proud, and hearing the excitement in my dad's voice after telling him I had scored made me so happy. So, anytime I scored a touchdown I eagerly looked forward to his call that night, but the day we finally defeated the good team, I was especially excited to tell my dad about recess.

Then came the day when I was finally picked by the good team. That alone was enough to excite me. Yet, that was not all I had to tell my dad about that night. In that game, I scored two touchdowns, and my move to the good team became permanent (strangely, the unjust method of choosing teams ceased bothering me once I joined the good team).

Looking back, it is hard to believe how easy it was to find joy. Playing football at recess and telling my dad about it later was all I needed to be happy fourteen years ago. It was a much simpler time.

Shortly before we finished the sixth grade and moved on to junior high, we were given clay and instructed to make little sculptures of something that would help us remember our time at that school. I used mine to make a little football because playing football with my friends will always be my fondest memory of elementary school.

Trust

No man is an island, but at one point in my life, I put myself on an island. I was young and felt alone. My thoughts turned inward, and I decided I did not need anyone else. This led to a lack of trust. 

Even though I no longer feel alone, it is still hard for me to trust people. For the first time in my life, I feel like I have a solid group of friends, yet I still struggle to trust them.

The three people I trust most do not live in the same city as me. I love confiding in these friends, but it is hard to do so when they live in a different city. My friends in town are great, but I have not been able to open up to them. For quite some time, I have felt a growing desire to have someone in the same city as me to whom I can open up. 

However, over the past two weeks,  things have changed. I have had two different conversations with two different people where I was able to open up and talk about really personal topics. For an ordinary person, one or both of these conversations may not seem like a big deal, but for me this was huge. Opening up to these friends was a moment of significant growth for me.

Does this mean my struggle to trust has been conquered? No, it simply means I know I can trust these two friends, and that is a wonderful feeling.

If someone would have told me when I was ten years-old that someday I would have five friends with whom I could have heart-to-heart conversations, I would not have believed them. I have come along way, and I no longer feel the despair I once felt about my social life. Now, I have a solid social life and confidence that things will only get better.

Our Duty to Protect Infants

A few weeks ago, I went over to a gathering of some extended family members. My cousin and his wife brought over their two month old baby girl.

I arrived later than everyone else, and when I did, a card game was well underway. This left me as the only one, other than my cousin's three year-old son, who was not playing cards.

Soon the inevitable happened; the baby began crying. I was born into a very competitive family, and when my family plays cards, things get intense. The game they were playing features non-stop and rapid action, so it was unreasonable to expect the game to halt when there was someone around who was responsible enough to hold a baby. Therefore, it was either listen to the child cry or pick her up.

 I am not the type of person who gets excited at the sight of a baby. It had been years since I had held a baby. However, I did not want to seem insensitive and demand the game be halted so someone else could comfort the child. Nervously, I approached the child and picked her up.  She did not immediately stop crying, so I began walking around the room. Eventually, she did stop crying, and despite my fear of doing so, I did not drop her.

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Was it a strange experience? Absolutely. Did I want to do it? Absolutely not. Once the card game was over, I immediately gave the child back to her mother. Am I glad I did it, though? Absolutely.

No one wants a baby to cry. No one likes to hear a baby cry. And, no one wants a baby to suffer. I picked little Ginny up because I did not want her to be upset. At that age, a child is unable to do anything for themselves. To ignore the cries of a baby is to wish harm upon the child. It is simply common sense to comfort a baby, rather than to let the child suffer.

This is what bothers me so much about abortion. Babies are so vulnerable and defenseless. We have a duty to protect them, but in our country, it is perfectly legal to end the life of a baby in the womb.

I do not wish to demonize any woman who has aborted her child. I have never been so frightened and confused that I considered taking a life, so I cannot begin to understand what mothers who are contemplating abortion are thinking. I do not envy their circumstances.

It is the element of society that actively campaigns for unlimited access to abortion that saddens me. How can anyone say a human life is not worth protecting? Do we not have a duty to protect the most vulnerable? Do we not have not have a duty to protect infants? If  we say we do not have the duty to protect human life in the womb, how can we say we have the duty to protect life outside the womb?

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The Casual Use of the Terms "ADHD" and "OCD"

Is your life disordered? By that, I mean: Are you unable to function properly? If you are able live a normal life, then you do not have ADHD or OCD, both of which are disorders.

I have noticed a trend recently where an individual will casually and/or jokingly say they have ADHD or OCD. The individual who does this does not have either disorder, nor do they realize the consequences of their actions. ADHD and OCD are medical diagnoses, not descriptions of a personality.

In recent years, tremendous strides have been made in the mental health field. However, these efforts are being thwarted by those who do not take conditions like ADHD and OCD seriously. When people casually refer to themselves as having ADHD and OCD, they minimize the struggles of those who do suffer from these disorders.

The use of the word "suffer" in the previous paragraph is extremely deliberate. What led me to finally seek a diagnosis for ADHD was an incident where I was on the verge of tears, due to my despair over not being able to focus on the activities that mattered most to me. Now that I have officially been diagnosed with ADHD, I understand that my brain does not function and that my inattentiveness is not my fault, but that knowledge does not completely relieve my frustration.

I do not wish to vilify those who casually use the terms "ADHD" and "OCD." I am not a member of the "Politically Correct Police."  My point is to illustrate that there is a lot of ignorance with regards to mental health issues and that comments like these hurt the efforts of those trying to bring awareness to these issues. There is very little scientists know about ADHD, and when ADHD is treated like a joke, it becomes difficult to organize serious efforts to study and learn more about this disorder.

The comic sentiment surrounding ADHD and OCD and the temptation to use these terms lightly is something I completely understand. I have made jokes using ADHD and OCD and have referred to them casually, without intending to use their literal meaning. The temptation to use OCD lightly is strongest for me when I consider the large amount of attention I give my finger nails and cuticles, as well as my insistence that the table must be set properly. However, if my nails are too long or if the table is not set properly, I can get over it. Someone with OCD cannot. Now that I have an ADHD diagnosis, my eyes are opened to how bothersome it might be to someone with OCD if I were to refer to those patterns of behavior as OCD.

When we use terms flippantly, they begin to lose their meaning. This is clearly the case with ADHD and OCD. When I tell people that I have ADHD, I worry that they might not actually realize I am being serious. People whose lives are disrupted by these disorders already struggle enough. They do not need an additional struggle added on top of their current issues. To make their lives easier, we should all strive to only use the terms "ADHD" and "OCD" to describe ADHD and OCD.

 

For a lighter look at this issue, watch this video:  

Why I Do Not Make New Year's Resolutions

Every year, millions of people stay up until midnight on the night of December 31 to ring in the new year. I have never understood this. I find this quite arbitrary. Prior to midnight, we write "2014" on our checks, and after midnight, we write "2015." If we are celebrating the changing of one element on our calendars, then why are we not doing this every month or every day? One could argue that we celebrate because we only change the year once every 365 days, but if we are simply celebrating the novelty of the changing of the date, it would make more sense to celebrate a new decade. It would be even more novel to celebrate a new century or millennium. But no, we celebrate the new year. The most prominent reason for celebrating the new year seems to be the opportunity to make a new start.

Each January millions of people begin to work on the New Year's resolutions. They pledge to make positive improvements in their life. The sentiment is noble, but also confusing. If one identifies an area of one's life that needs improving, why wait until the new year to do something about it? Would it not make sense to make these changes when the problem is identified? 

This is why I do not make New Year's resolutions. I know my faults, and I generally realize them long before New Year's Eve.  When I truly want to make a change in my life, I make the change. I believe we should be constantly trying to improve ourselves, not merely once every 365 days.

If you truly want to become a better person in 2015, you should not be concerned about New Year's resolutions. Make your concern being a better person regardless of the date. 

The Most Awkward Christmas Present

Early last summer, a friend gave me a gift for no reason other than she thought I would like it. She was right; I did like it. However, it was not my birthday, nor was it a holiday. She just gave it to me. It was a picture, and my first thought was, "OK, I have to find a place in my apartment to hang it and the tools necessary to accomplish this task." My mind went to the practical rather than to appreciation. I did enjoy the gift, but my emotions did not show that on the outside.

A few months later, another friend of mine was in my apartment and saw the picture hanging on my wall. Upon seeing it, he said, "Oh, so you liked it?". He went on to say that the friend who gave me the gift had been afraid that I did not like the gift because of my lack of response when she gave it to me. This surprised me because I was fairly certain I had said, "Thank you."

Why do I start my Christmas blog post off this way? I do so to underscore the point that when it comes to receiving gifts (especially gifts for no reason), my social awkwardness takes over.

When I was a little kid, I was always excited to receive gifts on my birthday and Christmas, but as I grew up, the excitement of opening a box and seeing what is inside eroded away. Now, I just feeling strange as I tear the wrapping paper. I do not feel comfortable or excited to be receiving a gift. These feelings are intensified when the present is given at a time other than when it is the social norm to give one. This does not mean I do not like receiving the presents or I am ungrateful. It just feels weird.

But again, this is supposed to be about Christmas...

For the last few years, I have struggled with the meaning of Christmas. As a Christian, I know that Christmas is celebrated because of the birth of Jesus Christ. The slogan "Jesus is the reason for the season" is often seen this time of year on bumper stickers, social media, billboards, etc. When people explain the meaning of Christmas, they usually give the same standard explanation:

Yes, I understand the fact that we celebrate the birth of Jesus of Nazareth on December 25, but I feel like there should be a deeper meaning behind all of this. That is my struggle. What does Christ's birth mean?

When I try to explore the reason God became man, my mind instantly goes here:

This seems a bit strange and gruesome for a joyous occasion, does it not? Yes, Jesus became man to die for our sins, but the Cross does not fit with the Christmas story or the celebration of it. The Cross is undoubtedly connected to Christmas, but I am convinced the heart of Christmas is not the Cross.

So what is?

I am not claiming infallibility here, but this year, I have been finding myself thinking about a present as the true meaning of Christmas. The present in question is Jesus.

While some of you may gag at hearing "Jesus is the best Christmas present!" again, allow me to explain.

I struggle to know God's love. I understand it theologically, and I believe God loves me. However, most of the time I do not feel God's love. There have been brief moments here and there throughout my life where I have felt his love, but those moments are never permanent. I have been trying to work on this for well over a year, and my progress has been slow. I truly do want to know and feel God's love better, but I am clueless as to how to accomplish that.

In my prayer life recently, I have felt a call to view Christ's birth as a present. So this year, no matter how I see Jesus, I am choosing to imagine Him with a big red bow wrapped around Him. If I see Jesus on the Cross, He has a red bow. If I see Jesus in the manger, He has a red bow. If I see Jesus in the Eucharist, He has a red bow.

Is this helping? A little bit. As I said before, I find receiving gifts a little bit awkward, so when I picture Jesus as a present, it feels awkward. However, I am starting to feel loved a tiny bit more. Just as my friend's gift reminded me that she cherishes our friendship, the idea of the Father giving His Son to me helps me understand God's love a little bit better. It is still awkward, though.

This gift is especially awkward because I do not deserve it at all. I still have to accept the present, and it feel weird. Christmas this year is awkward, yet beautiful.

Is Jesus wrapped in a big red bow the true meaning of Christmas? I do not know; I am not a theologian. What I do know is this spiritual exercise has been helping me this year.

Winona

I am beginning to find myself looking back on my time in Winona and focusing on the good memories: Climbing buildings with Geoff, my intramural basketball team that was absolutely terrible, my Jim-Carey-esque professor who was the first person to believe in me as a writer, being a part of Second Page's improv show, Paul, the bench.

I never though I would spend so much time fondly reminiscing about Winona. In reality, I was miserable during my one semester at Saint Mary's University of Minnesota. The happy memories are clouded over by the awful ones. I was so unhappy there that any small setback was enough to render me incapable of doing anything productive. I wonder what sort of financial setback Winona's A&W Restaurant suffered after I left. It seems I quite often found myself fleeing off campus, in order to escape and forget how much I hated 700 Terrace Heights.

 I spent most of my time on campus sitting at my desk, watching Netflix or playing my PS3. Quite often, I did both simultaneously. Near my feet stack of to-go containers piled up. My tiny garbage can was barely big enough to hold just one.

 By the end of my time there, I was eating all of my meals out of a to-go container in my dorm room. I did not want to be the guy eating alone in the cafeteria, so I took my meal back to my room and ate alone there. We were not allowed to carry our backpacks past Alice, the kind lady who ran the card-swiping station at the entrance to the cafeteria, so I could not have eaten my meals with my friend Netflix.  

Other than Geoff, I did not have any friends at the end of that semester. I was trying not to get too attached to Geoff; he was joining the Marines at the end of the semester. At the beginning of the semester, I had friends. We ate meals together, played intramural sports together, and occasionally ventured off campus for a movie. Then after awhile, those activities slowed down. I figured my "friends" were just busy, and it was getting hard to connect at the same time to eat together. However, one day, I got up from my desk to use the restroom, and after relieving myself, I saw the people I thought were my friends gathering to go eat. I thought after weeks of eating alone, I could finally sit down with my friends in the cafeteria and eat. No one said anything to me, but as the evening progressed, it became clear that I was not welcome. While we ate, no one talked to me until after everyone had finished. One question about how I had been was all the attention they gave me during that meal. Suddenly, the knocks on my door for my roommate and the hushed tones with which he talked to our neighbor made sense. They did not want me around. I will probably never learn if they had a conversation where it was decided that they would exclude me from their social gatherings or whether they all individually stopped caring to include me.

 By the time I had realized they had moved on, everyone was safely tucked away in their own little niches, and it was near impossible to find new friends. To Geoff's credit, he made friends with me late in the semester and included me in a social venture. Yet, with the knowledge he would be leaving at the end of the semester, it was hard for me to find reasons to pursue a deeper friendship with him. Furthermore, none of the other people to whom he introduced me seemed interested in adding me to their circle of friends. So, I trudged on my way, friendless and praying the semester would end soon.

When the semester ended, I took off and giddily sped up Highway 14 en route to I-90 West. I made record time getting home. I was ready to leave Winona forever. It would be strange to go back, and I would fear getting recognized. 

Do I have regrets about my time at SMU? Sure. I regret not taking logic with Fr. Fabian. I regret not asking out that girl who, in retrospect, would have totally agreed to go out with me. I regret not trying out for a play. I regret not being more adventurous when it came to making friends and not simply sticking with my roommate or the guy across the hall when it came to the social activities the school had planned for that first week. 

But, my regrets do not dampen my pessimism towards that place. If I would have stayed and had been more adventurous with my social life, I do not believe the outcome would have varied. A second semester there would have been more disastrous than the first. I needed something better than Winona had to offer.

 I look at the friends I have now, and I truly cherish them more than I have ever cherished a group of friends before in my life. If I had not transferred after one semester, I would not have met them and my life would be radically different. Is my life perfect now? No. In fact, it is quite stressful, but I am content. I like where I am. I may endure radical changes to my life someday, but for now, I know I am right where I need to be. 

A Thanksgiving Letter to my Friends

An open letter to all of my friends on the occasion of Thanksgiving 2014:

Two days ago, November 25, 2014, marked the 8th anniversary of the death of my friend, Ian Mastel.

Ian and I met in the 7th grade and sat next to each other in band class. I hated playing in the band, but I did not hate sitting next to Ian. The greatest gift God bestowed on Ian was his sense of humor. Ian made the miserable experience of playing trombone in the junior high band bearable. He could easily make me laugh. When it was not our turn to play, we would quote Monty Python with full British accents. We did this so frequently that we would catch ourselves slipping into British accents in normal conversation.

In the 8th grade, Ian became sick and missed a lot of school. His absence made band class difficult to endure. Then, on November 25, 2006, Ian passed away. Without Ian and without the hope that he would return, band became completely miserable. His death left a void in my life.

When I think of Ian, I often hear two lines of the song "Big Yellow Taxi":

Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you got 'til it's gone

I often find myself wishing I had appreciated Ian more when he was alive. I wish I had recognized the gift of humor he brought in my life and how his sense of humor had improved the quality of my life. And, I wish I could have been a better friend to him.

A few days ago, I was reflecting on all of this, and I made the decision to not be sad on the anniversary of his death. I decided I would, instead, be grateful.

So, on this Thanksgiving, I am thankful for the life of Ian and that I had the opportunity to get to know him. I am thankful for his sense of humor and the relief it brought me. Most importantly, I am thankful for the friends I have now. I want to especially thank you, my friends, for being my friends. I do not want to find myself wishing I had appreciated you more, so I am taking the opportunity now to thank you in a public manner. I want you to know that you are an important part of my life.

Lastly, as a Thanksgiving gift, I want you all to enjoy the humor of the Monty Python sketch Ian and I quoted most often, the Argument Clinic:

In gratitude,

-Alex R. Hey

"Iris" by The Goo Goo Dolls: It's About Prayer

I had an aha moment while walking my dog. As I always do while walking my dog, I was listening to music on my iPhone. The playlist I was listening to was "MBGoo", a collection of songs by Matchbox Twenty and The Goo Goo Dolls. The aha moment came when I began listening closely to the lyrics of "Iris" by The Goo Goo Dolls. I realized that the song is about prayer. 

I am sure this claim will be met with some skepticism. The skepticism is not without basis. If you research the song, you will know why Rzeznik wrote the song. However, I do believe in the power of the Holy Spirit. Whether modern artists know it or not, many of their works express a truth greater than they realize. God works in mysterious ways. He sometimes is able to use those who are not aware of what He is doing. Even atheists can sometimes be influenced to produce something true, good, and beautiful. Therefore, no matter what Rzeznik's intentions were for the song, it still can be about prayer.

And I’d give up forever to touch you
’Cause I know that you feel me somehow

Here, the author speaks of a strong desire to touch the subject of the song and expresses his belief that the subject does touch him in a way he does not understand. 

The author is struggling in prayer and feels that it would be easier if he could see and touch God. Sometimes in prayer, we feel as if we are talking to no one. That is why some people pray with icons, paintings, statues, etc. They are not worshipping false idols; they are using them to help themselves focus.

Despite his struggles, he does express faith. He knows that, whether or not he feels anything in prayer, God still is able to bring grace into his life through unnoticed ways.

You’re the closest to Heaven that I’ll ever be
And I don’t wanna go home right now

"Home", as used above, refers to our ultimate home, Heaven. The author recognizes that he cannot receive the beatific vision in this life. He does not seek to death to achieve the ability to experience the Lord; rather, he asks for God to help him in his prayer life to feel his presence more deeply.

When sooner or later it’s over,
I just don’t wanna miss you tonight

Death is inevitable. The author knows that he will die eventually. In the event that death comes sooner than expected, he recognizes a need to connect with the Lord now, while he still can. Procrastination in prayer is the enemy. He does not know the hour that his life will be taken away from him.

And I don’t want the world to see me
’Cause I don’t think that they’d understand

Our culture, at the moment, is not a culture that makes it easy to be a prayerful person. For example, Tim Tebow was mocked relentlessly for expressing his faith in a public way. The author feels like he will be mocked, if he is seen praying.

When everything’s made to be broken
I just want you to know who I am

The reference to everything being "made to be broken" is a recognition of the fact that the world will eventually end. The second line refers to the seventh chapter of Matthew, where Jesus says He will say "I never knew you" to some at the end of time. The author does not want that to happen to him. In this moment of prayer, he wants to enter into a relationship with the Lord, so that he does not hear "I never knew you." He wants God to know him now.

This song is about prayer. It may not be about a powerful prayer experience, nor does it teach us how to pray better. The one thing it does show us is that there is beauty in being honest, telling the Lord we want to pray and be in a relationship with Him, but that we struggle with it and do not know what to do. 

Alex Rants About Nerds, Twins, and the Loss of Definitions

AUGUST 5, 2014


We live in a society where words have lost their meanings. From the misuse of the word “literally" to the overuse of the word "surreal”, society has thrown away their dictionaries and succumbed to the tyranny of Relativism. Soon, no one will understand each other because we will have eroded all meaning from every word in the English language.

Now, let me give you two examples of what I mean. These two words have in recent days begun to annoy me because they are being used far too often.

"Nerdy"

Nowadays, all you need to be called “nerdy” is a pair of glasses….. NO! NO! NO!

I call this “The Big Bang Theory Effect.”


Granted, when The Big Bang Theory started, it was truly about nerds. A bunch of comic-book-obsessed, socially-awkward men who could not get a date to save their lives. Now, every one of them has a girlfriend, a fiancée, or a wife.

This show is symptomatic of the culture as a whole. To mainstream society, “nerdy” has become a fashion style. But, that is not what the word originally meant.

It was originally a derogatory term used to make fun of those who were weird, did not fit in, and generally had either no friends or were only friends with one or two other nerds. When a term that originally described a small minority of people is used flippantly with society as a whole, it no longer has any meaning.

None of the following people are nerdy:

nerdy_by_themisspolly-d5f8gel.jpg
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I found all of those pictures by doing a Google image search for “Nerdy.” Yet, strangely, none of them are nerdy.

These are circumstances under which it is acceptable to apply the label “Nerdy”:

  • You can name multiple comic book authors
  • Your name is sewn into your underpants
  • You have dressed up in a superhero costume when home alone for no reason
  • You have a book shelf dedicated to your favorite superhero

 

  • People think you are obsessed with a comic book character
  • You get made fun of or have been made fun of for liking comic books, superheroes, computers, etc.
  • You get angry when discussing who would win in a hypothetical fight between superheroes/villains

These are things that can negate the above mentioned qualifications for “Nerdom”:

  • Members of the opposite gender have been known to salivate over your looks
  • Members of your gender salivate over the looks of your significant gender
  • You have seen the movie The Dark Knight Rises, but are unable to identify this comic book villain:


  • Your favorite live-action Batman is George Clooney
  • You have never read a comic book
  • You recognize Robin as Batman’s sidekick, but the names “Jason Todd”, “Tim Drake”, “Stephanie Brown”, and “Damian Wayne” mean nothing to you

Twins

"Oh! You’re both wearing purple; you could be twins."

…..and you could be punched in larynx.

I have noticed a disturbing and repulsive trend. If two individuals wear clothing that is in any way similar, they are labeled as “twins.”

Screen Shot 2014-08-05 at 8.28.59 PM.png
Screen Shot 2014-08-05 at 9.18.41 PM.png

STOP IT!

In the second tweet, they are not wearing matching outfits. Nor are their outfits even “similar.”

Here are the following conditions under which it is acceptable to call your self a “twin”:

  • You were in the same womb at the same time as some else.
  • You get paid to play baseball for Minnesota or one of their minor league affiliates.

THAT IS IT.

Knock it off!

Randomly Inspired to Get Real…

JUNE 29, 2014

 

I don’t write a blog post often. As someone who believes he loves writing, I am shocked by how little of it I actually do.

Regardless, I am writing now, and it was a complete spur of the moment decision. The desire to write these words just hit me. I suspect this will be the least planned post I ever write.

The inspiration came from a friend who tweeted about how odd the concept of sleep is. You lie there with your eyes closed until you fall asleep. I must admit, I too have thought about this, but not for a long time. I distinctly remember lying awake at night as a child unable to sleep. I remember thinking, “Why do we have to sleep?”.

You see, in those days, I could never sleep. Every night, I’d lie awake for hours not being able to sleep. Was I tired? Yes. Could I sleep? No.

It was at this time where my mind would turn on, and I’d start to think.

I don’t know what caused what. Could I not sleep because I was thinking too much? Or was I thinking because I couldn’t sleep?

Whatever the reason, for as long as I can remember, I have been thinking. I’ve been told that there are people who can stop thinking. To me, that makes about as much sense as a three dollar bill. I don’t know why my brain works this way, but it does. Maybe it’s because as a small child my situation I was such that I would not wish it upon any child, and I’d lie awake at night trying to make sense of a very serious issue that has no logical answer. Often I’ve wondered if that situation formed me as a child and made me into a “thinker.” If that’s the case, than I suppose I should be grateful for that situation, as horrifying as it was. It made me into something that I love: a deep thinker.

Deep thought has since become my number one passion. I love pondering great issues like: “What are the theological implications of dark matter?” or “What if time doesn’t actually exist?” (It does. I’ve thought long and hard about it, and it does. However, it’s fun to think about what life would be like if time did not exist). My life revolves around thinking. If Catholicism didn’t have rich and deep theology, tradition, and liturgy, I probably wouldn’t be a practicing Catholic. The ability to sit and think about those issues keep me passionately in the Catholic faith. The depth of Catholicism is something I need, as someone who sucks at praying and “feeling things spiritually.” If I could not think, my life would be so boring. That’s why my favorite TV show is “Sherlock” and why my second and third favorite shows are “Hannibal” and “The Blacklist”, respectively. Those shows make me think long after the episode has ended.

There is, unfortunately, a downside to all of this. The problem is this: I can’t stop. I’m addicted to thinking. My mind is constantly thinking about something. As a result, I struggle to focus on something for too long (although, the Adderal helps), and I also over think things. The former of the two aforementioned things is improving; while the latter is getting worse.

I recently graduated college, and I cannot look for a job because I don’t know what I want to do. When my brain tries to think about it, I get hung up because my brain is over-analyzing everything. No matter what career path I come up with, my brain can find a reason why I would hate it.

Another spot where this bites me in the butt is dating. There is this lady friend of mine I’ve been considering asking out for a couple of years now. However, I cannot decide whether or not that’s what I want to do, and so I stay in this awkward state.

I overthink and overthink. I become afraid to make the wrong decision, so I end up making no decision which is the wrong decision.

Despite the paralyzingly effect this has on my life, I would not get rid of this quality for any sum of money.

The Bat-Signal, a Symbol of Hope

APRIL 24, 2014

 

Why do I love Batman? Many reasons, but for the purposes of my first blog post on a blog dedicated to Batman, I’ll start by saying Batman is a symbol of Hope.

“A hero can be anyone, even a man doing something as simple and reassuring as putting a coat around a young boy’s shoulders to let him know the world hadn’t ended.”

Batman is a man. Superman is an alien, and pretty much every other superhero is aided by some superpower. Batman’s superpower(s)? Mind and Muscle. His career began the night his parents died. In that moment, he took a vow, a vow that later led him to become the Batman. That is what inspired and still inspires many young kids to greatness; it especially inspired a young Alex. Batman was just an ordinary person who went to extraordinary lengths to make the world a better place. This is the reason many people look to Batman as their favorite superhero. He is an ordinary person just like them. In short, Batman gives the world hope. Batman inspires many people all over the world to overcome obstacles, disabilities, illness, and tragedy to become a better, stronger person and to make the world a better place.

Batman also inspires other great things, like this movie, which made me cry:


Huether Does Not Deserve Re-election

APRIL 7, 2014

 

On Tuesday April 8, 2014, the city of Sioux Falls will head to the polls to decide who will be their mayor for the next 4 years.

I plan to cast my vote for Greg Jamison.

I must admit I do not know a whole lot about Jamison. However, I know plenty about Huether to know I do not want him as my mayor.

Let me explain why:

Roads:

Many supporters of Huether claim he has greatly improved the roads of Sioux Falls. I disagree. Yes, he has gotten a lot of road work done. But, can we really say that these projects have improved the quality of the roads and positively affected traffic?

My contention is that the work Huether has started have only slightly improved some roads and has NOT improved traffic. There are plenty of roads that need attention more than the ones that have been addressed. Southeastern Avenue between 26th and 49th comes to mind. Many other smaller, more residential streets also need work more than the roads that have been worked on during Huether’s term.

Furthermore, there are roads that need work to expand them to help traffic flow. The first such road that comes to mind is Cliff Avenue between 41st Street and 69th Street. Cliff needs two lanes in either direction throughout this whole stretch. Western Avenue from 57th to 85th is another stretch of road that needs two lanes in both directions.

Lastly, the work done during Huether’s time as mayor has not improved traffic flow. Over the summer, most major East/West roads were torn up, and traffic was unbearable. Those roads had very little wrong with them, and when they re-opened traffic flow was not improved.

Traffic

As Sioux Falls grows, traffic will grow worse and worse. Over the past few years, traffic has been slowly getting worse. The city is set to see rapid growth over the next few years, and we are currently unprepared to handle the increased amount of traffic. In my mind there are three ways to handle this:

  1. Expansion of roads
  2. Speed limits
  3. Traffic signals

As previously mentioned, roads like Cliff Avenue and Western Avenue need to be expanded.

Furthermore, traffic heading East to West and West to East is terrible. Currently, to head from the East side of town to the West side of town (or vice versa) you have the following options:

  • That 10th/11th/12th Street thing
  • 26th Street (ish)
  • 41st Street (ish)
  • 57th Street
  • The interstate

That 10th/11th/12th Street thing is problematic because you need to cut through downtown, where speed limits slow down dramatically. Plus, it is far to the North. Making it difficult for those in the South and Central parts of town to utilize.

26th Street is ineffective because it runs from the east side of town only to Kiwanis Avenue (middle of town). From there you have to go up to that 10th/11th/12th Street thing or down to 41st Street. Furthermore, between I-229 and Kiwanis, 26th Street is moves down to one lane in each direction and to a speed limit of 30 MPH. There are also many school zones to contend with. In short, traffic on 26th Street is painfully slow.

41st Street is a popular street and can be valuable for travel in Sioux Falls. The big problem tough is there is a gap in 41st Street between Cliff Avenue and Southeastern Avenue, making 41st also not viable for rapid East/West travel.

57th Street is probably the best method for East/West travel. It extends across the city form the far East part of town to the far West part of town. However, its location on the South part of town makes it difficult for those on the North end of town.

To use the interstate allows for high speed travel, but you must switch interstates to get from one side to the other. This switch takes places in the far Southwest part of town, making it super inconvenient for someone who is on East 10th Street who wants to get to the Crackerbarrel on West 26th Street.

Mayor Huether has had 4 years to show he is capable of improving the traffic in Sioux Falls, and he has not shown he is going to improve this problem. I know of nothing he has done to expand our roads, build new roads, increase speed limits, or improve the traffic signals in Sioux Falls (out of town visitors hate our traffic signals).

Arrogance

Mayor Huether has taken credit for many improvements in Sioux Falls with which he had little or nothing to do. “My Man Mike” has tooted his own horn far too much. In this part of the country, a mayor needs to take a team approach to municipal government. It should be what we as a community are doing, rather than what Mike Huether has done. 

The main issue here is that Huether has taken a lot of credit for the new events center. Almost every candidate who ran for mayor in 2010 was in favor of the new events center. It would have been built if someone else had been elected. Furthermore, it was the citizens who voted to build it. The final approval came from the people, not the mayor. Also, Huether mostly ignored those who wanted the new events center downtown. The events center was built where the mayor wanted it to be built. We never got to vote on the downtown events center. This is a shame because I believe a downtown events center would have spurred great development downtown. This leads me to my next point.

Downtown

The downtown area should be the pride of any city or town, but in Sioux Falls it is not. Sioux Falls has long desired for a revitalization of downtown. There have been some projects downtown that have developed over the mayor’s term. But, when it comes down to it, I do not feel any more desire to spend my time downtown then I did four years ago. Sioux Falls has the potential to have a great downtown area, but Huether has failed to deliver.

Conflicts of Interest

Challenger and current city council member Greg Jamison created and signed a pledge that he would not invest in any projects that need City Council’s approval. When asked about this pledge by a reporter, Mayor Huether became rude and ended the interview.

Mr. Mayor, if you have done nothing wrong and do not plan on doing anything wrong, why the attitude? Why not sign the pledge?

IT IS TIME FOR CHANGE IN CITY HALL!!!

St. Patrick’s Day Rant 2014

+JMJ+

Saint Patrick’s Day is here again. It is quite possibly one of my least favorite days of the year. This year (thus far) has not been an improvement.

Saturday (March 15) was the parade, green beer specials all day long at bars, green colors everywhere.

Sunday (March 16), my parish had a Saint Patrick’s Day party following all Masses. 

Note: All of this occurred before St. Patrick’s Day.

Not surprisingly corporate America has jumped on this bandwagon and capitalizes on this day every year, so I am not surprised by all of the specials and whatnot at stores and restaurants. I expected that. But, what is really bugging me this year is my parish’s party.

They had Irish dancers, Irish music, Irish drums (as if there is something that makes drumming “Irish”….It is a drum! No matter how you play it, it still goes “boom”), and everyone was encouraged to wear green. I had forgotten that this was announced last week at Mass. Had I remembered, I would have attended Mass elsewhere. I would have preferred to have avoided the festivities and the sea of green. Do not get me wrong. Green is my favorite color; I am in favor of everyone wearing it more often. However, I hate seeing it used to debase what should be a day dedicated to a holy bishop of the Catholic Church and Our Blessed Lord.

This is what irked me about my parish’s Saint Patrick’s Day party, the complete lack of Saint Patrick, the man. There was no mention of his life or the great work he did in his life. There were no tales of the young Saint Patrick, born in Scotland, kidnapped and enslaved at the age of 14, how he turned to God in his captivity, or the great number of pagans he converted.

The world sees Saint Patrick’s Day as a day to get drunk and celebrate Ireland. What is the Church doing combat that attitude? Basically nothing. If we want to end the alcoholism and obnoxious (and in a lot of cases, sinful) behavior surrounding Saint Patrick’s Day, the Church needs to stop celebrating Ireland and start celebrating Saint Patrick.

It is time to ditch the Irish dancers and the obnoxiously green clothing schemes. It is time to pray the Rosary, study the theology surrounding the Most Holy Trinity, and to tell great stories of the life of this heroic man.

If my parish wants to continue this behavior, well, then I look forward to the bratwursts at our Germanfest on June 5 (or the closest Sunday), eating lutefisk and lefse at our Norwegian party on July 29 (or the closest Sunday), the wine at our French soiree on October 1 (or the closest Sunday), and our fiesta on December 12 (or the closest Sunday).